Can a marriage survive without sex?
Late last year, a friendly but intense argument around that question overtook what had been a pretty normal dinner discussion with six friends and turned it into a passionate, at times heated, all night debate. But as I and my friends, most of which were married, sat around the table batting our passionate feelings around, I zoned out and heard another question, in my own head. What if we can take the things that typically drive couples apart and use them to “connect” intimately – spiritually?
That next morning I started writing and thinking about some of the more prevalent ways that marriages often struggle to stay “intimate”. But now, my thoughts were much broader than just sex, to what I can only label as, “spiritual intimacy”. So, I started asking myself questions about other areas of challenge in marriages:
What if your financial stresses became financial intimacy?
What if how you communicate in your marriage became an entrance to deep emotional connection?
What if you connected your vision, mission and goals of your marriage to God’s bigger, more accurate picture for your marriage?
What if your marriage moved from the 98% of couples of faith that don’t routinely pray together, to a relationship that intimately communicates and connects with God in ways that work for your specific marriage?
And yes, what if your marriage’s sexual relationship was a consistent place of “knowing” and experiencing each other, without reservation?
The result of those questions became my third book: Elevate Your Marriage: 7 Practices of Highly Intimate Couples.
As a Christian minister, I have “married” over 75 couples in the last few years and just like on most of our own wedding day, a couple’s wedding journey starts with, “I do”, “From this Day Forward” and thoughts of forevermore. However, the reality for us all is that challenges come. And they come in shapes, sizes, frequencies and durations that catch us off guard and, overtime, can push a husband and wife apart – to varying degrees. As they do, we tend to reach for solutions, fixes and remedies to get things right again. But in our own strength they only work for a while.
So through a combination of personal experience from my own marriage, experience as a marriage educator and the stories of married couples in the Bible, here are seven “practices” that modern couple’s can use to elevate their marriage above their own strength & thoughts to drive intimacy back into their marriage.
Practice 1 – Recognize the Greatest Need.
“Money is a real need, Sex is a real need, Trust is a real need, Sex is a real (again) need and having somewhere to live is a real need. But… Suppose for a second that what you need, all that you need, is the husband or wife that God has given you. What if everything you need to find completeness is in the partner that God gave you? What if it has been impressed upon us to look in all the wrong places for the very things that we think we need, while overlooking that man or woman that God has blessed our lives with? Our realization of the truly great need to be intimately connected to our spouse fuels our commitment to put in the work and patience required to enjoy spiritual intimacy with our spouse and God. Of all of the false needs that a couple seeks to satisfy, the one, real, true need of a healthy Christian marriage is the need for spiritual intimacy with each other.”
Practice 2 – Have Intimate Conversations.
…So, while men may be from one planet and women from another, God is a bi-lingual God who speaks the language of both husbands and wives…After Mary reached a place of peace about the “what and how” of what was happening to her, and Joseph understood what was going on with Mary and what he was to do, they were able to move forward together. Their separate conversations with God are what connected them and spoke peace to them.”
Practice 3 – Connect the Dots. Share personal goals, couple goals and family goals, cast a vision statement and have an updated mission statement for your marriage.
“The practice of connecting the dots of your marriage with God’s bigger purposes encourages you, as a couple, to sit together, talk together, reason together, dream together, plan together, and pray together. With each connecting dot, you are leaving anxieties and darkness behind and finding comfort in where you are and where God is taking your marriage.”
Practice 4 – Choose to Give.
“How we give, and what we give to, reflects our heart attitude toward God…Is there a soup kitchen down the street, a homeless shelter around the corner, a project at the church, a school in need of repair? Give.”
Practice 5 – Incite Worship.
“…We can even choose to worship our children, relationships, job titles, or even, as Ahab and Jezebel did, our spouse. Listen, whatever God has blessed your life with, enjoy it. But a true point of strength in our marriage is in our choice to focus on the God that blessed us with whatever we have.”
Prayer 6 – Great Sex: First Things FURST. (Forgiveness. Unselfishness. Respect. Surrender. Trust.)
“The five attributes that make up F.U.R.S.T. are revelations that far exceed what mere physical action can bear. Building a mutually enjoyable sex life takes more than showing up at night; it is the emotional and spiritual connections that abide throughout our relationship. When sex is merely physical, it is temporal and limited in its ability to bring us emotionally closer…”
Practice 7 – Be of the Way.
“Following the Way of Christ is the path to ultimate intimacy in your marriage. So with the example of Christ as the backdrop, and the resulting relevance to husbands and wives as the immediate context, Peter’s summary, really, is the only way to close out this chapter and book.
To sum up, “all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8-9”.
To find out more about picking up this new marriage resource or to bring Edward to your church or group check out: elevateyourmarriage.com