As I mentioned in earlier posts, I don’t like lima beans and my wife doesn’t like the texture of melons. We are each allowed to have our preferences.
There is Nothing Wrong with Having Sexual Preferences.
In every marriage there are probably some things that both spouses agree are morally wrong that they choose to exclude from their sexual menu.
There are other things that, while not morally wrong, are not for them. They’ve agreed that they aren’t for for them and have chosen to remove those activities from their sexual menu.
Divergent Preferences From Our Spouse are Inevitable.
There are other things that one or the other of the spouses prefers not to do while the other would prefer to at least give them a try. This is where sexual preferences diverge. Just as there is nothing wrong with me not preferring lima beans or my wife not preferring melon, there is nothing inherently wrong with having a sexual preference either. They are just that, a preference.
As we’ve talked about before, my preference not to have lima beans doesn’t infringe on my wife’s desire to eat them just as her preference to not eat melon doesn’t infringe on my choice to have some.
Sexual preferences are not that way. Sex is meant to be an act shared between a husband and a wife. Any other sex is immoral. So to have a a divergent preference from your spouse leads us to our next point.
Divergent Sexual Preferences Lead to Sex that Always Consists of Leftovers.
As Dr. Schnarch’s post shows, once each spouse has taken the things they prefer not to do off of the sexual menu they have the sexual acts that are leftover.
In the beginning, when sex is new, leftover sex is exciting and fun. After five years of leftover sex it is less so. After ten years it may even seem boring.
“Leftover Sex” Leads to Sexual Boredom.
This is when people may begin to think that there is something wrong with their marriage or their mate when what they’re experiencing is actually inevitable, divergent sexual preferences leading to leftover sex leading to boredom in the bedroom. It’s an inevitable progression. For some it may not take long to get there for others it may take years or decades but, eventually, someone is going to push for something that was left off the sexual menu.
The Fact that We Have Divergent Preferences Which Leads to Sexual Boredom is an Impetus Toward Growth.
In his post People Have Sex Within The Limits of Their Development Dr. Schnarch makes this observation,
The sexual activities you eliminate generally consist of sexual behaviors and meanings beyond your current sexual development.~Dr. David Schnarch
As Dr. Schnarch points on in that same post adolescents are nervous about holding hands for the fist time and are nervous about their first kiss. Until they’ve done those things they are beyond the limits of their sexual development. I am much less nervous about taking my wife’s hand after 20 years of marriage than I was the fist time I held a girl’s hand. As Dr. Schnarch says in that same post, “Sex beyond your current sexual development makes you nervous.”
It seems to me that it isn’t just a “sexual development” issue but an “intimacy issue” (emotional intimacy, sexual intimacy, spiritual intimacy). In other words, intimacy of any kind (sexual, emotional, spiritual) beyond our current levels of intimate development will make us uncomfortable.
So, where are we? We have one spouse that has become sexually bored that is taking the risk of suggesting something not normally on the menu to a spouse that is uncomfortable because the act wasn’t put on the menu because it was beyond their level of intimacy development. What we have is a recipe for conflict. A bored spouse and a reluctant spouse. What we really have is an opportunity to grow beyond the current level of intimacy development.
The Spiritual Corollary
If intimacy beyond our level of development is uncomfortable with our good-willed spouse would our level of intimacy development be any better with God? It seems to me that the answer to this question would be, no.
What we want to believe is that intimacy on the horizontal plane (earthly relationships) have little to do with the intimacy on the vertical plane (our relationship with God). I think scripture is pretty clear that when there are intimacy issues horizontally that those intimacy issues affect the intimacy that we can have with God. To paraphrase a scripture verse, how can you be intimate with God whom you cannot see when you cannot be intimate with your good-willed spouse whom you can see?
I think that it is interesting that nothing in this world will challenges us like marriage does. Marriage reveals the real person like nothing else. Marriage forces us to face our own development or lack thereof and decide what we’re going to do about it.
It seems to me that’s the way that marriage was designed and the designer knew exactly what He was doing.