'Unfortunately' because in many marriages, it's almost impossible to achieve. A combination of history, unrealistic expectations, and a profound lack of understanding of one's mate's gender work together to make physical intimacy something of an ordeal...and often avoided.
There's no question that Christian couples are meant to engage in satisfying physical intimacy, and not just for procreation. Paul doesn't even mention procreation in this context, and the reference to Jesus as the Bridegroom is an unsubtle hint. He could have been King, Prince, Prime Minister...but no, he's a Bridegroom. Deal with it.
And then there's the Song of Songs. Which is way more explicit than anything I'll ever write here.
Sex is a gift, and why does it become a problem? Let's take a look.
History - I'm speaking primarily of history within the marriage. Sex between newlyweds can be wonderful, but it can also be jarringly uncomfortable. The problems usually come from unfamiliarity and clumsiness, but if they are allowed to build a wall of resentment of embarrassment, it can become very hard to move forward and improve things.
There are other aspects of history, as well. A previous infidelity can make a good sex life almost impossible, and a premarital history with other partners can also be used to ill effect through comparison or an attempt to 'shame'.
Unrealistic Expectations - The media throws huge amounts of sexual and romantic imagery our way every day. Couples are portrayed as young, lithe, exciting, and highly sensitive to sensuality.
Romance novels and movies feed on this - even those that are Christian-based.
The reality is that that far-away look in a man's eyes probably mean he's thinking about a bass boat, or he has to find a lavatory - now.
For men, the expectations come from a sordid place - pornography. Not that all, or most men frequent this stinking sewer...so our society has made it come to them. From the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition to beer commercials to Viagra ads, a titillating an wildly unrealistic view of sexuality is peddled - for profit.
And to the loss of thousands of couples, whose marriages are hurt from this enemy without becoming an enemy within.
Lack of Understanding - So much can be overcome through understanding. It takes so little effort...and even that can be beyond us.
Of course, once again society rides to the 'rescue'. Men and women are different.
Oh, dear, I said a bad thing. Here comes the Thought Police, ready to slap my wrists!
To break it down simply - for me, sex is a part of life. For women, life is a part of sex.
A man's body can react quite quickly to some stimuli, especially visual - and where men are concerned, visual input is a prime factor in sexuality (ever wonder why they "prefer the lights on"?). The response can be quite independent of emotion, or even physical condition, including illness and fatigue. Men can be "ready" almost instantly.
They aren't beasts. They aren't unfeeling. They are just feeling things differently from women.
Women are far more complex, and they are touched by a number of stimuli acting together - and usually at a slower pace. Smell, non-sexual touch, a feeling of being cherished...all these form a part of the buildup to a readiness and desire for intimacy, and they can - and should (hear this, guys) take several hours.
Start in the morning, with love and care, for what might happen in the evening. Better yet, do it every day, regardless of what might happen. Do it because you love your wife.
What to do?
How do you make this part of life into something it's supposed to be?
That's for the next post.
Please comment! What can you add?
This post is linked to Wedded Wednesday, a compendium of really cool posts on marriage. If you click on the logo below, you'll be taken to www.messymarriage.com, which is the springboard to a wealth of information.