Sex begins before any touching or kissing occurs. Sex begins before either spouse raises their eyebrows flirtatiously towards the other. Sex begins before either partner feels “interested” or aroused. Sex begins (and too often ends) when a couple intentionally arranges their life to make sure there is time and energy to enjoy one another.
“Passion begins with priorities, not genitals (p. 222).” Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus in Intimate Issues
Too often this marital reality is viewed negatively; as if it is anti-romantic. “Spontaneous sex” is deemed to be the highest and only true expression of “making love.” But this is a standard to which nothing in the courtship phase (usually the phase of relationship viewed most favorable by those with this romantic ideal) was asked to meet.
“Before a couple marries, they scheduled dates… One woman said, ‘I can only see my fiancée on weekends, and all week long I replayed each hug, the moments his arms embraced me, and dreamed of being there again.’ Wasn’t unromantic for this woman to ‘plan’ time with her beloved? Of course not. They’re crazy schedules demanded it. Why then, when we marry, do we think it is unromantic to schedule sexual encounters (p. 211)?… Planning for lovemaking doesn’t mean forcing sex to happen but creating the opportunity for it to happen (p. 212). ” Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus in Intimate Issues
This is not “settling” for a marital reality that is second-best out of logistical necessity. Consider the level of affection and romance involved in a couple actively engaging the following questions.
- When do my spouse and I have the most energy and focus to enjoy each other sexually?
- What stressors do we need to manage most faithfully to protect our sexual interest and vitality?
- What lifestyle habits are most important to each of us feeling like a sexy, desirable person?
Later we will discuss the importance of spontaneity and creativity for a thriving marital sex life, but establishing a lifestyle that can sustain a healthy sex life is the first step. Consider this parallel. It is good to ask, “How can we still allow for freedom to make spontaneous purchases if we have a budget?” But if you do not first create a budget, this question will prevent you from having a life where spontaneous purchases are a blessing instead of a means to financial bondage.
“The truth is that if you don’t plan sex into your schedules and take advantage of optimal times, you will never make love with any frequency (p. 20)!” Doug Rosenau in A Celebration of Sex
Here are several pointers that are important for couples wanting to make sex a priority:
- Have realistic expectations for what you can accomplish in your 168 hour week and with your monthly income.
- Protect time together; not just date nights but at least two evenings a week when you’re “just at home.”
- Examine the rhythm of your week and month to determine when the “optimal times” for intimacy are.
- Be willing to say “no” to other people in your life in order to say “yes” to your spouse.
- If you have children, enforce a bed time that allows you to have marriage time in the evening.
“Sex makes little kids and kids make little sex (p. 69).” Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus in Intimate Issues
These may not sound profound or novel; hopefully they don’t. But they are a vital foundation to a healthy marital sex life. We can and will add icing to the cake later (sprinkles and candles too if you like), but first we need to bake a good cake; otherwise the decorations will collapse and each bite will be less enjoyable because of inferior cake.
“I remember one of my country clients who I could tell was not very impressed with my counseling. After his first session, he looked at me and slowly drawled, ‘Dr. Rosenau, you had told me nothing my mama didn’t tell me.’ And I quickly replied, ‘And if you are doing everything your mama told you, you probably wouldn’t be here.’ (p. 237-238).” Doug Rosenau in A Celebration of Sex
These resources are excerpts from the following seminar:
CREATING A GOSPEL-CENTERED MARRIAGE: INTIMACY
Part One: Saturday April 26, 2014
Part Two: Saturday May 3, 2014
Time: 4:00 to 5:30 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415-107 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703