How’s your sex life with your spouse? If this topic leaves you frustrated, angry, lonely, or feeling rejected, you’re in good company. I hear from husbands and wives every day who struggle here. But the key to better intimacy with your spouse is not fighting, begging, manipulating, or pulling away. And even if intimacy is “good,” it can get better!
Yes, you have needs. God created you with sex hormones that for most people elicit a desire for sexual release and sexual contact with another. He created you with the emotional need for deep connection. And rejection hurts!
Those needs mean you are vulnerable. You can’t truly fulfill those needs on your own, and when you try it results in disappointment, destruction, or addiction. You need another to respond to you, to be open, to connect.
And you can’t control how your spouse meets your needs – or doesn’t. If you’ve tried to control them, you’ve learned how unfulfilling and miserable that leaves you. You don’t only want your spouse to “give in” to sex; you want your spouse to want you!
So what’s the key?
For better intimacy, don’t make sex about you; make sex about your spouse!
Now before you stop reading, hear me out.
Imagine the tables were turned, and your spouse was the one desiring sex (er, intimacy). Imagine if they treated you the way you are trying to treat them. What if they gave you the silent treatment? Or dropped demeaning hints that you are a failure as a spouse unless you agree to sex. Or used Scripture as a club to tell you you “have to” have sex. Or ignored your feelings and only wanted you for your body. Or demanded sex from you because they are entitled to it.
Would you want sex if your spouse treated you that way?
Then why do you imagine fighting, begging, manipulating, or pulling away from your spouse will somehow make them desire sex with you?
The Golden Rule applies here; treat your spouse as you would wish to be treated.
And that really means to treat your spouse as you would wish to be treated if you were them!
That means seeking to understand your spouse. It means seeing yourself as creating the kind of invitation you know or suspect your spouse is most likely to respond to. It means dealing with your own “junk” instead of dumping it on your spouse. And it means joining your spouse on the same side of the issue to overcome barriers to intimacy, and working toward solutions.
What if my Spouse Doesn’t Want Sex?
It’s a truly rare marriage where husband and wife desire sex with the same frequency. (In about 20% of marriages wife desires more sex than husband.) And every human being has suffered sexual harm in some way. Old baggage, physical challenges, life stress, and religious messages can all play a huge role in messing up intimacy.
So what do you do? Here in a little more detail are the three important steps.
- Seek to understand. Seek to understand where your spouse is coming from, what makes them tick, what barriers they may be experiencing, what helps them open up. Look at the world through their eyes. What would be a safe and appealing invitation to them?
- Deal with your own stuff. Be honest with yourself, with God, and ideally with another human being about the “junk” you bring to the situation. Continually seek the healing and growth God desires for you, so you can be the kind of husband or wife God needs you to be to your spouse.
- Pursue intimacy. Not sex, but intimacy. (Yes, that includes sex.) With intimacy as your goal, you’ll have a much better chance of overcoming the barriers. Invite your spouse to join you in that pursuit. Once you understand, you can stand next to each other addressing the challenges from the same side, and seek healing solutions.
Much of the miracle of marriage is how God uses marriage to heal. Yes, being married to another fallen human will bring wounds. But you’ve wounded them as well. In the covenant of marriage is often where God takes those two wounded humans and brings healing.
That’s a process. It takes intentionality, persistence, and a refusal to settle for anything less than intimacy – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
And making sex about your spouse is a hugely important key in getting there.
In this short video I talk more about this.
Your Turn: How’s the intimacy between you and your spouse? In which of these three points do you tend to get stuck? Leave a comment below.
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- While it may seem counter-intuitive, if you want better intimacy with your spouse, don’t make sex about you; make sex about your spouse! Tweet that.
Do You Want Better Intimacy?
This month in the Fully Alive Group online community we are talking about Overcoming Marriage Challenges. And on October 15, we’re specifically talking about Intimacy and Sex in Marriage. I hope you’ll join us!
Become a member of the Fully Alive Group online community, and you can take part in this video session, and all the other weekly video sessions as well.
Join us in the Fully Alive Group today.