Sexual Fulfillment in Marriage Part 1
Good, fulfilling, and satisfying sex is a very important issue in a marriage relationship. When couples get married, sex is one of the major features that they look forward to enjoying together. But sex is also an area of marriage that can cause confusion, misunderstanding, and frustration for couples who don't realize its importance from a Biblical perspective.
The birds and the bees
To find sexual fulfillment in our marriages, we must first understand God's design for sex. We were created by God as sexual beings. Our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made according to Psalm 139:14. Part of the physical creation that God gave to us is the gift of sex. There are some people who may think that God tolerates sex just for the purpose of procreation, but that He doesn't expect us to enjoy it. That statement couldn't be farther from the truth. The wonderful pleasure that comes from sex is no mistake; God intended married couples to enjoy sex to its fullest.
Although it's true that God intends us to enjoy one another sexually, there are certain parameters that we cannot ignore. The Bible states that sex outside of marriage is wrong. God intended for sex to be shared within a committed, God-centered relationship between a man and a woman. Anything apart from that is sin. Today, we hear many voices that say these Biblical standards are outdated and obsolete. People claim to have found freedom from the shackles of sexual restraints by adopting an "anything goes" lifestyle and attitude related to sex.
The instruction manual
So how has this liberated attitude toward sex affected our society? Its proponents believe they have found freedom and satisfaction without consequence. But the consequences are very real, and the statistics are staggering. Today, an estimated one in five Americans is infected with a viral sexually transmitted disease. There are 900,000 new cases of HIV diagnosed every year in the U.S. Unwanted pregnancies result in 1.3 million abortions each year in America. Turning our backs on God's design for sex has produced a literal nightmare of disease and even death.
God has given us sexual boundaries for our pleasure and also for our protection. When you purchase a new car, you are given an instruction manual from the manufacturer. The instruction manual gives guidelines on how to properly operate your new car so that you will gain the most satisfaction from it. Life also comes with an instruction manual ? the Bible. If we choose not to abide by the instructions that are given us in God's Word, then we cannot place blame on God when problems result.
A river of pleasure
The only place to find fulfillment in sex is within a relationship that is based on intimacy and trust. When you give yourself sexually to another person, it's important to know that this person is someone you can trust. That kind of trust is found only within the Biblical standard of a committed marriage relationship. In our world today, there are many who indulge in one-night stands and short-lived "flings." A sexual partner may say he or she is committed to you today, but tomorrow may be gone.
Some people hold the belief that sex with one partner is boring and unsatisfying. Actually, the opposite is true. Research indicates that longevity of relationship usually improves a couple's sexual satisfaction. In an article for Parade magazine (March 1994), Dr. Georgia Witkin, assistant professor of psychiatry and reproductive sciences at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, dispels the myth that a long-term sexual relationship breeds discontent. She states, "Most long-term couples do not suffer from sexual boredom," adding that, "When it comes to sex, familiarity breeds contentment rather than boredom."
God's wonderful plan for sex in marriage brings fulfillment with no risk of disease and the accompanying heartache. When a couple is practicing monogamous, heterosexual sex, disease is not even an issue. Sex outside of marriage is like drinking from a stagnant pond in which reside all types of fungus and bacteria. The next drink may bring you disease and even death. But sex within marriage is like taking a deep, refreshing drink from a pure, sparkling clean river that never runs dry.
Respecting the differences
Once couples realize that sexual fulfillment is God's intention for their marriages, the next question they often ask is, "How do we find that fulfillment?" There are several important keys that every couple must know in order to experience sexual fulfillment.
The first key is understanding and accepting the differences between men and women related to the issue of sex. Men and women are very different from each other in their sexual needs, desires, and responses. Failure to understand and respect these differences can cause rejection, unmet needs, and frustration in a marriage relationship.
What he needs
Men are generally more sexual than women, especially in their earlier years. Most researchers agree that men reach their sexual peak around 20 years of age, while women reach their sexual peak at approximately age 40. If an average couple marries in their early to mid-20's, it's very common that the man will want sex a lot more often than his wife will. Often times a woman won't understand her husband's need for sex and will think his desires are perverted or wrong.
It's been said that "men have the need for sex, and women have the gift of sex." Although a wife may not need as much sex as her husband, she is the vessel through which his needs can be met. If she refuses to meet his needs, she is creating a tremendous amount of hurt and frustration for her husband. On the other hand, if she commits to satisfy his sexual needs, it can be the means through which intimacy is shared emotionally as well as physically.
Many times the tables are turned later in life. When a woman turns 40 or 50, she may find that her sexual needs are stronger than her husband's. The needs of a husband and wife will vary throughout the different ebbs and flows of life. The important thing is that couples make a commitment to honor each other by meeting their sexual needs even though they may be different.
Compartmental vs. inclusive
Sexual responses between men and women are vastly different. Men are compartmental and immediate in their ability to respond sexually, while women are inclusive and slower to respond. A man has the capacity to come home after a terrible day at work, detach himself from his problems, and immediately enter into a sexual encounter with his wife. He has the ability to compartmentalize all of the events of his day and all of the problems of tomorrow and still respond sexually.
God made men compartmental for an important reason. In his pursuit of providing for and protecting his family, a man must go out into the world every day and face the pressures and demands of the workplace. Because he is compartmental, he is then able to come home, disassociate from the pressures he faced, and immediately connect to his wife and children.
On the other hand, women are inclusive in their ability to respond. Everything that happens to a woman throughout the day is carried with her to the bedroom that night. She doesn't have the ability to disassociate herself from all the events of the day, the week, and even the month, and immediately respond to her husband. Gary Smalley once said that in the world of sex, "Men are like microwave ovens and women are like crock pots." Men can respond immediately, while women must gradually warm up to the idea of having sex.
What she needs
Kevin Leman wrote a book entitled Sex Begins in the Kitchen. The premise of the book is that if a man intends to have sexual intimacy with his wife, he's going to have to take care of her throughout every issue in her life. He must commit to help her with financial issues, emotional issues, parenting concerns, and every facet of life that concerns her. His sensitivity to her needs is the factor that produces in her the desire to respond sexually.
Pornography is based on the lie that there are women who desire to have sex with men without having any emotional ties. It portrays women as sexual objects that men don't have to take care of emotionally. The truth is that men who enjoy pleasurable sex long-term are men with character, men who are romantic, and men who take care of their wives.
The climate of marriage Sex acts as both a thermostat and a thermometer in marriage. In the same way that we set the thermostat in our homes to regulate the temperature and climate, a good sexual relationship for a married couple can change the temperature of their marriage. Their sense of intimacy and partnership is greatly improved by a healthy sexual climate. On the other hand, a lack of sexual intimacy can create frustration and distance between a couple.
Sex also acts as a thermometer that reflects the overall environment of the marriage. If a couple is not enjoying fulfilling sex, there may be a lack of communication, a sense of frustration, or another unresolved issue in their marriage. When a couple is experiencing sexual fulfillment, it's very likely that they communicate well, are sensitive to one another, and serve each other in love.
Sexual fulfillment is not only possible but highly likely when couples follow God's plan and purpose for sex within marriage. Through acceptance of their differences and a commitment to meeting each other's needs, every couple can drink from a wellspring of satisfaction and find sexual fulfillment in marriage.