by Muriel Gregory
Naked in the Garden
Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. Genesis 2:23-25 ESV
Ok, ladies, it is time for the talk. Yes, that talk. The talk about the flowers and the bees. You knew it was coming. How can we discuss flourishing in our marriages without talking about…it…you know…sex.
Every time that topic comes up in Bible studies or workshops, ladies shift uncomfortably in their chairs. Some stare at their notebooks. Others giggle. A handful wish they knew so they could have stayed home. Yes, we are still naked and ashamed.
Now let’s get a few things clear before you close this tab. Sex is a gift from God. Sex is so much more than what we have turned it into. Sex is intimacy between a husband and wife. Intimacy flourishes within the healthy boundaries of a healthy marriage.
“After the fall, God must have been grieved to see the beauty and holiness of sex turn into the Enemy’s playground, to watch it earn a foul reputation, to see what was to be given and enjoyed with selfless abandon between a husband and wife either given away recklessly outside marriage or parceled out selfishly within the marriage.” Judy Rossi – Enhancing Your Marriage
Both men and women crave intimacy. We desire it because it is the place where we feel the most valued and loved. This sacred inner sanctum where we can be ourselves. A place where we freely offer all we are with the person we love the most. In general, men tend to crave physical intimacy whereas women want emotional intimacy.
This cycle of intimacy feeds on each other. As your husband provides emotional needs, you meet his physical needs and vice versa.
Usually, after a while, a husband and wife have found a rhythm that works for them. Her emotional needs are met, and his physical needs are satisfied. However, regularity and routine are not words that typically accompany military life. We are used to chaos and the unexpected. The only rhythms we are familiar with are the cadences sung during PT.
After my husband has been gone for an extended period, I just want to talk about everything he has missed. Talk about the kids’ games, events at church, neighborhood parties, my parents. Let just say that talking is not what he is after. He wants a more physical interaction.
Prolonged separation will break the rhythm. It can be challenging to find it again. Often times this results in one or both partners feeling that their needs are not met. Communication is key. Understanding the needs of the other person is essential. Putting the need of your husband before yours can often help.
Ephesians 5:22-33 sheds more light on how a healthy marriage looks.
Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.
Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.
No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband. (The Message – emphasis mine)
Love and respect. Not one-sided but mutual. Marriages reflect Christ and the church. It is a give-and-take. Not an all-take or all-give.
Proper intimacy has been damaged by this world. Pornography has invaded our computers and TV screens. Reality shows have distorted the beauty of selfless giving as they emphasize reckless entitlement.
Deployments, training exercises, long hours, single parenting are stressors that burden, disrupt, and sometimes destroy the intimate relationship you share with your spouse. Separation sometimes leads to temptation. Affairs, whether physical or emotional, are not uncommon in our culture.
Now comes the daunting task of flourishing in the midst of all these challenges. How do we as wives do our part to achieve that?
How to Flourish in Intimacy:
- Strive to meet his needs. (1 Corinthians 7:3-5)
- Respect him. (Ephesians 5:22)
- Communicate often and clearly.
- Seek help when needed.
- Keep yourself pure. Stop watching that show or reading that book.
Father, I thank you for the beautiful gift of sex. You created it to be the most intimate relationship between a husband and wife. I pray that my marriage bed will be kept pure (Hebrews 13:4) and that my union will reflect Christ and the church. Amen
For Further Reading:
Enhancing Your Marriage by Judi Rossi
His Needs, Her Needs by Willard Harley
Sheet Music by Dr. Kevin Leman
Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas