Hey married folks. How's your sex life? Satisfied? Is it all you dreamed about in the early weeks and months of being married?
If not, I wonder what happened to that early sense of love? Where did it escape to? And how did it get there so fast? We seem to dirty the slate so fast in marriage. Resentments set in when we argue and leave the making up until it's too late. All too often, we forget to go back to our spouse and resolve – and I mean really take care of – the relational junk that bogs us down. Resentments build up like a pile of bones in a closet we didn't know came with the wedding ring.
What if we took care of the conflicts that so easily get in the way? What if we consistently worked to handle conflict in a God-honoring, spouse-edifying manner? I'm guessing many marriages would be completely different.
We're told in Hebrews 13:4 to honor marriage and to keep the marriage bed pure. I wonder if taking care of conflict is part of what "keeping the marriage bed pure" is all about. I used to think this Scripture was only about sexual impurity and sex outside of marriage (which are obviously part of the author's intent). But what if we keep the marriage bed pure by taking care of resentment and by resolving conflict through loving and honest communication?
True sexual intimacy doesn't happen in a vacuum, and I guarantee it doesn't happen in a home filled with perpetual unresolved conflict. I can't truly give myself to my spouse, and she can't fully give herself to me, when we harbor resentment in our hearts. It doesn't matter if we're full of unforgiveness due to a real or perceived relationship misfire. The resentment that builds up from not dealing with conflict is just incompatible with true intimacy in marriage.
I've heard it said that sex in marriage is like air. You never know how important it is until you don't have it anymore. If you've been married very long, you can probably relate to this statement.
When my wife and I are consistently taking care of conflict as it arises, and we're promoting emotional safety for each other in our marriage, our sexual intimacy is consistently nurtured.
When we're in an extended time of unresolved conflict, or we choose to avoid issues, or not to fight or to play the passive-aggressive game, sex suddenly becomes a huge issue. During these times, we tend to fight over not enough frequency or being unsatisfied with our level of sexual intimacy. When we're verbally fighting, we seem to find any "reason" to be sexually discontent.
Resolve the conflict, however, and issues of sexual discontent go away. Practicing good communication skills is always a good foundation for taking care of conflict, but it's not necessarily the only thing we should be doing.
My wife and I have found that praying together is one of the best ways to build intimacy. Praying for your spouse and praying with your spouse are two different deals entirely. It's easy to pray for my wife. Praying with her, though, takes our level of intimacy to a deeper level. When I expose my weaknesses and fears to God in prayer with my wife, we find we're both once again grounding ourselves in God's relational Truths.
I hope I'm not misconstruing this area. Men, hear me on this – resolving conflict in your marriage does not equal more sex (my apologies to men everywhere). Resolving conflict, fighting fair and honoring God in how you communicate with your spouse does, however, provide emotional safety in your marriage. It honors your spouse, and it honors God. Making your relationship a place of emotional safety keeps the marriage bed pure.