Sex in Marriage

By Pastor Mark
In light of our current teaching series Broken, and our two messages on the topic of Broken Sexuality, I wanted to provide you some extra teaching and thoughts on the topic of sex in marriage. We didn’t have the time to talk about this much in our two messages, so I trust that the following material will give you plenty to think and talk about with your spouse. This manuscript is actually taken from a sermon I gave back in November of 2010. I remember this being one of those “high risk” sermons with the potential for great impact, but also the potential for great criticism due to how silent most churches are on this vital topic. At the time I remember thinking, why have I never heard a sermon on this subject?  It’s so important…for two main reasons:  (1) It’s very important to God and (2) It’s very Important to us!! Well, fortunately, by God’s grace, the message seemed to be a “hit”, although I do remember pushing the “comfort zone” of my wife, Dana, on this one. Lol.  So here’s the manuscript. It’s still a little rough, but I tried to clean it up some and make it more readable.  Enjoy…
Of all the gifts that God has given, arguably sexual intimacy is one of the greatest.  Sex is His idea and His invention.  Sex is not only for our pleasure, it’s ultimately for His pleasure.  He always gets great pleasure and glory when we are enjoying Him and His gifts.
My Goal in this paper is to honor God by teaching how to get the most pleasure and joy in your sexual relationship in Marriage.
The foundation for this is found in Proverbs 5:15-19. Be sure to read it. And also Song of Songs – 8 chapters of Red Hot Romance and Pleasure in Marriage – the entire book is on this subject! What you have here is a married couple just enjoying each other, a lot of communication inside and outside the bedroom, creativity, romance, speaking different love languages, and a lot of meeting each other’s needs.
Paul says this in 1 Corinthians, a letter that was written to a society very similar to ours (and even worse) in its open sexual sin and immorality 1 Corinthians 7:2-5 – But since there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
This is clearly teaching that, in marriage, a couple gives themselves to each other. They no longer have sole ownership of their bodies. They receive a God-given authority over each other. They belong to each other. These are strong words, and they carry the potential for selfishness and even abuse.
But this is God’s design, that there be this giving of each other to one another, and to fulfill your marital duty to each other. This literally says – “Stop depriving each other.” This is a command. The only reason to deny this would be by mutual consent (not unilaterally), for the purpose of prayer. And for a short period of time so that Satan cannot get a foothold by tempting us to fulfill a good desire the wrong way.
So abstaining here becomes a form of Fasting. Where both partners agree to abstain from sexual activity for a brief period of time to allow one or both to spend time in more intensive prayer. The length of time should be agreed upon in advance. Then come back together again and enjoy each other sexually. 
So sex in marriage is not some optional or extra thing. It’s far more than just a physical act. It’s created to be the expression of love on the deepest level between a husband and wife. It’s God’s will that you please your spouse, and that your spouse please you.
So after much study and research on this subject, I have a profound insight to share with you. Are you ready for this? …Men and Women are Different. Ha! Lol  
Just to illustrate how different we are, check this out…The research says women think about sex about once a day. On the other hand, guys think about sex about 33 times a day. That is how different we are. Women think about a lot of things 33 times a day, but not sex. Men think about nothing 33 times a day, but sex. 
Now, these differences are God-given. Why did He make us so different? Well, there’s a lot of complimenting and completing of each other that goes on in a marriage. But not only that, there is also a lot of hard work, time, and energy that is necessary, and that’s the way God planned it. There needs to be much “dying to self” to meet the needs of the other. This means a lot of growing together, a lot of communication, a lot of studying one another, etc. 
But one of the big problems is that husbands and wives don’t know about these specific differences.  They live in ignorance, including in this area of sexual pleasure. Or they do know the differences, but they grow to despise those differences. 
Another major problem married couples face are those hurts and wounds in their past. So many today, tragically, have been scared by childhood sexual abuse. This can really hurt intimacy in marriage. I want you to know that there is help and healing for you. Please seek help from a Counselor, Pastor, or Support Group. The ugliness and shame of this need to be brought out into the light so your spouse can understand and walk with you through the healing process.  Another kind of wound can be sexual sin and addiction. Again, there is victory and healing available for you in Jesus Christ. Please seek help. 
So I wanted to mention these things up front because for some here, you might have a hard time hearing anything else I say unless you know there is hope, help, and healing.
So here’s how I want to approach this today. I want to make sure you know these desires and needs that your spouse has (and that they are very different from you). This teaching is not ultimately about you getting your needs met by your spouse (I hope you do and God hopes you do) but this is mainly about God getting the most glory in you meeting your spouse’s needs and in a growing and more pleasurable sexual relationship together. So we will start with…

What Every Husband Wishes His Wife Understood.

Five Things Husbands want their Wives to Know: (and then we will Look at what every Wife wishes her Husband knew)
1. My sex drive is powerful, persistent, and normal.
I want my wife to know I am not weird. I’m just a man. I am not a sex fanatic. I am normal. Research has demonstrated that men are wired to regularly feel the need for sex. We are wired that way. It is a strong impulse within us. We are physically oriented creatures, created by God that way. That was not a mistake. For men in marriage there’s always this growing build-up or pressure for a sexual release and once we get it, it is only a short time before we want it again. That is the way sex is for men. The average man, he will need sex probably two to three times a week. That’s the average – some of you less and some of you more. If a married man misses those moments, there will be this growing pressure that is God-given that will begin to build within him. If he doesn’t have the opportunity to express himself sexually, then that pressure will turn into feelings of frustration and he will begin to feel tense and uncomfortable and uneasy with his life and it will often affect his relationship with his wife.
Now some wives don’t understand this, or worse, they’re offended by it and they resent it. “My husband, that’s all he thinks about!” Well, take that up with God, that’s how he is made.  And thank God he’s looking to you and chasing you around the house, thank God that He’s going to his beautiful and God-given wife.
Listen to Dr. Kevin Leman. He is a well-known psychologist and Christian Counselor. One time Dean of Students at the University of Arizona. He is now a best selling author. He has been on all kinds of TV shows like “Oprah” and “Good Morning, America” He is a really wise counselor in this area of marriage and sexuality. He says this, “Most women underestimate the male sexual appetite. As a counselor, I am now prepared to tell this to young women who are contemplating marriage – If you are not willing right now to make a commitment to have sex at least two or three times a week for the rest of your life with this man, then don’t marry him”. 
Boy, that’s in your face, but realize it’s coming out of a man who knows, after being with couples in counseling for years and understanding the research, that is part of who a man is. Our sex drive is powerful. Our sex drive is persistent. Our sex drive is normal. We want our wives to know that.
Along with this strong sex drive, while we love our wives for who they are, and don’t want or need them to look like Miss America, we do want her to take care of herself and give priority attention to her appearance. Husbands (Men) are very visual. This is the way God made us. Men want their wives to know this. Make it a priority to take the best care of yourself as possible. This is not just a marriage thing  (which is so appreciated by your husband), but it’s very much a spiritual thing. Our body is God’s Temple. So, how do we treat ourselves for Him and how do we present ourselves for Him?
We all know that we’re going to look a lot different from our wedding picture as time goes by, that’s just obvious. But do the best you can, by how you take care of yourself… (exercise, diet, dress, etc.). This is true for both men and women, but especially for wives because of how visual their husbands are
So Beware of the two extremes – (1) Being overly focused on the physical (worshipping your body), or (2) caring very little about your appearance and just “falling apart”.
Secondly, husbands want their wives to know this.
2. Sex is to me what affection is to you.
It is my #1 need. A husband’s craving for sex is no more selfish than a wife’s craving for affection. They are real, legitimate, healthy, God-given needs. When they are met, it creates a healthy, happy couple. On the other hand, when those needs are ignored, there is trouble. Research tells us that most affairs for wives start for one reason – a lack of affection from their husbands. Research tells us that most affairs are started by men because of a lack of sex – good sex, from their wives. The principle is this – sex is for a man what affection is for a woman and vise versa. Happy is the couple who buys deeply into that wisdom for both sides.
When a man experiences sex with his wife – enjoys her physically in the midst of that and afterward – he feels extremely close. That is where men feel close to their wives – it is in the physical unity. Afterwards, it is much easier for him, to bless her by giving her affection in the days that follow. In the same way, when a wife receives affection from her husband, she feels very close to him. Warm and intimate with him. Because of that, she finds it much easier to participate with him willingly in sex later on.
On the other hand, if a man withholds affection from a woman (ignores her, too busy, too preoccupied, etc) but then he wants sex, the woman is deprived and may not want to participate in sex, or she may go through it but she’s not really into it.  She has not had her needs met.
Men want their wives to know that Sex is to me what affection is to you.
3. Sex for me is a great oasis in the midst of everyday life. 
It is a place where I can escape and still experience moments of pure fun. A moment where, if I can use an old Beatles song – “All my troubles seem so far away.”  That is where I can just enjoy the wife of my youth. Where all our worries for a moment are off my back and I can just have pure fun. That is what sex is for a man.
4. Satisfying sex reassures me in my manhood. 
Wives have such a great power to encourage and energize their husbands. Participating and even initiating sex is so important to a man. In a world where he is being measured by accomplishment, performance, and there’s competition, and the week doesn’t go well, the boss is on his back and sales are down, etc. Life is not feeling really good. Well, in those times especially, when his wife responds sexually to him, all of a sudden, he feels good about himself again. He feels re-energized. Because of the energy of that intimate moment, he is ready to tackle life again.
Oh, if women only knew the power that they can inject into their husband’s life when they willingly respond to him sexually.
Finally, we husband’s wish our wives knew this.
5. Real sexual fulfillment for me is impossible unless I can sexually fulfill you.
There is no greater lie in the universe than the one that you sometimes hear in our society today that all men want in sex is to please themselves. That is simply not the truth for the vast majority. For most every husband deep down, his real need, his deepest masculine need in the bedroom is to please his wife sexually. When he does that – there is a deep sense of masculine fulfillment. It’s the gold medal for men in sexuality when they please their wives and wives need to know that.
Well, those are five things every husband wishes his wife understands. But what about wives? What do men need to know? 

What Every Wife Wishes Her Husband Understood.

10 Things Wives want their Husbands to Know:  (Notice the difference – 5 for men 10 FOR WOMEN!) – women are a little more complex – Lol
Bottom Line: Husbands need sex to feel close to their wives but wives need daily closeness to feel like having sex with their husbands. Here is what daily closeness looks like…the kind that is sexually stimulating to a wife. 
1. Reassure me with words and displays of affection.
Tell her how you feel about her. Why is she so special to you? The man who realizes and applies this has struck gold in the relationship of understanding how to deal with a woman. Reassure her with words and displays of affection.
2. Daily practice the romance of Sacrifice (even if it’s one little sacrifice).
It may be helping with the dishes. It may be putting the kids to bed at night. Say to her, “Just stay here and watch TV and I will put the kids to bed.” Maybe something as simple as fixing something she has asked you to do that you have been putting off. Those little things register deeply in her mind and heart. One guy, who gets it, said this, “If you want things to come alive in the bedroom, you need to die-to-self more during the day”. Or another who said, “Sex starts in the Kitchen!”
3. Give me regular, focused attention.
You don’t even have to go out on a date. You can do that tonight simply by turning off the TV for one hour and turning to your wife and saying, “Let’s talk” and when you do that, sex begins whether you know it or not.
4. Know and Speak my love language often. 
The Five Love Languages of Women: 
  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch (nonsexual) 
Surprise her with a gift that is out of the ordinary; a note, flowers, a surprise get-away. Surprise her by initiating something that SHE likes to do. Just ask, the question – “What does she like to do?” 
You don’t have to do this every day, but start doing things with your wife that she likes to do, and likes you to do with her, even if it’s not your favorite thing. Even if you have to give up something you really like. I’ve spotted men who are doing this, and I’m thinking to myself – “You are a giant of a man”. That guy gets it and he is pouring value and affirmation and affection into his wife. That doesn’t mean he’s “whipped”, or has to follow her everywhere. That’s not a man, but on the right occasions, being there with her and enjoying together something she really likes to do – that’s real manhood!
5. Be actively involved in loving our children.
I have always noted that when I go out of the way to do things with my kids, like take them out on special dates or get extra involved in their life… I have found that in my 32+ years of marriage when I do this with our kids, really good things happen in my marriage! When I love the kids, I am loving her at the deepest level. When I love her at the deepest level, she wants to love me at the deepest level too.
6. We must deal with unresolved conflict
Unresolved conflict kills…it kills any sense of responsiveness sexually between a husband and wife. If it is cool in your relationship, it will be like a freezer in bed, I promise you.
7. Be the Servant Leader in our Marriage and Family.
Women are primarily responders. They love it when their husbands lead. When they step up and initiate! So men, reject passivity, be active and involved in the overall direction of the home and family. This includes spiritually.  Pray together – this is huge!
8. Realize were not at the same place sexually (and we don’t start at the same place sexually)
There are four stages of sex.
a. Arousal
b. Love making (Foreplay)
c. Intercourse
d. Orgasm
But in each of those four stages, a woman is vastly different than a man. One of the great mistakes men make regarding their wives, especially young married men, is that they think they are similar in those four stages as they engage each other sexually. After the honeymoon, they both come back and everybody asks, “How was it” and they say, “Great”. But it was great for different reasons. He was thrilled because he got to “do it”. She was thrilled because she got “through it”. She is thrilled, but the truth is – they are in vastly different places. 
When I got married, a mentor in my life gave me a book called The Act of Marriage by Tim/Beverly LaHaye. Dana and I both read it (separately) in the few weeks leading up to our wedding and I was so thankful I did. Without those key principles on how sex best works for a man/woman, and the huge differences, I would have done everything wrong left on my own. 
The interesting thing to note is that research shows that given a husband’s sensitivity, patience, and attentiveness over time, his wife’s sexual intensity will actually rise. In many cases, her sexual intensity will surpass his after 20+ years of marriage. 
9. Arousal is the key to my sexual experience with you.
Remember the four stages: Arousal, Love Making, Intercourse, and Orgasm. For the woman, the most important one is the first stage… Arousal. Without arousal, a husband may get his wife’s body but he’s not going to get all of her. Arousal is the key to everything for a woman, but a woman’s arousal is much more complex than a man. To help us, I want to dumb it down. Here is an easy formula for us to remember.
Arousal for a man takes 10 seconds. I am actually kidding but it is close to that. Men are like a microwave oven. Your wife walks by and she’s looking good, and you’re ready to go. I can be sitting in my office thinking about her and be ready to go.
It doesn’t work that way with a woman. Arousal for her is not 10 seconds, it’s more like 10 points. He took out the trash – one point. You gave her a hug before you went to work – one point. You called or texted her during the day and said she’s beautiful and the world’s best mom – one point. You drove the carpool – one point. He helped clean the kitchen after dinner and talked about his day – 1.5 points. He prayed with her before bed – 2 points! Now somewhere along the line, you are going to build up enough points in her complex, relational-grid system and when you hit 10 points — WOW, she’s ready! 
That is the way it works. Arousal is the key. To get aroused, she has to have a man who understands how to build into her life on a daily basis. I can’t emphasize that enough. 
And another thing that wives want their husbands to know is that their husband’s lack of good hygiene, basic gentlemanly courtesy, restraint in certain crude and disgusting behaviors, bad habits, etc. – all of these can be a real detriment to her getting aroused sexually toward her husband. 
10. I desire Safety in Bed 
The more you provide safety in bed, the more your wife can relax and abandon herself to you. Here are five suggestions for establishing safety:
– Please don’t Force anything. Never force anything. You can and should be creative in romance and try new things – but forced creativity will wound. Forcing things upon your spouse that they don’t want to do is not love and never good. You will pay a price for that.
– Please don’t Hurt me. Always ensure that your wife is pain-free during sex. It’s good to talk about this and make necessary adjustments so she can relax and know it is going to be pain-free. Encourage her to seek medical help if there are ongoing physical problems experienced during sexual activity.
– Please Talk to me. Have an open conversation about it outside the bedroom. How are we doing? How can I help?  Know what she likes and what she doesn’t. The best way to do that is to ask. Also, a little communication in the bedroom is a really healthy thing and very helpful. In healthy marriages, couples don’t guess in sex. They grow together. This may include doing some reading together. I’ve including a couple of good books at the end of this.  It’s never wrong to talk to a doctor, Christian counselor, or therapist about your situation. Talk things out, grow together, and, if necessary, get help. 
– Please don’t Rush. Wives want their husbands to not be in such a hurry during sex. Let’s enjoy one another. The wife’s view of sex is much more relational.
– Please No Fantasy. Don’t sell out to fantasy where you use things like porn to enhance your sexual pleasure. No wife wants that. No wife wants to be compared to that. And no wife deserves that. There should be no porn in the house or in your life at all! You’re trading what God has given you for a lie…something that’s not real. Don’t sell out to fantasy.
All the above is the beginning point of sex for most wives. Which is completely different for the man. But wise is the husband who realizes this and meets his wife’s needs in these areas. It is how a good marriage and a good and healthy sex life mesh together. 
CONCLUSION: What if you’re seeking to meet your spouse’s needs but they are not attempting to meet yours?
1. Die to Self – The Paradox Principle – Die to Live! 
Continue to pursue your spouse and meet their needs. For example, husbands, you might be frustrated in your lack of quality and quantity sex in your marriage. What do you do? Shower your wife with affection. Go hard after her meeting these needs that we just talked about. This is core Biblical and Christian living, that we do the right thing, that we offer continual love, even when, the other person is hard to love. You should never withhold affection from your wife when you have unmet needs in your life. And wives, you might be very frustrated at the lack of affection and conversation from your husband. Maybe he’s been like 1 for 10 in these categories lately.  What do you do? Die to Self! Continue toward your husband in initiating and responding sexually to him. Do this ultimately out of love and obedience to Christ. Now, of course, the only exception to this is if you are in an abusive situation in your marriage – where you must get protection, help, and healing. But as a general rule, you should never withhold yourself sexually when you are upset or going through tough times in your marriage. That never helps. The most powerful way to bring change to a person is through grace (undeserved kindness) – that’s when we are most like Jesus.
Wives when you withhold yourself, it makes everything worse. He gets very frustrated – pressure is building up inside of him. And he gets embittered and feels farther from you. He then becomes more vulnerable to sexual temptation and sin, including lust and pornography. Of course, this is never justified, but as Paul says in 1 Cor. 7 – it does make him more vulnerable to temptation. So the first thing to do is to Die to Self and keep moving toward your spouse no matter what.
2. Share Your Concerns and Needs with your Spouse
I will keep loving you and meet your needs no matter what, but I’m ALSO going to share with you what my desires, hopes, and needs are for me and our marriage.  This is the best context to share your needs and how your spouse can improve.  Both of these two points are vital (Dying to Self AND Sharing your unmet needs). 
But it’s good to keep these two things separate so that you’re not sharing your unmet needs with your spouse as a condition for your performance improving. That’s called manipulation, or worse, blackmail. “You scratch my back and then I’ll scratch yours”. “You be a good boy and then I’ll be a really good girl in bed”. Or, “you be a good girl in bed and I’ll start showing you more affection and speak your love language. But if you don’t pick it up and show some improvement – well then I’m not going to do my part”. That kind of marriage sounds a lot more like two people without Jesus who cohabitate than two followers of Christ committed to Him and each other in the Covenant of Marriage.    
True Christian marriage is to say, I am 100 percent committed to love you and meet your needs. Marriage and my commitment to you is not a 50/50 contract. This is not “you do your half and I’ll do my half”. No, I made a 100% Covenant based on Unconditional Love, as unto Christ.
“But I want you to know that I have some needs here, I really want our relationship to be better.  I would like you to improve in some areas.”  That’s a great and mature conversation to have, but not as a substitute or replacement for Dying to Self and being 100% Committed in your part. 
Now, of course, it’s so much easier and better when both spouses are doing their part at 100%. It becomes the greatest, most pleasurable thing on the planet.  It looks a lot like the couple in Song of Songs
If your sex life is fading or not doing well, don’t immediately blame your spouse. Your first move should be to look at yourself and ask this question, “Am I giving him/her what he/she needs?” This is always the first step toward improvement.
Research has told us that the people who are most satisfied with their sex life are not the “Playboys” of the world, not the Hollywood types, and not the friend you know who has a different guy or girl every weekend. Research tells us that the best sex in America comes out of a home of a married couple who have been faithful and attentive to each other for 10, 15, 25 years or more. Those are the most sexually satisfied people in America. You know why? Because sex is not just an act. Sex is the celebration of two lives, two souls, committed to one another and giving to one another in Holy Marriage. That’s the secret that our world just doesn’t get. The couple who has been committed for years and they really love each other, and they put Jesus first in their lives and marriage – they get it. When they come together, there are all kinds of sparks, physically, emotionally and spiritually. This is a union of body and soul. Sex is not just an act. Sex is a celebration of two lives. God knows best – Believe it!
Recommended Books on Sex in Marriage
Dr. Ed Wheat – Intended For Pleasure 
Tim and Beverly LaHaye – The Act of Marriage
Dr. Kevin Leman – Sheet Music