When it comes to sex, do you focus on quantity, rather than quality? Or do you believe that enthusiastic sex matters?

Every Wednesday for the last 9 years (oh, my goodness! That’s like 20% of my life!) I’ve been talking about marriage here at this blog. And this week, during the launch of my Boost Your Libido course, we’ve been looking at sex and getting excited about it again.

A reader recently left this comment:

Just this morning [my husband said to me], “It’s been more intense lately…” As I thought & prayed about his comment, the Lord revealed to me that the reason it has been more intense is because of my renewed enthusiasm for intimacy. I see now that my hesitance & negative attitude affects his level of enjoyment. It holds him back from truly engaging & relishing in the full pleasure of intimacy. A very profound revelation to me.

I know what she means, because I had a similar experience. Here’s what happened:

Sometimes we think that if we have sex enough, that's enough. But to husbands, it's not just quantity. It's that sex is enthusiastic, too! Here's how:

When I was first married, sex was awful. It hurt, it was awkward, and Keith wanted it all the time. And the more he wanted sex, the more I felt, “You just love me for what I can do for you. You don’t really love me.”

Of course, he didn’t see it that way. To him, the reason that he wanted sex was BECAUSE he loved me and wanted to share it with me.

I spent several years doing everything I could to turn him off. I complained of constant headaches. I exaggerated how stressed I felt. I tried to give him signals that “this isn’t going to happen tonight.”

One day, I realized I was being totally counterproductive. Keith really needed and wanted sex, and I was being silly! So I decided to stress sex more in my marriage.

Around the same time, I read a magazine article by a woman who decided that she was never, ever going to say no to her husband in their marriage. When he wanted sex, she would be there for him.

I was so impressed. And since I’m a Type A competitive personality, I took it as a challenge. If she could do it, I could do it! I decided that whenever Keith wanted sex, I would totally be there for him.

I was so enthusiastic I even started marking the days that we had sex on a calendar.

Then one day Keith came to me and said, “I just feel like we never make love.”

And I was devastated. Didn’t he understand what I was doing?

But that led to a really interesting discovery. Keith didn’t want to be placated. He wanted to be wanted.

Me saying, “you can if you want to tonight, baby!” wasn’t enough. (Okay, it never got quite that bad, but you know what I mean.)

Too often we make it sound like what men really need is sexual release.

Men don't just need sexual release. They need to feel they can please their wives. #marriagetip Click To Tweet

Yes, most men have a more obvious and felt need for sex than we do. But I think we misunderstand what that need really is.

I have seen so many marriage books talk about how guys need sex, and women need to understand that this is a major part of marriage. It turns sex into an obligation! Pastors have preached on having sex for 7 days straight to see what happens, as if it’s quantity alone that matters. I’ve heard the 72-hour rule–you need to have sex every three days so he’ll resist temptation!

(By the way, I hate that approach–that guys need sex or they’ll be tempted. Let’s stop with the boys will be boys message and hold all of us up to a higher standard). 

What most men will tell you is that their real need is to feel as if they are pleasing their wife.

Here’s the thing: men can’t have sex unless they’re enthusiastic about it. That’s just the way their anatomy works.

(That’s not to say that sexual assault can’t happen against a man; it totally can since a lot of male response is automatic, and since power also plays a role. Just saying that there is a different dynamic). 

Women, on the other hand, can totally have sex even if we don’t want to (or, at least, aren’t that interested).

What we can’t do very easily is enjoy sex unless we want to.

To have a fun time, we have to actually mentally and emotionally get into it. That means, at some level, we have to make a conscious decision that “this is what I want to do and this is something that I want to enjoy with my husband.”

Thus, if a woman is enjoying it, it’s a sign that she has mentally made a decision that she wants to be with her husband.

If she simply has sex, though, there’s no guarantee that she has decided anything.

She hasn’t necessarily opened up her heart.

She hasn’t necessarily decided, “I want to enjoy something with my husband.”

She hasn’t necessarily decided, “I want to be with him.”

She may simply have thought, “I owe him so I better give something to him.” And that’s not sexy to a guy.

Then there’s the fact that through making love, we can experience such passion and abandon together.

When you truly feel passion, you feel out of control. An orgasm is something which literally “carries you along”, almost on a wave. You let yourself go. You have to be able to surrender. For a woman to be that passionate, then, she’s saying, “I have chosen to let down all pretence and all the masks I wear, and I have chosen to let you see the real me, because I want us to feel super close.”

That’s so much more than just having sex.

Why does a man want a woman to be passionate, then?

It isn’t only that he wants great sex (which, of course, is wonderful). It’s also because he wants that closeness that comes from both of you deciding to be completely vulnerable and open with each other, completely focused on each other, and completely giving to one another. It’s true intimacy at every level, not just physical.

Men want passion not because they're sex-crazed, but because they yearn for that intimacy. Click To Tweet

Let me ask an honest question: Does this pressure to have enthusiastic sex make you feel even worse?

Do you read that and think, “Great, so not only do I have to have sex fairly frequently, I have to be this orgasmic or passionate superwoman? How am I supposed to do that?”

I get it. I couldn’t figure it out for a long time, either.

But here’s what I asked myself:

If everyone else is having such a great time with sex, then why would I want to miss out on that? Why wouldn’t I try to figure out what all the fuss is about?

You see, my friends, I’m not trying to get you to feel guilty. I understand what it is to feel like sex really is an obligation, and that it’s a source of tension, and, in a way, that it’s a big rip off.

But I so want you to believe that it doesn’t have to stay that way!

If you’re struggling with understanding how you could ever be enthusiastic about sex, then I created the Boost Your Libido course just for you. Women are complex. All kinds of things go into making us ready to say yes to our husbands, which is why us saying yes enthusiastically means so much to them!

And yet many of us don’t understand what all of those factors are. So when we don’t feel enthusiastic about sex, we assume we never will.

What if you’re wrong? I was. I thought it was hopeless for a long time, until I figured out the role my brain played and taught myself how to think differently. Then I had to learn a whole lot of other lessons about hormones and health. And again, they made all the difference.

You can learn, too. If you struggle with this, please check it out. The whole reason I’ve been writing this blog for nine years now is because I don’t want people to have to go through what I did in the first few  years of my marriage. I want marriages to thrive. And I totally believe that they can–and that you can have great sex, too!

See the Boost Your Libido course here.

Now, let me know in the comments: Have you ever seen sex as an obligation (or do you see it that way now?) How does that affect your enthusiasm for it?