The Basics of Sex in Marriage

Written by Carl & Yolanda Bennett
bcouple_hands_500"It's possible for each of you to get what you want"
1 Corinthians 7:1-5


Marriage provides God's way to satisfy these natural sexual desires and to strengthen the partners against temptation. Married couples have the responsibility to care for each other; therefore, husbands and wives should not withhold themselves sexually from one another but should fulfill each other's needs and desires. Spiritually, our bodies belong to God when we become Christians because Jesus Christ bought us by paying the price to release us from sin. Physically, our bodies belong to our spouses because God designed marriage so that through the union of husband and wife, the two become one. Paul stressed complete equality in sexual relationships. Neither male nor female should seek dominance.


Couples struggle to agree on a variety of issues, but it seems sexual frequency is one area in which husbands and wives often give up trying to find a solution. Nearly always, one partner wants sex more often than the other. And, contrary to conventional wisdom, it's not always husbands. There are just as many women as men who say they desire a more active sex life than their spouse does. If you and your mate are struggling in this area, try these two steps to improve sexual satisfaction for both of you. First, make sure you're both following the same ground rules. Then approach the sexual aspect of your marriage in the context of your entire relationship.

Get on the same page by recognizing a few overarching truths about sexual intimacy. Begin by agreeing that God is the creator of sex and all its pleasures. Orgasm is not some evil post-fall addition to the process of procreation. It was God who decided that sex should be incredibly enjoyable. He is also the one who established certain parameters (namely, marriage) to protect and maximize the experience. If you're struggling with doubts about how much you should enjoy sex, exercise the freedom that God has already given you. Now that you've said, "I do" it's time to explore the gift of pleasure with your spouse.

Second, agree to keep talking. Great sex begins with talking together in an open, trusting, accepting manner, and it's the only path to resolving the "how often is enough" question.

Third, agree not to assume anything about your mate. A multitude of factors lie behind each person's desire for more or less sex. Don't assume that it's simply a male vs. female discrepancy in desire or that you know what your spouse's "problem" is. Don't assume your mate knows why you feel the way you do. You have to express your own feelings, preferences and concerns. Instead of assuming, commit yourself to understanding your spouse and to helping your spouse understand you. That's all a part of your lifelong commitment to care for and treasure each other.

Fourth, agree to consider possible outside barriers. Many men and women come to marriage having suffered difficult experiences that prevent them from fully enjoying God's gift of sex. Sexual abuse, promiscuity (more than one sexual partner), rape and sexual addictions leave memories that can make it hard, sometimes even impossible, to desire further sexual intimacy. If past experiences are affecting your sexual relationship, don't hesitate to seek assistance from a Christian counselor who has helped others with similar struggles. By God's grace, healing is available.


If you are concerned about having more or better sex, you need first to invest care and attention in building your entire marriage. Once you and your spouse agree on the basic ground rules, turn your attention to one of the greatest destroyers of sexual intimacy: the separation of sex from the rest of your relationship. Don't try to solve your frequency problem by going straight to the question: "How many times should we 'do it' per week?"

Great sex depends on things like in-depth communication, a sense of sharing your lives, emotional intimacy and especially, a solid commitment. But that's not what our culture feeds us. Television, the movies, books and magazines pound home a message that great sex comes through dropping personal embarrassments, mastering techniques and finding that "right person" with whom the sexual sparks will fly.

This is the truth: You will experience your greatest sexual intimacy with one person. That's the person with whom you also share emotional, intellectual and spiritual intimacy, the covenant of marriage and a strong commitment to God. No other sexual pleasure compares to that experienced by a husband and wife who feel safe with each other at all levels of their lives. There's no other total fulfillment than physically connecting with the one person who knows you better than anyone else on earth. If you want improvements in the bedroom, put the rest of your house in order.

Think back over the last week or two. Has your spouse shared a desire for you to talk more? Has your mate asked you to take greater care with the family finances, to spend more time with the kids, to show affection without insisting on sex, to be home more, to help out around the house? How did you respond?

Intercourse isn't to be reserved only for times when everything else in your relationship is perfect-when your spouse has done everything humanly possible to make you happy and every disagreement is resolved and forgotten. If those are your requirements, you'll end up with a sorry sex life.


Talking about your sexual relationship is one of those things that's not so intimidating once you begin. So set aside at least an hour where you won't be interrupted and get started. But first, establish these ground rules: 1. We will talk about issues without attacking or putting each other down.
2. We will be honest, speaking the truth in love.
3. We will be kind.
4. We will seek to understand each other and how we both feel.
5. We will not seek to change each other.
6. We will seek to honor one another and God, who gave us to each other.

Next, tackle your relationship as a whole (don't worry-you'll get to the sex part soon enough). Ask each other, "What areas in our relationship would you like us to work on?" Do your best not to be defensive. Remember, you both want the same thing: a strong, enjoyable, God-honoring marriage. Don't expect to solve everything in one hour, but make sure you both express your concerns and communicate your willingness to address the issues that come up. Finally, discuss your sexual relationship, using the following questions to get things rolling:

1. What do you really enjoy about our sex life?
2. What would make it better for you?
3. What's your idea of a "perfect" romantic, sexual encounter?
4. How could I be a better lover?
5. When we're together sexually, do you ever feel like a "sex object"? What makes you feel that way? How could I change that?
6. How do you feel about the frequency of our lovemaking?
7. What barriers will we need to overcome for both of us to be satisfied with our sex life and our entire relationship? How can we get started?


Now you and your spouse have agreed on the basic ground rules of sex. You've begun to clear away the barriers from the past. You're talking about sex with each other. And you're making a consistent effort to invest in your entire relationship, which will help your sex life flourish. You're covering the basics, but you should also pay attention to two big sex-stealers, schedules and physical exhaustion. Women, especially, often feel "too tired" for lovemaking. If you can agree that improving your sex life is a priority (and it should be), then establish a unified front against busyness and reclaim the time you need for sex. If you know that you alone have the power to give something that will make your spouse glad and fulfilled, why withhold it? God desires a equally enjoyable sexual relationship for both of you, so don't waste any more time. Go ahead and make it happen.