On these pages we are discussing questions that were submitted to a panel presentation on “Questions Christian Wives Ask about Sex”, which was part of a Women’s Workshop presented by Columbia Crossroads Church, Columbia, SC, on September 8, 2019.
The panelists were Peggy McKechnie and her two daughters:
Anna Dresdow, Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice in Lake Wylie, South Carolina, married for about 5 years;
Sara John, Licensed Professional Counselor Associate in Charlotte, NC, married for about 11 years, mother of two boys, 7 and 5 years old; and
Peggy McKechnie, Community Health Clinical Nurse Specialist and Certified Life coach, married for 46 years, mother of three and grandmother of three.
After discussing four questions in the workshop session, we had 15 additional questions “leftover.” We promised to address them on this site, and will attempt to add the discussions to this page as quickly as we are able. Please be patient.
The following discussions contain the contributions of all three of us, so no one person can claim any exclusive credit (or blame) for the resulting answers. There are many great resources for Christian women looking for direction and encouragement in their intimate lives. Our contribution is a small effort to pass along some of what we have learned from many sources and personal experiences. We pray that these discussions will be useful in helping our sisters in Christ to experience the fullness of God’s great gift of physical intimacy in marriage.
Question: What do I do when my husband wants to have sex but I don’t?
There are a lot of different reasons why a wife may not want to have sex and may feel guilty for not having interest that matches her husband’s. I’m going to discuss a couple of the most common reasons and offer some suggestions about what you can do about it.
-Sometimes there is hurt or resentment in your marriage that is putting up a wall between you and your husband. When you don’t feel emotionally safe with your spouse, then it is very difficult to be sexually open. These types of challenges impact more than your sex life and require specific guidance. If there is compounding resentment hurting your relationship, I encourage you to speak to a counselor who can help you untangle this.
-Sex can also be hindered by becoming another thing on a never-ending to-do list. When you are swamped with things you have to get done and your husband shows an interest, it might make you inwardly cringe because your mind is consumed with everything you have to do and sex is the last thing on your mind. If your husband approaches you when you are knee deep in laundry, I would suggest communicating what is keeping you from being emotionally available. It may seem obvious to you as you swim through towels and underwear that need to be folded, but he may not notice that. Perhaps you could say something like, “I would love to, but I’m not mentally there right now. If you could help me do [this chore] then I think I could slow down and be with you.” Not only does this allow him to feel like a hero, but it allows you to be present because you are feeling less overwhelmed.
Or it may be beneficial to ask him for help to be present and in a place to even be open to sex. Having a one-on-one conversation with no distractions can make us feel heard and loved or asking for non-sexual touch, like a backrub can help us slow down and relax. I think this is really important to help us transition out of multi-tasking and into a focus on our husband and relationship.
– Sometimes our attitude towards sex impacts our interest in engaging. Sex is mental- we are not expected to be instantly ready for sex. The mind is the command center for sexual feelings. Our feelings flow out from what are thoughts are saying. If we tell ourselves lots of negative statements about sex, why would we feel interested or motivated to have sex? I have talked with female clients that have come to view sex as something that they have to put up with as a wife. They say, “I owe this to him because he works hard all week”. But this places sex on a list of expectations that you should fulfill in order to be a good wife. And thoughts like these do not create a desire to be with your husband, but create guilt when you do not meet an expectation.
It is important to take a look at what you are telling yourself about sex (is sex a priority in a healthy marriage, what is the purpose of us having sex: closeness, sexual release, procreation), about your role as a wife (do I allow myself to be sensual, to slow down and enjoy sex, how often is enough so I don’t feel guilty) and your expectations of intimacy in general (sometimes we assume that we are the only wife not engaging in frequent intercourse). Our thoughts and attitude are going to decide how we feel about sex and our husband in that moment.
If you want to create more positive thoughts about sex, try storing up a mental collection of positive memories of you husband, sexual or not. Think of ways he shows his love to you, how he treats the children, ways that he makes you feel safe and beautiful. Reminding yourself of kind things he has said about you.
This is part of preparing your mind mentally. As unromantic as it sounds, scheduling sex… as a couple or individually. This can allow women to plan their evening and prepare mentally to slow down and be present with their husband. It’s an active choice to set the mental groundwork to change your thoughts from negative to positive and increase desire.
-Some women do not want to have sex because intercourse does not feel good to them. It’s important to be able to talk about what is enjoyable and not enjoyable in the bedroom. Women talk about not wanting to hurt their husband’s ego by making suggestions, but it’s all about how you word it. You want to say it in a way that speaks of your love and desire to be with him and not a criticism. He enjoys you enjoying sex and you being active participant can make it more enjoyable for both of you. Pointing out good experiences in the past can also help. Saying, “I really like when you… I’ve been thinking about that time you…” can gently guide him.
What about saying no? We believe that there are situations where it is appropriate to say no, but it all depends on how you say it. What is the message you want to get across to your husband when you say this? Let him know how much you love him instead of I’m not interested or attracted to you. “I would really like to be intimate with you but right now I truly have a splitting headache, or the kids have worn me down and I don’t know if I can shift gears into being a loving spouse right now.” Or can we plan a time really soon when we can be together when I’m more rested? Choose a time when your energy and attention are best. Some women with young children find that they are too tired by 9pm, so the best time for them is in the morning. Whatever works best for you as a couple, but don’t be afraid to get creative to make it work.
Make it clear that your “no” is not because of him but that you’re at the end of your rope and that your intention is not to withhold sex, but to find a time that works best. Overall, we should pray that God will stir up desire in us for our husbands and free us from the unhelpful thoughts we may carry about sex. God wants us to have healthy emotional and physical marriages and hears our prayers.
Question: How can I increase my sexual interest or recapture the passion, especially as we become older?
First I would like to just mention two facts that research has uncovered. This information is important because real sex is not what we may see in movies or hear promoted in our culture. The following two research findings may go a long way in relieving the guilt and frustration many women (and men) feel when they evaluate their sex lives as being deficient.
- The great majority of women (over 70%) do not have orgasms during intercourse and need manual stimulation in order have an orgasm.
- Most women, especially as they age, feel their sexual desire (or sex drive) is low. This used to be considered an abnormality, and for some women, it may be, but if about 60% of women over 40 say they have lost their desire for sex, there may be another explanation besides it being an abnormality!
Many experts in human sexuality feel that at least part of the answer is that women don’t have the same sexual process as men.
As you may have been taught in Human Sexuality 101, for most men and younger women, the process is:
Physical desire(feeling aroused) leads to Sexual activity which leads toSexual excitement and orgasm.
Basically: “Feel aroused, have sex”
In contrast to that linear process, for many women and most middle aged to older women, the process looks like this:
Psychological desire for sex or intimacy leads to Sexual activity (touching) which leads to Physical desire (starting to feel aroused) which leads to Sexual excitement/orgasm.
Basically: “Have sex, feel aroused”
And the process for a woman is not linear, it’s circular, since memories (increased thought processes) of enjoyable sexual experiences reinforce desire and help prepare the body and mind for the next sexual encounter. This circular process can be entered at any point on the circle, depending on whether she is physically aroused at the time or just mentally interested in being intimate.
As we age, we experience a lot of changes that may affect our physical and mental sexual process. Some of those changes may make it more difficult to have the type of sexual encounters we have had as younger women. But some of the changes actually can increase our intimacy and sexual satisfaction, such as having the whole house to ourselves, fewer distractions, more sexual experience and knowledge of what we like and what works, etc.
So what you can do about lower sex drive that may come with age? How do you handle the changes? I will just outline some of the basics – see the discussion of other questions and get further detailed information from the other information sources that we have presented.
- Communicate – let your husband know what works for you. If you need more touch in order to start feeling physical desire, let him know.
- See your doctor if needed (problems with lubrication, etc.)
- If you want to increase your sexual desire: Train yourself to think about sex more often (see discussion of other questions); Make peace with your body if you think you are unattractive (see next question); Take small action steps to increase your desire (see resources such as tolovehonorandvacuum.com for recommendations).
If you want to increase his desire:
- Plan surprises – initiate sex more often
- Schedule sex; if he doesn’t go for the concept of scheduled sex, you schedule sex periodically and surprise him
- Focus on deepening your verbal and physical intimacy, such as making “subtle” comments during the day about your interest and your attraction to him and by giving backrubs and other non-sexual touch– which may lead to more interest in sex for both of you.
Question: It’s hard for me to get involved sexually when I feel so unattractive. How do I keep my negative body image from squelching my desire for sex with my husband?
Body Image: The way that we see ourselves and how we believe we are perceived by others.
A study of 3,500 women showed 73% were dissatisfied with their appearance. 89% of those dissatisfied wanted to lose weight.
How our sex life/intimacy with our husbands can be affected when we focus on negative body issues.
When we are focused on what we do not like about ourselves or our bodies our interest in sex and intimacy decreases. By continually complaining about our bodies we can also turn our husband’s attention toward the areas that we are not pleased with. I have heard from husbands who said that they never noticed a particular flaw but when it was continually complained about and pointed out to them (especially when they were trying to be romantic) it began affecting the way they saw their wives’ bodies.
Another effect of focusing on negative thoughts about our bodies is that our minds are not free to fully enjoy sex. When we are focused on how our bodies look or what he is touching, we are not thinking about the enjoyment of sex. Finally, this can create a cycle of guilt. We may begin to feel guilty about our bodies not looking a certain way. This may make us hesitant to be intimate with our husbands. This can then cause further guilt.
A closer look at what how our husbands see us
Your body is not the only thing that makes you a sensual woman. So many men talk about a woman’s confidence as being incredibly attractive. This is often reported as being more attractive than physical features. We can confidently become experts of using our bodies (faults and all) to turn our husbands on. Taking ownership of our bodies to enjoy intimacy with our husbands can not only feel great but can bring you both closer together. It is important to remember that it is not how you look but how you feel about how you look. The pride that you take in yourself plays a large role in your sexuality.
It is also helpful to look at how your husband sees you. Studies show that it is often beyond your physical appearance. A recent study shows men were more attracted to their wives after 20 years of marriage than they were the first year of marriage. The sweet spot being years 25-35. In the same study the majority of men reported that their wives were not as physically fit now as they were when they were first married. The connection and time together were far more attractive to these men than having a flawless wife. I believe that as women, we need to remind ourselves of this fact. In a time when everything around us is telling us that our worth is tied to how we look, how our husbands see us can be tremendously freeing.
What does the Bible say about our bodies? How can we fight against being consumed by negative thoughts? We know that the Bible tells us that we do need to take care of ourselves. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and because of that, we are to be disciplined with how we treat it. In Proverbs we are also told to delight our husbands with our bodies. One way that we can do this is to take care of our bodies. It is also important to be realistic when it comes to what we desire to change about ourselves. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. God did not make mistakes when he created you. There may be things about you that you can change such as losing weight. There may things like your height or body shape that are just part of how you have been created. It is important that we embrace those parts of us and focus on the strong and capable bodies that we have been given. We are not to beat ourselves up over what we do not like. Give yourself grace as you work on what you can change and accept what you cannot. Finally, don’t enter into this alone. We are called to be in community. As women, it is important to have other safe women in your life that you can reach out to for support and encouragement. Whether you are wanting accountability with body image concerns or addressing intimacy issues, it is so much easier to walk through this process with another woman.
Question: How can we prepare now for healthy and strong sexuality when we are in a different season?
I love that you are asking this question because it is so smart to work on creating a healthy foundation early on in your marriage. There will be hurdles and new stressors that pop up at each stage of life as a married couple. In fact, it is often the little things that can add up and take a toll on your marriage. Like running a marathon, you have to train. You cannot successfully complete a marathon by just showing up and running 26.2 miles simply because you love to run. Putting in the work early on can create healthy habits and strong communication skills as you navigate life together.
Part of preparing for a healthy and strong sexual relationship with your husband involves (like so many other aspects of marriage) working on communication. It is important to evaluate each other’s expectations. Having conversations like this at the beginning of marriage sets the tone for the rest of your marriage. Talking about your dreams and expectations in marriage and asking your spouse about theirs can help create healthy communication on a deeper level. This can be sexual expectations as well as expectations for the future, family, time spent with in-laws, etc. Especially when it comes to sex, it is important that both of you are able to share your desires as well as any concerns you have about intimacy. Another benefit to having these conversations is the chance to practice listening and responding to your spouse. Talking about sex can feel extremely vulnerable. Giving your spouse a safe place to talk about their desires or concerns, free from judgement, can increase the feeling of closeness.
Another way to prepare for future stages of life is to practice making romance a priority. Some days you might feel like you are in a romantic comedy while others seem like a lot of work to keep the romance alive. By working on this at the beginning, you are creating a habit that can help carry you through stressful times in the future. Even if you are not planning on having children, there will always be new stressors that arise. By committing to caring for each other and being romantic you are showing your spouse that he is a priority. This can feel like work and be a lot more difficult when in hard stages of life. Romance can look like flirting with your partner, initiating sex, or trying something new to increase intimacy. By taking these steps you are creating healthy habits in your marriage. This is especially important when it comes to your sexual relationship with your husband. Being intentional with intimacy now can help create healthy habits that carry into other stages of life. This may look like scheduling sex, having regular date nights, scheduling/having conversations about your desires and dreams. At first, scheduling these types of things may feel like work, however, it forces you both to become conscious of making time for one another. Even if you don’t have toddlers begging for your attention, what we are talking about does not come naturally. Life is busy in every stage and we can’t always depend on intimacy happening naturally. By creating habits, you are moving towards the goals that you both have for your marriage. If having conversations about sex or desires seems intimidating there are a lot of Christian blogs and other resources out there to give you ideas and conversation starters. Finally, don’t do marriage alone. Whether it’s working on your intimacy or another marital issue, don’t isolate yourselves from others. It is important that you are doing life with other couples and have someone who is safe to help keep you accountable. As women, having a mentor who is another Christian woman (preferably someone who is older) can help encourage you and offer support as you navigate having a healthy marriage.
Question: How do you cultivate intimacy in non-sexual ways so that sexual intimacy is even better?
It is smart to work on your sexual intimacy before you even get to the bedroom and that starts with a great relationship and communication. Establishing emotional intimacy deepens our relationship and can increase our sexual interest and connection, especially for women. One way to do this is to feel heard and understood by your spouse. Create intentional time when you will talk with your spouse, without distractions, about what is important to them. Ask about your partner’s dreams and goals, about projects that they are passionate about, or about their worries. Even if it’s something that he’s said before, try to ask questions and understand his perspective in a new way. I think couples often assume that answers to these questions are the same now as they were when they got married. I have been encouraged to revisit some of the conversations that we had early on in our relationship. What are your goals now? Have they changed? Are you still happy in this career or do you have a desire to try something new? How are you feeling about the state of our family and where we are headed? And of course, questions about sex/intimacy/connection. It is so easy to just assume that you are on the same track and that nothing has changed for your spouse.
Approach these conversations with genuine curiosity in how your spouse’s brain “ticks”. This is also why I think that continual, personal growth and learning in different areas of your life is good for marriages. It keeps you interesting and gives your husband something new to learn about you!
Another way to cultivate intimacy is to learn your own and your spouse’s love language. There are free quizzes online if you don’t know your love language:
Acting out each other’s love language means you are choosing actions that will be most meaningful to your partner and create more intimacy, appreciation, and feelings of affection.
Address intimacy-zappers like resentment, annoying habits, or selfish demands with calm communication and problem-solving. Sometimes our own behaviors are the biggest barriers to intimacy with our spouse and could be easily changed once we understand what our spouse is feeling. Intimacy takes conscious effort and time but pays off with connection emotionally and sexually.
Question: Besides seeing a professional counselor, how do you navigate sex when there has been past sexual trauma?
Quick answer: We would strongly encourage you to sort this out with a counselor. There is not an easy “pat” answer for your question.
Therapy will help you examine how the abuse impacts you in all areas of your life, but also with your sex life. Trauma can make it challenging to express our needs assertively, but therapy can help you identify and communicate about sexual triggers and provide resources for your spouse to understand the impact of abuse. Emotional safety with your spouse is also crucial to create sexual intimacy- you have to trust that your spouse will respond to your emotional needs and requests during intercourse.
But in addition, it is always helpful to grow in your communication skills so that you can effectively talk with your husband about what you need.
For more information, the following books have been found useful:
Not Marked: Finding hope & healing after sexual abuse, by Mary Demuth.
Allies in Healing: When the person you love was sexually abused as a child, a support book for partners, by Laura Davis. This book can be helpful for the couple to go through together.
Question: How can I increase my libido (sexual desire)?
It can be helpful to try to figure out what caused the loss of sexual desire. Or has desire never been present or as strong as you want? Common causes of lack of desire are lack of energy (worn out by work or children or busy-ness or illness, etc.); poor body image including being embarrassed about your body or feeling that your husband does not like your body; lack of a feeling of closeness and trust with your husband; and health problems that affect your physical and/or emotional feelings. If one of these causes resonates with you, look into ways to address that specific need. Often a counselor can help women sort through the issues that may be affecting your sexual desire.
Many of us, if not most of us, experience low sexual desire mostly because of the way we think about sex, or because we don’t think about sex. Our sexual desires are primarily controlled by our minds. The most basic way to increase desire is to think more about sex, in positive ways. Many women find that this is the most powerful way of increasing their desire. Thinking positively about sex includes:
- being appreciative of the ability to be intimate;
- accepting our body as a creation by God, created to experience feelings of love and sexual satisfaction and to give those same experiences to our husbands;
- remembering and rehearsing in our minds the good sexual experiences we have had, such as special times of intimacy you have had with your husband;
- planning for times when you can set aside daily chores and enjoy intimacy;
We would suggest starting with the following suggestion, intentionally practicing it for a week or two, and see if it makes a difference in how you feel about sex:
Develop the habit of thinking about sex at least twice a day. Put discrete (coded) reminder post-it notes in places where you will notice them. The morning after an evening that included physical intimacy, rehearse the parts of the evening that made you feel most loved and that felt the best. (And let your husband know how much you enjoyed it when he ______.)
Try connecting your sexual thoughts to activities that you already do frequently. For example, while you are folding and putting laundry away, think of what you could wear to bed tonight that would be appealing to you and your husband; when you are thanking God for His gracious gifts, thank Him for the gift of physical intimacy and how He has made your body to enjoy it; when taking a shower enjoy how the water feels on your skin; when putting on your shirt, think about how good it feels to have your husbands arms around you, etc.
When you can, during the day remind yourself to focus on sex, especially when you can anticipate a time of intimacy soon, so your mind is already on a receptive wave-length. It’s really hard to shift gears from working hard all day and suddenly warming up to the idea of being physically intimate.
Other ways to increase your sexual desire (or get yourself in the mood) include doing the things and setting the mood for feeling sexy and confident about yourself. Wearing clothing that you think makes you look your best (shows off what you consider your best features, or makes you feel attractive, or that your husband has complimented you on) can make you more confident. For many women, certain songs just feel sexy and having them playing in the background can help boost confidence and set the mood. What is it that makes you feel most sexy and confident leading up to sex? There are many great references that give ideas for improving sexual desire, such as the blog/website https://tolovehonorandvacuum.com. Look for sites that address sexuality from a Christian perspective, and even then use your own discretion. What might be appropriate for one Christian couple may not be acceptable to another.
Question: What would constitute sexual sin within marriage? What is off limits?
The easiest answer is that the practices mentioned in the Bible as being outside of God’s plan would certainly be sexual sins.
According to the Bible, what is not OK in bed?
- a. Fornication (I Cor 7:2; Heb 13:4) – “sexual intercourse between a man and woman not married to each other” American Heritage Dictionary (AHD)
- b. Adultery (Lev 20:10, Heb 13:4) –“voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a partner other than the lawful spouse” (AHD)
- c. Sex acts with someone of the same gender (Rom 1:27, I Cor 6:9)
- d. Impurity/sexually immoral (I Cor 6:9) General terms for inappropriate sex
- e. Orgies/group sex (See previous 4 restrictions and references)
- f. Prostitution (Lev 19:29, I Cor 6:15)
- g. Lustful passions (Mark 7:21-22, Matt 5:27-28) – “unrestrained sexual cravings” (AHD)
- h. Sodomy (Gen 19) “Unnatural sexual intercourse, especially of one man with another or of a human being with an animal” [Dillow & Pintus, pg. 200, quoting the Lexicon Webster Dictionary].
- i. Obscenity and coarse jokes (Eph 4:29)
- j. Incest (Lev 18:7-18)
But beyond those prohibitions, we are also called to positively love our spouse. If we act unlovingly toward him, we are breaking our vow to love him, which could also be viewed as a sin. Since none of us is perfectly loving, this is an area in which we each want to grow toward becoming consistently loving, putting the interests of others ahead of our own interests (Phil 2:4).
So how does that apply to sexuality? It means that neither of us will ask the other to do something that will harm them physically, emotionally, or spiritually. When we are considering adding or changing something in our sexual practices, we will discuss it from the aspect of whether it enhances our fulfillment in a way that is enjoyable to both, will not harm either of us, will not lead us away from focusing on each other or lead to dependency on something apart from each other for our sexual satisfaction. We will communicate (talk!) about concerns where there is a difference of opinion. And we will work toward making our sexual encounters closer and closer to the ideal of truly “making love,” not just enjoying good feelings and getting our sex drive needs met. Focusing on bringing pleasure to each other can bring us the deep fulfillment of love and intimacy in and of itself.
Summarized, what are OK expressions of our sexuality?
a. If it is based on love:
- we both agree on it
- it will not harm either of us
b. If the Bible does not condemn it (see above), then it is OK.
Question: Are different positions ok?
The short answer is yes. Sex is supposed to be a fun and an exciting expression of your love for one another. Different positions can make sex more exciting, can increase pleasure for you and your partner, and can increase the duration of sex. It can also be helpful to take a playful attitude towards sex and exploring new positions. Some of the sex positions that work for some couples will not be enjoyable for others and that’s normal. Some positions may be better suited for people of varying heights or physiques. With some positions you may also run into physical limitations (such as back injury, lack of flexibility, pregnancy). The key is to communicate with one another throughout the process. This should be an experience that is enjoyable for both individuals; approaching it lightly, being able to laugh at what doesn’t work, can help. Taking the pressure off will make the entire process more comfortable and enjoyable together.
When it comes to exploring different positions, it is often helpful to talk about this before sex. You want to make sure that trying different positions is something that both you and your partner are comfortable with. Having conversations about your sexual intimacy is important to figure out what is pleasurable for each of you as well as what you are both willing to try. If you are not talking about how you feel about your sex life your spouse will never know how you feel. Part of being intentional about your sex life is communicating your desires and touching base with your partner concerning each other’s needs.
Question: After experiencing the joy of married sex, no longer possible because of death or divorce, is it OK to masturbate?
This is an important question and you will find a variety of answers given by Christian leaders. One popular writer many years ago wrote that masturbation is God’s gift to single people. But most Christian counselors raise concerns about the effects of masturbation.
The discussion of this question is based on the belief that God designed sex as the culmination of the one-flesh joining of a man and a woman. Sex outside of marriage is outside of His design for our best functioning.
Masturbation is defined as “the sexual stimulation of one’s own genitals for sexual arousal …usually to the point of orgasm.” (Wikipedia) The Bible does not condemn masturbation as such, but the practice of self-pleasuring almost certainly involves actions or thoughts that need to be evaluated as to their appropriateness for a Christian.
Self-pleasuring is usually accompanied by thoughts or fantasies about activities that are condemned in the Bible. At the very least, those thoughts do not fall into the categories of helpful thoughts that are encouraged in Philippians 4:8. If you do remarry, these thoughts might even make it more difficult to enjoy marital sex in the future if your response becomes dependent on fantasies that are in conflict with focusing on your husband during sex. Fantasies can reinforce desires and appetites for things and situations that are not based in reality, and therefore cannot usually be expected in a real human relationship.
Also, in general, instead of satisfying the sex drive, frequent masturbation can increase a person’s sexual desire, which is counter-productive for the single Christian.
Your legitimate needs for touch and intimacy can be met by non-sexual relationships with others and self-care such as creating opportunities to enjoy the sensual (sight, touch, taste, sound, smell) pleasures in life. But it will require extra effort on your part to find and connect with those experiences. I know this is a difficult issue and you are in a difficult situation. It is relatively easy for me as a married woman to say that masturbation is not OK for singles. But I believe strongly that God honors and enables the person who wants to please Him, by giving them what they are looking for in the way of intimacy and deep satisfaction with Him. And this applies to any of our physical and emotional needs. As Jesus said, “Don’t worry about these things”…[what you need to eat or wear or satisfy your desires] “these things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” Matt 6:31-33.
Question: Do you think it is true that the state of a couple’s sex life is a measurement of the state of their relationship? For instance, dry/poor sex life = troubled marriage?
I think the state of a couple’s sex life is ONE measurement of the state of their relationship. For most couples a poor sex life would indicate a significant lack in their relationship. But there are so many marital systems and processes that affect sex, that it is impossible to isolate sex as the only or even the primary determinant of how good the relationship is.
If the couple’s sex life is poor, most likely their communication is also lacking; their level of overall intimacy and vulnerability are probably less than ideal; or they may have physical/aging issues. And it could be that all the unsatisfactory aspects of their relationship tend to be amplified in the sexual arena, because that is an aspect of their relationship in which they may feel most vulnerable. On the other hand, making an improvement in their sex life (by talking honestly about where they are sexually and what they each need and want; taking small steps to help meet the other’s needs, etc.) will probably spill over into improving their relationship as a whole. All of that being said, no one has a “perfect” marriage, 10 out of 10 in each and every area of their relationship. It is possible to have wonderful emotional and spiritual connection AND a poor sex life. And it is possible for a spouse to have low sexual interest but still deeply love and care for his/her partner. Sex is important in marriage, but it isn’t the whole picture.
Question: How do you make sex a priority when it competes with so many other high priorities that may seem more urgent or demanding?
Each couple has to decide where sex is on their priority list and how much time will be devoted to sexual activities.
Since I don’t know the other priorities that this writer is speaking of, I’ll answer this generally. If you want to make sex a higher priority, but find there are other tasks getting in the way, there are a couple tips that can help. First, it would be beneficial to examine your view of sex. Are you possibly allowing other tasks to take priority because you do not think sex is as important? Are you and your partner on the same page about how frequently you will engage in intercourse? Making sex a higher priority would mean creating a desire and importance in your mind and choosing to think about it more, possibly with coded reminders, which will also help increase sexual desire. I think it is helpful to think of sex as a physical demonstration of the love you have for each other. In the same way that you would make sure to have quality time talking with your husband, sex can also be scheduled and that time protected because of the positive impact it has on your relationship. It is also beneficial to talk with your spouse about your desire to make sex a priority. I would suggest making a pact with your husband that when other priorities repeatedly push sex to a lower priority, the partner who notices this happening will gently remind the other partner of your agreement on keeping sex a high priority. This helps you work as a team to solve the problem and limits blaming!