As my frequent readers know, I write a lot about sex.
It’s not because this is an easy subject for me; on the contrary, it was one of the biggest stumbling blocks in our marriage early on. Eventually I got tired of fighting about it, and decided I was going to figure out how to get in the mood more often. I even wrote a book about it (my husband likes to say that he liked the research), and it really did change my perspective.
So today, I thought I’d give you some insight into a man’s perspective on it. Perhaps you’re in a relationship where you want it more than he does; I’ll write about that again soon. But today I want to address the women who are beginning to find sex a chore. Dennis Prager, a columnist who mostly writes on political topics, last year penned a series on marriage. Here’s an excerpt from his essay, “When A Woman Isn’t In The Mood, Part I”:
It is an axiom of contemporary marital life that if a wife is not in the mood, she need not have sex with her husband. Here are some arguments why a woman who loves her husband might want to rethink this axiom.
First, women need to recognize how a man understands a wife’s refusal to have sex with him: A husband knows that his wife loves him first and foremost by her willingness to give her body to him. This is rarely the case for women. Few women know their husband loves them because he gives her his body (the idea sounds almost funny). This is, therefore, usually a revelation to a woman. Many women think men’s natures are similar to theirs, and this is so different from a woman’s nature, that few women know this about men unless told about it.
This is a major reason many husbands clam up. A man whose wife frequently denies him sex will first be hurt, then sad, then angry, then quiet. And most men will never tell their wives why they have become quiet and distant. They are afraid to tell their wives. They are often made to feel ashamed of their male sexual nature, and they are humiliated (indeed emasculated) by feeling that they are reduced to having to beg for sex.
And here’s Prager’s Part II:
1. If most women wait until they are in the mood before making love with their husband, many women will be waiting a month or more until they next have sex. When most women are young, and for some older women, spontaneously getting in the mood to have sex with the man they love can easily occur. But for most women, for myriad reasons — female nature, childhood trauma, not feeling sexy, being preoccupied with some problem, fatigue after a day with the children and/or other work, just not being interested — there is little comparable to a man’s “out of nowhere,” and seemingly constant, desire for sex.
2. Why would a loving, wise woman allow mood to determine whether or not she will give her husband one of the most important expressions of love she can show him? What else in life, of such significance, do we allow to be governed by mood?
What if your husband woke up one day and announced that he was not in the mood to go to work? If this happened a few times a year, any wife would have sympathy for her hardworking husband. But what if this happened as often as many wives announce that they are not in the mood to have sex? Most women would gradually stop respecting and therefore eventually stop loving such a man.
It’s harsh, I know. But we need to understand how men feel.
Part of the problem that we women have is that we have over-sexualized sex.
Let me explain what I mean. We have bought into the world’s idea that sex is all about physical pleasure. In order for it to be “pure, honest” sex, it has to be mind-blowing. It has to be stupendous. You have to want it.
If we don’t want it, and we do it anyway, we’re cheapening it. We feel like we’re being used. We’re deceiving him. So it’s better to not have sex at all until we can throw ourselves into it.
We’ve taken sex down to its lowest common denominator: physical pleasure.
Why is it purer to have sex when you both want to and you both are going to get tremendous physical release from it? Isn’t that turning sex into mainly a physical activity?
Sex is so much more than that. It’s also emotional and spiritual, and when we make love because we want to show him how much we love him–regardless of how we currently feel about the exercise–then we’re actually being more loving. It’s more sacred, almost. Can you see that? Also, sex cements you in a way that nothing else does. It is a spiritual union. To dismiss that potential because we’re not “in the mood” isn’t operating on a higher or most honest sexual plane; it’s actually being baser. We’re the ones who are making sex only about physical pleasure, not our husbands. They want to make love not just to feel great, but also to feel loved. We, on the other hand, don’t want to make love unless we can feel great. We’re the ones who have debased it, not them.
When we turn around and make love for them, we imbue it with a bit more of the sacredness that I think God intended. But much of that depends upon how we define “giving our bodies to him”. If we just lie there, counting the minutes until he’s done (sorry to be so graphic, but you’ve all been there), we’re not really giving ourselves. We need to throw ourselves into it, and see if we can give him (and ourselves) pleasure. And often when we do commit our minds and bodies to the exercise, our own pleasure does follow.
It’s not wrong to simply give your body as a gift to him.
We interpret it as wrong because we think of ourselves on a higher plane in relationships–we value the relationship, he values the sex, so he’s the one who’s debased and needs to learn to become better, like us. But he isn’t worse, and we aren’t better, we’re just different. And God made us different to encourage both of us to step out of our comfort zones and give to one another.
I’m not suggesting that if he’s asking you to act out pornography that you should do it, or that you should make love if you have physical issues, or that you should do so if you’re having flashbacks of childhood trauma. If you need counselling, get it. If you’re having relationship problems, tackle those. Sex shouldn’t be something that hurts you.
But normally, the problem is not something huge; it’s just that we can’t be bothered, and we think there’s something a little bit pathetic about men that they want it so much. And why should we have to use our bodies to give him that?
We do lots of things with our bodies that aren’t always pleasant, though. I remember breastfeeding through blocked milk ducts and infections. I drag myself out of bed to tend to sick children. I get less sleep than I need because my kids need me. I don’t mind using my body to love my kids; the problem seems to come when we need to use it to love our husbands. They should be able to cope!
God didn’t put you in a marriage so that you could both cope.
He put you in a marriage so that you could both lean on each other, give to each other, and love to each other. You may think it’s pathetic that he needs love to be expressed in this way when you’re tired, and cranky, and bloated. But he does, and he’s not wrong. So challenge yourself this week to see sex as something less base than something purely physical. See it as the emotional and spiritual building bond that it can be. Love your husband in the way that he needs it, and you just may find that your marriage gets ever so much better!