Marriage Missions International

TO WIVES: Why Is Sex So Important?

What kinds of emotional needs does your sexual interest meet for your husband? In written survey comments and in my interviews, I noticed two parallel trends —the great benefits a fulfilling sex life creates in a man’s inner life and, conversely, the wounds created when lovemaking is reluctant or lacking.

Benefit #1: Fulfilling sex makes him feel loved and desired

Not surprisingly, the first thing surfaced from the survey comments was that having a regular, mutually enjoyed sex life was critical to the man’s feeling of being loved and desired. One eloquent plea captured it perfectly:

I wish that my wife understood that making a priority of meeting my intimacy needs is the loudest and clearest way she can say, “You are more important to me than anything else in the world.” It is a form of communication that speaks more forcefully, with less room for misinterpretation, than any other.

The reason why this message is needed is that many men —even those with close friendships —seem to live with a deep sense of loneliness that is quite foreign to us oh-so-relational women. And making love is the purest salve for that loneliness.

One man told me, “I feel like I go out into the ring every day and fight. It’s very lonely. That’s why, when the bell rings, I want my wife to be there for me.”

Another related that sentiment to the power of fulfilling sex. “A man really does feel isolated, even with his wife. But in making love, there is one other person in this world that you can be completely vulnerable with and be totally accepted and non-judged. It is a solace that goes very deep into the heart of a man.

This is one reason why some men may make advances at times that seem the furthest from sexual. One woman relayed a story about her husband wanting to make love after a funeral for a close relative. Making love was a comfort and a way of being wrapped in her love.

Benefit #2: Fulfilling sex gives him confidence

Your desire for him goes beyond making him feel wanted and loved. Your desire is a bedrock form of support that gives him power to face the rest of his daily life with a sense of confidence and well-being.

By now most of us have seen the television commercials for Viagra in which a man’s colleagues for friends repeatedly stop him and ask what’s “different” about him. New haircut? Been working out? Promotion? Nope, the man tells them all, with a little smile.

One man I interviewed brought up those ads. “Every man immediately understands what that commercial is saying —it’s all about guys feeling good about themselves. The ad portrays a truth that all men intuitively recognize. They’re more confident and alive when their sex life is working.”

Once my eyes were opened to this truth, I realized how often I’d heard the “man code” for this fact, but failed to understand it. When men had told me they “felt better” when they got more sex, I had just assumed they meant physically better.

But as one husband told me, “What happens in the bedroom really does affect how I feel the next day at the office.” Another wrote, “Sex is a release of a day-to-day pressures and seems to make everything else better.”

Wound #1: “If she doesn’t want to, I feel incredible rejection.”

As much as men want sex, most of them would rather go out and clip the hedges in the freezing rain than make love with a wife who appears to be responding out of duty. My husband, Jeff, explained: “The guy isn’t going to be rejected by the hedges. And that’s the issue. If she’s just responding because she has to, he’s being rejected by his wife.”

Again, keeping in mind that what he wants most is for you to desire him, try to see what he wants most is for you to desire him, try to see this rejection issue from the man’s point of view. If we agree, but don’t make an effort to get really engaged with the man we love, he hears us saying, “You’re incapable of turning me on even when you try, and I really don’t care about what matters deeply to you.” On the other hand if we don’t agree at all, but throw out the classic “Not tonight, dear,” he hears, “You’re so undesirable that you can’t compete with a pillow… and I really don’t care about what matters deeply to you.”

Although we might just be saying we don’t want sex at that point in time, he hears the much more painful message that we don’t want him.

Here’s what the men themselves said on the survey:

• “She doesn’t understand that I feel loved by sexual caressing, and if she doesn’t want to, I feel incredible rejection.”

• “When she says no, I feel that I am REJECTED, ‘No’ is not no to sex —as she might feel. It is no to me as I am. And I am vulnerable as I ask or initiate. It’s plain and simple rejection.”

• “She doesn’t understand how even her occasional dismissals make me feel less desirable. I can’t resist her. I wish that I, too, were irresistible. She says I am. But her ability to say no so easily makes it hard to believe.”

This feeling of personal rejection, and a sense that his wife doesn’t really desire him, tends to lead a man into darker waters.

Wound #2: your lack of desire can send him into depression.

If your sexual desire gives your husband a sense of well-being and confidence, you can understand why an ongoing perception that you don’t desire him would translate into a nagging lack of confidence, withdrawal, and depression.

The men I talked to scoffed at my tentative suggestion that a string of similar rejections wouldn’t necessarily mean that their wives were rejecting them as men. They warned that any woman sending those signals would undermine the loving environment she wants most because, as one man said, “She is going to have one depressed man on her hands.”

A man can’t just turn off the physical and emotional importance of sex, which is why its lack can be compared to the emotional pain you’d feel if your husband simply stopped talking to you. Consider the painful words of this truly deprived husband—words that other men, upon reading them, call “heartbreaking”:

We’ve been married for a long time. I deeply regret and resent the lack of intimacy of nearly any kind for the duration of our marriage. I feel rejected, ineligible, insignificant, lonely, isolated, and abandoned as a result. Not having the interaction I anticipated prior to marriage is like a treasure lost and irretrievable. It causes deep resentment and hurt within me. This in turn fosters anger and feelings of alienation.

…If you view sex as a purely physical need, it might indeed seem comparable to sleep. But once you realize that your man is actually saying, “This is essential to my feeling of being loved and desired by you, and is critical to counteract my stress, my fears, and my loneliness,” well… that suddenly puts it in a different category. So how might you respond?

First, know that you’re responding to a tender heart hiding behind all that testosterone. If at all possible, respond to his advances with your full emotional involvement, knowing that you’re touching his heart. But if responding physically seems out of the question, let your words be heart words—reassuring, affirming, adoring. Do everything in your power—using words and actions your husband understands—to keep those pangs of personal rejection from striking the man you love. Leave him in no doubt that you love to love him.

And remember, if you do respond physically but do it just to “meet his needs” without getting engaged, you’re not actually meeting his needs. In fact, you might as well send him out to clip the hedges. So enjoy God’s intimate gift, and make the most of it!

…I recognize that some women might very much wish that they could respond more wholeheartedly to their husband’s sexual needs, but feel stopped in their tracks for various personal reasons. I don’t want to add any more frustration. I do, however, want to encourage you to get the personal or professional help you need to move forward. The choice to pursue healing will be worth it, both for you and the man you love.

Make sex a priority

An excerpt from a Today’s Christian Woman article captures this issue—and provides an important challenge to change our thinking. The author starts by admitting that although her husband really wanted to make love more often, it “just wasn’t one of my priorities.” She then describes a subsequent revelation:

I felt what I did all day was meet other people’s needs. Whether it was caring for my children, working in ministry, or washing my husband’s clothes, by the end of the day I wanted to be done need-meeting. I wanted my pillow and a magazine. But God prompted me: “Are the ‘needs’ you meet for your husband the needs he wants met?”

If your daughters weren’t perfectly primped, he didn’t complain. If the kitchen floor needed mopping, he didn’t say a word. And if he didn’t have any socks to wear, he simply threw them in the washer himself.

I soon realized I regularly said “no” to the one thing he asked of me. I sure wasn’t making myself available to my husband by militantly adhering to my plan for the day… Would the world end if I didn’t get my tires rotated? I’d been focused on what I wanted to get done and what my children needed, I’d cut my husband out of the picture.

Are the many things that take our time and energy truly as important as this one? Now would be a good time to reevaluate priorities with the help of our husbands so they know that we are taking this seriously.

… Having heard from so many men on this, I would urge you: Don’t discount it. It’s more important to him—and to your relationship and therefore your own joy in marriage —than you can imagine.

Now that you understand the tender places in your husband’s heart, hopefully you have developed compassion for him and the way he is wired.

This article comes from the terrific book,  For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men -written by Shaunti Feldhahn, published by Multnomah. This is a GREAT book, which helps women learn what motivates men and their thought processes behind their actions (or non-actions). Shaunti had interviewed over 1000 men in researching this book. She reveals the findings of her research brought out so that women can better understand the men in their lives and better interact with them.

There’s also a For Women Only Discussion Guide available, written by Shaunti Feldhahn and Lisa Rice, published by Multnomah. It’s designed to be used by book clubs, in small groups, or for having a one-on-one dialogue with the man of your life. Many women, after reading the For Women Only book may wonder, “What do I do with the info I’ve been given?” This discussion guide helps answer that question. It contains personal stories, questions, and situational case studies to help equip you to apply the truths you learn.


There was a Revive Our Hearts radio broadcast series that aired a while ago where Nancy DeMoss interviewed Shaunti Feldhahn and Barbara Rainey on this same subject. We believe you would greatly benefit from reading the transcripts. To do so, click onto the links provided below to first listen to “What Do Men Need” (and then from there, go on to listen to “Words He Can Hear” and “Understanding His Needs” and then, “Delighting in Marriage”):



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462 Responses to “TO WIVES: Why Is Sex So Important?”
  1. ... from United States says:

    Why so much emphasis on males? You know, females have problems with their husbands not wanting sex as well.

    • B from Australia says:

      There are plenty of online articles about men not wanting sex. It could be pretentious of me but my feeling is that there are more articles about men not getting enough sex because the sex-drive-bias is make orientated. I also get the impression from reading this and other articles that my women cope without sex in the short to medium term whereas men don’t cope very well, which is one of the things that this article is saying.

      • Charles from United States says:

        So why argue about this? It’s obvious that sex will not only improve your husband’s life in every area of his life, but most importantly, his overall interactions with his wife. After all, God made woman for man, not the other way around. Ever heard of the saying “Behind every married man, there is a strong woman?” So even though your married man is the focus point of this article, you cannot exclude the importance of the wife, because she is an asset to making his life “go”.

        Listen ladies, God knew what he was doing when he created man first, then woman second. It’s noteworthy to not discount this equation, and the results. Changing it can be a devastating blow. With that being said, I am not just talking about sex.

    • Charles from United States says:

      I think that it’s our most important need, next to being respected. This comes without merit to our actions. Is he being appreciated in another area? Have you asked him? Ladies, Self Help books contain a wealth of knowledge concerning the behavior of people, but it’s not the only source. Don’t get me wrong, I thank God for impressing on someone’s heart to write books to help people interact. But closed mouths don’t get fed. Wives, and husbands alike, just ask. Don’t assume.

    • Charles from United States says:

      I cannot comment on your second response, except to read what I wrote in response to someone else’s post. To answer your question, this is supposed to be a male driven society. Men are out front. However the paradigm has shifted to where women want to be seen more and not just heard. This is fine. However, competition comes affixed to it. By nature, men are not competitive in this aspect, at least from my point. Again, if You fellas agree you can attest to this. We only compete with other men. This is only reduced to a sport or a common interest among men.

      Women, this is not to discount you, we are not competitive towards you naturally, so don’t try to drive us that way. Hence for the emphasis. Somehow, I believe that added to the scuffle of the first sin mankind committed, had a little competition in it.

  2. John from United States says:

    Married for 34 years im feeling its all about to end!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Ashley from United States says:

      Why do you feel that way John?

      • Charles from United States says:

        John probably doesn’t get enough sex. It has probably been reduced to a physical need, which is not John’s fault. He is very much in tune with what he needs. If this is not the issue, then he must not be heard in another area of his needs. I can only speak for myself, other men you can attest to this, but I’m not picky. But women, you can’t pick and choose what needs of your husband you will fulfill. We certainly would not do that to you. At least I can speak for myself. Fellas, again you can attest to this. I really do not think I am wrong either.

  3. Johnymee from Europe says:

    So interesting, it’s what every woman should know. God bless this ministry.

  4. Dan from United States says:

    Most men just need to grow up and stop thinking that sex is the end all/be all. God’s first comment was that it is not good for man to be alone. Man/mankind was made for companionship first. In order 1. man leave parents 2. man CLEAVE to his wife -the word cleave is to be loyal, to stick together, to be a team like glue, and then lastly, 3. to be one flesh. And ‘one flesh’ has emotional, spiritual and physical meaning, not just sex. We live in a sex crazed society and a man puts sex as number one, he has created an idol. If he masturbates, he making himself an idol. What wife would want to have sex with such a man???

    This is just more media propaganda to try and make people (both married and single) to bow down and worship ‘sex’.

    • CK from United States says:

      Dan, Sounds like you’re in your 50’s and have no testosterone left in your body. I’m serious… that was not to put you down. Men start having less and less testosterone after the age of 25. Some men need to grow up but for others who are grown up and respect woman and their wife such as myself need to have sex, or an emotional attachment is necessary for us.

      I love this article; it’s so true. I’ve always had a high sex drive, doesn’t mean I’m going to cheat on my wife, just means sex is a very important topic in my marriage. Just as honesty, trust and commitment are. This is how I found this site. I’m in my late 30’s and go to the gym and exercise regularly. Please don’t judge those who have high testosterone naturally and who require a woman who desires them and wants them 2-3 times a week whether it be love making or just plain sex. -CK

    • Tom from PA from United States says:

      Yes, to cleave unto the wife, it’s an emotional, physical and spiritual thing. What if the wife denies the physical part. That damages or eliminates the emotional part and damages the spiritual part. I can hire a housekeeper to sweep the floors and do laundry, I can hire someone to cook. A nanny for the kids. The only thing that I’m supposed to get from my wife, and no other, is an emotional and sexual relationship.

  5. Tom from United States says:

    This article is about me and my wife it seems. She has time for everyone in the world except for me. Our sexual relationship is limited to an hour a week if I’m lucky and the grand children don’t need a sitter. She’ll leave me sitting like a hot rock to help someone else. It’s the hardest thing in the world for me as I travel for business extensively and when I’m in a restaurant or an airport and another woman tries to chat me up, it’s hard to resist if she seems interested in what I think and actually wants to participate in a conversation.

    When I try to talk about our relationship, she gets defensive and wants to argue, it’s a never ending cycle. She’ll talk about the kids or what happened at work, the in-laws but there’s no discussion about us. We’re nearing 50 but I still have dreams and visions for the future but I don’t get a vote in it. I’m going to email the link to the article and see if she’ll read it.

    • Jenny from United States says:

      Seems she resents you for something! She may be quick to jump to another issue or help someone else to avoid hearing you whine about sex. It gets old for us ladies and perhaps she is quite bored with it all. Love is not sex. Don’t confuse the too. She most likely loves you very much, but she is not your sex servant. Why not try to be interested in her needs instead of focusing on your need.

      • Clare from United Kingdom says:

        I have recently turned my life around by submitting to God’s will to serve my husband in everything and by doing this I ultimately glorify God. My husband has been in a dull, sexless marriage as I put everyone before him and felt he pestered me constantly for sex, which made me push him away. This led to him sexting another women. This is hardly surprising; he has needs.

        I have forgiven him. It has been a wake up call to me. I’ve now fully turned our relationship around by allowing him to love me when he wants, which is frequent, but is now bonding our relationship and increasing my libido. I’m glad a had the chance to make an effort and save my marriage. We’re both happy and close now.

        Ladies, serve your husband in the sexual department and you’ll have a happy, rewarding marriage. The Bible states that we should always be a available to each other in marriage so you won’t be tempted. I’ve been ill and used every excuse in the book, but not anymore.

        • Cindy Wright from United States says:

          Thanks Clare, for sharing your testimony. This is the same wake up call I had a number of years ago. Thankfully, the years of my husband having to fight off extra temptations (because of my selfism) is over. We all have our types of temptations, but I added a sexually-oriented, and intimacy related pile on top for my husband. I came to realize that I was acting like a dictator in our bedroom, denying him for this reason or that (which all seemed logical to me), but ignoring his needs. There needs to be some giving and taking on both sides at times, but with us, and with you, it was more of our taking our position as the way things would be, without giving consideration to our husband’s needs.

          And yes, I found the same thing to be true. When I stopped withholding, my libido increased too. Plus, the intimacy and closeness it brought, in addition, can’t be compared to anything we ever had before. Thank you Lord, for the wake up calls You give to us! I’m just so thankful that I paid attention and responded in the way I did. I thank God that you are experiencing the same thing. Thank you for sharing your testimony. May it inspire many.

          • Clare from United Kingdom says:

            Thanks Cindy, I’m glad this has been the case for you too. I was concentrating on all other areas of my Christian walk and totally neglecting my husband. My children consumed everything for me. May more Christian women concentrate on this area to cement their marriage.

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