It seems coffee serves a functional purpose for many, as they habitually gulp it down to get their daily fix of caffeine. However, for me, I believe drinking coffee should be an experience. I love to relish in the aroma, the anticipation, and the savor of each sip. And this is even better when shared with a good friend. Drinking coffee becomes an experience of sensual delights, and dare I say erotic.
Sadly, when it comes to sex, many couples also describe their encounters as more functional than erotic. Sex for them has become mechanical, a routine, and even a chore, and not a pursuit and delight in sensual pleasure, which is a definition eroticism (see David Schnarch).
While sex has the potential to be profoundly erotic, this is not something inherent in the act itself. It is something we must bring into the encounter by acknowledging our delight in sensual pleasure.
Certainly this can be displayed through sexual behaviors (e.g., techniques, positions, sexy lingerie, etc.), but eroticism is more about who we are than what we do. It involves our presence, our way of being, or the style in which we express ourselves sexually.
For many, it is easier to acknowledge the function of sex, and even horniness, than the deep enjoyment of sensual pleasure. Because pleasure has often been considered synonymous with sin, many have been hesitant to fully embrace it, even within the marriage bed.
We must refuse to fall into the enemy’s trap of denying ourselves God’s good pleasures. Such denial can actually make us more vulnerable to sin.
This certainly seems to be the case with many marriages impacted by pornography and affairs. Without justifying these sins or assuming they are the result of simplistic causes, I have regularly observed a correlation between a marriage bed devoid of eroticism and sexual sins. Pornography and affairs are often the illicit means to pursue the creativity, passion, and eroticism a spouse actually longs for in the marriage.
Another difficulty in cultivating eroticism is the risk associated with being vulnerable and feeling exposed. It can be scary to reveal such personal delight, even to our spouse. What will my spouse think? Will I be considered too risqué or dirty?
While it is “safer” to hold back, hide, and deny our eroticism from our spouse, doing so also robs the marriage of its intimate potential. When individuals are willing to acknowledge their own sensual pleasure and share this with their spouse, marital intimacy is enhanced.
Practice slowing down and fully enjoying all the sensual pleasures around you. Your morning cup of coffee would be a great start. Let eroticism also grace your marriage bed, as you delight in all the passionate joys available with your spouse.
What do you think? Would you describe your sexual encounters as erotic? What makes this difficult? What helps?
For more on embracing holy pleasures in general, check out Gary Thomas’ book: