I like using the term lovemaking when talking about sex in marriage. Any two consenting adults can have sex, but it takes committed-for-life marriage partners to make love.
Lovemaking comforts because it releases tension. A backrub is good for tense bodies, a sexual release even better. God was ingenious in His creation. Through lovemaking we can create life, experience one-flesh intimacy and deep knowledge, enjoy deep pleasure, and even comfort each other in times of stress or sorrow.
These are just a few of the benefits of lovemaking. But of course, before you reap the rewards, you have to prepare the fields for harvest, so to speak.
Here are a few things that help:
1. Understand passion. Passion ebbs and flows, and there are times when sex becomes routine for married couples. But if you chase excitement, you chase the wind. What you have to look for is meaning. Passion is not only a hot and tingling feeling. In fact, passion can be a person … your spouse. One of the definitions of passion according to Dictionary.com is: “a person toward whom one feels strong love or sexual desire.”
How would your view of lovemaking change if you focused not on the feelings, emotions, or result, but instead on the person—your spouse?
According to Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus, the authors of Intimate Issues, “The Hebrew word for ‘sexual intercourse’ is the word ‘to know.’ Through God’s gift of sex, a husband and wife receive an intimate knowing of one another that they have with no one else.”
So while the connection and physical sensations are a bonus, true passion comes from knowing another person like no other, and that person knowing you. This is something to be passionate about.
2. Be available. The apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:2-5 that you are not to deny your spouse the benefit of your body for sex. You wouldn’t want your spouse to become vulnerable toward another, would you? And your relationship will be smoother in all areas if he or she is sexually satisfied.
When we marry, we actually participate in a gift exchange. The wife gives the gift of her body to her husband, and he gives the gift of his body to her. Each gives up the right to his or her own body and turns that authority over to the other.
This is an awesome concept. Sadly, we quickly learn that one of the easiest ways to hurt a spouse is to withhold the gift of your body. But God makes it clear that we do not have this right.
I don’t know about you, but when I give someone a present, I give the best gift when I know that person and what makes him or her light up. The same is true when spouses take time to understand male and female differences. (Or take time to understand and appreciate a spouse who doesn’t fit in the typical mold.)
For your husband, sex is more than just a physical need. Lack of sex is as emotionally serious to him as, say, his sudden silence would be to you. It is just as wounding to him, just as much a legitimate grievance—and just as dangerous to your marriage.
Making love with you assures him that you find him desirable, salves a deep sense of loneliness, and gives him the strength and well-being necessary to face the world with confidence. And, of course, sex also makes him feel loved—in fact, he can’t feel completely loved without it.
Likewise it helps for men to understand what makes a woman tick. Here are a few general truths from the book For Men Only, by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn:
Truth #1: She has a lower sex drive than you—and she’d change that fact if she could.
Truth #2: She needs more warm-up time than you.
Truth #3: Your body (no matter how much of a stud you are) does not by itself turn her on.
Truth #4: For her, sex starts in her heart.
3. Plan it. Once, my friend and I were chatting about sexual intimacy, and she was complaining about lack of time in her day.
“It’s easy,” I told her. “Plan time for sex just like you plan to brush your teeth at night. You wouldn’t go to sleep without brushing, would you?”
You should have seen her jaw drop.
Yes, sex does take more time than brushing your teeth. And, no, I personally can’t claim I follow as rigorous a schedule. But the benefits to regular lovemaking are similar to those that come with brushing or flossing—like your dentist says, it’s the daily care and maintenance that makes all the difference. And truly, when we look at each day, we make time and place priorities on a wide variety of things … why not sex?
“In marriage, sex is the spice that rescues our relationships from becoming mundane pursuits of chores," write Bill and Pam Farrel, authors of Red Hot Monogamy. “Adult life is filled with responsibilities. We have mortgages to pay, yard work to maintain, laundry to clean, cars to service, and so on. But none of us got married so we could load up on chores. We got married out of hope. We got married because we believed there was some kind of magic between us.”
I have been speaking and writing for years about how the overcommitted pace of American families is killing us socially, relationally, and psychologically. We are simply too busy. Many families I work with could easily cut out 50 percent of their activities and still be tired. That’s not an exaggeration. Most families who see me are often shocked at the way I can take a meat clever to their schedule.
When we live life at the pace of a NASCAR race, sex is one of the first things to go. If you want to improve your sex life as a couple, you need to examine your relationship outside the bedroom. What are you doing that is keeping you from sexual intimacy?
Redbook magazine ran a poll on its website asking, “What would you do with an hour’s worth of free time?” Over 10,000 men and women responded. Eighty-five percent of men and 59 percent of women answered “sex”—wide majorities in both cases. Just 12 percent of women chose shopping or extra sleep, followed by watching TV, exercising, reading, and eating.
So … you could wait until daylight saving time for that extra hour, or you could do some rearranging with your schedule. After all, you are the one in control of your calendar.
And, while you’re at it, schedule the next interlude, and the next. Perhaps a heart on the bottom corner of your calendar would be a good symbol. If you did this, just imagine how easy it would be to get your mind and emotions ready. And think how connected you’d feel with your spouse by the end of the month. Can’t you imagine the smiles?
4. Find fulfillment. Take time to pause and truly appreciate the joy of sex and the awe of what takes place as your body combines with that of your spouse.
God wants your sexual relationship to be an oasis for the two of you. He desires that the two of you find relief from routine and a refuge from stress by splashing around in the springs of sexual refreshment. But if you are to discover the refreshment that sexual love can bring, it may require that you make a change in attitude (how you view your intimate times together) as well as changes in your environment (the place where you make love).
Maybe you decide to change your attitude or environment. Or prepare yourself during the day. Or even pick up a book to give you tips and tricks. Or schedule lovemaking into your calendar.
The ultimate goal is fulfillment. Take time to enjoy it. Be refreshed. And before you flip off the light, look at the light in your spouse’s eyes and the smile on your spouse’s face. Also, take note of the peace and contentment in your own soul.
Now, wasn’t that worth it?
© 2013 by Tricia Goyer. Used with permission.
FamilyLife is a donor-supported ministry offering practical and biblical resources and events to help you build a godly marriage and family.
1. Read "What Does God Think About Sex?" by Dennis and Barbara Rainey.
2. Listen to Bob Lepine discuss "Romance for Dummies" on FamilyLife Today.
3. One of the best investments you can make in your marriage is a weekend away together, refreshing your relationship and learning about God's purposes for marriage. Learn more about the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway.