You may have heard it said on occasion that nothing can suck the passion out of a relationship faster than marriage. It’s a sad commentary on society’s views on sex within marriage. Does it have to be like this? Is it possible to enjoy 50-plus years of great sex with the same person?

Well, it must be, because study after study has revealed that married couples have a higher degree of satisfaction with their sex lives than those who engage in sex outside of marriage. Imagine that: surveys actually reveal that good sex is marital sex within a deep and committed relationship. But this kind of satisfaction is not automatic. Instead, it comes when a couple commits to working on building a healthy sex relationship over a lifetime.

Your marriage can include a sizzling sex life no matter how long you have been married. We have passed our 30th anniversary, and our intimacy just keeps getting better. Here are some guiding principles that will give you your best shot at looking forward to great times in your bedroom.

The Warmer the Relationship, the Hotter the Sex

At the heart of a great marriage is the security of knowing that we are best friends. Now to be honest, this is usually a greater need for the woman than for the husband. Guys sometimes take the relationship for granted a little bit, but women need to know beyond doubt that their husbands are a safe harbour. They need to know that they are significant to their spouse, and not just an add-on.

A growing, dynamic friendship built on time-spent-together away from the bedroom will allow for a greater intimacy within the bedroom. Sadly, many marriages deteriorate because when the relationship is not strong, sexuality becomes cheapened. Women often feel used or taken for granted. They think, “If this is all he wants, he doesn’t really care about me.”

So, if a man wants amazing sex with his wife, the greatest gift that he could give himself is to work hard to become his wife’s best friend. As he does, she grows in her freedom to enjoy herself sexually in the security of a caring relationship and thus, provides response to his needs in greater freedom. Continue to work on the relationship and it will really help your sex life to sizzle.

Sex is for Two to Enjoy

Mutuality in sexuality is critical. For 55 years now the Playboy regime has been training men to view women as sex objects or toys for their amusement – men have become takers. This male-dominated approach to sexuality has made a travesty out of good and beautiful sexual intimacy as God intended.

We must reject the crazy notion that sex is more a “guy thing.” It was never intended to be that way. Society has twisted sex into a male-focused experience. But when it is mutually and fully enjoyed, when the woman is equally satisfied, and when it is born out of a great friendship, it becomes a very meaningful and deeply connecting time together.

Donalyn, in one of her many profound moments, put it best this way: “Women need a meaningful, satisfying relationship to maintain great sex. Men need satisfying, great sex to maintain a meaningful relationship.” As we have approached sexuality from different perspectives, we’ve grown to understand each other in deeper ways, and both our relationship and our intimacy have grown stronger.

Open Talk About Sex is Essential

A couple needs to learn to be open, listening and patient in order to fully understand one another’s sexual needs. This takes courage and vulnerability. It’s one thing to talk about sex in a general way, but to talk about preferences, timing, what’s missing, what you might desire ? that’s no easy task. It’s important to be open about what you’re expecting because many times people go on disappointed about their sexual experience but have never communicated to their spouse what they’re really looking for. Share what you feel you are needing.

Now, if your sexual appetite has been influenced by exposure to pornography or some other inappropriate sexual experiences along the line, that likely isn’t a good template of what you are looking for in marital sexuality. Many relationships have gone downhill because the spouse is expected to perform along the lines of something their mate saw in a pornographic movie or magazine. We’ll talk more about sexual variation later. For now, live your own fantasy with your spouse – not someone else’s.

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Also, remember that a couple’s sexual experience is sacred. There a song that was popular about 20 years ago that said, “No one knows what goes on behind closed doors.” That sense of safety is critical in marriage. Husbands and wives need to be able to share openly with one another and enjoy sexual intimacy together without fear that their experiences or preferences are going to be showcased for the guys in the locker room or the girls over coffee. It’s a private matter that should only be shared outside the marriage either when you’re helping other people or when you yourself are being helped in a counselling situation. The security that comes from a sense of privacy is foundational to a good sexual relationship.

Variety is Both Spicy and Dicey

Variety is desirable because, as the saying goes, variety is the spice of life. Being creative with different aspects of sexuality adds energy and fun to the relationship. When there are attempts to be imaginative, it says “I’ve been thinking about you away from the bedroom. I’ve been looking forward to this time; it’s important to me.” So go ahead and take steps to enhance your time together, whether with candles, fancier sheets, music, breath fresheners or mints, perfumes, lotions, or – my favourite – lingerie. Be sure to grow your pleasure together.

Variety can also be dicey in the sense that it’s important to establish as a couple the parameters of your sexual variation. Here are some wise guidelines:

  • The activity should not in any way be psychologically damaging to either party.
  • The activity must not be physically harmful or involve any kind of fear or risk.
  • The activity must not be clearly Biblically disallowed.
  • The activity must be mutually and freely agreed upon by both partners.

Beyond these limits, every married couple has sexual freedom. Enjoy it!

A Focus with a Reward

Good times don’t just happen. They develop in the context of a healthy, committed, growing relationship. A deep sense of security, knowing that your partner is committed to you and fully faithful to you, will be at the heart of a great relationship, and ultimately, a sizzling sex life.

It also takes planning. In the very busy, high-paced world in which we live, sexuality is often either squeezed out of our schedule, or we’re so tired that when we do get time alone, we don’t have the energy or can’t stay focused and engaged in a way that would fully satisfy each other.

Spontaneity has its place, but you need to plan times together. You need to work to improve the experience, to understand each other, and to guarantee privacy – nothing will derail intimacy faster than little kids knocking on the door in the middle of it! Unplug the phones and lock the doors. Do what it takes to prepare for having great sexual times together.

Pray together, asking God to bless your growing understanding of each other, your marital relationship and your lovemaking. Actually pray before or after your times of intimacy. (Praying during can be complicated!)

Finally, remember that the sexual relationship is one that develops over time and through many seasons of the marriage. Learn to enjoy each season, and grow together as a couple in both your friendship and your intimacy. God gave us all good things to enjoy, and sexuality is one of His best gifts to every married couple.

Copyright © 2006 FamilyLife Canada. FamilyLife, Canada is a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ, Canada

By Dr. Dave Currie, with Glen Hoos

Dr. Dave Currie is the National Director of FamilyLife Canada . He and his wife Donalyn live in Abbotsford , BC , and are regular speakers at FamilyLife Marriage Conferences. Dave is also the host of Marriage Uncensored, a television program airing on NOW TV.