Online Course

Have Great Sex

The First Few Years of Marriage

Feeling wanted and connected are biggies for both of you, regardless of your sexual temperature. The spouse with the lower sexual temperature often needs to feel connected before sex.

Doug Fields: Hi everybody. Welcome back. Doug Fields. Jim Burns. We’re talking about the first few years of marriage, and if you did your reading, you know we’re talking about sex. Bam bam bam. There you go.

Jim Burns: The S word.

Doug Fields: You’ve been married 43 years. Do you guys still have sex?

Jim Burns: We do and actually, it’s really better than it was in those first few years.

Doug Fields: Okay. That’s too much information. But no, we’re going to talk about, we’re going to talk openly and honest about it. It’s going to be fun and we’re talking about have great sex and enjoy your baby. Those go together.

Jim Burns: Well, you have to have sex to make a baby.

Doug Fields: There you go. There you go. Okay, so let’s, what questions did you bring this week?

Speaker 3: So for us getting a little personal here, sex has gotten a little bit routine for us. I mean, it’s not bad, but it’s not great either. Do you guys have any thoughts on that?

Jim Burns: You know what? I hear that all the time, routine and I think when I was engaged, it never dawned on me that sex could become routine. I was looking so forward to it and actually we had a good honeymoon. Some people that struggle in the honeymoon, but the truth is is that sex can become routine. And the truth is is that at least in the United States, the average couple spends eight minutes from the time they begin to the time they end. And I’m talking about foreplay and everything. So that’s kind of routine. If they do that all the time.

Jim Burns: And yes, we can get routine and that’s actually an issue that everybody talks about. We talked about intentionality and I think it’s really important that we realize that we have to understand a couple things about sex first of all. We’ve got to get some facts straight.

Jim Burns: Number one, sex is, fun, okay. Now you might not have been taught that when you were growing up because your parents probably never talked to you about it. I mean, some of you did, but very few and maybe you’ve been heard from the church. Don’t do it because it’s dirty, rotten, horrible, sinful. Save it until you’re married and you’re like, “Well, you know what’s going to happen on my honeymoon that’s so different than you know, just the day before?

Jim Burns: So we have some misconceptions, but sex is fun. Sex is beautiful. Sex is sacred. Sex is pleasurable and supposed to be pleasurable. And after all, we should say praise God because who created sex? God. And so we actually have this healthy theology of sexuality that says, “God created sex. He sees it as very good.” And I have some principles that I want to talk about.

Jim Burns: If there is little emotional intimacy, there will not be good physical intimacy. Listen to this. Emotional intimacy proceeds physical intimacy. Now again, you can have sex, but it’s not intimate if you don’t have the emotional intimacy. So another principle is simply if you’re not talking and specifically even talking about sex and sexuality in a good, healthy manner, and what your needs are and how you can please each other. I’m not talking about weirdness stuff. I’m just simply talking about, you know, the connection that you have, then you probably won’t have good physical intimacy.

Jim Burns: And yet again, there are couples who have been married for years who have never really talked about it. And I want to encourage you to have conversations. Now again, in the small group, I don’t think that’s the time to blast the spouse or whatever. But I really do think it’s important to have those conversations, not in the heat of emotion, whether it be good emotion or it be, you know, negative emotion. But, but, but talk about it and when you talk about it, it actually brings you more, I think, physical intimacy and sexual intimacy. Also, foreplay begins before you get to the bedroom.

Jim Burns: In fact, the fact you don’t have to have sex just always in the bedroom. But foreplay begins. Doug mentioned in an earlier session that his marriage counselor in pre-marriage said, “Sex begins in the morning.” But really it kind of does and actually foreplay and it’s true. There are some guys who need to understand that foreplay is not just groping your spouse thinking that’s going to get them all excited, but foreplay is how you treat one another and then it moves to things like kissing and it moves to the other aspects of it.

Jim Burns: But it’s not the act of sexual intercourse. It’s the experience of coming together. And so we have to develop that. I didn’t know how to please Cathy. I didn’t know how to please her even in terms of the foreplay side because really, I’m a guy. Okay. So I didn’t need a whole lot of foreplay, 10 seconds and there you go. And yet what I had to learn was if I was going to have a physical, intimate relationship with Cathy in a beautiful way, I had to learn how to treat her. So there’s so much more to it than doing it, okay?

Jim Burns: And that’s important for us to know, especially in those first few years. We also have to understand that we have to handle our issues if we have problems or issues with care and counsel. I oftentimes say this, I just said it to a young couple who I actually did the premarital counseling and now they’ve been married for a year. They came back and they said, “The sex thing isn’t thinking it’s not working as good it’s just a little bit routine and there are some issues here.”

Jim Burns: I actually suggested that they go and meet with somebody and they’re were like, “Oh my gosh, that’s a little tough.” I said, “If you talk to somebody who is an expert in this and who understands this, they’re not going to mock you.” They hear it every day and actually some of the issues that you have in those first few years that really kind of make it not work as well or, or tend to make it routine.

Jim Burns: Again, learn trait. You can learn how to have better and more effective physical intimacy, but sometimes you need care and sometimes you need counsel. In fact, the Bible says that where there is no counsel that people fall, but in the multitude of counselors there is safety. Sometimes coming along and you need somebody who is safe. Obviously, you don’t talk about this without, sharing something with you.

Jim Burns: Like with me, I would never go and talk about sex to somebody. I’m in a small group, I’ve met for 15 years with these incredible men, but I don’t talk about our sex life unless Cathy and I both agreed to have that conversation. See? And so you want to make sure that you, you find someone safe if there is an issue.

Jim Burns: One last thing that I want to say, and I could say so much more about this, but the road towards safe, emotional and physical intimacy always runs through purity and fidelity, okay? What has happened in this generation is that probably one of the biggest problems is pornography. And so people oftentimes will move to pornography. And that’s a false sense of intimacy. And so if you want to have the best relationship and make it not routine, interestingly enough, it’s not to be involved with pornography.

Jim Burns: And the other aspect is even realizing that there are some boundaries that we can make. For me, I mean it’s emotional affairs. I see people all the time who are in emotional affairs and you know you’re an emotional affair if you’re thinking about how you dress for someone else or you are telling secrets to somebody else of the opposite sex or going on and on. And it’s somewhat natural to go in that tendency, especially if if the relationship is drifting a bit.

Jim Burns: But the point that I want to say is, is that that’s where we have to put on some healthy barriers, barriers where certain things we don’t do. And if we know we’re doing those, then we know where we’re going in a negative direction. So even think about the aspect of purity and fidelity and that is the way toward I think healthy intimacy and, and those first few years, sometimes we sort of miss that mark as well.

Doug Fields: Here’s the deal. When it comes to sex, the whole idea of sex and marriage, it’s complex that we’ve been married 33 years and I feel like there are still things that I’m learning about Cathy’s sexually in terms of pleasing her and vice versa. It’s just, it’s complex. I mean, think of this complexity. For most women, you need to feel something before the sexual act. You need to have, you know, that’s where foreplay comes in.

Doug Fields: You need to feel that emotion and that love. For most guys, they feel it afterwards. I mean, think about it ladies. That’s why oftentimes he will after the act, he’ll cuddle, he’ll relax more. He talks more. I mean just that alone is complex. Plus in most marriages there is something called a desire gap and people don’t talk about this. But in most marriages and probably your marriage, there’s a desire gap, meaning one of you desires it more than the other.

Doug Fields: Okay? Now, if you both have low desire, great. If you both have a high desire, great. There’s probably not a lot of conflict. Where there becomes conflict is one of you has high desire and one of you has low desire. Cathy and I, we have a desire gap. She has lower desire than me. I tell her you don’t ever have to ask do you want to have sex? Just save those five words and start stripping. Okay. Because I’m ready.

Doug Fields: So if this is your case where one of you has a higher sex need and one of you as a lower sex need, what can happen is you can, you can misinterpret that as rejection. Okay? That you’re both rejecting one another. And I think what you need to hear is that if you are the higher sex need person in the relationship, your spouse is not rejecting you. Your spouse is not anti-sex, they’re just not thinking about it 24/7 like you might be.

Doug Fields: And if you’re the lower sex need person in your relationship, your spouse is not a pervert, okay? They just want that intimacy with you. And when all of a sudden you both begin to realize, okay, we do have higher need and lower need, but we’re going to begin to have conversations to move toward one another and you pay attention to one another’s needs. That’s where the real intimacy comes from is trying to get on the same page there. It doesn’t mean that the lower need person is going to come up to the higher need person or the higher new person. You might meet somewhere in the middle, but at least you understand where one another is at. Does this make sense? Okay.

Doug Fields: Now, one of the ways I think you get on the same page and you even break some of the routine as I think there’s a lost art of kissing. I really do. I just, I mean, there was so much kissing before marriage and then once marriage, we just stopped kissing one another. I want to encourage you in your first few years of marriage to establish some kissing guidelines, like kiss, keep it going. There’s different types of kissing.

Doug Fields: There’s the [inaudible 00:10:33] kiss and then there’s the extended kiss. And then there’s the tongue kiss. I mean you can make up names for them if you want, but I think there’s kind of the, I like you kiss I love you kiss and there’s the I want you kiss. And all of those can be displayed throughout the day. And I think you’ve got to figure out in your first few years of marriage, I do like you and I do love you and I do want you and figure out what those kisses look like and feel like.

Doug Fields: Just what I’m saying, kiss.

Jim Burns: Don’t you think that’s a good idea?

Doug Fields:
But don’t look at me when you say that.

Jim Burns: I know. That was a little, that was a little weird. But here’s the deal is that in all relationships, the passion begins to drift. And that’s kind of been the common theme of every time we get together there’s a little bit of drift. Your passion’s going to begin to drift and that’s where the course corrections come in. And those course corrections can come in with good conversation that can come in with kissing, that could come in with your date nights. But this is complex and we can’t just pretend that everybody’s got the whole thing, the sex thing figured out.

Jim Burns: And we said in the very first session when it comes to marriage, you can’t compare yourself to others because you’re comparing what you know about your marriage to what you really don’t know about their marriage. That sex is complex. Everybody has different seasons and temperatures. And the beautiful thing is if you’re committed to one another for the rest of your life, you get to figure this out.

Speaker 4: We just recently, we have two kids, two very young kids, and the quality of our marriage has kind of digressed, I guess since we’ve had them. And I’m just looking for some guidance on how we can kind of get back into things since we’ve had these kids and now we’re trying to get back into that.

Doug Fields: What we hear from parents all the time is we’re just tired and so we don’t have time for one another. And as we were writing this and we got to this chapter, Jim, I don’t know if you remember this, enjoy your baby chapter, but we’re like, people are going to stay on birth control for a long time after reading this chapter. Because we didn’t want to paint a negative picture, but we wanted to paint a realistic picture and the picture is that baby, children do change your marriage. Okay? They change it in wonderful ways, but it goes back to everything we’ve been saying in this series is that you have got to be on your game with one another. In terms of time.

Doug Fields: Jim early on mentioned the hierarchy. It’s our relationship with God, then it’s our marriage, then it’s our children, and then it’s our vocation. So that means your marriage before your children. Now what we’re seeing in our culture is a lot of what we call kid-centric marriages where they put everything into their kids and then when their kids grow up and move out of the house, there’s no marriage left.

Doug Fields: You’re newly married or first few years of marriage, you want to make sure that never happens to you. You want to be a marriage-centered marriage and not a kid-centric marriage. Yes, you’re going to love your kids. Yes, you’re going to adore them and be involved in their life, but not at the expense of your marriage. So what that means it goes back to priorities. Date night. We need time together. What if you just said, early on we talked about the date being 1% of your week, right?

Doug Fields: An hour and 40 minutes or a hundred minutes a week. What if every day you gave one another 1% of your day? That’s only 14 minutes and 40 seconds. We’ll round it up to 15 minutes. What if you just knee to knee, eye to eye, phones away, TV off, kids down and you are just engaging with one another? What do you want to know about me? What’s something that happened to you today that you want to tell me? Whatever your default question is, you can use that same question for your entire marriage if it works.

Doug Fields: Don’t feel like you’ve got to come up with, you know, I got to come up with a new question every day to be creative. No, you don’t. You need to sit knee to knee, eye to eye 15 minutes a day and engage with one another, connect. That’s intimacy, the connection. Most people walk their dog about 30 minutes a day and they don’t give that amount of time to one another. So baby makes three, makes marriage difficult, but not impossible.

Doug Fields: We come to you from the future. We made it through the kid years and their great years, but wisdom says we’re going to build into one another as a couple because someday those kids are going to go back bye bye. And we actually helped our kids move out of the house. Those were fun days as well. And so the empty nest years are wonderful, but you’re going to be tired, but you’re going to get through it. You just have to make sure that you two don’t suffer in the middle of it.


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In this online course, parenting expert Jim Burns helps you navigate the toughest and the most rewarding parts of a new marriage.

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