Welcome to part three of my series on the most important 0.625% of your marriage. In part one, I gave you an overview of the series and provided a challenge for you and your significant other to communicate about this highly significant 0.625% of your marriage.
Part two laid the foundation of a biblical theology of intimacy in marriage. In order to fully enjoy God’s gift of physical intimacy, we need to understand what the Bible says about sex. A quick recap reminds us the body is good, sex is good, sex is an opportunity to glorify God, and sexual intimacy is designed for marriage.
When we don’t operate out of this right understanding, sex cannot be what God intended it to be. Here is the first of six reasons why we don’t experience intimacy as God has designed.
Reason #1: We aren’t willing to work hard on our marriage. Our relationship takes work.
The only promise I know of in the bible specifically related to marriage is 1 Corinthians 7:28. “But if you do marry, you have not sinned…. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that.” Marriage is hard work. We cannot have a great sex life without doing the hard work required of marriage. When two selfish people come together in marriage (reality check, every human being), we fight and quarrel because of the selfish desires that wage war within us (James 4:1).
All intimacy (spiritual, emotional, relational, physical) is difficult in marriage. Yet, intimacy with the Lord provides the backbone and foundation for our marriages (see Matthew 7:24-27). When we don’t do the hard work in our marriage, we struggle spiritually (1 Peter 3:7). The converse is true as well – when we aren’t spiritually intimate with the Lord and with each other, we struggle in marriage. I like to say every marriage problem, at it’s foundation, is a spiritual problem.
We often want the quick and easy fix, in life, in marriage and in intimacy. However, you cannot short-cut the hard work. My brother-in-law (and pastor) Chris Conlee says, “It’s the little things we do every day that no one sees, that produce the big things everybody sees that everybody wants.”
Another way to see it comes from my friend John Cox. John talks about the Law of the Farm: it’s the little things and the little steps taken every day that translate into fruit and growth. I’ll be the first to admit I know just about nothing about farming. I do know, however, that farming is hard work, no crop will rise up over night and anything worthwhile takes work and effort.
In other words, it’s the small things we need to do every day in our marriage that produce the fruit that we want in marriage and in intimacy with our spouse. Marriage is hard work. But… you know it is worth the work.
Related to this, not only are we not willing to do the hard work, we often also struggle from a lack of knowledge. We need to give each other permission to be naive and to work through skill and knowledge deficits in marriage and in intimacy. This especially plays out for newlyweds in physical intimacy as they try to discern how to sexually please each other. Intimacy takes work as couples seek to learn and understand each other’s bodies.
The payoff is High.
However, when we do the hard work in our marriage, the payoff is usually, not always, high. Never give up doing the hard work in your marriage. Your vows were easy to say when life was rich, healthy, and ‘better.’ Yet you also committed to poorer, sicker and ‘worser.’ We tell our premarital couples that the work doesn’t end when you say “I do.” Rather, the hard work is just beginning. Take the time to do the hard work to get to know one another as much as you can before you get married and remain a lifelong student of your spouse after you say “I do.”
In her book, The Passion Principles, Shannon Ethridge shares how great sex is so much more than intercourse. Great sex is also about the words we exchange, the ways we serve, the non-sexual touch, and much more. Yes, there are mechanics to a great sex life, but great sex is about so much more than just what happens in the bed.
For Kristen and me, our sexual intimacy is stronger because we do the hard work in our marriage. If I do not love and cherish her, communicate with and serve her, then I do not expect her to want to be intimate with me. If the sex isn’t good, often times it’s because you have some work to do in your marriage.
What if the work is too hard? What if one of you is working and the other won’t? I know this is tough. I’d encourage you to check out marriagehelp.org to get some help and hope for your marriage.
How’s your marriage? Because if you don’t work hard, you probably won’t experience the payoff in the bedroom.
Next Monday: Reason #2 why we don’t experience great intimacy in marriage: ‘It’s More than you Expect….’
Answer both of these questions on your own and then discuss with your spouse:
On a scale of 1-10 (1=horrible, 10=perfection), how would you rate your marriage?
On the same scale, how do you rate your sex life?
Also in this Series:
- Part 1 – The Most Important 0.625% of Your Marriage
- Part 2 – The 411 on the Most Important 0.625%
- Part 4 – Unmet Expectations: The Second Barrier to Intimacy as God Intends
- Part 5 – Let’s Talk about Sex: The Most Important Skill Needed for Great Intimacy
- Part 6 – Crazy Busy: The Fourth Barrier to Sexual Intimacy as God Intends
- Part 7 – How to Live in Freedom: Working Through Your Unresolved Sexual Pain or Sin