Take a peek at the cover of most women’s magazines, and you’ll find tantalizing headlines that promise a better sex life. “Ten secrets to mind-blowing orgasms” and “Twenty ways to heat things up with your partner.” While you might find a helpful tip or two, these articles typically fail to address the most significant aspects of a great sex life.
It’s one thing to promote a crazy, wild episode of sex. It’s quite another task to build a romance that weathers the test of time. The goal of married sex is not one or two nights of ecstasy but cultivating a habit of fun, intimacy, and mutual pleasure.
My experience has taught me that most women desperately want to enjoy sex in marriage but find long-term sexual satisfaction to be allusive. I want to share with you three “secrets” to building sexual intimacy in your marriage. Let me warn you that these secrets may sound quite unromantic. Rather than suggesting that you buy candles and lingerie in order to feel sexy, these suggestions aim to change the atmosphere of where sex actually happens—in your heart and your mind.
The number one trait that promotes a great sex life is perhaps the furthest thing you might expect. Since when has humility been sexy? Don’t the sexiest people in the world “strut their stuff”? Aren’t they confident in and out of the bedroom?
The confusion comes when we mistake insecurity for humility. Insecurity is rooted in a fear of rejection and not being enough. In fact, most arrogant, selfish people act the way they do because they are insecure. For instance, the person who fears being exposed as a failure cannot tolerate anything but praise. An insecure lover is so lost in his or her own needs and fears that there’s no room to even consider the needs of the other person.
By contrast, a humble person lives out Philippians 2:3–4, not because of insecurity but out of inner strength and conviction: “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”
This passage represents the greatest improvement in my love life throughout our 21 years of marriage. Like many women, I began marriage with a self-righteous view of sex. I thought that my perspective was more spiritual and mature than my husband’s. I rolled my eyes when he suggested that we could resolve a conflict by getting naked. I began to despise his flirtations when I didn’t have the energy to even think about sex. Then the Lord began to show me how much pride I brought into our sex life.
Great lovers are humble, eager to understand and meet the needs of the other person. In most marriages, humility is contagious. Your sex life is probably characterized by either a tug of war of selfishness (I’ll meet your needs when you start meeting mine) or an atmosphere of servant love. Making that switch will only happen when one of you lets go of the rope and starts loving unconditionally.
Cultivating humility isn’t as easy as painting your bedroom, but it could revolutionize your love life.
2. A Sense of Humor
The sense of humor I’m referring to is not the ability to kill it at open mic night. Instead, it means developing a lighthearted approach to your relationship. There are times to be serious, but no marriage can thrive when everything is analyzed and dissected.
Do you remember the fairy tale The Princess and the Pea? In the story, the princess’ sensitivity to detect a pea under 20 mattresses was a positive quality, designating her for royalty. As women, we can often detect the tiniest proverbial “pea” in our marriage. While our men are clueless about an underlying source of tension, we insist of solving it before even considering the possibility of intimacy. This, my friend, will kill your sex life. If you wait until all relational and physical conditions are perfect, you’re in for a long, lonely winter.
A sense of humor allows you to let yourself love and enjoy being loved even when the conditions are far from perfect. Humor gives you permission to have fun in the bedroom, to flirt with your not-so-romantic “Casanova” and to revel in your not-so-perfect love life. As the saying goes, “Perfect is the enemy of the good.”
While you should always take your marriage seriously, a great sex life means taking yourself a little less seriously.
3. The Ability to Say No
When I find myself saying no to my husband’s sexual advances, it is always because I have said yes to other things—good things! I’ve said yes to making cookies for the school party, to helping my son with his research paper, to speaking at the MOPs group (ironically on how to make time for sex), to having the neighbors over for dinner, and to reviewing a colleague’s latest manuscript. I find myself with no more yeses left!
The “Proverbs 31” woman in me can obliterate whatever semblance of “Song of Solomon” might be ignited in our marriage. While it’s important to take care of my house, to cook healthy meals, and find good deals for Christmas, it’s more important to cultivate intimacy with my husband.
I’m going to be honest here. Being a Proverbs 31 wife is a lot safer than becoming a Song of Solomon wife. Christian women often bury themselves in worthwhile busyness to avoid the vulnerability of intimacy. I’ve been there! Making my husband’s favorite dinner and running the kids to all of their activities requires my energy, but not my heart. I can be exhausted yet safe in a cocoon of good deeds. Working on true intimacy in marriage requires me to stop saying yes to the manic pace of the modern woman.
Why would you set your heart on humility, a sense of humor, and slowing down? Because deep in your heart, you crave the real deal intimacy that marriage was intended to deliver. Your eye is drawn to the promises on the front of Cosmo because you want even more than a great sex life. You were made for intimacy.
Your drawers can be full of sexy nighties and your Brazilian wax, but if your heart isn’t pursuing intimacy, skip the sex tips and go after the true game changers in your marriage. After all, the most important thing you bring to the bedroom is you.