Thank you for listening to Relationship Helpers! Today’s episode may be an eye-opener for many of you on the subject of sex in marriage. Sex experts tend to focus on what’s wrong about sex in marriage, without offering much in what is right.
Of course we’ll take a look at problems with sex, but more importantly we’re going to look at what makes it the soul-stirring wonderful experience God intended to be.
How We Learn About Sex Informs Our Sex Lives
People learn about sex in many different ways. HOW we learn about it shapes how we see ourselves as well as how we view sex. Many people are introduced to the topic of sex when a parent talks to them about it. When a parent has an age-appropriate discussion about sex it makes that child have a strong foundation on which their sexual knowledge is built. A parent that approaches sex with a lot of nerves or shame can unwittingly negatively impact their child’s view of sex.
If a parent does not take on the role of educator then children learn from their peers and the media, leaving the child to other people’s opinions and misinformation.
The most heartbreaking way children are introduced to sex is through sexual abuse. Sexual abuse often influences the survivor to carry shame and negative coping mechanisms where sex is concerned.
Types of Love Needed
How someone is introduced to sex matters. It’s the lens through which a person looks at intimate love. The Greeks defined eight different types of love. Today, we will look at three:
Agape – unconditional love and commitment; act of will
Philos – brotherly love, companionship; enhanced by time spent together
Eros – passion, excitement; no defensive walls with erotic & romantic feelings
Agape love requires intentionality. It’s the kind of love that makes you stay with your spouse when you are having a really hard time even liking them right now. It is the “for richer and poorer” and “in sickness and in health” kind of love.
Philos love is what makes marriage like a friendship. It’s about making time for one another, whether that’s through leisure activities or through making efforts to just talk to one another.
Eros love gets some people in trouble. They are seeking out the “high” that comes with the passion and excitement of eros love. Eros love depends, to a degree, on biology and chemistry. For sex addicts and people with unhealthy relationships it can be what keeps them caught in a cycle of seeking out sexual pleasure above all else.
When in a healthy marriage, Eros love is at its greatest. It’s God giving the green light to sexual bliss.
Progression of Intimacy
Chatting – Emotional Sharing – Sex
In a culture of one night stands or “test-driving the car before buying it,” much of the pure sexual excitement that comes with married sex is lost. When a relationship in the context of marriage follows the progression of chatting, to emotional sharing, to sex it helps to develop a spiritual bond. Sex seems empty when you don’t “know” the other person.
In the Bible often “knowing” is a euphemism for sexual relations. Isn’t that what sex should be? You can be physically intimate with someone without having an emotional or spiritual bond. But is that all you want out of a relationship?
God’s gift of sex offers much more bonding than what physical intimacy only can supply.
3 Kinds of Sex
1. Secure Sex – emotionally attuned and vulnerable
2. Detached Avoidant Sex – splits off emotion and purely focuses on physical, performance, and novelty
3. Ambivalent Protesting Sex – anxiously seeking affirmation of worth, value, afraid of abandonment, clingy, and demanding
We are biologically wired for reproduction and attachment. When a couple struggles sexually, there is often an attachment issue.
Healthy attachment is what is considered “secure sex.” Each spouse is open to one another. Each person strives to understand the other better and allows themselves to be emotionally vulnerable to the other person.
Detached Avoidant Sex makes sex more of a performance. It may be flashy, but there’s probably no depth. It is purely physical. Many times this type of sex results from people who have sexual addictions or sexual abuse histories. For those addicted, there has been a hyper-focus on reaching climax, which often leaves their partner feeling left out of the process, frustrated, and unloved. For a person struggling with a sexual abuse history, detachment may be a way to dissociate from the hurt that rape or molestation has brought in the past.
Marriage counseling can be particularly involved when a sexually abused wife is married to a man with a sexual addiction. The husband may orgasm quickly and she can be so triggered that she never reaches orgasm. He is left unsatisfied because she did not climax. She is left further traumatized, wondering why she can’t achieve orgasm with her husband and maybe even angry that he does not consider her feelings about it.
Ambivalent Protesting Sex is when sex becomes a means for achieving value. This is often seen in people who are clingy or demanding. Fear of abandonment fuels their sexual choices. They have sex to fill their need for self worth.
Obviously, secure sex is what we should hope to achieve, but how does it come to be? Tune in next week for ways to improve your sex life!
A Celebration of Sex by Dr. Doug Rosenau
Face to Face Seven Keys to a Secure Marriage by Dr. Jesse Gill