When a woman thinks her husband wants her only for sex, what does that mean to her? And what does it mean to him?

In the most recent installment of the on-going conversation I’m having with CSL at The Curmudgeonly Librarian, I made a comment about wives feeling dismissed or valued only for sex.

I’d like to explore this a bit—partly because it was discussed in the comments on that post but also because it teases at something that I’ve been wrestling with for a while now.

When a woman thinks her husband wants her only for sex, what does that mean to her? And what does it mean to him?

I’d like to share some of my on-going thinking about these questions, and I hope some of you will offer your insight and ideas as well.


For many years, I thought my husband valued me only for sex. (See He Only Wants Me for Sex.)

In my mind, this was a negative thing. It felt demeaning. What I yearned for the most was to be valued for my whole self, not just for sex. When getting sex was the only reason he tried to emotionally connect with me, it pointed to the irrelevance of everything else about who I was.

When I thought my husband valued me for “just sex,” it meant that he wanted me for nothing more than a masturbation tool. I was useful only for his physical release.

Even now, when I see or hear the phrase “he wants me for only sex,” a negative viewpoint automatically springs forth from me.

As I’ve learned more about the role of sexual intimacy in marriage (through reading the Bible, reading what others have written about sex in marriage, and paying attention to the growth in my own marriage), I’ve found that I’m no longer comfortable with that assumption.

I’ve been asking myself some questions that challenge my old thinking, and this is where I’m doing my wrestling. These questions have to do with the physical aspect of sex and the benefits of sex.

Four questions in particular have been on my mind.

1. Why did I view sexual needs as bad just because they were physical?

I thought I wanted my husband to value all of me—my whole self! However, what I really meant was that I wanted my husband to value me for everything else—but not for sex.

I valued our minds and hearts at the expense of our own bodies.

Although I didn’t like it, I was ignoring a truth:

God created us in physical bodies. He created us as sexual beings.

There I was, rejecting God’s design because I thought it wasn’t pure enough or spiritual enough.

A husband should value his wife for many reasons. It should be okay that physical release is somewhere on that list.

2. Why did I dismiss my husband’s experience as invalid?

My husband has other physical needs that I don’t question at all. He eats, he uses the bathroom, and he wears clothes. I never had any trouble accepting those physical needs. Why did I devalue his physical need for sexual release?

I was diminishing my husband’s genuine physical need for ejaculation. Some men compare this need to hunger. We prefer to have food that tastes good. We often enjoy eating more with certain kinds of ambience or with the company of those we love. Yet when we are starving, those things mean little. We need food—anything, even if it tastes gross, to sate our hunger.

A man who is sexually starved may struggle to be mindful of other aspects of the relationship when his testicles are full and in need of release. Thinking about my own hormone-driven difficulties every month helped me begin to understand how our bodies can overwhelm our hearts and minds.

Even if I’d never found a way to understand it, my husband telling me that he had these needs should have been enough for me to meet them—yet it never was.

3. Why did I dismiss the connective and unitive value of sex?

Even if my husband had valued me only for the purpose of providing him with a physical release, that doesn’t mean that it was the only positive result of sex.

When I cook a meal, I think about many things—nutrition, flavor, his preferences, and quantity. Big Guy may just want something that fills his stomach and tastes acceptable, but when I am thoughtful with my meal planning and preparation, he leaves the table with more than he is even aware of. He may not know he’s getting balanced nutrition, but that nutrition still serves him well. Even if one particular meal doesn’t include everything he needs, throughout the day and week, all the meals collectively give him what his body and mind need to work well.

Sex is amazing. It provides the peak of physical pleasure—but that’s only part of the benefit. One particular encounter may not do much beyond provide some orgasms, but multiple encounters over time collectively provide something that the marriage needs to work well.

Even if my husband had valued me only as a vessel for his release, frequent mutual sexual encounters still would have built intimacy between us—even if we didn’t think about it at the time.

4. What if “just sex” is actually a compliment?

A comment on CSL’s blog has gotten me thinking about how hurt Big Guy used to be when I would say that he valued me only for sex.

My husband didn’t value me only for sex. Despite what I believed for years, he never did. The fact that I couldn’t see his heart for me was deeply upsetting to him. I thought he wanted only the physical release, but he truly did want the intimacy that came with it. (See What a Quickie Taught Us About Sexual Intimacy.)

There were times when I told my husband I thought he valued me only for sex and he looked confused, almost like he was wondering why that would be a bad thing.

I saw being valued for sex as demeaning and negative because I didn’t understand that sex was as important in marriage as I now believe that it is.

Is it possible that for my husband, the idea of valuing me for “only sex” would have been not an insult but an ultimate compliment? When we breathe air, do we say it’s “only oxygen”? When I eat my favorite Dove Dark Promises, do I say it’s “only chocolate”?

Do our husbands see our sexual value as a supreme and pure thing because of the deep emotional connection?

My husband never valued me for only sex—but if he had, was I right to think it was negative?


As I said, I’m still wrestling with this.

I frequently come face-to-face with my long-held beliefs and attitudes in a way that puzzles me. I have a choice about what to believe and what attitude to have, so this is an area where I’m constantly working.

My gut reaction is still to say that being valued only for sex is a negative thing. I’m glad to have realized that this was not the case in my marriage.

Until several days ago, it had never occurred to me that being wanted for only sex was anything other than negative. Now I find a whole new thing to figure out.

I am fighting against my own words in this post—but is it possible that my gut reaction is off-base here? Maybe being valued for sex isn’t as negative as I want to think.


I’d love to know your thoughts, ladies.

  1. Do you view sexual needs as bad just because they are physical?
  2. Do you dismiss your husband’s experience as invalid?
  3. Do you dismiss the connective and unitive value of sex?
  4. What if “just sex” is actually a compliment?

Have you wrestled with these questions? If you had a negative gut reaction to my attempts to think through the questions (just like I did myself), why was that?

Related Posts

The posts below are ones that got me thinking about these questions. Although they don’t address the questions directly, they are related (at least in my mind!)

Image courtesy of khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

24 Thoughts on “Questioning an Assumption: Is Being Valued for Sex Such a Bad Thing?

  1. Janna A on August 29, 2015 at 2:52 pm said:

    “Just only for sex” gives me the feel that there is no difference between me and the one-night stand from the bar or the prostitute on the corner or ANYONE and EVERYONE else out there that they could hook up with “just for sex”.

    • This is the way I’ve always seen it, too, and I don’t even like the fact that I’m now questioning my thinking. My husband looks as sex as so much more than the orgasm. What would happen with any other woman out there wouldn’t be anything close to what he has with me.

  2. Janna A on August 29, 2015 at 4:59 pm said:

    I focused on the “just for sex”, but after rereading I think there’s a big difference between being “valued for sex” and being “wanted only for sex” or “just for sex”. Because both sets of terms are used, it was easy to focus on the one that screamed the loudest.

    Being “valued for sex”, in our marriage now, evokes more of a cherished feeling. Because sex is so much more that just a “release”, and just a physical thing, and because I have experienced the good and the wonders it has done for our marriage, when my husband “values me for sex”, he truly is highly esteeming me. He praises me with his words and shares how thankful he is and how blessed he is to have me as a wife. BUT, no way, in a thousand years could he or I even tag the “just for sex” to our experience.

    • Janna A on August 29, 2015 at 5:12 pm said:

      To add to my comment….to me “just sex” undermines the *whole* I am giving him. I am choosing to trust my husband with my utmost vulnerability of being totally naked before him.. heart, mind, body and soul. “Just sex” doesn’t do that, and that’s why I believe men have issues with “duty sex”, because they are fully aware that the body is present but everything else is missing and not being shared. Also there are many men, who also fear inimacy and hold parts of themselves back and they are there “just for sex”. That’s my opinion.

      • Hi Janna,

        I believe, as Chris has indicated (please correct me if I’m wrong, Chris) that the spouse who is not in the mood for sex needs to do it with their spouse with a good attitude.

        The founder of the Bible institute where i graduated once said this: “The Lord told me that when I left the pastorate for the field ministry He told me that I was obedient but not willing. He said that is why I was not eating the good of the land. When the Lord told me that, I got willing in two seconds!”

        So, I believe that the spouse who never wants to have sex needs to do the same thing with their spouse. The one who is being selfish is not the spouse who wants to have sex (because God ordained it in marriage) but the spouse who does not want to have sex, or has sex with their spouse with a bad attitude. In order for a couple to have a good marriage, both of them need to get rid of selfish, worldly attitudes. Just as it is wrong for a husband to only want his wife for sex, it is also wrong for a wife to want a husband only for the financial benefits she can receive from him. My wife once told me that some women would have left me because of the furniture that I have. I told her, “These women are not Christians!”

        Therefore, if a woman never desires to have sex but realizes how much she is hurting her husband by rejecting him in this area (as told by Chris), then out of compassion she repents and has sex with her husband with a good attitude, even if she doesn´t feel like having sex. In this case, the joy she receives by having sex with her husband is that she sees how happy she is making him. This is unselfish! Chris came to a point, as she has testified, that she began enjoying having sex with her husband.

        The lesson is this: When we obey God even though our flesh doesn´t want to, sooner or later the blessings come from our obedience to Him. However, if we are disoedient, this opens up the door for the evil one in our marriages.

  3. Interesting post, Chris.

    • Ha. Yeah, it’s interesting–but I don’t like it much. I really don’t know what I think here. I alternate between thinking that my thoughts were wrong all along and wondering if I’ve fallen for a huge hoax.

      • I think you are on a true track, but having a tough time articulating it since it is so new to you. I don’t think you are just falling into a pop sex/relationship thought pattern. Part of the ambiguity you are feeling shows in the use of both “feeling valued for ‘only’ sex” and “being valued for sex.” In reality, we husbands do value our wives for sex but not as a source of orgasm only, but for the intimacy and feeling of being loved and desired their sexuality provides us. That is why I assure you that you are on the right track. Wives just need to know that sex includes all those aspects and more for us men and THAT is why we value our wives for sex. The sex provided by our wife completes and fulfills God’s design for the marriage covenant and is the only way we can achieve those things in a God ordained and sanctioned way. Therefore, why would we not value our wife for that sex…but not “only” the sexual release it provides, but all those other blessings and benefits for both husband and wife.

        Thanks for being brave enough to consider this point of view. Judging by the lack of push back from your community, It may be that they too identify with your feelings but are having trouble cogently articulating something that may be new to them too.

        • A lack of comments does not equate to a lack of pushback. 🙂 Considering how much I myself don’t like what I’ve written here, I imagine there are quite a few women who’ve read it and have slammed the screen shut or quickly clicked over to something (anything) else.

        • I am able to wrap my mind around this concept and while I agree that being valued for sex is not a bad thing, if the only value I had was for, (even with it meaning much more than physical release), it would still be very disturbing.

          I think it would be much like telling my husband that I value him for his paycheck. It means much more than money in the bank. Knowing that he’s providing for our family fills an emotional need. Seeing him be responsible fills a need. Seeing him taking on conquests fills a need. I could probably come up with more, but you get the idea.

          The problem isn’t in being valued for sex unless that’s the only area where you hold value to your husband.

  4. Semantics reflect basic attitudes, don’t they? After all, a “walking wallet” is a “good provider”, right? The former is a truly stinkin’ way to describe your meal ticket; the latter would make any man’s chest swell with pride. Your words display what you value.

  5. heavyheart on August 31, 2015 at 6:22 am said:

    Wording is hard because its not just about sex. It’s a doing which requires faith without thinking about what the other person is valuing on the other end. I find it hard to make great meals every single day, but like you say overall you are eating a balanced diet. When i first started to surrender more to the Lords will I saw myself denying a good sex diet to my husband. I’m ok going without, but he’s starving. I give my life daily as a living sacrifice out of love which has been freely given to me. If he’s sinning in his heart about how he values me about sex, I know that I joyfully obeyed pleasing God.
    I was seeing sex as a burden as just sex but its really a shield and has great value in God’s plan. God has changed my heart and there always hope.

    • Missionary to Mexico on September 3, 2015 at 3:38 pm said:

      Great post, heavyheart! I would very much like to translate this post to Spanish and show it to my wife! Please pray that I can get across to my wife that it is not important only for her to happy in the marriage, but her husband as well. That she can experience joy in giving up her body to her husband in sex when she sees how happy it makes him. Again, what I want out of our marriage is romance, not just sex. As I said before, there can be no romance in a marriage when one wants to be one flesh with the other but the other has no interest in doing so.

      If one or both people in a marriage are selfish and only thinking about their own needs, it will result in a very bad marriage and will lead to separation and even divorce. Both people have to have a selfless attitude about their marriage!

  6. Hi Chris – Wow, you’re really tackling some hard stuff today! I’m mostly with you on questions 1-3, but not on 4. I can’t see how being valued “only for sex” could ever be a good thing. I think that being valued “for sex,” among other things is fine (and I think that some women would not). But “only for sex” – to me that would mean that I’m essentially an object – not a wife, lover, friend, partner, etc.

    I particularly find this sentence to be difficult – “Even if my husband had valued me only as a vessel for his release, frequent mutual sexual encounters still would have built intimacy between us—even if we didn’t think about it at the time.” I’m not sure that’s true. I can’t imagine that intimacy would be built if a husband only valued his wife for the physical release she provided. And I can think of a number of situations in which that definitely wouldn’t be the case – in patriarchal systems, for example, in which the wife is essentially just an object of sexual release and a baby maker/child raiser, or in cases in which the husband is a narcissist. To me that idea conjures up images one of the main things you are working against – women repressing or completely losing any sense of their own sexuality because it’s not part of the equation – the husband’s sexuality is the only thing that matters. .

    Anyway, just my thoughts on a very difficult topic.

    • You’ve pointed to everything I don’t like in what I wrote. 🙂

      I am married to a pretty good-willed guy, and that makes it harder for me to think of how all this might work in some marriages.

      I may need to tackle some of these things in separate posts–if I ever come to any conclusions.

      • Missionary to Mexico on September 3, 2015 at 3:48 pm said:

        Hi Chris,

        I think the conclusion that most everyone is concluding here is that it is good to be valued for sex, but not only for sex. It’s like a woman who only values her husband for what he can provide for her.

        So, the title of your post that asks the question: “Is being valued for sex a good thing?” is a good title. You did not put “Is being valued only for sex a good thing?” By inserting the word “only” there is a vast difference between these two concepts!

        • In most respects, I think that last item doesn’t belong with the rest of the post. However, it is mentally tangled up in my mind with the other items, so I included it. I do see it as very different to be valued only for sex than to be valued for sex–but there are moments when I get a glimpse of a different perspective on it, I guess.

    • I think I agree with Gaye here… I do NOT feel that those kinds of sexual encounters you mention in number three would build intimacy; in fact I feel they destroy it. It is objectifying and degrading, the opposite of intimacy. It deepens division, not unity. In that case, it really is *just* sex.

      But I think the trouble here is that women frequently see it as “just sex,” but it was NEVER “just sex” to her husband. Even though they cannot articulate it well, I think men these days (at least good, honorable men) instinctively know that it was never *just* sex. They know how deeply it affects and connects them emotionally and spiritually. As my husband put it, “I don’t want sex; I want YOU!” I think that goes to show how deeply the lie that sex is *only* physical has infiltrated the church. And yet we too, as women, know it’s more than that. We really do. Why would an affair be SO devastating to us if it’s *just* sex. But I think Satan is really at work behind the scenes here to close our minds and hearts to the truth regarding the POWER of sex.

      So yes, being valued for sex is a GOOD thing. After all, as a Christian man, there is no where else he can go with his sexuality. OF COURSE he is going to value his wife for sex! He’s supposed to! She is his delight. And God gave most men a strong physical desire for sex because of the POWER behind it emotionally and spiritually.

      That said, if a wife feels her husband values her *only* for sex, something is wrong in that relationship. This couple is most definitely stuck on the crazy cycle (from Love and Respect). She feels unloved, so she responds by disrespecting his sexuality. The trouble here is that when you get started on that crazy cycle, women start to have negative associations with sex. It hurts when a husband rolls over and goes straight to sleep (or reaches for his phone) after sex; why would she want to do that again? Like Sheila Wray Gregoire always says, women need to feel loved to make love. When we aren’t feeling loved, sex can become extremely hurtful. That’s not to say that we should become refusers, because men make love to feel loved, and that is just as valid. But I think “You only care about me for sex!” can better be translated as “I am feeling unloved.” And that is NOT a good thing.

  7. I read your series at Curmudegeonly Librarian and have read here before. I come from a somewhat different perspective..as the lower desire partner who rarely refuses.

    I think when we talk about the person with lower desire or the person who might refuse, there is little attention to why they feel that way. You have indicated in your blog why you feel the way you do. From your first post I in the CSL series, I thought wow, her story here is much different than the one I gather from her blog. It is okay to want to feel valued as a whole person.

    I like Gaye’s response. While sex can be unifying and connecting, it doesn’t always mean that it will be if one doesn’t feel respected.

    I don’t view sexual needs as invalid because they are physical. There are two parties in the equation, though. What about the physical needs of the other partner. For me lack of sleep and fatigue is a desire killer. In the past I would never say no in these circumstances.. But my body feeling like a cold engine on a 20 below day, it was “duty sex”. But you can see again and again on blogs that one should just “power through” these experiences. I feel like messages like that are extremely destructive.

    I don’t see my husband’s views as invalid, but neither are mine. If I need to feel respected to have a “unitive” experience that need doesn’t go away by simply powering through sex.

    While sex can be deeply connecting and very important there has to be a foundation of other ways of connecting.

    • My story is both what I say here and what I say on CSL’s blog. It comes across differently there because I am addressing husbands and how they can consider a wife’s feelings that have been hurt. I’ve written about that here at times, but most of the time I don’t because it comes across as whiny and because I have a different perspective on my heart hurt now than I did at the time.

      I agree that the needs of both spouses are valid and important. I am one who dismissed the value of my husband’s feelings out of fear that the alternative would be a dismissal of my own feelings. I’ve seen some women who are so focused on their husbands’ needs and feelings that they ignore their own most of the time. This isn’t okay, just as my rarely considering my husband wasn’t okay. “Powering through” something can be a helpful way to get past a mental hurdle, and it’s something that has worked for me many times. It doesn’t work for everyone or everything, but I like to suggest it as a strategy to consider. If someone is having to do that all the time, though, there’s a deeper problem to be addressed.

      When you say there has to be a foundation of other ways of connecting, what do you mean? Could you give some examples?

  8. I’m a nurse so I meet many people in a journey where they are very ill, frail, or perhaps approaching the last days/months/years of their lives. When I talk about other ways of connecting, it is what I see with couples in these situations. That even though one partner is not capable of having sex any more they can still be together in a way that is meaningful. Maybe it means holding hands or quiet times of just being together.

    When I mention powering through something, I suppose that can be useful in some situations. But in some of the blogs I see it as something where there is a message where one person gives up something but doesn’t present the cost associated with it. For example the new mom is told she must pay attention to her husband after baby is born. But if she is sleep deprived to the point of tears perhaps the couple should be having a conversation together about how to make things better, not just expecting that the new mom can “power through” being with her husband when she most desperately needs sleep.

    Like I said before, I come with a person with a somewhat different perspective. I’ve been married almost 20 years and I would guess that we have sex at least 3 times weekly throughout our marriage barring some medical issues. I’m not a bionic woman and my ability to be available for my husband’s physical needs(when he will approach without regard for my need for sleep) has dissipated as of late.

  9. Charlie O on September 4, 2015 at 11:21 am said:

    Ladies, let me give you a view point that may be helpful. Each gender has their own issues. We live in a sex-saturated society. Since men are strongly influenced sexually by hormones and constantly stimulated by the way that many women dress, sex is a high priority. If you have a good husband, he doesn’t value you only for sex, but he does value for sex FIRST. Sometimes when I arrive home from work, I’m so hungry that I’m not much of a conversationalist (or anything else civilized) until about half way through dinner. Then I become a different person. My wife is great with the sex issue, but sometimes our schedules or fatigue or something else gets in the way, and we do not “get together” for a while. At that point SEX predominates. If we are being together more frequently then there is more of the kind of preliminaries that women appreciate. A man is thinking, “Why do those things if it can’t lead anywhere?” I have a sneaky that when it has been a while, women then see his preliminary attentions to be “he just wants sex.” Frequently quality love-making defuses some of this.

  10. Kelly on July 27, 2016 at 1:55 pm said:

    I’ve been struggling with this question myself and it’s part of the reason, (because finding new awareness in how I viewed sex wrongly and how much I’ve hurt my husband) that aids in the push and pull I feel inside, kind of like you are having Chris.

    I’m still in the early stages of evolution of sex in my marriage but what helps me (aside from reading articles from your blog that help with perspective one way or another) is what my husband says or how he acts.

    The other night as our youngest (who is only 15 months) was being fussy on the couch and I tried to calm him down, my husband started talking to me about how much he loves me. Things like “why would I want someone else when I have you, and you take care of our babies.” “your the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, and each time I see you, it’s all I ever think even when I’m mad at you.” “your mine and all I ever want to do is make love to you.”

    Looking back his words provided me with some comfort but it had also stemed from a statement i had made beforehand so with the combination of us being up late and starting feeling tired, a fussy baby, my heart didn’t hear him completely. And since I’m being honest here, there was still part of me feeling a little suspect of him saying something knowing that I just stated an insecurity. I know that’s crazy right! Hey! Like I said, I working on it! (Bare with me, I am getting to how this relates to this post.)

    Obviously sex is very physical and so is an orgasm, ha that’s an understatement! But the underlying message my husband was saying I realized now and also that I understand now (especially after this post, and reading your post about breasts and their history) is: it’s about giving and being given; belonging to someone and sharing your own secret love language and the overall history together. “I am his.”

    There are aspects of myself that I can share with anyone. I can make dinner for anyone. Tell a funny story about something one our children did. But only he had taken a vow to walk this life with me before God; Only he gets to see me in this one way; and he only gets to share himself in a both vulnerable and satisfying way with me. He picked ME. Our husband’s value us as the whole being we are; our minds and heart is physically inside of our bodies and interwoven around us is the story of the life we’ve lived together so far with our husbands.

    While I sometimes forget and don’t really hear what my husband is saying or for some reason find myself feeling offended, I forget that my husband sees me completely differently than I see me. He sees the person he loves who he’s shared life with, created life together with; a person who has changed both physically and mentally along side him, and the plans for our lifes future both known and unknown. He sees and loves each piece of me outside, inside, as a heart and soul as well as each piece of history we’ve created together. He doesnt just see me, he sees it all. I’m not just a random women, I’m his chosen one. Because of that it will never be, “just sex”.

    What bigger compliment is that, right?

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