10 Ways to Cultivate Sexual Intimacy in Marriage (Part 1)
When it comes to difficulties in marriage, we often blame finances, confusion about gender roles, and parental disunity as reasons. However, I’ve learned that the silent killer of many marriages is sexual intimacy, or for some, the lack thereof. Too many couples are miserable in the bedroom and there are many reasons why. For some it could be medical issues or past abuse. For others, they came into marriage with a distorted picture of what sex would be like because of Hollywood, pornography, romance novels, or past sexual history.
While sex in marriage can be complicated, as Christians we know the grace of God can heal and deliver us from pain and confusion. Jesus steps into our mess as Messiah and gives us the grace to overcome, persevere, and love our spouse through his or her brokenness.Remember, God doesn’t want us to give up on cultivating a good sex life with our spouse! God cares about the Christian couple’s sex life and commands that the marriage bed be held with honor and remain undefiled (Heb. 13:4) and he gives us the grace to have hope and to remain faithful.The Bible teaches that sex within the covenant of biblical marriage is a beautiful gift from God. In fact, the scripture teaches that couples should consider their spouse’s body as their own. Paul even teaches married couples to be intimate often, with the only exception being for a limited time for prayer (1 Cor. 7:1-5). Wow! Ideally, only scheduled seasons of special prayer should keep spouses apart.
Unfortunately, as a pastor, I know that a commitment to pray is rarely what keeps couples apart sexually. So, how does a couple cultivate sexual intimacy in marriage? Here’s a short list that couples can use to pursue a vibrant, God-glorifying sex life. You might be surprised to see that most of the principles on this list don’t happen in the bed room.
1. Deal with Hurts
Some couples struggle with intimacy because they have grown to not like each other. Unresolved tension keeps many couples from being tender. Some couples can’t come together because they trip over the rug where they’ve swept their past issues under. Or perhaps they’re carrying scars from past abuse, physically or emotionally. If scars in your marriage hinder you from connecting with your spouse, seek care from a trusted Christian couple, pastor or biblical counselor. Entrust your scars to the Lord and experience the gift of forgiveness and reconciliation with your spouse.
2. Intimacy Begins with “Good Morning”
From the time you get up in the morning, you are setting the tone of emotional, physical, and spiritual intimacy for the day. So here’s a tip: before your feet hit the ground, give your spouse a small kiss (on the cheek to avoid morning breath), hit the floor, pray, and give them a warm good morning. Water the seed of kindness throughout the day and watch intimacy blossom through God’s grace.
3. Have Meaningful Conversations Regularly
Spouses need regular, intimate conversation with the other in order to feel loved, appreciated, and accepted. Make time to talk and to cast vision together about the future. Your spouse’s hopes, dreams, and needs change and evolve with time. Continue to explore them. I have often heard that for women, connecting with their husband emotionally and through meaningful conversation actually heighten the fires of physical intimacy. Men, here’s a principle that would be good for us to keep in mind: show your wife that you love her by committing to engage her mind more passionately than you do her body.
4. Practice Spontaneous Acts of Love
One of the most encouraging moments of my marriage was when my wife unexpectedly wrote me a small letter, expressing her appreciation for me and in the place where one would normally put “I love you,” she wrote “I respect you.” I can’t tell you how encouraged I was! For the rest of the day, I couldn’t wait to get home. I felt more confident and even more motivated to be a better man.
When was the last time you wrote a handwritten note or text message encouraging your spouse about some feature of theirs you admire? Or when was the last time you picked up your spouse’s favorite snack or made their favorite meal just to surprise them? Ladies, when was the last time you told your husband why you respect him as a man, father and priest of your house? If the answer is over a week, it’s been way too long. Hebrews 3:15 teaches that every believer needs to be encouraged daily in order to escape temptation. Your spouse needs you to encourage them daily as well. This isn’t just with words but also with acts of love.
5. Grow in Spiritual Intimacy Together
Connecting spiritually with your spouse helps you to connect physically. It’s important to remember that sexual, physical, and emotional intimacy (in their healthiest state) is connected. Pray, repent, fast, and read the Bible and edifying books together.
Doing everything on this list requires humility. Humility comes as we experience and surrender to Jesus by faith (Phil. 2:3-11). My wife and I are committed to praying through this list together. Perhaps you and your spouse could join us. Next week we will pick up with the second half of this list.
Ephesians 4:32-5:1 “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us….”