marriage. sex. hard. good.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S WEEK _ day five

Tom and Gloria led a newlywed couples group that Jen and I were a part of back in the late 90s. He was a judge. She was a teacher. Retired now, but then they were such an encouragement to a small group of couples many of whom Jen and I still connect with. One of my favorite quotes from their teaching:

“Sex is the barometer of the marriage. Typically, if you are healthy sexually, you are healthy in all other areas.”

I remember walking out of our first time together with the group. Jen looked over at me. I looked over at her. About to unlock the car door, I declared, “We aren’t that strange are we? Other couples struggle, too.

It was a sigh of relief more than an insightful statement. In American church culture, it is way too common to uphold image pretending that your marriage is fine when it is not really. And it is also way too common to equate difficulty with bad or “not working,” rather than understanding that the equation of one and one becoming one only works when the cancerous selfishness that hinders oneness is chemo-therapied out. Which certainly is not easy.

It is also way to common in American church culture for the church to let the mainstream of our culture talk about sex more than the element of our culture who worship the Creator of sex. The church needs to talk about it. Candidly. Openly. Expectantly. While there are certainly appropriate settings for those conversations, they must be had. And if the church continues to be passive on the subject, then we better keep expecting to not reap what we are not sowing.

We are not sowing for sexual health in our marriages, as a general observation. Why not? It’s not like married couples don’t want to have healthy sexual relations! And it’s not like those who aren’t married are cruising along just fine in their sexuality! Shame on the church for not being bold in such a significant area, our local church expression included.

My wife and I do not claim to have the healthiest of sexual relationships. We do have five kids, so it is a fruitful practice. But, we will admit that we have a lot to learn. We have learned some lessons the all-to-hard way, though. Two of those lessons I want to pass along to you, provide a link to a Family Life article that is worth the read, and then provide the link to a blog post from a gal that if you aren’t reading her writings you should be.

TWO LESSONS ON SEX WE ARE STILL LEARNING...

(1) openly communicate to one another about preferences even when your insecurity is screaming at you to just shut up.
We have learned the hard way that when we don’t communicate about desires and preferences and perspectives in our sexual relationship, we do not experience the oneness or the pleasure we hoped for. In fact, bitterness and resentment can creep in, and neither of those are helpful ingredients for a sweet-tasting sex life. So, even when it is hard, we try to lovingly share our thoughts. Two tips for sharing, though – don’t share in the midst of the moment unless you want to kill it, AND don’t hear “you stink at sex” when your spouse is only communicating about one instance or one angle.

(2) cultivate for the bedroom in every other room of the house.
This is certainly not original to our learning. We have heard this from so many sources and have found it to be true. How we flirt, encourage, challenge tenderly, touch, strategize, parent, and work on tasks together  in all the other rooms of the house during the entirety of the day has direct influence on what happens in the bedroom during those private moments of the day. A “you are my man” look from Jen. An “I believe in and appreciate you” conversation from me. So many instances outside the bedroom that shape what happens in the bedroom. Or another room if you get adventurous, but that gets tricky with five kids and is material for a sex book not a blog post :)

TWO ARTICLES
…that I challenge you to take the time to read. One comes from Family Life – CLICK HERE to read it. The other offers some amazing insight and story-telling from Ann Voskamp. She is the author of a new book entitled One Thousand Gifts and is the author of the blog “A Holy Experience.” It has been quite some time since an author has engaged and inspired me like Ann Voskamp. You should take the time to read her post “how to {make} Love.”

THE BOTTOM LINE:
Cultivate for sexual health. If you don’t sow for making love, don’t expect to reap getting to actually make it. If as a couple you will commit to cultivate for sexual health, you will be surprised by the overall health of your marriage because of all the conversations and affection and connection that is needed before skin on skin occurs.

14 Run to me, dear lover. Come like a gazelle. Leap like a wild stag on the spice mountains. [Song of Solomon 8:14, the Message]

a bonus _ SCRIPTURE MEMORIZATION ASSIGNMENT FOR THE HUSBAND
Try to memorize Song of Solomon 4. Then share your Scripture memory with her. Whisper it to your bride as you slowly and intentionally remove her clothes and pull her close. You’ll be glad you did. :)

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