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How Do We Cultivate Healthy, Sexual Intimacy In Our Marriages?

Join Josh and Kit as they talk about how to make intimacy a priority in our marriages.

Highlights:

…he is loving me as a person, not just my body…

…if you can’t say no, your yes really comes to mean nothing…

…communicate and be honoring to one another…

…the marriage-bed should be a very safe place…

Click for Full Podcast Transcription

Kit 0:04
So many of you are familiar with us at regeneration. And you know that we talk a lot about sexuality here. But we have just been talking about and realizing that we haven’t spent very much time talking about sexual intimacy in marriage. How is it healthy? And how do we honor it? So we’re going to talk about that today. So Josh, what are your thoughts? Okay,

Josh 0:51
so yeah, I mean, I think that one of the really big challenges in the start with this in Christian circles is there’s not a whole lot of talk about what happens inside the bedroom. From a Christian perspective, from a relational health perspective, yeah, it’s happening some places, but I think, I think a lot of us even the most faithful among us, we’ve been a lot more educated and have gotten a lot more messages about what good sexuality and marriage looks like, from the media that we listen to or watch, then we have really from honest conversations that seek to be God honoring, so we hope to do that. We don’t have all the answers. I know that my wife and I still are working these things out in our own marriage. And I know in my own heart of sorting these things out for me, but

Kit 1:29
maybe that’s one of the first things to say is that the truth is, marriages, people who are married, each marriage is unique. And each married couple works this out their whole married life, you know, this, there’s no formula, and it doesn’t just like, oh, okay, we’ve been married for a year or two, and we got this, you know, it’s an ongoing kind of understanding. And so we don’t talk that much about it. We don’t talk that much about how it can be complicated, and it can be challenging and beautiful. Let’s

Josh 2:00
just jump in there, though. Like, how can it be complicated and challenging, let’s just be honest, like, I know, for me, I think we’ve talked about this a little before, but one of the complications and challenges for me, especially in early marriage was that I had been so indoctrinated pornography, that there it was hard, it was hard for me to conceive of marital sex is something that was good and pure and lovely. And, and so that I think I had this kind of this sense, even on our wedding last night, that, that I was doing something wrong, even though I wasn’t. And I know that the different people experienced that, to varying degrees, I think I had been in recovery for a good bit of time right there and had some good discipleship, but I was so but I still kind of smelling those fumes. And I’ve talked to the men and women over the over the years who have said like, that actually was a, it was a deal breaker for us, like, like, our wedding night was miserable. Because we couldn’t, we couldn’t do it because it was just felt so dirty or embarrassing.

Kit 2:54
So I think that’s a good point that we carry our past into our marriage. And so, you know, my husband’s past was very different than mine. Mine had a lot of sexual acting out. And, and, and just that very dynamic, you’re bringing different things, different expectations. And so talking about that, and being able to be open about the fact that this is not just a physical act, this is this includes our whole being and so being able to talk about, you know, our thoughts about things, our concerns about things, and how to honor the differences in each other, because that’s, you know, I don’t know anybody, any married couple, that’s exactly the same in terms of their sexual desires, you know, need ideas, you know, like, there’s differences.

Josh 3:42
Yeah. So talk about I mean, your, your brand, some before we started talking, like, what are some other challenges that you guys have experienced that, you know, that some of your clients have walked through in the in within marriage and their sexual lives?

Kit 3:53
Well, I’m a very emotional, relational person, I like to connect. And so if Greg and I had a date night, you know, I would want to spend time talking, you know, like, like, talking about how are we doing, how’s our relationship, you know, how much you love me. And, and he, you know, he’s not a big talker. Emotions don’t just flow from him. But he learned to really honor that, you know, that he knew that was an important thing. And so, but at the same time, so we might have a whole evening sometimes where we could do that, but at the same time, there be times when it’s like, Well, listen, we have 15 minutes. And so we would be able to know that our intentions for each other are good, and we wouldn’t get upset about it. I wouldn’t be like, Wait, you’re not talking to me for two hours. But we did have times when it was bumpy, when those things weren’t so clear. So just being able to kind of talk those things out.

Josh 4:47
So so let me can I dig in there a little bit. So you know, say earlier on or another because I’m digging here cuz I know this industry for a lot of marriages earlier on, like, you know, hey, we got 15 minutes. If you didn’t have That time, then what did that mean to you before before some of that trust was built before, before you had experienced your husband really willing to invest the time and willing to walk with you?

Kit 5:10
Well, I have, you know, part of my, the way I’m wired is I really longed to be loved everybody does. But you know, for me, there is a real desire to be loved and known. And if it was, if I felt like the, the, our intimacy, or, or having sex was just purely just a physical act, I might feel unloved, I might feel devalued. Yeah. And so, and he, that wasn’t Greg’s intention. But that was something I would sometimes into it, you know, that, Oh, this is just this doesn’t really matter, except that I’m just a body. And so that, and if we’ve been wounded in our past, that certainly is going to come up, and there’s gonna be, it’s gonna be important to talk about it.

Josh 5:57
I think that is actually more rampant in marriages than than we know. I mean, I, I think we live in a culture that’s, that has largely accepted that this is just the way that we use each other’s bodies, as though the other person’s body is just a tool, as opposed to the other person’s body is the other person. And, and there’s a big, big difference between those. And so I think that both husbands and wives, I think a lot of husbands and wives, in our, in our culture, probably whether they are doing anything about it or not have experienced times where they feel like they’re just they’re being used by their spouse, or their, their spouse is really not in that with them. They’re really after something from them. And it’s, that’s a hard, hard thing. And it’s important to for couples talk about that.

Kit 6:41
Absolutely. And you said something that was so striking to me, as a woman, as a wife, when you said, You know, I don’t like talking about, we’re having sex, I like talking about how I, I want to make love to my wife, I want to love my wife, and this is a way to do it. And, you know, I think language can really make a difference. And I think when you enter in a marriage, you don’t know what your expectations are, and you have to talk about it, you aren’t gonna be able to read each other’s minds, you have to be able to be willing to say, you know, that’s how this felt to me without taking it personally, and letting it just blow things away. You know,

Josh 7:21
I mean, that’s an important thing for me. And just just to go, you know, kind of explain that a little bit. And some of it I think, was from my past, but it’s, it’s actually kind of a check that I I look to, in my own heart, my own mind, as I’m when I’m interested in being physically to my wife is, is, am I am I pursuing my wife right now? Am I looking to enter into a part of our relationship with her? Because I desire her and I desire her good? Or am I looking for something for me right now. And not that it’s always even even always a bad thing to want something for yourself? Like, if you it’s a reasonable thing for a spouse to go to another spouse, say, Hey, I just need someone to listen to me right now or to hold me right now. So that doesn’t mean it’s a negative thing. But it’s good to be aware of where where’s this drive this desire enough coming from in me, because my ultimate goal is to is to learn to be a man who is loving what that means I’m, I’m laying down my wife for my life for my wife, not laying down my wife for my life. And those are things so yeah, it’s kind of a it’s a growth point for me, and I’m very much on that journey. But yeah, I think another I mean, one of the things that I think is gets mixed in there are things like frequency.

Josh 8:31
Let’s talk about that a little bit. Yeah,

Kit 8:32
the expectations, I think, you know, a lot of women are like, you know, it seems like you read these magazines, and you know, you have this expectation that, you know, you’re supposed to have sex every day, you know, maybe twice a day. And that we get we fall into, like, these expectations, rather than what’s my marriage about? What do we want? Yeah, right. Right. And because that’s valid, yeah, it doesn’t have to compare to anybody else’s. It, you know, if you, the two of you talk this through and have a sense of it. And in seasons, right, there’s different seasons, it’s gonna look differently. But if you if they if you both want the same thing, then that’s good for your marriage. Yeah, I think we do get tripped up a lot with expectation and comparison around this issue. And I think, you know, the

Josh 9:17
good thing about that conversation about frequency is that I do think in the busy world we live in and the wounded world we live in, and because sex just by virtue of what it is, it’s a very intimate, vulnerable experience. It can be one of those things that when when couples are going through something difficult in their circumstances or in the relationship or just internally for one or the other. Sex can be something that’s that’s kind of pushed to the side or it gets to be something more and more distant. And we’ve talked to couples, lots who haven’t had sex for years, which is usually a sign there’s a problem and, and so what’s the problem and how do we get back from there and, and once that’s happened, then it can even create kind of this this unhealthy groove that a couple gets in and becomes Difficult then to move back into physical intimacy, without without these huge expectations on what that’s going to be,

Kit 10:05
yeah, you know, and that reminds me to that I, again, I think we get so caught up in, you know, the the, the, the sexual performance and how we should be doing it, when in it and it takes away from back to this idea of how, how is this? How am I going to show my spouse? How much I love them? How am I going to make sweet love to my spouse, you know, and so it becomes this expectation becomes this, you know, sort of performance thing and what God intended for this spiritual connection that happens, that can happen, and, and I think that is, in some ways, probably a rarity that we get there, then we really touch that sacredness because we’re caught up in so many other things. But But, but we don’t hold it out there as something that’s unachievable. It’s something that we that we continue to see together. But so let me let’s just get practical as to go back to the frequency thing.

Josh 11:08
Yeah. Like I would say, it’s, it’s a really helpful thing for couples to, to agree on this, this feels like a healthy frequency for us. What is that? Yeah, absolutely. And for some couples will be more, some less. But as a way to help gauge, especially when life gets difficult. And so we have six kids in our house. And man, like, you know, and they they get up early half and get up early, half of them stay up late. And so it’s easy to be like, yeah, we are too tired. There’s too much going on. And on top of that, I think that you know what we’re doing right before we go to bed, whether it’s you know, we’re watching a certain kind of show, that can be like, you know, this is not a great segue. In other words, life will happen to us unless we’re intentional about it. So one of these we’ve done is you said, we both feel really comfortable with shooting for sex with this kind of frequency. And that effect we have we have a couple nights at least we’re like, these two nights, we want to set apart in that way. So that we’re prepared when it comes to like, you know, how we’re spending the evening when we’re going to bed what we’re doing before we go to bed? How much time we have together? Yeah, I

Kit 12:11
think that’s really important. And again, that will change through the seasons. I think Greg and I have done that in different ways. Through our 32 years of marriage, and it’s still true. It’s like, you know, how about if we talk about this and plan for this? And it’s very helpful. Yeah, yeah. For me, I really find it helpful, like, oh, yep, this is, you know, this is our date night. And, you know, I can I can look forward to that. I do think that that kind of talking about it is really, really helpful. And I think some people would say to that, well,

Josh 12:39
that’s just now let’s go to functional and scheduling then is it really loves it really passion doesn’t that takes them away from it? That’s the fair question. You know, but I think scheduling or, or being more intentional about that.

Kit 12:53
It depends on the season. Sometimes you’re gonna, you’re gonna have you just gonna have to, because of the way things are in life, you know?

Josh 13:00
Yeah. So speaking of season of life, I think we can also talk about so some seasons in the newlywed season, there might be a lot of getting used to, and learning each other’s bodies, and they’re like, what we like we’re comfortable with where we were we what feels good, what doesn’t feel good. There’s children, and then more children, there’s pregnancy. I think there’s, there’s certainly just even the woman’s normal cycle to get used to as part of the process. There’s menopause. I mean, there’s all sorts of seasons that people go through. And a person’s physical sex life with their spouse is going to is going to change is going to look different in those different seasons.

Kit 13:40
Yeah, absolutely. So welcome to the real world. Yeah. And so I think, again, that kind of leads to expectations, we have to be willing to be like, Oh, where are we now? And where are you? Now? You know, this isn’t there isn’t just one way that this is gonna work when prescription for the whole time. And I think, you know, from speaking from a woman’s perspective, I feel very loved and honored when I have conversations like that with my husband, you know, what? Well, I guess because I like to, to be able to, actually, I feel honored when he says, How is this for you? And how, what do you think and what do you need? Like, that’s just that’s just taking into account that I am a person, you know, that that he’s loving me as a person that drives my body. So that’s very, very encouraging to me.

Josh 14:36
I think likewise there. So one of the other topics that comes up, is being able to say no, and the relational challenge that comes there i think i think there are a lot of people when it comes to like, Who’s initiating. How do I initiate How do you tell me know if this is not a good night for you? If you’re not feeling connected to me or you’re feeling sad or you just watched a you know, something on TV or just heard a story that just is not Good Second, you know, and then to not to be able to hear that respectfully and lovingly without it being a rejection, or, or without, and certainly without turning it into some kind of manipulation, like you’re holding out on me or you don’t love me or, you know, any of that kind of

Kit 15:15
think that stuff’s really important. I think that my husband has been really, really kind and honoring with that. You know, just really understanding, you know, because it would be hard. I think some of it was hard sometimes when I felt like, oh, gosh, you know, I want to say no, but I should and he’d always be like, it’s okay. It’s alright. You know? Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 15:36
Yeah,

Kit 15:37
I was really,

Josh 15:39
I think here have have I heard this from Christopher West. I don’t know if others have said it before him or not. But if you can’t say no, then you’re yes really comes to me nothing, you know, and I think in the marriage bed, really, we do need people to say no to each other, not as a way to hold out, it holds him over your head or manipulate but, but just out of respect for where I am tonight, and I think for the other than that’s to say, Okay, I’ll wait is a demonstration of, I’m here to love you. I’m not just here for something for me. That can be part of the bigger conversation. But it’s, you know, there you have it,

Kit 16:11
you know, and something else that has come up for women, it’s really, that they’re really sensitive about is, you know, I think it’s I guess it’s back to the being made love to as, as a wife versus you know, like too much, especially if the husband has been involved in pornography. If there’s too much like, performance related kind of things, if it turns into something in I’m not saying that there aren’t things to experiment with. But I think an attitude, a lot of women have talked to me about how that is just really difficult, and definitely a turn off, you know.

Josh 16:53
So some of the things come to mind for me if I’m if this is where you’re going. But I think about if one spouse or the other is, is, you know, hey, I want you to act this way. Talk to me this way. Do these things dress this way? Some of that can just be we’re having conversations about my preferences. Some of it can be Can, can feel like, it sounds like you want me to be somebody else? Yes. Or it sounds like I’m not enough for you. And that that’s where it gets hurtful.

Kit 17:21
So that communication, I guess, so much of what we’re saying is, is just communicate, you know, be honoring of one another, try to really understand and listen to each other, and not have all these expectations or comparisons, but rather like what’s our marriage going to look like? What do I want? What do you want,

Josh 17:39
and what this, I think the umbrella over all of that piece of the conversation is, sex is not meant to be your ultimate life. It’s not meant to be the ultimate pleasure in your life, the ultimate good in your life. And so I think the culture kind of says, you know, spice up your sex life do these things. It shouldn’t be like this, it should be this frequently. And it’s the ultimate good. And so I think any either spouse has kind of been drinking that kool aid, and the other spouse is not willing to go there, then it feels like you’re holding back life for me, as opposed to No, actually our ultimate good that we’re seeking after the Lord provides us life and joy and goodness. And the ultimate good I’m trying to bring in my marriage bad is, Lord, I want to learn to love and to be loved, as you love in this place. That’s a higher calling. But I think ultimately, in the long run, it makes for a much more loving and fulfilling relationship as a whole and and much more fulfilling, physical relationship with your spouse,

Kit 18:35
that’s really significant. That how we frame it up, in our own minds, is going to have tremendous influence on the quality of that love relationship, including the the sex relationship. Yeah, it’s spending time talking about that. It’s really important. I wonder how many people routinely do that not just one time, but you know, like, ongoing?

Josh 19:06
Yeah, I think for you know, I’d say there’s a lot of soul work hard work involved in there to like, what’s going on? One of the other issues that will come under that umbrella is when there are physical challenges in the sexual insect relationship, you know, whether it’s painful, I think especially for for the woman, if there’s erectile dysfunction for the man, if there is, you know, if a if one of the other spouse is struggling with sexual climax, all of those things, and those are real issues that people face oh my gosh, okay, to get help for those things. okay to

Kit 19:38
talk about it. Yeah, don’t be like, Oh, I guess you know, this isn’t gonna work for us anymore. Like, and we talked about that a while ago, you know, but just to really, there’s no perfect way here like you guys, you each of us can find our way. Yeah, if we talk it through and and get help if we need it.

Josh 20:00
And in my opinion, and I’m I don’t know, everybody, but in my opinion, I think that the more trust that there isn’t in a marriage relationship in the realm of sexuality, the more I trust that you’re here, because you care about me, and that, that you want this to work for us not just to be able to me, I think many of those issues, they’ll just they will get better quicker in that kind of environment, as opposed to one where there feels like, I’m dropping the ball. And I’m, I’m not satisfying. Or or for the other, the other spouse the sense of

Kit 20:32
I’m not enough or, or that my spouse isn’t giving me enough. And I want more. So the marriage bed should be a very safe place. Yeah, a very sacred safe place. Yeah. And that, and that doesn’t just happen. Yeah.

Josh 20:48
We didn’t talk about prayer. What we’re not that we need to I sounded like, you know, hey, we’re Christians, we talk about prayer and sex. But but but where does that play into all of this either individually, on an individual level or on a on a in the marriage with any any thoughts on that I’m throwing, I’m throwing a curveball at you at the end. But

Kit 21:06
well, I mean, I think that as a part of your prayer life, of course, you would want to talk about when you pray about your marriage, you would want to talk about and pray together about that part of your marriage, especially if you’re running into difficulties, like let’s talk to God about this, let’s see Kim about this. Like, I mean, I think it was a while in my marriage, before I really had this deep sense of God is here. He is here. You know, we weren’t walking with the Lord early in our relationship. And so it became this kind of beautiful, like, wow. And so just to acknowledge that and whatever that looks like, for your marriage, you know, to be able to acknowledge that, I think, I think that it’s important. And man, if that’s not gonna push buttons for our view of God and how he feels about sex, if we’ve got if we still have been drinking the kool aid of the culture, or drinking the kool aid of purity kind of Christianity that says that, you know, sex is bad, even in marriage, but God puts up with it, then I don’t want God in the in the room like that, you

Josh 22:09
know, God, would you wait outside, but God is the creator of sex, and he’s the one who loves us most. And if what we’re doing is really about learning to love one another as God has designed our bodies to love one another. I mean, whose design was marriage whose design was sex was God. So in that context, like, then, God, God in the room is actually great news.

Kit 22:30
It’s kind of mind blowing. That is actually the truth. So how do we acknowledge that reality?

Josh 22:37
Yeah. Acknowledge and, and, and invite him into it? Yeah. He is. Yeah, that could go so many wrong ways. But in the end, I think in the best sense of the word he is, he’s a, he’s a good guy, he’s given a great gift. And sec. So there’s a lot more that people could be asking if you’ve got if you’ve got, you know, questions, are there things we did not touch on in this, whatever stage and phase you’re in, in your marriage with your husband or wife, shoot us an email, we’d love to, you know, we want real questions and real real topics here. So we hope it’s been helpful for for you just to hear us back around a little bit of smarter thoughts about cultivating this in a good way in your marriage. So Jesus, I admit, even as I say, you know, we want you in the room, there’s, there’s still parts of me that I’m uncomfortable with that and, and still toxic stuff in me from my past and maybe from the culture that I live in that, that we that views it as something that’s been less than than pleasing to you. So I want to just invite you into that place in my life. We invite our listeners to invite you in their place in their lives. Lord, help us, help us to increasingly Lord be surrendered to you increasingly increasingly pursuing love. And increasingly in the very truest purest sense of the word, seeking to be growing as as those who are lovers like you are a lover and pray these things now. In Jesus name, amen.

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Original music by Shannon Smith. Audio engineering by Gabriel @ DelMar Sound Recording.

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