Three lies newlyweds believe about sex

Jess Dunagan

My husband, Chris, and I dated for over a year before we were married. By God's grace, we remained pure throughout our dating and courtship. And I was so excited to enjoy sex in the bonds of marriage!

During premarital counseling, I remember filling out a questionnaire. One of the questions asked, "How often would you desire sex after marriage?" My response was: every day, or at least a few times a week.

A few months after our blissful honeymoon, sex no longer excited me. In fact, it disgusted me and I loathed the very act. Sex became the topic we argued about most frequently.

I expected sex to be a natural desire and an innate ability, not a source of conflict. 

I was confused and frustrated. I was confused because I expected sex to be a natural desire and an innate ability, not a source of conflict — especially in marriage. I thought because we had been pure prior to marriage our sex life would be "blessed."

I realize now there were three lies that had taken hold in my life. And the more women I talked to, the more I realized I wasn’t the only one to fall for them.

Lie No. 1: A good sex life comes naturally or just "happens."

I didn't know why I was disinterested in sex, and I didn't know how to change my poor attitude. I started to notice that our arguments over sex were cyclical.

For me, there was no pleasure in sex. Nothing turned me on; I was apathetic. When I gave in to my husband's advances, it would be with an attitude of obligation. He would sense my obligation and apathy and be turned off. Then I would feel bad and start crying because I didn't understand why I felt the way I did about sex. So the next time my husband would want to be intimate, I would try really hard and things might go well that night. But then the next time, my poor attitude would surface and the cycle would begin again.

My sporadic prayers for our sex life to improve turned to persistent pleadings. I was desperate for God to show me the source of my poor attitude and transform my perspective on sex. As I prayed, things began to surface.

Lie No. 2: Pleasure is the main purpose of sex. Specifically, the pleasure I can give.

When I was a little girl (maybe 4 or 5) I was molested by two different boys. That experience caused me to believe that my role in sex was to bring a man pleasure. God showed me that being taken advantage of and used for sexual pleasure had become the filter I was looking through in marriage. Every time my husband wanted to be intimate, I would feel a specific obligation to pleasure him. I felt like I was being taken advantage of and used.

Lie No. 3: You cannot be godly and sensual.

Before asking Jesus into my heart, I led a very promiscuous life. Quite honestly, it seemed like being erotic when I lived in sin was more exciting because I knew it was wrong. How broken is that?! So when I repented of my sexual sin, I "dammed up" my passionate desire in an attempt to flee from temptation and remain pure. I felt I needed to disassociate from anything erotic or sensual in order to be godly.

Once I was married, sex quickly became routine and mundane because I wasn’t allowing myself to be adventurous or passionate. I knew the excitement I used to feel was an illusion and in the end left me feeling shame and disgust. But I was confused over how to bring excitement into our bedroom.

Several books helped transform my unbiblical perspective on sex and unlocked three truths that changed my view on sex.

Truth No. 1: A good sex life does not come naturally; it’s something you learn.

I have learned to love my husband not only through the mentoring of older women, but also through studying God's Word. Titus 2:3-5 says, "Older women are to…teach the younger women to love their husbands." The Greek word for love that Paul used in this passage is “phileo.”

Several Greek words are translated “love” in the Bible. The one most of us are familiar with is “agape,” a self-sacrificing love, a love that gives even if nothing is given back. But that’s not the word used in this context. Paul used “phileo” when describing the love between a husband and wife.  “Phileo,” is a tender, affectionate, passionate love.

In fact, in commands specifically related to wives, “agape” is never used. Seeing that distinction helped me understand that although I had been sacrificing and serving Chris, I was failing to love him tenderly.

Truth No. 2: God gave the gift of sex to create life, for intimate oneness, for knowledge, as a defense against temptation, and for comfort.

While reading through a book called “Intimate Issues,” I learned that pleasure is only one of many reasons God designed sex.

God also created sex as a defense against temptation. During one argument, my husband confessed that because I had deprived him sexually, the temptation to entertain lustful thoughts was greater. At the time, I thought he was trying to blame me for being weak. But as God renewed my perspective on sex, I realized my responsibility.

1 Corinthians 7:5 says, "Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control." The author of “Intimate Issues” summarized the verse this way: "Do not commit fraud by taking back what has been pledged."

Again, I was convicted. Often times I would look at the clock and think, “It’s too late to start this. I’m so tired!” So what I stopped doing is looking at the clock; it keeps me from thinking selfish thoughts, and helps me focus on my husband.

Truth No. 3: God desires for us to rejoice in our sensuousness, to give in to it.

Solomon's bride was responsive, adventurous, uninhibited, expressive, and sensuous.

In college, I had studied Song of Solomon and learned about God's perspective on dating, courtship, and marriage. But I never studied it to learn how to be a godly and sensuous woman until I was encouraged to in “Intimate Issues”:

"A sensuous woman is tuned in to her body and the stimulation she receives through her five senses. She delights in her senses. In Song of Solomon 5:10-16, Shulamith gives in to her sexuality and thinks about her husband in very sensuous terms. Solomon is not present, and she meditates on her husband's body, describing him with erotic imagery. In her mind she undresses her husband, beginning at the top of his head and working her way downward. She dwells on his sensuous lips, his muscular shoulders, and strong legs and ends her daydreaming by saying: ‘His mouth is full of sweetness. And he is wholly desirable.’ (5:16). Shulamith's thoughts prepared her to act out her sensuousness with her husband."

This last truth is still one I’m actively applying. I have learned that communication is key and yet it’s still uncomfortable for me at times. Being fun and creative with your husband in the bedroom is also a worthwhile investment.

The transformation God worked in our sex life did not begin in the bedroom, but with prayer.

I'm not an expert on sex by any means. It's easy to slip back into old ways. But reading a biblically-based book every year on sex in marriage has become a vital way for me to maintain the proper perspective and grow in what God has taught me. I am so grateful for the new perspective God has given me on sex! I am also grateful my husband and I have the rest of our lives to learn and grow in this area together (he’s grateful, too).

The transformation God worked in our sex life did not begin in the bedroom, but with prayer. If you need a new perspective on sex in marriage, ask your creator. He has the power to give you a new mind and a new heart, to make you whole spiritually and sexually, and teach you how to be the sensuous woman you were created to be.

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