A couple of years ago I was in a rush out of the house when my wife said, “I have some thoughts about our sex life.” Suddenly I wasn’t in such a hurry. I asked her what she was “thinking.” She laughed and said “No, I wasn’t thinking about having sex. I was thinking about the towels.”
I had no idea what she was talking about, but I told her I liked where this was going. She then told me that when I come out of the shower, I often left my clothes and towels on the floor which she would later have to pick up. She felt like I was inconsiderate and that it made it hard for her to want to have sex with me.
Cue the scene where the husband looks completely dumbfounded. I asked her if she could see the towels when we had sex and tried to understand how something she couldn’t see in the moment could possibly impact our sex life.
We laughed at how different we saw the situation, but I assured her that I didn’t want to be inconsiderate or create work for her. Now when I get out of the shower, I pick up my clothes, hang up my towel, and buff out the floor (I'm just kidding about one of those).
The idea of “towels” has become a helpful metaphor in our marriage. Often there are things in our marriage that aren’t actually about sex, but they impact our sex life. For my wife, Pam, it is often the way I help (or don’t help) around the house and the way I speak to her. For me, it is often around issues of respect. For many couples it’s connected to how we treat each other as husband and wife.
In Colossians 3:12-14, Paul writes,
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
Since I work with other couples, I know a few things that are generally true.
- First, most couples would like to have a better sex life.
- Second, the issue impacting their sex life is almost never about sex. It’s not that the couple needs something new to wear or a new position to try out.
- Rather, it generally has more to do with the “towels” in their relationship. For example, is your marriage marked by trust, good will, and kind words? What if your marriage was marked by Paul’s words in Colossians 3:12-14? You can’t actually see these things when you’re having sex, but make no mistake they impact your intimacy.
- Experience tells me that if you focus on your “towels,” then your sex life will improve without even trying.
Ask your spouse: What do you think the "towels" are in our marriage?