For good or bad, the sexual revolution originating in the 1960’s, has evolved into knowing anything and everything about the physical act of sex. Things have changed in just a generation or two.
My mother related a funny but sad story to me told to her by her cousin when as adults, she and her cousin conversed reminisced about some of their childhood experiences. It was in the 1930’s. Sex topics were hush-hush. When her cousin’s menarche suddenly occurred without warning, she thought her insides were coming out. She panicked, ran to a nearby creek, and waded up to her chest thinking that somehow, the creek water would stop the flow.
I had an aged, widowed aunt laugh and tell me that when she got married to my uncle in the mid-1940’s, he didn’t know what to do on their honeymoon night. And, he was a college graduate!
Sex was not something talked about back then according to my mom and aunt. It was love, marriage, and then sex after marriage with couples having to learn about the nuances of sex after marriage by trial and error.
In my mother’s generation, the moral principles of a song popularized by Frank Sinatra were the norm. The song was released in 1955 and reached number three on the charts.
Love and marriage, love and marriage,
Go together like a horse and carriage.
Dad was told by mother you can't have one
You can't have none.
You can't have one without the other.
There was a time when the moral norm of our nation was that sex should be reserved for marriage, or at least that was the ideal. But not anymore. It seems a rarity today (at least in my experience as a minister of the Gospel) to have a couple come to the marriage altar who has not had sexual relations or who have not been living together.
Yet, with all the information about sex and the guides to having “good sex,” it can be complicated and frustrating. The sexual freedom brought on by the sexual revolution actually binds the soul like cruel chains of bondage.
Why? Because there is more to it than the physical act and the pleasure it brings at climax through the release of those feel good hormones like dopamine. Sexual climax produces the largest blast of dopamine to your brain that you can get without resorting to drugs. In fact, some studies have revealed that the brain scans of people during orgasm resemble those in the midst of certain drug highs.
There is the physical release of feel good hormones, but there are the spiritual, mental, and emotional components as well. I had a single man tell me, “I’ve had great sex with a lot of women. But, the next morning, I don’t even want to see the woman. Why is that?” Well literally, “You can’t have one without the other.”
The physical and spiritual components of marriage are expressed in Ephesians 5:31-32. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh" (vs. 31, the physical component).
Next is the spiritual component. “This is a profound mystery— but I am talking about Christ and the church” (vs. 32). This profound mystery is that the sex act in marriage is an icon of the sacred union between Christ and His beloved Bride, the church. Our expressions of sexuality within the bounds of marriage are the closest approximation to the unity, joy, and fulfillment between us and Christ. The spiritual mystery of unity connecting Christ, the bridegroom, with us, His treasured and lovely bride, becomes reality in the physical act of sex. It is a holy mysterious event ordained, pure, and blessed by God within marriage love and commitment.
I think God meant what He said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). God intended for the sexual act to be within the parameters of marriage. Marriage is like a fence that protects both husband and wife from predators. It’s like a farmer fencing in his milk cows for their own protection and benefit. A good farmer provides green, fertile pastures for them. As long as they stay within the fence, they can’t graze on the briars and weeds outside the fence. Plus, they do not endanger themselves or someone driving a car who could hit them and crash killing both the driver and the cow.
Not only is the couple protected within the fence built by the marriage vows, the souls of both the husband and the wife benefit too. Their spiritual, mental, emotional, and mental components come together in a perfect unity of wholeness. That’s the beauty of marriage and the way God intended for it to be when He officiated the very first wedding in the Garden of Eden giving Eve to Adam to make them whole as one.
But even in a committed relationship protected by boundaries of mutual commitment, the mystery of sexual wholeness can fall woefully short especially if the physical aspect is deficient.
Before meeting with a married couple for counseling sessions, a therapist met with the wife separate from her husband. On the issue of sex, she complained, “All he ever wants me for is sex. We have it three times a week. Way too much for me. The best part about sex for me is when it’s over!”
The next day, it was the husband’s turn to meet singularly with the therapist. The discussion turned to sex. The husband grumbled, “We don’t have enough! We just have it three times a week!”
So, how does a wife deal with the loss of interest in sex when her testosterone-charged husband can’t get enough?
Such a wife may turn bitter toward her husband and complain, “All you want from me is sex.” A husband will interpret this as a put-down and disrespect. And respect is his primary need - not sex. Surprised? Remember that sex is not just physical but involves the emotions, mind, and spirit. All four are bound up in the make-up of the soul – the essence of who were we. If the physical is not met, the other elements suffer damage which damages the soul. It’s like not adding baking powder and salt to the plain flour and expecting a complete cake. The whole cake suffers if one element is left out. It comes out flat.
When a wife withholds sex from her husband for whatever reason, it goes beyond the physical for him. Yes, she may be tired, mad at him, not in the mood, or just plain apathetic. She may see only the effort that the act requires of her and is too tired to engage. He sees it as rejection and disrespect of him in the deepest regions of his soul.
Respect the husband. Love the wife. It’s right there in the Bible. “Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (Ephesians 5:33). So simple yet so profound. Dr. Emerson Eggerichs in his book, Love and Respect, has proven through research, decades of marriage counseling, his own life experience, seminars, and countless testimonies that a wife’s greatest need is love and the man’s greatest need is respect. He explains and gives practical help for how a husband is to love his wife and how a wife is to respect her husband. Many testimonies are also included about improved marriages and fractured marital relationship repaired if the principles and advice are implemented.
If a wife rejects her husband’s sexual advances over time, the fire in the marriage relationship could wane and die. Moreover, the wife’s need for emotional intimacy goes unmet which can decrease her physical desire for sex. Thus, you have two needy, unhappy people unfulfilled in a relationship that was designed by God to satisfy deep soul needs and to complement one another.
If you are a wife who feels “all he wants from me is sex,” reconsider meeting your husband’s physical sexual needs which meets his underlying greater need to be respected by you. Here are several practical suggestions to meet your husband’s physical needs that could rejuvenate your marriage and eventually lead to your need for love being met as well.
1. It only takes a short time and makes him so happy! This was the advice a mother gave her daughter as related by the daughter to Eggerichs. The daughter confided in her mother that she and her husband had not been intimate for seven days because she had not felt like it. Her mom replied, “But, it only takes a short time and makes him so happy!” Her mom and dad had been married for 47 happy years. (Eggerichs, p. 257)
2. Be empathetic. How would a wife feel if her husband refused to speak to her for seven days? Would she feel loved? A husband who doesn’t speak to his wife for seven days makes her feel unloved and rejected. Likewise, withholding sex from a husband makes him feel disrespected and rejected. Be empathetic. Walk in his shoes.
3. Look at yielding to his needs as your Christian ministry to him. If you knew of a family whose home was lost in a fire, would you minister to that family? Jesus said that ministry done to the thirsty, hungry, sick, and homeless was ministry done to Him (Matthew 25:35-40). Eggerichs explains, “Minister to his body if you want to gain access to his spirit” (p. 250). Yielding to his physical needs is an expression of Christian ministry.
4. Practice the golden rule. “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). The late Zig Ziglar said it like this, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” One thing is for sure, if you deny your husband sex, it will be almost impossible for your deepest needs to be met in the marriage relationship too. But know this also, that relationships are complex. There are no guarantees that you can work your husband like a math formula, and presto, all your problems are solved. It takes a lot of patience, faith, prayer, and the inner-working of God’s grace in both husband and wife.
5. Turn the lights on. A man is visually stimulated. I can’t speak for women, but it seems to me based on my counseling ministry that most women would just as soon the room be darkened. Men prefer love by light. After God made Eve, Adam opened his eyes and saw her standing naked in front of him for the first time. He exclaimed, “WOW!” (Genesis 2:23). Well, that’s not the exact translation. The translation is rather lame, “bone of my bones.” But the meaning is unmistakable in the original Hebrew. The word indicates “joyous astonishment.” In other words when Adam saw Eve in all her glory, he exclaimed, “Wow! She’s beautiful! I can’t believe what I am seeing!” And men have been saying that about a naked woman ever since! So, don’t throw water on your husband if he wants to watch you in the shower. Relish that attention. Be thankful that he is stimulated by just looking at you and leave a light on.
Saying yes to a husband’s desire for sex says to him “I respect you. I value your thoughts, feelings, and desires.” And that’s his heart need.
If a husband is of good-will, the wife may see him become more attentive to her need for emotional intimacy and respond affirmatively to what she needs from him if she can say “Yes” to sex. And isn’t that what a wife wants? She doesn’t want the feeling that says, “All he wants me for is sex.”
She wants the feeling that says, “All he wants me for is me.”
Saying yes to sex just might unlock the door that opens the relationship to the blessings, peace, joy and wholeness of the soul that God intended and wants for all of us in the marital relationship.
Rev. Dan White is a free-lance author and speaker and is founder and pastor of North Columbia Church, Appling, GA
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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“All he wants me for is me.” Do I ever like that! Thank you for this well-rounded counselling article. You remind us of much that we already know, but too often forget. Thank you, too, for your kind comment on my recent story "One Love." All for Jesus!