Q. My husband and I have been married for three years. We are both unhappy with our sex life and some times even fight about it. We thought that sex in marriage would be easier than the disappointing pre-marital experiences we both had. Why are we having such a hard time?
A. Our culture, especially the media, portray sex in very unrealistic ways. In fact, they promote lies about sex. They make us think that sex is easy, sex is free and sex can be engaged in with any willing partner. And happiness will result.
Jenell Williams Paris, professor of anthropology, writes on this subject in the November 12, 2001 issue of Christianity Today. She cites an episode on Friends in which Monica, a lead character, is sick with the flu. In spite of a terrible cough and feeling sick she entices her boy friend, Chandler, by seductively rubbing her chest with Vicks. Paris says, “In real life, women with hacking coughs and achy bodies don’t seduce their partners with decongestant medications.” She also points out that being single is the norm on Friends, yet the three actresses are all married.
Television shows and movies portray sexuality unrealistically. Sex is pictured as unrelated to a relationship and requiring no commitment. It is spontaneous and easy. There is little or no dialog. Interaction between the couple is largely non-verbal. This leads many couples to believe that sex should be easy and “just happen.”
This is a far from the truth. Sex may at times be easy but only when a couple have previously built a relationship that is intimate. This requires work. Verbal communication is essential. Some negotiation as to when, where and how often is required by all couples. Individuals differ as to their interest, comfort about sex, and ability to bare their souls.
The media does not portray real life. Do we ever see a lack of interest in sex due to illness, parenthood or life stresses? Fatigue alone can rob us of the energy for sex.
In real life sex is not free. We must talk about birth control and agree on what type we will use. We must deal with late periods, unwanted pregnancy, and even sexually transmitted diseases. Television shows us only the sensual and easy side of sex.
Meaningful sex is costly, not free as TV would have us believe. It requires a life long commitment to be faithful to each other. It requires trust, vulnerability and honesty to achieve the best intimacy marriage offers.
Here are some things you and your husband can do to help your sex life. Expect it to take work and don’t expect it to be as pictured on TV.
1. Communication is essential and so is time together. Talk about every aspect of your relationship to help your sex life improve. Express resentments and let go of them. Share secrets and dreams. Communicate about sex giving each other specific details about your needs, wants, likes and dislikes. Be good listeners, open to hearing each others viewpoints.
2. Be romantic. Say "I love you." Let your partner know on a daily basis what you love, appreciate and value about him or her.
3. Be affectionate. Give hugs and kisses often. Hold hands. Sleep together - casually touching and being touched is comforting and stimulating.
4. Create Privacy. If you have children put a lock on your bedroom door.
5. Schedule time alone together and time for intimacy. Give it top priority.
6. Pray together. This is the most intimacy building thing you can do –it will bond you together with each other and with God.
If problems continue, see a Christian marriage counselor.
“Let love and faithfulness never leave you.” Proverbs 3:3