Before I get too much pushback on this post, I want you to know I am well aware that many marriages are wrought with sexual struggles.
Some of those are rooted in relationship issues. Some are anchored in addictions or skewed perceptions about sex. Some are the result of debilitating physical and mental struggles. And some are tangled up in past sexual abuse.
I get that sexual struggles can be cumbersome and devastating. As a writer and speaker on intimacy in marriage, I am humbly mindful of the heartache—the profound and devastating pain and emotion—surrounding sexual disconnect in a marriage. So please know that if that describes your marriage, I’m not dismissing your pain.
But I also know that too many married people simply lose sight of core truths about sex, much to the detriment of their relationship.
That was me in my first marriage. It was probably a combination of not genuinely understanding these core truths and downplaying what I did know about them. At any rate, it didn’t bode well for our marriage. From a sexual standpoint, I certainly have been a better wife in my current marriage than I ever was in my first marriage.
When people are preparing to get married, lots of well-intended advice typically comes their way. Whether it be on finances, parenting styles, love languages, juggling priorities, communication or conflict resolution, people are more than willing to offer up their two cents worth of what the new couple needs for marital success.
And that’s all well and good, for sure. But I think sex deserves equal air time. Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be a lot people eager to give engaged and newlywed couples valuable insights on sex in marriage. It’s all kind of ironic, considering how absolutely vital and consequential sex is in a marriage.
Generally speaking, we collectively don’t seem to have as much angst about a couple being haphazard with their sexual intimacy as we would if they were mishandling their finances or not parenting in a godly way. There are some core truths about sex that we should feel as comfortable addressing as we do finances or parenting styles.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could be as candid about sex as we are about everything else?
And no, I’m not talking about divulging intimate details. I’m talking about having honest conversation about emphasizing the significance sex plays in a marriage and dispelling the misconceptions surrounding sex.
These are the conversations I’m striving to start more often through this blog and speaking engagements—and actually any opportunity. My level of comfort with conversations about sex surprises people…well, not my closest friends… but everyone else, for sure.
So in that light, let’s unpack some core truths.
5 Core Truths About Sex Married People Shouldn’t Ignore
1. Sex feels good
Sex feels incredible. Orgasm feels unlike anything else. God designed sex not only to make babies, but more so to allow a husband and wife to bring each other amazing pleasure. Yes, it is for oneness (more on that in a moment), but we simply cannot ignore the fact that God designed sex to feel good.
And when it does not feel good, a married couple should do all they can to resolve that. Sadly, too many women in particular downplay the value of their own orgasmic pleasure, rather than viewing it as equally important as their husband’s pleasure.
Another truth along these lines is the importance of having a mindset that leans into pleasure. I think too many people (again, probably more so women than men) find themselves hesitant to embrace the raw intensity of sexual pleasure. But the potential for that intensity is there. We sense its power and its allure.
Sex feels good. And once we appreciate that, leaning into the pleasure is freeing. It’s powerful for a marriage when a husband and wife run toward the truth of how good sex feels.
2. Sex is a learned behavior
We aren’t born with lovemaking skills. I’m not talking about sex drive and attraction. To a degree, that is wired into us. But lovemaking? Passionate lovemaking? There are no short cuts to experiencing that.
A husband and wife must learn the subtleties and intricacies of each other’s bodies and desires. And unlike nearly all other skills, this is one we can’t learn through demonstration by others. Sex in a marriage is an exclusive experience between a husband and wife, so they have to rely on only each other for practical learning.
Sure, you can read books and blogs and talk to counselors and go to marriage retreats—all of which are wise decisions, by the way. But only the two of you can learn how to be naked together and figure things out.
And figure things out you will—if you recognize the value of giving and receiving feedback. Show and tell each other what feels good. Grow in your understanding of each other. The truth is sex with your spouse is a learned behavior.
3. Sex takes effort
I imagine there are some couples that don’t have to put much effort into great sexual intimacy, but for the vast majority of people? It’s going to take effort. Physical effort, of course, but more so emotional and relational effort.
A husband and wife grow in their sexual intuition when they recognize what’s at stake and are intentional about nurturing their sexual connection. Like anything good worth having in life, you have to put in the effort.
And let’s face it—so much in marriage thwarts our sexual efforts. Sex just doesn’t have the same urgency as all of life’s responsibilities. It’s no wonder sex can be one of the first things a married couple lets slide. On the surface, perpetually postponing sex doesn’t seem to have the same consequences as perpetually not paying your mortgage or not mowing the yard or not grocery shopping.
But make no mistake, there are consequences for never prioritizing your sexual intimacy. Like a sinkhole that is unseen but is eroding beneath the surface, you may not realize how foundational sexual intimacy is until unfathomable damage has already happened.
Sex takes effort. But it is worth it in more ways than you can imagine.
4. Sex is messy
Obviously, sex is physically messy. Romantic movies conveniently leave that truth out, right?! But beyond the fluids and sweat and tangled sheets and misplaced pillows, the truth is that sex also is relationally messy.
Sex is an incredibly vulnerable space in marriage. The vulnerability lends well to profound love and connection. But such vulnerability also is what leaves us exposed emotionally. The marriage bed is where we may feel most prone to take offense, misread each other or feel embarrassed.
But the more we shed light on the messiness and lean into authentic vulnerability, the more we grow in grace, compassion and healthy communication. We cannot escape the truth that sex is messy. Even in the healthiest of marriages, sex is messy.
5. Sex builds oneness
The marriage vows and the Bible beautifully set the marriage relationship apart from all other human relationships. The covenant aspect between a husband and wife cannot be understated. Sometimes, though, I think we are most aware of this not in the marriage, but at the wedding. The further we get away from the wedding, the less transformational covenant seems.
It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Deeply embedded in marital oneness and covenant is sexual intimacy. We cannot peel sexual touch and connectedness away from the covenant and still clearly see the covenant. Some would say I’m overemphasizing sex. I would argue that we too often underemphasize it.
The truth is that authentic sexual intimacy builds oneness.
The above core truths aren’t revolutionary, if we really stop to think about them. If that’s the case, though, why do they seem so foreign to so many marriages?
In your marriage, have you lost sight of any of these truths about sex? If so, how can you and your spouse together find your way back to such truths…and back to each other?
Copyright 2020, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.