Your sex life is a symptom not the problem

Crystal Cox

My husband and I married 20 years ago. We were excited for what marriage would be. I recall wise advice from family and friends as we prepared for marriage. I also recall many negative comments disguised as joking. 

“Well, the honeymoon will soon be over.” 
“Enjoy your last days of freedom.” 

There really was nothing funny about the pain behind many of those comments, and sadly, it seemed we heard more of this advice than any other. So many people look at marriage as a trip that starts really good but ends in disappointment. The first days are fun; the scenery is beautiful. You enjoy the food and activities. 

Then, it starts raining. Your reservations are canceled. You realize there are a limited number of restaurants at your vacation destination and get bored with the choices. You start wishing you could go back home or comparing this vacation to the others you could have taken. 

Things aren’t what you imagined so you just bear down and deal with it as long as it lasts. 

Marriage Is God’s Idea

Genesis 2:22-24 reminds us God designed marriage, and everything God created is good: 

“Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.’ That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” 

We knew this view of marriage as a big disappointment couldn’t be right. But like so many, for so long, we too accepted less than God’s best. And the area that seemed to suffer most was our sexual relationship. 

Talking to many couples through the years, sex and intimacy is a common and painful area of struggle. But why? Why did we start out so excited for the physical intimacy marriage would bring but soon feel like we had no common ground? Were the negative advisors right after all?

I still consider we had a pretty good marriage during what we now call “the dry years.” We loved each other, we didn’t fight, we make lots of great memories together, and we welcomed our children into the world. But Jesus didn’t die for us to have a pretty good anything. Jesus came so we “may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). 

Honesty Is the Key to Intimacy

It took many years to figure out our sexual relationship was not really the biggest problem in our marriage. The biggest problem is that we weren’t being honest with each other. If something was wrong, we avoided conflict by saying we were fine. We hid our biggest struggles from each other and for sure we didn’t discuss our sexual relationship. 

Our sexual relationship was not really the biggest problem in our marriage. The biggest problem is that we weren’t being honest with each other.

Honesty is essential to marriage. What we see looking back is our lack of honesty in any area carried over into our sexual relationship. We need to be honest with ourselves and our spouse. The foundation of doing this is knowing the truth of God’s Word. 

Proverbs 24:26 says, “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.” Honesty is a way we can love our spouse. 1 John 3:18 encourages us to, “not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” So how does honesty play out each day?

We have to be honest with ourselves. Marriage is hard and there are many things we don’t expect. There are also many great surprises. If you haven’t already, ask yourself: What do you want? What do you need? What does your spouse need from you?

In addition to being honest with ourselves, we have to be honest with our spouses. Consider the following: 

  • What are we feeling? 
  • What are our frustrations? 
  • What do we want sexually? 
  • What makes each of us feel loved?

Marriage doesn't guarantee great sex. Honesty paves the way to intimacy and great sex.

The Adventure of a Lifetime

When I was in high school, a family beach vacation ended quickly when a hurricane approached. We had to pack everything and leave. I was so disappointed! 

We returned a day later to the surprise of finding amazing shells and animals I had never seen washing up on the beach. In the midst of the storm, I couldn’t imagine an amazing result. 

In the midst of years of marriage where we hid our most significant struggles and emotions, I couldn’t imagine the intimacy of truly knowing my husband. So after 20 years, I know the advice I cringed at doesn’t have to be true. The honeymoon doesn’t have to be over.

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