Kristen and I lead a newly married small group through our church. We love getting to spend time with these five newlywed couples. They come over our house every other week and we spend time together talking about life and marriage. We share how we’re doing spiritually and walk through the challenges we’re facing. We celebrate wins and pray together, with and for each other. It’s one of the high points of our week and a joy to get to learn from and disciple these couples. One of the main components of the curriculum is sexual intimacy. All of us come into marriage with sexual baggage: pornography, abuse, unmet expectations, different ideas of frequency, and so much more.
We read through the book Sheet Music by Kevin Leman together. There are some parts of the book I don’t like (so I don’t give it a 5-star endorsement), but the book provides a great jumping point for conversation.
Married couples don’t know how to talk about intimacy with each other. And they don’t know how to rightly include other couples in the conversations. We never talk about sex in a braggadocios way or like a bunch of immature boys in a locker room. But we can discuss how we’re doing and ways we can grow and improve in intimacy with our spouse with other couples. They can encourage us when we’re doing well and challenge us when we’re struggling.
By the way, I wrote a 7-part series on sexual intimacy a few years ago. You can find the series through this link. One of the posts addresses one of the biggest barriers couples face: we don’t communicate well (in general and about intimacy).
The “Daring” Intimacy Question
One of the chapters we read in Sheet Music highlights the fact that we often don’t know what our spouse likes (or doesn’t like) in the bedroom. We don’t ask them questions and don’t assertively share any of our own preferences. In this chapter, Leman shares “The Daring Question.” He says this question provides one of the keys to growing in intimacy.
What’s this magic question?
Do you know what I would love to try sometime?”
The question is a good one. Of course I’d like to share my response with Kristen and have her follow through on my desires. If couples would share this it could potentially grow their relationship.
But the question is wrong. It’s a good question, and a necessary and important question, just not the best question.
One of the newly married guys in our group pointed out the fact that Leman missed the mark. The better question to ask is, “What can I do to serve you in the bedroom?” Or, “What would show you that I love and value you inside (and outside) the bedroom?”
This is the better, more daring question. When you ask this question:
- You put the needs of your spouse before your own. See Philippians 2:3-4
- You don’t elevate your own desires before their desires. See James 4:1
- You actually risk doing something daring. If I do what my spouse would like, then I’m doing something daring (assuming it’s in bounds sexually and not against my conscience).
A Daring Intimacy Challenge
A few years ago, we did a marriage conference at Watermark Community Church. At the end of the conference, we encouraged everyone to sign-up for a 30-day prayer challenge. Every day they received a text message prompt to pray for and/or serve their spouse. The text message would say something like this:
God, show me one way to serve my spouse today, and give me the courage to do what you show me.”
I loved this 30-day challenge because it forced me to pray and to do what God showed me. It was daring and it grew our intimacy in marriage in every way.
This better, more daring, question does the same thing. What if instead of making your desire the priority, you chose to engage your spouse with their desires. What if you courageously asked how you could better serve your spouse and then followed through on their request?
All day, every day, I see couples struggle in marriage. One of the biggest challenges is in the area of sexual intimacy. Most couples who struggle list this as one of their top 2-3 areas of challenge. And even if we’re doing well, most couples can still improve their physical intimacy.
This better, more daring question proposed by my friend, is not the marital cure all. But it can go a long way towards better sacrificially and selflessly serving your spouse.
- Ask your significant other how you can pray for them today.
- Ask your spouse (if married) the better, more daring, question.