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Intimacy in Marriage: On the Frequency of Sex January 27, 2012

Posted by occhristiancounseling in Dr. Curtis Lehmann, sexuality, understanding men, understanding women.

by Dr. Curtis Lehmann

One question that rarely gets openly posed in marriage goes something like this: who decides how much a married couple should have sex, the husband or the wife? The question may make you blush but it certainly is an important one. Some believe that sex should rarely be withheld, that sexual relations are an essential part of the marriage relationship. Others may find that sex is an inconvenience that has gradually left the marriage.

Consider the following passage from Scripture:

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command. ~1 Corinthians 7:3-6

Now some might think that this passage justifies the person who believes that sex should never be withheld. The challenge is that such a stance often neglects a fundamental principle of the passage, that sex should be a gift to one another to help one another stay close to God. Sex should not be used as a weapon to control or punish the other partner, either by willfully abstaining or by coercing. Instead, intimacy in marriage ought to respect both desire and lack of desire for sex by either partner.

An attitude towards sex that actively resents the other partner for either wanting sex too often or not wanting it enough is not the attitude that Paul is advocating here. Rather, Paul is trying to promote a healthy sexuality that respects our physical and emotional desires as important, alongside our spiritual nature.

I propose a different stance toward sexuality than simply focusing on whether or not sex is being engaged in. This stance demands that we surrender our selfish perspective toward sex and consider our spouse’s needs and limitations. We should treat our partners with care, taking into account their physical and emotional desires regarding sex, believing that their bodies are connected to our own and sharing in their suffering and discomfort towards sex. Sex should always be requested, never demanded. When this level of love and care is shown, sexual intimacy can begin to flourish and thrive.


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