The X Factor – “An unknown or hard-to-define influence; a factor with unknown or unforeseeable consequences.”
I would venture to say that the “X Factor” could easily be changed to the “seX Factor” in most marriages today. Sex seems to be the “unknown or hard-to-define influence” in our marital relationships. I have had several conversations with women, regardless if they have been married 2 or 20 years, and most question the role sexual intimacy should play in their marriage. We know that men think about sex every 7 seconds, but do we really know why? Women (especially those who grew-up in the church) were taught not to talk about sex or have sex because God said so…end of story. Women hear of men struggling with pornography, lust, masturbation and affairs but most of us are ill equipped to know how to respond and so….
We chalk it up as the “X Factor” in our marriage and that we as women will never fully understand our husband’s sexual desires. We feel confused and ashamed and don’t know why we hate, resent or avoid sex. Worse yet, we do know why and the haunting memories of a bad sexual relationship in our past is too painful to get over. If you’re a guy reading this your probably shouting “you go girl, tell my wife sex is good”. If your a woman your probably saying “umm… duh? This is exactly how I feel so what?” One of the most profound principles we have discovered in our move away from destruction is:
Restoration Principle #4: Sexual intimacy, mutually offered, unleashes God’s full desire for your marriage.
Because Justin and I were not virgins coming into our marriage we thought we could somehow redeem our relationship if WE didn’t have sex before our wedding. I can honestly say we did refrain, but it didn’t fix or create a healthy road for sexual intimacy in future years. We were married for 4 months and I got pregnant. Not only was the area of sex new to me in my relationship with Justin, but being pregnant seemed to complicate things at a whole new level. During the first 10 years of our marriage, I found myself camped in the “I don’t really get you and your sex drive” and/or “you made me mad today so no sex for you”. The pattern went something like this… Justin would want to have sex… I wouldn’t… sometimes I gave in… most times I didn’t. If the baby was asleep, laundry done and the moon was aligned with Jupiter I would even offer it to him first.
Until the affair, I didn’t understand how God created both Justin and me for sexual intimacy. I assumed if he was wanting to go there after I spent the day “giving” to kids, laundry, friends and regular life events then he was just plain SELFISH! At some point in our relationship I permanently camped out in this mindset and found that not only did I not understand sex, I didn’t really care to.
Facts about the seX Factor: When a boy starts puberty his body will create sperm that will transfer to storage sacks that when are at capacity will naturally release from the body. I share this piece of information because this is an innocent process of change. There is no baggage or agenda, just a simple fact of nature. But somehow, what is natural and how God intended has become grossly misunderstood. And many of us have been left confused as to how to respond in our marriage relationship. This was a HUGE hurdle for Justin and I to jump over to really have the sexual intimacy God wanted for us. Men have a true PHYSICAL need for intimacy.
After Justin and I separated, not only was I leery of being friends with him, I was petrified of becoming lovers. I leaned on my old understanding of what I thought sex was while trying deal with the hurt Justin had caused. In the weeks that followed, God totally shattered those old thoughts and gave me a new view of sex. I love the way the Message paraphrases this scripture:
1 Corinthians 7:2-5 (The Message) “Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder. The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out.”
I learned that Justin wasn’t being selfish but had a true physical AND spiritual need that God would use to bring us close in a way that only this type of intimacy could. Justin also learned how my need for intimacy came through the expression of his words and his actions. Grace is freely given but trust is earned! As Justin slowly earned back my trust and I felt that he was repentant and willing to do whatever it took to grow in this area then, and ONLY then, could this journey move forward. We have learned to be on this journey TOGETHER and fight for it to no longer be the X Factor in our marriage but the catalyst for growth and development as a couple. Not only is Justin my best friend, he is my lover.
Our experience in moving from destruction to restoration has come from understanding and embracing this principle. Sexual intimacy is God’s gift to us as husband and wife to protect, satisfy and guard our relationship.