Yesterday we talked about the challenges all couples face when it comes to money. If resolve isn’t found, it can be the final death blow to a struggling marriage. There is another challenging area in marriage often cited as the reason for divorce. Can you guess what it is? Here’s a hint–it requires a vulnerability like nothing else in your relationship. Physical Intimacy.
We have said it before and it’s worth repeating. Intimacy in marriage is crucial in all areas–spiritual intimacy, physical intimacy, emotional intimacy, intellectual intimacy. Intimacy is an invitation, “Into Me See”. If you or your spouse are not willing to be this vulnerable with each other the marriage will struggle.
When God made Adam and Eve He said a profound thing about married life before the Fall. “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” – Genesis 2:25 ESV
What’s ironic to me is that before we get married it is often a huge struggle to not become sexually active. Song of Solomon makes it clear, “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.” Song of Solomon 8:4 ESV. If you are in a serious relationship the temptation to physical intimacy is strong. Once the marriage vows are taken and all restrictions are lifted, the struggle often begins in regards to sexual intimacy, many times on the honeymoon. Why? One would think sex would be great after marriage, no more restraints–just pleasure.
Tom and I have counseled countless couples who struggle in this area. It is heartbreaking in a way other difficulties aren’t. I believe it is because this is the only area that requires complete exposure without shame. You can’t hide from your spouse in marriage. They see and know you more than anyone else. But there is another huge reason and that is we have a enemy who wants to destroy us. Before marriage he is after our reputation. After marriage he is working to break it apart. We must realize we are a team fighting a common enemy. Realizing this one fact goes a long way in coming to a place of health in your sex life.
Pointing fingers never works. It only adds shame where there should be none.
What I love about sexual intimacy is that it is unique to every couple. What you find enjoyable and intimate may or may not be what others find enjoyable. Communication is the key to discovering what “Into me see” looks like in your marriage.
And another thing, your sex life is private. Guard it. Don’t talk about it with others, unless it’s agreed upon mutually for help in a current struggle. Be your spouse’s best friend and keep their heart safe by your loyalty, even if you are hurting by the current conflict.
I remember a time early on in our marriage when I was really struggling with somethings regarding our physical intimacy. When I mentioned it to Tom he purposed to listen to me, ask good questions and help me understand where and why I was struggling. It was such a gift to have not only his ear, but his heart. I felt loved and cared for, not belittled for the struggle.
This is what a healthy marriage looks like, not one without struggles–there are no perfect marriages. A healthy marriage is one where you can discuss anything and find resolve. It may not happen easily or as quick as you’d like, but you are resolved to keep pushing through until you get there.
A healthy marriage doesn’t quit because the situation is too tense or too heated.
If you find yourself in this place is there hope? Absolutely. As long as you are both breathing there is still hope.
Our encouragement to you would be pray together or separately about the issue. Be specific in your requests. God doesn’t blush the way we often do about sex. He created it and it brings Him glory when we get it right. Pour out your heart to Him. Give Him the burden you have been carrying. Learn to lament.
Mark Vroegop with Desiring God Ministries wrote an excellent article titled, How to Lament Well.
“But lament is different than crying because lament is a form of prayer. It is more than just the expression of sorrow or the venting of emotion. Lament talks to God about pain. And it has a unique purpose: trust. It is a divinely-given invitation to pour out our fears, frustrations, and sorrows for the purpose of helping us to renew our confidence in God.”
Did you catch that? We have been invited by God to pour out all our fears, frustrations and sorrows on Him. He is ready and willing to help. Don’t ignore the struggle or you may wake up one day and realize there is nothing left to save.
A book we have found to be helpful is, Sheet Music–Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage, by Dr. Kevin Leman.
We also recommend Cherish –The One Word That Changes Everything, by Gary Thomas.
Both books have become rich resources to us as we counsel couples in all aspects of marriage.
This is our 16th post in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in April.