Friday, May 27, 2011

The Marriage Bed

The marriage bed should be a sacred and holy place. So often, though, it is the origin of strife and frustration in marriages.

The Bible is clear (read Song of Solomon) that physical intimacy with one's spouse is a gift that is to be thoroughly enjoyed within the confines of a monogamous marriage.

So why is it that so many women do not actively enjoy the practice of sexual intimacy with their husbands?

Well, there could be a multitude of reasons that stem from more serious matters such as a history of child abuse or premarital sexual promiscuity, both of which could produce feelings of guilt or low self worth. These can be very serious issues of which I do not have the authority or knowledge to discuss, but are issues that do need to be considered.

There could also be other reasons such as lack of faithfulness on the husband's part. Or maybe he has an addiction to pornography which leaves you feeling unattractive and unable to live up to the images he sees on the screen.

If any of the above hindrances apply to you, then I would suggest finding a good, Biblically-focused counselor to work with you and your husband to restore your marriage to what God intends it to be.

However, if you simply do not enjoy the act of intimacy with your husband for no specific, serious reason, then you're probably in the majority of American women. I have no statistics to back this up, but from what I've read and heard from the women I've talked to, there are a lot of women that struggle to find the energy for and enjoyment in sexual intimacy.

It is true that God wired the female differently than the male, and I've often wondered what His intentions were in this! Of course, God's creation is perfect and He knew exactly what He was doing so this difference does serve a purpose. Male and female are uniquely different and made to complement one another, and so this difference in sexual needs plays right along with this.

It's probably no secret that in most marriages the need for sexual intimacy is greater for the husband than the wife. And this often leads to the husband being frustrated because he feels that his needs aren't being met and the wife being frustrated because she feels like she can't live up to his demands. If this describes the marriage bed in your home, you're not alone.

From here on out in this post, I am writing from my heart. I claim to be no expert in this area, but I've struggled with these things as well so I can speak from my experience.

When my children were younger and more demanding of my time, I constantly felt exhausted. And so as the day drew to a close, I just wanted to go to bed and snooze the night away. Over a period of time, I began to feel convicted over my lack of interest, and so I began to do a little research.

Two of the books I read were total eye-openers. These books not only discussed the difference in women and men, but they also explained the importance of consistent physical intimacy in the marriage bed.

What I took away most from these books was that if my husband was not having his intimacy needs met here at home by me, this could lead to him having struggles with sexual sins.

This does not mean that a wife should be blamed as the sole cause for a husband's struggle with pornography. If a man has a problem with pornography, chances are good this addiction traces back to his teen years.

However, I knew that I didn't want to neglect my husband of what was obviously a God-wired need. And so I purposed to make a conscious effort to be sensitive and aware of my husband's sexual needs.

Chapter 7 of 1 Corinthians sheds much light on the Christian marriage. And it is in this chapter of Scripture where I found a verse that really opened my eyes to the importance of regular physical intimacy in a marriage.

1 Cor. 7:5 ~ Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Wow! We are children of God living in these weak bodies of flesh. The flesh is an expert in lack of self-control. I did not want to be part of the reason that my husband would be tempted by Satan into giving in to his sexual desires in a sinful nature. And I'm not saying that this would have even happened for sure, but this verse convicted me and inspired me to fulfill those needs of my husband in the God-ordained way.

And God intends for the marriage bed to be fulfilling to both spouses. He doesn't intend for one spouse to obtain all the pleasure while the other suffers through. I encourage you to read the book of Song of Solomon in the Old Testament to get a picture of the fun, enjoyable portrait of sexual intimacy God intends for us to have as married couples.

I just recently spoke to a woman who was struggling with viewing intimacy as a chore. Just another task she had to complete. She said that she prayed and asked God to help her enjoy this time she had with her husband, and He did! God intends for us to enjoy our husbands so He will help us with this.

Sexual intimacy is very important in a marriage. It brings us into full knowledge of one another. It is when we are in the marriage bed enjoying one another that we fully know one another. It is then that two literally become one. A beautiful portrait of God's gift to married couples.

Another thing to remember is that our husbands take sexual rejection personally. They may think that we rejected them because we find them unattractive. They may feel as though our rejection means that we find other things more important than them. Our rejection may lead to our men feeling unloved and unappreciated. And that leaves me wondering how many times I have left my husband feeling just that way without intending to. Our husbands are not seeking us just to annoy us or hound us. They're seeking us because they desire to express their love and to feel loved in return.

Many married men express their love to their wives in a physically intimate way while we women express it more in an emotionally intimate way. And we each desire to be received in the way that we give. And that is why it is important for both spouses to be aware of their other half's intimacy needs. Men have a high need for physical intimacy while women need emotional intimacy.

If your marriage is struggling in this area of intimacy, my heartfelt suggestion for you is to seek God's wisdom. God desires even more than you do for your marriage to be a complete and healthy one. And so God will help you, convict you, and lead you to the necessary resources and knowledge you need.

Here are the two books I previously mentioned that were very helpful and eye-opening to me:

Dear Father, help us to be women who are conscious of the intimacy needs of our husbands. Open our eyes to see where we need to change. Show us any areas of selfishness or bitterness that we may be harboring towards our husbands. Help us, Lord, to enjoy the intimate moments we have with our husbands, to view them as precious gifts from You. I pray that we would have a fresh new vision of your portrait of the marriage bed. I pray that we would strive to make our marriage bed a holy and sacred place in which Your will for a husband and wife is fulfilled. I pray these things in Your Son's glorious name, Amen.

Have a blessed weekend!


joyfilled said...

Great post! Such an important topic, but rarely addressed.

FWO is probably one of the best books I have ever read in my life (and I've re-read it about 5 times over the last few years).

Sheet Music and Intimate Issues are also great resources on this topic!

Gina said...

This series of posts on being a wife is SO good! Thanks for all the time you have put into writing it. I can tell that it is from the heart. I can relate to so much that you write.
Thank you.

Jennifer said...

Wonderful post!

Anonymous said...

I have read The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands and I have bought many copies and gave them as gifts. This is such a GREAT book. I am glad to see you suggested it. If you take the book to heart it will change your life and your marriage.