Here is an email from a husband who has had an amazing marriage with his wife that spans many decades (40+ years, I believe). He and his wife got the love and respect stuff right from the beginning. This is how marriage is supposed to be. They are such a beautiful example for us to emulate. Thank you to this husband for sharing this story of a healthy, vibrant marriage!
April — Your article on keeping the marriage bed pure is sooooo very on target.
I wanted to just share with you personally that after the words “I love you,” spoken to me by my wife, one other statement stands out as supremely important.
On one occasion after we had been married a couple of months I asked her if she might be available that night. Then the wonderful words:
“I’m always available for you.”
What a joy to my soul!
(And she has always, always been true to those words!)
Now, that works perfectly for us because I try to be very sensitive to her, to her emotional and physical state, etc., and to avoid “wearing out my welcome.” Yet the confidence, and I took it as a matter of respect also, that those words instilled in me have been a solid and much appreciated rock in my relationship with my dear wife. Just wanted you to know.
PS — I don’t believe that most wives have a clue as to how much their willing availability to their husbands would mean to the quality of their relationship. It is HUGE.
I believe that this attitude is what God expects from husbands AND wives towards each other!!! If you look at I Corinthians 7:2-6 – husbands and wives are commanded to fulfill their marital duty to one another (sexually). If one partner wants physical intimacy, the other needs to be as open, available and as receptive as possible unless there is sin going on (like infidelity or extreme circumstances like severe illness) OR unless they both agree to abstain for a time to pray.
Please notice the husband’s Christlike love and tender care for his wife. That is what speaks to a wife’s feminine soul! She never felt used, cheap, or treated like an object.
Please notice the wife’s willing spirit and that she always followed through on her promise. That is what our husbands need from us, too! I am not sure that most women understand the profound spiritual impact that sexual intimacy has to bond husbands to their wives. This is just as important to them as talking and connecting emotionally and spiritually is to us. I believe God designed things that way so that all the priorities would be represented and both husband and wife would be motivated to act selflessly to benefit the other. This husband and wife were BOTH fulfilling their duty to each other and loving and respecting one another and THAT IS HOW MARRIAGE WORKS!
We are SINNING against our spouses when we withhold sex from them. We are to be one flesh. You don’t hear many sermons on this topic. But it is critical! I will reiterate again, Gary Thomas’ point from “Sacred Marriage” and “Sacred Influence” – sex is the glue that holds a husband and wife together. This is not just a physical/sexual thing. There are all kinds of neurotransmitters released during the sacred act of being one flesh in marriage that emotionally and spiritually tie and bond us to one another.
God designed sex to be an act of the body, soul and heart. This is a holy act. Sex joins two people as one in all three of these ways even when people are not married. That is why sleeping around outside of marriage is SO destructive on every level. That is why so many people have such devastating baggage that they can hardly function in a relationship today. Sex is only for marriage. It is designed by God to build the bond and unity in marriage. We benefit when we apply God’s wisdom and design.
For our marriages to glorify God – we must be ONE. One with God (individually and ideally, as a couple), one flesh with each other (often), one mind and one spirit with each other. We must be willing to obey God’s Word even when it is hard, even when it isn’t popular, even when it is not politically correct, even when we don’t feel like it, even when we think we know better than God, even when we think we know better than our spouse, even when it is the last thing we want to do.