The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.
In marriage, you are equal partners, with many aspirations that likely include having a mutually satisfying sexual relationship.
Knowing how to please each other and create a contented and happy sex life can happen with tender communication, respectful consultation, and a willingness to grow together.
Learning to consult about sex in an effective way is one of the unique tasks a married couple discovers how to do well together. There is a balance to manage between being frank and honest and being loving and tactful. In addition, as you are compassionate with each other, you will be able to clearly hear each other’s perspectives. In the Baha’i teachings, this kind of loving communication is called consultation:
Consultation bestoweth greater awareness and transmuteth conjecture into certitude. It is a shining light which, in a dark world, leadeth the way and guideth. For everything there is and will continue to be a station of perfection and maturity. The maturity of the gift of understanding is made manifest through consultation. – Baha’u’llah, from a tablet to an individual Baha’i.
A kindly tongue is the lodestone of the hearts of men. It is the bread of the spirit, it clotheth the words with meaning, it is the fountain of the light of wisdom and understanding …. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 289.
Communicating with one another about sex can be challenging for many couples. It is a deeply personal subject associated with vulnerability and sensitivities. It can be easy to trip into hurting each other’s feelings, so it is particularly important to approach the topic frankly but gently. Given the sensitivity of this subject, your tone of voice will be as important as the words you use. To have high-quality communications, it is also best for distractions to be minimized and factors like hunger or fatigue to be addressed first.
Not everything that a man knoweth can be disclosed, nor can everything that he can disclose be regarded as timely, nor can every timely utterance be considered as suited to the capacity of those who hear it. – Ibid., p. 186.
Sex and sexuality are complex and include a wide variety of attitudes, beliefs, values, preferences, expectations, and histories. Sex is also something many people are not accustomed to discussing, and it tends to be a highly charged arena. The result can be disagreements and emotionally painful disconnection. It is not surprising, then, that couples often avoid the subject of sex, especially if previous discussions have not gone well.
Each person has a history of sexual understanding and experiences shaped by the world around them. In some cases, shame or guilt about past actions, or trauma from abuse experiences, can affect a couple’s intimate life together. A wonderful opportunity for healing and growth exists when partners offer compassionate and supportive listening to each other. In this way they can address past harmful influences together, and, if necessary, seek healing guidance from professionals.
Consultations about sex will benefit from being knowledgeable about human sexuality and reproduction. It is important to be discerning about information sources and to seek reliable, scientific information. Pornography is not a reliable information source. Couples can best learn about sex in the context of a marriage relationship, and together adjust to the complexities of changing anatomy, physiology, and emotions over their lifespan. This knowledge empowers both women and men to understand sexual functioning and to have more confidence with each other.
Married couples who are conscious of their spiritual reality can experience an intimate soul connection while making love. This spiritual closeness occurs through acts of gentleness, generosity, sincerity, and enthusiasm. Ruhiyyih Rabbani wrote:
When we unite love with sex in its proper place, which is marriage, we have an abiding fountain of happiness and strength from which to draw. Sex can strengthen love, love can sublimate sex into a spiritual communion, a joy for the soul as well as the body. – Prescription for Living, p. 87.
Whether a couple is having serious problems or not, a key to growing sexual and emotional connection is communication. Talk about sex. Consult about potential solutions. If you are having a difficult time bringing it up, then begin with an opening request: “I want us to talk about sex, but it’s hard. for me. I’m just not comfortable with it. Can we try talking together?” And go from there. Discussions can explore preferences in honest and loving ways, and mutual learning is possible. Couples may have some access to conversation if they first read a section of a good book or an informative article together.
With a learning-in-action mindset, communication about sex can be paired with experimental touch and feedback about what does and does not feel good. Preferences related to sensual touch vary from person to person. Some people may need to expand their ability to enjoy touch, and others may need to restrain sensual expression. Passion and sensuality are normal human qualities when expressed in balance. When couples are newly married, it can be a fascinating time of open curiosity about each other’s bodies and responses. It is a time of discovering each other’s sexual preferences and pleasures. Couples married a longer time can also use sensual exploration to reconnect.
Couples with young children can sometimes fall into patterns of looking after the children and not each other. Couples benefit from clearing out distractions and handling responsibilities so they free themselves for intimate time together. Couples with children learn about the importance of a lock on the bedroom door and if necessary making a “date” for intimacy.
Each couple is unique, but it seems that all couples must be willing to communicate and consult in order to work through any problems and to develop a contented and happy sexual relationship.
Settle all things, both great and small, by consultation. Without prior consultation, take no important step in your own personal affairs. Concern yourselves with one another. – Abdu’l-Baha, Lights of Guidance, p. 178.
When couples become comfortable in communicating about all aspects of their life together, they create a special intimacy, nurture their emotional bond, and enhance their relationship stability. Couples who value and honor each other’s spiritual and sexual well-being contribute to creating a marriage that develops organically throughout their lives as a blessing for both partners.