One of the things that hurts my heart the most as a married woman is the number of couples who are struggling in the area of intimacy. Views of healthy sexuality vary greatly amongst people. When a husband and wife’s views do not align it can cause significant damage to the relationship.
Men are physical beings, while women tend to be more geared towards the emotional side of things. A few years ago, I was attending a weekend training to assist individuals in crisis. We were instructed to phrase questions differently when talking to men or women. For women, it is okay to ask them how they felt or how they are currently feeling. For men, your questions should be geared towards their reaction. The reason? Many men do not feel comfortable sharing their emotions. They house that area of their life as something that very few (if any) people have access to.
In regards to sex, it’s like men are microwaves and women are slow cookers—sometimes on the lowest setting. Men can be instantly aroused, whereas women take longer. Men can switch gears in their mind very quickly, while a woman has a playlist a million miles long. She needs to checkmark all of the boxes before she can fully enjoy your time alone together.
I once heard a pastor talking to married couples about sex. He joked that if you want your wife to be more responsive you should put a few locks on the door. Without them, he said, all the wife will be focused on is thoughts about the kids knocking down the door just because they need a snack or have decided that they want to hear yet another bedtime story.
Joking aside, an atmosphere of comfort and relaxation is important. This is not solely limited to the bedroom, but goes in regards to the relationship in itself. Because men are more physical, they are commonly most interested in having their masculinity noticed. They want to be acknowledged for being hard-working, and they want to be respected.
Men, though you may struggle with deep conversation, if you feel as if you are not appreciated or valued by your wife it may be worth asking her why. Try not to be confrontational, judgemental, or angry as you approach this difficult topic. Refrain from an immediate reaction. Instead, listen intently to what she has to say and give yourself time to digest her feedback before you respond.
Women tend to desire time, attention, and devotion. As long as the needs of the family are being met, most women would trade a hefty savings account for a few hours of their husband’s time. She wants to be appreciated for the things that she does for the family. She needs to know that even after a handful of kids her husband still finds her to be the most beautiful woman in the world. When a woman feels valued, protected, and loved, it can increase her desire for intimacy. She needs to feel as if she is being taken care of and respected – first in the world, and secondly in the bedroom.
Wives, if you don’t feel this way, then it’s time to initiate a serious conversation. Maybe you feel like an emphasis is placed on his satisfaction every time you make love, and you’re frustrated. How will your husband know to try a different approach with you if you won’t tell him?
Were you raised in a home where sex was not talked about? Maybe it was believed to only be important for childbearing? Did a friend tell you that you are not obligated to have sex with your husband, and it’s okay for you to stand your ground and refuse intimacy for great periods of time? Take it from a fellow woman, you are robbing yourself tremendously by not allowing yourself to surrender and find satisfaction in the strong arms of your husband. Sex is intended for so much more than physical pleasure. It should be a way to promote oneness, increase knowledge of one another, provide comfort, and should protect the marriage from outside temptation.
“Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
-1 Corinthians 7:5
Husbands, don’t nod your head in satisfaction that I’m trying to prove that your wife is obligated to have sex with you! And wives, take the time to hear me out on this one.
For those of you who argue that it is Biblical according to 1 Corinthians 7 for a wife to have sex with her husband, you may also want to read the part that says it is a concession and not a command (vs. 6). Or take note of the fact that both the husband and wife are equally supposed to surrender themselves to their spouse (vs.3-4).
Too often this verse is referred to by individuals who are trying to justify why they seek out pornography. But when you use this scriptural reference and neglect the various other verses that are applicable to situations such as this, you are creating a double standard.
Though you may feel neglected by your spouse, seeking out pornography becomes selfish ambition. It ultimately puts you back in control of your body instead of continuing to relinquish that control to your spouse. One cannot stand on 1 Corinthians 7:5, but then ignore Matthew 5:28 where Jesus says, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” And if we go back and review the list of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, we are clearly reminded that adultery is sin.
The world is going to tell you that what you have in front of you is not enough. It will encourage you to adjust your standard of beauty. Don’t fall victim to this talk. It will only give birth to resentment and anger, which the enemy will use to further destroy any traces of love you had for your wife.
“Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin,when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
Likewise, ladies if you’re neglecting intimacy with your husband and reading an erotic romance novel, you are just as guilty as your husband. You are allowing fantasy to rule your thoughts. If you’re scrolling Facebook or hanging onto the words of the ladies in your weekly prayer meeting who brag about how incredible their husbands are, you will not be attracted to your husband because your mind will tell you that he is not good enough.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
Comparing what you have to others and having a yearning for what they have, regardless of how you look at it, is sin.
Instead of comparing and contrasting, take a step back. What made you fall in love with your spouse in the first place? Why did you choose to say “I do”? For the areas of life that you may no longer be satisfied, is there a good reason for the so-called decline?
Recently my husband and I were contacted by the people who are in the process of buying our house. They shared with us that under the layers of carpet and linoleum, they found beautiful hardwood floors. We never knew they existed! This couple now has plans to restore these floors as close to their original beauty as possible. Will they look the same? Of course not. Time has aged them, they have experienced wear and tear. They have seen added layers but they will become beautiful once again with some care and effort.
People don’t need a new spouse, they need a rekindled marriage. Life changes as the years pass by, but the value can remain the same. In my case, after 13 years of marriage, the value of my relationship with my husband has increased significantly. It took time, understanding, compassion, and respect. It took accepting the flaws and working through the imperfections. Above all else, it took rearranging our lives to allow God to be at the center of it all.
Many people choose to spend a small fortune on a perfect wedding day. The wedding day does not set the standard of happiness within your relationship. The amount you spend does not secure a lifetime of happiness, honor, and respect. Instead, the most important day of your life as a married couple is going to be the day when your spouse breathes his or her last breath.
I witnessed this in my life a few years ago after receiving a phone call. My mom was being rushed to the emergency room. When my sister and I arrived, we were escorted into a small consultation room. There we found a doctor consoling my dad. It was then, totally unexpected, that we received the news that though the doctors did everything they could to revive my mom, they were unable to save her. It was final. Death had consumed life. There was no time for second chances or apologies.
When you face this time in your life are you going to have regrets? Are you allowing things of this world and opinions of others to mold and shape your relationship? Or are you going to fight for your marriage? Today, you can determine to change your outlook and start anew.
Will today be the day that you give up your selfish ambitions and desires? Decide to enter into the ring to champion a marriage that can be spoken highly of at the end of your life!
Maybe you’re not sure where to begin, and that’s okay. But it’s important to start somewhere. Having a conversation to discuss what is going wrong and the things that are going right is a good place to begin. If you have been living in a tension-filled marriage for a long time, this may be a conversation best to have with a pastor, counselor, or some other kind of mediator present.
For many couples, pornography or sexual sin has been taunting the relationship for a significant amount of time.
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