In recent comments on a post from last year, a woman asked about having sex with your husband when you’re mad at him:
“I don’t know about anyone else but I can’t have sex when I’m angry. I have to make up first and have good feelings about my husband. Sex isn’t just physical.”
I think it’s true for a lot of women that it is hard to be sexually intimate with our husbands when we are angry and hurting.
In some situations, the state of anger and hurt is a wife’s response to her husband’s on-going sin: physical or emotional abuse, infidelity, pornography, financial irresponsibility, etc. I am not going to address those situations here. If you are dealing with these kinds of issues in your marriage, please seek support from a pastor or professional counselor. This post is not about the burden you carry.
For many of us, though, our anger and hurt stem from other kinds of things, such as our husbands not listening to us when we’re trying to talk about our day, a disagreement about parenting, a dispute over a division of labor, a joke at our expense, getting home late without calling, or a minor argument.
I used to feel angry at my husband a lot. It was usually about something he didn’t do (that I thought he should have done) or something he said (that I thought he shouldn’t have said).
When I was feeling so hurt and angry, the last thing I wanted to do was have sex. In those moments, my husband felt like an opposing force to me. Inviting him into my body and heart would be like throwing the castle gates open to the marauders. I just couldn’t fathom how I could possibly do it, not to mention why I would even want to.
I don’t feel that hurt and anger much anymore, but it does still happen sometimes—and the last thing I feel like doing is having sex.
But that’s exactly when I know it is needed the most.
Why do I have sex when I feel angry and hurt?
Sex isn’t just physical–and that’s exactly why it helps restore our connection.
When my husband and I have been arguing, his desire for sex is about reconnecting emotionally with me. The drive for an orgasm is secondary.
Before I understood how emotional sex was for my husband, his request for sex after an argument was adding insult to injury. I’m already hurting, and now you expect me to do something for you? Aaarrgghh.
When I learned that sex is the very thing that helps my husband feel emotionally connected to me, I was able to understand that his request for sex was a yearning for our relationship to be restored.
At first, having sex when I was upset with my husband required me to do a lot of deep breathing and mental gymnastics.
Now, I have additional approaches to use if I am struggling. My marriage is now healthy enough that I can say to Big Guy, “I’m really upset with you, so this is going to be hard for me at first. I need for you to be patient when I need to take a break or want to talk for a few minutes while we’re making out.” And he does what I need him to, because he trusts that it isn’t an effort to avoid but an effort to do what will bring us both healing.
When I was looking at his desire for sex as just physical, it felt very weird and fake to think about having sex when I was upset with him. As I began to understand that he didn’t see sex as “just physical” any more than I did, I was able to step back and see the big picture differently.
For my husband, sex provided the best means of emotional reconnection after an argument. By requiring him to do things the way I wanted (talking), I was prolonging that process for him—just as by doing the things he wanted (having sex), he was prolonging the process for me.
Now that our marriage is stronger, it is easier for both of us to meet the other’s needs in healing after an argument. Sometimes we heal through conversation first; other times we heal through sex first.
On those rare occasions when I’m upset with my husband these days, it is easier for me to understand that sex is one of the ways we can heal the breach. It is not a personal affront that adds insult to my existing injury.
Instead of insisting that I feel emotionally connected to my husband before we can even think about sex, now I remember that sex can be just as healing as conversation.
Sex can be the means to reconciliation just as much as it can be the reflection of it.
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net