We wanted to republish this post from earlier in the year as we look at love and relationships this month.
The last thing I intend to do is jump on the Miley-bashing bandwagon. I’ve been around the block long enough to see this kind of spectacle (i.e, money-making formula) time and time again. To be honest, I’ve seen far worse behavior exposed in the real lives of God-fearing Christians. And I certainly fight pride and lust and greed in my own heart. While her recent performances and videos make me sad because I recognize that she is selling a distorted, empty version of a God-given gift, the truth is, we’ve all seen this many times before. Nope, it isn’t the twerking or the drug references or the naked wrecking ball that surprise and irritate me, it is Miley’s statement in a recent Today Show interview about MY SEX LIFE that has actually stopped me in my tracks…
“I heard when you turn 40, things start to go a little less sexual. Probably around that time, I heard that’s when people don’t have sex anymore. I guess maybe around then.”
I am, in fact, 40. And this statement is, in fact, a lie. It has me wondering what kinds of lies we believe about monogamous, married sex. Single/in your face/do whatever feels good sex is all over the place. But what IS the truth about married sex? Is it really as dull and dysfunctional and non-existent as a 20 year old pop star thinks it is? Probably. For some couples. But definitely not for all. Does satisfying married sex just happen or does it take time and effort to cultivate and enjoy? Definitely the latter. Below are five lies about married sex and a little truth to set the record straight.
LIE #1 – SEX IS BEST WHEN YOU’RE YOUNG
Let me be perfectly clear. Sex in your 40’s+ can be infinitely, extraordinarily, incomparably more satisfying than it ever was in your 20’s. While physical and life stressors are often more challenging, the confidence that comes with age just can’t be matched. Oh the irony of finally accepting our bodies and the core of who we are just in time for the wrinkles and sagging and stretch marks to set in. The best sex, as God designed it, takes place when two people love and accept themselves and each other just as they are, flaws and all. And for most of us, that only comes with time.
No matter how “in love” you are when you get married, there is no substitute for decades of walking through life with your partner. Navigating your way through the valleys and struggles of life and storing up countless treasured memories create a bond and comfort level in marriage that make physical expression of love incredibly fulfilling. There is such freedom when sexual intimacy takes place in the safety of a relationship built on acceptance, commitment and genuine love. You know your partner inside and out. There is no hesitation in sharing what you like and don’t like. When couples continue to mature emotionally, spiritually and relationally, it doesn’t get old, it just gets better!
LIE #2 – SEX WITH THE SAME PERSON IS BORING
I suppose this becomes a question of breadth or depth. Would I rather have a shallow connection with many people or a deep connection with one? The reality is that monogamous marriage means just one person forever. There are dozens of reasons outside the sexual realm for choosing depth, but that’s for another post. Variety or commitment? In a healthy marriage, the answer to this question is BOTH! Relationships in which each individual is constantly seeking to grow are dynamic, not static. We discover new things about our spouses as they change and evolve. Different stages bring new areas and levels of connection. After 14 years of marriage, my relationship with my husband is far from boring! Sure, there are seasons of monotony, but just when it starts to become routine, there are twists and turns that liven things up and create opportunities for new connections and deepened intimacy.
LIE #3 – SEX IS AS GOOD NOW AS IT’S EVER GOING TO GET
It is a lie from the pit of hell to believe that people and relationships can’t change. No matter how bad it is, it can always get better… much, much better. I can cite example after example from my own circle of family and friends as proof that PEOPLE CAN CHANGE! And I have seen it in my own life and marriage. This is no Pollyanna perspective. I am not saying that people will change, but that people can change, and sometimes they do change. So don’t give up.
Just like anything else in life, the grass is greener where it’s watered. I’m not talking about “how to” instruction, I’m talking about spiritual and emotional work. From my own experience, and that of my close friends, I would say that 95% of sexual issues in marriage are symptomatic of emotional and spiritual unhealth. If sexual intimacy is lacking, it’s a red flag that there are bigger problems in the relationship.
I have seen miracles… raising of the dead miracles…take place in marriages. It’s amazing how working through resentments, building strong communication skills and working on our own emotional/spiritual health can transform a marriage and sexual relationship for a couple. A qualified therapist, two willing participants and an openness to change is a good place to start.
LIE #4 – SEX DRAWS YOU CLOSER TO YOUR SPOUSE
I think this is the biggest fallacy out there regarding sex. I believed it hook, line and sinker for most of my life and marriage. There was a revolutionary change in our relationship when my husband and I learned that sex was created to be an expression of an emotional intimacy that already exists. Now don’t get me wrong, sex enhances, enriches, and bonds a marital relationship. But when couples try to create intimacy through physical connection, it’s never going to happen. Trying to gain emotional intimacy through physical intimacy is getting the cart before the horse. The truth is that if you took sex away from a healthy marriage, the relationship would still be fulfilling and meaningful and rich. Sex is the icing on the cake. It’s not the cake.
LIE #5 – YOU WORK ON YOUR SEX LIFE IN THE BEDROOM
Making sex better and more satisfying doesn’t begin anywhere near a bedroom. In fact, that’s just the place where the benefits are reaped. Sexual satisfaction in marriage is in direct proportion to three things:
- The state of individual emotional and spiritual health. Sexual problems in a marriage (unfulfilling or lack of physical intimacy, pornography addiction, adultery, you name it) are all symptoms of emotional and spiritual problems. Healing and change happen in places like small discipleship groups, a therapist’s office, 12 Step meetings, coffee dates with supportive friends and consistent quiet times in the Word and prayer.
- The quality of communication. Healthy people in healthy relationships talk about everything. They share their struggles, joys, fears, dreams and frustrations. They learn to communicate their feelings and thoughts in calm, kind ways. They process issues until they are resolved. Good communication=deeper emotional connection. Deeper emotional connection= better sex. It’s not rocket science.
- The willingness and ability of each partner to approach the relationship with the objective to give, not take. This kind of selfless love only comes from God, from spending time in His Word and prayer and asking Him to replace our selfishness with Christ’s selflessness. It is led by the Holy Spirit and practiced every day in both the big and little choices of putting the needs of our spouse on the same level as our own.
Don’t believe the lies. The TRUTH about married sex is that if we are willing to put in the work, it can be an incredibly fulfilling part of a committed relationship for a lifetime.
Held by Him,