In a recent post by “Emmy Sue” titled: “What do you do when life gets in the way?” she asked the
question: How have you and your spouse been able to maintain your sex life, or recover it, when you’ve been through really trying, traumatic times in your lives?
I started to comment but my comment was getting too long so I’m commenting this way. Hopefully this will help her as well as anyone else who may have struggled with the issues she is discussing. I certainly hope it will.
I’d like to begin by saying I can relate to the issue of how to maintain or recover your sex life when you’ve been through challenging times. Maybe not to the same degree, but I have certainly gone through “dry” times when the sexual spark just wasn’t there, both with the big issues that come up and the little day to day things that sometimes get in the way. Job loss, worry over finances, and illness have often hindered our sex life as well as laundry, bills, fatigue from a day at work, etc.
It’s interesting to me that we often speak of our “sex life.” I once read that we only speak of two activities in this way. One is this term “sex life” and the other is “prayer life.” I’m sure we’ve all heard someone say, “I need to work on my prayer life.” Or “How is your prayer life?” Then we say, “I need to work on my sex life.” We never say we need to work on our eating life. We never say we need to work on our recreation life. It’s only with prayer and sex that we have a “life.”
But I’ve noticed both in my own life as well as in other people’s lives, that when life gets tough, usually the first thing we do is stop praying and stop having sex. We’re often too discouraged to pray and too tired for sex. But the ironic thing is that both prayer and sex have the ability to bring “life” back to us. Haven’t you ever felt a new hope after a time of prayer? Haven’t you ever felt refreshed after sex? Isn’t it interesting that the two things that can reinvigorate our lives during down times are the first two things we cut loose in a storm? Maybe we’re going about this the wrong way.
1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (NIV) Many times we focus on the first part of this verse and say we need to cast our cares on him. And that’s true, but I don’t believe it’s possible to do that without understanding the second half: He cares for you. Do you believe that? Do you believe that the Alpha and Omega actually cares about you? And if he cares about you, then he cares about the things you care about. If a parent is busy working on something important (a report for work, the budget, etc) and his child is on the floor playing with a toy and gets frustrated because she can’t make something work, the parent stops what he’s doing and goes to help the child. Because the parent cares for the child, the child’s problem becomes the parent’s problem. Do you believe that God cares for you like that? Do you believe that he will stop managing the universe for a minute to help you because you are stressed and worried about something in your life? Even if it’s something small like not being able to find your keys?
But what do we need the most whenever the “storms” of life come? We need to know that God cares for us and we need to know we are not alone. Prayer can help remind us that God is with us and that he cares for us. And sex can help us to remember that we are not alone in this. We have someone who is committed to us and who is standing beside us. What better way to face a problem than to become one and join together and fight the problems of life together? In this way, sex can actually be a form of prayer and spiritual warfare. Think about it: Why do we cut prayer and sex out first when things get tough? Could it be because the enemy knows how powerful those two things are? And he knows that if he can get us to stop praying and get married couples to stop having sex then he’s won most of the battle? Or at least he has eliminated resistance in the battle. For if we’re not standing against him in prayer and in oneness, we’re easily defeated. And that’s what he wants is to defeat us and for us to live defeated lives.
So when things get tough we really need to INCREASE prayer and sex! But that’s hard to do sometimes, I know. But looking at prayer and sex together as weapons against the storms and attacks of life will help us place more of a priority on them when things get tough. Remembering this reminds me that I can’t afford to go without prayer and sex, especially when things get tough! It’s in the tough times that we need to hang on to God and each other even tighter. And this helps me to see the importance of it even when I don’t feel like it.
It’s interesting to see that God actually commands husbands and wives to have sex. (Now, men don’t EVER use that as a weapon to get your wife to have sex with you!) But he actually does. And this is why: God knows the power of oneness. He knows how dangerous that is to the enemy’s work and he knows how dangerous it is to us when we don’t have it. So he tells us, “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife and the wife to her husband.” (1 Cor 7:3) But then he says, “Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time so that you may devote yourselves to prayer.” (1 Cor 7:5a) So God himself is saying to have sex with your spouse often. Because sex can bring life into your soul and marriage. And the only reason he gives for refraining from sex is prayer—which is the only other thing that can also bring life into your soul and marriage! And even then he says don’t go too long without sex. (1 Cor 7:5b) So prayer isn’t meant to replace sex, but rather they work together to bring you and your marriage new life.
In Luke 5 Jesus gets into a boat with Peter and tells him to let down his nets into the water. Peter replies, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.” I imagine Peter was tired and discouraged. He had been fishing all night and they didn’t catch anything. I imagine all he wanted to do was pack it up for the day and go home and sleep. The last thing he wanted to do was to fish again. But then he said, “But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When he did that, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break! They had to call their partners in the other boat to come help them and even then both boats got so full that they actually began to sink!
So what started as an act of sheer obedience turned into one of the greatest blessings he ever experienced. Even though he didn’t “feel” like doing what Jesus was asking him, he did it anyway. And don’t you think that all of Peter’s discouragement and fatigue instantly vanished when he saw all those fish? Sometimes we don’t feel like having sex, but if we go ahead and do it as an act of obedience and an act of love, then once we get involved in the act our fatigue and stress about life will vanish and we will find ourselves enjoying the moment. And when we come out of the bedroom we will still face the same problems and challenges, but now we can face them with our spouse and with a renewed sense of oneness with each other and love for each other. And like Peter, what started out as an act of sheer obedience can turn into one of the greatest blessings we experience.
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