“Your most important sex organ is your brain.” I remember when I first heard this statement as a young married woman. Enjoying sex is practically impossible without thinking about it.
Both men and women can struggle to know how to think about sex in a way that is both exciting and honoring to each other. However, the link between thinking about sex and preparing for it is particularly strong for women. Many wives describe feeling like they have “sexual ADHD.” They can’t get their mind to co-operate during sex. There is a neurological reason for this. “When a man’s brain is in a resting state, at least 70 percent of his brain is shut down. On the other hand, when women were resting, at least 90 percent of their brain was active, confirming that women are always thinking, thinking, thinking.” This means that in order for a woman to enjoy sex, she needs to be able to shut down all of the distractions and think about sex.
The problem for both men and women is this: How do you think about sex in a way that is both holy and erotic? For many, these two adjectives have been mutually exclusive.
Maybe you can relate. Perhaps for you, thinking about sex means pulling up memories of pornographic images or scenes from your old life. Because thinking about sex reminds you of the shame of your past, maybe you’ve decided to shut off that part of your thought life. This was true of Jeremy who for years battled an addiction to pornography. Through a recovery program, Jeremy learned how to not think about pornography. Unfortunately, this resulted in a fear of thinking about sex at all.
Sexual maturity is not just what you are moving away from, but also what you are actively moving toward. Healing means rewiring your experiences toward healthy arousal and intimacy.
How do you think about sex in a God-honoring way?
Most Christians don’t know what to make of the tiny Old Testament book called Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs). This erotic ancient poetry seems out of place among books of history, the Law, and the prophets. Why would God inspire this book to be among those preserved for us to read and study?
One of the reasons must be that God knew married couples would need help learning to enjoy the pleasures of sex. God anticipated that we would be plagued with doubts and shame and that we would need a portrait of an imperfect married couple pursuing holy sexual love.
The Song of Solomon gives you as a married couple the permission and examples of how to use your memory and imagination in a way that awakens sexual desire and honors your spouse. In this blog, I will highlight four practical things this couple from the Song did to think regularly think about sex.
1. Think about your spouse’s body.
The couple took turns describing each other’s bodies:
“My beloved is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand. His head is purest gold; his hair is wavy and black. His arms are rods of gold set with topaz. His body is like polished ivory decorated with lapis lazuli. His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of pure gold" (Song of Solomon 5:10-16).
“How beautiful are your sandaled feet, O prince’s daughter! Your graceful legs are like jewels, the work of an artist’s hands. Your navel is a rounded goblet that never lacks blended wine. Your waist is a mound of wheat encircled by lilies. Your breasts are like two fawns, like town fawns of a gazelle" (Song of Solomon 7:1-3).
Notice how they used their imagination in their descriptions—and imagery that was also encouraging! We would probably never use the same imagery this couple did, but how could you creatively and erotically describe what you love most about your spouse’s body?
2. Recall special memories together.
“At our door is every delicacy, both new and old, that I have stored up for you, my beloved" (Song of Solomon 7:13).
Their sex life was a treasury of creating new memories and recalling special times together in the past. This is one of the benefits of age and having been married for many years. Your bodies might not look or respond like they once did, but you have private and meaningful memories.
Share with each other your top three sexual memories together. What made these times so special or arousing? How can you work to create new memories like this?
3. Plan a sexual field trip.
“Let us go early to the vineyards to see if the vines have budded, if their blossoms have opened, and if the pomegranates are in bloom—there I will give you my love" (Song of Solomon 7:12).
This couple planned a sexual date, giving each other love out in nature. Planning a sexual field trip is definitely one way to make new memories! Have you ever done anything like that? Maybe it’s time for you to get out of the bedroom.
Planning = forethought. Changing the scenery also adds excitement. Even if your “sexual field trip” doesn’t turn out like you think it will, you will have something to laugh about together for years to come. Be willing to try new things, be adventurous, and be willing to risk a bug bite or two!
4. Anticipate your sexual love.
Both the husband and wife in the Song intentionally think about wanting to share sexual love with each other.
“Like an apple tree amongst the trees of the forest is my beloved among the young men. I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste. Let him lead me to the banquet hall, and let his banner over me be love… All night long on my bed I looked for the one my heart loves; I looked for him but did not find him” (Song of Solomon 2-3).
“Come with me from Lebanon, my bride...You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eye, with one jewel of your necklace" (Song of Solomon 4:8-9).
If they had the ability to text back then, the lovers in the Song probably would have sent a few coded, sensuous messages throughout the day saying, “I’m thinking about you!”
My friend Linda prompted herself to think about sex by writing a mysterious “ts” on her calendar every couple of days. It was years before her husband learned that this was her secret, personal reminder to “think sex.” Another couple I know uses dry erase markers to leave each other messages on their bathroom mirror.
Research consistently shows that thinking about sex is a key to enjoying sex. Our culture offers a lot of ways to think about sex that will compromise true intimacy. God’s design for married couples is that they learn to use their creativity and imagination to enjoy the holy gift of sexual pleasure together. Song of Solomon gives us some very practical how-tos. Using this template, there are so many fun and exciting ways to use your brain and imagination to celebrate sexual love with your spouse!
How about you? What are some fun and practical ways you can start anticipating sex with your spouse? What are some helpful prompts you can use personally to remind yourself to think about it?
If you're ready to start this journey, here are a few more resources to get you started: