7 minute read

Having Sexual Conversations with Your Spouse

Last Updated: June 9, 2015

Rick Thomas
Rick Thomas

Rick Thomas leads a training network for Christians to assist them in becoming more effective soul care providers. RickThomas.net reaches people around the world through consulting, training, podcasting, writing, counseling, and speaking.  In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and in 1991 he earned a BS in Education. In 1993 he was ordained into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with a MA in Counseling from The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, CA. In 2006 he was recognized as a  Fellow with Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).

sexual-conversations-with-your-spouseYou know your marriage is strong when you can have sexually oriented conversations with your spouse. Outside of having intimate discussions about what the LORD is doing in your life, there is probably no other kind of marital talk which reveals the true strength of your relationship.

Though we live in a sexually explicit culture where promiscuous thinking and behaving is the norm, many Christian husbands and wives are still intimidated about having biblically motivated, God-centered sex talks.

There are many reasons for this; the main one being our Adam-inherited fear which impacts every sphere of our thinking and behaving. The closer you press toward spiritual or physical intimacy, the more you will be challenged to become vulnerable before others.

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” – Genesis 2:16-17 (ESV)

The two initial things which went dysfunctional after Adam and Eve sinned in the garden were their relationship with God and their relationship with each other. The LORD told them if they sinned there would be a severing of His protective and sovereign care.

Adam and Eve ignored His warning by sinning anyway and the fear factor kicked in shortly thereafter. This is part of the reason people are intimidated about discussing their relationship with God. We are naturally fearful people.

And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” – Genesis 3:10 (ESV)

Adam and Eve became afraid of God after they sinned. This fear not only affected the spiritual dynamics of their lives, but it also affected them physically. God became distant and they became sexually confused.

Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. – Genesis 2:7 (ESV)

We’re all born with a sense of shame and guilt. We have this internally awkward awareness which compels us to want to hide from each other as well as from God (Romans 3:10-12). There is a direct correlation between how a person relates to God spiritually and how he relates to his spouse sexually.

The God-influenced man will have a healthy view and practice of sex (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). The same goes for his wife. The Godless man or woman will have an unbiblical view and practice of sex.

Your view, attitude, and practice of sexuality is proportional to your view, attitude, and walk with the LORD. Adam and Eve broke their relationship with God, which spun them into sexual confusion.

This makes sense because God is the author of sex. He made Adam and Eve for the enjoyment of each other (Genesis 2:24-25). Sex was God’s idea. It was not until sin entered the world that our thinking on such things became chaotic.

Perfect sex

A discussion on sex can go in many different directions. For this article I want to highlight two areas where sin can easily break a husband and wife down while keeping them from being naked and unashamed with each other.

1. Sin will keep a man from talking about his sexual temptations.

2. Sin will tempt a woman to be offended by his sexual temptations.

Because of these two realities in most marriages, couples are never able to openly and humbly discuss how sin is captivating them, to the point of keeping sexually oriented secrets from each other.

The husband can be tempted and the woman can be insecure and offended by his temptations. That’s a formula for secret-keeping, anger, sexual frustration, communication breakdowns, bitterness, unforgiveness, and resentment.

I’m sure you can add a few more biblical labels to the mix, but you get the idea. If a husband and wife do not fight for biblical sexual discussions, they will never be able to completely realize the fullness of the marriage God offers them.

Sex is a deeply spiritual moment for two people who love God and love each other (Matthew 22:36-40). When omnipresent God is ruling the heart of a man and a woman, who are physically intimate, they are enjoying the most profound human communal experience possible.

Think about the sexual relationship between Adam and Eve before Genesis 3:1-7. It was God, man, and woman, with no sin to interrupt their thoughts or actions. It is hard to grasp such things.

The good news for us is that because of the power of the Gospel, the freedom of forgiveness, and the enablement of the Spirit, we can come to a close approximation of the physical intimacy Adam and Eve enjoyed before sin.

Men are tempted

Before a couple can come to this kind of close approximation to physical intimacy, they must deal with the reality of sin. Sin should never be ignored, it is real and it is divisive.

When it comes to sex, there are two competing interests vying for the mind of a man: (1) He was wired to enjoy sex and (2) sin attempts to distort his attitude toward sex.

This simply means a man must be honest about how sexual realities play out in his mind. It also means his wife must have the grace to provide a context for him to share his true thoughts about sexual temptations.

(I’m getting ahead of myself on this second point. More on that later.) I do not know the percentage of men who have not masturbated. I’m confident the percentage of adult males who have not is low.

This is just one way we have been sinfully affected when it comes to sex. Can we be honest about our sexual temptations? If you can’t be honest, then sin, shame, and guilt will be the controlling factors of your heart. God will not have first place in your heart.

This was Adam and Eve’s problem after they sinned. God was no longer the governing and motivating power behind their actions. Sin ruled their hearts, which overly exposed their nakedness and shame.

The first thing a man must do to counteract his weirdness about having a sexual discussion with his wife is to fix whatever is broken in his relationship with God. Sexual conversations originate from the heart, not the lip.

If a man’s heart is not right with God, then the kind of speech he has with his wife will not be right (Luke 6:45). People miss this important step. If they ever get the gumption to share their temptations with their wives, they usually do so before spending adequate time with the LORD.

Our hearts must be calibrated by God before we start talking about our sexual temptations with our wives. Keeping in step with the Spirit means being like-minded with the Spirit on sexual things.

If the Spirit is illuminating and guiding your sexual speech, then you should be equipped to engage your wife with the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control when you talk to your spouse (Galatians 5:22-23).

Women are insecure

All relationships are about giving and receiving. I have addressed the heart of the speech giver when it comes to talking about his struggles and temptations regarding sex.

It is just as incumbent on the speech receiver to have a right relationship with God so she can hear from the LORD as she hears from her husband. One of the cool things about the Gospel is how it creates an environment where we can be honest.

This is one of the many things we like about God. We know He will not judge or condemn us when we bare our souls to Him. This was why the Psalmist could boldly inquire of the LORD,

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! – Psalm 139:23-24 (ESV)

Wow! How bold is that? How emboldening is that? God gives us amazing confidence to be honest with Him. We know He is grace-filled enough to steward our problems. How releasing.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. – Ephesians 5:1 (ESV)

This begs a question for wives: How are you imitating God as far as creating a context for your husband to be honest with you? This does not mean he will be honest. That is not the question or the concern right now (Romans 12:18).

If you are not able to provide this kind of God-centered confidence for your husband to be weak and vulnerable, then you must do similarly to your husband: the next step is you must repair your relationship with the LORD.

Insecurity is fear. Adam and Eve were insecure because their relationship with God was broken. Our fear and insecurity is proportional to the strength of our relationship with the LORD.

The God-empowered, God-centered, and God-motivated woman is standing on the strength of the LORD’s perfection and cannot be overcome by her husband’s imperfections.

Your husband’s temptations and sins will reveal what your relationship with the LORD is really like and it will also reveal your most important desire. If you’ve placed more hope in your husband’s goodness than the LORD’s goodness, then you will only be as strong as your husband’s ability to meet your expectations.

If you’ve placed your primary hope in God, then your strength will be controlled by other-worldly factors. This will empower you to be a means of restorative grace to your husband.

Making it practical

Perhaps you’re not able to have these types of sexual conversations with your spouse. I realize there can be many complicating reasons for this. If you’re not able to enter into biblically centered sexual discussions, then the first place to begin is with prayer.

Ask the LORD to do a mighty work of grace in your heart (Proverbs 21:1). He is willing to do such things for the humble person (James 4:6). Lay out your soul before Him, asking Him to do that thing He does so well–providing grace.

Maybe your spouse will never change, but his/her change should never interfere with how the grace of God operates in your life. Be daring. Ask Him to search your heart and if He reveals an evil way in you, simply repent. Be free from sin.

Then begin to make plans to enter into a discussion with your spouse. Approach your spouse with grace and courage. Be like Adam and Eve when sin was not present with them. You can do this if you have removed your sin through the grace-effective means of repentance.

If your spouse is not interested in going farther with you, then be at peace. Be released from the temptation of a bad attitude toward your spouse. You’ve done what you can do. Maybe there will be another time and another season for you to re-enter this discussion.

If your spouse is not interested in going farther with you, then ask the Father to bring a friend of the same-sex into your life to provide encouragement and care for you regarding how you think about sex.

Caveat – This kind of care from a friend should never be about your spouse’s faults or failures. Your communication should be about you and the LORD. Don’t slander or devalue your spouse before others.

If your spouse is interested in going farther with you and your heart has been adjusted by the LORD, then by all means, begin talking to your spouse. Use discernment, wisdom, and grace when you begin sharing your heart.

Typically in situations like this, the other spouse has not spent the same amount of time in prayer and reflection regarding these things. You may be days or even weeks ahead of your spouse in your thoughts about sex and marriage. Don’t assume yours and your spouse’s thoughts are similar.

Be measured, but courageous. Lead your spouse. If you’re the wife, you should still lead your spouse. My wife is my number one discipler. She leads me well and I praise God for the things He has given her, which she has shared to me.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/telachhe

This article also appears on RickThomas.net: “Sexual conversations with your spouse

  • Comments on: Having Sexual Conversations with Your Spouse
    1. jenna

      also true:
      women are tempted and men are insecure. it goes both ways.

    2. Jason

      My wife and I did this – it ruins the marriage and turns your wife into your accountability partner. These confessions need to go to the men in your life, not your wife, except for in very specific circumstances. If you confess every temptation to her she’ll stop feeling like a wife and more like your mother – it kills the romance and makes it like a friendship only. Loving her the way that Christ loves the church makes no room for making her your constant confessional dump. GET MALE FRIENDS. This blog advice is not wise.

      • Hi Jason, I’m not sure that was Rick’s point: “a constant confessional dump.” I could be wrong, but as I read the article, I heard more about the importance of honesty around sexual sins, not “make your wife your accountability partner.” Many men who used to secretly look at porn and then come clean also want to have a secret “recovery life,” where they cut their spouse out of the information loop. This is unwise. You are correct: making your wife your accountability partner is not the answer, but neither is hiding.

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