Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband. Hebrews 13:4 (MSG)
From the get-go of this blog, please note: The goal isn’t to get more sex into your marriage (though I’m not against that whatsoever). The goal is to develop intimacy. Sex doesn’t necessarily lead to intimacy. Intimacy doesn’t always involve sex.
I had heard a teaching years ago about premarital sex. I was a teenager, I was in church, and words were being used in church that most people would thing shouldn’t be used (probably what shaped my blunt approach). Then the teaching went the issue of foreplay. From my limited understanding and zero experience, my ears perked up, and yet, I kept wondering, “should I be hearing this? Is it okay for me to know about this?” I felt dirty for being there. The uneasy feeling I had wasn’t due to the material being taught. It was my misunderstanding of how God views sexuality between a husband and wife. He created it for marriage to be indulged in AND enjoyed. Why don’t we say that more in church? Why isn’t that taught more? I thank God for the parents, youth pastors, leaders, and mentors in my life who had the guts to speak the truth of God’s word into every area, especially sexuality. It’s given me the freedom and boldness to teach, preach, talk, counsel, and blog on this vital area to marriage.
For the life of me, I cannot remember who was teaching/preaching that day 20+ years ago, but I do remember him redefining the word “foreplay.” Two of his points where as follows: (paraphrased) 1 – Physical touch grows and 2- Foreplay goes beyond the bed. I’m gonna do my best to do this justice…
First, the physical affection you entertain and indulge in were designed to bring a growing connection. It wants to go further. The term I coined is “progressive connection.” A kiss, hug, a holding a hand, all done in the proper way, should leave the thought, “I’d like that to happen again.” Teenagers (in my day) would say, “We took things too far and things just happened.” Well of course something “happened.” Physical affection, without standards or limitations, was designed to progress forward. We are designed by God as sexual beings. There’s nothing dirty about it. In fact, scripture says, you were “fearfully and wonderfully made.” But like all things God designs and gives, there is a stewardship of it. (Parent Note: Don’t be ignorant. Guard what you see your kids doing with their boyfriends/girlfriends. What they do in public, they’ll take it a step forward in private.)
Secondly, foreplay doesn’t just happen in the bedroom. Foreplay is the daily courtship of the heart and, therefore, not limited to a bed. It is the accumulation of moments; the buildup of passion. Call it a “snowball effect.” That means, if properly handled, it can be fostered over the course of a day/week instead of trying to “jump-start” it in a moment (not that I’m against “heat of the moment” times for marriage…go for it). If we can wrap our minds around that, it would dramatically affect our marital sex life. It’d remove the idea of “intimacy is just for a moment” into the place where intimacy is how we live. If husbands and wives can see the simple everyday moments are ALL foreplay, our approach to our spouse would forever be changed. It may add more sex (no promises), but I guarantee it will add more intimacy.
Here are 6 ways to rethink everyday encounters with your spouse:
- Greetings and Goodbyes. Monitor how you leave the home and how you return. The way you send off your spouse into their day should make them smile instead of relieved you’re gone. The way you return or what he/she returns to shouldn’t make him/her wish they’d stayed at work a bit longer.
- Reconnections. How you keep in contact throughout the day is a huge deal. Even if you’re not a cheesy romantic and slip notes into the pockets of your spouse, casual texts and phone calls matter. This is where social media can be a huge gift. Tweet to your spouse. Message him/her. Take a pic of the meal that’s ready. Text something sensual to him/her (hey your married…nothing wrong with that unless a coworker picks up your phone and looks at it. Be careful).
- Fight well. Skirmishes happen. It’s inevitable with two humans living together in matrimony. But fight fair and in a healthy way. Don’t go for the selfish win. Go for marital win. Fighting from a place of humility doesn’t seem normal. It’s because it isn’t. Intimacy flows when pride is laid down. (Here’s the series I did on conflict called “Fight Club“)
- Releasing poison. How you handle forgiveness can revolutionize your marriage. I’ve heard it said, “Unforgiveness is the poison you drink that you think will kill someone else.” Withholding forgiveness might be strangely satisfying as if you’re making someone suffer for what they’ve done. But it’s slowly killing you and your marriage. Watch your attraction increase with the poison of unforgiveness flushed from your system.
- Selflessly serve. This does two things. First, it makes you look for your spouse’s love language and, second, fosters humility. Meet your spouse’s needs without the need for reciprocation. In other words: True serving has no strings attached. You serve regardless of what you get back. Imagine a marriage where two people are, daily, looking for ways to serve the needs of the other spouse.
- Safe touches. A UCLA study showed that human beings need 8-10 meaningful touches a day. Learn to touch with zero expectations. 67% of men have “touch” as a dominant love language. But, because they haven’t exercised stewardship over their love language, they don’t know how to exhibit physical touch without their wife thinking they’re only doing it for sex. Introduce (or reintroduce) “non-sexual” touch. It’s touch without sexual expectations. Hand holding, massages, a (light) slap on the rear, embraces, etc. should be active in regardless of the years of marriage. There should be adequate and appropriate touches enjoyed.
I love what Hebrews 13:4 says, “Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband.” I think that part of honoring and guarding “the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband” is making sure that we are courting their heart and passion in a way that serves them. And serving isn’t done by one single act. It’s a lifestyle. We saw in Jesus when it came to his bride, the Church. He served regardless of what he received. He gave knowing we could never reciprocate that level of giving. How much more should we strive to build into our day, intentional actions to serve our spouse? I promise, courting their heart can revive the passion back into your marriage.
Don’t leave foreplay in the bedroom. It wasn’t meant to live there.
Thanks for letting me ramble…