Do Christians Have Realistic Expectations For Sex? — Preston & Jackie Hill Perry

Most of us have never seen a healthy depiction of sex in marriage. 

In movies, it’s always fornication or recreation. In music, it’s passion-driven lust, especially if you like 90s R&B. Or we use our pre-marriage sex experiences as a reference point, even though those relationships are no where near the intensity of marriage.

Then, we get married and expect that sex in marriage has to be the same way. 

When it’s not, we don’t retool our expectations. Instead, we let our disappointment turn to conflict. 

Here are a few things I’m still learning after 12 years of marriage

Sex has to be planned, especially if you work and have children.

I’m not saying send calendar invites, but we have to be intentional about making space for it and communicating when we agree to pause it for a season. If something is coming up, like a project at work, or a hectic week, talk about how this will affect the orgasm cadence this week, i.e. “I’ve got to get this such-and-such done, so I’m going to need to work late on Tuesday and Thursdays. So, I won’t be able to hook you up those nights.”  

Sex is both a privilege and a responsibility in marriage

It’s something we get to do and something we are obligated to do to keep the marriage strong. If we dismiss this, that unity becomes fractured and it shows up in other places. 

Sex in marriage takes effort. It doesn’t just happen. 

I love this song by Bizzle about working to restore the connection with his wife.

Scriptures about sex in marriage

1 Corinthians 7

Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me:

It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment. For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.

But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

10 Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. 11 But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.

12 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?

17 But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I [a]ordain in all the churches. 18 Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. 20 Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. 21 Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it. 22 For he who is called in the Lord whilea slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.

25 Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy. 26 I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress—that it is good for a man to remain as he is: 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.

29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, 30 those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, 31 and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.

32 But I want you to be without [b]care. He who is unmarried [c]cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. 33 But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife. 34 There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. 35 And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.

36 But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his [d]virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry. 37 Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his [e]virgin, does well. 38 So then he who gives [f]her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better.

39 A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment—and I think I also have the Spirit of God.

Testimony: Early in my marriage, my sex drive had a power outage

Our connection struggled under the stress of financial strain that required me to work like a machine. 

Sex felt like a chore, and I treated my husband like he was a task at a time when he really needed my affirmation. 

He began to feel like God had sold him a lemon with no refunds.

I haven’t always been good about communicating my needs. I would just work more to distract myself from the tension.

I realize that sex in marriage has to be intentional. 

I also had to build a group of Christian women friends who were open to this being an area where we support each other.  We have regular wives night and talk about our sex goals for the week. 

I also realize that sex for me is more mental than physical. 

My mind needs to be warmed up. That means I don’t watch deep stuff before sex. I tell my husband to turn off those darn prophecy videos so I can get in the mood. We watch NBA highlights or videos about luxury cabins instead. Even better, we just talk. Conversation is a stimulant for me. My husband also makes me a good drink because it helps shut off the endless to-do list running through my brain. 

And nothing about motherhood is sexy to me, so our kids have to be completely asleep. We sleep trained them so they don’t wake up. 

We are still a work in progress. 

Here’s a great conversation between one of my favorite Christian couples, Preston and Jackie Hill Perry about having realistic expectations for sex in marriage. She even makes a connection between the prosperity gospel and what we’re falsely taught about sexual purity.

Reflection Questions:
gray check box icon Do we give sex the same priority level as working out, helping kids with homework, or any other must-do task?

gray check box icon Fellas, do you, in any way, punish your wife when she says no? Are you sure she’s satisfied with sex?

gray check box icon If you need to create a safe space to tell your spouse they aren’t pleasing you, try writing them a love letter about it or setting aside time to go for a walk and talk about it. This is a crucial conversation, so check out this recap of tips before you have this conversation.