We all know that sexual intimacy is as important for the health and vitality of the marriage relationship as is emotional closeness and spiritual connection. Sexual nourishment that feeds both husband and wife is the dessert of married life.
Strengthening your marriage intimately – emotionally, spiritually and sexually – is one of the most important efforts in which you can put your time and energy.
So-called desire discrepancies between husband and wife can be a thing of the past, as couples come to understand the intricacies of intimacy and mutual sexual fulfillment.
Couples can create a rich and fulfilling intimate relationship with the help of these suggestions:
- Make your sexual relationship a matter of prayer.
- Make your intimate relationship a priority.
- Get better educated about sex, intimacy and marriage.
- Be willing and able to discuss your sexual relationship openly and honestly.
- Overcome intimate inhibitors, such as negative thoughts, fears, or relationship issues.
- Relax, have fun and be playful with each other!
#1 – Make Your Sexual Relationship a Matter of Prayer
When my husband and I decided to go to the Lord to make our intimate relationship a matter of prayer, it was a bit unnerving. How embarrassing it seemed to go to God to ask about such private and embarrassing stuff.
Couples need not be embarrassed or uncomfortable talking to the Lord about anything. Just remember that it was God who created sex in the first place. He already knows what we need before we even ask. He is very interested in helping us create the wonderful marital relationship He designed for us.
The sexual relationship in marriage has been accurately referred to as a sexual “crucible.” It is one of the most challenging marital learning grounds God created for a husband and a wife.
Our human capacity alone will not be sufficient to overcome our inherent differences and make something divine out of something so often debased and distorted by Satan and society.
To create a passionately fulfilling intimate relationship will take not only our works, but more importantly, God’s grace.
God wants you to have a wonderfully fulfilling sexual relationship with your spouse. He will guide you to the ideas, information and resources you specifically need to create the relationship of your dreams.
If you will partner with God, He will make your efforts exponentially more effective in creating an emotionally, spiritually and sexually satisfying relationship.
#2 – Make Your Intimate Relationship a Priority
Couples must learn to schedule priority time and effort (not leftovers) for physical intimacy and intimate learning. It’s so easy to let other responsibilities gobble up our energy and our time.
What could be more important than keeping our marriages strong and alive and passionate! A strong sexual relationship flows into every area of one’s life in so many positive ways.
Make expressing sexual love to each other a high priority on your “to do” list. Schedule time not only for lovemaking, but also to gain knowledge and understanding of the intricacies of physical intimacy.
Read and discuss helpful books on the subject, and apply the insights into your marriage. Don’t think you know all there is to know on the subject. Be willing to learn, and make both the learning and the “practicing” a priority.
Make it a priority to shut down the computer, the television or the washing machine early enough in the evening to have some time together, while you still have energy – even if it’s just for some pillow talk to connect emotionally.
Schedule a Friday or Saturday night as a regular date night with lots of time together for whatever sounds fun!
Plan to have time together on another evening of the week to read and discuss a chapter from a good book about sexual intimacy. Make these discussions interactions with “no strings attached.”
#3 – Get Better Educated about Sex, Intimacy and Marriage
Sexual ignorance is not bliss. Couples are often lacking in understanding and effective application of insights regarding two major areas of the sexual relationship:
- Accepting and working effectively within the differing sexual wiring of men and women;
- Understanding the intricacies of the female sexual response.
What comes naturally will not necessarily be satisfying for both husband and wife. Many sexual wiring differences exist between husband and wife that must be understood and accepted for couples to create passion in their relationship.
One example is that for men sex generally begins as a physical/sexual desire, whereas for women sex generally begins as an emotional desire that if nurtured properly can become a sexual desire.
Consider the six T’s of the female sexual response:
For women sex begins with positive and productive Thoughts and beliefs about sex, themselves, and their spouses.
The Tenderness, or emotional intimacy, between husband and wife is the initial foreplay for sexual responsiveness in women.
Teasing and playfulness set the ideal tone for intimate and passionate sexual expression between husband and wife.
Talking is one of the best ways to cultivate emotional connection as a couple, which can then more easily lead to sexual expression.
Where men are more easily aroused visually or even just mentally, women require a sufficient degree of physical/sexual Touch to fully engage the mind and body in lovemaking.
Truly meaningful and fulfilling lovemaking requires Time. Men can more easily function like a microwave, whereas women need Time for their desires to simmer and percolate through their sexual senses for full expression.
All couples can benefit from some sexual learning from helpful books, and from each other. (Click here for a list of this writer’s favorite books on sexual intimacy in marriage.)
#4 – Be Willing and Able to Discuss Your Sexual Relationship Openly and Honestly
One of the biggest impediments to improving sexual relations in marriage is the discomfort and embarrassment many couples experience in discussing their sexual relationship openly, honestly and frankly.
Many reasons exist that keep us from discussing or sharing insights with each other on this vital aspect of marriage. Things such as: thinking it’s too personal or sacred, feeling ashamed or fearful, hoping our spouse will just read our mind, or not wanting to appear selfish, or hurt our spouse’s feelings each keep us from discussing this delicate dimension of our relationship.
Couples can more easily discuss their sexual relationship in a neutral manner by reading and discussing helpful books together.
Either spouse can diminish fears and discomfort by practicing having such a conversation with himself in the mirror, or by having a frank discussing with God out loud to practice saying some of the more challenging words.
Even just practicing saying the word “sex” in front of the mirror can be beneficial.
#5 – Overcome Intimate Inhibitors, Such As Negative Mental Conditioning, Fears, or Relationship Issues
Because making love begins in the mind, creating a welcoming mental environment for positive and productive sexual thoughts and beliefs is key. If mental clutter gets in the way, it is more difficult for the body to respond favorably.
Spend some time pondering and, more importantly, free writing about the following questions:
- What have I been taught about sex? What messages have I internalized?
- What memories and experiences have I had that may contribute to my current beliefs, thoughts and emotions about sex?
- What do I like about sex?
- What don’t I like about sex that might be getting in the way of fully engaging sexually?
- What do I like about my body?
- What don’t I like about my body that might be getting in the way of fully engaging sexually?
- What do I think about my spouse regarding our sexual relationship? Are my thoughts and feelings generally positive and productive, or negative and destructive?
- What relationship issues seem to get in our way?
- What things could I focus on about my spouse that would support a more close and connected intimate relationship?
- What do I think God thinks about sex? What would He like to teach me about it?
For those of us who don’t regularly have spontaneous sexual thoughts, we can spend time cultivating intimate thoughts and feelings about our spouse.
We can also learn to discipline our mind to focus on the good things about our spouse, our self, and our bodies, which can feed the emotional and sexual relationship in our marriage.
Our sexuality has more to do with how we feel about our self and our relationship to God than it has to do with anyone or anything else. A healthy acceptance of one’s sexual self sends a message of giving to our spouse that says, “I like who I am, and I’m happy to share it with you.”
#6 – Relax, Have Fun and Be Playful with Each Other!
Learn how to be playful with each other if playfulness is underdeveloped in your relationship. See how many times you can steal a touch, or catch a wink at each other during the day. Sneak up to your spouse and kiss him/her on the neck, then walk away with a big smile.
Call your spouse during the day and playfully tease him or her in some way. Practice looking at your spouse with more loving and longing eyes. Develop the habit of thinking intimately enticing thoughts about your spouse. Turn up the music and dance.
If any of these behaviors are difficult for you, then it is especially important to work on creating a more relaxed and playful mood in your relationship.
We were divinely designed as multi-dimensional beings – mind, body, and spirit – with God’s blessing upon sexual expression within marriage. Couples must learn to see their sexuality not only as a vital part of the intimate relationship in marriage, but also as a vital part of their wholeness and aliveness.
Both husband and wife must take responsibility for developing (either bridling or cultivating) their sexuality, and learning the art of lovemaking in order to create a mutually fulfilling relationship. Cultivating our sexual potential in marriage leads to greater mental, emotional, and physical health, happiness and wholeness.
The sexual relationship in marriage is one of God’s great gifts to a husband and wife. It is a wonderful environment, in which couples can learn to fully relax, as they leave their cares behind, and explore the sacred marital playground.
Know that you have God’s blessing on your intimate sexual relationship. Know that He wants you to thoroughly enjoy each other, and experience the ecstasy He designed for husbands and wives.
People search the world over trying to find something that can compare to that which is found only in the intimate, committed, and passionate sexual relationship of marriage. This is the real deal! No substitute or counterfeit can ever truly satisfy our need for intimate connection.
Nourish the sexual relationship in your marriage and fully partake in the divine desserts of married life.
Laura M. Brotherson, CFLE, is a wife, mother, intimacy educator, and the author of a groundbreaking book on intimacy and ONEness entitled “And They Were Not Ashamed – Strengthening Marriage through Sexual Fulfillment.” She serves as a member of the executive committee of the LDS Marriage Network, and is co-founder with her husband of Strengthening Marriage, Inc. Visit www.StrengtheningMarriage.com to learn more. Laura welcomes your comments at [email protected].
Visit Laura Brotherson at BYU Women’s Conference during one of her two BYU Bookstore “Meet the Author” / Book-signings: Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007 – 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. and Thursday, May 3rd – 4 – 6 p.m.