One of the most prevalent topics we get questions about is sex and intimacy. And for good reason: sexual intimacy is an important part of marriage, but it also tends to be one of the most misunderstood. For starters, here are some biblical truths about sex:
- Sex is a good, gracious gift from God. He designed it.
- Sex is created exclusively for the marriage covenant. Elsewhere is sin and will lead to brokenness.
- Sex is created with huge purposes in mind.
- Sex is meant to be enjoyed!
With those principles in place (there are more, but for today we’ll stop there), we can begin to understand what a healthy sex life might look like. For a much more in-depth look at the purposes of sex, make sure to listen to the below podcast episode (start at 14 mins), or consider reading our latest book Fierce Marriage. Because of length constraints, I can’t get into the richer details of God’s pruposes for sex here.
8 Characteristics of a Healthy Sex Life
Before we dive in, one caveat: each couple is different. We’d be foolish to prescribe anything specific for every couple reading this. With that said, the below characteristics are based on scripture, our experience, and information available to us. They’re meant to be helpful guidelines that should be applied with wisdom and discernment for your context.
1. Right Expectations
What are your expectations for sex? What does your husband/wife expect? Making sure your expectations are understood and held loosely is the first step toward minimizing frustration and sex-related arguments.
2. Honest communication
You can’t grow in any area until you learn how to communicate. Get used to talking about your sexual desires, expectations, fears, and hold-ups. Always communicate in love, with your primary desire being for each other as an individual, instead of what you can get from one another.
3. Mutual vulnerability
Your past may make it hard to be emotionally and physically vulnerable with each other. Or, perhaps you have unbiblical stigmas about sex that are keeping you from experiencing the fullness of joy in this area. If you’re having difficulty being vulnerable, talk about it. If your fears or anxieties go deep, definitely get help from a licensed biblical counselor, pastor, or family therapist.
4. Selflessness (Desire, Attitude of Service, Expectations)
You definitely have something to gain from a healthy sex life! However, your chief desire is best placed on your spouse, and not on getting what you want. The action of sex should be a natural overflow of an intense selfless love and desire for each other, not a means of merely having your selfish desires fulfilled.
5. Healthy frequency
How often should you ideally be having sex? What’s healthy for you, given your physiology, lifestyle, job situation, and relational dynamics? Have an honest conversation, and if possible, agree on what’s healthy for you. You’d be amazed at how much this relieves you both of the guess-work so often related to if/when you should have sex.
6. Clear, loving boundaries (no coercion, degradation, pain)
God’s Word gives couples a good amount of leeway in terms of what’s permissible in the bedroom between husband and wife. With that said, it’s your job to discover what’s most beneficial. (1 Corinthians 10:23)
7. Exclusivity and privacy
Your intimacy is for you and your spouse, exclusively. Don’t break your spouse’s confidence or expose them by oversharing with friends. Also (this wasn’t mentioned on the podcast), don’t bring any “outside stimulus” into the marriage bed (i.e. porn). You are enough for each other, you don’t need to share your experience with anyone else, period.
8. Willing to seek help from healthy sources
If you are struggling in this area, get help as soon as you can. An amazing sex life can’t make your marriage, but a very dysfunctional one can break it. Here’s what I mean: sexual dysfunction for long periods of time is usually an indication of a much deeper problem. No, I’m not talking about abstaining for a period with mutual consent (that’s biblical and healthy in some cases). If your sex life is non-existent or very difficult, be willing to talk about it, acknowledge it, and get help.
Made for Your Enjoyment
God told Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28) Enjoy each other, be fruitful, and above all, trust Jesus. Whether your sex life feels healthy or needs tons of work, rest in Christ. Know you are loved, your salvation is secure when you are in him, and he is with you where you sit.
It’s our prayer that you have the healthiest marriage you can possibly have and in turn, experience the fullness of joy in every area… sex included. I hope the above 8 characteristics get you thinking about your own sex life—what it currently is and what it can be.
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