intimacy marriage

Valentine’s Day is here, and whether this holiday is part of your yearly festivities, or you find it a ridiculous excuse for consumerism, it gives couples a chance to evaluate the state of their relationship. One of the biggest area of a married relationship is that of the sexual connection—or lack thereof. Wives, I want to address you specifically today. Husbands, listen in. This post, though directed at the woman’s heart, might be a source of insight for you to understand the struggles your wife faces when it comes to physical intimacy.

I’ve led small groups for, discipled, and taught many women over decades of ministry. Inevitably, the topic of sex comes up. For some, it is an area filled with great dread coupled with a negative attitude all around. Others hold a more positive air toward the issue yet are suffocated by the tension between what her heart tells her is right and what her tired mind and exhausted body desires. Rare is the woman who naturally enjoys sex with her husband and regularly initiates intimacy with him.

Within the married Christian culture, there seems to be an overarching view of sex as a chore to be completed in order to keep husbands from committing adultery. Deep down, women know that it is important for husband and wife to connect physically, but the acknowledgment of this reality and the regular enjoyment of that sexual connection are two very different things. There is a disconnect with what she recognizes to be right and what the rest of her being desires.

This is a complex topic, especially considering that most bring baggage into marriage which the evil one often uses to sabotage a couples’ journey toward healthy physical intimacy before it even starts. If there is abuse in your past, I encourage you to seek out professional help to sort through that trauma as it might be affecting your ability to enjoy this area of your life as God intends. If you are currently experiencing an abusive relationship, please get help right away.

For those not in an abusive relationship, here are several significant gifts you can give to your husband this Valentine’s Day as you take steps toward pursuing a healthier sex life.

1. GIVE HIM YOUR RESPECT

Be careful about how you talk about your husband with others. If you find yourself regularly complaining about your marriage with other women, find a way to divert the conversations before (or once) they start. Refuse to commiserate with others about the quirks and weaknesses of your husband. Do everything you can to discourage an environment where you and your friends complain about your husbands.

Focus on what you love about your husband instead of what is difficult. In other words: be kind or be quiet. Our words are powerful, and when we allow negativity to fester—even if it is something as small as the trash not being taken out—it will affect the way you respond to your husband in every other way. It might also be good to remember that we, too, have many failures and flaws.

2. GIVE HIM YOUR COMMITMENT AND FORETHOUGHT

Just like other areas of our lives, if we don’t choose to make this a priority, our desire for sexual engagement will get pushed to the back-burner. Communicate with your husband about this. Let him know you want to make regular connection a priority, but you are struggling to do so. Share any specific roadblocks you can identify. Come up with a plan together. Many couples find that scheduling a special evening once a month or making sexual connection a regular weekly event has proved fruitful. Figure out what making it a priority looks like for you, then be ready mentally, physically, and spiritually to follow through.

3. GIVE HIM YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION

This is one of the biggest struggles for many women. The thought-life of a woman is much like an internet browser with 24 tabs open and running in the background. We are always thinking about…everything! While it is difficult to silence the voices of all the responsibilities you carry, it is not impossible. This is going to look different depending on your personality, but do what you need to in order to clear your mind to be able to engage as completely as possible.

4. GIVE HIM YOUR HONEST (YET GENTLE) THOUGHTS

Before I got married, I’d heard stories of couples splitting up after 20+ years of marriage. Many cited that they were married to a stranger. They’d lost touch of one another. They had become roommates, no longer lovers. How this could happen was such a mystery to me…and then I got married. And like most newlyweds we struggled to communicate. All the “intense conversations” were exhausting. It took work to keep connecting with one another, and there were many days I just wanted to ignore the problems and pretend to be happy. But we listened to the biblical advice to not go to bed angry, and (though we lost hours and hours of sleep) we muddled through the difficult conversations until we were able to hear each other’s hearts. Instead of retreating—which eventually severs emotional ties—we fought to understand and do better next time.

Whether you need to have a conversation about your sex-life or a tough conversation about another area of your relationship that is troubling you, don’t put off. Avoiding difficult conversations is counterproductive and ultimately leads to being strangers in the same bed. The goal of this physical connection is a holistic intimacy. Physical, spiritual, and emotional oneness is what we get to enjoy as a married couple. Your husband doesn’t just want your body. He wants to enjoy you. Every part of you. If we are holding back what’s on our mind, it will hide a piece of us from our spouse. And if you are holding back emotionally, it is most likely one of the reasons why there is a hesitation toward your husband physically.

5. GIVE HIM YOUR PRAYERS

Oh, how I forget the power of prayer! I get so caught up in the realities of now, that I neglect to remember that God is for us in all areas of our marriage. It is His perfect will for all married couples to experience a deep intimacy on every level of the relationship. Healthy, happy, holy marriages reflect the glory of God. Yet our sin continually clouds and distorts that picture. We can never produce the perfect marriage on our own. Every couple struggles, but victory is near through the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

So, let us pray with confidence, asking the God of the universe to do only what He can do. Pray for specific heart change for both you and your husband. Pray for good communication. Pray for intimacy in every area of your marriage. Pray for grace and strength to walk forward in obedience as He leads. Pray for God to be glorified through your unity.

Sex ought not be not an activity we dread, nor is it simply a duty for the Christian woman to fulfill. Married sex is a gift from a very good God, designed for our mutual delight. As we pursue health in this area of life, we will not only enjoy the benefits of a greater, holistic intimacy with our spouse, we will also enjoy the pleasure of God himself as we glorify Him in this area of our lives.

This post was first published over at LifeWay Voices.