I used to think that for my husband, sex was physical. All he really wanted from it was an orgasm—and all he wanted me for was sex. Because I thought his sex drive was all orgasm-focused, I didn’t understand why he made such a big deal out of it if I didn’t want to have sex. I figured he could just go take care of it himself.
What I wanted most was for him to value me for me, not just for sex.
My Husband’s Need for Emotional Connection
Over the past few years, I have come to realize that for my husband, sex is the primary means of emotionally connecting with me.
I always knew that I was able to get my emotional needs met through a variety of sources. The kids, my friends, and colleagues connected with me in various ways. Because I emotionally connect primarily through conversation and hugs, I experienced emotional connection a lot in my daily life—just not with my husband. I could talk with people, share my feelings, and know that my observations and feelings mattered to others. Even when my husband didn’t seem to appreciate me, someone else was bound to. (I recognize now that this was unwise on my part. Fortunately, the people I connected with were other women. Had I worked with more male colleagues, I could have been setting myself up for disaster.)
Big Guy, on the other hand, is a man. He grew up not sharing his feelings with others. He enjoyed male bonding and doing things with his guy friends and male relatives, but it didn’t involve emotional connection. Whether it was how he was made or how he grew up, my husband’s connections and interactions with others simply are not emotional ones.
Even with our kids, my husband was always aware of his role as father, provider, and leader. It is what made him a good dad—but it didn’t exactly give him the emotional connection that filled him and helped him feel fully known and accepted.
That left only one pathway to emotional connection open to him—the one he had with me. And his primary means of experiencing that emotional connection was through sex.
Who Does He Have to Love Him?
Several months before I began to work on the sexual intimacy in our marriage, I looked at my husband sitting in his chair and thought how lonely he looked. It brought to mind a recent comment he’d made about feeling unloved. I stood there and looked at him, thinking about how I, too, felt unloved. But then one of the kids walked by and hugged me. It occurred to me that even though my husband didn’t love me, at least I had others in my life who did.
I looked back at my husband and wondered, Who does he have to love him?
The wind was knocked out of my sails. I stood in shock. God was speaking to me in that moment, I’m sure, because the next thought I had was, Oh . . . he is supposed to have me. I haven’t done a very good job, though.
My mind flooded with memories of all the times he had told me that what he really wanted with sex was intimacy. How did I not realize that he was referring to emotional connection? I didn’t yet recognize how much I had hurt him in my ongoing sexual rejection, and I don’t think I even realized that sex really had anything to do with my husband feeling unloved.
At that moment, looking at my husband feeling so unloved, what I did know was this: I had not been a good wife to him.
My heart began to soften toward Big Guy, preparing me for the moment a few months later when I recognized the hard truth that I had deeply hurt him.
What Drives His Sex Drive?
Today I want to encourage you to head on over to The Generous Husband and read Paul’s recent post, Maybe It’s Not Just Between Your Legs. Although it is written for husbands, it is a post that gives wives something to consider as well.
Paul suggests that husbands acknowledge that they have a deep emotional need that is filled through sex with their wives.
One interesting idea offered in something I read is that sex is actually more emotional for men than for women. The theory is sex is one of a men’s few ways of making emotional connection while women are able to feel emotionally connected in many more ways. This could mean some of our “I need it now feeling” is about an emptiness in our hearts rather than just a fullness in our pants.
When I read this passage, my mind flooded with the memory of finally seeing my husband’s emotional need and realizing that I had failed as a wife.
Just think about that passage for a moment: some of that drive your husband has to be sexually intimate with you is about filling his heart, not just about dealing with an erection. Emotional need, not just physiology, drives his sex drive.
What does this tell you about your husband’s heart? And what does it do to him emotionally if you consistently reject his attempts to sexually connect with you?
Your husband has a genuine physiological need for sex, but he also has a genuine emotional need for you.
When your husband reaches out for you for sex, he is reaching out for . . . you.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net