Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 7: 5 (NIV)

You see these reports of marital surveys in USA Today about how frequent the husband and wife are sexual with each other and the results are there are 15% who say they aren’t sexual with each other at all and that supposedly they are fine with it: Fine with NOT being sexual. I don’t know who does these surveys or who those couples are, but I’ve never met a couple yet who wasn’t sexual and they were fine with it. You’d think by now, with the hundreds of couples I’ve talked to that I would have met one couple that wasn’t sexual and they were both high-fiving each other. Nada. Zero.

Every couple I’ve met who wasn’t sexual with each other were hurting pretty bad. Both of them. In couples like that, we’re talkin’ resentment, anger, distancing, short fuses, sarcasm, mocking, indifference, coldness, rejection, lack of loving feelings and behavior, and out and out animosity. I’m sure it’s one of the kickers-in-the-butt that contributes to divorce. And, in spite of the cultural stereotype, no, it’s not always the wife that wants it less. It depends upon their age: If the couple is younger than 35, usually the wife wants it less; if the couple is between 35 and 50 it’s a toss-up who wants it less; if the couple is over 50 it’s the husband. Whadayaknow. But it could easily go the other way. These cultural stereotypes (he’s a sex animal and wants to rip her clothes off all the time; she doesn’t want sex at all) aren’t very helpful. When it comes to sex between you and your spouse, it’s best to take the long view. If we’re going to be sexual with each other for 50 or 60 years we’re going to need a good dose of give and take and a little patience wouldn’t hurt either.

I personally don’t care who wants it less. They both need it the same. Did you hear me? THEY BOTH NEED IT THE SAME. Without sex they are in TROUBLE! Forget the stupid surveys. Take Dr. Bing’s word for it.

And for heaven’s sake, sex doesn’t have to equal intercourse all the time. Look, if you are a 60 year old male and you can’t raise the flag because of diabetes or hardening of the arteries or medication or prostate surgery, that doesn’t mean we’re just going to sit in separate La-Z-Boys the rest of our lives and the only thing we handle is the remote. What’s the deal with that?

Speaking of La-Z-Boys, I’ve read reports of these studies that say that couples with TVs in their bedrooms have sex a whole bunch less than couples who don’t. I believe it. But somebody should do a study of couples where both the husband and wife have La-Z-Boys. There’s a couple that never lifts the shades. The divorce rate rose like crazy in the 1960’s and it’s been attributed to the birth control pill, to liberalization of divorce laws, to both mom and dad working and free love. I don’t know. The Reclina-Rocker was introduced by La-Z-Boy in 1961 and sales went from $1.1 million in 1961 to $52.7 million in 1971. Seems like a fishy contributor to me. You put him in one La-Z-Boy and her in another and see what happens in your marriage. At least when you divorce, you can both take your La-Z-Boy with you. I’m just trying to be positive.

Yeah, there are always excuses to NOT be sexual: Too busy, fatigue, different work schedules, fighting, not talking, kids or dogs in bed between mom and dad, king-size matresses (HA! Maybe the divorce rate rose after the introduction of the king-size mattress?! What year were they invented? Maybe the La-Z-Boy Reclina-Rocker is off the hook?), not feeling well, depression meds, debilitating illness, body-part dysfunction, not interested, resentment, obesity, poor body image, computers, Nintendo (Hmmm. Another theory is brewing.), email, bringing work home, working on cars in the garage, arguing, alcohol, distancing, separate lives, animosity, her mother, and that frickin’ La-Z-Boy.

But I’ve never, Never, NEVER, had a couple tell me that once in awhile they take a break from sex to pray. You’d athought by now I’d have seen one. Was Paul joking when he said that (see the verse at the start of this blog)? A little sarcastic comment? And who prays for a week straight? Or a month. Or a year? “Dear, just thought I’d let you know that 2010 is the year of prayer and we won’t be having sex.” Or does he mean that during their normal sex time, they pray instead, sort of like fasting? I can’t say I’ve ever applied that verse, so I have no idea what he means. I’m confessing my shallowness here. I think he means that, ah, ahem, well, ah, there should be NO excuse for a husband and wife to put their mutual sex between them in a closet and that, if, in fact, you have found a way to NOT be sexual on a regular basis, you can expect trouble.

Here’s an interesting tidbit you won’t see quoted in Cosmo or Playboy: Couples who report the most satisfied sex lives are those that are husband and wife (you know, male and female, the old-fashioned type couple), married and all and go to church together on a regular basis. The surveys report they enjoy sex more than single people, more than cohabiting, unmarried couples, more than married couples who don’t go to church. HA. God has the last revenge. It’s pretty funny if you think of it.

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Dr. Bing Wall is a marriage therapist with a practice in Ames and Urbandale, Iowa.  To set up a time to see Dr. Wall click here or call 888-233-8473.  For more information about Dr. Wall click here.

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