Foreplay Redefined

By Greg Smalley
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Every couple knows that sexual intimacy, celebrated regularly and passionately, is vital to any healthy marriage. What many don't understand is that sex is more than just sex.

Sex begins in the kitchen.

— Dr. Kevin Leman

Every couple knows that sexual intimacy, celebrated regularly and passionately, is vital to any healthy marriage.  Some have made this discovery within the context of deep, satisfying personal experience.  Others have learned the lesson by default – in other words, they’ve come to realize how important a generous helping of physical intimacy can be to a husband and wife because they don’t have it and their relationship is suffering as a result.  What many in both groups don’t understand is that sex is more than just sex. 

In a number of subtle and not-so-subtle ways – through movies, television, racy novels, and popular songs – our culture tries to persuade us that sex is most potent when most isolated from the rest of our day-to-day experience.  This is the appeal of Internet pornography and anonymous “online intercourse.”  The most exciting encounters, we are led to believe, are those that take place outside the circle of the familiar and the mundane – the “one night stands” that “explode” spontaneously between two “strangers in the night.”  Intimacy with your “old lady” or “old man,” on the other hand, is assumed to be about as thrilling as a bowl of cold oatmeal.  But Scripture adopts an entirely different point of view.  According to the Bible, sex is all about knowing the other person inside and out and in all kinds of contexts.  The Hebrew word used is yada’ and it means a thorough, exhaustive knowledge that embraces complete mutuality and total sharing in every area of life.                   

As it turns out, deeply meaningful sex is a lot like a wedding cake.  It’s something you build layer by layer.  You start at the most basic level and work your way up.  You initiate a connection in some small and simple way and then maintain it and elaborate on it as you move forward.  The act of intercourse could be compared to the icing on the cake.  It’s the finishing touch you put on a painting that you’ve labored long and painstakingly to get “just right.”

This is what Dr. Kevin Leman had in mind when he chose the title Sex Begins in the Kitchen for his best-selling book on marital intimacy.  He wasn’t attempting to conjure up mental images of passionate embraces underneath the dining room table.  Instead, he was hoping to convey the idea that sex is actually an expression of the care a couple shows for one another in all areas of life – in communicating, in sharing thoughts and feelings, and even in helping out around the house.  He was suggesting that what happens in the bedroom may actually represent the final link in a chain of events that began hours earlier when your fingers touched while washing the dishes together.             



Remember, always act like you’re trying to get a second date! Sometimes in marriage we forget that we need to pursue and “woo” our spouse. So dress up a bit. Be polite and open doors. Compliment one another. Be affectionate – hold hands, cuddle and steal kisses. Remember to protect your date night from conflict by cutting off any arguments and agreeing to talk about the issue at a later time.

Step 1: Go someplace different for dinner.

Instead of visiting the same familiar locations and eating the same old food, pick somewhere new or try a different type of cuisine.

Step 2: Initiate the Connection.

Fill up the rest of your time together with one of the following activities.  Whatever option you choose, approach it as an opportunity to lay down the first layer of the cake.  Do whatever you do with an eye toward building mutual understanding and expressing affection, tenderness, warmth, and physical touch in small, simple ways.  

  • Find a good place to sit and talk.  Is there a park nearby with a bench situated in just the right place to command an inspiring view?  If you can find such a spot, hang out there for a while and reminisce about old times – all the little steps that have led you to this point in your relationship.  Do you live by a lake or near the seashore where it’s possible to walk along the strand hand-in-hand?  If so, take off your shoes and go for a stroll in the sand.      
  • Go out dancing.  Dancing offers lots of small opportunities for gentle physical contact and whispering sweet nothings in your partner’s ear. 
  • Do something physically creative or constructive together.  If the evenings are still long enough, plant a new tree or shrub in the front yard.  Pick apples at a nearby orchard.  Weed the garden.  Talk as you work, and be sure to steal a kiss whenever you get the chance.

Step 3: Relax and unwind. Ready for a few questions?

After your activity, find a quiet place for dessert or coffee to relax and emotionally connect through good conversation.  Answer the following questions. Be sure to keep your responses positive, uplifting and encouraging.

  • What was your favorite part of the evening?
  • What is the one thing you learned tonight that you didn’t know about me before?
  • How has this date enabled you to put the concept of marital intimacy into the bigger picture of married life as a whole?  What do you think it really means to know one another on every level of human experience and interaction?  Exactly how does physical intimacy put a bow on this package?
  • What are some other ways you can get to know each other better, build intimacy, and engage in simple affectionate contact throughout the coming week?

Step 4: Home Sweet Home

As you end the evening, spend time planning your next date. Think about additional ways you can incorporate touch, warmth, and expressions of genuine caring into your relationship.  Then, it’s up to you what happens next. Have a great final adventure! 

 Download the PDF Version Here

© 2014 Focus on the Family.

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About the Author

Greg Smalley

Dr. Greg Smalley serves as the Vice President of Marriage at Focus on the Family. In this role, he develops and oversees initiatives that prepare individuals for marriage, strengthen and nurture existing marriages and help couples in marital crises. Prior to joining Focus, Smalley worked for the Center for Relationship Enrichment at John Brown University and as President of the …

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