- Conquer your complacency.
- Deal with your feelings.
- Care for your husband’s heart.
These were hard lessons for me to learn in my own journey to restored sexual intimacy—maybe because they are the three most important things I did.
I’ve put off writing about the last one, but a message sent to me today reminded me how critical this is.
It is often a struggle to keep my balance in writing about the importance of sexual intimacy in marriage. Some of the importance has to do with your husband. If he is like most men, sexuality is inherent to his sense of self, he experiences emotional connection best through sexual intimacy, and a pattern of sexual rejection in marriage is likely the most difficult thing in his life. During the disconnected years in our marriage, I would have looked at the previous sentence and had several thoughts: he shouldn’t be that way, he needs to grow up, he needs to control himself, and it’s his problem not mine.
I would have dismissed anything that suggested that I should be having more sex. It was an imposition on my rights and it discounted all the reasons I didn’t want to have sex–mainly that my husband rejected emotional connection with me. As soon as he fixed that, I was pretty sure our sex life would fall back into place.
When I would read anything that seemed to be guilting me into sex, I felt like I was being diminished in importance. Having sex was important in meeting my husband’s needs—but what about my needs? Didn’t I matter?
Every time I write about the importance of sex for our husbands, part of me feels like I am letting down the wives who are hurting and need their own hearts healed as part of the restoration of intimacy in their marriages.
Fortunately, keeping my balance allows me to state a truth just as powerful as the fact that sex is important to our husbands.
Sexual intimacy has brought deep and lasting healing to my own heart. I wrote about some of that in this post, but it barely touches the surface of what it has done for me and for my marriage.
Here is the truth as I see it:
The major benefit of working on sex is not so you can be meeting your husband’s needs. It is so you experience the fullest and richest intimacy possible on this earth.
Sexual intimacy connects us physically, emotionally, and spiritually with our husbands. It gives us a glimpse into the intimacy we will experience with God.
Sexual intimacy is every bit as much for you as it is for your husband. You may not feel like that right now, just as I didn’t for many years. I began working on sex for my husband’s sake, but I believe I benefitted far more than he has from my efforts.
Balancing is a weaving back and forth from one side to the other while moving forward.
Our rights and needs matter in our marriages. Sex is for us and for our marriages. It meets needs that we may not even know we have.
Yet . . .
Our husband’s rights and needs matter, too. It is your husband’s marriage just as much as it is yours.
Our husbands have hearts, just as we do. Our husbands seek an intimate connection with us. It is a deep and real emotional need. Yes, it is an emotional need, one that taking care of himself in the shower can’t begin to touch.
When that need isn’t met, our husbands hurt. They feel unloved and unlovable. They feel abandoned. They feel alone.
Most husbands experience emotional connection best through sexual intimacy. Their desire to connect with you through sexual intimacy is how God designed them.
When our hurt makes it difficult for us to enjoy sexual intimacy with our husbands, our husbands hurt, too. Even if their words or actions are what caused our hurt, our sexual rejection is still painful for them. They have a right to their feelings, just as we have a right to ours.
I would venture to say that in most marriages where sexual intimacy is not healthy, both spouses are hurting.
I’ve put off writing this post because it is hard, this balancing act: writing about your needs and his needs and your rights and his rights and who sex is for is a struggle for me. I know what it is like to read some of these things and to feel angry and dismissed. I truly do. I don’t like to upset anyone with what I write.
Yet today I am taking that risk. I received a message today. Sadly, it isn’t the first such message I’ve received. I doubt it will be the last. Those of us who write about sexual intimacy in Christian marriages know all too well what it is like to see something like this in the inbox.
One of the resource pages on this site is Your Husband’s Hurt. It lists links to posts about how our husbands may experience the lack of sexual intimacy in their marriages, and it gives you the words of men who have opened their hearts to help us understand. At the bottom of that page is a contact form and an invitation for husbands to contribute to the page by sharing what a pattern of sexual rejection is like for them. When I receive a contribution to that page, I add it.
Your Husband’s Hurt shows us the pained hearts of men who are not permitted to experience the deep connection of sexual intimacy.
A man submitted a contribution today. He used a fake email address so I am unable to respond to him directly. Although I have some reservations about sharing this, I am doing so after prayerful consideration for two reasons:
- These words were submitted through a contact form which clearly indicated that responses would constitute a contribution to be added to that page.
- Wives who resist sexual intimacy must understand the very real effects of that resistance on their husbands.
If you are a wife who resists sex or restricts your shared sex life in some way, I ask you to take a deep breath. If you are hurting, your hurt matters. Your healing is important. My prayer for you is that you experience deep healing in your heart.
I want you to think about a man you know and care about—your father, your brother, your son, or your pastor. Imagine this man in his deepest anguish. Imagine that he says these words that I saw in my inbox today:
What refusal (or gate-keeping) is like for me . . .
Total and utter rejection – to have someone who knows you more deeply and completely than anyone else on the planet, some one (the only one) who you have bared the deepest most intimate parts of yourself to, someone you have saved yourself for, someone who you chose above all others and have been faithful to – even when there have been many opportunities and offers to cheat (without consequences) – to have this person then turn their back on you and constantly reject you – the deepest, most sensitive parts of you – over and over again – well there aren’t words to express the deep, deep pain, devastation and hollowness that crushes me every moment of every day.
It has been over two years since we were last intimate – before that if we had sex twice a year that was a lot!
I can’t take the anguish anymore – clearly I am not worth anything – so I am going to get rid this nuisance once and for all – it will look like an accident so she won’t have to worry about the stigma of it all.
May God forgive me…
To the man who wrote this: you are worth so very much. God loves you so much. Let His arms embrace you where you are and help to bear your pain. Without your email address, I am left to say this here–and thereby invite others to witness your pain and offer prayers for your heart. (If you see this, I would love to know that you’re okay.)
This, my dear sisters, is the depth of pain that Christian husbands denied the connection of sexual intimacy can experience. The pain is so deep, so real, so desperate that the prospect of continuing like this is simply too much to bear. The lack of sexual intimacy has made him hate his life.
Though his heart, hands and feet may not wander to other beds, his eyes and thoughts easily could. I hear from husbands all the time who…
…hate the situation they are in.
…hate the desperate loneliness of constant sexual rejection.
…hate feeling trapped by Christian morals they have grown to resent.
The lack of sexual intimacy—a necessary part of the path to full and glorious intimacy in marriage—can make a man hate his life.
Absorb that for a moment.
You may be experiencing hurt, and it may be that your husband has contributed to that hurt. Your hurt is real—but your husband’s is just as real, just as deep, just as painful as yours is.
The Bible says much to us about sexual connection: Song of Songs, 1 Corinthians 7, Proverbs 5:19, Proverbs 18:22, Genesis 2:24, and more. It says much to us about how to love one another.
Marriage is often a balancing act. Back and forth it goes: your needs, his needs, your rights, his rights, your responsibilities, his responsibilities, what the Bible says, and what the world says.
As your husband’s wife, you have a unique privilege of caring for his heart. It is also your unique responsibility to do so.
Yet . . .
The major benefit of working on sex is so you and your husband can both experience the fullest and richest intimacy possible on earth.
Addressing my husband’s heart pain was my motivation in taking the first step on this journey I’ve traveled.
And . . .
It is a journey that eased the emotional pain in my own heart as well.
Healing my husband’s heart healed mine.
What would happen in your own heart if you tried to help your husband heal his?
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