The case for physical intimacy

By Michelle Reyes

Let’s talk about intimacy.

No, I don’t just mean spiritual intimacy or even recreational intimacy for that matter. Don’t get me wrong. Those kinds of intimacy are good and important. Pastors’ wives and their husbands should incorporate these things.

But I really just want to talk about the physical intimacy between a pastor’s wife and her husband. Largely because this is such a taboo topic, but also because I have found physical intimacy to be so vital to my own marriage (and even ministry, would you believe) that I want to share some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

Life is busy. I get it. I’m a pastor’s wife, a part-time German professor and mom of a toddler. The things on my to-do list never end, and when I do get a break (usually at 10 or 11 p.m.) my body just wants to crash.

But what about physical intimacy?

I have a feeling I’m not the only pastor’s wife who thinks about questions like: “When am I supposed to be intimate with my husband? How? What if I don’t want to? Is it really that important?”

I know that intimacy is not always easy to cultivate. Fatigue is no stranger to me. Neither is stress. Not to mention the hurdle of frustrations, fights and even bitterness that might exist between you and your husband. But I say this with all sincerity and humility: Physical intimacy is vital for the health of not just your marriage, but your ministry as well.

Some of you might be feeling skeptical right now. But if you’ll stick with me, I want to share three reasons for why every pastor and pastor’s wife need more physical intimacy in their marriage. However, before I do, I want to make one caveat—there are many pastor’s wives and pastors that have serious health issues and medical conditions that prevent them from having sex. I have more than one close friend in this boat. Please do not think that I am trying to impose a mandate here or hope to make you feel bad if physical problems are preventing you.

I simply seek to offer some general ideas and encouragement with these following three ideas:

1. Physical intimacy brings great joy and great enjoyment.

There’s no way to beat around the bush: God created sex so that a wife and her husband could experience great joy and great pleasure. There is nothing that can compete. Sure, having a coffee date or watching a movie is fun. Going skiing together can be exhilarating and create wonderful memories. But these sorts of recreational highs pale, truly, against the width and depth of the joy and pleasure that sex can bring. Do you want a marriage that is driven by true, deep and lasting joy? If so, physical intimacy needs to be a big and regular part of it.

The issue of joy and pleasure is a big deal. Daily life is hard enough. Now add to it the highs and lows of ministry and often the seasons of joylessness that come with serving in the church. Physical intimacy with your husband is part of the fight against giving up. It is part of remaining joy-filled when everything else around you looks dark and bleak. Truly, it has sustained me in more season than one.

2. Physical intimacy protects.

This point is connected to the first. Sex is a protective mechanism. For, when a woman is completely satisfied by her husband and vice versa, when both pastor’s wife and pastor are fully pleased with each other, they protect themselves from the temptation to find such joy and pleasure outside of their marriage.

I have seen and read about way too many ministry marriages falling apart because of infidelity. It is heart-breaking. I place my faith in God and am intimate with my husband as part of my literal fight against daily struggles so that our marriage remains a bulwark no matter the season. If nothing else, physical intimacy serves as a continual reminder to me and my husband that we are one flesh, and that reality should not be taken lightly.

3. Physical intimacy leads to emotional intimacy.

God-honoring, joy-filled, pleasure-bringing sex does so much for the heart of a marriage. No, neither of our bodies are perfect, but we don’t struggle with body image either. I know I am loved as I am (stretch marks and all) and vice versa. No, neither of us are immune to insecurities, but we fight them with the confidence that intimacy brings, knowing that we are fighting our insecurities together. No, we haven’t solved the loneliness factor of church planting, but sex has allowed us to feel intimately known and understood, and I’d take that any day over fifty church friends. And, as crazy as this might sound, physical intimacy has also helped us resolve fights, work through miscommunications and bring healing to old wounds.

In all these ways and more, physical intimacy forms an essential bedrock to our marriage and our ministry. I am a better wife, mother and ministry leader because of it.

Published August 14, 2017

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Michelle Reyes

Michelle Reyes, Ph.D., is pastor’s wife, German professor, and mom to a toddler. Michelle also helped plant Church of the Violet Crown in Austin, Texas in 2015—an urban, multicultural church where her husband, Aaron Reyes serves as lead pastor. Michelle is passionate about faith, family and diversity. You can read more from Michelle on her blog, The Art of Taleh, or follow her on Twitter @dr_reyes2.