A good sex life is, as we've seen, a cornerstone to a healthy marriage - and is specifically rated that way in Christianity.
Fortunately, it's not all that hard to maintain a good intimate relationship. Part of that is accepting that it doesn't have to be Hollywood-perfect. It's not a competition. It's really supposed to be fun.
But there is an underside of that coin. There are a few things that should never, ever happen between husband and wife. They can kill physical intimacy stone dead.
And once it dies...emotional and spiritual intimacy are at grave risk. Forget everything you may have heard about 'white' (asexual) marriages. They're not marriages, except on paper. There's no 'holiness' there, merely avoidance of an ordained responsibility.
A stool needs at least three legs, else sitting on it will result in a painful tailbone after a short fall. Likewise, marriage needs the spiritual, emotional, and physical 'legs'. They support each other.
So, what are the never do's?
Never use sex as a reward or withhold it as punishment - Physical desire is a very basic force in the way humans have been designed, and it's connected with both emotions and spirituality on a very fundamental level. When it's pulled into the intellectual realm of punishment, that entire connection is yanked - like the roots of a plant. Everything is affected, and the physical relationship becomes an "if I do this, I will be allowed that" operation.
I am using the word 'operation' deliberately, because imposing a punishment/reward system on intimacy is the quickest way to make it mechanical. Intimacy becomes a goal - release - rather than a process - shared, loving closeness.
Using sex as a reward can be almost as bad...or maybe worse. It puts the 'grantor' into a position of having seized power, and the act of granting intimacy can become condescension, either explicit, implied, or assumed.
And yes, men can feel sexual condescension, and can feel demeaned by it.
Never make a blanket negative comment on your physical relationship - The comment "our sex life was/is awful" is powerfully destructive, and can completely ruin intimacy for the person hearing it.W
The assumption is that the person making the comment isn't at fault. You're not likely to hear, "we have a lousy sex life, and I'm to blame!"
The sad thing is that a comment like this can be well-intentioned, with a sincere desire to improve the relationship. It might be modified by saying "it's improving"...but the initial negative will have done its work.
The immediate result is to make the recipient extremely self-conscious, first about their sexuality ...and later about their very physicality. Start feeling sexually inept, and one will soon start feeling ugly.
Recovering from something like this is almost impossible, unless the comment is quickly retracted, with the apology that it was delivered in anger.
If it's reiterated, with examples and justifications, color intimacy gone.
Yes, intercourse may still occur, but it will always be tainted, offered as either an obligation or (see above) a reward. A couple will probably never be 'together' in intimacy again.
Never compare - This should be fairly obvious - never compare your mate with a previous sexual partner. And I mean never - either negatively or positively.
You don't need ghosts in the marriage bed. The whole thing about physical intimacy is to reinforce the couple, and adding any names or faces to the mix can only be destructive.
A corollary to this is to never ask for a comparison. If your mate has had prior relationships, don't try to find out 'where you stand' in the hierarchy. It's an unfair question to ask, and it can be seen as baiting - "you were pretty free before, eh?"
For husbands - NEVER, NEVER, NEVER force sex - Forced sex is RAPE. Get it?
The minefield isn't very extensive, and it's pretty well-marked.
But step on one of these, and you'll blow up.
Any other items you'd like to add? Please do!