Friday, July 6, 2012

{Sex} Relating or Mating

The pastor was preaching on Proverbs 5.
Do you know the chapter?  It's about sex.
So, as you may expect, the sermon was about the same subject.
One of the points pastor made was, "Sex is more about relating than it is about mating."
My husband gave my hand some squeezes & nudged my shoulder with his.
My whole self felt like shouting out, "Hallelujah!".
But I've never done any thing like that.  I probably never will.
Instead I turned to give my guy a cheek kiss.

This isn't just a rhyming, easy to remember and a little bit cheesy sermon point.
It may be those things.  But, I think it is really profound, too.
I've had it on my mind for the last couple weeks,
thinking about how vast the implications of this statement really are.
Sex is knowing.
To know & be known & still be loved & wanted is what a beautiful marriage is.
Remember the basics of sex?  (Love, honesty, vulnerability, trust, selflessness...)

Viewing sex as a way of relating more than a biological act will mean:

The hotness of your body does not equal the hotness of your sex.
After the birth of my first child, when I was trying to take it easy
& let my body heal, I made a poor choice in reading material.
Have you heard of the book For Women Only?  I don't really recommend it.
More on that another time.
 But, I also really don't recommend it for reading directly postpartum.
It pretty much fed into all my fears that if men are visual,
 then my less attractive body was going to cause our marriage to take a hit.
I shed more than enough tears over stretch marks & flabby bellies.
I felt a bit of jealousy over prettier women and their mere existence.
I started to wonder if I had to shelter my husband's eyes from other females.
I was already a grieving woman.  I was full of postpartum hormones.
And now I had read a book that made me paranoid about the "visual" nature of men.
I'm not one to keep stuff like this to myself.  I told Scott all about it.
He asked me, do you really think I married you for your body?    
Do you really think you have to be the most gorgeous in the land to keep a hold on my heart?
Do you think my attraction to you is dependent upon you keeping a certain figure?
The answer was & is, NO!
(Did you read the link I shared earlier this week, Beauty vs. Sexuality?  Check it out.)

Realities of life don't have to be an obstacle to your sex life.
Are you worn out?  Stressed out?  Sad?
Do you figure that doesn't make for good sex, so why bother?
I don't agree.  If sex is more about relating than mating,
then you can have a good connection even when
you may think you are in the wrong mood.
Husband & wife should be able to come as they are
& connect with honesty, relating to one another.

Your baggage doesn't make you unworthy.
We all have our own issues that we bring to marriage.  That is reality.
Some may come with heavier baggage than others.
Have you heard the illustrations that are given to Christian youth
in an effort to motivate them to save themselves for marriage?
Things about chewed pieces of gum, a lollipop licked by everyone,
 or a rose with all its petals removed.
I don't like that.  I do believe that virginity is worth saving for marriage!
But the thing is, there is redemption in Jesus.  Forgiveness.
And there should be the same in a Christian marriage union.
Relating well to one another means forgiveness.
Again, come as you are.

Your sex life will not be dependent on your hormones.
Meaning that a desire for connection & unity can be motivation enough.
I know hormones can make you feel more or less interested in this kind of stuff.
But if sex is about relating more than a biological urge for mating,
then your heart & soul can be excited for connection,
even when you hormones may be telling you a different story.

A sex life that is about relating more than mating will contribute 
to a connection outside of the bedroom.
Relating to your spouse with honesty & vulnerability,
giving & receiving love,
sharing secrets between only you two...
How can this not overflow & impact the rest of your relationship?
I remember a moment years ago when I was at breakfast with a dear lifelong friend.
We were single twenty-something young ladies.
She told me what a young married friend had said to her about sex.
"After a little while, it's nothing special.
It's just something you do before you go to sleep at night."
Our virgin selves found this disappointing.
Now as a married woman, I find it heartbreaking.
It sounds like a case of mating, without relating.

What do you think?  
What other implications do you see in the relating vs. mating mindset?


Stef said...

I had to come read this after your comment in your above post ;-)

Good stuff. I've never heard of that book, but from the link you posted, I don't think I'd like it :(
I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on it though!

I mostly loved the part where you talked about not waiting to be in the right, perfect mood. I heard a lot of that before getting married. Jason even got comments from men at church about how he needed to take me away at least once a month on expensive, fancy getaways, "or else".
Imagine what our marriages would be like if we had to look perfectly presentable and be in a super romantic setting, "or else". That gets a bad message across too - like "unless you can make me feel like the queen that I think I am, I'd rather pass." So sad.
And I know right now wives wouldn't stand for their husbands acting the same way.

I remember after Kara was born, I had "one of those days" - I think everything broke that day. I burned dinner, I hadn't showered, it was bad.
Jason came home from work, started cleaning dinner dishes right away, helped with some bad spills the kids had created and then as I cleaned up around the house, he bathed the kids. I remember as I was passing him in the hallway, he took me by the hand, held me tight and kissed me, looked into my eyes and said "I am so in love with you and feel incredibly blessed to be your husband."
I started crying - I think I was embarrassed by the way I looked and felt. But obviously it meant a lot to me. Realizing in the throws of life, he loves me. I love him. We didn't marry each other to make each other feel good. We're doing life together, for God's glory.
There's something beautiful, I think, for each spouse to know they are loved by their mate, without a bunch of conditions. Loved so deeply, because God loves us perfectly.

Laura G. said...

I know I already wrote you half a book Erin but let's see if I can keep a steady train of thought for a minute or two.
> When it comes to marriage and especially intimacy, it's best to check your baggage at the door. Seriously. And that's not just former relationships, etc.
Any expectation/ideas/dogmas you carry into marriage that aren't grounded in love, truth and your relationship with your spouse - they can all become baggage.
>In the same vein - your husband/wife is YOUR husband/wife. Not the husband/wife of the person who wrote that best selling book on marriage. Put the book down and talk to your spouse. Bond with them, relate to them, get to know them. All these books are just imposing someone else's ideas about relationships onto your marriage and it's a poor (and often damaging) substitute for cultivating communication and intimacy in a marriage. Put the books down (this is my motto with child-rearing too). ;-)
>Women - being sexy is a mindset, not glossy photographic proof that you meet some outrageously impossible standard of physical beauty.
>With a loving marriage, it ALL improves with age. Truly.

> The whole idea that couples should be taking directions from ANYONE (aside from each other) on sex sort of outrages me. Instruction manuals, FAQs about what's "ok" and what's "not ok" too. To me the only rule should be, between two and done in love and not selfishness, anything is okay. I think letting other people and their dogmas (whatever flavor they might be) invade the marriage bed is dangerous and unproductive. And this is why I am generally averse to talking about sex with others because it too frequently can devolve in to comparing notes and that can be destructive...IMO.

TL, DR version: To women who are about to be married - cast aside expectations and focus on being open with your husband. Sex should never be "just something you do before bed" (heartbreaking) - it's a profoundly spiritual exchange between husband and wife and it's there to enhance your connection, vulnerability, trust and enjoyment of each other. Put away the books and discover things for yourselves. :)

Uh yeah. That's probably the extent of my grown-up thinking capacity for the week. Back to diapers.

Erin said...

Yes Stef! The story about your horrible day is such real life. Real life adds to intimacy. It should not hinder it.
Laura - great grown up thoughts! You are on a roll.
I absolutely love hearing your motto, put the book down. That adds inspiration for a blog post that has been formulating in my mind. :)
Hooray to sexiness improving with age. I agree!!
And, thanks for this "Any expectation/ideas/dogmas you carry into marriage that aren't grounded in love, truth and your relationship with your spouse - they can all become baggage."

Stef said...

Yay! Laura is back online! Now will this turn into her blogging more? Probably not. But I can dream, right?

I'm not opposed to books as long as they're taken directly and appropriately from God's word, but I think we too often rely on books for topics that God has already given us all the answers to ... in HIS word.
Before reading a book on child rearing, marriage, housekeeping, etc... I first remind myself its another person's opinion and I am in no way obligated to "obey" what they say. We call that kind of thinking a cult anyway, right?

Your comments were awesome, Laura. I truly miss your presence on the world wide web.

Erin said...

Stef - I don't think all books are bad, either. For sure. A good honest story inspiring us in our own lives is awesome!
But sometimes because of how I am written it, or because of how it is written, a book can interfere in my communication with my own relationships & such, rather than inspiring. That is when I love the motto, Put the Book Down! :)
And - It is good to have Laura online. I agree!!

Melissa Joy said...

I have enjoyed this post, Erin, and appreciate the candid honesty & wisdom. Thanks for that. This is a subject I love, although I mostly keep it in a very private inner circle. :) But I did just want to say, God bless you for being vocal about this wonderful subject. God be praised.

Erin said...

Thanks for the encouraging comment Melissa!!