Wednesday, October 1, 2008

When Sex is a Chore

What do you do when sex becomes a chore? Jon Foreman, the brilliant lead singer of Switchfoot, wrote a song with the line: "Sex is a grand production, but I'm bored with that as well; ahh ahh ahh, Lord save me from myself." There's a lot of truth wrapped up in that line. A lot. First, sex is a very grand production isn't it? One would think that sex is the center of the universe. So much is promised with it, and so much is sought from it. If only we can get the perfect sex, life would be great. People get married for sex, or stay single for sex. So much of our lives is super-charged with sexual overtones. What isn't sold with sex? Another great Jon Foreman line: "Sex is currency, she sells cars, she sells magazines." On the main street of one of the towns in our community, there is a store with lingerie in the large window right next to tuxedos. So I'm thinking wedding, honeymoon... where's the wifebeater t-shirt display for the rest of our lives? Sex is just right out in our faces all over the place. It's commonplace.

Second, what happens when we realize that for all sex promises, it delivers far less? What happens when the grand production of sex doesn't pay off with excitement, but with boredom, or choredom? One of the great challenges in marriage is keeping sex from becoming a chore. And sex can be a chore for both spouses. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:2-5: "But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control."

I've yet to talk to a married couple with one brain. Most married couples I know consist of a man with one brain and a woman with one brain. Two people, with two different brains, trying to think and want and feel as one brain. That's tough. Eventually, every couple is going to figure out that one spouse is going to want sex more than the other one. This is usually okay for awhile. But eventually, when one spouse is in the middle of buttering toast, and the other is calling from the bedroom, it can be a real chore. Sex can be a chore for the one who wants it less: "Just leave me alone! Is that all you ever think about? Haven't I fulfilled your conjugal rights yet?" But over time, sex can become a chore for the one who wants it more: "I'm so sick of being treated like a perverted selfish maniac, so just keep eating toast, Dear. I'll just handle my temptation to sexual immorality without the aid of a spouse." What do you do when that scenario, in some form, strikes your marriage?

First, for the one with the chore of wanting sex more than your spouse. 1. Do not, I repeat do not, don't do it, don't even try to, don't even want to even if you want to, it will ruin your whole weekend, don't do it, don't fall for the trap of thinking some poor blind depraved couple on a computer or tv screen can scratch that itch. Don't do it. Cut out your eyes. Cut off your hands. Throw yourself on the mercy of your spouse. Call a neighbor. Walk the dog. Cut the grass. Get out of the house. 2. When you get out of the house, do not, I repeat, do not, don't allow yourself to congratulate yourself on getting out of the house only to lust after the next human being that crosses your path. Now with that out of the way - 3. Don't lose heart. Don't think to yourself, "Forget him (or her), I'll show him that I can be just as selfish (or busy, or insensitive, or aloof, or cold) as he is." You'll only tie yourself in knots trying to be your spouse. You're not your spouse, you're you. And your spouse married you. 4. Don't put your spouse on a guilt trip for not wanting it as much as you. That won't lead to good sex when she is in the mood. Guilt sex isn't usually good sex, so you're really shooting yourself in the foot if you go down that road. 5. Don't seek a person you think is more in tune with your appetites.

When you want sex more than your spouse, first and foremost, before all else, remember your God. Remember that Jesus Christ has purchased on your behalf, fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore. There are pleasures awaiting us in Heaven that will make sex feel like a toothache. Have you ever thought about that? What are you afraid of missing out on? Here's the best kept secret in the world - we won't die without sex. We are taught from the youngest age by the cultural messages all around us that we will, but it's just not true. So when you want it four times a week, and your spouse isn't up to the task, just be satisfied with Christ and love your spouse. Easy? No. Possible? Absolutely. Likely? Depends on how much you love your spouse.

Now for the one with the chore of wanting sex less. 1. Don't do it, no matter how much you're tempted, no matter how much you think it will get your spouse off your back, don't make your spouse feel like a perverted over-sexed freak just to lighten your workload. You can't make your spouse sin, but you can make it easy. Remember that. 2. Don't walk around in a funk wondering how you ended up such a selfish jerk. You will find it very difficult to please your spouse out of guilt. At least a spouse with half a brain. 3. Don't make rigid rules in your head about how if your spouse really loved you, he (or she) wouldn't be so demanding. It makes no sense to create and nurture animosity with the one we're spending the rest of our lives with. 4. Don't seek another person who will be more in tune with your own appetites.

When your spouse wants sex more than you, first and foremost, before all else, remember your God. Jesus Christ died for you. He left Heaven, took on flesh and blood, lived a life of scorn, died on a cross after public humiliation, and suffered the wrath of God so that you can spend eternity in Heaven experiencing fullness of joy and pleasures forever. For the joy set before him, Christ endured the cross. And for the joy set before you, you can endure fifteen minutes with your demanding over-sexed spouse. You really can. Will it be easy? No. Will it be fulfilling? Maybe not sexually. Will it be worth it in the long run? Absolutely.

Sex is a grand production, and it can be wonderful and special and great. On the other hand, sex can become a chore if both spouses don't work together, as a team instead of adversaries. I read somewhere that sometimes sex is steak. And sometimes sex is maccoroni and cheese. One is better than the other, but both are satisfying. At the end of the day there is no plan B. Spouses are commanded by God to satisfy each other. That requires communication, sacrifice and love. There's no way around it. You have to go through the mess of being two different people. You have to go through the hassle of pursuing. You have to go through the inconvenience of being pursued. You have to go to the trouble of enjoying your spouse, or at least fooling them into thinking your are. Don't try to find another way that doesn't require both spouses to die to themselves and offer themselves - either by lightening the load or by giving in - to each other in love. As long as God continues to leave us two separate brains, we'll likely have two separate agendas as to frequency and quality of sex. Save me from myself, indeed.


bauerpower said...

I don't even know what to say. I laughed. I pondered. I became thoughtful. I wondered, "Who has 15 min. with children around?" :)

danny2 said...

a gospel centered perspective on sex.

praise God!

Darby Livingston said...

Mrs. Bauer,

I'm not giving away trade secrets. :) You'll have to be creative.


There is no area of life over which Christ doesn't say, "Mine!" and I know you'll agree that that's a very good thing.

JanAl said...

Sacrifice~ on the part of both spouses is what came to my mind.
The one who needs it more, needs to sacrifice their wants/needs. And the one who does not need it that often, needs to consider the needs of the other.
Also, it is about communication. Sometimes, a communication early in the morning, or week, that the need is there, can prevent feelings of disappointment on both sides. Because, I truly believe the one that needs it less, still has the desire to meet the other's need.

Cleyo says: "sounds like someone is needy"

Anonymous said...

Dont listen to the bible and don't act as if there is a hard and fast rule for what should be enough sex for individuals. If you don't get the right amout of sex for you, it will Likly lead to problems. The problems can be serious don't take this matter lightly. My wife and I had tons of sex and took good care of ourselves and now we have two kids and no energy for anything. The frustrating part is we still have urges but we are tired, and put it off till bedtime and bam zzzzzz. If you love your spouse and want it to work figure out what the needs of your partner are and meet them. If you don't care enough to meet the needs of your partner you shouldn't have married them. If you don't meet their needs they will develop methods of compensation that could threaten the marriage.

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