Sexual Healing

By Greg Smalley
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The bottom line is this: physical intimacy is an incredibly important component of any marriage.

Gary Thomas once wrote, “Done well, marital sexuality can be a supremely healing experience.” And Marvin Gaye basically said the same thing in his infamous hit single.

What about you — is sex a healing experience in your marriage? For many married couples, regular sexual connection is something that can easily fall by the wayside in the hustle-and-bustle of careers, appointments and raising kids. When it happens at all, it’s just another thing to check off the “to do” list. It’s not an opportunity for connection. It’s not fun. And it certainly doesn’t rise to the level of “healing.”

If physical intimacy is a challenge in your marriage, take heart. You’re not alone! In fact, among the 150,000 folks — and counting — who have taken Focus on the Family’s Online Marriage Assessment to date, physical intimacy is the number one area in which they feel like they’re struggling.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that sex is one of those things that can be difficult for couples to get “on the same page” about. In a number of subtle and not-so-subtle ways, our culture tries to persuade us that sex is most potent when most isolated from the rest of our day-to-day experience. We’re led to believe that the most exciting encounters are those that take place outside the circle of the familiar and the mundane. Intimacy with your “old lady” or “old man” 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 yadaand it means a thorough, exhaustive knowledge that embraces complete mutuality and total sharing in every area of life. I think that’s what Gary Thomas means when he says that marital sex can be a “supremely healing experience.”

But it’s easier said than done, right? It doesn’t just happen. Great sex takes careful thought and planning ahead of time. You have to prime the pump of passion by keeping full-fledged romance alive at the center of your relationship. Broadly speaking, you can do this through date nights, candlelight dinners and generous amounts of heart-to-heart conversation. This is a truth that our X-rated society rarely recognizes and hardly ever acknowledges: the flames of truly enjoyable and meaningful sex derive their heat not from wanton sensuality, but from the gentle, human touch of tender romantic love.

The bottom line is this: physical intimacy is an incredibly important component of any marriage. You probably realize this already, and that’s why you’re feeling a bit deflated after taking the Online Marriage Assessment and realizing that you could use some improvement in this area.

Thankfully, there are some practical things you can do to help correct the course. The first order of business is to gain a deeper understanding — or at least have a refresher — about God’s design for sex. We’ll explore that in the next article. Then, we’ll consider the issue of communication between husband and wife. Many of the obstacles you’re facing can be overcome if you’ll just make the commitment to sit down with your spouse and talk about the sexual aspect of your relationship. And finally, once you’ve gotten in the practice of talking honestly and openly about your sex life, you’ll want to have a game plan for tackling the barriers and problems that may be impacting that aspect of your relationship.

Does all of this sound like a lot of work? It’s not. But even if it is — it’s worth it! With prayer and perseverance, you and your spouse can work together on making your sexual relationship the enriching, rewarding, fulfilling and healing experience it was designed to be. We’ll get started in the next article by exploring God’s design for sex.

Dr. Greg Smalley is vice president of Marriage and Family Formation at Focus on the Family and the author or co-author of several books, including Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage.


Marriage can have its twists and turns, but the detours don’t have to lead you off course. The 12 essential elements outlined in the Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage are biblically based and chart the course for a romantic adventure that will last a lifetime.

Focus on the Family has resources and counseling to help you and your family. You can contact us Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Mountain time) at: 800-A-FAMILY (232-6459) or [email protected]

© 2017 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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