"There is a suggestion that men need more sex than females. If this is true, what do you think of ‘maintenance sex’?"

The higher level of testosterone in men tends to generate more of a drive to initiate sex, so I agree with your sentiment that many (though not all) men need more sex than women. However, the thought of ‘maintenance sex’ would make me feel like I had a car needing a constant MOT, a sure-fire passion killer. Men can control their sex drive and learn to manage their testosterone in other ways, so we must balance our response with giving them credit for self-control. Respond to this positively rather than negatively. Your husband’s higher drive is there to keep your love life alive in seasons when you might let it dwindle and even die. So when he initiates and you are not in the mood, find ways through which you can be responsive, and don’t add him to your list of chores to be ticked off.

Female sexual arousal can catch up during foreplay, as long as your mind is not resentful or switched off. If you focus on feeling nothing, that will be your experience. Focus instead on memories of being turned on together in the past, move into positions that will help you feel more sexy, and let some passion rise. Don’t do ‘shut down sex’ as it will damage you, and ultimately your husband too.

Take control of the meaning you put on this act. Do you see it as something he is taking from you? Reframe it in a way that is honouring to him and uplifting to you. When we promised to ‘honour you with my body’ the honour was as much mental as physical. See his initiative for sex as potentially something that he can give to you, not take from you.

The truth is, not all sex is amazing, and that’s fine. Just make sure next time is a quality time.

"Our church teaches that wives should submit to their husbands. Am I ungodly if I don’t submit?"

This comes from Colossians 3:18–19 where wives are told to submit (v18), but it is to a force of love (v19): ‘Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.’ Elsewhere husbands are told to love their wives ‘as Christ loved the church’ (Ephesians 5:25). Love is defined in 1 Corinthians 13 in case we need a benchmark. The aim is for harmony and flow.

It is not a licence to be domineering or harsh. The authority of the husband is not ultimate; they too are submitted to higher authorities which is that of the state – the law – and that of Christ. If their leadership contravenes these higher authorities then it should not be submitted to and the wife should take the lead instead.

Husbands also have to submit to their wives. We are told in Ephesians 5:21, ‘Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.’ If we combine pragmatism with the desire to honour and bring the best out of the other, this teaching creates a lovely wheel that is well oiled. Like with most areas of theology, if we get legalistic about it, it crushes life and love.

"I have been going out with my boyfriend for more than three years. We both go to church and consider ourselves Christians. Is sexual repression for this length of time teaching us to live without sexual intimacy? We have never had intercourse."

As long as you are still enjoying sexual touch (without intercourse) and keeping a positive psychology about sex, then you won’t be doing yourselves any harm. This includes not living with guilt about sex. Focus on the positives of what you can enjoy doing with a clear conscience. Become fantastic kissers. Enjoy touching each other’s skin in all sorts of different ways, just leaving out the zones that will take you over your boundaries. Look forward to your times when you become physically intimate, relax into what you feel you can do, and don’t allow stress or guilt to rob you of that.

Become aware of God’s approval and joy in you celebrating how he made you both physically. If you can really enjoy other forms of physical intimacy pre-intercourse, it will be a great foundation to a healthy sex life once married. Many of the sexual problems married couples face are due to impoverished foreplay, which is not God’s desire for us.