The media in our culture celebrates love and sexual chemistry in romance after romance. We feed on “Boy-Meets-Girl” stories like each new one is the first one ever made.
Single man meets single woman. The fireworks fly…will they get together? Won’t they? Yes, they will, and there’s a glorious wedding with a happily-ever-after shot. Even in scripture, we have our love stories…
“…Rachel was beautiful and well favored. And Jacob loved Rachel…and Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.” – Genesis 29:17, 18, 20
…as well as some romantic tragedies…
“And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon…And David sent messengers, and took her…” – 2 Samuel 11: 2-4
Usually, before we marry, we feel that spark of sexual tension for our loved one. Ideally, we fall in love with each other, decide to marry, and then we live as man and wife.
After the honeymoon and the routine of life and being married has a chance to settle in, that fire of passion we once experience with our spouse loses its intensity. For some, the flame gets completely extinguished in the process of living, even if you stay good friends.
Later, we may meet other people and feel that sexual tension again. We get confused. Have we fallen out of love? Should we follow our feelings, and upend our lives to favor this other person we now “love”? Why has our sexual passion gone away with my spouse and reappeared for another person like this?
The answer to this question lies in part in the nature of boundaries.
To illustrate, using a physics principle, tension can be created and intensified by using a resistant force. For example, when you pick up a rubber band and stretch it with both hands, you can observe tension on the rubber band. That tension is released when the resistant forces (your hands) let go.
When we are single, we may feel natural sexual desire for a compatible member of the opposite sex. That desire is typically intensified by a resistant force. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we are required to bridle our passions. To obey the law of chastity and laws of the land.
The law of chastity and the laws of the land create a mental, emotional, spiritual and legal resistant force by telling us we cannot engage in any sexual activity before we are married or (those deemed illegal) without consequences.
When we get married, that boundary is removed with your spouse, but still exists with those we are not married to.
We love our spouse, but we now have free range for sexual expression with each other. Forever bliss, right?
Without introducing some kind of resistant force or the "forbidden", sexual tension in marriage will naturally diminish even if love remains. You see your spouse across the room. You feel a desire to touch or kiss him or her. You walk across the room and do just that. If your relationship is positive, then you’ve easily surrendered to any resistant force you may have felt. There’s no inner angst, no wondering how they feel, or wondering if they’ll kiss you back. When you've got the urge, you can act as long as nothing is there to tell you "you're not allowed".
Perhaps you've seen or heard in the movies how a leading man and a leading lady can create so much romantic chemistry, that they believe it themselves? Those feelings spill over into their private lives and they become a real couple…perhaps they even marry. Once this happens, and they then attempt to make another romantic movie together, often their previous chemistry feels weak by comparison.
Why? This is because of the nature of sexual tension. They are comfortable with each other, and it usually shows. Their real-life relationship doesn’t have the same tension in it while they were dating.
You may have also observed characters on TV or in real life who are promiscuous and declare to their new love that they can only get turned on by having sex in public, or an elevator, or under a table in a restaurant, or in a parked or moving car, or on the beach etc…
Some of you may have even tried these things in your marriage (to get the spark back) and found it didn’t do much for you. So, why do they do that and feel that way?
The answer is sexual tension. Not everyone lives by the law of chastity. Some are even raised and encouraged to have casual sex as "the norm". Without the boundary of the law of chastity, they must create or find other boundaries to get sexual tension. Without the laws of God to restricting them, what they have left are the variable social laws of relationships and the laws of the land.
All the sex-in-public activities I mentioned above are illegal in most countries and can be considered perversions as well. They're “forbidden”. Why does a promiscuous man feel a draw to have sex with prostitutes? It’s legally “forbidden.” Things that are forbidden create sexual tension. They are an artificial (sometimes illegal and somewhat dangerous) substitute for the law of chastity, or just plain old fashioned bridling our passions.
Another person outside the marriage (outside the boundaries the Lord has set) may cause a spouse to feel sexual tension again. That’s because (in addition to our natural reproduction functions) they are outside accepted boundaries. While this can be exciting to pursue initially, it often ends in frustration, alienation of your spouse or other undesirable results.
Instead of looking outside your marriage for those exciting feelings of tension, we can learn to create them within our marriage instead.
Laura M. Brotherson has exercises in her book “And They Were Not Ashamed” that can help a couple rebuild those sexual tensions.These are her sensate exercises found in chapter 12.
Another effective exercise can be found in my blog post “Ancient Hebrew Sex Secrets.”
Both of these follow some basic principles and are easy to do. While there are many creative ways a married couple can create sexual tension, these are two that I highly recommend.
What are some other ways to reignite the spark of sexual tension that you can think of?