This is the second in a series of posts in which I discuss six points husbands have expressed about the lack of sexual intimacy in their marriages. I first discussed these points in this post several years ago. Please read the introduction to this series here for background and a list of caveats.
This post discusses the second point: Your husband’s sexuality is God’s design.
Chances are that you and your husband are not exactly alike in your sexuality. It is common in our culture to hear men’s sexuality disparaged: Why does he always want sex? Doesn’t he have any self-control? Or Why does he want us to do that [insert any sex act other than intercourse or position other than missionary]? He’s such a pervert.
Many men want sex frequently. They want variety. They want sex even when the relationship as a whole is bruised. If you are a wife who wants sex less than her husband, prefers the comfort of a usual routine, and needs the relationship to be in good standing in order to feel good about having sex, it’s easy to be frustrated by the sexual difference. It is easy to think that your husband’s sexuality is somehow lesser than yours. It certainly isn’t holy, right?
Except that maybe, just maybe, it IS holy. What if God designed our sexuality different for a purpose?
Scientific research has shown us that hormones released during partnered sex promote pair-bonding. When we make love with our husbands, we are actually generating the hormones that help us feel loving and loved. We are literally making love. God’s design of male sexuality (I’m speaking in broad generalizations here) creates a husband’s frequent need to sexually connect with is wife. Frequent sexual connection creates more bonding, more unity, and more love.
I disparaged my husband’s sex drive for many years because it annoyed me–yet his sex drive was the very thing that helped him feel closer to me. When he felt closer to me, it was easier for him to do the kinds of things that helped me feel loved and connected, like authentic conversation about feelings and just holding me. When he didn’t feel he had to earn my love (which he experienced best through sex), he felt safer in being vulnerable in areas that mattered to me.
From his perspective, my female sexuality was equally frustrating. He couldn’t understand why I didn’t experience desire or orgasm in the same way he did. In order to help me sexually, he had to adapt by slowing down and paying closer attention to me. This closer attention in the bedroom carried over outside the bedroom. He became more adept at acknowledging my needs and feelings even when he didn’t understand them. He slowed down and paid attention to my words and actions rather than assuming what I was feeling. Accepting my sexuality made him better at loving me, just as my accepting his sexuality made me better at loving him.
The years when I rejected the importance of sexual intimacy were miserable for both of us. After I decided to work on sex even though I wasn’t feeling the need myself, I began to experience newfound joy in our relationship because my husband and I felt closer and more united. We were having sex more, so my husband felt emotionally safer and loved–and those feelings passed right back to me and grew.
God’s design of my husband’s sexuality gave us both–as individuals and as a couple–what we craved. God knew what He was doing. When we accept each other’s sexuality, we are drawn to each other in ways that strengthen our intimacy. My rejection of that design that our marriage sent our marriage downhill. Embracing God’s design was what turned things back to an upward trajectory.
I learned an important lesson about our differences. My husband’s sexuality was different than mine, but it was not worse or lesser as I had assumed.
When we look at our differences in terms of right and wrong, better or worse, we miss experiencing the benefits of uniting two people who God designed quite differently.
When Opposites Attract
Whoever first said, “Opposites attract” most certainly was referring to Big Guy and me. We are different in so many ways.
He is vocal and commanding. I am quiet and collaborative.
He talks to exchange information. I talk to nurture relationships.
He is a staunch conservative. I lean toward the liberal side of things.
He likes to be surrounded by sound. I like it quiet.
He prefers to listen to a story or joke. I prefer to read it for myself.
He wants to solve the problem. Meanwhile, I’m trying to establish whether it is even a problem that needs to be solved.
He is an extravert who loves to meet new people. I’m an introvert with social anxiety.
He sees black and white. I see mostly shades of gray.
He likes to figure things out on his own. I read the instructions first.
He asks for directions when lost (because he’s an extravert who likes to talk to people and hear explanations). I like to find our way with a map (because it’s something I can read quietly and not have to interact with a stranger).
He is rarely aware of his emotional state. I am always aware of mine.
In the thirty years we’ve been together, I’ve frequently wondered how the two of us ever ended up together. We seem to have nothing in common except for our shared history.
I’ve often thought (usually during our early years) how much easier life would be if Big Guy were more like me. We’d have fewer disagreements about current events and how to do things. We wouldn’t have to explain our needs to each other, because we would already understand.
Better for Our Differences
Life might be easier if we were more alike—but it is not a life that would spur either of us to growth.
I am not the same woman I was when I met my husband. Who and how I am now has been shaped—by my life, by our marriage, and by my husband. Being with someone so different from me has brought frustration—but it has also brought balance.
I’ve become more tolerant of sound and meeting new people. I’ve softened my political and social views and moved closer toward center. I’ve learned to be clear about my needs, which has made me use my introspection and emotional awareness to be more authentic and own up to my desires in every area of our relationship.
My relationship with my very-different-from-me Big Guy has challenged me to grow outside my comfort zone. I’ve learned to be more relaxed and less uptight. I’ve learned that some problems need to be addressed immediately and not pondered indefinitely.
God knew what He was doing in bringing us together and allowing our attraction to grow. While it is true that our differences have been a challenge at times, it is also true that our differences have nurtured our growth. I am a better Chris because our differences have required me to reflect, adapt, and grow.
I am better as a result of being married to a man who is so different from me. I’ve seen similar kinds of growth in Big Guy, as he stretches beyond his comfort zone in his marriage to me.
Even the frustrations themselves have been a boon to us. Our differences have occasionally left us baffled and bereft—and that has drawn us closer to God for comfort and guidance. In facing my frustrations with Big Guy’s differences, I have been shown my own sins and weaknesses more clearly. Fun? Hardly. But necessary in my walk with God.
Even more than how we have each grown individually, we are better as a couple because of our differences. Our individual growth has brought God even more into our relationship as a couple. We are better because of that—and with God with us, we are more than just the sum of the two of us.
Better Lovers, Too
God’s distinct designs for each of us have helped grow and has drawn us to each other and to Him.
This is especially noticeable in our sex life. Sex does seem to put a spotlight on relationship strengths and weaknesses, after all.
Our sexual differences have been just as frustrating at times as our other differences. Big Guy was always quickly aroused. He reached climax easily. He found it easy and comforting to have sex when we were experiencing relationship discord. Arousal took longer and was more complicated for me. Orgasm was a struggle. Without our discord healed, I found it incredibly difficult to be sexual with him.
Just as with our other qualities, God’s designs for Big Guy’s sexuality and for mine have spurred our growth, individually and a couple.
Rather than do things the way we would like for ourselves, we’ve had to learn each other’s preferences and reach outside our comfort zone. We’ve turned to God, to help us deal with the differences and also to help us be a better lover of the other.
Our sex life, filled with our individual characteristics and our efforts to love better, is more than just the two of us. It is infused with God. Each time we are loving and sacrificial, we show are showing Jesus to each other.
Our sexual relationship is more than just Big Guy and me. It is also Spirit-filled.
God designed your husband’s sexuality to be different from yours for a reason. The differences are the things that make us grow.
Our sexual differences make us more—be more, do more, love more.
They make our relationship more full of Christ-like love.
Posts in This Series
- Six Things to Know About Sexual Refusal
- Six Things to Know About Emotional Disconnection
- Six Things, Redux.
- #1 – “Needs More Vinegar”
- #2 – More Than Just the Two of Us
- #3 – Is a Sexless Marriage a Loveless Marriage?
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