There are gender differences that can affect every aspect of married life. But it especially shows up in our approach to sex.
Approach to Sex: Gender Differences
Today, believing that there are no differences between men and women has become so evidently absurd that few people can proclaim it with a straight face. Boys and girls come with different wiring. Men and women simply are different. They are different in very profound and fundamental ways.
Nowhere is the challenge of those differences more evident than in the sexual relationship. I recently read a few suggestions about those differences that I’d like to share with you.
How to Impress a Woman
Smile at her.
Listen to her.
Laugh with her.
Cry with her.
Believe in her.
Pray with her.
Pray for her.
Cuddle with her.
Shop with her.
Give her jewelry.
Buy her flowers.
Hold her hand.
Write love letters to her.
Go to the end of the Earth and back again for her.
How to Impress a Man
Show up naked.
Bring chicken wings.
Don’t block the TV.
It’s a joke, of course. But there’s a kernel of truth at the center. This tongue-in-cheek list captures the fact that men and women are very different in their sexuality.
Sex was designed by our Creator to be a tremendous blessing in the marriage relationship. But it can also be a source of great tension. Many people marry because of sex. And just as many get divorced because of it.
…The challenge, as our humorous lists illustrate, is that men and women have very divergent sexual needs. …We differ in nature, intensity and timing. Throughout marriage, our respective sexual needs will ebb and flow. Rarely will they synchronize. Thus, couples will avoid a lot of misdirected energy and frustration by understanding that few, if any, husbands and wives have the same sexual needs.
Our general example of this is the fact that men peak sexually in their late teens and early twenties. Women, however, tend to reach their sexual peak in their late thirties or early forties. (Why did God engineer this difference? Probably so that we could have a few years of getting some real work done!)
A Man’s Approach to Sex
Men are visually stimulated —they want to “see” their wives. Women are more stimulated when their emotional needs have been met. That’s not to say that women are blind to their husbands’ bodies. But they’re not nearly as visually oriented. (This has led to many a “lights on” versus “lights off” controversy in the bedroom.)
There are other differences. Men can get aroused quite quickly. They don’t have to have much foreplay, or even forethought, to be ready for sex. But for women, the turn-on to sex is very gradual. Marriage counselor and author Gary Smalley says that in the world of sex, “men are microwave ovens and women are crock pots.” It’s true. Women have to warm up to the idea of sex —and it takes awhile.
A man can compartmentalize the sexual experience. He can block everything else out. He could have just had the worst day of his life and been told that tomorrow is Armageddon, and still enjoy sex right now. That’s because to him, sex is just another compartment of his life. Not to a woman. A woman is inclusive in her nature. Everything that happens to her is connected to her sexuality. What her husband said to her leaving for work that morning, her interactions with the kids and/or her parents, and the overall condition of their finances is all connected to her sexual responsiveness.
Here’s another difference:
For a man, sex is a primary need. For a woman, sex is secondary at best. In one study in which men and women were asked to rank how important sex was to them, sex consistently ranked 1,2 or 3 to men. Women, on average, ranked sex in the number 13 slot —right behind “gardening together,” which came in at number 12. That’s right, in the average woman’s hierarchy of things to do with her husband, sex takes a backseat to pulling weeds.
There are more differences. But the ones I’ve mentioned are enough to make the point: Men and women are different in nature and in need when it comes to sex.
Don’t Base Sex on Mutual Desire
With such wide-ranging differences in priority, intensity and timing, it’s clear that we must base our sexual fulfillment on something more than mutual desire. If we’re always waiting for our spouse to have the same sexual needs at the same time we do, we’re going to spend a lot of time waiting. Rarely are we going to have the same needs at the same time.
For that reason, there must be a spirit of servanthood in the marriage relationship. This was no secret in the first paradise. Sex was God’s idea. Adam and Eve were wired for ultimate sexual fulfillment. They could have had the ultimate sex, because God created them to serve Him and serve each other. They were helpmates in the Garden.
But they sinned and lost the paradise of their marriage. Do you remember that one of their first responses when sin came into their relationship was to cover themselves with fig leaves? Their sexuality was separated, withheld from each other, the moment they sinned. That is because the essence of the sin of mankind is to reject servanthood to God and others.
Servants Live to Please
Sin has made serving one another seem much more complicated than it really is. That was evident when a lawyer, who was testing Jesus, asked, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” (See: Matthew 22:36.)
Jesus answered, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
The two greatest commandments are a response to man’s greatest needs. They are to serve God and to serve other people. Serving others is the essence of why we were created. That’s why many servants are much happier than their masters. They live to please another person, not to please themselves. This is the way man is designed. It’s why government employees —from the police officer to the president —are called public servants. It’s why a successful employee seeks ways to help serve the vision and goals of the business he works for. And it’s why business owners succeed not by hard work alone but by making sure their businesses serve the needs of their customers.
Created to Serve
If your goal is to please other people, you can do that all day long and be successful at it. But if you live to please yourself, you have taken on an impossible task. Like a dog chasing its tail, self-satisfaction is impossible to find when that is what you live for.
Man was created to serve. All fulfillment in life comes from being a servant. …The world’s way is to be served; God’s way is to serve. The world’s way teaches us to focus on our own needs; God’s way teaches us to focus on other people’s needs. Nowhere is this principle of servanthood more at work than within the marriage relationship.
This article comes from the book, Our Secret Paradise, written by Jimmy Evans, published by Regal Books. “You will find that Jimmy and Karen bring their hearts and their experiences to every page. This book is biblical, practical and full of rich illustrations of the Evans’s home and marriage. They are open about their own hearts and their experiences. They are not painting a picture of perfection but rather one of being sold out to help marriages grow that are on their watch.”
– ALSO –
Here’s a video that gives a humorous look, and yet holds a lot of truth to it that you might find helpful to view:
If you have additional tips you can share, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.
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Filed under: Sexual Issues
14 responses to “Gender Differences in Our Approach to Sex”
(SWAZILAND) I think that some of the things in the above article are general. I do not function like an average woman. Anyway, we are different!
(USA) Yep! That happens. If that’s so, then just switch the application around. You won’t find that all advice ever completely fits, unless it comes from the word of God. Just glean and use what you can, the way you can. The main point is that “different” isn’t bad (unless it violates God’s principles)… it’s just different. So proceed accordingly to find ways to make your differences work FOR your relationship rather than against it. When my husband and I started working with our differences in that way, it’s amazing how our partnership grew in a positive direction.
(KENYA) I agree with all you have written. I wish we could all remember our differences then we could all make paradise of our marriages. Good work!
(BOTSWANA) This is so wonderful. I have learnt a lot of things, and I hope that you will continue to encourage us like this. Please send me your monthly, weekly, daily encouraging words. I have two years in marriage and want to know more about it.
(SOUTH AFRICA) I am 38 years old; married for 12 years, blessed with 4 children (2 handsome boys & 2 beautiful girls). I love my husband VERY MUCH. I have realized that if GOD can be our foundation, my marriage can stand the test of time. My husband is a very loving & responsible father. Subscribing to this site will really build our marriage.
(MALAWI) I like this, it will help me greatly.
(AUSTRALIA) This is very true. Men operate differently to women, and are much simpler creatures, whereas women have their ‘ocean of emotion’.
(INDIA) The gist of what you say is unfortunately true. To most men, wives are so misunderstood. The less said, the better it is. So many important personalities have to eat a humble pie on this account & I am sure their better halves must have found guilt in these men of substance. More a man is gentle & with empathy less gainer he is in this aspect.
In this otherwise complete article, one point seems uncovered. That is, the less he gets, many folds more than normal, he becomes desirous of. But if this is in will of God & nature, then be it so. This may be one of the reasons for wife beating & some other sins men indulge in as a bad alternative.
(UNITED STATES OF AMERICA) One of the tools that was very helpful for our marriage was having a marriage counselor, who was very caring about our relationship. She made us look at our problem in a different perspective. She made us understand that we were not understanding each other. She was that link for us. My husband was feeling left out and unloved in our relationship by me going to my mother’s house, and the marriage counselor demonstrated love for our relationship that helped us love one onother again with care, and this made us stop bickering about things.
(USA) I’ve been married for almost 14 years and love my wife with every part of my essence. She has given me two great kids, a girl and a boy, 12 and 10 years old. But really, for years now, I have felt like she was just not in one with me by her actions –kind of being like a man would act after sex or just bugging her for long enough till she gave in. But I would always say, if you don’t feel it I sure don’t want to force you. And not only that, I would always tell her that I wanted to make sure that she enjoyed it, as well.
She sometimes calls me a girl in the way I act with my emotions. I just can’t get her to understand that making love to her is like the two of us truly become one. She has recently told me she loves me but is not in love with me. It has totally crushed me. It’s pretty much all I think about now. She seems insecure about her looks but she is beautiful and I tell her all the time she is, but it’s like she just doesn’t hear me or cares almost, like she wants to hear it from anyone but me.
I’m going crazy. Does anyone have any suggestions? Am I just fooling myself in thinking it will get better?
(USA) Richard, I was reading what you wrote and it makes me think of my situation. We have been married for almost 13 years now w/ two children. There was a time when I felt we were best friends and I think I enjoyed our sex life.
Over the years many things can happen that change. My husband says the same thing you do about having sex as far as how he feels it brings us closer emotionally. He is just as interested in my satisfaction as his. However, I am hardly ever interested to the point where we just did not do it at all because he too felt as if I was just tolerating it for his sake.
It only led to me starting to feel he was having an affair. He says he is not, but why should he be with someone who does not want him? I think some of the reasons are that I feel we are not as emotionally connected as we used to be and I need that to feel any desire for him sexually. I also am not happy when I look in the mirror. No matter how much he tells me I am beautiful, in my mind, if I don’t think I am beautiful, then how can he possibly think so?
You could try suggesting to her that the two you work together to improve yourselves physically. Walk w/ her, eat better with her, this way she sees this as a way for both of you to get healthy and not you confirming her fears that she is fat or ugly. If she feels more beautiful and feels that the two of you are connecting more emotionally then she may be more interested in your intimate life and have a renewed love for you.
I can’t say this will work but I am just saying that this is what I feel will help me in my marriage and in turn help my husband who I feel would understand you frustration. I really do hope that this helps you in some way. Also try reading this entire website with her. My husband and I have found many helpful things here and are trying to repair our marriage.
(UNITED STATES) Wow. I have to ask – who made this list? A man? As a woman, first and foremost I want RESPECT for the PERSON that I am. Don’t give me that “you’re just girl -and wine me and dine me”. I am a person -honest, hard-working, faithful, caring, trustworthy, ambitious. I am a PERSON. Respect me first as a sister in Christ.
Men (not all) can complain all they want about how they feel their wives don’t respect them and it seems to me that almost every other man joins in with this same complaint. Guess what guys? You’re probably right. Your wives don’t respect you. Why should they? You don’t respect them!!! You see them as some superficial, emotional, weak “thing” that you think it is your job to “cure”. Grow up. Get real. And pray to the Lord to open your eyes to your own faults. Accept your wife for who she is as a person. She is your equal, your sister in Christ FIRST.
(US) You do realize this is supposed to be humorous, sarcastic? Not that these aren’t great suggestions. Anyway, the whole point of the list was to demonstrate that pleasing a man is typically much less complicated than pleasing a woman.
(CANADA) I have to agree with Deborah on this one, the list is pretty bad overkill just to make a point. People who write these kinds of articles need to remember: NOT everyone is mature, wise, nor old enough to see the tongue-in-cheek in this. Some people will unwittingly, take it seriously. There might be a kernal of truth in it, but that’s a very small kernel and it’s certainly not in the center. Also, it contradicts the most brilliant article on this website which explores in depth how much meaning a man derives from sex. Anyways. Just my 2 cents.