by Nikki Bray

Wherever you turn today, sex is in your face. We live in a sex-saturated culture. The suggestion of sex is on billboards, in advertising and on tv commercials; it’s in magazines and newspapers; it’s in almost every single tv programme, and it pops up incessantly in conversations. It’s treated flippantly and casually, rather than the holy gift that God intended it to be.

However, God designed sex to be experienced in the context of marriage. Marriage provides the environment of trust which enables a couple to be truly ‘naked and unashamed’ – this is where real transparency and vulnerability can flourish.

God created sex as a gift for a husband and wife, and He intended it for mutual pleasure.

When we learn to be selfless lovers – giving love to our spouse rather than focusing on our own desires, then trust, connection and passion thrive.

So how can we learn to love selflessly? Here below are practical ways for you to improve your sex life, and if you’re interested in more detail check out our podcast.

Available wherever you listen to podcasts:

Questions that build intimacy

It begins by understanding our own sexuality as well as our partner’s. Reading excellent material such as “Intimate Issues by Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus, or “The Gift of Sex” by Clifford and Joyce Penner will be insightful.

When I understood that I was more like a ‘crockpot’ and Andy was more like a ‘microwave’ it certainly helped. We both learned to not only embrace those differences but to respect them and approach one another with understanding.

I remember learning that sex begins in my mind; that I needed to prepare myself earlier in the day for times of intimacy. Anticipation helped me prepare my mind and my body. Spontaneity may work in the early stages of marriage but the anticipation of planned times together build quality.

When I understood that sex met a deep emotional need for Andy, and that the male ego was fragile and it was intricately woven with sex, I altered my attitude and began to treat our intimacy as a priority.

Be open and vulnerable, and talk about it.

Talking about sex may sound simple, but couples actually find it really difficult to do. Good conversations outside of the bedroom create an environment to be able to have vulnerable conversations inside the bedroom. Andy and I created some conversation starters to help couples navigate this called ‘Small talk’ – one is “date night questions” to build connection, and another is “small talk for the bedroom”. Being able to communicate around your likes, dislikes, hopes, fears, struggles, desires are essential if we want to build oneness.

Give each other your time – prioritise this area.

If you’re too tired to have sex then maybe consider that you’re too busy and something in your schedule needs to change. Keeping sex as a priority means regular times of intimacy. It may be necessary to ask one another, “what do you consider regular…..and what adjustments do we need to make in order for this to be a priority?” This question alone will start an interesting conversation.

Maintain physical affection (not just sexual affection).

Physical affection sets the stage for sexual touch.

Ask one another, “What specific physical affection do you like?” and then remind yourself to carry out those small acts of affection. It may be holding hands while walking, a tender protective arm around the shoulders, cuddling while watching tv, a foot rub, a massage. And here’s a tip – keep your kissing alive. Kissing was one of your first physical acts of closeness and yet it can often be the first thing to go in marriage. All too soon it can become the obligatory peck on the cheek as you farewell or greet one another.

Be proactive – know the “little foxes”.

In the ‘Song of Solomon’ in the Bible, King Solomon tells the Shulamite woman to “catch the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom”. Here he is encouraging her to be pro-active in watching out for those things that threaten to ruin intimacy. What are the little foxes you need to catch that will ruin the blossom of romantic love? Some of ours included tiredness, children, Netflix, stress, and health issues. Instead look for ways to build intimacy such as regular dates with one another, weekends away (attend a Weekend To Remember marriage getaway), listening, scheduling, gift-giving, prioritising.

Be creative

Don’t let the marriage bed become boring. Routine may be helpful running a household but not necessarily in the bedroom. We women like to be wooed and pursued. Look for ways to build some adventure and intrigue into the bedroom. (check out our Simply Romantic Nights resource)

Create your own little signals of intimacy that have meaning for you. One of ours was three signs of anything meant “I love you” … three toots on the horn as Andy was arriving home, three kisses before leaving, three squeezes of the hand, three taps on the leg when we were sitting down all communicated “I see you, I hear you, I love you”.

Finally, give yourself the space and the grace to grow and develop in this area. Becoming good lovers takes time, so can I encourage you to take the pressure off yourselves and understand that you’ve got a lifetime to learn to love one another deeper.

Commit to building a healthy pure love, continue to be a life-long learner by being curious and teachable about the person you’re married to, and continue to pursue one another with a relentless unselfish holy love.