Okay, I admit it. I went for shock value in the original version of yesterday’s blog post title. You may be happy to know it didn’t produce the curiosity and traffic I had hoped. Maybe there’s hope for us yet. But some of the folks who came to the blog were thinking, “Oh, this would have been great to hear 20 years ago. But I didn’t do this. Now I’m married and things are a mess.” I get that. Why? Because I didn’t follow those 7 steps either. I blew it and I know how tough it is to overcome that. While it is harder to have a great sex life in marriage if you didn’t follow these 7 steps, your marriage can still be great and so can the sex. But how? What if I already blew the 7 steps, what do I do now?
Most folks didn’t follow the 7 steps. I know that because I can look up webpages about the top reasons given for divorce and see that #1 is sexual infidelity. #5 is sexual incompatibility. But notice that #2 (Communication breakdown), #3 (Physical, psychological, or emotional abuse), #6 (Boredom), #7 (Religious and cultural strains), #8 (Child rearing), #9 (Addiction), and #10 (Differences in priorities and expectations) all stem from not pursuing the 7 steps to Great Sex. Financial trouble (#4) might also have been avoided if you followed the steps.
So, what do you do if you didn’t follow the 7 steps and now you find yourself stuck in a marriage filled with sexual incompatibility, communication breakdown, boredom, etc? Here are 7 steps for you.
Step #1: Understand that sex is optional.
That’s right. Because you didn’t follow the first 7 steps, you’ve probably entered your marriage with all kinds of misconceptions about sex and sexuality. You are probably placing way too much expectation on sex to do something amazing for your marriage. When it doesn’t, you either get frustrated with it and give up on it. Or you keep chasing it. Which leads to lots of marriage trouble and often infidelity.
Understand this. You don’t have to have sex today to live. Sex can be an enjoyable part of your marriage again someday. But if you think it is absolutely necessary today to have a good marriage, you will just further your troubles today. Remember, Paul wasn’t having sex and he didn’t die (I Corinthians 7:7).
Step #2: Learn the truth about sex and sexuality.
If you didn’t follow the first 7 steps, and you are still reading this post because you are hoping to get some help, you probably don’t have a healthy view of sex. Sadly, too many learn about sex from the movies, romance novels, the locker room, and pornography. These are simply not reliable sources. They give us all sorts of wrong ideas about sex, let alone healthy relationships. I know this sounds a little frightening, but you need to clean up your sources of information about sex and sexuality. You need to learn how to think about sex like an adult. You may even need some basic anatomy lessons to understand how everything really works. I can’t tell you the number of guys I’ve talked to who really believe that they have to have “the release” or they’ll get sick or damaged. That just isn’t true. I can’t tell you the number of women who labor under the misconception that sex is just painful and there’s nothing they can do about it. That just isn’t true. These are people who have misconceptions born from bad sources of information. While Hosea 4:6 was talking about completely different issues, the principle is valid in a whole host of situations, including this one. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Get some knowledge about how sex and relationships work. There are lots of books out there on this stuff. Try reading Intended for Pleasure: Sex Technique and Sexual Fulfillment in Christian Marriage* or some others to help.
Step #3: Focus on your relationship with God.
If you didn’t follow the first 7 steps, then you are probably expecting too much out of sex and your spouse. You probably think that somehow they are supposed to fill all the holes you are feeling. You may even be thinking you married the wrong person because things are not going like you thought they should. The problem is not them. It is you. Trust me. I know. I’ve had to say this to myself over and over again. While God created marriage to provide companionship because it is not good for man to be alone, He did not create marriage so that another person or sex with that person could fix our brokenness. Only God can do that. So, take a long hard look in the mirror. Examine yourself and develop a strong relationship with God. That will allow you to have meaning and fulfillment in life no matter what happens with your marriage. When God is your refuge, you can face anything, even marriage trouble (Psalm 18:1-3). Besides, you’ll be amazed how much better your marriage is when you are better.
Step #4: Work on your emotional and spiritual relationship with your spouse.
Sadly, in our sex-crazed culture, we think everything is about sex. We think it is the end-all, be-all of everything about a relationship. We think if we can just do sex right then we will have taken the magic pill to fix our relationships. That just isn’t true. Truly great sex is not about some technique that maximizes physical pleasure. Rather, it is about the celebration of a great relationship. The fact is none among us can measure the physical pleasure or how ours compares with anyone else’s. Nor should we try. Here is the key. Shooting for better sex won’t give you a better relationship. Rather, developing deeper emotional and spiritual intimacy with your spouse will provide your more fulfillment in sex. Why? Because then sex is a celebration, not a performance. When it is a performance, all you think about is what didn’t go right. When it is a celebration it doesn’t matter, it’s just fun.
Step #5: Take a break and figure out where you and your spouse are going.
Since you didn’t follow the first 7 steps, you may have gotten into a marriage with someone who has different goals and expectations. That is tough to deal with and yes it will hinder your marriage and your sex life. It’s hard to celebrate with someone who has so ticked you off and rubbed you the wrong way that you can’t stand to be around them. But now you’re married and divorce is not an option (cf. Matthew 19:3-9). So, what are you going to do? You have to back off, sit down, and talk it through. You have to forge a life together. You have to figure out what path you can take together that will provide you both with meaning and fulfillment in the marriage. This business of the husband gets to pursue his goals and dreams and then when the kids are out of the house the wife can isn’t going to work. That isn’t a family. That is a prison-camp. By the way, in the sexual realm, while you are working on this, it might be a good time to practice I Corinthians 7:5. This may be a good time to quit pushing your spouse to have sex with you and instead get the marriage moving in a single direction. Then you will be able to come back together in celebration.
Step #6: Get help.
I wish just reading a 7 step article could really fix the brokenness. It might be a good start. It might give you some things to think about. It might point you in the right direction. It might even help you for a few days. But it probably won’t fix anything longterm. So, get some help. Quit trying to face these issues on your own. Talk to some brothers and sisters in Christ (not about how awful your spouse is, but about the help you need). Talk to your elders. Get some professional help. There are godly folks who have studied and been trained to help with marriage issues; get their counsel. Proverbs 11:14; 15:22; 20:18; 24:6 all demonstrate the great benefit of getting wise counsel and having lots of wise counselors. As the Wizard of Ads says, it’s hard to read the label when you’re inside the bottle. Your best thinking got you into the mess you’re in. You need to get good counsel and help from godly, objective outsiders to help you move forward.
Step #7: Be patient.
When we don’t do things God’s way at first, it takes time to get back to God’s way and fix what we broke. That’s just reality. You didn’t get in this mess overnight and you won’t get out of it overnight. But it will get better. There will be ups and downs. There will be forward steps and backward steps. But it will get better. Things will be going good and then there will be some momentary disaster that makes you wonder if all of this working God’s way really works. But it will get better. Remember, this isn’t a competition. You don’t have to have a better marriage than your next door neighbor by Saturday. In fact, you don’t even have to have a better marriage than your neighbor. You just need to work on having a better marriage tomorrow than you do today. You are where you are. But if you work these steps, it will get better. I’m positive. Because I know from my own experience that God’s way works.
Let’s face it, I started this all out about sex yesterday as a response to another blogger’s question and because I was trying a lurid experiment to see how that would impact my traffic. But this isn’t really about sex. This is about marriage. This is about having fulfillment in a godly relationship. I hope this helped.
What helps you make your marriage relationship better? Please add your input in the comments section below. For my subscribers, click the following link to add your input: Post a Comment.
*This post does contain affiliate links. But, help a guy out, click the link and buy something from Amazon. That way I can avoid the #4 reason give for divorce.