Today is our last day in Paris, after several days in London. Dan and I have enjoyed our whirlwind European vacation, but I’m excited to jump into the holidays back at home. I have another guest post today by Christa Hardin.
Christa is a Relationship & Life Coach. She owns Reflections Counseling & Coaching, which combines proven psychological methods and coaching tools with Christian values.
Let’s Talk About Married Sex
“We just don’t have enough sex,” lamented Jenna* one late Monday evening.
I didn’t bat an eye. The private practice I’d run for over a decade as a psychologist-turned-
I looked at her husband, Matthew.* He shifted uncomfortably.
Here we go again.
I hoped this couple was ready to “go there,” since it was obviously a place of distress.
Sexual issues can cause serious marriage problems. It isn’t wise for a coach or therapist to skirt around them if it’s causing problems in a couple’s life.
And I’ve come to learn over the years that it sometimes goes in that in marriage, one spouse wants sex, like all the time and the other, pretty much never.
Such was the case here.
How often do married couples have sex?
And if you’re curious about your own sex life versus other American couples, most married couples, according to 2010-2011 surveys done by Durex, have sexual intercourse about 118 times a year or about once to twice a week, and two-thirds of couples say that they wish for more of it.
Now before you allow these stats to bring you down for one reason or another as in…
“My husband still wants more and we’re above average…”
“We don’t have sex nearly this often. Maybe there’s something wrong with me…”
Remember, these are averages, not actual people. Out of those surveyed, 29% wish they had a higher sex drive, 31% would like more fun and communication with their partner, and 37% want to feel less stressed out and tired. In other words…
You’re definitely not alone.
By the way, even though husbands often want more intimacy, reverse situations like Jenna and Matthew are also totally common.
Why do couples have sexual issues?
Reasons couples disagree about sex vary.
Exhaustion, opposite schedules and a time crunch are pretty typically the biggest perpetrators, and so are sexual dysfunction issues such as erectile dysfunction, vaginismus and physical injury or illness.
Throw trauma-related issues in the middle of it all and you’re almost there…
And with personal preferences and sexual ideologies that formed long before tying the knot added to the mix, you’ve got the backstory pretty well covered, too.
So back to Matthew and Jenna.
After a couple more embarrassed stammers, they were so relieved that I wouldn’t run out the door once they cracked it open!
How could they have known how many embarrassing situations of my own God has “gifted me with” to take every possible couple’s issue and make them no biggie whatsoever….
So I comforted them with that quickly and then normalized their issue! 🙂
And then both spouses started telling me their side.
Matthew touched on the issues that blocked him from desire; fatigue, some low testosterone and not always feeling attracted to his wife.
He expressed a desire for connection, a satisfaction with the marriage in general, but in the sexual arena, he felt they just weren’t hitting a high note. Literally.
Jenna was devastated that Matthew wasn’t always attracted to her… But angry that he blamed her for it. Didn’t he have the so-called “problem”?
But more than anything, they both desperately wanted a basic question answered:
Should a spouse try to give sexual pleasure to their spouse despite their emotional or physical discomfort?
This is so a gray area. And I do hate that a recent and disturbed bestseller has sullied the remark about shades of gray, but there just wasn’t a simple black and white answer to give them…
Or you, if you’re wondering the same thing…
But if I’m pressed to choose, ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ my answer may surprise you….
It’s a definite ‘no.’
Why? It’s simple.‘No’ implies choice…
And don’t you want your spouse to be able to make a choice when they decide to have sex with you?
If you answer ‘no’ here, you’ve got a new problem. A bigger one. Because your spouse was made to make decisions based upon his or her God-given freedom.
And even though the Bible says, and forgive my paraphrase, “Give it to your spouse when they want it,” in 1st Cor 7:3, Jesus definitely didn’t mean for anyone to be forced. He specifically condemns rape in the Bible in Deut 22 and 2nd Sam 13 as well as elsewhere.
And whatever your opinion of Jesus, I hope we all agree on the fact that Jesus wants us to be thoughtful and caring with our spouse and to see them as a whole person, not an object.
So when someone’s sick long term, when someone’s reacting from trauma, when someone’s feeling angry, depressed, or dealing with grief, no, it’s not always an ideal time for sex.
But if that’s the case, it’s a wonder anyone ever has it, right?
What does healthy married sex and abstinence include?
Because though the really bad times come, not every day or season is that difficult…
As long as you don’t allow your issues to be permanent obstacles to sexual pleasure.
And here comes the true meaning of the 1st Corinthians verse. When times aren’t crazy awful, God wants us to remember and preference one another.
And yes, love often means sacrifice and doing something when you don’t feel like it.
While you always hear that waiting before marriage to have sex really helps, it turns out that sometimes waiting during marriage helps too.
And if you’re brave like Matthew and Jenna and you suck up the embarrassment enough to actually work through your stuff with each other?
Your sex life, however often it occurs, inevitably becomes a gift to you both!!
Not at all boring…
And just plain fun.
But whatever your issue, just talking it out isn’t quite enough.
Being intentional about making time for it goes a long way too…
How can couples prioritize sex?
One elderly couple reminded my husband and I of this intentional priority as newlyweds.
And their tip, loudly elicited at a quiet restaurant after church one day was spot on. Setting notwithstanding, it was unforgettable mentoring.
The advice? If you’re not having sex at home, don’t serve at church.
I so didn’t see that coming in that particular moment from our dear friends who had never talked about sex before with us.
And their point, which they explained after they waited for us to swallow our food and recover from shock for a minute, was actually a great one.
They didn’t mean it how some controlling spouses have unfortunately taken statements like this and 1st Cor passage above incorrectly, saying…
“You better give it to me or you’re not allowed to go church.” or “God says you have to give it to me even if you’re tired.”
They were just wisely reminding us that life gets crazy. And that being intentional with your sex life is pretty important, even more important than your to-do list many times, even in your church life to-do list.
How about that best-ever married sex?
So, in this much safer and more personal context of Brita’s blog…
(Unless you’re reading this in a quiet restaurant to in a text-to-speech setting)…
I leave you with these three simple take-homes for your own version of the best married sex yet:
Be respectful of your spouse’s emotional and physical space in all arenas of marriage, your sex life and elsewhere! If they’re super upset, don’t assume they want to have sex to feel better. Yes, that is some people’s favorite salve for a broken heart. But if it isn’t, back off for bit and tell them you’re ready when they are so they know your desire.
Make sure you don’t prioritize everything else over intimacy. Otherwise there’s no time or stamina left by the time Cinderella and Prince Charming finally get to go to the ball! Prioritize it, planning it on a calendar if needed.
Talk about your sex life. As in with each other 🙂 If you’re always getting into fights when you do, or you’re nervous about what to say and ask, I’ve created this nifty guide for you to talk about it right here which should help! It’s question by question and you don’t even have to look up while you read the questions over to each other. (But I hope you will).
Where can I learn more about married sex?
Still not sure how to bring this topic up in your own marriage? Check out the free resources I share through my weekly emails for couples every Friday as well as our Facebook Live shows we do weekly as well!
I’d love to work with you if you find yourself in a pinch in this or any other marriage arena also! I’m the creator of the R & R Marriage Program, where I share my best tips and a straightforward process for healing. I’ve got testimonials here and over a decade of life-giving and successful work with couples if you want to see true stories of healing!