This series of blogs comes from FAQ’s from the guys in Summit’s “Preparing for Marriage” ministry. They represent a conglomeration of questions from many different husbands-to-be during the Engaged Discovery Weekend. If you are interested in serving as a marriage mentor or are engaged, click here to learn more about Summit’s “Preparing for Marriage” ministry.

What’s a good way to honor my wife in sex? What common things are dishonorable?

There is a common saying that “sex starts in the kitchen.” The principle behind this statement applies this question as well. Honoring your wife during sex has a lot to do with whether you are honoring her before and after sex. The seven points are not exclusive to the time of intercourse.

1. Crude language – Referring to sex, body parts, or fore play in language that is vulgar is a way to dishonor your wife. Demanding that your wife use this language because you find it stimulating magnifies this dishonor. The question becomes, “What is vulgar?” For starters you should include any curse words, most of what you’ve heard in a locker room, and anything you learned from watching porn. Beyond this, anything your wife finds to be offensive. The general principle for our speech in Ephesians 4:29 applies to talking about sex with your spouse. The goal is to build up the other person and to give grace to the specific audience. You should seek to find a variety of ways to speak of sex that makes your wife feel affirmed, safe, and honored. This may vary from couple to couple.

2. Not understanding the affects of conflict – In general, men can recover from conflict to being ready for sex faster than women. For men, sex can often be the key indicator that “everything is okay, so let’s have sex so I can know this conflict is behind us.” Frequently, men try to initiate sex before their wife has recovered from a disagreement and then feel rejected which leads to the next conflict and extends the problem. “Now all you care about is sex. Why would I want to make love to someone like that?” Part of leading your family is to ensure that conflict has been resolved before trying to cover the issue up with a pleasurable distraction.

3. Not understanding the connection between sex and romance – Often men can mistake sex for romance. That is like mistaking the vacation with the road trip you travel to get there… and, yes, getting there should be half the fun. Over the course of a lifetime (and that is the perspective you should have on marriage and sex), if you allow sex to be a stand alone event of affection and affirmation it will wither into a briefer and briefer form of recreation that is increasingly less satisfying for both of you. This is not just a “woman thing.” Most men who have a relational affair say of their mistress “we just had so much more spark, energy, and affection in sex.” That is because the “forbidden period” in the growth of an affair forces a time period of romance that marriage does not have unless you are intentional about it. Implication: never dishonor your wife by ceasing to romance her.

4. Keeping sex stats – “We have only had sex one time this week. I thought if I did that extra work in the yard, you’d pay me back with a little action (see #1).” These kinds of measurements and bargains for sex are dishonoring and, therefore, ineffective. You should avoid them because they are dishonoring, not just because their ineffective. The point is not that frequency is unimportant, but that it is not the best measure of a good sex life. The more you place an emphasis on frequency in conflict, the more it distracts both of you from the things that would make sex enjoyable and, therefore, more frequent. It is better to ask open ended evaluative questions such as, “Are there ways we need to manage our time and schedule better to allow more time for each other romantically? Do I love you in ways that foster your desire to be with me intimately? Are there pressures you’re facing that distract you from being able to enjoy or think about intimacy?” This is Matthew 7:3-5 applied to marital conversations about sex.

5. Demanding sexual actions that feel demeaning – The principle from Ephesians 4:29 applies here as well. Pornography has introduced a variety of sexual actions performed by professional sex athletes into our social consciousness. Demanding a sexual activity that your wife is not or not yet comfortable with is dishonoring and eats away at the trust essential to a healthy sex life. It is good for a couple to “try new things” but you should be patient if your wife is cautious about this. A good book to help cultivate honoring variety is The Celebration of Sex by Doug Rosenau.

6. Demanding apparel that makes her feel uncomfortable – Sex is most enjoyable when your wife feels sexy. If your desire to see her in certain types of lingerie makes her feel self-conscious, then whatever additional arousal you experience will be at the expense of the mutual sexual satisfaction. If you demand that she wear things she is uncomfortable in, you begin to deliver the message that you don’t want to be with her sexually, but that you want her to be with the kind of woman who would wear what you like. Part of growing in love for your wife is to find appealing those things she feels attractive in so that she is affirmed and feels freer during foreplay and intercourse.

7. Bad initiation of sex – Pinching your wife on the butt and raising your eye brows is bad initiation. This is where finding affirming language to speak about sex is particularly important. You might ask if your wife is interested in a “date” or “rendezvous.” You might light a special candle in the bedroom or play a song you know she likes to alert her to your interest. Giving forethought to how you initiate and how she will receive that initiation is an important part of honoring your wife during sex.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Sex and Sexuality” post which address other facets of this subject.