[This article contains a frank conversation about intimacy in marriage. Please read this only if you are mature enough to handle such things – and if such things are likely to offend you, please refrain from reading. Thank you!]
“Satan tries his best to make people have as much sex as possible before marriage, and as little sex as possible afterwards.”
I can’t remember where I first heard this quote, but it stuck with me – probably because it’s just so obviously true in today’s world. While uncommitted intimacy is shown everywhere from advertisements to television shows as being wonderfully free and available, the committed marriage relationship is shown as being a sexual dead end – a place where intimacy goes to die a slow, dissatisfying death by drowning in screaming kids, sleepless nights, and financial problems.
Thankfully this does not have to be our reality. It is only our reality if we let it be.
The reason I included the quote at the beginning is because it shows us the root cause of the problem. The problem with loveless marriages is not God. God gives us good and perfect gifts only and always (James 1:17), and encourages us to be intimate with our spouses (1 Corinthians 7:1-5; Hebrews 13:4). The problem is when we start listening to the world, and when we start letting the pressures of the world get to us and drown out our real needs.
Throughout the Bible, God highlights to us how it is just as important to awaken the love as often as possible after you are married as it is not awaken the love at all before you get married.
In the Song of Solomon we see the perfect example of a relationship that starts on a high, experiences some bumps along the way, but grows in strength through all the adversity.
First we see Solomon and the Shulamite woman battling their sexual desires for one another in the realm of courtship.
“Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: For I am [love sick]. His left hand is under my head, And his right hand doth embrace me. I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, By the roes, and by the hinds of the field, That ye stir not up, nor [awaken love], till [it] please[s]” (2:5-7).
It is before the wedding, the Shulamite starts to imagine being with her husband to be… but quickly stops herself. She calls out her friends, saying, “This is not right! This is not the time for love to awaken!” Clearly the Shulamite wants to be intimate with Solomon, her lover. She wants him to hold her in an intimate way – but it is not yet time to “awaken the love.”
After the wedding takes place (3:6-11), the Shulamite knows this is the time to awaken the love and enjoy the intimacy that she has been desiring to share with her lover for some time now. She calls to her body to respond to her husbands’ advances.
“Awake, O north wind; and come, you south; Blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits” (4:16).
I’m sure the Shulamite on her wedding night thought that she would never turn Solomon away. However, in the very next chapter we see the Shulamite changes her tune for a moment.
“I sleep, but my heart wakes: It is the voice of my beloved that knocks, saying, ‘Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: For my head is filled with dew, And my locks with the drops of the night.’
“I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?” (5:2, 3)
In this scene, the Shulamite has been sleeping, and her new husband comes along wanting intimacy with her (in case you are wondering, in this case, the husband and wife are sleeping in separate rooms according to custom, as Solomon was a king). Though her husband requests admittance to enjoy her love and attention with the sweetest of terms, her first response is one that many women may understand. She basically says, “I’ve just been sleeping! I’ve had a shower, I’ve undressed, and it’s cold outside of my bed – why should I get up?”
I can imagine she’s also probably thinking, “Didn’t you just have me in the last chapter?!”
While there was a time when the Shulamite found it a struggle to contain her excitement to engage in sexual intimacy with her lover, she now was less than enchanted by his advances.
The Shulamite immediately regretted her decision to refuse her husband’s advances. But, by the time she rose up to meet him, he had left.
“My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, And my bowels were moved for him. I rose up to open to my beloved; And my hands dropped with myrrh, And my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, Upon the handles of the lock. I opened to my beloved; But my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: My soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer […] I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, If ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, That I am [love sick]” (5:4-8)
Upon reflecting on how much she loved her husband, she wanted to respond to him, rose from her bed, and sought him – but he was already gone.
Sexual rejection and refusal had caused a temporary rift in this young couple’s marriage.Thankfully the Shulamite was wise enough to seek reconciliation with her husband – and he was ready to receive her again. Our story has a happy ending.
Whatever it is that makes a woman not desire intimacy with her husband, the fact is that sometimes it just happens. Mounting pressures, fluctuating hormones, insufficient rest, and many other contributing factors can cause a woman’s libido to crash and sex to seem much less appealing to her.
While some might want to blame their lack of sex drive on any number of circumstances, the truth is there are many things that you can do to increase your sexual desire for your husband.
…and yes, there are many things he can do to help you as well – however I’m not talking to the men, I’m talking to you women who are struggling – and the truth is, however much our husbands do to make us happy, if we don’t learn wake our bodies up and respond, we will never really enjoy their advances.
So, we need to learn (as the Shulamite learnt) that intimacy is worth seeking and responding to, and if we wait too long to fix the problems we have in this area, it may just cause some damage to our relationship. Sexual desire for and intimacy with your husband is something that you sometimes have to work for, but it is worth every bit of effort that you put in. You’re going to have to trust me – and God – on this one.
What can we do to not only be ready for our husbands when they want us, but also to really desire them sexually?
I believe there are several lessons we can take from the Shulamite and how she responded to her husband after this incident that will help us when we go through similar temptations. I’ll walk you through what the text has to say, and then add a few of my own at the end.
- Think about all you love about him (5:9-16). When the Shulamite went to find her husband again, she thought about all the things she loved about him, and even told others (the daughters of Jerusalem) about him. Think about what sets him apart to you from all other men. Whether we praise him to his face or to others, reminding ourselves of all the wonderful things about our spouse will help us to feel more love for him. Remind yourself of a time he has done something sweet for you. Remind yourself of a particularly intimate occasion you enjoyed. Remind yourself of why you fell in love with him in the first place.
[Daughters of Jerusalem] “What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? What is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us?”
[Shulamite] “His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, Washed with milk, and fitly set […] His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem” (5:9-16).
- Don’t let anger (or refusal) last very long (7:1-10). Though they fought, Solomon and the Shulamite came together quickly and made up with another chapter of intimacy. A lack of sexual fulfilment is one of the top reasons people go to counsellors and marriages fail. Is it any wonder, really, that God instructed us to be there for each other sexually always (1 Corinthians 7:1-5)? In an article on this subject, Dr. Farmer says, “People don’t marry to get a roommate. They expect to have an active and fulfilling sexual life. Chronic anger and conflict dampen a couple’s willingness to be affectionate with each other.” Give up your anger and rekindle the flame. Live by the words of Paul in this regard,
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26).
- Plan special time to reconnect (7:10-12). Even after they had been married for a while, we see Solomon and the Shulamite planning time away to reconnect and restore intimacy. Life gets busy, and it becomes so easy to get caught up in all the responsibilities we have and forget to reconnect. Plan some time to get away, or just do something different than the usual – and plan for that time to mostly be a time for re-connection on an intimate level. We have made a tradition of going away for a weekend for every anniversary and birthday – sometimes we go to another place, but most of the time we just stay somewhere locally so it’s easy. Do something that works for you – but do plan some mini holidays for yourselves, and don’t let the most fun you have be the hiking/swimming/shopping/eating! *wink wink*
“I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me. Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field; Let us lodge in the villages. Let us get up early to the vineyards; Let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, And the pomegranates bud forth: There will I give thee my loves.” (7:10-12)
- Plan a special surprise for him (7:13). The Shulamite told Solomon that she had some things – both old and new – that she had ready just for him. While doing things that we know we like is nice, it is also refreshing to try new things, or new places every now and then. Preparing surprises for him, or talking about something new with him, will also serve the purpose of getting you excited about the prospect of intimacy later. For more detail on ideas, see my article, “Not Naughty, Just Nice: Spicing It Up Without the Smut.”
“The mandrakes give a smell, And at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, New and old, Which I have laid up for you, O my beloved.” (7:13)
- Think about him during the day 8:1-3). When I started this series, I had a woman write to me asking how she could prepare herself for intimacy, because the only way she could was to think of her husband sexually – but she felt that was wrong! As I was quick to point out – and I will tell you today – thinking about your husband in an intimate way throughout the day is not wrong – far from it! It is a great way to get yourself ready to give your husband love later. It also saves you from thinking about other men in a sexual way. Think about him during the day and tell him you are thinking about him and ready for him to come home. This following excerpt from Song of Solomon seems confusing at first. Why exactly does she want him to be like her brother? …and why on earth does she want to take him to her mother’s house?! Looking at the context, during these times it was shameful to show public displays of affection between a husband and wife, but not between a brother and sister. She expresses that she wants to be able to show her affection in public… and then take him to her mother’s house and enjoy intimacy with him there (another custom of the day when consummating marriage).
“O that you were like my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! When I should find you without, I would kiss you [and] I should not be despised. I would lead you, and bring you into my mother’s house, who would instruct me: I would cause you to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate. His left hand should be under my head, And his right hand should embrace me” (8:1-3)
- Just do it. The Shulamite wished she had responded to her husband’s needs sooner when she did refuse. Take a leaf out of Nike’s book. This may seem like a strange one, but it really isn’t. It is very likely that you will regret not having sex, rather than having it – and it is also very likely won’t be as difficult or bothersome as you think it will be. You will probably even enjoy it. I read an article recently about all the reasons to why married couples should have sex every night. While you may not choose to have sex every night – having sex as often as possible is a fantastic thing! If you have a night where you take a backseat, make up for it when you feel more energetic with a night where he does less work. Give a little, take a little – isn’t that the story and the glory of love? *wink*
- Schedule intimacy. I know this idea is not popular, because it takes out the “romance” (so they say), but quite honestly, you should both be able to expect sex at regular times. Yes, it can sometimes be spontaneous – but if it is always spontaneous, it can get frustrating and your man may begin to wonder when he can ever expect it again. In fact, if you don’t schedule or plan sex at all it might just not happen! Remember, even the Shulamite promised to give her love to her husband at certain times (7:13)! Besides, think about this: intimacy is something that should be able to be expected in marriage. Though there can be some spontaneity, it is also something that should be expected. Scheduling also allows you to think about your schedule for other things – if you are very busy during the week, for example, you can plan to have shorter bursts of intimacy from Monday to Friday, followed up with longer sessions on the weekends. Scheduling intimacy not only helps with maintaining frequency, but also if you know to expect intimacy on certain days, you can prepare yourself for it during the day and plan an early night.
- Communicate to your husband that you are tired and take a backseat. Though you may not want to engage in anything overly energetic some days, there are many ways you can engage in intimacy that do not require too much effort. Don’t feel pressured to put on a huge performance every time he comes “knocking on your door.” If you need to relax a bit, ask him to give you a massage (although, please don’t play this card every time!). Your husband just wants to be wanted. Intimacy is his way of connecting with you… and honestly, you’ll probably end up enjoying the attention yourself. For more detail on how to communicate, see my article, What Biblical Submission Looks Like in the Bedroom.
- Go to bed together early. The later it gets, the more tired you are going to get – and if you have an alarm ready to go off at 6am the next morning, you may not be feeling very amorous! Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the moment.
- Exercise and eat well. Okay, so this may seem like it is out of place here, but bear with me. I have found (and there is much scientific evidence as to why I have found this!) that it is much easier to approach my husband with confidence when I am looking after myself, exercising, and eating well. One of the greatest hindrances to intimacy is our holding back of ourselves because we don’t feel sexy or deserving of love. Love yourself enough to look after yourself, and watch how your confidence with your husband grows. Strength training exercise especially (if done right) has been proven not only to help you feel more confident, but also to increase endurance and satisfaction in the bedroom. Kegel exercises are also important for pelvic strength – really every lady should do kegels on a regular basis (especially women who struggle to reach climax). Making sure you are getting enough sleep and nutrients (especially zinc) is also extremely helpful.
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As you can hopefully see, while there may be a number of reasons or external pressures weighing on us that would cause us to put intimacy on the back burner – a desire for intimacy is something worth fighting for, and can be achieved with some effort (or professional help, as is needed in rare cases). Do what you need to do to be confident, talk to your husband about your concerns and desires, and keep your marriage relationship as a top priority.
Remember, it is just as important to awaken the love as often as possible after you are married as it is not awaken the love at all before you get married.
Seeking intimacy on any level is going to require some substantial effort at times, but achieving it is so rewarding and so worth every bit of effort you put in, just like anything worth having is worth putting effort into.
This is the real thing – not just a one-night stand – which means at times it’s gonna take some real work to keep it going. But trust me – in the end, it’s really gonna be worth it. In the end, you’ll be rewarded with a loving, committed relationship that you can feel safe, secure, and satisfied in.
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Other Articles in the Series:
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Other Tasteful Resources
I Have No Libido! | To Love, Honour, and Vacuum
Bonny’s Oyster Bed | A blog written from a Christian perspective to encourage Christian wives with a low libido. Obviously I haven’t read everything on the site – so as with everything, take it all in with a grain of salt!
For different position ideas, check out the iKamasutra sex position app. It’s got no pornographic images, only cartoon-ish drawings of various positions.
5 Reasons to Have Sex With Your Husband Every Night | Read this with a grain of salt – it’s a secular article, not a religious one – but I felt it was a decent article, and there are some thought-provoking reasons in here to have as much sex as possible after marriage!
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Featured image from Huffington Post.