This past summer, my wife and I sat on the bank of the Potomac River to watch some advanced pyrotechnics. Fireworks in D.C., baby. What could be better? We were in town for a wedding, of all things, and got to spend the weekend with some lifelong friends. The Fourth of July provided a fitting background for the thoughts and vows of marriage to take center stage.
“Fireworks” is a word we use to describe romantic or sexual encounters in and out of marriage. Of all the symbols or ideas that reflect marriage, this concept of “fire” keeps coming up.
Just starting to date? Sparks.
Falling in love? Flames.
Getting physical? Things are heating up … Hot and heavy.
Reviving your love? Keep the flame alive.
Reflecting on past love? An old flame.
Relationships between a man and a woman are so intense, so powerful, that fire might be the only fitting symbol. This might be a surprise to you, but the idea of “fire” in the marriage relationship didn’t start in Hollywood—it started in the Old Testament, from one God-honoring lover to another: “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned” (Song of Solomon 8:6-7).
We hardly talk about sex in church. In fact, it seems like the only time sex comes up is in TV, music or movies. And yet, here, in Song of Solomon, love is described as a fire that just cannot be put out.
God wants you to enjoy fireworks in marriage. Before I got married, I thought that the physical relationship was the “icing” on the cake. Instead, we come to learn that sex is more than just the icing; it is part of the entire cake. It is an integral part of your marriage relationship, and it is connected to everything else (communication, serving each other, time together, priorities, coordinating your schedules …) Sex affects—and is affected by—the rest of your marriage.
Every relationship is different. Every couple’s “flame,” whether romantically or sexually, is going to be different and unique to them. But some principles are the same when it comes to the kind of fireworks God wants us to experience.
Here are a few thoughts for husbands and wives on fireworks:
Try being unselfish. The more you seek to please your spouse, the more enjoyable life will be for both of you! (Galatians 5:13.) This goes for the husbands first—set the tone by serving your wife—ask her how she wants you to do that!
Try listening to each other. Communicate openly about what feels good and what doesn’t. You are making love to your spouse; you don’t have to worry about some vague idea of “what women want” or “what men like.” So please make an effort to communicate—this is crucial (1 Peter 3:7).
Be patient. Very rarely are couples “sex experts” overnight. I hear that, with the right attitude, the fireworks get better as the years go by (1 Corinthians 13:4).
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Many couples struggle for years before getting a helpful book or going to a counselor to talk. Why wait? Don’t kid yourselves and act like it will all work out eventually (Proverbs 15:22).
Make sex a priority. Too often, couples make this the last thing that happens in their day (or not at all). This deserves better energy and planning than we often give it. Song of Solomon is in the Bible for a reason. Read it together!
Realize that you are to act like “one flesh” in marriage. In other words, don’t use sex as a reward, or withhold sex as a punishment. It can be something that helps you “make up” after an argument, or help you realize how silly the argument was in the first place (Ephesians 5:31).
For the Fourth of July, some of us drive miles and miles, ride a subway, save seats an hour early and commit to waiting in a parking lot for another hour or more after the fact—just to see some small explosions in the sky. If you’re committed to working on it, God created you to enjoy real fireworks in marriage.