A marriage needs sexual attraction

Couple kissing while holding lights

Am I sexually attracted to you? Am I sexually attractive to you? Whether you find yourself asking either question, or both, there is nothing wrong with having these thoughts whether you are married or not. The key is what you do with these thoughts, and how they go on to impact your actions (or lack of!)

Let’s be completely honest here, there are very few who would actively choose to spend their entire life with someone who they don’t share a sense of sexual attraction with. This matters, and regardless of how much we push the ideal of a “personality over looks” approach, sex is very much a physical act. Let me be clear, I am not saying that looks matter more than personality, as age affects all of us (some more than others!) but I am saying that we can’t just brush off the fact that physical attraction is important too.

I find that especially as Christians, we struggle to have candid conversations about this.

We whip out the ‘lust’ and ‘sins of the flesh’ cards without hesitation, but we are slow to celebrate the intimacy described in Song of Solomon, or to declare that a human body is indeed fearfully and wonderfully made.

While many faith-based communities continue to weigh down the glory of sex with shame, we end up trying to mute our physical desires with devastating effects.

As a teen, I remember the excitement I would feel when guys started to pay me attention. Funnily enough, while my friends were swooning after the ‘cute guys’, I was waiting for those guys who would make an equally exciting impression with their personality. I would even pride myself for not being like most girls, and uphold my standards without hesitation. You could be the most handsome of adolescent specimen, but if you opened your mouth and fluff came out then the attraction would just drain in an instant.

This mindset served me well for a while, until I ended up with someone who I didn’t find physically attractive. They had an amazing personality, and I had talked myself into continuing to get to know this person until I realised that they were starting to see me very differently to how I saw them. I honestly felt guilty for not feeling physically attracted to them, but before long I had to admit to them that we weren’t going to be more than friends. This wasn’t the last experience like this that I had, but it led me to appreciate that physical attraction mattered to me more than I was first willing to recognise.

Now as a married woman, I can speak openly on the importance of that journey of learning to accept and embrace your need for physical attraction, if you are to build a marriage that thrives on sexual attraction.

By no means am I speaking from a point of perfection, but I can speak from experience as to how important a genuine sexual connection is for your marriage. When I first saw my husband, I was definitely physically attracted to him, so I knew that being sexually attracted to him wouldn’t be an issue! But just because you feel that initial physical attraction, doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed a lasting sexual connection…

There are many unmarried, single people who have fiery sex with no intention of remaining together. The sex may be incredible to them, but the often shallow reasons for coming together rarely form the foundation for a solid, marriage-worthy relationship that can survive a lifetime. Married sex takes plenty of work and intentionality. Your sexual attraction alone is not enough to maintain your connection as husband and wife. You need to be willing to go through even the most uncomfortable, awkward and maybe even heartbreaking experiences together, without it breaking your sexual connection.

This doesn’t mean that you should just take whatever comes at the expense of your wellbeing, while slowly suffocating the person you can still become. What it does mean is that you shouldn’t allow the hard times to define the good….

If you no longer feel like your spouse finds you sexually attractive, tell them you feel this way. This will either be met with affirmation from your spouse that they are still very much sexually attracted to you, or give you both the opportunity to verbally acknowledge that things have changed and to then identify areas to work on. Either outcome will offer the chance to move on and build from the place that you currently feel stuck in. Even if your spouse avoids the conversation, this tells you that there is a significant issue that needs help that may not even be directly related to your sex life, but regardless it is still negatively impacting you both.

In all things you need to be willing to explore what is happening to your marriage, rather than to ignore the signs and hope that things will improve on their own. Choosing not to voice the way you feel will only end up with you allowing your frustration to negatively impact the way you treat your spouse. This can then lead you both into what feels like an endless cycle of shame and blame.

There are countless external factors that can affect a person’s sex drive, so rather than concluding that the issue must be you, instead be curious about where the disconnect might be stemming from.

In many cases issues related to trauma, addiction, mental health, and misconceptions about sex, are just a few example areas that can trigger sexual disconnect.

If you are questioning whether you still find your spouse sexually attractive, then you need to do some digging to find out what has changed. Do they still make an effort, or do they seem to have ‘let themselves go’? Do they still treat you with love and respect, or has their attitude changed towards you? Do they show an interest in you when it comes to sex, or are they always making excuses? These questions only scratch the surface, but actually asking yourself these questions and most importantly finding your ‘why’, will uncover areas that most likely will require you to have some difficult conversations.

Consider sex to be the roof of your marriage, helping to cover your relationship in love and defend you both from the elements of temptation and division. But a roof by itself is of no use, as it belongs on a structure. As you work to strengthen the walls in your marriage of love, respect, faith, patience, self-worth, kindness, and any other character-worthy traits that matter to you, sex will be elevated to a place in your marriage where you feel protected yet entirely vulnerable. This is the most freeing place to be as a couple.

Even when sex isn’t an option for a valid reason, your marriage has a chance to withstand these periods when sex has been built into your relationship as a necessity for your joint growth. Despite what the world around you may often portray, sex as it was always intended to be experienced is still something to be celebrated. Let’s just say that God knew what He was doing!

There’s a reason Adam was attracted to Eve when he saw her, and in that moment his attraction had little to do with her personality…

Let’s stop shaming physical desires. Let’s stop minimising our need for sexual attraction. Let’s start building on what we have, and actively work towards a sexual connection that beautifully exceeds what we need.

YOUR THOUGHTS

Even though this topic can be particularly sensitive, it highlights the importance of normalising conversations on sex in your marriage. The more you can talk to your spouse about any fears, concerns, perceptions, likes and dislikes, or anything else that relates to sex in your marriage, the more opportunities you will create for growth and increased sexual attraction. The following questions will help you both to explore this area of you marriage:

  1. What does sexual attraction mean to you?
  2. How would you rate our shared sexual attraction on a scale of 1-10?
  3. Do you still find me sexually attractive?
  4. Is there anything that has/is affecting your sexual attraction towards me compared to when we first got married?
  5. What one thing can we start doing to help improve our sexual connection?

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