The best sex happens when you both start looking at sex as a wonderful, beautiful, powerful privilege just for the two of you.
The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.1 Cor 7:3-4 NLT
Have you ever heard anyone preach a sermon on this scripture? I would guess not.
Giving authority over your body to your spouse? Taking personal responsibility to see that your spouse’s sexual needs are met? That’s some pretty scary stuff Paul is laying out here.
Check out The Message version. I feel like it gets at the heart of what Paul is trying to say:
The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out.
I did a survey a while back to find out what people thought about these verses. To my surprise, 93% of people said they agree or agree strongly that these verses still apply to marriages today. In the same survey, 88% agreed or agreed strongly that they were the one responsible for their spouse’s sexual satisfaction, with very little difference between men and women respondents.
So why are so many marriage suffering from a lack of sexual fulfillment? Only half of the people who took my survey were satisfied with their sex lives. (Side note: people who take sex surveys are generally more sex positive than the population in general, so I suspect the real dissatisfaction numbers are significantly higher).
I think a lot of the dissatisfaction has to do with how we view our sexual relationship.
Most couples are not evenly matched when it comes to sex drive. My own poll found that less than 10% of couples see themselves as having equal drive. Depending on whether you are the higher drive or lower drive spouse you might be tempted toward one of two views of sex: right or duty.
Sex as a Right
A higher drive spouse might read 1 Corinthians 7:3-4 and say they have the right to obtain sexual fulfillment with his or her spouse. This right extends so far as to include husband and wife each having authority over the other’s body. So does a high drive spouse have the right to demand sex?
Well, that may be technically true, but demanding sex because you have a right to it is not very likely to lead to sexual fulfillment. It certainly is not going to produce genuine sexual intimacy in your marriage. It is not an expression of love and will not lead to lovemaking.
Sex as a Duty
If you are a wife or husband with a lower sex drive than your spouse, and you have read the Scripture above, you might be tempted to look at sex as a duty. In fact, the NIV translation of this passage uses that exact phrasing. “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.” So is sex a duty?
Well, again, that may be semantically true. But viewing sex with your spouse simply as a duty is not going to provide much sexual satisfaction for your spouse – or for you. Duty sex is pretty easy to detect. In fact, many would rather forgo sex if their spouse is only going to give it to them out of obligation.
Sex as a Privilege
So if we should not view sex either as a right or as a duty, how should we look at it?
Let me suggest instead that you think of sex a privilege.
A privilege is “a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people… something regarded as a rare opportunity and bringing particular pleasure.”
For the spouse on the lower drive side of things, start to move from thinking “I have to” toward thinking “I get to.” Take delight in the unique privilege you have to provide sexual pleasure to your spouse.
For the higher drive spouse, rather than focusing on the the sex your aren’t having, start focusing on and finding enjoyment in the sex you are having. Rather than concentrating what your spouse is not doing for you sexually, consider ways to provide for his or her non-sexual needs; not in order to manipulate them into giving you more sex, but out of a heart of love and serving.
Think of sex as a celebration of your love and an area for finding creative ways to express your delight in one another. If you are all he/she gets, don’t you want to be all he/she ever wants? It’s your love life; make it a great one.
The best sex happens when you both start seeing sex as the wonderful privilege it is, designed by God to foster the deepest intimacy in your relationship. Sex is the only kind of intimacy that you can enjoy with your spouse alone.
How might you approach sex with your spouse differently this week in light of the beautiful privilege that it is designed to be?