Here at Nourishing Joy, we're all about finding ways to nourish the family so that our families are healthy, joy-filled, and able to serve and bless the people around us.
Often we talk about the little, practical ways to do that, like making our own cleaners (e.g. homemade bleach and DIY non-toxic kitchen cleanser), cooking nourishing meals (our latest favorite is slow cooker pork vindaloo), healing our children naturally (slipping medicine to them in our homemade gummy vitamins is a parent-favorite), and looking for ways to serve others (say, by welcoming travelers into your home). We also strive to make our homes non-toxic (homemade crayons, anyone?), teach our children diligently, and question what we're taught about health.
But seriously, we can't talk about nourishing the family without talking about sex. It's at the heart of the family's health, even though it doesn't always make its way into everyday conversation. After all, when a sexual relationship isn't healthy between a husband and a wife, the residue of that ill health pervades every other aspect of family life. (And conversely, if we are to heal broken or stressed parts of a marriage, often we can use sex as a tool of healing, love, and reconciliation.)
So let's “take the covers off” this most intimate topic without shame.
I love Tim Challies‘ description of the role of sex in marriage:
“From an evolutionary perspective sex is little more than a means of spreading genes, of ensuring survival from one generation to the next. From a pornographic perspective, the meaning of sex is physical gratification so that a person’s worth extends no farther than her (or his) ability to satisfy another person’s cravings. From a romantic comedy perspective, sex is a component of an exploratory phase of a relationship and one that precedes expressions of love and loyalty. These are ubiquitous, powerful messages that compete with truth.
A Christian perspective on sex could hardly stand in sharper contrast. There we see that sex belongs to marriage and that marriage has been created by God for a very specific purpose. Before it is anything else, marriage is a picture, a metaphor, of the relationship of Christ and his church. Within that picture, that representation of Christ and his church, we have sex. Sex is a necessary component of marriage so that a couple desiring to live in obedience to the Bible will regularly have sex together (see 1 Corinthians 7:1-5).”
Now the problem is that nearly every couple I've spoken with about this topic has at some point in their marriage dealt with the hurdles to healthy sexual interaction. For some it's merely awkwardness (usually in the early days), for some it's vastly different desires on the parts of each partner, and for some other emotional baggage gets in the way and causes one partner to be frigid, angry, or controlling.
But herein lies the crux: there is no other place in the home or in the marriage relationship where we are so vulnerable. So if there are emotional wounds, they'll show up in the marriage bed. If there are pompous attitudes or selfish desires, they'll be revealed there. If there are grudges, you can bet your sweet bippy they'll show up too. It is in the sexual relationship that we are most naked, vulnerable, revealed – emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
And therefore this is where we most genuinely ask, “Will you accept me the way I am – the beautiful parts, the broken parts, the hurting parts?” “Will you take joy in me? Will you take pleasure in me? Will you delight in me?”
I'm a firm believer that the sexual relationship is where every human emotion shows up – joy, boredom, shame, delight – it all shows up. And while climax is certainly quite enjoyable, it's the utter joy of being body-to-body, soul-to-soul that leaves us most satisfied. This makes sense – when the sexual/spiritual relationship we are given as husbands and wives is given to us to mirror the relationship between Christ and his bride, the Church, it only makes sense that everything about being human and about communing in our spirits would be tied up in this holy relationship.
So, we're left with the question – how do we nurture the best in our sexual relationships? How do we nourish joy in this incredibly intimate place?
Well, here are a few books that can help tremendously. Some are just plain fun (because sometimes we just need to laugh and play together), some are to promote emotional healing, and some are to encourage a new journey together. May God bless you richly.
Sex Books You'll Love
31 Days to Great Sex – this absolutely delightful e-book will meet you where you are and take you to delightful new places. You can find it in this week as part of the steal-of-a-deal Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle or you can find it at the author's website.
The Kama Sutra – yes, this is based in ancient Hindu teachings, but there is no other guide that comes close to helping couples find what works for them, physically. This is especially helpful if one person is in a wheelchair or one partner is very heavy or the two partners are vastly different heights. Each partnership will have its specific physical needs and capabilities and sometimes trying something new can spark a new-found joy that can crack open needed vulnerabilities and help heal deep wounds. You can choose from the classic version or the modern version.
Loving Sex – Dr. Berman is one of the foremost sex experts in America today and she is rightfully widely respected for her work. This volume is both practical and inspirational for both partners.
Passionate Marriage – This is a groundbreaking work that has revolutionized and rekindled several marriages I know of personally. It is focused on the more mature audience (age-wise!) and helps kindle true, thoughtful intimacy in every gesture, both in and out of the bedroom.
Position of the Day Handbook – This is published by the editors of Nerve.com, who have never been known for their demure nature. This little book features anatomically correct pencil drawings to inspire you with one new position each day, offering everything from the same-old, same-old to bring-me-a-tightrope, I'm-an-acrobat style efforts.