As a follow up to It’s Just Sex… I thought it would be a good idea to further explore the idea of how sex is more than “just sex.”
Intimacy is more than a code word for sex. Intimacy in and of itself has a greater meaning in marriage beyond the physically intimate. Choosing to be intimate is to allow one’s self to be fully known. To take the risk of revealing one’s true self to someone. It is usually reserved for those that we really love, whose acceptance we seek. That is what makes intimacy risky. Acceptance versus rejection, and intimacy versus unfamiliarity. Acceptance for who we truly are or acceptance for someone we really aren’t. That dance between the desire to be accepted by the one we love most for who we truly are versus being rejected by the one we love most for revealing who we truly are. There is so much wrapped up in this struggle for integrity about who we really are and this need for being accepted by our significant other.
I think that the idea of being accepted for who we are is captured in Genesis 2:25:
And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed~Genesis 2:25 (NASB)
The idea that the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed is very powerful because it suggests total acceptance one for the other. I believe that God’s design for intimacy in marriage (and I mean more than just sex) can allow us to experience a little bit of what Eden must have been like within the safety of our marriage if both spouses allow it. Can we stand emotionally naked, intellectually naked, spiritually naked, physically naked before our spouse and not be ashamed? Should we be able to stand naked before our spouse and not be ashamed?
For those of us who are the higher drive spouse in our marriages sex has the possibility to be more than just a release. The reason I say possibility is that there is a minimum amount of sex that is needed to meet the physical need, beyond that is where there is room for a more emotional and relational connection exists. As Paul Byerly of The Generous Husband and The Marriage Bed stated in his reply to Kate’s post Masturbation: What’s a Wife to Do? from One Flesh Marriage
Having this [minimum] level [of sex] met by his bride also makes him feel understood and loved. Beyond this minimum level, there is a desire for far more, and it is in that desire that you find his more emotional and relational needs and desires.
The best analogy I have heard for this is the food analogy. If you ask a starving man how much food is enough food he will likely have little idea. The same applies to a higher drive spouse who has never had that higher drive met. They are likely to exaggerate what they believe enough sex is because they’ve never been “full” before. Once the higher drive spouse gets their fill so to speak and they understand that sex isn’t going to be taken way from them they will likely come to more accurate conclusion about what that minimum need is.
Now if you figure out what the minimum is and that’s all you give you are doing your higher drive spouse and your marriage a disservice. Why? Because it is beyond the minimum where the higher drive spouse will find the emotional and relational connection and this will greatly benefit the lower drive spouse as well. If you’re stuck on doing the minimum it would be a good idea to read Paul Byerly’s post How Little Can I Get By With? Think of the higher drive spouse’s desire as a continuum with the minimum physical need being zero, less is negative and more is positive.
Again, the higher drive/lower drive dichotomy applies to more than sex. Are you the lower drive spouse for emotional connection? Are you okay with sharing an emotional hurt with your spouse? Where on the continuum are you falling in regards to meeting that need in your spouse? Are your conversations meaningful, or are you just doing the minimum?
The grown-up spouse understands the needs, desires and wants of their spouse and seeks to meet them and go beyond the minimum. The grown up spouse also understands that shame is a feeling that comes from actions that are dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc. and not from sharing our true self with our spouse. Yes, it is true that our spouse can choose to reject our true self but our spouse’s choices say more about them than they do about us. If anything it is disappointing and shows a lack of maturity in the one doing the rejecting, not the one being rejected.
Are you ashamed of who you are?
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