Next Steps

My wife and I have the privilege of leading a marriage enrichment group with over 20 couples involved utilizing the Deep Love Marriage Assessment. It’s been a great time of reconnecting and strengthening between spouses. Recently we had the “sex talk,” which is always a bit awkward, even among a bunch of married people! One of the exercises we did was to have them write (anonymously) any questions they had and I answered them the best that I could. Here are some of their questions, and my answers:

1. What does I have a headache mean? Tonight is not your night :).

2. Is it okay to cry afterwards? Possibly, if it’s tears of joy. If it’s an overwhelming feeling of sadness, that’s an indication of something deeper going on, either a dysfunctional way your spouse is approaching sex, or lingering grief associated with past sexual trauma (which is common).

3. Is it normal to be still be shy about sex even after years of marriage? My answer was the same as number two. Sex between spouses should be celebrated. Shyness might indicate past sexual trauma. This spouse came up afterwards and indicated that there was past sexual trauma (abuse) in their life, although to this point they had never associated shyness with the trauma.

4. How often is it normal to have sex? This was the question asked most frequently. The most common answer given among the married spouses among our group was once a week, but like a good coach I challenged them that we could do better than that. There is no magic number, but here’s how I put it: every month, if you were counting how many times you had sex (between 1 and 10), it should be closer to 10 than it is to 1.

5. How do you address opposite sex drives between a couple? Basically, one spouse wants it, the other not at all. The answer is to drill down and find out the root cause between the differentiating sex drives. Is one being over inflated through something like pornography? Is one being suppressed by something like past sexual trauma? Those underlying issues need to be dealt with. Since sex is much more than just physical, addressing the mental, emotional and relational needs of the spouse will help increase their sex drive as well.

6. Is it normal to equate sex and love to the amount of help you receive from your spouse? This is similar to the previous question. Because sex is more than physical, other things (like help with household chores) can impact a sex drive. It’s important to know that men and women are wired differently. I put it this way: men are microwaves. Give them a thirty second notice and they’re good to go. Women are crock pots. It takes longer, they need to warm up over a longer period of time. Which is why I tell men that sex starts in the kitchen, with how you interact with your wife hours before the sexual act itself ever takes place.

7. Is it wrong to lust after your wife? Interesting question. If it means that you’re physically attracted towards your spouse and you have sexual urges for her, then it’s not wrong at all. In fact, that’s the point.

8. As long as a couple stays within the confines of marriage, how exploratory can you be in a Christian marriage? This question was asked multiple times as well. Basically, how freaky can you get? My answer was: as long as it’s not illegal or immoral (like involving other people, etc.) and as long as it’s consensual, knock yourselves out!

9. I’m not physically attracted to my spouse anymore. What do I do? This was a very honest question. Age, kids, lots of things can play into this equation. I struggled to answer this because there’s not a quick or easy answer. I talked about engaging the will and making a choice. When we choose something (like to be attracted to our spouse), then our feelings will follow our will. It’s also important to avoid anything that might be a false comparison for our spouse (like pornography). Ultimately, when we focus on what’s good and best about our spouse, whether it’s personality, spirituality, things that we respect, that inward attraction tends to bleed over to the outward attraction. So, if the outward attraction isn’t there, be sure you’re not looking at anything else for outward attraction and focus on your inward attraction for your spouse. The outward attraction will return in time.

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