When we think of men talking about sex, the notion of locker room talk typically comes to mind: sexual details, guffaws, high fives, and the like.
At a retreat last month, I had the privilege of listening to five men—real and decent marriage-minded Christian husbands—talk about sex.
There were no crude comments. There were no high-fiving or waggling eyebrows or “I got me some of that” happening—and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just because I was present.
When these five men talked about sex, they spoke of two things: emotion and relationship.
For years, Big Guy asked me to change my attitude about sex. He begged me to say no less frequently and to be more involved when I said yes. He would tell me that the reason he made such a big deal out of sex was because he wanted intimacy.
I never knew what to say.
I want intimacy, too! I would shout in my head. It’s because we don’t have real intimacy that I don’t want to have sex with you. How can you not know that? Why on earth do you think that sex will make a bit of difference in intimacy?
Since he obviously (in my mind) didn’t understand what intimacy was, I believed he was using the word “intimacy” as a euphemism for the physical pleasure of sexual release.
Why should I bother changing my attitude about sex when all he’s trying to do is manipulate me into having sex?
I was so wrong.
I’m frequently asked what I now know about sex that I wish I’d understood earlier in my marriage.
My answer is always the same:
I wish I had understood the emotional aspect of sex for my husband.
Emotional connection for most men happens differently than it does for most women—not because men are wrong or shallow, and not because they have one-track minds. It isn’t a choice, and it isn’t something they can change.
Sex provides emotional connection for most men because of their biology. Oxytocin, the hormone associated with human bonding, is most present in men during sex. (See Why Sex? at OysterBed7 for a wonderful explanation.)
Having sex with me gave Big Guy a big dose of oxytocin and helped him feel connected to me. Sex was the very thing that helped my husband feel emotionally close to me.
While the physical pleasure of sex with me was wonderful (if I do say so myself), Big Guy didn’t need me in order to experience an orgasm. He could take care of that on his own (and I often wished he would do just that and leave me alone).
What he couldn’t do on his own was feel emotionally close to me.
Because my husband experienced emotional connection primarily through sex (due to the oxytocin) and because I was the only one he was having sex with, when I constantly said no to sex, I left him to feel emotionally isolated. And then I wondered why he was so surly all the time.
Like some other wives, I often felt like my husband valued me only for sex–for the physical pleasure of the orgasm he experienced with me. I didn’t understand that the physical pleasure of orgasm was all tied into the release of oxytocin.
The physical experience of sex connected his heart to mine.
His sexual desire for me was both physical and emotional. He wanted me with all of who he was, not just with his penis.
He valued sex because he wanted to feel close to me.
If your husband has expressed dissatisfaction with your sex life, I want to encourage you to hear the heart of what he is saying to you. Listen deeply.
If your husband is generally a decent guy, it’s likely that there is more than meets the eye to his sexual desire. Beneath the “I’m horny,” “I need to have an orgasm,” and groping lies something else. More than his physical desire for sexual release is an even deeper longing to feel close to you.
Your husband longs to feel close to you.
He wants emotional connection and relationship. With you.
Your husband may be asking you to make some changes, and I know how overwhelming and annoying that is. I heard the same request for years.
If you’re willing to change only one thing, please make it this: choose to believe that your husband’s sexual desire for you is because he craves emotional intimacy, connection, and a relationship with you.
Emotion and relationship.
They’re at the heart of your husband’s sexual desire.Emotion and relationship are at the heart of your husband’s sexual desire. Click To Tweet
Edited to add:
Thanks so much to the five men who shared their hearts with our podcast listeners:
- Paul Byerly, The Generous Husband and The XY Code
- Scott Means, Heaven Made Marriage
- Brad Aldrich, One Flesh Marriage
- Tom Walter, The Romantic Vineyard
- Doug Taylor, Big Guy (my man!)
Image credit | Christianpics.co