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Returning Intimacy To Your Relationship

By Kayla Sullivan

9 Comments

One of the things that hurts my heart the most as a married woman is the number of couples who are struggling in the area of intimacy. Views of healthy sexuality vary greatly amongst people. When a husband and wife’s views do not align it can cause significant damage to the relationship.

Microwaves & Slow Cookers

Men are physical beings, while women tend to be more geared towards the emotional side of things. A few years ago, I was attending a weekend training to assist individuals in crisis. We were instructed to phrase questions differently when talking to men or women. For women, it is okay to ask them how they felt or how they are currently feeling. For men, your questions should be geared towards their reaction. The reason? Many men do not feel comfortable sharing their emotions. They house that area of their life as something that very few (if any) people have access to.

In regards to sex, it’s like men are microwaves and women are slow cookers—sometimes on the lowest setting. Men can be instantly aroused, whereas women take longer. Men can switch gears in their mind very quickly, while a woman has a playlist a million miles long. She needs to checkmark all of the boxes before she can fully enjoy your time alone together.

Men: Atmosphere & Attitudes

I once heard a pastor talking to married couples about sex. He joked that if you want your wife to be more responsive you should put a few locks on the door. Without them, he said, all the wife will be focused on is thoughts about the kids knocking down the door just because they need a snack or have decided that they want to hear yet another bedtime story.

Joking aside, an atmosphere of comfort and relaxation is important. This is not solely limited to the bedroom, but goes in regards to the relationship in itself. Because men are more physical, they are commonly most interested in having their masculinity noticed. They want to be acknowledged for being hard-working, and they want to be respected.

Men, though you may struggle with deep conversation, if you feel as if you are not appreciated or valued by your wife it may be worth asking her why. Try not to be confrontational, judgemental, or angry as you approach this difficult topic. Refrain from an immediate reaction. Instead, listen intently to what she has to say and give yourself time to digest her feedback before you respond.

Women: Emotions & Excuses

Women tend to desire time, attention, and devotion. As long as the needs of the family are being met, most women would trade a hefty savings account for a few hours of their husband’s time. She wants to be appreciated for the things that she does for the family. She needs to know that even after a handful of kids her husband still finds her to be the most beautiful woman in the world. When a woman feels valued, protected, and loved, it can increase her desire for intimacy. She needs to feel as if she is being taken care of and respected – first in the world, and secondly in the bedroom.

Wives, if you don’t feel this way, then it’s time to initiate a serious conversation. Maybe you feel like an emphasis is placed on his satisfaction every time you make love, and you’re frustrated. How will your husband know to try a different approach with you if you won’t tell him?

Were you raised in a home where sex was not talked about? Maybe it was believed to only be important for childbearing? Did a friend tell you that you are not obligated to have sex with your husband, and it’s okay for you to stand your ground and refuse intimacy for great periods of time? Take it from a fellow woman, you are robbing yourself tremendously by not allowing yourself to surrender and find satisfaction in the strong arms of your husband. Sex is intended for so much more than physical pleasure. It should be a way to promote oneness, increase knowledge of one another, provide comfort, and should protect the marriage from outside temptation.

All That’s Wrong & Right About Sex

“Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
-1 Corinthians 7:5

Husbands, don’t nod your head in satisfaction that I’m trying to prove that your wife is obligated to have sex with you! And wives, take the time to hear me out on this one.

For those of you who argue that it is Biblical according to 1 Corinthians 7 for a wife to have sex with her husband, you may also want to read the part that says it is a concession and not a command (vs. 6). Or take note of the fact that both the husband and wife are equally supposed to surrender themselves to their spouse (vs.3-4).

Too often this verse is referred to by individuals who are trying to justify why they seek out pornography. But when you use this scriptural reference and neglect the various other verses that are applicable to situations such as this, you are creating a double standard.

No Excuse

Though you may feel neglected by your spouse, seeking out pornography becomes selfish ambition. It ultimately puts you back in control of your body instead of continuing to relinquish that control to your spouse. One cannot stand on 1 Corinthians 7:5, but then ignore Matthew 5:28 where Jesus says, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” And if we go back and review the list of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, we are clearly reminded that adultery is sin.

The world is going to tell you that what you have in front of you is not enough. It will encourage you to adjust your standard of beauty. Don’t fall victim to this talk. It will only give birth to resentment and anger, which the enemy will use to further destroy any traces of love you had for your wife.

“Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin,when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
James 1:15

Likewise, ladies if you’re neglecting intimacy with your husband and reading an erotic romance novel, you are just as guilty as your husband. You are allowing fantasy to rule your thoughts. If you’re scrolling Facebook or hanging onto the words of the ladies in your weekly prayer meeting who brag about how incredible their husbands are, you will not be attracted to your husband because your mind will tell you that he is not good enough.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
-Exodus 20:17

Honest Evaluation

Comparing what you have to others and having a yearning for what they have, regardless of how you look at it, is sin.

Instead of comparing and contrasting, take a step back. What made you fall in love with your spouse in the first place? Why did you choose to say “I do”? For the areas of life that you may no longer be satisfied, is there a good reason for the so-called decline?

Recently my husband and I were contacted by the people who are in the process of buying our house. They shared with us that under the layers of carpet and linoleum, they found beautiful hardwood floors. We never knew they existed! This couple now has plans to restore these floors as close to their original beauty as possible. Will they look the same? Of course not. Time has aged them, they have experienced wear and tear. They have seen added layers but they will become beautiful once again with some care and effort.

People don’t need a new spouse, they need a rekindled marriage. Life changes as the years pass by, but the value can remain the same. In my case, after 13 years of marriage, the value of my relationship with my husband has increased significantly. It took time, understanding, compassion, and respect. It took accepting the flaws and working through the imperfections. Above all else, it took rearranging our lives to allow God to be at the center of it all.

The Most Important Day Of Your Life

Many people choose to spend a small fortune on a perfect wedding day. The wedding day does not set the standard of happiness within your relationship. The amount you spend does not secure a lifetime of happiness, honor, and respect. Instead, the most important day of your life as a married couple is going to be the day when your spouse breathes his or her last breath.

I witnessed this in my life a few years ago after receiving a phone call. My mom was being rushed to the emergency room. When my sister and I arrived, we were escorted into a small consultation room. There we found a doctor consoling my dad. It was then, totally unexpected, that we received the news that though the doctors did everything they could to revive my mom, they were unable to save her. It was final. Death had consumed life. There was no time for second chances or apologies.

When you face this time in your life are you going to have regrets? Are you allowing things of this world and opinions of others to mold and shape your relationship? Or are you going to fight for your marriage? Today, you can determine to change your outlook and start anew.

Will today be the day that you give up your selfish ambitions and desires? Decide to enter into the ring to champion a marriage that can be spoken highly of at the end of your life!

Beginning Again

Maybe you’re not sure where to begin, and that’s okay. But it’s important to start somewhere. Having a conversation to discuss what is going wrong and the things that are going right is a good place to begin. If you have been living in a tension-filled marriage for a long time, this may be a conversation best to have with a pastor, counselor, or some other kind of mediator present.

For many couples, pornography or sexual sin has been taunting the relationship for a significant amount of time.

Take a leap of faith and get yourself involved in the Conquer Series, which has been helping more than one million individuals find freedom all around the world.

Through this series, you will learn why years of trying harder has not worked. You and your spouse will begin to understand the ways your brain has been changed through the addiction. You’ll learn how the enemy has maintained a stronghold in your life for quite some time. Most importantly though, if you pledge to not only watch the DVDs but also work through the Study Guides and Journal, you will begin to reclaim your strength and identity in Christ. This is a fight that can be won!


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9 Replies to “Returning Intimacy To Your Relationship”

  1. Michael Collins  March 19, 2019

    Good stuff overall and especially like the focus on sex in marriage as surrendering. Pornography is a way many men take back control of their bodies from their wives and sometimes wives take control away from their husbands by refusing sex or preventing themselves from being available.

    One concern I have is on the proper understanding of 1 Corinthians 7:6. It is tricky because of what precedes it but you have to look both at the verses before and the verses after.

    2
    But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.
    3
    The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.
    4
    For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
    5
    Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
    6
    Now as a concession, not a command, I say this.
    7
    I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.
    8
    To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am.
    9
    But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

    The concession that Paul is making is NOT about conjugal relations within marriage. That IS a command. It is such a command that Paul uses the idea of mutual ownership over each other’s bodies to reinforce the point that this is a DUE benevolence.

    What is the concession? Paul is accepting that some do not have the gift of celibacy and should marry (verse 9). Paul wishes that all were as he was (single – see verse 7) but understands that most will not be able to handle the sexual temptations that are part of life.

    I believe this teaching is that the presence of sexual passion in a person’s life is a biblical mandate to get married unless sexual passion is overwhelmed by a passion to serve God without the encumbrances of married life. Paul’s concession is merely that he wishes it were not so, that more would remain single, and would be driven first and only by a passion for God.

    Obviously, quoting 1 Corinthians to your wife as a way of guilting her into having sex is a completely counter-productive strategy. It’s like going up to a non-Christian and yelling “You’re going to burn in hell for all eternity until you repent!”. It may be true, but truth needs to be spoken in love, not out of manipulation or contempt.

    Where this message is most needed is in the context of marriage counseling, women’s seminars or bible studies, or directly from the pulpit. The full breadth of issues can be dealt with and it should be handled with sensitivity and care.

  2. Lambert Dolphin  March 20, 2019

    Far far more important is intimacy with Jesus, i believe. Then intimacy with others follows. Many of us are unmarried and we are not allowed sexual intimacy!

    • Conquer Series  March 26, 2019

      Hi Lambert,

      Yes, a deeply rooted, intimate relationship with Christ is crucial. This article was mainly written for married couples who are working through healing from sexual addiction. Many have experienced a loss of intimacy as a result of sexual addiction, and the intent of the article was to let them know that intimacy is one area of their relationship that healing and restoration will need to take place–and that it is possible.

      -Kayla

  3. Ricky Bennett  March 22, 2019

    So sex within marriage is not a command but a concession? Maybe you should read some commentaries about what Paul is referring to as a concession in verse 7:6. I’ve read several and none of them exegete the verse that way. I’m really confused now.

    • Conquer Series  March 25, 2019

      Hi Ricky,

      This article was not meant to bring about confusion, so I do apologize for that.

      The Bible is very clear that neither spouse should withhold sexual intimacy from the other, unless they are doing so for a period of time with mutual consent that they may devote themselves to prayer, so that neither of them may be tempted. Both husband and wife are to submit themselves to one another.

      Far too many times though, the argument is mentioned that the person struggling with sexual addiction has the right to continue on in their ways because of lack of intimacy within the marriage. But it’s important to understand that intimacy can significantly decline because one spouse doesn’t feel safe within the relationship (if one is struggling with sexual addiction) or because they feel that their needs outside of the bedroom are not being met. This is typically related to a woman and why she may struggle with intimacy, because she is feeling neglected by her spouse. She is left to carry the mounting pressures within the home, knows that the husband is lusting after other women which causes her to feel as if she is not enough for him, etc. I once heard a man say, “if you want your wife to love you and be intimate with you, be a man worth loving. Do things that are lovely, help with dishes, let her be your standard of beauty–not just the way she looked on the day you got married, but also through every phase of life, provide for her emotional needs and her reciprocal love may in fact turn into meeting your physical needs.”

      At the end of the day, whether it’s a husband or the wife that is struggling with sexual addiction, it causes pain. It causes a major disconnection and separation—it causes a bridge that needs to be mended.

      We are to love our spouses in the same way that Christ loves the church, and Jesus would not say with His mouth that He loves the church while maintaining secretive actions.

      Again, the article was not meant to cause confusion. But it was instead intended to inspire hope that even after a marriage is rocked with sexual addiction, healing in all areas of life (including intimacy) can take place.

      -Kayla

      • Ricky Bennett  March 25, 2019

        Most of the commentaries say verse 7:6, specifically the word “this”, is either referring to marriage itself, which Paul is not commanding but conceding as necessary for those without the gift of celibacy. The other interpretation is that “this” might be referring to the optional time of separation for prayer and fasting. In either case, however, Paul is not conceding anything about the absolute requirement to not deprive.

        I think the concern about using this passage to rationalize sexual addiction is legitimate, but I often observe that a lot of passages are used for illegitimate purposes. My wife often quotes “live with your wife in an understanding way” as a way to deflect any responsibility for controlling her temper. She gets upset, starts yelling, blames it on hormones or that she is a “high stress person.” Then pulls out bible verses if that doesn’t work.

        How many times is “Love your wife as Christ loved the church” used as a weapon against husbands? Do the same people quoting that verse not also remember Revelation 3:19:

        Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.

        How long do you think a pastor would last in his pulpit telling the women of his congregation that their husbands are loving them when they rebuke them and discipline them? Does not Jesus do this with the church sometimes? Isn’t that one way to love my wife as Christ loved the church?

        We can all take scriptures and apply them in ways that can seem manipulative at times. But in the situation involving 1 Corinthians 7, I think it makes as much sense for husbands to confront their wives with this passage as it does for telling non-Christians they are going to burn in hell for all eternity if they don’t repent. It may be true, but it may not be the best strategy for persuasion. And if it is meant to deflect from sins the husband is committing, then it is every bit as wrong as my wife rejecting me in the marriage bed for several weeks and then quoting a verse about how understanding I am supposed to be.

        • Conquer Series  March 25, 2019

          Hey Ricky,

          Thanks for the reply. Yes, Jesus will rebuke and correct the ones whom He loves—but He will do it in love. Jesus is not in the tearing down business, but instead affirms us even while offering correction. And that is the danger of sexual addiction. Even though the person seeking out pornography may not be doing it because of dissatisfaction with their spouse, the spouse perceives it as a direct attack to their character, their physical characteristics, etc.

          For me, when my husband made the choice to seek out pornography, I felt like I could never measure up to his expectations or desires. Through watching the Conquer Series though, I came to the understanding that my husband’s struggle ultimately wasn’t about me. It was about wounds of his past that he carried into our relationship, hurts that he medicated through the viewing of pornography. For this reason, I will often recommend for wives to also watch the Conquer Series so that they can also learn more about the nature of sexual addiction. For me, it enabled me to view my husband through a set of brand new eyes when I realized that he was wounded and hurting, and it enabled me to come alongside him and journey with him as he started the healing process.

          When a husband makes a choice to begin their healing journey, I encourage wives to also embark on their own. Without both husband and wife committing to the healing, a ceiling will be created that will only allow health and restoration to go so far. This also means allowing intimacy to be restored back to the marriage, but sometimes this can take time. When attempting to bridge the gap, both spouses may find it helpful to meet with a trusted pastor or counselor who can advise them, mediate the conversations, etc.

          -Kayla

          • Ricky Bennett  March 26, 2019

            You admit that Jesus will rebuke and discipline. Is that an acknowledgment that rebuke and discipline are ways that Christ loves the church? And if husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the church, does that also include rebuke and discipline? And what would that actually look like in the real world? If you can answer that or if you know of a pastor who has the courage to take that on, then you or he are braver than anyone.

          • Conquer Series  March 26, 2019

            Ricky,

            Even in the world, it would still look like Jesus.

            When Jesus acknowledged the poor choices of the woman at the well, He didn’t do it in a way that brought shame, humility, or harsh discipline. Instead, it mirrored love.

            For the woman caught in the act of adultery, Jesus told those in line to stone her that those who were sinless could cast the first stone. When they all dropped the stones and left, she was gently told to go and sin no more.

            1 Peter 3 tells husbands to be considerate as they live with their wives and to treat them with respect. And wives should have inner beauty, having a gentle spirit.

            Love is not selfish, but is servant-like. Jesus isn’t a dictator, and within our relationships we shouldn’t act as such. And this is all really difficult in a world that is shouting from the rooftops that women can be strong, and not submissive. But the Bible remains unchanged—a home should be made up of God, husband, wife.

            A woman was created to be a helpmate, and was taken from the side of man—and this is where she should be found, beside her husband. Not in front of him, and not behind him. But walking along with him, taking on life together.

            The relationships that we have with people mirror the relationship that we have with Christ. A marriage isn’t a 50/50 proposition, but is instead a 100/100. I should be willing to give 100% of my husband daily and likewise he should be doing the same–not out of expectation, but out of love, respect, honor, integrity.

            I’m not a pastor, nor a counselor…so all of your valid questions may best be addressed with someone who maintains that position in your local area. Again, the article was meant to encourage the fact that healing, even in regards to intimacy, can take place following the broken and burnt bridges caused by sexual addiction.

            -Kayla

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