When you’re dating and engaged, you hear the phrase “marriage is work” time and time again. It can feel like you never stop hearing about how much energy and effort it takes to be with another person.
You try to understand it as much as a person who has no experience can, and you begin to see little snippets what they’re talking about during the period leading up to marriage as you plan for the wedding and plan to join your lives. You begin to see some chinks in the armor, some very real flaws in yourself and your significant other that will need to be worked through. And you begin to believe that it is hard work.
Maybe you both think of money differently, one sees the money that comes in as an opportunity to budget every penny and save, the other sees it as an opportunity to spend. Maybe one over shares and over involves their family and the other is uncomfortable with it. This will take work, you conclude. You can believe marriage is work. But you know it will be worth it. You are choosing to love this person forever. And excitedly choosing it, might I add!
But it is not just money or personality issues that you will need to work through. When you’re dating or engaged, people will start to warn you that sex will be work, too.
That you may find yourself arguing about this topic.
That it may feel like a chore at times.
That you may not know what to do.
That you will have to talk through hard things.
That sexual baggage, even for a virgin, is a real thing.
That what you want to do for your spouse and what they want from you may be two different things, and you will have to listen, and vice-versa.
That it won’t always feel good.
That it is not all about you and your pleasure.
That it requires sacrifice.
These bits of advice will have the believer who is soon to be married up in arms. What do you mean sex isn’t all pleasure, all the time? What do you mean it involves WORK?
We have this mentality that it is our reward for many years of abstaining. Some kind of perfect prize that is all uphill once we say “I do”. But this is selfish thinking, and it is the opposite of what sex is about. The “I waited for this, I worked for this, now I deserve this trouble free” mentality is the wrong way to think about sex or anything in marriage at all. But sadly, it is how most newly married Christians think.
Don’t get me wrong, sex is a beautiful gift from God.
Sex is a grace given to us to enjoy within marriage.
Sex is a good thing.
Sex is enjoyable and fun.
Sex is a picture of the intimacy between Christ and his bride.
Sex is special.
But it is hard work, and mutually good sex will not come easy.
The mentality that our whole lives have built up to this will only leave us disappointed in one way or another. Not being eager to become one with the person you love is not what I am reaching for, but simply a better understanding of the fact that even moments of passion take work to build up to. Every good thing, because of sin, will take a willingness to die to ourselves each and every day.
But in the end, what we sow we will reap, and we will no doubt reap the benefits of the selfless work we put into our marriages, even when it comes to sex.