In Love Like a Woman, I encouraged you to embrace your sexuality as God designed it for you. It is unfair to your marriage to measure your sexuality by a yardstick of your husband’s sexuality.
Embracing our sexuality means that we recognize and appreciate our sexual response for what it is. We need to reject the idea that a male paradigm should apply to us.
There’s a flip side to that: we also need to reject the idea that a female paradigm should apply to our husbands.
It’s a tad hypocritical that I measured my sexuality as lacking because I compared it to my husband’s—all while judging him negatively because his sexuality was, well, male.
I held the nature of Big Guy’s male sexuality against him for a long time. Part of my journey of change was accepting his sexuality as a good and God-given part of him rather than condemning him for being how God created him to be.
What I hear from both wives and husbands tells me that I was not the only woman to reject her husband’s male sexuality.
Just as we should not fault ourselves for being different from our men, we should not fault our men for being different from us.
Just as it is important for you to understand and accept your own sexuality and sexual response, it is important to understand and accept your husband’s as well.
For many men, their male sexuality might look something like this:
- He gets aroused at the drop of a hat. You may be in the middle of describing the strange sound the car’s engine made while you were running errands, and all of a sudden you realize he is thinking about an entirely different motor (yours) and how to get that running.
- He wants adventure. He wants to push the boundaries of your sexual comfort zone—frequently. No matter what you do with him sexually, it seems that there’s always something else he wants to try. You wonder if he will ever be satisfied.
- He is visually stimulated. He wants to see you in lingerie, even if it stays on you for only five minutes. He wants to make love with the lights on. He likes it when you go out in public wearing nothing but a thong (or nothing at all) under your skirt so he can picture it every time he looks at you. You bend over, and he’s right there behind you, grabbing your hips—even if you’re trying to clean up cat puke or gather the laundry.
- He thinks about sex all the time. You think about sex only once a month, and he seems to want it every day.
- He can have sex even if the two of you are having a serious disagreement. If your relationship is hurting, the idea of being vulnerable and sexual with your husband may make no sense at all to you—but he still craves it.
Your husband’s sexuality might look somewhat different, but these are fairly common characteristics of male sexuality.
How is it that some of us who feel damaged or deficient because we don’t fit a male paradigm of sexuality end up judging our husbands for exhibiting that same sexuality that we don’t have?
Some women have to fight against some pretty strong lessons they learned as teens. They may have been taught that it was their job to inhibit boys’ attempts at sexual touch when dating. This sends a pretty strong message that male desire for sex is wrong and that it is our job to prevent sexual contact.
Some women are taught that they need to be sexually obedient to their husbands at all times. Male sexuality isn’t something to understand; it is just something to submit to. That doesn’t seem too healthy to me–and it doesn’t teach women to have a positive view of a husband’s sexuality, either.
My negative view of my husband’s sexuality was a combination of my own discomfort, negative cultural messages about male sexuality, and a lack of positive Christian teaching about male sexuality.
Sometimes I would feel uncomfortable with what Big Guy was asking me to do sexually. Rather than look at myself and question whether my sexual boundaries were right, I assumed that his looser boundaries must be wrong.
Admittedly, some of my negative judgement grew from my jealousy of how sex was so easy and simple for him. Rather than try to figure out how to make it easier for me or simply accept that we were different, my sour grapes turned into a self-righteous holier-than-thou attitude about his sexuality.
My culture made this easy to do.
It is easy to absorb lessons from the world around us and think that men are sex-crazed maniacs and that as wives, we need to help restrain them somehow. I heard this from society at large (sitcoms and stand-up comedy are rampant with a negative portrayal of men and their sexuality).
I also received messages from the church.
I saw Bible verses that tell us to flee sexual immorality; I jumped to the conclusion that anything sexual is somehow wrong or of lesser value than spiritual pursuits simply because it is physical. I would read about the flesh being weak and decide that therefore any physical need must be wrong—or at least any sexual encounter that doesn’t also include a strong spiritual or emotional component. (See Questioning an Assumption.)
As surrounded as I was by negative cultural messages about men’s sexuality, I shouldn’t be surprised by my misunderstanding of those Bible verses. No one in the church was teaching me any differently, either.
On those rare occasions when I tentatively commented about my husband’s sexuality to more experienced wives at church, I got one of three types of responses: a judgmental sounding “that’s a private matter and you shouldn’t be talking about it,” commiseration about how all men think about is sex, or a cheerful comment about how you just have to give them what they want so they’ll leave you alone for a couple days. None of that helped me understand an important truth:
God designed my husband’s sexuality, and it was good.
Before I married, all the teaching I had from the church about sexuality was to save it for marriage. Once I married, I learned absolutely nothing about sex or sexuality from the church.
I didn’t receive a single message that suggested that my husband’s sexuality and sexual response were good, normal, and designed by God.
Your husband’s sexuality was designed by God—just as yours was.
Let me be clear: your husband’s God-designed sexuality does not mean he gets a blank check to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants.
- His speedy arousal when you are in the middle of cleaning the oven doesn’t mean that the arousal must be dealt with immediately.
- A husband’s sexual nature does not give him permission to sin. “I’m visual, so I can’t help the fact that I looked at porn” is not okay.
- Demanding that you set aside your own needs so he can have sex twice a day is not okay. (It’s good for him to make the request and express his needs honestly, but it is not okay for him to be demanding or to disregard your legitimate needs for rest, quiet, and connection.)
- If relationship problems make it difficult for you to be sexual with your husband, he shouldn’t ignore those problems just because he is able to have sex without addressing them.
Your husband should strive to live with you in an understanding way (see 1 Peter 3:7). Maybe he needs to let go of a specific desire for a time, or perhaps he needs to slow down enough to help you get to a point where you can fulfill that desire.
A wife’s acceptance of her husband’s male sexuality does not mean that she should view his sexuality as more important than hers. It does, however, mean that she should not view him as deficient or sinful because of his male sexual response.
The specific characteristics of your husband’s male sexuality should not dominate your shared marriage bed. However, they should not be ignored, either—just as the specifics of your female sexuality should not be ignored.
God designed human sexuality—yours and your husband’s—in all its complicated, confusing, and awe-inspiring wonder.
When we judge our sexuality (ours or our husbands’) negatively because it is different, we invite a barrier into the marriage bed.
We miss out on so much of God’s design for intimacy.
We reject the profound mystery of being one flesh.
Learn to understand your husband’s sexuality and sexual response, and learn to see it as part of God’s design for your marriage.
When you make love with your husband, love the man he is like the woman you are. Celebrate the differences God created in you.
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