I remember the first time I took my daughter into a toy store. She was around eight years old (yes, I had avoided the experience for as long as possible), and we were buying a birthday gift for her friend. We went to the Glorious Aisle of Barbie Dolls—you know, the one that is all pink and smells of vinyl?

Is your husband like a kid in a toy store when it comes to sex?

Yes, I do still have Barbies. These happen to still be in the box.

My daughter went a little nuts. Deprived of the toy store experience for her whole life, she was stunned. Her eyes got big. Her jaw dropped. I think I might have seen tears of joy form in her eyes.

She had never seen so many Barbie dolls before! She had always been quite content with the Barbie’s she had, never knowing that there was so much more available. She had to go look at each one, take it off the shelf, imagine how that doll would interact with the ones she already had in her room, and choose outfits for them all. She saw houses and cars and kitchens, all for Barbie. She’d had no idea all this was actually available.

I let her explore a bit, and then I reminded her that we were there to choose a gift for her friend, not for her. Naturally, she wanted to load up the cart and take a bunch of Barbie’s home for herself.

I have to admit, there was part of me that was thinking about my own childhood Barbie’s and how much they would have loved the new version of the dream house. I briefly considered getting her a new Barbie and outfits, thinking of how much she would love them—but I knew that the next time we were near a toy store or even the toy aisle at the grocery store, she would expect that I would get her another new toy she wanted. Plus, I was thinking about our budget and the other errands we needed to run. It was better to say no now and wait for the next gift-giving occasion for her than to give in now and have to deal with “Mommy, please?” again and again and again.

Husband Gone Wild

Many of us who have begun to work on sexual intimacy in our marriages have observed the same phenomenon—only instead of a child looking at a selection of toys, it’s a husband looking at a selection of all the possible sex acts he can think of that he would like to enjoy with his wife.

A husband who has had little access to the sex life he has craved may have no idea how to contain his sexual joy (not that he should have to) once he is allowed to release it. In the past, he may have suppressed a great deal of his sexual desire in response to what he thought his wife would accept. He really wanted sex every other day, but he told his wife he would be okay with once a week because he thought she might agree to that frequency. He really wanted to know what it felt like to have her mouth on his penis, but he tried to be content with her touching it with her hands and maybe an occasional kiss. He imagined different outfits on his wife, thinking how much fun it would be to unwrap her—but he accepted that he should learn to be happy with the one pink negligee she consented to wear for him on special occasions.

Not knowing these things might ever be available to him, he mentally set the desires aside, maybe not even sharing them with his wife. If he didn’t think about it, maybe he wouldn’t feel like he was missing out on something.

Imagine how he feels when his wife says, “Honey, I think it’s time we go to the toy store together. I’ve kept you away from the toy store for so many years, but we’ll go shopping, and we’ll put some things in our cart and bring them home to play with together.” (You do know I’m talking about sexual activities here, not going to an actual store, right?)

He goes into the toy store, and with the eyes of a man who finally has the freedom to think about all the sex that is available in his marriage bed, he goes a little nuts. He may even have tears of joy in his eyes.

He sees the same things he’s enjoyed for years, but instead of stocking up on a lot more of those than he’s had before, he goes right past them to the fancy stuff. He looks up on the top shelf and sees something he heard about years ago. He never actually thought about doing it before, but now that his wife has brought him into the toy store, the idea comes back to him and he puts it in the cart.

He looks at all the different outfits, and he goes wild. Pirate! State trooper! French maid! Sexy nurse! He throws all the costumes into the cart.

Because he remembers that he is shopping for a gift for his wife, too, he sees the aisle of things for her. He tosses in a few vibrators, a funny g-string with an elephant on the front that he can wear for her, a can of chocolate whipped cream, and temporary tattoos that say “Do Me” or “Treasure Trail” or “This Way for Fun.”

The Shopping Cart Overfloweth

He is so excited by everything he sees that he just can’t contain himself. So he goes through the store, tossing everything he sees into the cart.

Meanwhile, his wife is slowly pushing that cart that has begun to overflow. She is so overwhelmed by all the toys that she is just trying to look at the ones at eye level. She wants to get more of what they already have and maybe a couple other things from the same aisle. She looks at her husband, who is practically climbing the shelves to get to that thing she never even heard of up there on the top shelf.

Her husband keeps tossing things into the cart, and it’s everything she can do to keep the cart from toppling over. She wonders if it was a mistake to come to the toy store with her husband. She wonders if they’ll still get to play with the things she already loves or if he wants to push out all their old shared play activities and replace them with these new ideas. Maybe it would have been better to stay out of the toy store altogether.

She is nervous—and her husband keeps climbing the shelves and tossing things into the cart. She even hears him say, “Hey, this motor is cool!” She wonders if he remembers that she is there in the store with him.

Why, Why, Why?

If you have begun to make sexual changes, you may find yourself with a husband who wants to go a little overboard sexually. So you’re standing there with your overfilled shopping cart, shaking your head, wondering what on earth is going on.

If we really get all this stuff, won’t he want to come back and fill up with all sorts of other things? I’m not sure I can handle that. And why is he trying to buy everything in the toy store, anyway? Why can’t we just get what we need and then leave?

First, he is excited! He has been wanting to go to the toy store with you forever, and you’re finally there—and it was your idea! This is the best thing in his life, and he just cannot contain his joy. Everything he has ever thought about doing with you is now a possibility. He doesn’t want to contain himself because he finally doesn’t have to contain himself.

Second, a man who has felt sexually deprived may want to load up on everything as soon as possible. If he is concerned that the “new you” might not last, he is likely to think he needs to stock up on a lot of sexual experiences while he can. If he doesn’t experience those things now, he worries that he might never get to experience them with you at all. If you are fairly new into your journey of sexual change, this might be what’s going on with your husband overloading the cart at the toy store. He thinks this might be the only time he ever gets to go into the toy store with you, and he wants to make it count.

A third reason for his exuberant shopping may be a bit more subtle: your husband has begun to feel sexually safe with you. After years of trying to suppress his sexual desires because he didn’t want to offend or upset you, he now knows that you accept him and love him as he is. He trusts that even if he makes a request that he’s pretty sure is way outside your comfort one, you will still love him.

It’s a Good Thing

These are all good things, even though you’re still going to be standing there trying to keep that cart from tipping over. Your husband has begun to recognize that something is different. Your efforts are bearing fruit. Your husband has begun to heal. In showing you all the cool things he wants to get, he is allowing himself to become vulnerable with you.

He trusts you with his sexuality and with his deepest desires. Many men say that their sexuality is a core part of their very being. Sharing that with you, revealing desires that he might have kept silenced for so long, is a sharing of his innermost self.

It is a big deal.

Play, Together

While it is easy to be overwhelmed by that overflowing shopping cart, make sure that you add some items in, too—even if it is just a variation of all the things you already enjoy playing with. That shopping cart is not just for your husband. It’s for you, too, and your play time at home isn’t limited to your husband’s selections.

Of course, you should feel free to climb all those shelves and grab items that catch your attention. If the shopping cart falls over, it’s no big deal. You can just get another cart. If you aren’t ready to reach up to the top shelves, at least challenge yourself to reach one shelf higher than you’re used to. It’s good to stretch yourself a bit.

The trip to the toy store is for both of you, after all. Enjoy the shopping, and enjoy the play time.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In case you were thinking this post would be about, well, toys, here are posts from few other Christian marriage bloggers about just that:

19 Thoughts on “A Toy Store Story

  1. To me, this man comes across as self-absorbed and greedy. It seems all he’s thinking about is what HE wants to get and do. I would feel totally overwhelmed and like I was nothing more than an “object” in a situation like that! I think a slow and steady progression, which equally considers the wife’s feelings, is a lot healthier for the marriage in the long run.

    To relate back to a child in a toy store – he/she needs to be reminded to consider mom and dads finances. We’ve never allowed our children to walk into a toy and buy what they wanted with the exception of their birthday when they were allowed to pick out one thing. However, they’ve always been encouraged to make a wish list which we do our best to fulfill.

    • I suspect many women would feel that way, and that is why I offered another point of view. A slow and steady progression may make logical sense (and be what we wives need), and that can make it even harder to understand when a husband wants to completely let loose sexually. I think it is important for a husband to be mindful of his wife’s needs and feelings as well. That doesn’t mean we can’t be trying to understand why this might be hard for him sometimes.

  2. I can see how many readers might get distracted from the point a little bit with this metaphor. In a guilt-free, unfallen world, God wanted us to have everything in the store available to a husband and wife free of charge. The metaphor that Chris has put out there is about a husband who has been deprived of his wife and how he might respond to the newfound joy that the store, once closed, is open for business. I think a better metaphor for a couple that has been in a refusing relationship is not a store, but an amusement park, and in the park that God gave marriage there are lots of rides, swings, slides and attractions to play together on. There is no cost, but you need a partner! Can you imagine going to an amusement park with someone who only wants to do the first ride they do over and over? It may well be the best one in the park, but there is nothing wrong with trying some of the other ones. Not all of the rides may appeal to both, but is there really something wrong with your husband or your wife wanting to take in most of the park?

    • I think they are both great analogies. I could really identify with the wonder and amazement of the Barbie aisle aspect, because I felt that as a girl too.

      I believe the point is that it’s natural to want to try every thing possible after heavily restricted. It’s also very natural for women to experience discomfort with no restrictions if they’ve always applied restrictions.

      If one experiences this their marriage sensitivity is needed on both sides.

    • J recently used the amusement park analogy in a post about orgasms, so I went in another direction. 🙂

  3. Good one Dave!

    I have never liked toys, though I have tried them with my wife. They lacked the intimacy I needed. I needed the real touch and the real thing…not fake. It made it worse knowing she liked them since I had so many issues due to my past.

    • Toys aren’t for everyone–and one of these days, maybe I’ll write about actual toys rather than using them as a metaphor. I give you credit for understanding what was behind your own feelings about this.

      • Thanks Chris. I will admit it would interesting to hear from a woman’s perspective on toys. I usually only here about it from the man’s perspective and that one usually revolves around what they have seen in porn.

  4. Why is greedy when a husband wants to try many different sexual activities, but okay for a wife to want her many different emotional needs to be met?

    I read many of these blogs where a wife is challenge other wives to become a better sexual lover with their husband only to read some other wife criticize a man for wanting to try different sexual actives. What if our men decided, “hey it is not worth the effort, my wife does not want to be my sexual lover, I don’t want to be her emotional lover, let’s just split. No more marriages.”

    You see, wives can really be very selfish and not even be aware of how selfish they are.

    • It is a problem when one spouses insists on needs being met as a condition of meeting the other spouse’s needs. We can all be selfish. However, when we work to understand each other and develop an attitude of generosity, greed can fade away.

  5. I think even with all other things being equal – even with a husband and wife who come into a marriage without any sexual baggage that hinders, (I know it’s a rarity, but there are a few out there) – there are still different personalities or temperaments, and we all have different preferences in every other area of life… food preferences, color preferences, music preferences, etc. There are people who prefer “quality”, and then there are people that prefer “quantity”. I appreciate the effort with the amusement park analogy, but there are some people who don’t enjoy rides at an amusement park — some feel scared, others even get sick. My own husband doesn’t enjoy amusement parks, at all – and he’s a pilot, go figure! The point I was trying to make, is that it seemed the husband was expressing zero regard for his wife’s feelings. He went on and on about what HE wanted. Perhaps my thinking is being heavily influenced because I’m currently reading through the book Boundaries by Cloud & Townsend, but what I see here is a wife who’s generosity is being taken advantage of. She gave an inch, it seems he’s attempting to take a mile. It would be so much more thoughtful of her husband to let her pick out the activities and let her offer them as a gift for him to choose to receive or to deny, as she was ready. I’m of the opinion that children who walk into a toy store, restaurant, amusement park, grocery store, etc. and say “I want that, and that, and that…” are spoiled brats. We live in an overindulgent or “obese” society in so many ways: material possessions, food, sex (sex has become raunchy vs. tender and beautiful — it’s become all about the next toy, outfit, etc vs. expressing love). Most families foolishly live with overwhelming debt on account of being discontent with what they have. Thousands and thousands of dollars in debt, because they had to have the next thing or what they *think* is making everyone else’s life happier than theirs – through what is usually false advertising. The grass is always greener on the other side syndrome reigns supreme.. There also seems to be a sense of entitlement out there – well if everyone else has the newest technology in a home entertainment system, we *deserve* to have one too.

    This quote says it all:
    “She had always been quite content with the Barbie’s she had, never knowing that there was so much more available.”

  6. IntimacySeeker on December 8, 2014 at 2:35 pm said:

    Anna’s comments bring to mind my own response on another blog where the writer seemed to put the onus on wives to bring out all the toys, as it were. And to constantly find new ones. Feeling overwhelmed by the concept, I mentioned the children’s “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie…” book series.

    A most positive way to respond is to realize my husband loves me so much he wants to enjoy me every which way possible. How awesome that God placed in him a limitless desire! I marvel at how the next morning after sex, my breasts and derriere have just as much, if not more, appeal. He never tires of me. I think that is a miracle. 🙂

    • Claire on December 8, 2014 at 2:54 pm said:

      Yes Intimacy Seeker it is amazing!

      Ladies, this is a story… To bring a message… Is the saying familiar- ‘don’t throw the baby out with the bath water’?
      Chris is encouraging generosity not obese consumerism …
      Most of us are doing our best in our situations – which often are not ideal… keep pressing on for the prize.
      Bless you x

  7. Oh, I couldn’t agree more that wives should be generous givers – especially to their own husband! I only have a problem with the husband in the story seeming greedy and selfish. If the shoe were on the other foot, if a husband took his wife to a department store and asked her to pick something out for herself because he wanted to bless her with a gift, and then she roamed the store grabbing things from every department, filling his arms with item after item, everything she wanted until he could hold no more, I think we’d all gasp at her greediness. I’m sure he would feel taken advantage of – especially if it was going to be a hardship for him to pay for. You can’t ask someone to give you a gift. A gift is an offering, offered willingly, to be a blessing.

  8. SomeoneElsesBigGuy on December 12, 2014 at 3:14 pm said:

    I think the point of Chris’ post is being missed a bit. With any analogy, it can be taken too far and get lost in its own detail. They stop working if you take them too deep. Extract the point and move on.

    If you want to read greed into the story, it is perfectly reasonable to do so….especially if he keeps doing it. I take the point of this story to be that if the wife (or husband) opens up, their spouse may start to present requests or desires that they never felt comfortable presenting before. I am not talking about radical, top shelf items here….it might just be higher frequency or a different time of day….but they represent things they never thought would be possible.

    As these desires are presented, they may come fast and furious. But even if they don’t, there will be discomfort on the part of the wife (to use the spouse in the story) in the thought of all those things under the surface.

    Those desires, which we keep hidden away and smothered in shame, which suddenly MIGHT be acceptable…there is a joy akin to a kid in a toy store to think that maybe we were not crazy for wanting something, for wanting our wife. Can we go overboard, yes…most definitely.

    The point of the story was not to present the long term situation but to illustrate how their spouse might feel during transition.

    I see a bit of joy in this…joy in the knowing that what was once forbidden or shameful is no longer that way. That the intimacy they wanted so badly might actually happen.

    In any case, work will need to be done on both sides to attain the intimacy desired….this isn’t a quick fix.

  9. The point that some commentors have missed is that unlike the child shopping in the toy store, engaging in different sexual experiences with your spouse (shopping) is not a zero sum game. The money spent on a toy cannot be spent on something else or saved. I venture to say that if any wife or husband still has the view that engaging in a new sexual form of play is a sacrificial act, the sexual relationship is probably in trouble. No, I am not saying that there cannot be boundaries, but I am suggesting that within the boundaries the approach to sexual intimacy should feel like play, not work; a costless shopping spree, not Black Friday with a huge bill at the end. I am sorry that so many spouses feel like exploring new types of sexual play with their husband/wife is something that is challenging or sacrificial, not fun and beneficial. If you read Song of Songs, there is a clear MUTUAL longing between the lovers that leaps from the scripture, with images of play, passion and desire, not a picture of the husband in pursuit and the wife deftly avoiding his advances and desires. Indeed, in Song of Songs 3:1, the wife leaves her bedroom in the night to seek out her husband throughout the city. As husband or wife, is that sexual passion still in your marriage, or do you view your spouse’s desire to drink from your well as a burden?

    • I really like this article however I don’t like how many articles like this one stereotypes the woman to be the one who refuses or doesn’t initiate or doesn’t want to try anything new. I find it adds to the humiliation and feeling like you’re the only woman going through this. Besides that I love the article 🙂

      • I know it is very hard for women who buck the stereotype to read posts like this. They have the pain of refusal/rejection plus the added frustration of feeling different from their friends in this area. This blog is primarily written for women who do fit the stereotype and are trying to grow from there, so many of the posts here can add to that frustration.

        Although there are no recent posts, you may want to take a look at the Spice & Love blog, written especially for women who don’t fit the stereotype that I am writing about. You are not alone.

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