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.
More from Marriage Missions
Filed under: Sexual Issues