My husband and I used to fight about sex. A lot. It was an ongoing war with many battles. If you had told us when we were dating that one day sex would be a hot-button issue in our marriage, we would have thought you were crazy. It was all we could do to NOT have sex back then, so surely when we got married it was going to be incredible. Sex all the time.
(Give me a minute as I laugh at our unsuspecting young selves. Okay, I’m good now.)
We soon realized that we were not as alike as we thought in this area—and I mean as soon as the honeymoon. I was content to finally get to be with my husband in an intimate way once or twice a day, and then I wanted to explore our honeymoon city. On the other hand, he wanted to stay in bed all day. Or, to my horror, I would get up and get ready to do something, and then we’d get BACK in bed. That was just too much work for me in one day—I had fixed my hair and bathed already and wanted to get the day going.
It was a foreshadowing of what was to come.
I have always been a “do what needs to be done” person, so this new life of spur-of-the-moment intimacy was rocking my world. It was time to make supper; “What do you mean you want to have sex right now?” And the fighting would begin.
It took years for us to get out of the rut we had created. Every talk that remotely had to do with sex would end with an argument. Of course, it was the same argument over and over every time. You know how it goes in marriage—an argument begins in one place and circles around a dozen times to come back to the same old, same old.
Sometimes you just have to talk stuff out, even the difficult stuff. And sex is probably the hardest topic of conversation. But we’re all grown ups here. We all know that sometimes in order to get to dessert, you just have to eat your liver and asparagus (the grossest foods I could think of).
So, a few suggestions for the sex discussions that no one wants to have but needs to:
1. Choose a time when emotions aren’t already running high to have this talk.
Maybe even talk in a public place so no one can yell or cry. One of our biggest mistakes was that the only time we talked about sex was when we were fighting about sex. It was when we had actual discussions outside of the bedroom that we began to make progress.
2. Ask pointed questions that cannot be answered with yes or no.
- How often do you think we should have sex?
- What do you like for me to do in the bedroom?
- What do you dislike that I do?
- What do you wish would change about our sex life?
Such simple questions, which few couples ever ask, could be serious game changers for those who are struggling in the bedroom. They’re also good to discuss even for those who already have healthy sex lives.
3. Take an honest self-assessment, then pray and ask God to show you the areas in your sex life where you are responsible for changing.
I finally allowed God to teach me that my attitude toward sex was not healthy for our relationship. In large part it had nothing to do with the actual act of sex; it was selfishness with my time and energy, discomfort about my own body, and frustration with what I thought was his extremely high sex drive. Turning the spotlight on yourself is hard, but worth it.
4. Seek counseling for past sexual problems.
I know from close relationships that sexual baggage brought into marriage isn’t always our fault. There are things we have done, and there are things that have been done to us. Both affect our sex life with our spouse and need to be dealt with. Go to a counselor, a pastor, or even a close friend and get help. Pretending it will get better or avoiding it paralyzes you and frustrates your spouse. Make peace with your past and seek healing so that you can move forward and your marriage can flourish.
5. Conduct your own private survey.
It might be helpful to start asking your married friends about their sex life. When we were in the first few years of marriage and I was struggling the most with this issue, I found a way to ask almost every married woman I knew about their sex life. My husband’s unusually high (I thought) sex drive? Yeah, it was normal. Apparently wanting to make love to your wife every other day or so was perfectly healthy.