SWM 056 – How To Feel Connected During Sex
What does it mean to feel “connected” during sex. For many spouses, when their husband or wife says “I don’t feel connected during sex”, they get quite confused. They’re thinking “I am literally inside of you/you are literally inside of me, how can we be MORE connected?!”
But of course, they’re not talking about a physical connection, but rather an emotional, mental or spiritual connection.
And unfortunately, I don’t think that’s a problem that is actually solvable as is. I don’t think there’s any such thing as an emotional, mental or spiritual connection. I think we made those things up to express how we feel. But, I don’t think they actually exist. Rather, I think we should be looking at what’s behind those feelings to try and solve the problem of not feeling “connected”.
What is Spiritual Connection?
Let’s start by taking a step back and not talking about sex for a moment. Let’s talk about church. If you talk to people after a church service about their experience, it’s amazing the responses you’ll get. In the same sermon, you can have one person who “really felt the LORDs presence” and another who felt “God wasn’t here today”. One will say the sermon was directly from God and another will say it lacked God’s inspiration. Some will say the music was heavenly, and others will say the music was too much like a concert (or an elevator). Some that the prayers were heartfelt and powerful, others that the prayers were long and boring.
How can people who all listened to the same thing, in the same room at the same time have so many different opinions about the service and its connection to God?
And the simple answer can be found in scripture:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
For I the Lord do not change;
God is always there, and God is unchanging. He was in the room during that service and all the other services. He’s with you in the auditorium, He’s with you in the hallway, in the parking lot, the bathroom and the bedroom. God is always there. Always focused 100% on you, always loving, always caring, always calling you hoping for your attention.
What then is what people call “spiritual connection”?
Some people think that we have this tenuous “thing” called a soul, and that somehow that soul connects to God on some spiritual level. However, I don’t think the Bible teaches that. I think the Bible is clear that we don’t have a soul – we are a soul. There’s nothing magical about what people call a spiritual connection. Rather, I think it’s simply that our expectations of what a connection should be like is being met.
For some, they feel connected when the sermon is passionate, exciting, when the pastor is yelling, has this cadence to his voice, is stomping around the stage, thumping his Bible. They hear that sermon, and they feel connected. For others, they like a sermon that’s quiet, contemplative, thought provoking. One that has pauses to give you a chance to reflect. It lets out some new tidbits of knowledge that give context and understanding to your walk with God. They hear that and feel connected.
But you’ll likely never have these two people feeling connected about the same sermon. God was always there but their expectations of what that connection feels like weren’t met.
And the same can be said for worship styles, for types of music, for orders of worship and for prayers. During prayer, some people feel connected, when they feel their needs are being prayed for. So, they hear a congregational prayer that says something like “Lord, I know some people here are hurting, lift them up”, and they’re hurting, they feel heard, they feel connected. For others, they like prayers that make them feel repentant and forgiven. That sense of accountability makes them feel connected, like God is watching over them, pushing them to grow.
But the sermon, music and prayers are the same. It’s the individual that has their expectations met, or not.
Back to the bedroom
So, then what about feeling connected in the bedroom? I think it’s much the same way. Some believe that our souls are overlapping or reconnecting, but that’s not a bible-based belief. Rather, it’s based in Plato’s teachings from The Symposium.
I think the truth is that, as above, we have our preferences that inform our expectations. We have the things we like that make us feel connected. And yes, now we’re dealing with humans on both sides, so their focus can drift, they can be more or less enthusiastic at each session, but the basic premise is still the same:
We have expectations that need to be met in order for us to feel connected.
And I think a lot of the time, we don’t know what our expectations are. Do you know what makes you feel connected in the bedroom?
I asked this on Instagram and Facebook and quite a few people shared their answers. Some of them were:
- Eye contact
- Hearing my spouse’s voice during sex / Language / Words
- Being face to face
- More foreplay
- Talking before sex
- When my spouse reads my body language and responds
- All day / non-sexual interactions
- Prayer before sex
Some people overlapped, having similar or even the same expectations, others were quite different – and that’s okay. These are personal preferences.
The problem we get into is when people start to think they are principles rather than preferences, that our spouse should know our preferences because they are universal truths, when we judge others for having different preferences, or when when we think our spouse is being selfish, crude, animalistic, or perverted if our preferences don’t get met every time you have sex.
And you might laugh at that idea, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that there are men and women out there who believe that any sexual act besides missionary position, face to face, is not fit for married couples. Sometimes they’re mad at me for suggesting otherwise. Sometimes their spouses email me in tears because they don’t know how to make their spouse see any differently and they’re frankly hurt by their spouses lack of vulnerability – their unwillingness to step out of their comfort zone with them.
On the other side, there are also men and women who feel the strongest connection when they or their spouse is face down, tied spread-eagle while blindfolded and they’re using multiple erogenous zones and techniques at the same time to bring about a variety of sensations culminating in massive orgasms. But sometimes they or their spouses email me too saying that sometimes it would be nice to just hold each other and have some slow, romantic sex and asking how to bring that up with their husband or wife.
I’m not saying one is better than the other, or that both are extremes and the truth is in the middle. All I’m saying is that we need to recognize these are preferences. They are how we feel connected. There is no actual connection. There is merely two people, focusing on each other, both with their own set of expectations of what good, connected sex looks and feels like.
Why is it important that connection is misunderstood?
Because it changes that connection from something that’s magic to something that we can make practical changes to affect.
When we believe in things like spiritual connections or emotional connections, then it’s not based in a real world. It’s not something we can do anything about. When we feel God is not present, we are lost, what can we do to get His attention if He chooses to withhold it? Absolutely nothing. Look at some of David’s Psalms and see the despair when he believes God isn’t paying attention.
How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart daily?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
When you believe that connection is some mystical force, or because the other person isn’t focusing on their side of the “connection”, then you have little hope. What can you do? Especially if you don’t even know what causes that connection.
But if you recognize that “connection” is merely an abstracted concept of us having undisclosed expectations that either get met, or don’t, then it’s now partially our responsibility to feel connected. If you don’t tell your spouse “I feel connected when …”, then how can they be expected to meet that expectation?
However, if you accept that these are just your preferences, not universal truths, or some unmeasurable, unknowable force that connects some mystical part of your being, then you can do something about it.
You can tell your spouse “I need xyz to feel connected”. You can ask them what they need to feel connected. You can recognize that those two things might be mutually exclusive.
You can also realize that your preferences are just preferences, and preferences can change, they can grow, they can expand. They can learn to enjoy new situations, new activities, new expressions.
And of course, we like the things we know we like. We prefer them. We might even think that we don’t like things we’ve never tried. My children all went through this phase. Up until about a month or less ago, as soon as he heard that it was time to eat dinner, my 5 year old immediately started screaming “I DON’T WANT SUPPER!”. Why? Because it’s probably not going to be pizza which is his favourite food right now. The funny times are when it turns out to be pizza, then he gets this embarrassed look on his face.
Either way, he still has to eat dinner, and usually he eats it – it’s not bad, it’s just not pizza. And sometimes he’s surprised by how much he likes it. He gets this look on his face at that first bite, turns to us and says, with astonishment, “This is actually good!” Each time, we tell him the same mantra – it’s good to try new things! In the last few weeks, he’s started to outgrow this and learn that new things are sometimes good.
I wonder how many spouses say “NO, I DON’T WANT TO TRY THAT!” when it comes to sexual activities because it’s not their favourite and they can’t even conceive of liking anything else. I wonder how many have been taught, explicitly or implicitly, that there’s a “proper” way to have sex, and that makes them feel connected and other ways aren’t valid.
I wonder how many couples are missing out on really good sexual experiences that would benefit their marriage, simply because they’re trying to grasp on to a “connection” that they believe exists.
I wonder how many refuse to bless their spouses in ways that would make their spouse feel connected because they refuse to have sex where they themselves don’t feel as connected.
How do you improve the feeling of connection during sex?
Recognize it’s just a feeling, not reality. Talk about what generates that feeling in you and ask your spouse what generates that feeling in them.
Then, craft experiences where those expectations and preferences are met. Either for one of you, or both. But, don’t be afraid to experiment with experiences where there’s a chance neither will be.
You might be surprised to find a new method of feeling connected. Either way, you’ll learn something new about each other – and that knowing and being known can help produce those same feelings.
If you’ve been stuck in a rut for a long time, maybe try something like our Spice Jar, which I designed to help couples shake things up. Yeah, you’ll likely have a few encounters where both of you say “this didn’t work for me”, but you might find some new ones that spark something in you.
We also have a printable called Our Sexploration List which is a massive 25 page resource with hundreds of sexual activities on it.
Or, if you feel you need a more strategic and focused approach to get things moving, check out our marriage coaching to really give your marriage a push in the right direction.
In the meantime, keep exploring. Remember – it’s good to try new things.
37 Questions for spouses to ask each other about sex
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