A recent comment sparked a thought that I felt was deserving of its own post as it could get quite lengthy and perhaps there are others who would enjoy this but might have missed the response in the comments.
The question was asked on the post I recently wrote about Pre-Marriage Advice. Item number ten was in regard to not depriving each other sexually (except, as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 7:5, by mutual consent to devote time in prayer). But is it not compromise to deprive myself of sleep in order to satisfy my husband?
My answer to that question is simply no. To be more specific, that’s called sacrifice*. The difference? I’m not gaining anything directly by “giving up sleep”. And giving up something for someone else’s benefit or enjoyment is kind of the definition of sacrifice.
Now, the end result of my sacrifice might inspire my husband to sacrifice something or do something for me in return, but we run into problems if I start using that reciprocal behaviour as a motivation for agreeing to sex.
Sex really isn’t a bargaining chip. It’s not something that you should use in a compromise (assuming you disagree with my comments about collaboration instead of compromise). There are mutual benefits to sex, it’s not all about him (though if we’re honest, we know that a man’s need for sex occurs much more often than a woman’s need for sex – that’s not the same as desire).
Let’s look at a few:
1) Stress Reliever: clinically proven, you might say, to reduce blood pressure.**
2) Intimacy Booster: sex causes oxytocin to be released, which is a hormone that helps us build trust and grow closer together.**
3) Pain Reliever: as oxytocin increases, endorphins are released and pain is lessened.**
4) Sleep Aid: oxytocin released after orgasm increases the ability to sleep – and I’m sure we all know the value of a good night’s sleep.**
5) Anti-Depressant: ok, so this is specifically semen that acts as an anti-depressant, but apparently it’s true. Feeling blue? A little sex might be just what the doctor ordered.**
And those are just a few benefits of sex. It really is quite a powerful gift, especially when used in the right way and treated with respect.
That’s why if you start using sex as a bargaining tool you are really lowering the value of sex and you’re actually going to lose the benefits of it in your marriage. It will begin to be a chore instead of a delight. It will be more about “getting it over with” instead of “enjoying each other” as we were made to do.
A good friend once told me “That which you hope to save by compromise, you will lose.” And that’s what will happen if you begin to use sex as a means to an end instead of as an end in and of itself.
*Disclaimer: While technically “giving up sleep to satisfy my husband” is a sacrifice when phrased that way, I personally don’t feel like I’m sacrificing. I enjoy all our bedroom antics.