The following article about attraction in marriage is an adapted excerpt from Debra Fileta’s brand new book, Choosing Marriage, and is used by permission (Chapter 8, Sex Marks the Spot: From Infatuation to Adoration)
Have you ever felt a lack of physical attraction in marriage?
I asked that question in a survey of over 1,000 married people. I was astounded to find that half admitted struggling with a lack of physical attraction toward their spouse.
The ebbs and flows of physical attraction are a normal part of the marriage experience. And to me, they are not concerning because a good marriage is made up of so much more than the physical. In those moments when physical attraction may find itself on the back burner, what holds a strong marriage together is every other attraction two people have built along the way. The magnetic force of commitment, time and experience all wrapped up into one can bring a couple together in a way that no one but God could think of.
Maybe some of you are in a stage of life where you have lost sight of the many things that hold you and your spouse together. Maybe you’re struggling to find an attraction, and it’s starting to have an impact on your sexual relationship. I counseled a young man who was having a hard time finding that physical spark toward his wife. He found himself dwelling on the physical attributes she was lacking, comparing her to the other women he would see. I shared with him three big picture themes I address with couples who are dealing with a lack of physical attraction in marriage, and I want to share them with you as well.
When it comes to our sexual lives, the things we give our time, our thoughts and our energy to are what will grow, while the things we neglect to invest in will naturally wither. Our sexual palates are shaped and molded based on what we’ve been exposed to in the past, as well as what we expose ourselves to along the way. The more we fill our minds with junk like pornography and explicit movies and novels, the more we’ll be enslaved to those unrealistic sexual expectations, and in turn, sabotage our most intimate relationships. As it’s often said, junk in equals junk out.
But let me be clear. This is not just about disciplining our minds by saying no to overt trash, but also about learning to discipline our minds even when faced with the day-to-day opportunities for lust and temptation.
As the young man in the story above began to eliminate the bad and concentrate on the good, his attraction toward his wife began to grow anew, and his desire for her began to take shape all over again.
One thing I especially love about the Song of Solomon is the way the couple spends time “concentrating” on the good in each other. Both the lover and the beloved spend verse after verse going back and forth, simply describing in detail the things they love about each other.
Imagine if we apply that same drive and focus, that same “concentration,” to the way we view our spouse? I mean, what would happen if we consistently zoom in on their strengths, talents and character, and speak them out loud? What if we simply appreciate them for who they are, rather than dwell on who we want them to be? This doesn’t just apply to our physical attraction and sex lives; it applies to every aspect of our marriages. Concentrate on the good, eliminate the bad, and you’ll find your physical attraction in marriage achieving heights you never imagined.
Another important step toward rekindling physical attraction in marriage is taking inventory of your physical health as a couple. We often apply 1 Corinthians 6:20 (“Honor God with your bodies”) to our spiritual and emotional decisions, but fail to apply it to our physical decisions as well. What we eat and drink as well as how we invest in our physical health and well-being are all decisions that can be used to honor God with our bodies, or not. But not only are we honoring God when we choose to invest in our personal health; we’re honoring our spouse by giving them the best version of ourselves.
This is so much more important than simply trying to achieve a certain weight or a specific clothing size. It’s not about that at all. It’s about health, and wholeness, and learning the discipline of striving to do the best we can with what we’ve been given. Something about taking responsibility for our health in this way is truly appealing and attractive, because it shows we care. Our physical health and well-being are a gift we give to ourselves as well as to our spouse.
It’s important for each one of us to take inventory of where we are with how we care for our bodies and the impact it may be having on our sex lives. A few of us might be able to say we eat well and exercise frequently. But most of us have room for improvement. There’s no better time than the present to take those next steps in getting your physical health to a better place. Work with your spouse to set achievable goals, integrate exercise into your time together, and create healthy menus. Keep each other encouraged and accountable as you move toward a place of honoring both God and each other with how you care for your bodies.