sexual communication

Talking about sex can be difficult. There are many reasons for this, but mostly I think the reasons lie somewhere in between the opposing messages of religion and culture. Religion, because of the church’s relative silence (or the message that sex is “bad”) and culture’s abuse and misuse of sex and sexuality. The idea that sex has to be illicit to be good and that sex is “just” physical.  We bring these confusing and distorted messages with us into marriage.  And, thinking that marriage would solve them; we often feel disappointed. Unsatisfied. Like there is more that we are missing.

So, in an effort to increase passion, some folks resort to adding “illicit” stuff into the mix. From watching pornography together to inviting other people into their bedrooms…it works for a little while. But by temporarily increasing passion in this way, they find themselves further from true intimacy than ever. Further from what they really craved in the first place. Connection. Being known.

I am pretty good with words. But sex is something that I have a hard time describing accurately. It is sacred. And while the Lord has redeemed it for me in so many ways, I still struggle to remember the Truth sometimes. And so, that’s why I’m going to share with you someone else’s words, I hope you find them as powerful as I do:

“Sexual union is first and foremost a means of communication. We communicate powerful messages to each other and the Lord when we join ourselves sexually. It is our most intimate form of communication, enabling us to say things about our spiritual oneness that words cannot.

The word intercourse conveys this notion of communication. It is not exclusively a sexual term but simply means ‘to have an exchange or communing between persons.’ Couples must ensure that the messages of their verbal intercourse and their relational intercourse line up with the messages of their sexual intercourse. If they are communicating love throughout the day in the ways they serve, honor, and cherish each other, then the joining of their bodies in lovemaking bears testimony to that love. If, however, they are communicating anger, hatred, criticism, neglect, or disdain, the statement of their sexual union becomes a lie. With their bodies they are saying, ‘I love you so much that I want to have every part of you and to give you every part of me’; but they have communicated something entirely different throughout the day.”

(From the book, “When Two Become One” by Christopher and Rachel McCluskey).

I know I’ve barely scratched the surface. But the main message I’m hoping to get across is this: Sex is Sacred. It makes me sad to think about how often we exchange this beauty for something false or incomplete. Physical intimacy should be an extension of the emotional and spiritual intimacy you share with your spouse. My hope is that you will one day be able to experience sex the way I think we were made to: to feel safe enough and loved enough to bring more than just your body into lovemaking, but your soul and mind as well.

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intimacy in marriage

How would you define intimacy in marriage? Friendship? Connection? Spiritual closeness? Sex? All true. All good things. And yet…I think I can define it simply.

Intimacy is knowing.

A facebook friend posted a comment recently that made me smile. She was bragging on her husband for buying her lavender and vanilla scented trashbags. She went on to say that it may not seem like a big deal, but that he knows her. And it feels good to be known.

Ah yes, it feels good to be known.

Sadly, I would argue that this seems to be one of the fundamental things missing from so many marriages. Couples barely like each other, let alone take the time to know one another.

What turns her on? Makes him laugh? What is stressing him out right now? Who are her best friends? How does she act when she’s nervous? Lonely? Hungry? What was his childhood like? Her biggest fear?How often do we take the time to enter each other’s worlds? To really know each other with our bodies? To really see each other? How often do we say the words, “what can I do to help?”

Unfortunately, many men and women don’t experience this kind of intimacy in marriage.

So then we begin to withhold our love from each other. We don’t offer because we feel we aren’t receiving. Our unmet needs and hurt feelings leave us violated, sad, and vulnerable to more pain. So we use anger as a defense to protect ourselves.

Anger can take many forms: impatience, a quick temper, depression, jealousy, or suspicion. Or passive aggressive forms: procrastination, silence, sarcasm, or avoidance. Our unmet needs make us feel fearful and rejected. The fear can take several forms: perfectionism, control and addictions (from the book, Intimate Encounters).

“What’s on the inside is what comes out when we’re squeezed.” – Dave Lewis

Steps toward healing and greater intimacy:

  1. Accept responsibility for your part in causing the hurts as well as your part in the healing.
  2. Show understanding. Your partner feels hurt. Do you care?
  3. Confess and repent. If you are a Christian this means agreeing with God. What does God say about being selfish, critical, dishonest, disrespectful, etc.?
  4. Talk to each other! Reconnect. Seek to know each other. This often requires making sacrifices to have time together, taking time to check in, and being honest about your feelings.

Ultimately, healthy couples will fight. They will get their feelings hurt. They will take out frustration on each other. I believe that a couple is in a good place when they can give each other the benefit of the doubt and seek to build each other up. I want couples to be in a relationship that is safe enough for both partners to feel free enough to be “naked and unashamed.”

So that they can be known, because it feels good to be known.