S is for Sexuality Part III

Sex is a physical act, no surprise there.  Sex is an emotional act; got it.  What people often fail to realize, however, is that sex is also a spiritual act.  It can be an act of service, an act of love and an act of worship.  Tim Keller, one of the greatest theologians of our time, says it this way:

Sex is glorious. We would know that even if we didn’t have the Bible. Sex leads us to words of adoration— it literally evokes shouts of joy and praise. Through the Bible, we know why this is true. John 17 tells us that from all eternity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have been adoring and glorifying each other, living in high devotion to each other, pouring love and joy into one another’s hearts continually (cf. John 1: 18; 17: 5, 21,24– 25). Sex between a man and a woman points to the love between the Father and the Son (1 Corinthians 11: 3). It is a reflection of the joyous self-giving and pleasure of love within the very life of the triune God. Sex is glorious not only because it reflects the joy of the Trinity but also because it points to the eternal delight of soul that we will have in heaven, in our loving relationships with God and one another. Romans 7: 1ff tells us that the best marriages are pointers to the deep, infinitely fulfilling, and final union we will have with Christ in love. No wonder, as some have said, that sex between a man and a woman can be a sort of embodied out-of-body experience. It’s the most ecstatic, breathtaking, daring, scarcely-to-be-imagined look at the glory that is our future.

Keller, Timothy. The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God (p. vi). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

It is no wonder that God has created the act of sex to be enjoyed only within the context of marriage; within the context of covenant.  It is a physical act that bonds, an emotional act that enthralls, and a spiritual act that enraptures.  It is an act that allows both the man and the woman to be at their most vulnerable, literally naked in each other’s presence, and still feel safe and secure because the commitment they have made to one another is maintained by the God of the Universe.  When we think of sex as a reflection of God’s love for us (His church), it takes on a deeper meaning.  It takes on the image of worship.

S is for Sexuality Part II

Sex is not only a physical exercise but is also an exercise in emotional intimacy.

Many wives feel like a man only sees sex as a physical act and does not see it for it’s emotional connection as well.  As time passes between intimacy, he may start to become more grumpy and sullen.  She may feel he is withdrawing emotionally in an effort to manipulate her into sexual performance.

A woman naturally connects on an emotional level and when she feels emotionally connected she will then start to respond sexually.  That is a woman.  A man has a different cycle.  A man is almost always ready for sexual intimacy and it is after sexual release that he can then begin to engage emotionally. Without sexual intimacy he may become withdrawn and frumpy (technical term).  Everyone knows this is true.  How often have you seen your male boss come in with a smile on his face and a song in his heart and you said “He must have gotten lucky last night.”  Sure you have.  Everyone knows that a man is more emotionally expressive when his need for sexual fulfillment is met.  Further, when a man experiences sexual release he receives a dose of oxytocin, the bonding hormone.   A man is easier to connect to emotionally when he is not sexually frustrated.

So, how can you help your husband to connect with you on an emotional level more consistently?  Simply be aware of three things and then act accordingly.

  • The more sexually frustrated a man is, the more distant he is likely to become.  It is part of his psychological and physiological nature.  Yes, he can control it.  No, it is not always easy.  A lot of times women simply loose track of how long it has been:

“It’s come down to a lot of negotiations. There was a time when my husband said, ‘You know, it’s been almost a month.’ I balked. No way. I counted back — sure enough. After that we had a specific contract (which days of the week). Now it’s better, so … we generally have sex about two times a week. We intend for more — but that’s usually what it turns out to be.” (married 12 years) 1

  • The more a man feels desired and wanted physically, the more likely he is to connect with the woman that desires him emotionally.  This creates a unique opportunity for you as his wife as you are the only one that should be connecting to him either physically or emotionally.
  • Making time for intimacy, and initiating intimacy periodically, creates an environment where his need for physical release is more likely to be met, and your need for emotional connectivity is more likely to be met.  Win/Win.

“He so appreciates it when I initiate.  It creates a unique closeness that lasts for several days.”  (married 27 years) 1

It will not surprise you that these facts do not surprise God.  Throughout scripture God advises us that in marriage we are to take pleasure in each other (Proverbs 5:15-19), that we should give ourselves to one another freely and not withhold sexual intimacy from one another (1 Cor 1:3-4), and that the passionate love we express towards one another is not only “OK” with God but is celebrated (Song of Solomon 5:1).  It is when we follow the model of love that God provides (sacrificial, passionate and brotherly love) that we can truly connect with our spouse in the way He planned for us to connect from the beginning;  Physically, emotionally and spiritually.

1.  Gregoire, Sheila Wray; Gregoire, Sheila Wray. The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex: (And You Thought Bad Girls Have All the Fun) (pp. 212-213). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

S is for Sexuality Part I

C is for Conquest

H is for Hierarchy

A is for Authority

I is for Insight

R is for Relationship

S is for Sexuality

In almost every workshop or study I have attended regarding marriage, sexuality has been discussed.  Usually, it is discussed last and seldom is it given the time required to fully understand a subject of such depth.  I believe most men will agree with me that the average woman simply does not understand the importance of sex to a man in a marriage.  In fact, I would argue that most men do not understand why it is so important.  So, in honor of men everywhere, we will spend the next 5 days on this topic.

Before I make my first point I would like to recommend a book to help you as a wife understand this topic.  The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex,  written by Sheila Wray Gregoire, does an amazing job with a man’s perspective on sex.  I have handed it out as a resource to couples dealing with this topic and it has provided a great deal of insight.  I will be quoting the book extensively in the coming week so you can hear from a woman and not simply dismiss me as just another man focused on the only thing men focus on…sex.

A difference in libido is one of the most common problems in a marriage.  In general, a man’s libido will be significantly greater than a woman’s. When she rejects his advances he will often take offense feeling as if she is rejecting him.  He huffs off feeling angry and she simply can’t understand why he would act so childishly.  In fact, she might even reprimand him for being so shallow.  He withdraws further distancing himself from his wife emotionally.  Not feeling emotionally connected, she further withholds intimacy.  This cycles can go on for years and each time it happens another brick is built in the wall between the couple.

Here is how one man explains it:

It’s been a big issue for many years. I usually withdraw. I lose sleep, and it impacts every aspect of me. My wife then gets mad at me for letting it impact me.

Another man says this:

“I don’t feel loved because my wife doesn’t want sex. I feel like she doesn’t want me personally.” “You know there is a lack of interest, but you don’t really know why. You start to think, What is wrong with me?” “I feel rejected, like my wants, needs, and desires don’t matter.” “It really hurts. I feel like a failure and a horrible husband because she almost never lets us have sex. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s how I feel.”

Here is the truth of the matter.  A lot of how a man feels about himself, and feels in general, is wrapped up in his sexuality.  Yes, it is a physical need, and one that a woman may not have.  However, sex is also how a man connects emotionally to his wife.  Further, it effects his emotions, thoughts, and feelings of self worth.  When a woman minimizes the importance of sex she minimizes one of his primary needs.  Further, she minimizes a need that only she can meet according to scripture.

Here is my first question for this topic this week.  How do you perceive his need for intimacy?  Do you see it as…

____ a physical need that God has wired into his nature.

____ an opportunity to minister to your husband in a way no other person can.

____ an expression of his love for you and a desire to connect spiritually.

____ a channel for him to open up emotionally.

____ something you have never really considered.

Take some time today to think about one of your primary ministries, the sexual fulfillment of your husband.

The man said, “Finally, bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh!  Name her woman for she was made from Man.”  Therefore, a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife.  They become one flesh.  The two of them, the Man and his Wife, were naked, but they felt no shame.

Genesis 2:24-24 The Message.

R is for Relationship

C is for Conquest

H is for Hierarchy

A is for Authority

I is for Insight

R is for Relationship

One of the highest indicators of marital success is whether or not a couple are friends.  When you dated you showed interest in his hobbies, spent time with him in different activities, and in general, acted as a friend.  Patty went so far as to go squirrel hunting with me one time.  She was amazing.  She was silent as we walked towards the limbs in the tree that were moving.  She helped me find the squirrel walking along the limb, and was quiet as a mouse until I flipped the safety off.  Then she ran through the underbrush like a mad woman yelling “run squirrel, run!”  Like I said, she went hunting with me once.

It is difficult to maintain a friendship even with a person you love dearly and see every day.  Distractions from work, household chores, church, other friends and children may serve to undermine the work and time it takes to maintain a friendship with your husband.  However, it is the friendship that will last when the kids leave, passion wanes, and other friends move on.  The best known wife in the bible describes her bride groom as follows:  “His mouth is full of sweetness; Yes, he is altogether lovely and desirable.  This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”  The bride has it right, to be a successful couple he has to be your groom, your lover, and your friend.

The good news is that being a friend to a guy does not require much energy.  In fact, sometimes all it requires is presence and attention.  In his book, Love and Respect, Dr. E writes the following:

One wife decided to go deer hunting with her husband, who uses the bow and arrow. She helped him set up the blind, and they both sat there for hours waiting for a deer to happen by. They saw nothing, they shot at nothing, and they said nothing. Finally, they took down the blind and headed back to the car. To this point she had said not one word the entire time. As they were walking down the trail, her husband turned to her and said, “This was awesome!”1

I know, it doesn’t make sense does it?  They spent all that time and never talked, never chatted, didn’t even look at Facebook.  How could this build a relationship.  Truth be told, I don’t know.  However, this type of uninterrupted time spent in each others presence without the need to talk energizes guys.  Even better, find something you can do together.  Patty and I picked up Kayaking a few years back and some of the best time we have spent together is in the backwaters quietly paddling through Cypress trees and watching wildlife.

Spending time in activities that build your friendship adds depth to the other aspects of your relationship as well.  Friends make better parents; friends make better ministry partners; and friends make better lovers.  Time focused on improving your friendship is time spent ensuring a stronger marriage.

1.  Eggerichs, Dr. Emerson. Love and   Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs (p. 241). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

I is for Insight

C is for Conquest

H is for Hierarchy

A is for Authority

I is for Insight

One of my favorite video’s is “It’s Not About the Nail.”  Watch it and then return to this post.

Hilarious and true.  But here is the thing, sometimes it is about the nail.  Sometimes a wife wants a listening ear and sometimes a wife needs wise counsel.  A woman will most often desire the former at home but a man will default to the later.  Remember, at work he may often times come into contact with people who are pointing out deficiencies, identifying problems or complaining about a situation.  They come to him at work for solutions and he may have some excellent advice.  He gives his advice, his coworkers appreciate and affirm his wisdom, he feels valued and then he moves on to the next problem starting the cycle again.  However, he comes home and listens to his wife vent while still in the framework of “fixing the problems.”  Then the crazy cycle starts.

Patty and I have learned I am a fixer, most men are.  I do not naturally understand the need to vent.  So, we have learned to ask for what we need.  When she wants a listening ear she starts the conversation with “I need to vent.”  When she fails to do this and starts venting I ask, “Am I supposed to be in venting mode or advice mode?”  She smiles, let’s me know what she needs, and we continue with the conversation.  After a while a man will start to learn to listen to venting a little more naturally.  However, it seldom happens easily without professional training.

It is worth noting that men at work feel validated and appreciated for being recognized as the “answer guy.”  If he is not getting the same type of validation from you it can often create problems in a marriage.  Some of the people he is being validated by at work are women.  No-one should be validating your man more than you.

H is for Hierarchy

It is important in a Christian marriage to recognize the Hierarchy that God has put into place.  Read just a few scriptures related to marriage and you will see that the man is assigned by God to be the head of the family.  It is important to realize this is not an assessment of value. God does not value man above woman, nor does he give men the authority to treat their wives as a second-class citizen.  It does not mean that the woman is not smarter, wiser, or more spiritually mature; they may very well be. It simply means that in order for the marriage to operate in a structured manner someone has to lead.  In a Christian marriage this burden falls to the man.

 

I know this may cause some fear to surface.  What if he takes advantage? What if he treats me like a doormat?  What if he becomes abusive? These are valid concerns. However, if you married a good-willed man, he can learn to bear the burden of leadership with wisdom and grace.  It often takes time, especially in a world where their father’s may have “checked out” during their childhood so that have no role model. There is fine line that family leaders walk between struggling with “control” and exercising “leadership.”  Pride and immaturity often get in the way as we learn leadership. There are a couple of things you as a wife can do to help him grow in this process.

 

  1. When he leads, follow.  Every woman enters a marriage with baggage and often it is the baggage of distrust.  Boyfriends, lovers, family members, husbands and even strangers may have hurt you deeply resulting in a lack of trust and a need for control.  However, if you are trying to be in control, you are saying he should submit to you. This is the reversal of the hierarchy provided in the bible.  As he is called to lead, you are called as a helpmate to encourage him when he leads and follow his lead whenever possible.
  2. Have a discussion on what leadership means to each of you.  When should he ask for input? How should it be provided when not asked for?  Talk about the differences in how you see things and the value of having your opinion.
  3. Offer your input and then let it go.  Trust that God is working in your life to learn how to follow and is working in his life to learn how to lead.
  4. Expect failure.  Learning to lead is a process and he is only human.  When he fails, encourage him when you can, take the opportunity to learn and then move forward in humility and forgiveness.
  5. Encourage him to attend men’s events and groups through the church.  Events like “Band of Brothers” addresses leadership in the family and puts him in contact with other men of different ages that can act as a mentor.
  6. Attend women’s events that have biblical teaching on family.  Events like Hearts of Beauty allow you to meet women of different ages that help you learn how to positively influence your husband and deal with some of your past.