UNDERSTANDING MASCULINE SEXUALITY
The Sexual Man
Saying “A man’s nature is like this or that” is about as useful as saying “Birds are like this or that.”. But there are some traits of masculine nature that are common to most men, one of which is a strong sex drive – something which obviously has a bearing on their relationship to women, and to their wives in particular. Archibald Hart’s study of male sexual behavior(1) found that about 80% of men think about sex daily or hourly. Willard Harley Jr.’s survey of couples(2) indicated that most men listed sexual fulfillment as their greatest need in marriage. Likewise, it is no accident that the sex industry, whether pornography, prostitution, or other forms, has traditionally existed primarily to serve men.
The above being the case, most men face a daily battle in varying degrees with their sex drives. Physiologically, we’re told this stems from the effects of the male hormone, testosterone, on the brain, which greatly heightens the desire for sexual pleasure, fulfillment, and release. Testosterone is apparently why for most men sex is such “a physical thing”, whereas for most women, emotions play a far greater role in determining the level of their sex drives.
Add to this the fact that male sex drives are strongly aroused by visual stimuli, and that there is no lack of such sexual visual stimuli in modern society, and men are doomed! Today’s men are surrounded by women whose fashions were seemingly created for the sole purpose of tempting and tantalizing – tight clothing to highlight curves and proportions, loose clothing to offer generous glimpses of what lies beneath; Victoria’s Secrets or Somebody’s Secrets peeking out from under every high hemline, low neckline, and slit. The intentions of such clothing designs, whether brazen or subtle, are literally broadcast from women’s fashion commercials and magazines. Take the following, “It’s a little unfair, really – the power we have over the opposite sex…Clothes, of course, are a big part of the seduction…(the featured dresses are) sexy – but in a deliciously subtle way. “For me, a dress that hints at what lies underneath is much more tantalizing than something revealing,” says (British actress) Natascha McElhone…”(3). Add to this explicit images on billboards, on the internet, in magazines and in movies. Women cannot begin to imagine the fire this fuels inside most men, much of the time, begging for satisfaction. Almost every man has experienced an involuntary tingle of the loins at the sight of a shapely woman. It doesn’t mean he is “oversexed”. It’s just the way men are wired.
Clash of Expectations
Surveys indicate most married men want sex more frequently than their wives. And most men also do not have sex as much as they would like.(4) Because of this, some wives denigrate, reject, or even loath their men as “animals” and “perverts”. Many take offense at their husbands’ sexual advances with responses like, “You don’t really love me – you’re just horny!” Some males are brushed off with “It’s a testosterone thing, right?” While these women often have legitimate complaints, such reactions are about as kind as telling a woman, “You’re not really depressed. Its just your period.” Meanwhile, differences over sexual expectations are a major cause of marital friction, driving both husbands and wives to desperation and despair, as the years go by with no solutions in sight. Cycles of resentment, widening rifts, and hopelessness often drive men to affairs, pornography and other sexual addictions, while their bewildered wives look on with broken hearts, wondering where things went wrong.
Men, frustrated over their wives sexual unresponsiveness, feel betrayed, wondering what happened to the passion their wives displayed when they first fell in love. Christian men who’ve made a commitment to faithfulness and purity can’t help but feel like they’re trying to invest all their sexual energies into their wives, not elsewhere, yet are getting little encouragement or fulfillment in return.
There are no lack of books telling men what they’re doing wrong – how they first need to meet their wives emotional needs, making them feel loved, secure, and cherished before sexual intimacy can occur.(5) There is no question that men need to hear and heed such advice; need to learn tenderness, listening skills, servant leadership, and putting their wives’ well being before their own. But too often, male readers of such books go away with the impression they are entirely to blame for marital sexual failures.
There are also books teaching women how to “bless” their husbands(6), by making their homes retreats of comfort and refreshment, by showing honor and respect, by keeping themselves attractive, affectionate, and spiritually stimulating. But they often avoid this difficult issue. Few writers and counselors encourage men in their masculine sexuality, and few truly help women to understand what is going on inside their men, why, and what their response ought to be toward it. The result is that many women find themselves keeping their husbands at a distance, or deliberately avoiding stimulating their husbands sexually. Even among men, these struggles are rarely broached candidly.(7) Many men are too deeply ashamed of their weaknesses and failures, on the one hand, or are feeling too hurt and humiliated on the other, to feel they can express their struggles in this area in a way anyone would understand.
Male Sexuality – A Divine Mistake?
Men and women both need to know that male sexuality is not a divine mistake, nor is it part of the curse of the Fall. It can become a mistake when sex becomes a lustful end in itself, rather than an expression of love. But rather, God made male sexuality for vital and noble purposes. And humans err in trying to tame and subdue it into something it was never intended to be. Treating a stallion like a gelding doesn’t make it any less a stallion. It just makes for a resentful, angry, and insecure horse. But few have thought long and hard enough to understand what those purposes are.
Procreation is an obvious purpose, a biblical one. God’s first command to mankind was “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…”(Gen. 1:28 NASB). Solomon wrote, “…children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them…”(Ps. 127:3-5 NASB). The men and women in the Bible longed to bear children. Abraham lamented, “O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless…”(Gen. 15:2 NIV), while Rachel cried to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die.”(Gen. 30:1 NIV). It was clearly (and still is) God’s intention that couples should bear children, and the overwhelming desire for children was a powerful incentive for husbands to initiate, and wives to welcome having sex. One man confided that if he waited until his wife wanted sex for its own sake, it would almost never happen. Yet this man has fathered more than a dozen children. Obviously God has bestowed on man the drives necessary to create children, just as He bestowed on woman the instincts necessary to nurture them.
In an age of supposed overpopulation, it has become politically correct to dismiss such notions as ecologically irresponsible. The Pill, condoms, and abortions on demand have separated sex from reproduction. The predominant philosophy promoted by feminists, sex education advocates, and the media is that people have the “right” to have sex without “fear” of pregnancy. The impact of such thinking is dramatically demonstrated in Japan where the average number of births per woman has decreased since World War II from 4.9 to the current 1.3.(8) Perhaps at least some of the clash over male and female sexual expectations stems from this conflict between human procreative drives, and modern social conditioning. But that is by no means the whole story.
John Eldredge, in his popular book, Wild At Heart speaks of how God made men to be “warriors”(9). He explains, “Aggression is part of the masculine design, we are hardwired for it. If we believe that man is made in the image of God, them we would do well to remember that “the LORD is a warrior; the LORD is His name.”(Ex. 15:3, NASB)” Further on he adds, (referring to Job 39:19-25) “…the war horse, the stallion, embodies the fierce heart of his Maker. And so do we; every man is “a stem of that victorious stock.” Or at least he was originally.”(10) God created man to explore, build, and conquer. He created him to fight for his bride. And He created him to join in the war against evil. These instincts are spiritual, psychological, and also physical.
On the physical level, it is testosterone which gives the man this “warrior instinct”, this aggressive nature. It is God’s design that this nature be controlled and channeled in ways that are constructive to both the family and civilization. British social anthropologist J.D. Unwin, after studying the births and deaths of 80 civilizations concluded “The energy that holds society together is sexual in nature. When a man is devoted to one woman and one family, he is motivated to build, save, protect, plan, and prosper on their behalf…(11)
As the man is out fighting life’s battles, he can’t help but be sexually stimulated by other women or feminine images he encounters along the way. Ideally, that stimulation, those cravings, will drive him home, to where he knows those desires will be legitimately satisfied by his bride. Solomon taught his son(s), “Drink water from your own cistern and fresh water from your own well…rejoice in the wife of your youth…let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love.” (Pro. 5:15-19, NASB). Sex is both the glue which makes the warrior and his bride “one flesh” and the elastic which pulls him back to her side to tie him to his hearth and home. So what happens to the warrior when he returns to his bride’s side and is sexually rejected? He is crushed. He loses the impetus to fight and to build for her. The elastic begins to wear thin. And the warrior is tempted to quench his thirst elsewhere.
The Quest for Intimacy
Sex is by no means the only “glue” which makes the two one in marriage. But it is no accident that biblically, marriage is described and summarized as the two being “joined” and “becoming “one flesh”, i.e. physically united. The Bible also uses the verb “to know” as a euphemism for sexual relations (eg. Gen. 4:1). Sex is the ultimate “knowing” of another person, the pinnacle of human intimacy, and the culmination of all other intimacies. In other words, sex between a man and woman creates an intimacy not found in other human relationships. Without emotional intimacy and spiritual intimacy to undergird it, sexual intimacy quickly deteriorates into empty physical satisfaction. However, men often find it difficult to work at building emotional or spiritual intimacy when they are feeling starved sexually.
Men and women are fundamentally different in this sense. Whereas most women perceive intimacy in more emotional terms, often taking tangible form in a desire for non-sexual affection and meaningful, abundant conversation, men are likely to express their desire for intimacy in sexual terms. Both men and women often fail to understand this. Men are not adept at expressing this desire in ways that are reassuring to their wives. They sometimes lack tenderness. They don’t know how to put their feelings into words. Their sense of timing is not always the greatest - hence the negative response by many women to their husbands’ advances. One of the great enigmas of the marriage relationship is that women find it difficult to be sexually responsive when their emotional needs aren’t being met. And men struggle to be emotionally responsive when their sexual needs aren’t being met. True intimacy is born out of learning how to harmonize those needs.
A fourth purpose of male sexuality, is…believe it or not…recreation. Many men suggest sex to their wives, much as they might suggest going to see a movie, or playing a round of cards. But that doesn’t mean the experience is trivial for them. Studies have shown men particularly derive a sense of closeness with their wives by experiencing something of a recreational nature together.(12) Men long to share with their wives a breathtaking view from a mountain summit, the thrill of a fish on the line, the ecstasy of a moving piece of music, or the serenity of a walk in an autumn forest. For the man, sex ranks at the top of the list of such enjoyable recreation. It is exhilarating, deeply satisfying, an adventure, but also soothing, relaxing, and healing. He naturally assumes that his wife will share his enthusiasm. Although if she could respond positively on those occasions, it would be valuable deposits into his storehouse of love for her, she may be angered that he would “treat sex so lightly”. Particularly after an exhausting day of house chores and clingy children, the typical woman wants nothing more than a few quiet moments to herself. Again a clash of expectations takes place. She responds to his exuberance with a groan or a sigh. She may allow him to proceed, but the words “imposition” and “hassle” are written all over her face. This is clearly work for her, not recreation. Although her response is perfectly understandable, he feels she doesn’t want to have fun with him, and is deeply hurt.
Sadly, male sex drives are easily hijacked by what Scripture calls “the lusts of the flesh”. Those drives are often fickle, self-satisfying, uncontrollable, and can quickly become destructive and addictive. It gives wives little sense of security to see their husbands eyeing other women, flirting, looking at pornography, or carrying on questionable relationships on chat rooms or in the work place. And despite a wife’s best efforts to be sexually responsive, some men allow themselves to be controlled by their lusts such that they seek sexual satisfaction outside of marriage, or in unloving selfish demands within marriage. Such actions destroy the delicate trust and love, which need to be carefully nurtured between husband and wife. Men need to remember that ultimately, it is intimacy, not fueling the fires of lust that truly satisfy.
But understanding the dangers, and controlling these urges are two different things. Christian men are conscious of Jesus’ words, “…every one who looks at a woman with lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Mt. 5:28, NASB). Job asserted, “I have made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.” (Job 31:1, NIV). David, whose viewing of a bathing woman led to a disastrous affair, later determined, “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes.” (Ps. 101:3, NASB). Sincere men of faith share Job’s and David’s commitment. And they earnestly try to avert their eyes and thoughts from stimulating images and stimulating temptations. But in reality they often can better relate to Paul’s lament, “For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” (Rom. 7:19, NASB).
Both men and women need to recognize that in a sinful world, where people are surrounded by seductive distortions of sexual fulfillment, men especially are constantly fighting the battle to distinguish the pure from the profane, and to embrace the former while rejecting the latter, but like any battle, it is exhausting and painful. Thus in a sinful world, sexual relations between husband and wife are not just about procreation, intimacy, and recreation. They are also an important means of fighting sin. That is what Paul meant in I Cor. 7:2-5, “But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. …Do not deprive each other except 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.” (NIV). Some women respond that this sounds like being compelled to have sex because if they don’t their husbands will turn to masturbation, pornography, or affairs. Doesn’t this reduce sex to the level of a dismal duty? Admittedly, such a coarse picture could be painted, but there is a healthier perspective to be embraced.
Willard Harley explains it like this, “When a man and woman marry…they commit themselves to meeting certain intense and intimate needs in each other on an exclusive basis. Each agrees to “forsake all others,” giving each other the exclusive right to meet these intimate needs…Most people expect their spouses to meet these special needs, since they have agreed not to allow anyone else to meet them. For example, when a man agrees to an exclusive relationship with his wife, he depends on her to meet his sexual need. If she fulfills this need, he finds in her a continuing source of intense pleasure, and his love grows stronger. However, if his need goes unmet…he begins to associate her with frustration…”(13)
It is important to be clear that the marriage commitment is not husband and wife saying “It is not possible for anyone other than you to meet my needs.” That probably is not true. There may be any number of women out there who could give the husband sexual pleasure. There could be other men able to meet the wife’s emotional needs. But both have vowed to seek fulfillment of their most intimate needs only within the marriage relationship. It is this vow that is broken in the event of an affair. However, implicit in the marriage vow, is the commitment to attempt to meet the other’s needs. Keeping this implicit commitment is an important aspect of undergirding the marriage vow. Meeting a spouse’s deep need is a vital investment in building a stronger love.
What about the opposite? For a wife to reject her husband’s sexual advances, or to thwart the initiative he takes in this area is to communicate disdain or rejection toward his needs, toward intimacy with him, toward the exclusive commitments of the relationship, and toward him as a person. With repeated incidents of such rejection it will not be long before a husband will become emotionally distant, detached, or passive. The risk of pain is too great to continue to reach out toward his wife. In essence he has been emasculated. At this point he is highly vulnerable to extra-marital relationships, because they seem to promise a way of restoring his wounded manhood. Most men know affairs are wrong, and destructive, but sex is the Achilles heel of male character.
The Lonely Man
To understand this better, there is one more aspect of male sexuality that needs to be examined, rooted in the garden of Eden. After creating man, God asserted “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him.” (Gen. 2:18 NASB). Aloneness was the key issue God was addressing here, followed by the man’s need for a helper. Man by himself, is hopelessly lonely. He can be compared to a ship adrift in the ocean, sending out signals to search for other ships in the vicinity. When another ship responds, and signals back, and draws close, there is a great sense of security and warmth on board ship number one. But when ship number two stops responding to the signals, even if its still in close proximity, the loneliness returns, and eventually the tendency is to send signals out in other directions to see if some other ship might respond.
For the man, the above signals are prone to be sexual in nature. And when the woman stops responding to his signals, despite his desire to be loyal to his partner, he finds himself sending signals in other directions, seeking for companionship, to fill that void of loneliness. This is why many men start flirting with women other than their wives. This is why, in Japanese culture, men frequent snack bars after work, and are entertained by women who are called (appropriately) “companions” - a phenomenon that has become institutionalized and even legitimatised, because it is assumed that men’s wives are not responding to the “signals” anymore. God intended for the woman to be both helper and companion to the man. But that is a huge a role for one woman to fill, and Japanese culture has conveniently allowed for “the helper” to care for the home, while “the companion” meets the man’s sexual needs. The problem with this arrangement is that the man knows the companionship is bought, and not heartfelt. So while the aloneness might be temporarily relieved while he is being entertained, it returns with a vengence the rest of the time. Meanwhile, both women feel used, rather than truly loved or cherished, and no one enjoys the richness of truly being “one”.
This article has been unabashedly one sided because its purpose is to help the reader understand male sexuality. Furthermore, we’ve painted a picture of the typical male, whereas in reality every man is different in his sexual needs and expressions. Reading thus far, it would be easy to get the message that a woman simply needs to respond to her husband’s sexual needs enthusiastically all the time, and the issue would be resolved. Some women might even express the thought, “If we just had sex every day, you would stay happy and we wouldn’t fight all the time!” Most husbands find such comments degrading and hurtful. The concept is neither feasible nor is it necessarily even desirable. Men realize it is no easier for a woman to meet her husband’s needs than it is for him to meet hers. They understand that any real solution has to be one which is mutually satisfying.
Reality is that the husband-wife relationship has been severely scarred by the Fall. Part of the curse reads, “…your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (Gen. 3:16, NASB). Probably the best way to understand these words is that the woman will tend to have strong expectations toward her husband, to meet her emotional needs. He will not fulfill those expectations. Instead, he will tend to be gruff and domineering. Like the curse of pain in childbearing which precedes it, and the curse of having to work by the sweat of the brow which follows, this condition will characterize mankind until the return of the Lord Jesus. There are no easy solutions. The Genesis record following the Fall makes that abundantly clear. Abraham failed to protect Sarah in Egypt (Gen. 12) and Isaac followed in his footsteps (Gen. 26); Sarah insisted Abraham take Hagar as a concubine, then blamed the unhappy results on him (Gen. 16); Jacob “married” beautiful Rachel, whom he loved, but found himself the next morning in bed with her homely sister, Leah, and spent the rest of his life trying to appease his four bickering wives; the record goes on.
On the positive side, the Song of Solomon portrays marital sex and romance as something God delights in. Building on that, Paul makes it clear that the marriage relationship is sacred because it reflects Christ’s relationship with His Bride, the Church (Eph. 5:22-33). If the glory of Christ is to some degree at stake in our marriages, surely we can turn to Him for help with our marriage difficulties. Despite the effects of the Curse, and the Fall, God’s grace and redemption apply even to our sexual dimensions, such that we can hope in God.
It should be added that ultimately our hearts deepest needs cannot be met by our spouse. They can only be met by a growing intimacy with God. But as important a principle as that is, it is a subject for another article.
Hopefully, this article will help women to understand better how their husbands are constructed, and that understanding will be a first step in easing some of the tensions which may have built up over the years in the relationship. If a husband is in the midst of an affair, is struggling with a sexual addiction, or is domineering and abusive, it is unlikely much progress can be made without significant outside help from a counselor, pastor, or a trusted friend. But in a normal marriage relationship, if a wife can see the hand of God in her husband’s nature, if she can see beyond his awkwardness and into his heart, if she can find a sense of pride and worth in being both his helper and his companion, then perhaps she can become more responsive, more gentle, and more ready to minister to her husband’s needs.
In reality, there are times when a husband desires sex, but his wife simply can’t get in the mood. Perhaps she is too tired, too distracted with other matters, or the desire is just not there. How should she respond? The first principle is to make sure she doesn’t make him feel rejected or humiliated. That means not responding with frustration, impatience, disgust, or ambivalence. At that moment he needs affection and the reassurance that his wife loves him and wants to have sex with him (just not at this moment). Why is ambivalence or hesitation a problem? Because by initiating lovemaking, he has exposed his need, and made himself about as vulnerable as a man can be. She is leaving him hanging in that condition, and the only thing he knows to do next is to shut down emotionally to protect himself.
The second principle is to offer assurance that if at all possible she will meet his need. The solution might be asking for a delay (“I would feel more relaxed if I could get the kitchen cleaned up and take a bath first.” Or “I would enjoy it more tomorrow night, when things aren’t so hectic.”). It might take the form of a trade off (“I could get into it if you would be willing to help me finish my work first..”). Or it might even be a compromise (“I’d like to, if you don’t mind my not being very responsive.”). If none of the above are possible, at least offer an alternate course of action so he can maintain his dignity (“I just can’t do it tonight, but I’d love a five minute backrub to help me get to sleep.”).
A third principle is that if there are unresolved issues, generally speaking, it is better to avoid raising them when lovemaking is being suggested. She might be feeling offended by a comment he made. She might be wondering, “Does he want sex because he loves me, or just because he’s sexually aroused?” This is not the best time to bring them up To understand how this feels to a man, imagine an opposite type of situation where a wife says excitedly to her husband, “I had the neatest experience today, that just meant so much to me. Can I tell you about it?” He answers, “You didn’t kiss me good bye this morning, so I’m really not interested.” With a response like that it will be quite some time before she will have the courage to try to share something with him again. This is the same way a husband feels when he approaches his wife with amorous intent, and she keeps him at arms distance, grumbling about how he was abrupt with her when she called him at work. If there is a problem, better to address it before lovemaking is suggested, or set it aside until afterwards. If the issue has to be addressed at that moment, she’d needs to do it very gently, so that he doesn’t feel the door to lovemaking has been slammed in his face.
Most women are touched when their husbands prepare ahead to make them happy. Whether it be remembering special days, planning dates together, or showing consideration in the little things on a regular basis. In the same way, men feel special when their wives are intentional about meeting their sexual needs. It might be taking an afternoon nap to stave off nighttime exhaustion, or devising a way to get the kids out of the house to make possible a 30 minute “rendezvous”. It might just be remembering to be mentally prepared for lovemaking. One woman even found a secluded hilltop on the way home from a regular evening meeting, that was the perfect place to propose a “quickie” in the car from time to time. And what about during a woman’s monthly period? Unfortunately, a man’s sexual needs don’t just disappear for one week each month, and his wife can truly bless him by some sexual creativity suited for those times. When it comes to sex, spontaneity is great, but the truth is that with our fast pace of life, there are times when even spontaneity requires some preparation.
But I Can’t Just Come at it Cold!
A common complaint among women is that their husbands won’t pay attention to them until they want sex. No question this is an area in which men need to show dramatic improvement. But it might be helpful to understand that the male brain and the female brain are vastly different in a way that contributes to this problem. Men are generally “designed” to concentrate on one task at a time, while women can juggle several tasks at once, and switch from one thing to another with greater agility. Most women have experienced the meaningless grunts, with which their husbands acknowledge their questions or requests, when their husbands are watching TV or reading the newspaper. Many have screamed (though perhaps not audibly), “YOU’RE NOT LISTENING TO ME!!!”
So if a husband is searching the internet auctions for fly fishing rods, and his wife chooses that moment to engage him in a conversation about a problem their child had at school today, she will probably come away feeling like he doesn’t care about their child, or about her. But there are some alternatives which might be more effective.
The one is to physically turn his face toward hers and say, “I have some things I want to talk to you about. Can you give me your full attention in 20 minutes?”. A variation on this is to use food as “bait”, “I’m preparing a piece of cake and a cup of tea for us in the other room. Can you come in five minutes?” Or, a bolder ploy is to give him a long passionate kiss, followed by “If you love me more than the computer, can we talk for a while.” The point is to help him make the transition from what he is engrossed in, to giving her his attention. It might also be helpful to set aside a time each day when both husband and wife commit to dropping whatever their doing in order to connect with each other in non-sexual ways.
The Right Motivation for Lovemaking?
It is also helpful to remember that a man’s desire for sex takes various forms, and may be motivated by various factors. One time a man might want sex for the sake of intimacy, another time it might be to express love, and yet another time it might be because he has been stimulated by images or people around him. Many women feel that if sex is not motivated by a desire to express love, it is somehow less than pure. While it is an understandable perspective, that kind of thinking is likely to place a barrier in developing a healthy sexual relationship. It is imposing one narrow mindset on the relationship.
To clarify this question, it is helpful to compare it to another basic relational need - communication. What kind of communication between husband and wife is the “right” kind? Of course it needs to be kind, loving, and truthful. But beyond that, what is “right” is usually determined by the need or desire of the moment. Communication might take the form of encouragement, comfort, love-talk, discussion, debate, rebuke, teasing, joking, singing, poetry, or story telling.
Or lets compare it to a physical urge – eating. Often we eat because of the fellowship around the table, or because it’s dinner time, or simply because eating is pleasurable. Other times we eat because we are famished, or because we know we will be famished in several hours if we don’t eat now. Is there one “pure” reason to eat? Not really.
In the same way, what motivates lovemaking is apt to be one of a number of things, depending on the situation. Some might object to comparing sex to food. They argue that the one is a relational or emotional act, while the other is strictly physical. That is not the case. For men, sex is often very physical. The accumulation of male hormones in the sex organs sends increasingly insistent requests for sex to the brain on a regular basis. Visual sexual stimuli do the same, as well as touch or sound. Conversely, consider how many women turn to food to meet emotional needs. The point is that demanding a particular motivation as a precondition for lovemaking is sure to create much resentment.
Like eating a meal, its ok for lovemaking to be mundane or routine at times, ravenous at others, and celebratory at still other times. There is richness and adventure in variety. This is true of many things in life.
One of the most controversial books on marriage from the 1970’s was Marabel Morgan’s The Total Woman. Even those who never read the book seem to recall it was “something about greeting your husband at the door dressed only in Saran Wrap.” The book was fiercely attacked by feminists, ridiculed by most women, and dismissed by many men as promoting ideas their wives would never embrace. Despite its many flaws and overly simplistic solutions to marital conflict, it grasped the truth of the importance of sexual fulfillment to most men, as a vital component of a healthy marriage. This truth is both practical and biblical.
The essence of marriage can be described as a triangle. The highest corner represents spiritual intimacy, while the two lower corners represent emotional intimacy and sexual intimacy. Spiritual intimacy is the highest lifelong goal. Emotional intimacy provides the framework, within which husband and wife learn to meet each other’s needs. While sexual intimacy physically expresses the exclusive and passionate nature of the relationship. Remove any one of the three and the triangle falls flat.
It would appear that God has uniquely designed the woman to promote emotional intimacy, just as He has positioned the man to be the guardian of sexual intimacy. Too often man and woman compete against each other, seeking preeminence for their respective corners, instead of completing each other by blending their perspectives. For a woman, part of receiving God’s marriage blessing, is to learn to see her husband’s sexual instincts as part of God’s glorious design and to rejoice in it, as God does.
“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grace. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away…” (Song of Solomon 8:6-7, NIV).
1 Dr. Archibald Hart, The Sexual Man, pp.57-59
2 Willard F. Harley, Jr., His Needs Her Needs, chapt. 4
3 “InStyle” Magazine, Nov. 2002, p. 227
5 For example, Dr. Kevin Leman’s Sex Begins in the Kitchen (available only in English).
6 For example, Debra Evans’, Blessing Your Husband (available only in English).
7 Hart, ibid, pp.22-23, Hart’s research indicates 25% of men cannot discuss sexual concerns with anyone.
8 Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Labor statistics
9 John Eldredge, Wild at Heart, pp.9-10
11 “Focus on the Family” magazine, Feb., 1994, p.7
13 Harley, ibid, pp.11-12