I think we intuitively know that marriage without nurtured sexual intimacy is not the preferred model.
God made us, and He designed sex to be holy and necessary and beautiful in its right context of marriage. So by our very nature of being God-made, we have the capacity to seek Him and His model of sex.
Wherever sex becomes skewed and taken out of its right context, that’s on us as humans in our sinfulness. God has no role in skewed sex. And yes, I know. Many people experience not only the consequences of their own sinful sexual behavior, but also of the sinful sexual behavior of others.
But stay with me here. I’m getting to my point.
The church has gone to great lengths to rightfully teach that sex is for marriage. Sure, we haven’t always executed the message well (the purity movement of the 80s and 90s fell flat in some areas, for sure). And sometimes the church has been way too silent about sex. But for the most part, we collectively as a body of believers for centuries have emphasized that sex is meant for marriage and that is where it should be experienced.
So let’s mosey back to my headline.
Would you tell your married children to avoid sex in marriage?
I was pondering this because I hear from so many married people who are not having sex for no reasonable reason. There’s no physical reason they couldn’t be having intercourse or, at the minimum, healthy sexual touch. And here’s no relational betrayal (such as an ongoing affair by an unrepentant spouse) that would warrant sexual refusal by the betrayed spouse.
One or both spouses (usually it’s just one) has arbitrarily decided they don’t like sex, so they aren’t going to have it, even if such decision is detrimental to the marriage. End of story.
But I wonder if these same people who are so bent on sexual refusal in their own marriage would advise their adult married children to do the same? Would you tell your married children to avoid sex in marriage?
It sounds preposterous, right? Especially for Christian parents, who possibly went to great lengths to tell those same kids when they were growing up to wait until marriage to have sex.
I’m lovingly offering up a gut check here.
Not surprisingly, I hear from many people who say they did not grow up seeing healthy affection between their mother and father. And often, the parents were silent on sex or outwardly spoke negatively about it.
A cycle of seeing sex as anything but holy and good was perpetuated by the Christian parents who readily would have said sex is for marriage.
Now to be fair, I think there is something profoundly helpful about parents acknowledging they didn’t display healthy affection with their spouse or talk about sex in a positive light. If you as a parent feel you didn’t set a good example of healthy sexual intimacy in marriage, don’t hesitate to bring this up with your adult children, particularly the ones who are engaged or are married.
It’s helpful to be able to say, “We didn’t follow God’s example and take care of our intimacy. I’m telling you this because I want a better path for you.” And depending on the specifics of your situation, you possibly can elaborate about what made sexual intimacy a difficult aspect of your marriage.
Do you see, though, how it is contradictory to continue to speak or behave poorly about affection and sex, and yet expect your adult children to enthusiastically embrace sex in their marriage?
My guess is you would never tell them to avoid sex in their marriage. But if you’ve modeled sex as something unworthy of attention, then aren’t you essentially telling them it is fine if they too avoid it in their own relationship?
Pay attention to cycles that are perpetuated. Are you perpetuating unhealthy cycles of ongoing sexual lethargy in marriage? Or are you breaking unhealthy cycles? And let’s not forget that healthy cycles also can be perpetuated or sadly, in some cases, broken.
Our actions and words are what perpetuate cycles or break them.
I doubt you would tell your married children to avoid sex in their marriages. My guess is you want them to enjoy sexual intimacy, especially if it has been a struggle in your own marriage.
If sex has been a struggle in your marriage, my hope is you will baby step your way toward changing that pattern.
I also hope, though, that even if you think it’s “too late” for your own marriage, that you won’t miss this opportunity to speak truth and light into your children’s marriages. Doing so could spare them a lot of relational discord.
Copyright 2020, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.