How does a couple know if they’re on the right track with regard to intimacy, or if their habits and patterns could spell trouble? Well, most experts agree that every couple is unique. What’s enough for one couple might be unsatisfactory for another. The only way to take the temperature of your love life is to have good communication and honesty with your husband.
Few newlyweds would imagine how complicated the sexual part of marriage can become as the relationship—and life—grows and changes. Early on, most couples are physically drawn to one another like magnets. As children, job stress, finances and other real-world factors creep in, sex can easily become unfulfilling or be pushed to the side altogether.
It’s important to remember however, that physical intimacy is an important part of God’s design for marriage. It’s both a method of creating a deeper, more bonded relationship between husband and wife; and a celebration of that connection. To neglect or give up on a healthy sex life with your spouse is to remove one of the major pillars from the foundation of your marriage.
In his book Now You’re Speaking My Language, Gary Chapman discusses the role of communication in deepening all types of marital intimacy: emotional, intellectual, sexual and spiritual. With regard to all of these dimensions of marriage, consistent, honest communication is the indispensible foundation for success.
Why Communication is Key
Chapman points out that because the sexual relationship in many ways depends upon health in the other areas of the relationship, foreplay doesn’t begin “after we get in bed, but twelve to sixteen hours before we get in bed.” For women in particular, sexual intimacy after the lights go out is built upon a day in which the lines of communication have been open, and sharing has occurred emotionally, intellectually and socially. Both partners need to feel understood and valued—goals that are only accomplished through communication.
Of equal importance is talking about the sexual experience itself. He writes:
“Because we are different and have different desires and needs, we cannot expect to find mutual fulfillment if we do not openly discuss our needs. Thus, we must make time to share with each other what brings us pleasure in the sexual experience and what irritates us or discourages sexual excitement. These are to be shared not with a condemning attitude but with a view to sharing information that will be helpful in our efforts to bring pleasure to each other.”
Ask this Question…
Chapman encourages couples to ask each other every three months or so “What one thing would you like me to do or not do that would enhance our sexual relationship for you?” And then make a real effort to respond to those requests. It’s not so much about performance, or mastering some technique, but acknowledging that you care about the sexual needs of your partner and want to meet them.
Another area that should be assessed in your regular “love life check-up” is frequency. This is one of the greatest areas of discrepancy among men and women, with husbands typically desiring more frequent sexual encounters than their wives. Talk about whether you’re making enough time to foster this element of your marriage, and if not, what adjustments you can make to improve. It may be as simple and getting the kids to bed earlier to create opportunity, or agreeing on a secret signal you can give one another when you’d like to be alone. One husband and wife used the code word “appointment.” When the husband wanted a chance for physical intimacy with his wife, he’d ask—with a wink—to make an appointment with her for later in the evening.
For more on frequency read Are We Normal?
Which brings us to our final point: have fun! While maintaining a healthy sex life is very important, it doesn’t have to be so serious. Flirt and laugh with your spouse during the day. Touch each other in passing. It’s amazing the amount of energy that can be created between a man and a woman with a really great good-bye kiss in the morning or an equally intentional welcome at the end of the day. It’s like rubbing sticks together to make a campfire—with some consistent contact, you’ll eventually get a spark!