Sexual intimacy in marriage is sacred, beautiful and good. It is the deepest level of intimacy you and your spouse can share. In fact, ‘making love’ is such an intense bonding experience that the Bible refers to it as “becoming one flesh.”
The truth is, God ordained sexual intercourse as a way to foster unity in marriage. If handled properly, what this means is that sexual intimacy has the power to create intense physical, emotional and spiritual bonds between you and your spouse.
Part of the challenge, however, is that the man and the woman have different attitudes to sex. This is one of the reasons sex is a sore point in some marriages. It is therefore no wonder that many married couples are more tolerant with their sex lives than they are satisfied.
Now, when it comes to sex in marriage, statistics generally paint a boring and scary picture:
- Married couples say they have sex an average of 68.5 times a year. That is slightly more than once a week. — Newsweek
- 15 to 20 percent of couples have sex no more than 10 times a year, which experts define as a sexless marriage. — Newsweek
- 20 to 30 percent of men and 30 to 50 percent of women say they have little or no sex drive. — USA Today
- Married people under 30 have sex about 111 times a year. – General Social Survey
- About 15 percent of married couples, in a survey, have not had sex with their spouse in the last six months to one year.
According to Marriage Missions International, one in five couples are living in “sexless” marriages, meaning having sex less than 10 times a year. And one-third of married couples struggle with the problem of mismatched sexual desire.
Although there is no magic number that can tell couples how often they should have sex, it is important for couples to discuss their needs openly with their partners and negotiate a relationship that meets both of their needs. While having sex less than 10 times a year is considered sexless, having sex once or twice a week is generally considered average.
It is also important to understand that lack of enough sex in marriage can have grievous consequences:
- When there is a major disconnect in the sex lives of couples, intimacy at all levels tends to drop. Lack of sexual intimacy will further draw married couples apart and make it difficult for them to handle other less serious problems.
- People in sexless marriages are less happy in their unions and more likely to consider divorce.
- It has also been found that infidelity in marriage is sometimes a result of a partner not getting enough sex at home. The partner who is not getting enough is tempted to look outside for his/her sexual needs (although this should never be considered as an option or condoned).
The question is: If sex is so important, and naturally pleasurable, as indeed it is, why is it that some couples struggle in that aspect of their lives?
- Fatigue resulting from too much work. If husband and wife work long hours, there is less interest in sex. The demands of work and home rob people of their energy. This is often the case when husband and wife work round the clock to earn good salaries.
- Routine and boredom. After about five years of marriage issues crop up in the marriage: loans/debts, school fees, frustrations at work, house maintenance and chores etc. Husband and wife settle into a home routine that almost always does not include sex. When they were just married, sex was more frequent. The sex was still great before the children started coming, but when more pressing problems come up, sex goes to the bottom rung of the ladder.
- Medical condition. Husband or wife develops a medical condition that could significantly lessen their sex drive, either from the condition itself or from the effects of the medication.
- Men especially have this issue with performance problems such as premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction, but women also can have issues such as loss of feeling after childbirth and changes to the female reproductive system that can make sexual intercourse unbearable.
- Couples may have unresolved differences that prevent them from enjoying sex together.
- Unhealthy attitudes about sex. One spouse may have been raised to think that sex is more of a duty than something to derive pleasure from.
- Cultural differences could affect the quality and frequency of sex between mixed-marriage couples.
- Deeply-seated psychological problems that make sex impossible. These could be anxiety, fear, or being a rape or incest victim in the past.
Other hindrances to sex in marriage include a job loss, a death in the family, or financial difficulties. Infidelity on the part of one spouse could also lead to the loss of interest in being intimate. Trust issues are also a factor.
Now, a lot of problems can also arise from a terrible sexual history. Some who were sexually abused in childhood become frigid, even when they are married; some become sexually wild and insatiable. Naturally speaking, this can affect people throughout their lifetime. But it shouldn’t. What you should do in such instances is talk to a professional counselor or pastor about it. Most importantly, talk to God, allow His Word heal your mind.
Now, if you are having sex with someone who is not your wife or husband, this is the time to break off that relationship because could destroy your marriage faster. And if your unfaithfulness in the past is constituting a hindrance to your having sexual fulfillment in marriage, then genuinely ask God for forgiveness and move on.
If you are married and your sex life is not as great as it should be, here are some tips for sexual intimacy:
- Shun selfishness. Sex is not just about you, it also about (and I dare say, much more about) your spouse. So get out of that ‘selfish mode’ and begin to place the needs of your spouse above your own.
- Understand your differences. God wired the man and the woman differently, so this affects their sexual desires and the way they handle sex generally. Together, you and your spouse can make the best of your differences.
- Learn to forgive. Resolve any lingering issues in your relationship that have not been dealt with properly.
- Keep the fire of romance burning. Sex is better and more rewarding when the ‘environment’ and accompaniment are right. With your husband or wife, constantly look for and embrace new and exciting ways to make your love and sex lives better and God-honouring.
- Keep the communication line open. It has been discovered that couples who talk over their sex lives (as well as other aspects of their marriages) tend to have healthier marriages. So learn to talk things over with your spouse.Make time for rest and relaxation. Today, many work very hard in pursuit of money and the good things of life, but so readily put off working on their relationships. We must understand that if there is no intimate bond between spouses, all that hard work is ultimately unfulfilling. The loss of our relationship can have deep consequences. So make out time for your spouse—just for relaxation.
- Constantly pray for opportunities to ‘connect’ with your spouse. Never neglect prayers in seeking solutions to sexual issues with your spouse. You will be amazed that praying together and ‘breaking bread’ can remove obstacles to sexual intimacy.
Now, God wired us with a sex drive, and this is one of the most powerful forces man can experience. However, like fire, when it is not contained and controlled, it becomes a damaging and destructive force. May your sex be a pleasurable, relationship building and edifying experience in your marriage now and always. Amen.