We get a lot of questions about sex and marriage in our sessions (especially from our pre-marital couples) but we thought we would take some common marriage-related questions about sex and address them! Christians need to talk about sex! In case you missed our sex blog series from last spring, you can start with “Let’s Talk about Sex.“
1. Why is sex so important in a marriage?
More specifically, the question I hear the most is: “Is sex really that critical to a healthy marriage?” For some, it seems like a ‘no-brainer, but for others, this is a sensitive subject that is avoided like the plague, usually because they were brought up in a home where the topic was not openly discussed.
It is true that there is a lot more to marriage than sex, however, sex is something that seems to affect us holistically, which makes it a top priority!
Physically, there are benefits on a biochemical level. Oxytocin (often referred to as the “cuddle hormone”) is the stress-relieving hormone that is released at birth, during nursing or massages, and other positive touch, when expressing empathy, and most importantly for the sake of this post… at the time of orgasm. It is crucial to the process of bonding and connecting and has been associate with generosity, trust, and safety.
Spiritually, there are benefits that are suggested in Scripture. Mark 10:8 says that a man and woman become one flesh in marriage, “so that they are no longer two but one flesh.” The joining of our bodies and souls, sexually, is a spiritual act because this kind of unity places the marriage relationship in a category apart from any other human relationship. This level of intimacy can be an act of worship! “Worship” means “to ascribe worth to something.” Sex is an opportunity to praise, thank, and express, and ascribe worth to God for the gift of sex that He designed! It may seem odd to consider God’s presence when you are making love, but it can lead to a deeper spiritual connection as a couple.
Emotionally, there are many benefits to your mental health. Because of the interplay between oxytocin, and the connecting of our souls, we experience emotional security and connection that decreases our anxiety, drives away feelings of loneliness and sadness that are associated with depression, and boosts our self-esteem.
2. Why do some people struggle with sexual intimacy?
The top three reasons I see as contributing to a lack of sexual intimacy, most commonly are:
Emotional disconnection. In order to experience a higher level of sexual satisfaction, couples must learn positive rhythms of healthy emotional connection. The easiest way to practice this is by engaging in consistent conversation about your ‘internal world’ with your spouse. Examples might sound something like this: “I have been thinking a lot about…” or “All day, I have been feeling…” or “I can’t get ……. off of my mind.” This kind of conversation lets your spouse in on a more emotionally vulnerable level and gives them access to parts of you that you may keep protected in other relationships.
BONUS: there is some research that suggests that making eye contact can release Oxytocin, making emotionally connecting conversation even more of a bonding experience.
Unresolved trauma from the past (specifically sexual trauma). “Trauma” can be simply defined as “a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.” In Greek, the word literally means “wound.” Research shows us that our bodies store trauma and that when we experience various forms of psychological, physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal trauma… our ability to emotionally and/or physically connect with our partner is inhibited. Trauma therapies such as EMDR or Brainspotting can help victims of abuse work through these distressing memories and physiological blocks so that they can find healing.
Distraction. Let’s face it, life gets super busy (especially with kiddos running around and vying for our attention and energy). At the end of long days, we often feel like crashing and struggle to rally the small reserve of energy that we have left to engage with our partner, sexually. One good solution for this issue is mutually agreed upon, scheduled time for sex! Though it may sound strange, couples who make time for and prioritize sex in their marriage have a healthier connection, higher levels of satisfaction, and decreased conflict.
3. What are some questions I can ask my spouse to talk more clearly about our sexual expectations?
Sometimes it can feel awkward to talk about what I like to call “sexpectations.” But it is SO important! You and your spouse may have some specific ideas of things you want to try or feel like you need as part of connecting sexually, but feel embarrassed or ashamed to bring them up. Here are some starter questions to consider for yourself and/or to bring to your spouse to have a conversation about your sexual desires!
-What ways do you show me that you are initiating sex? Give me details.
-Which love-making positions would you like to try the next time we have sex?
-What would you enjoy doing during foreplay?
-Where are two places you would like to make love outside of our bedroom?
-Is connecting emotionally before we have sex important to you? If so, how would you like to connect? What can I do to help with that?
-What are your expectations after sex?
Overall, talking about sex during therapy can be embarrassing, but at Cornerstone Christian Counseling we specialize in offering the best marriage counseling services near you! Without judgment, our specially trained counselors are ready to work with you to help improve your marriage today!