Finding a Sex Life You Both Enjoy

Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.” [1 Cor 7:3 KJV]

A fellow wrote to me wanting to know what I thought was included in “Due benevolence”.

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The ESV is no real help – “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.” The Message goes a bit further with “The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality – the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband.” The Greek word rendered as “due” or “rights” is about a debt, and means that which belongs to someone. If you’ve borrowed money from me, the money is mine, not yours. You are expected to give me back the money, it’s due to me because it is mine. This means sex is not a gift, your sexuality belongs to your spouse, and her sexuality belongs to you. It is due.

Okay, but, what is included in what our wife owes us sexually? If she refuses to wear lingerie, is she not giving us our due benevolence? If she’ll have intercourse every day and twice on Sunday, but won’t perform oral sex, is she in the wrong? What if she won’t do any position other than one, or refuses to have sex with the lights on? Do those put her outside what Paul says we must do?

My feeling is any couple arguing over such points has already missed what God intends for them, both sexually and as a couple. Debates over certain acts are rooted in each person putting what they want ahead of what their spouse wants. There’s no compromise that will fix such problems, no scheduled frequency of certain sex acts that will make both feel good about their sex life.

This brings me to the title of this post – Finding a sex life you both enjoy. What if your wife were willing to give you everything you wanted sexually? However, she wouldn’t be doing it because it was what she wanted to do, but because she had decided to give up her sexual desires to serve your sexual desires. Maybe she got manipulated into it, or maybe she has such a low self-esteem she feels she should, or maybe she’s just so tired of fighting about sex she’s willing to do anything to make the fighting stop. I doubt anyone reading here is selfish enough to say they’d like this arrangement, but you might be more about her doing what you want than about how she feels about doing those things. Sex tends to bring out selfishness, and I think we often have a don’t ask, don’t tell approach when we should know our wife is doing something she doesn’t want to do. We justify it as being what she owes us, and ignore the clear signs it’s not sex she enjoys.

The last part of The Message version of 1 Cor 7:3 is great for men – she should satisfy us. However, we are also supposed to satisfy her, and there’s that pesky “mutuality” word at the start of the verse. So, if we get her to do something she really doesn’t want to do, we’ve failed to live up to what God wants. By the same token, if we don’t get most of what we desire, we are not living up to what God wants. The Biblical way is to focus on giving your wife what she wants, and trust God will move on her to do the same for you.

I know, I know, your wife doesn’t want anything sexual, or she thinks twice a month missionary after hand only foreplay is the perfect sex life. I understand why that’s distressing. I understand why it’s frustrating mentally, emotionally and between the legs. I really do get it. But getting it does not change the godly way of getting from where you are to what He wants you to have. I’m convinced you’ll never be sexually satisfied if you follow any other path. You may get more, you might get occasional begrudging oral sex, you might get her to wear something that makes her feel stupid, but you won’t end up with the sex life you really want, the one that will really satisfy you. What’s more, any other path will take you farther from what will satisfy you.

I’ll pontificate more on this next Saturday. Take some time to think about it, and to tell me how whacked I am in the comments. 

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14 Comments on “Finding a Sex Life You Both Enjoy

  1. I will try really hard to bite my tongue and not get into the fact that The Message is a paraphrase, NOT a translation. (Peeve of mine.)
    But your conclusions are spot on, Paul! Indeed, the New Living Translation puts it rather bluntly, “The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs.” However, this is still an expanded understanding of the original Greek text. Looking up “due benevolence” in Strong’s, the Greek is “opheilo eunoia.” Opheilo absolutely carries the notion of a debt, but is most often translated as “ought.” And “eunoia” is defined as “benevolence, good will, kindness.” It’s only used one other time in the New Testament, to talk about our attitude in serving others (Ephesians 6:7).
    What the words in this scripture indicate to me is that ATTITUDE MATTERS. Someone paying a debt to you isn’t the same as someone being good-willed and kind to you. Yes, it’s owed, but it should be given freely and generously. In the bedroom, God expects us to approach each other with kindness and mutuality in lovemaking.
    A big “amen” from me here!

    • @HotHolyHumorous I did wrongly say Message translation the second time – corrected to version now. I do not disagree with you, but I would add (as you seem to indicate in talking about the NLT) that most of our “translations” are something else. I discussed this a couple of Sunday’s ago when I mention the Message.

  2. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. (Romans 8:28 NIV84).
    If your sex life is not what you want it to be, and you are after her to improve your sex life, you are missing the point. God uses sexuality and marriage to bring you both closer to him. As you both get closer to him, your sex life will begin to resemble what he wants it to be. God uses ALL THINGS for the GOOD of those who love him.

  3. I’m currently going through this very issue with my wife.  There are about 7 things she either has said she will not do or has said she would but usually has a reason as to why she hasn’t done it (or hasn’t done it in years).  It doesn’t bother me so much that I think I’m missing out on some great physical pleasure as much as her attitude is focused more on avoiding what she deems uncomfortable rather than giving herself fully to me.  It comes across to me as her being independent and not desiring to grow toward her husband. It’s more an issue of attitude for me.  I see that when we said, “I do” that we pledged all of our bodies and minds to one another.  Now, years later, it’s as if she said, “I do” but then now is saying, “Yeah, but I won’t do that…or that…never that…I don’t think I’d like that, etc.”  I am madly in love with her and have been trying harder recently to serve her in every way and to put her needs before mine.  I want to be an Eph 5:25 husband and I want to do so because it’s what’s commanded of me, not for what I can get in return.  I want to grow closer to my wife and wish there was less inhibition in our intimacy but my wife doesn’t see any of this as inhibition but as preferences and personality.  How can we work through this?

      • @TheGenerousHusband  @allterrain 
        I’m in the same boat as allterrain and look forward to the post next Sat.

  4. This is why I believe firmly in communicating about your sex life and desires. My husband and I talked about expectations before marriage, and continued into our marriage. We’ve grown way more comfortable with each other over time because we mutually respect one another. I also encourage all wives to be open to trying new things. I’m a very sexually adventurous wife, and my husband is thrilled with that, but there are certain things I just don’t feel comfortable doing. I won’t do anything that makes my husband feel uncomfortable, and he won’t do anything that makes me uncomfortable… period! And if something comes up in the moment, then we try to let each other know (i.e. pain, discomfort, needing to re-position or take a breather, etc). But I would highly encourage any wife to be willing to talk with her husband about his desires, her desires, and his/her ideas for new things to try on the marriage bed.

    • @BecomingHisEve ” I won’t do anything that makes my husband feel uncomfortable, and he won’t do anything that makes me uncomfortable… period!”
      Bingo! Of course if one of you has a comfortable list of two things, that might be a problem.

  5. “What if she won’t do any position other than one, or refuses to have sex with the lights on? Do those put her outside what Paul says we must do?”
    Yes. It does.
    Peter says I need to live with my wife in an understanding way. So, if all I ever talk to her about is Conservative politics and theology and never allow her to converse with me about dreams and feelings and fears etc, am I going outside what Peter says I should do? I AM talking to her after all. She shouldn’t be disappointed or she’s making topics an idol? 
    Missionary with the lights off for your whole marriage? She’s got major problems and needs to deal with them. If she wont make the effort, she’s in sin and sinning against you.

  6. I keep seeing comments that sex is just to bring you closer together. This isnt biblical.  Closeness and intimacy is A goal but not THE goal. That’s like saying the reason for the evening meal is for the family to bond. That IS a goal, but eating the food is kind of the point of the dinner. The point of sex is to have sex with the one you love in marriage. But its still about having sex.
    Who here would argue with someone who decided not to marry if they found out their fiancee had sexual aversion disorder (meaning they would never want to have sex – I know a couple like this) If INTIMACY is THE GOAL, then why wouldn’t we support our friend walking into a married life of celibacy? Not marrying her doesn’t move them to intimacy. Its the exact opposite of intimacy. Its rejection, and yet most of us would agree this marriage is a bad idea.
    So is SEX a goal in marriage or not?  If its just about intimacy, then you MUST be ok with just holding her hand and chatting for the rest of your life. If she doesn’t want sex then let it go. Have sex on your Anniversary once a year. That’s cool. There are a lot of people that would be fine with this. A LOT. I don’t know how many times I’ve read, “I’d be fine if I never had sex again for the rest of my life” 
    Paul, I know you’re not arguing for sexlessness. I KNOW that. But I keep seeing comments from Christians that sex isn’t about sex. I see NO defense for this in the scriptures. Its really is like saying eating isn’t to satisfy hunger, but rather its to bond with one another. As I said, bonding at meal time IS a goal, but eating  because you’re hungry is a big part of the point of meal time. 
    The Apostle doesn’t say, “If you’re lonely, get married so you can bond.” He doesn’t say that. He says its better to marry than to burn. [burn – with sexual desire]
    Sure, marriage is more than sex and there are other scriptures that apply, but marriage is also sex and sexuality because God made us in His image as sentient creatures with eternal souls seated in these sexual mammalian bodies walking on this Earth.
    If you didn’t need sex in general, what does A. Paul recommend?  Marriage or celibacy? 

    • @landschooner Closeness and intimacy are PART of why sex is important. Neither sex or closeness alone fulfils what God intended. So I am opposed both to sexlessness and to sex that is only about the bodies. Both are wrong.

  7. My husband and I read this article together last week.  Sorry it’s taken me so long to comment on it.  I think this article is profoundly right in that it points to the need for heart change, not just action change.  
    “What if your wife were willing to give you everything you wanted sexually? However, she would not be doing it because it was what she wanted to do, but because she had decided to give up her sexual desires to serve your sexual desires.”
    This sums it up right here.  Often the focus seems to be on using verses about what is owed to show the wife (in this example, obviously this for some it would be the husband) what she “should be” doing.  But “should” cannot produce heart change.  It is law, not gospel; it shows us where we fall short but gives no power for change.  What we desire is generosity that flows from the heart, not just “suck it up and do it anyway.”  That will only lead to bitterness and resentment.
    I could obviously say a lot more about this and I plan to do that at some point.  But I didn’t want to wait any longer to thank you for a very good article.

  8. Pingback: 16 Helpful & Encouraging Good Clicks for Your Weekend | Becoming His Eve

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