- Dr. Gil Stieglitz
Eight Habits of Great Marriages - Make Time for Intimacy
Welcome back to this series on the eight fundamental habits in great marriages (which tend not to be present in bad ones). This next habit is one that can be very challenging for many couples, but if it is kept at the forefront of marital priorities, it will be the glue that keeps your marriage in tact. Last week we covered #4, which was that couples who stay together make a point to pray together. If you missed it, click HERE. This week, we continue with habit #4 for great marriages.
Habit #5 is this: Make time for intimacy 2-3 times each week.
One of the areas that baffles couples in the early years of marriage is this idea that we only have sex when we feel like it. What I have found is that couples who really have an encouraging marriage schedule time for regular sexual activity, often enough to meet the needs of the most interested person in the relationship. Invariably one of the partners is far more interested in sexual intimacy than the other person. If sexual activity only took place when the most disinterested person felt like it, all kinds of issues crop up. Usually, this need is greater for one of the partners, so the time for intimacy would be scheduled to meet that person's need, in the same way that meeting the needs to eat, talk, or relax is met. It is easier on both partners if sexual activity is talked about, planned, and committed to on a regular basis. This does not take away from desire; in fact, it brings predictability to this very personal area.
Physiologically, men and women have different sexual cycles in marriage. It is very helpful to understand both partner's cycle. The typical woman's body is designed to be interested in sexual activity once a month for a couple of days at the peak of her menstrual cycle. On the other hand, the typical male produces 100 million to 200 million little Navy guys (semen) every day, and when his body builds up 400 million to 500 million little Navy guys, it is time to launch the boats, so to speak. This is why the man is often way more interested in sexual activity than his very normal wife. It is very helpful to schedule how to meet his stronger need. Let me also add that at times and in some marriages the woman's desire for sexual activity is greater than the man's, and her needs have to be scheduled for as well.
So, what might this look like?
Since this is a reoccurring need in one if not both partners, it is best to consider what's going on at home, work, and each other's schedule to find a time that makes sense. One of the best times is after a date night, when both partners have had time to focus on each other and build on the sexual tension between them. Other times are early in the morning before the stress of the day begins, or immediately after the kids go to bed. Usually, times of intimacy last less than an hour of time total, including the time it takes for talking, foreplay, and intercourse. They can last between ten minutes to three hours, depending on what time limitations, potential interrupters (kids), and obligations there are. And the kind of intimacy needs to be decided upon as well, ranging from "wow" sex to normal sex or "quickie" sex!
This is where both people are interested in intimacy and involves talking, sharing, caressing, undressing, foreplay, and intercourse. It is usually best for one partner to bring the slower responding partner (usually the woman) to climax before the faster responding person is allowed to climax. Usually a man who climaxes becomes disinterested in sexual activity quickly after, but the woman usually continues to be interested in sexual intimacy and closeness long after her climax. This is why often it is best to bring her to climax first before moving to satisfy the husband. This is a very satisfying way to make sure that both people in the relationship fully enjoy intimacy. This mutually desired sexual intimacy should be schedule at least once a month but a few times per month would be better.
This is where one person in the marriage is more interested in sexual intimacy than the other person, but the reluctant partner can be brought into the experience if the other person treats them well and tends to their needs romantically. The love in the relationship usually determines how often the reluctant one is willing to move into sexual intimacy. This level of sexual intimacy is often displayed once a week in America presently.
This is where the person who has a greater need for sexual intimacy is brought to climax without the other person necessarily engaging or even seeking climax. The disinterested spouse ministers to the spouse until they reach climax. This demonstrates a willingness to minister to the needs of the spouse who is more sexually interested.
I would add that couples ought to stop chasing the mutual orgasm. This can happen, but it is rare. Usually the best way to enjoy a satisfying sexual encounter with your spouse is to bring one person to climax and then the other. It is often best (but not always) for the more slowly responding person to be brought to climax first and then to focus on bringing the quick responder to climax. One person is brought to climax then the other. This is a very satisfying way to make sure that both people in the relationship fully enjoy intimacy.
So, if we're looking at a typical couple of weeks for a busy couple, it might look like this:
Sunday afternoon or at night (Wow)
Tuesday evening (Quickie)
Friday night after a date (Normal)
Monday morning before work (Quickie)
Wednesday after work (Quickie)
Saturday night (Wow or Normal)
Tuesday night (Quickie)
Friday night after a date (Normal)
Special consideration needs to be given when one spouse is going out of town, or you or the family is facing an upcoming stressful situation, such as houseguests or a move or something else that could cause stress to the couple. It helps to go into these times being unified, which sexual intimacy can build.
If this is an area that you as a couple struggle with, you are not alone. A couple of great resources I recommend are Intended for Pleasure, by Ed Wheat, and The Act of Marriage, by Tim and Beverly LaHaye. Give what I have outlined a try and if you need additional help, let us know and we can help you schedule an appointment with one of our counselors or coaches. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join me next week for the sixth habit of great marriages.
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Marital Intelligence, subtitled “A foolproof guide for saving and supercharging marriage,” is based on thousands of hours of marital counseling and observation by the author. Stieglitz is a counselor, speaker, mentor, professor, and leadership consultant based in Roseville, Calif. He is currently a professor at Western Seminary, a district superintendent for the Evangelical Free Church of America, and a church consultant for Thriving Churches International. He also directs his own ministry, Principles to Live By. Stieglitz says there are only five problems in marriage: (1) Ignoring needs; (2) Immature behaviors, (3) Clashing temperaments, (4) Competing relationships, and (5) Past baggage. With each issue, he carefully and consistently lays out biblical teaching on the subject, and then includes helpful anecdotes, solutions, and self-tests to help the reader.
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