News Articles

Counselor offers help to couples for reclaiming marriage intimacy

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–Falling in love is the easy part of marriage. The work begins after the vows are exchanged, a speaker, counselor, author and founder of a marriage enrichment ministry said.

John Gries, of Colorado Springs, Colo., told about 200 couples attending a Fall Festival of Marriage at Ridgecrest, a LifeWay Conference Center, Oct. 27-29 in North Carolina, how they could achieve sex, romance, affection, intimacy and pleasure in their marriages.

Married 22 years with six children, Gries said he and his wife, Cathy, founded a marriage enrichment ministry, Making ’til Death Do Us Part a Reality, 12 years ago after being inspired at a Fall Festival event. The couple recently moved from Reisterstown, Md., where they were members of Northwest Baptist Church, to Colorado Springs when Gries was transferred in his paying job as an insurance agent.

Gries, who counsels married couples, said the seven complaints he hears most often are people saying they used to:

— be so romantic.

— have such excitement in their marriage.

— be so affectionate.

— talk more.

— make time for each other.

— give each other little gifts.

— have sex all the time.

“Jesus intended marriage to be happy for you. God expects regular sex in marriage, and sex is a learning process,” he told the couples. So Gries has whipped up a seven-ingredient recipe for reclaiming sex, romance, affection, intimacy and pleasure in marriages, “and every ingredient is very important.”

Gries, who has written a book, “Sex 101: Over 350 Creative Ways to Combine Sex, Romance and Affection,” has listed the ingredients as: humor, communication, understanding, time, patience, being teachable and experimentation. He explained each.

In the area of humor, “we need to lighten up. We live in a downer world to a big degree, but we have something different. We have the hope of the living Jesus Christ.”

Gries told couples they need to act more childlike every now and then. “How long has it been since you’ve tickled each other or roughhoused or just horsed around?” he asked.

Concerning communication, Gries said people are “bombarded daily with communication, but we have a power failure in many marriages when it comes to the area of communication.”

Communication is essential for deep levels of intimacy, he said. He listed several ways to kick start communication in a marriage.

— Ask your spouse to tell three specific things that happened to them today and how they felt about them.

— Take a walk together.

— Take a ride together and turn off the radio.

— Sit down in the evenings and share a cup of tea or coffee.

— Read a book of mutual interest and share with each other about it.

— Start a hobby together.

Concerning understanding, Gries said men need to try to understand women and women need to try to understand men, especially in the areas of sex and hormones.

“A husband has a stronger sex desire than a wife. He is stimulated by sight. There is a physical base to a man’s sex drive that requires release every 48-72 hours. Ladies, you just don’t have that in you.”

On the other hand, men have a difficult time understanding how women can be sad, happy, mean and mad within the span of a few hours, Gries said.

“Guys are like basketballs. When you drop them, they have a pretty predictable bounce. Women are like footballs, and it’s all because of the hormones surging through their bodies.

“Gentlemen, your wife goes through this every month and she needs extra patience and understanding during these times. Much of the time, she doesn’t even understand what’s happening.”

For the fourth ingredient, time, Gries advised the couples to take a time inventory for one week and find out where they are spending most of their hours.

“You will be shocked to find out how much time the eight time thieves take from you.” Time thieves include TV, telephone, sports (playing it or watching it), jobs, children staying up too late, church, family members and computers, which he listed as the “fast-rising champion of all-time thieves.”

Obviously, Gries said, time for sex diminishes when time together is reduced. He suggested working sex back into the relationship by going to bed early at least one night a week, taking an afternoon off work while the kids are in school, taking a day off work, taking a trip away from the children.

Gries said of patience, the fifth ingredient for reclaiming a happy marriage, “Many of us are capable of showing so much patience for everybody except our spouses,” he said. “And the sexual area is one that can especially need patience.”

Both men and women can experience problems sexually, and the best way to handle it is to talk about it, he said.

In being teachable, the sixth ingredient, Gries said husbands and wives are both teachable in ways that could lead to more satisfactory sexual relations, he said. “We are teachable in the areas of timing, stimulation and understanding more about each others’ natures.”

And ingredient seven is experimentation. “Don’t just say we’ve never tried it that way before. Be open to new ideas, be willing to try something at least once, be patient while trying it and have a good attitude about it. Above all, be Christlike in character and do everything in love.

“God intended you to take your marriage to the fullest intimate relationship you can. You’ll see a difference in your relationship, and your children will see it too.”

The adult discipleship department of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention sponsors Fall Festivals.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at www.sbcbaptistpress.org. Photo title: MARRIAGE COUNSELOR.

    About the Author

  • Terri Lackey