"The truth is that sex is not that important. Way too much is made of it--to the point that we have the notion that sex has to have Fourth of July fireworks all the time until age 90.
This misconception has led to more unhappiness, resentment, impotency, divorce and infidelity than you can imagine," says pastor, author, and PhD, Roland Trujillo.
The popular but erroneous concept that marriage is to get our needs met, when combined with an incessant focus on sex, has done a lot of harm. How?
Because otherwise reasonably happy couples, with a nice lifestyle, good kids, and a tranquil home, start to become convinced by urban myths, media hype, pop psychology, catty girlfriends, and even misguided Christian advisors that their marriage must be unfulfilling because bells and whistles are not going off 5 nights a week.
You end up with men with wandering eyes wondering if the grass would be greener or struggling with some erectile dysfunction drug, women reading romance novels and dreaming of someone else who is more romantic, or always trying harder to please and feeling inadequate--and partners who are just perpetually vaguely dissatisfied.
All of which can lead to unhappiness, extramarital affairs, broken homes, divorces, financial ruin, and the kids being hurt. Five years later after a breakup, one or both partners are still unhappy or more unhappy, and looking back and realizing they had it all and threw it all away.
Just who are these strangers who talk so pompously and cavalierly on camera, in the advertisements, in books or in front of the seminar--who egg us on from stage left to be dissatisfied and demand more and more pleasure?
And just where did the notion that marriage is for getting our needs met come from?
One thing is sure, confusion abounds because of misdirection, wrong ideas, and misguided advice.
So let's state a couple of things that you are not likely to hear, except from a good grandma or great grandma.
First of all, the purpose of sex is not pleasure. It is for starting and building a family. Children are a blessing from God, and it is for the procreation of children that we are given sex by our Creator.
Of course, He attached pleasure to it. I am not a prude. I understand that it can be fun and pleasurable. God is the one who designed it. It was His idea.
It has its place, like any other pleasure. For example, we also derive pleasure from eating. But as the old saying goes, keep in mind that we should "eat to live, not live to eat."
A couple meets, has a courtship (and it should be a chaste one), and get married. Then they have the pleasure of the marriage bed. It is good that they enjoy each other, and before you know it, kids come along.
But after the first few years of marriage, and with a family established, other things become more important, such as parenting, working, growing and maturing, and making some contribution to the good of society.
In fact, marriage is a framework within which work out our differences and to learn to be unselfish.
There comes a time when sex is just not that important. A husband and wife can become very good friends, share many wonderful times being together, like walking along the beach, enjoying the kids and then grand kids, and working and helping others. They can enjoy holding hands and laying side by side and having warmth and coziness. But it does not always have to end in you know what.
It is not true that women need sex. And though men tend to be more sexually oriented than women, men eventually don't need it either.
In fact, men should become more fatherly as the years go by. Less beastly, less juvenile, more noble. Less selfish, more understanding and respectful of her needs.
A couple can be perfectly happy and perfectly fulfilled without sex. Or with less sex (but enjoying it more because it is with love, tenderness and understanding).
I understand that a sexless marriage can result from one or both being resentful. It can also result from one or both placing too much emphasis on performance, which can make a man feel nervous or inadequate. Or even impotent.
It can happen when one side is withholding affection--again because of resentment.
In such cases, the situation can often be solved by simply realizing that resentment is the blocking factor, and letting go of the resentment.
There are also situations where a wife has been abused by other men in the past and develops an aversion to sex or her husband, because it reminds her of what happened before. The husband, realizing that this is the case, must patient and thoughtful. There is a good chance that his decency, gentleness, and thoughtfulness will help her to see that he is not like those other men.
I am very aware of the above complications and exceptions, but I will not deal with them in this article. Instead, I want to keep it simple.
First of all, people tend to think that either sex or money are the reason for unhappiness in marriage, but I can tell you that it is more likely to be a symptom of resentment and anger, and the subsequent cascade of negative emotions, notions, and actions that ensue.
Secondly, if a husband and wife love each other and grow in affection and friendship, then after the children have come along, sex becomes less and less important, and not important at all. It can be an occasional expression of mutual affection and closeness. But so is walking hand in hand, sitting side by side on the sofa in front of the fire, enjoying family gatherings, and sharing memories and new wonderful things to do.
I recently heard a very nice man and a famous Christian author talk about his experience with depression. At one point he said that he was seeking to find more of those happy moments in life when you are not guilty and nothing is required. This is a wonderful insight.
Remember those carefree moments of childhood or youth, when you could just be yourself? When you were not guilty (or being made to feel guilty) and nothing was required of you?
Therefore, dear married partners, I hereby give you permission to relax and not make too big a deal of sex. Live life intuitively and spontaneously, not according what some stranger says you should be doing.
Enjoy each other and don't try to make anything happen. Incidentally, I know of several people who were trying to have a child with no success. No sooner did they adopt one and stop trying too hard, then--voila--soon there were two!
Enjoy the delights of the honeymoon and the morning of your marriage. Grow older gracefully and become very good friends.
This is part of Roland's soon to be published book. For more of his insights into relationships, preview his classic book My Husband and I Argue All the Time--Time tested truths for healing relationships