“C’mon baby, you will if you love me.”
This is completely unloving and manipulative behavior for these teens. Sex is an inappropriate expression of love outside of marriage.
And yet, there is a nugget of truth to these selfish requests.
Sex is a valid and even essential expression of love and commitment within marriage.This is true for both men and women, though I think that men often feel this need more potently.
In many marriages sex is shoved aside, like it is just some fringe benefit of signing the marriage contract.
Or worse, it is treated as something base, carnal and dirty that needs to be kept locked up and let out only when the beast is out of control.
You Only Want Me For Sex
I’ve read about many cases where the husband or wife has taken up the duty of controlling this beast in their spouse. They limit sexual contact to a bare minimum, often as a result of bad teachings growing up in the church or a childhood where they did not have a good example of healthy sexuality.
In these cases, the limiting spouse is sending a clear signal to his or her partner. “Your desire for me is dirty and wrong”. This goes against what God’s Word tells us about sex, and is a very unloving message to send to your spouse.
Yet many times the limiting spouse feels that they are only wanted for sex. They may feel like nothing more than a sex toy for their spouse. These feelings are valid, but they are often misguided.
In the vast majority of cases the other person (the limited spouse) sees sex as an expression of their love. They feel rejected and unloved when their attempts at initiating sex are repeatedly shut down. This makes it very difficult for them to feel trust and emotionally connection with their spouse.
The Cycle of Neglect
This often leads to what I call the “cycle of neglect”.
Let me use an example to illustrate. “John” and “Jane” are a fictional couple that I will use. They are both Christians and love each other, but they are busy with kids and work and the daily grind of life, and they are growing more distant.
Jane feels that John is overly sexual. She complains that he often tries to initiate sex, even though they just did it “last week”. She wonders why he can’t just give her a nice massage without expecting a happy ending. She’s frustrated by the fact that he is emotionally closed off and has a hard time being more sexually open to him when this core need of hers is going unmet.
John feels hurt every time she denies his sexual advances. He’s frustrated and scared because he feels like she is withdrawing from him. He would like to be more emotionally connected with her, and for him sex is one of the primary ways to build that emotional connection. He has a hard time trusting her with his heart when she isn’t meeting this core need of his.
Note that they are both in the wrong here. They are each neglecting a core need of the other. They can reverse this cycle of neglect, but it will take one or both of them making a commitment to meet the other’s need even when their own need is going unmet and also communicating about the importance of their own need.
Let’s say John takes the first step. He should be intentional about fulfilling his wife’s emotional needs. He should also let her know how important his need for sex is in feeling emotionally connected to her. He can say something like this:
“Jane, I realize I’ve been emotionally closed off lately. I’m sorry. I’d really like to work on being more open and more emotionally connected with you. It would really help me do this if we could work on our sexual relationship, because sex is something that I need in order to feel emotionally connected with you.”
Sexual Trauma and Dysfunction
In other, more serious cases there is a history of sexual trauma, such as childhood sexual abuse (CSA) or rape.
These situations require a great deal of care and grace. Lets continue to use Jane as our example here.
Ideally, Jane should get counseling from a specialist trained in sexual trauma before she even gets married. Sex is is going to be a trigger with her, and she should deal with this before marriage so they can get started on the right foot.
But if she doesn’t get this much needed help before hand, she definitely needs it once she gets married. John has a responsibility to make sure she gets this treatment. He should extend her a lot of grace in this area, but that doesn’t mean he should ignore his need for sexual intimacy.
Sexual dysfunction may be an issue in other marriages. This could be a porn addiction, or it could be something medical like Erectile Dysfunction (ED), low hormonal levels, or pain during sex.
If a husband has a porn addiction he should get help in overcoming it. Accountability with others is a very important part of his healing in this area. A 12 step program such as Sexaholics Anonymous or the Christian based Celebrate Recovery program can also be a big help as well.
Other medical conditions might require professional help. The couple dealing with these issues has a responsibility to get this help in order to build a healthy sexual relationship.
Busy Mom Syndrome
Ok, I kind of made that term up, but a Google search shows I’m not the first to come up with the idea. I’m not surprised.
In her book For Men Only Shaunti Feldham explains how women often have multiple “windows” open in their mind, like a multitaksing computer.
My wife is a stay at home mom, and after a hard day she often likes to take a break in the tub with a book. This allows her to relax and close out her open windows.
These windows, or the stress of a difficult day, can have a huge effect on a woman’s libido on any given day. A wise husband will help his wife close these windows by talking to her, praying with her, encouraging her and just being emotionally supportive.
A messy house can also act as an open window in her mind. I can help her close this window by picking things up, taking out the trash or washing the dishes.
Should I Expect Sex From My Spouse?
I do not believe in the concept of “choreplay”. I don’t do these things or help her close her other windows so she’ll have sex with me. I do them because I love her and want to serve her. If it helps her clear her mind so she can get into the mood for sex, that’s a happy benefit. I don’t think:
“Oh I cleaned up the living room, now she can/should have sex with me”.
It doesn’t work that way.
Yet I think it is important to discuss expectations in marriage. Should I expect my wife to have sex with me?
My wife and I discussed this while I was writing this and we kind of disagree with each other. She thinks that I shouldn’t expect sex from her. I agree that I shouldn’t expect sex “today” or every time I try to initiate.
But I do expect sex or sexual play to be a regular part of our marriage. This is because sex is a vital component of a healthy marriage.
In the same way, she should expect me to be emotionally supportive of her. If she’s feeling emotionally neglected, I want her to let me know. If she’s having a difficult day and needs help closing her windows I think it’s OK for her to expect some help from me.
In some of the cases above, like the case of sexual trauma, the “healthy” spouse should expect the victimized spouse to go to counseling and get help and work towards building a healthy sex life. For instance, if a wife was sexually abused as a child, the husband should push her to get counseling. This will likely be very difficult for her in it’s own right. Facing her fears in the bedroom can also be very difficult, but she should work on this as well. He should be very graceful and patient in this, but there is a point when this can become enabling behavior.
What do you think about expectations in marriage? Let me know in the comments. And if you know someone this post can help please share it with them using the social buttons on the left.
A straightforward guide to the inner lives of men.
In their groundbreaking classic, For Men Only, Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn reveal the eye-opening truths and simple acts that will radically improve your relationship with the woman you love. For example:
· Why she can’t “just not think about” something that’s bothering her
· How to get her real answers without games
· How your provider instinct can actually cause her heartache – and what to do about it
· Why “not tonight, honey” may not mean what you think
· Why listening to her feelings is so hard for a guy, and a fix-it plan that works
· Why her “I do” at the altar will always mean, “do you?” and the answer that rocks her world
A straightforward guide to the inner lives of women.
In her landmark bestseller, For Women Only, Shaunti Feldhahn reveals what every woman—single or married—needs to know. Based on rigorous research with thousands of men, Shaunti delivers one eye-opening revelation after another, including:
• Why your respect means more to him than your love.
• How he feels deep inside about his role as provider.
• What it means for a man to be so visually “wired.”
• Why sex for him is primarily emotional, not physical.
• What he most wishes he could say to you.