Intersect’s Marriage Q&A Series no.3
The third week of I Said What? was all about this part of the wedding vows…
I hereby with these words do promise and covenant to take you as my wife/husband. I commit from this day forward, to pursue peace in times of comfort and hardship, whether in plenty or in want, to remain faithful in a loving Christian marriage, to be understanding and forgiving, and to put your needs above mine as long as we both shall live.
…to remain faithful. We talked about the ways we come into marriage thinking about sex, how that makes our relationship with our spouse complicated, and the ultimate meaning of sex. Would you believe one of the major talking points was answering the question “what does good sex look like?” Close your ears, kids! Yes, we talked about that…but don’t take my word for it, listen to it for yourself! If you missed Sunday’s lesson, listen online to week 3’s teaching and download the notes and Home Work for your notebook:
Now, let’s get to what you came here for! This week’s blog is answered by Micah and Holly Barnum.
Q & A
Q: Are the struggles in your sex life something to be discussed in mixed biblical company (i.e. a small group) or should those things be left to be hashed about just between you as a couple?
A: (Micah) I appreciate your question. We thought a lot about what we should and should not share. Obviously we shared quite a bit – there is much, much more that we did not share. Here are some of our thoughts as to why we shared what we did. First, the church has been largely silent over the decades as it relates to sex. There is absolutely a necessity for appropriate privacy, but that is true of the other topics we’ll cover in this series. We wanted to address this topic in a way that brings the subject out into the light and let people know that church is an appropriate place to address the issue. Therefore, discussing this is absolutely appropriate in a small group setting.
Second, the main element that we shared was that I (Micah) tended to over-emphasize sex and that Holly tended to under-emphasize sex – beyond this we did not share specifics. We framed the topic in this way because nine times out of ten there will be one spouse that will want more sex than the other. If we can help people to begin to process their own tendencies it will be a good step in them thinking through what the Scriptures would say to them.
The third reason we shared as we did was actually because it was mixed company. By and large, every time I (Micah) meet with a guy (or group of guys) and the topic of sex comes up, they lament in befuddled groans at the fact that their wives don’t want sex as much as they do. Having only ever talked to other guys about the issue, they (we) are completely clueless as to the other perspective. My wife tells me that wives are in the same predicament. Our goal was let the one hear the other in the hopes that there might be a greater mutual understanding.
Q: With regard to intimacy, how would you advise a couple with young children who wake early and go to bed late (and wake during the night), with no family in the area to help with childcare, who are financially strained, have difficulty finding time, energy and the desire to stroke the fire of intimacy in our marriage? Please speak to emotional intimacy (having uninterrupted conversations and connecting outside the bedroom) and to physical intimacy (the act of sex itself and the intimacy inside the bedroom).
A: This is a tough one. Those days are in our recent past and we have an acute memory of the physical and emotional strain. This is the season where God stretches you toward maturity, often through your own screaming and crying. It forces you to prioritize what is important. Eating and sleeping must make the list.
Cuddling on the couch?
Intimacy a few times a week?
Sharing your feelings over a good cup of coffee?
These things now must compete with simply eating and sleeping, and likely your list looks different than your spouse’s. As you prioritize, it is good to look back and see how many opportunities you’ve taken to put your spouse higher on the list. This is like making a time budget, much like you would for your money. You both need to realize that with young kids, you will not get as much [fill in the blank] as you would like, and so ask the Lord to fill you with great grace. Also, it a good discipline to cut back on other things for a season; things that you may have done before kids but are less of a priority now. For example, having a spotless house is less important than connecting with your spouse. Remember, this is only a season. Investing in your spouse will pay off once that season ends.
Q: Is “don’t go to bed angry” biblical? Is this a healthy method even if it leads to a forced agreement or solution?”
A: Ephesians 4:26 is a great passage for couples to remember. The passage says, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” The question it seems is how literal should we take this passage? If we were to take it as literally as possible, we should never have anger once evening hits, but I (Micah) don’t think that’s what the passage means. A slightly less literal interpretation would be: we should not go to sleep (let a day end) while there is anger.
While I think this is closer to the actual meaning, I still don’t think this is literally what the text suggests we do. If resolution is not possible before bedtime, should the couple drudge through the weary hours of the morning until everything is resolved? Again, I don’t think this is always possible. I think what the passage is saying is diligently work to keep short accounts. If there is a problem Monday night that is unresolved, it needs to be addressed Tuesday. Set a time to come back together and continue the discussion. Do not sweep it under the rug and pretend it doesn’t exist, do not give each other the cold shoulder until things simply “move on.” If there is a problem, make it a priority to deal with it as soon as possible.