“I don’t know what your marriage normally looks like and I don’t claim to know what it should look like, but I think maybe y’all need to have more sex.”
(Quotes like this might explain why my experiences as a counselor/mentor have been so, um , quotable…)
I don’t know where stuff like this comes from, but as soon as I said it to my younger, “not-married-as-long” friend, I recognized it as true. Something was lacking in how they related to each other. Physically. And if I could see it from the outside, I was sure they were feeling it on the inside. (For the record, she agreed with my assessment.)
The point I was trying to make with my young friend is that the sexual/physical component of her marriage is much more important than she thought it was. It isn’t just a fringe benefit, but an intricate component of how two married people relate to each other. And if this area is suffering, it is pretty much a given that the rest of the marriage is suffering too. And that means the husband and wife are suffering as well.
I’ve often said to the young married wives in my relational circles, “Sex should be what happens when our bodies get to do what our hearts already have.” So the bedroom is more than just the playroom. What is going on there can provide a glimpse of what is happening, or will happen, in the rest of the relationship. Where the heart goes, the body follows.
While, the sexual relationship between husband and wife is a most private one and not open for all to see, how a couple interact physically in public is. And here lies my point. How a couple touches in public, how they look at each other, how they relate to each other in front of others – this can be a predictor.
A young single friend of mine once went to meet a married couple who were friends of his for an evening out. He met them at the end of their dance lesson where they were learning a new step together. His response to watching how they touched each other, how they interacted physically?
“Ah. They make me want to be married.”
How a married couple ‘dances’ in public tells a lot about the quality of their marriage in private. Body language can be an incredibly powerful predictor. Does a couple look at each other with love and affection in their eyes? Is respect evident in how they touch? Do their hands just fit in such a way that their being together and being in each other’s space, feels and looks like the most natural place for them to be? Does a couple’s public interaction with each other stir in others a desire for that type of marriage? Does it point to how God might want to tenderly and affectionately relate to us?
I’ve also learned through the years that how a married couple ‘dances’ in public also teaches single people much about whether they want to be married one day themselves. I meet many young college students and they say something like this, “If what I’ve seen of marriage is what it is, then I don’t want any part of it.” I find it incredibly sad that we have messed up one of God’s most treasured gifts to us so badly, a whole generation is rejecting it.
And sometimes I’ve found that when I intentionally touch Jeff gently, in a way that tells him how I love him, trust him, want to be with and near him, my heart follows.
So my suggestion today is for couples to give some thought on what their public body language between each other reflects about the quality of their relationship in private. What does it say to your spouse about your feelings towards them? What is it growing in your heart towards them? Greater intimacy or greater distance? What words come to mind when others see you together and how you touch each other? Would you make them want to have the type of relationship you have?