Are you trying desperately to have a great sex life, but it only leaves you feeling even more distant?
It’s Day 5 of our Sizzling Summer Sex Series! And today I want to talk about the Big Missing Ingredient that robs so much of us of sexual pleasure. I’ve been leading up to this all week, and today I want to spell it all out for you!
The easiest way to do that is with a letter that a reader recently sent me:
My husband and I are in our mid-30s, married 15 years, with a teenage daughter. I’ve spent the last 13 years trying to convince my husband of multiple things. 1) Sex is a big deal to me and once a week isn’t cutting it. 2) I really want more children. We recently had a big blow up fight and frankly it took me handing him my wedding rings and telling him that he can give them back when he’s ready to actually have a marriage with me. In the first 2 year of our marriage I pretty much threatened to leave every fight. To his credit he stuck with me and I did eventually learn that I was being cruel. We did find common ground after we both calmed down, but at this point I’m not feeling IN love with him. I love him, but the fire has burned out. I’ve realized through reading your books that our spiritual relationship is non-existent. How do I get this back to where I want it to be and what it should be? I’ve prayed for peace about the baby issue. I’m so bitter and angry about all of it, that I’m not really sure on where to start or how to forgive/ask forgiveness.
Wow, that’s tough, isn’t it? I have written a post about what to do when you want more kids but he doesn’t, and if that’s an issue for your marriage, I’d suggest reading that post for help. I want to deal with a different aspect here.
This letter is a great example of something that people really need to understand:
When you’re not connecting outside the bedroom, it’s very, very difficult to feel passion inside the bedroom.
Now, this couple has had a lot of issues over the years. She has a higher libido and he isn’t as interested in sex. They don’t agree on kids. They have very dysfunctional ways of handling conflict (like her threatening to leave). They don’t have a spiritual life together.
For you it may be other issues other than the libido and kid issue. But the fact remains that when there is a ton of baggage between you, passion will evaporate.
Why is that?
It’s because the missing ingredient in passion is vulnerability.
When we’re able to be vulnerable, we let down all pretences. We let our spouse see us for who we truly are. We become not just physically naked, but emotionally naked, too. That’s an intimacy that we don’t share with anybody else, and it can be intoxicating. When we’re that open emotionally, it tends to fuel passion, too.
But in order to be vulnerable, we have to have trust.
We have to know that our spouse will love us, no matter what. We have to know that if we share something deeply personal, they won’t throw it back in our face. We have to know that if we share a deep desire that we have (like having a baby), even if our spouse doesn’t share that desire, that they will understand and have compassion and try to work towards our good. We have to know that our spouse knows everything about us, and still loves us.
When that happens, then we feel this rush of relief. Humans’ greatest need is to feel intimate and connected with someone. That’s how God made us. That intimacy is best and most completely met in Him, but He created sex to be a mirror of that intimacy He wants us to experience. And when you have that, it’s a real aphrodisiac. Then we feel totally accepted and we can let our guard down. It’s easier to relax. It’s easier to tell them what we want and what feels good! Everything is better.
See, technique does come into play with great sex (and we’ll talk about that soon).
But you can have amazing technique and still have awful sex, because it can end up feeling empty.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have sex if you don’t feel close. In many ways sex and friendship are like the chicken and the egg: It’s not clear which comes first. The more we make love, the more we release the bonding hormone oxytocin and the closer we tend to feel. We tend to bring down the tension level in the marriage and laugh together more, so that we do feel closer.
So certainly sex is a great way to keep a marriage close.
But it can’t do that on its own. And sex will never be fully passionate and fully amazing when you can’t be vulnerable with each other. So what would I say to this woman? She needs to wrestle through the baby issue, certainly. But they also need to work on communication and conflict resolution, so that it’s about sharing your emotional needs and meeting them, rather than blaming someone. And it needs to be done in the spirit of acceptance, not judgment where you’ll leave if they don’t make you happy. Until they feel like they’re in this marriage together because they truly want to be, they really won’t find that the sex piece works very well.
So hold on to this idea of vulnerability as we go through the rest of the Sizzling Summer Sex Series, because so much comes back to this. Next week we’re going to focus on making sex “hot” and how to handle fantasy in our marriages (including deciding what’s okay to do). But even then, it all comes back to how we feel about each other and how we think about sex.
The key to sizzling sex really isn’t in technique as much as it is in being vulnerable and letting go of all our fears and insecurities. When we do that–then sex really can be amazing!
Your Sizzling Challenge!
Let’s grow our vulnerability!
Share with your spouse one of your biggest fears that you have right now. How can your spouse help you with that? Pray for each other about that fear