April 2010 Your relationships
Sex is a wonderful gift. Make it a priority in your marriage
Relight your fire!
Sex should be a joyful thing and if it’s not on your list of the blessings of married life, perhaps you need to take action, says Lara Phegan
We all know that sexual acts themselves don’t necessarily equal joyful pleasure. Without due consideration to the who, what, how, and especially the why of sexual actions, physical pleasure can quickly be overshadowed by emotional pain, mental pain or spiritual pain. In such instances the result is not joy, pleasure and an increased sense of well being; but shame, guilt, loss of self-respect and further disconnection – from yourself, your partner and your spirit.
That’s called pain. And I’m talking about pleasure – joyful pleasure. By joyful I mean with heart, from the heart and good for the heart. And by pleasure I mean physical, sexually pleasing actions that feel good and which add to, rather than take away from, your sense of well-being – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Obviously that means things like respect, honesty and reverence for life will be present in what you do and things like betrayal, manipulation, using, controlling, lying, harming and taking advantage, will not. Throughout this article I’m referring only to a joyful, love-based approach to sexual pleasure.
With that in mind, if sexual pleasure is not a highlight of your marriage, if it’s not on your list of blessings in life, why isn’t it? More importantly, would you like it to be? And most important of all, are you willing to consider what you could do to increase your capacity for experiencing loving, joyful, sexual pleasure?
Let go of religious guilt and shame-based beliefs
It amazes me how many grown adults – in faithful relationships with partners they love deeply – still feel bad about sex or certain aspects of sex. For some, the idea that sex is sinful, dangerous or a distraction from God is deeply ingrained in their psyche. Unfortunately, a wedding ceremony, marriage certificate and loving partner is not always enough to undo the negative messages they’ve learned about sex. The feeling that sexual pleasure is forbidden or wrong remains with them and casts a shadow over the sexual part of relationship.
Others learned or inherited rules about which sexual acts are acceptable and which ones are not – and they have never stopped to question those rules, or look at the effect they have on their ability to enjoy pleasing sexual experience within a loving partnership.
So much joy is lost and so much emotional pain is experience by good, loving, worthy adults because of religious guilt and shame-based ideas that promote sexual pleasure as sinful or dirty.
Think for a moment. Are the thoughts, beliefs and views that you currently hold about sexual pleasure increasing or decreasing your capacity for love, intimacy and joy? Are they bringing you and your partner closer – physically, emotionally and spiritually – or are they causing separation, guilt, misunderstandings, rejection and pain?
Surely the love you share with your spouse is meant to extend to the sexual aspect of your relationship. And surely loving sexual experiences are best described by words like fun, passion, tenderness, excitement, joy, intensity, desire, delight and pleasure . . . not guilt, suffering, fear, self-doubt, suppression, dirtiness, sin and shame.
If you’re in an honest, committed, loving relationship with someone where the needs and feelings of both people are honoured and respected – drop the guilt. Don’t waste another day feeling dirty, bad or ashamed about the sexual pleasures that work for you and bring joy to your marriage.
Don’t spend your life in a sexual prison based on a set of shame-based rules. Give yourself permission to review your beliefs and ideas about sex and sexual pleasures. Be willing to let go of limiting, guilt-ridden ideas that hinder your ability to delight in joyful sexual pleasure with your partner.
Be playful, get creative, take a risk!
Now that any misplaced guilt and shame are out of the way . . . you know that sexual thing you’ve wondered about several times over the years but haven’t tried yet, I dare you to give it a try. Truly, I dare you. Even if it’s not what you expected, the worst that can happen is you’ll discover it’s not for you (and/or your partner) and you’ll call it quits. That’s not the end of the world you know.
So often in life we think we’re playing it safe, when what we’re really doing is playing small. Come on – live a little. Assuming it fits within the joyful, love-based’ approach to pleasure discussed earlier ie responsible, respectful and so on, then go for it: suggest it, buy it, try it, do it, say it, wear it, use it . . . Surprise yourself and give yourself permission to discover your playful, sexy, sensual side.
If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right – right?
When it comes to joyful sexual pleasure, the phrase, “if you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right” can be literal. So change position, learn a new technique, try faster, slower . . . But sometimes there’s more going on with an inability to enjoy or engage fully in sexual pleasures than just technique. If you’d like to enjoy your sexual experiences more and you’re not able to, there might be a physical cause or reason.
For some reason we often prefer to suffer through pain and problems rather than acknowledge they exist. If we admit that something’s wrong, we might have to do something about it and we might not like what we discover. Right?
But life is short. Too short to spend precious time in denial, too short to spend precious time in pain, too short to spend time afraid of the unknown and fearing the worst, too short to ignore your desire for greater intimacy and pleasure.
If you’re not having fun or your sexual experiences often cause physical discomfort, have the courage to admit it and love yourself enough to seek professional help.
Put sexual pleasure on your priority list
There are so many important things in life. So many things we have to get done. But if you had to name the things that matter most to you, if you had to list the most precious things in your life – wouldn’t your relationship with your partner be on that list?
And if you had to name your heart’s deepest desires, wouldn’t having an intimate, fun, passionate relationship with the love of your life be one of those longings?
So how come you don’t have the time or energy to invest in exploring, developing and enjoying sexual pleasures with your partner?
Perhaps you’re too busy, too tired or too stressed. That’s a shame. Really. It’s sad when life gets in the way of actually living. It’s a shame that something so special and beautiful is getting pushed aside in the busyness of everyday life.
The thing that distinguishes your relationship with your partner from all the other relationships in your life, is sex. It’s the one thing you share with your partner that you don’t share with anyone else. You can talk, walk, work, pray, travel, cry, celebrate, hug, laugh, enjoy . . . all the other people in your life. But the sexual side of who you are, and the wonderful gift of enjoying sexual pleasure, is something just between you and your spouse – it’s yours and yours alone. That’s not something to be taken for granted, ignored or dismissed lightly. That’s not something to push down your priority list in favour of less important, less meaningful things.
If you are in a loving relationship with a partner you care about, make time for them, make time for sex with them, make time to enjoy and explore ways to experience sexual pleasure together. Keep that sacred and special part of your marriage alive. Make it a priority and enjoy it while you can.
Your beliefs, attitudes and ideas play a huge role in your ability to enjoy sexual pleasure with your partner. Be willing to review your thoughts and rules regarding sex so that you can choose a loving and joyful approach to this precious and beautiful aspect of life.
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