Love & Respect in the Bedroom
Author: Susan Thomas
Sexual intimacy is God’s design for every marriage. Sex is His beautiful idea! He holds the copyright. Yet, every counselor hears the common complaint about the lack of passion or health in the bedroom. These cries from the hearts of our clients come in multiple forms and packaging, but all lead to a place of discontent and death inside the marriage relationship.
We have not had sex in months.
I don’t feel attracted to her anymore.
My wife makes me feel like she doesn’t desire me.
My spouse rejected my overture.
I love him, but I just do not desire sex.
She never initiates.
I feel like my husband should leave change on the bedside table.
These statements among many more reflect the pain experienced when it comes to sexual intimacy in marriage. Surely God has a better plan! Our challenge as counselors is to help our clients identify the roots of their sexual dysfunction and gently lead them on the path to healing and redemption.
While sex is certainly not the only important ingredient in a flourishing marriage, it is an absolutely essential ingredient. Apart from a physical illness, handicap or unique circumstance that prohibits individuals, God wants his married couples to make love and make love often. (Read 1 Corinthians 7:5.) Every husband and every wife would do well to seek and follow God’s design when it comes to sexual intimacy.
What is God’s design for sex?
As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” (Ephesians 5:31, NLT)
And don’t you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one.”
. . . Run from sexual sin! (1 Corinthians 6:16, 18a NLT)
I have a real appreciation for simple. Just tell it to me straight! In the Bible, God is clear. God designed sex to unite a husband and wife in the covenant of marriage. This powerful physical and spiritual bond contributes to the mystery of oneness. This God-created act unlocks supernatural blessing to the husband and wife relationship. God wants His married people having sex!
So what is the problem?
Often couples will point to communication, sex, money or other areas of struggle as the reason their marriage is suffering. While each of these areas no doubt contributes to strain and disunity, the root of these issues often goes undetected. Struggles in the bedroom are often symptoms of root problems. This blog will not begin to cover all of the possible roots to our sexual breakdowns. Pre-marital sex, selfishness, physical challenges, sexual abuse, insecurity, and pride are just a few examples of root issues or circumstances that contribute to the breakdown of sexual oneness. But for the purpose of this discussion, I would like for us to consider two major root conditions that either lead us to great health or great sickness in the marriage bed.
So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:33, NLT)
As a wife, when God talks directly to me, my ears perk up. This verse and the passages preceding it contain clear directives to wives and clear directives to husbands. There is no question that a husband is also to respect his wife and a wife is also to love her husband. But, when God gives instruction specifically to each spouse, I believe sometimes it is because He knows the common struggles that are often unique to a husband and unique to a wife.
Let’s talk about LOVE
While God’s command for husbands to love their wives has many applications, I would like to apply this principle specifically to the area of sex within marriage. What does it look like for a husband to “love his wife” in this area of sex? Does simply the act of sex suffice? The more sex we have, the more love I am showing to my wife?
Most of us are all familiar with the concept of lust versus love. Common culprits of lust such as pornography, fantasy about other women or men, unfaithfulness and more come easily to our minds. These products of lust lure us to wander outside the marriage covenant. But, have we ever considered that lust can actually show itself inside the marriage relationship? The reality is that we can have sex with our spouse and be driven by lust.
While lust is a common temptation that seeks to imprison the hearts of many men, lust is not a trap set only for men. Both husbands and wives benefit when these sly seeds of lust are detected and eradicated from their relationship. How can we determine if love or lust is present?
What is driving you?
We have to start by looking at the heart. What is driving you when it comes to sex with your spouse? It is your love for them or your need to receive from them? Is it your craving for pleasure or is it your deep desire to bring them pleasure and God glory? Are you chasing a high to fulfill you or are you thanking God for this good gift in your life and trusting Him as your fulfillment?
A word of warning:It is possible to objectify your spouse. Rather than sex being an expression of love in your relationship, it is possible to view her or him as a means to your pleasure. This is a very subtle trap requiring humility, prayer and God’s help for detection.
Lust sacrifices others to serve oneself. Love sacrifices self to serve others.
Sex within marriage is a gift from God driven by love. But, lust in marriage will hurt and destroy. We must be diligent to examine our hearts and allow God to uproot lust and replace it with His love.
Let’s talk about RESPECT.
God commands wives to respect their husbands. The opposite of respect is disrespect. The Bible is clear that God’s design leads to life. Thus, respect leads to life and disrespect leads to death. Again, there are countless applications of this truth when it comes to marriage, but we are going to look at the effects of disrespect and struggles in marital sex.
A wife’s disrespect comes in many forms. Rolling her eyes, harsh or biting words, consistent critique and nagging are just a few examples of common disrespect within marriage. In addition to these outward expressions, there can be the silent-but-deadly mental disrespect that plays out inside her head. “He can’t do anything right!” “I wish he would do things my way.” “When is he going to change?”
This barrage of silent or not-so-silent disrespect chips away at a couple’s intimacy. Is it any wonder that a disrespecting wife struggles to feel attracted to her husband? How do we expect to feel attracted to him when we’ve allowed an attitude of disrespect to rule our hearts? Or, why are we surprised when our husband is not in to us? Many a husband in the counseling office has described their instinct to simply retreat and create distance from their wife’s biting disapproval.
Disrespect divides. And again, this does not only pertain to women. The disapproving attitudes and critical words of a husband can cut just as deep. Either way, disrespect squelches the passion God desires for us to experience in marriage and inhibits His gift of sexual intimacy.
God has better for us! He wants to breathe life into our marriages. God wants to heal the marriages of the people who sit in our counseling offices. We must ask Him to reveal any wayward root within our hearts and run to Him in confession. He promises to forgive and heal!
Posted on March 26, 2012