Change is a word that draws on many different emotions. Some embrace it. Some fear it. But we all know that change is going to happen throughout our lives. In one way or another, change will happen every year. Every month. Even every day.
Sex changes, too. The way our Western culture discusses sex today is drastically different than we discussed sex even 50 years ago. The way Jewish culture discusses sex today is drastically different than Song of Songs. The way a couple will engage in sex will likely change throughout their marriage, too. Whether due to illness, injury, or personal choices, a couple will mix things up in their sexual relationship throughout their marriage.
These changes are sometimes welcomed, and sometimes not. How can you ensure your understanding of and desire for sex thrives regardless of the changes?
1. Remember what is constant about sex.
Sex is connection.
In the Bible (Gen. 4:1), it says that Adam lay with his wife, Eve. The best Hebrew translation here is that Adam knew his wive. According to scholars, the terminology used here means that Adam likely knew Eve with his eyes, with his touch, and with his mind. It means that in that moment, Adam understood every aspect of who Eve was as a person. He was one with her. Just like that.
Well, one thing that hasn’t changed through the years is that sex still involves this deep oneness. It visual. It’s physical. It’s emotional. It’s full-on understanding of one another. It connects two individuals like nothing else can.
Sex is loving.
Consider the following words from Song of Songs 8:5-7
I aroused you under the apple tree,
where your mother gave you birth,
where in great pain she delivered you.
Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm.
For love is as strong as death,
its jealousy as enduring as the grave.
Love flashes like fire,
the brightest kind of flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
nor can rivers drown it.
If a man tried to buy love
with all his wealth,
his offer would be utterly scorned.
Here, Solomon explains the significance of real love. It is strong. Jealous. Enduring. Hot as fire. Cannot be quenched. Cannot be bought. Anybody who has ever experienced a deeply, intimate, loving relationship understands this passage perfectly. While there are many words for “love” throughout the Bible, the terms used in Song of Songs are often used to describe the sexual relationship between two lovers. The couple understands love itself, and serves one another in a sexually loving way.
Sex is fun.
There are a lot of things a couple can do to laugh and enjoy time with one another. None of them compare with sex. Even if sex doesn’t always bring laughter, it brings joy. And it’s a joy worth coming back for again and again.
Sex is restorative.
Ever have an argument and then have make-up sex? C’mon, you know you have! As we said above, sex gives a deep oneness, the most intense oneness possible between two people. So, when you and your spouse are at odds with one another, sex is a great way to get back on the same page. No matter what your marriage goes through, sex is restorative. It always heals. Always rejuvenates. Always restores.
2. Understand Intimacy.
Sex is a huge part of intimacy, but it’s not the only way to experience intimacy. For those who have no physical limitations or problems, keep making sex a priority in your marriage. Do everything you can to make room in your lives and schedules to connect in this way. It will increase the intimacy aspect of your marriage 100 fold.
For those who are experiencing unwelcome change due to illness or injury, know that you can still experience intimacy with your spouse outside the bedroom. Seek medical advice and help if necessary. Aside from that though, find means of physical touch that are pleasurable and work for you. Awaken all your senses to a greater understanding of arousal and sensuous awareness. Work on communication skills, learn the language of love. Maybe this is even a good time to learn how to write a good love letter! To be honest, we’ve heard stories of couples who in their old age or during a severe physical trauma who stated that those seasons were the most intimate ones of their entire marriage!
Bottom line, make it work for you. It may look different than others and it may even look different than you always dreamed but applying creativity to your love life will always have big returns.
3. Accept change.
While change can be difficult, we must be willing to accept that it’s going to happen. By accepting it, we’re continually moving forward into the unknown of what God has in store for our lives.
The same is true for the sexual relationship in marriage. While change in the bedroom is ultimately unavoidable, the greatest sex may be gained by accepting the changes as they come. Accepting them may lead to the unknown. But the unknown will just be the beginning of a new chapter of marital oneness.
Discuss with your spouse:
- What changes have occurred in our sex life?
- Are there any changes that could improve our communication, our intimacy, or restore our marriage even more?
- What is one “fun” thing we can do next time we connect?
- Challenge: Are you keeping any secrets from your spouse that are preventing you from being fully known? Prayerfully consider discussing this with your spouse and if you like, having some restorative sex afterward. Know, and be known.