TO WIVES: Why Is Sex So Important?

wives Sex Married strangers - Dollar Photo Married Couple having relationship problemsWives: what kinds of emotional needs does your sexual interest meet for your husband? Do you know?

In written survey comments and in my interviews, I noticed two parallel trends. They are 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.

Lets look at a few of the benefits.

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 wives. 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. It’s on 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 I 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. Plus, it 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. 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 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. That is 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. This 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.

Feeling Loved

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 wives might very much wish that they could respond more wholeheartedly to their husband’s sexual needs. But they 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.

Wives: Make sex a priority

An excerpt from a Today’s Christian Woman article captures this issue. It provides an important challenge to wives 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.

Reevaluating Priorities

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 wives: 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. It helps wives 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 so wives can better understand the men in their lives and better interact with them.

There’s also a For Women Only Discussion Guide available for wives, written by Shaunti Feldhahn and Lisa Rice, published by Multnomah. It’s designed to be used by book clubs, or in small groups. Or it can be used for having a one-on-one dialogue with the man of your life. Many wives, 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.

– ALSO –

Here is a great article, written by Sheila Wray Gregoire that further explains this point to wives on why sex is so important to men. Make sure you also read the comments posted below the article. The commenters make some important points, as well:

DOES EVERYTHING COME DOWN TO SEX?

And then 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 wives would greatly benefit from reading the transcripts. To do so, click onto the Reviveourhearts.com links provided below. First listen to “What Do Men Need.” And then from there, go on to listen to “Words He Can Hear.” You can then listen to “Understanding His Needs” and then, “Delighting in Marriage”:

WHAT DO MEN NEED?

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Comments

549 responses to “TO WIVES: Why Is Sex So Important?

  1. I see the comments on here. Some are unhappy and others understanding of what a marriage is. I see marriage as a two way street if one does for a spouse the spouse should expect to do same back. This is not just sex it’s a lifetime of learning each other respecting what each other values in a marriage. Now sex is a part of life and what this one article is about. As a man yes, sex is important and like the article says mostly every thing is true to me and maybe not to others.

    I wonder why some are against what a man’s or woman’s wants/needs are? Instead of talking to spouse and both have the desire to please and bless each other’s wants/needs. I do not think this article implies that if a woman doesn’t feel like having sex that she needs to or her husband will feel not loved or be depressed. The first comment I saw was Jessica’s the way you described some of your life was hard to read. I wish you the best.

    Now I usually don’t comment on anything but I have a reason for this one. I have been married for 17 years and to me I didn’t get my wants or needs always. But was happily married for 14 years. The last three has been difficult to say the least. I supported my wife through 11 years of college. She had a lot on her. The career choice she chose was to be a doctor. She completed her degree we had two wonderful kids. But a year into her career I knew something wasn’t right. The stress she was under is enormous. So I tried to do more for her. I work full time. Took care of the kids fed, bathed, homework every thing a mom and dad should do. But then I couldn’t do things right for her. I cooked dinner she wouldn’t eat. So by now you all guessed sex was even more lacking then before.

    She signed up to join military hospital and left the kids and I not wanting us to come along. I’m trying to work with what I have but when I’m asked about my sex life by other women because she talked to her coworkers nurses here in our small community telling them how little we did have sex then they went out and told others. Just a guess but I believe the nurses were talking about after my wife left probably like I would cheat or something along that.

    To set it in stone I have not anytime of our 20 year relationship. But somehow this person changed my view on sex, married life and sorry to say but I’ve only been to church three times the last year. For some reason the nurses go to church there so I stay away. By this woman telling me details of my sex life I was devastated. See my wife never wanted to hold hands, kiss or hug in public. But she didn’t mind telling strangers about our private life. I’m working on trying to forgive but find it difficult when she’s not here.

  2. I see that many people are taking this article to a whole other realm. I see other parts in this article that are not said but implied. It’s not all about sex. It’s also about the physical presence. See my wife has gotten sick just before we got married, and in some ways I know it’s affecting her still as just a simple caress can send her nerves into fire. I am a very tactile person, and just holding her hand and rubbing a finger on her skin is a soothing aspect for me as it connects me to her, but just that can be irritably painful for her.

    It’s been sometimes though I’ve felt that she had a physical desire for us, being that we’re not in the best of shapes, the remnant of her sickness and also that she is not a very prone proponent of pda (which I am). As much as a woman wants emotional connection with us that doesn’t rely of physical contact, we as men need that physical contact for emotional connection and it’s a very nasty circle. If one feels that we are too demanding it can bring on stress on the relationship, she can grow resentful and in such rebuke the advances of her life long partner, yet on the other hand, her partner being rebuked and feel that there’s a lack in the physical connection between them can then become resentful and eventually he will feel alone and closing on himself, which in the end will only make things worse for his partner as she will feel that her emotional connection needs are not met and the wheel goes on.

    See, personally I’ve only been married for a couple of years, and we got married late-ish in our age (I was 37 and she was 36). She had been married before and it was a stressful marriage that turned bad. So when it gets stressful between us she is reminded of that and it bears on her, which I then get the blunt of the comments of “You’re just like him” Etc. For the past few months I’ve been feeling that there was no desire left alive in her, and not just about sex, but holding (her holding me) or her deciding on her own to kiss me without me having to ask for it. Stuff like that, that some people might find benign, but I’ve come to realize that all these aspects are as much important for a man to feel that he is desired by his wife and loved than just having full blown sexual intercourse.

    And yes I can say that I have been feeling rejected, hurt, alienated and resentful, which in turn has brought on more stressful moment in our relationship and the wheel goes on as I mentioned before. I’d give a leg, my hand and my ears (I’m a musician so you have to understand that this is a lot) for just getting back to a state where that feelings of her wanting to be close, holding, kissing me was alive again, just that by itself would be a boon in our relationship.

    So no, in essence it’s not just about the sexual intercourse; yes of course it’s very important because it is a reset button for us men, it’s the ultimate flashing panel that unequivocally and undeniably tells us that she loves us and desires to be with us and that no matter how tough things get, she will be there loving, Which in turn it opens us up to be more emotionally connected to her. But our need for attachment is not just bound to that ultimate unification, it’s lighter than that and yet much deeper too.

  3. Thank you for this article. I am going to “once again” put everything I read to heart. I’m asking for prayer. Past hurts have caused me to lose interest in this very important part of our married life. I need healing and confidence that he sees me as a good person, in order to fulfill his every desire. I want to I just need some serious healing. God can still move, right?

    1. Yes, God can heal our bodies and our minds. We have to focus on healing not the past. You may have to make confessions daily. hourly, every minute if necessary.