I’d like to explore this a bit—partly because it was discussed in the comments on that post but also because it teases at something that I’ve been wrestling with for a while now.
When a woman thinks her husband wants her only for sex, what does that mean to her? And what does it mean to him?
I’d like to share some of my on-going thinking about these questions, and I hope some of you will offer your insight and ideas as well.
For many years, I thought my husband valued me only for sex. (See He Only Wants Me for Sex.)
In my mind, this was a negative thing. It felt demeaning. What I yearned for the most was to be valued for my whole self, not just for sex. When getting sex was the only reason he tried to emotionally connect with me, it pointed to the irrelevance of everything else about who I was.
When I thought my husband valued me for “just sex,” it meant that he wanted me for nothing more than a masturbation tool. I was useful only for his physical release.
Even now, when I see or hear the phrase “he wants me for only sex,” a negative viewpoint automatically springs forth from me.
As I’ve learned more about the role of sexual intimacy in marriage (through reading the Bible, reading what others have written about sex in marriage, and paying attention to the growth in my own marriage), I’ve found that I’m no longer comfortable with that assumption.
I’ve been asking myself some questions that challenge my old thinking, and this is where I’m doing my wrestling. These questions have to do with the physical aspect of sex and the benefits of sex.
Four questions in particular have been on my mind.
1. Why did I view sexual needs as bad just because they were physical?
I thought I wanted my husband to value all of me—my whole self! However, what I really meant was that I wanted my husband to value me for everything else—but not for sex.
I valued our minds and hearts at the expense of our own bodies.
Although I didn’t like it, I was ignoring a truth:
God created us in physical bodies. He created us as sexual beings.
There I was, rejecting God’s design because I thought it wasn’t pure enough or spiritual enough.
A husband should value his wife for many reasons. It should be okay that physical release is somewhere on that list.
2. Why did I dismiss my husband’s experience as invalid?
My husband has other physical needs that I don’t question at all. He eats, he uses the bathroom, and he wears clothes. I never had any trouble accepting those physical needs. Why did I devalue his physical need for sexual release?
I was diminishing my husband’s genuine physical need for ejaculation. Some men compare this need to hunger. We prefer to have food that tastes good. We often enjoy eating more with certain kinds of ambience or with the company of those we love. Yet when we are starving, those things mean little. We need food—anything, even if it tastes gross, to sate our hunger.
A man who is sexually starved may struggle to be mindful of other aspects of the relationship when his testicles are full and in need of release. Thinking about my own hormone-driven difficulties every month helped me begin to understand how our bodies can overwhelm our hearts and minds.
Even if I’d never found a way to understand it, my husband telling me that he had these needs should have been enough for me to meet them—yet it never was.
3. Why did I dismiss the connective and unitive value of sex?
Even if my husband had valued me only for the purpose of providing him with a physical release, that doesn’t mean that it was the only positive result of sex.
When I cook a meal, I think about many things—nutrition, flavor, his preferences, and quantity. Big Guy may just want something that fills his stomach and tastes acceptable, but when I am thoughtful with my meal planning and preparation, he leaves the table with more than he is even aware of. He may not know he’s getting balanced nutrition, but that nutrition still serves him well. Even if one particular meal doesn’t include everything he needs, throughout the day and week, all the meals collectively give him what his body and mind need to work well.
Sex is amazing. It provides the peak of physical pleasure—but that’s only part of the benefit. One particular encounter may not do much beyond provide some orgasms, but multiple encounters over time collectively provide something that the marriage needs to work well.
Even if my husband had valued me only as a vessel for his release, frequent mutual sexual encounters still would have built intimacy between us—even if we didn’t think about it at the time.
4. What if “just sex” is actually a compliment?
A comment on CSL’s blog has gotten me thinking about how hurt Big Guy used to be when I would say that he valued me only for sex.
My husband didn’t value me only for sex. Despite what I believed for years, he never did. The fact that I couldn’t see his heart for me was deeply upsetting to him. I thought he wanted only the physical release, but he truly did want the intimacy that came with it. (See What a Quickie Taught Us About Sexual Intimacy.)
There were times when I told my husband I thought he valued me only for sex and he looked confused, almost like he was wondering why that would be a bad thing.
I saw being valued for sex as demeaning and negative because I didn’t understand that sex was as important in marriage as I now believe that it is.
Is it possible that for my husband, the idea of valuing me for “only sex” would have been not an insult but an ultimate compliment? When we breathe air, do we say it’s “only oxygen”? When I eat my favorite Dove Dark Promises, do I say it’s “only chocolate”?
Do our husbands see our sexual value as a supreme and pure thing because of the deep emotional connection?
My husband never valued me for only sex—but if he had, was I right to think it was negative?
As I said, I’m still wrestling with this.
I frequently come face-to-face with my long-held beliefs and attitudes in a way that puzzles me. I have a choice about what to believe and what attitude to have, so this is an area where I’m constantly working.
My gut reaction is still to say that being valued only for sex is a negative thing. I’m glad to have realized that this was not the case in my marriage.
Until several days ago, it had never occurred to me that being wanted for only sex was anything other than negative. Now I find a whole new thing to figure out.
I am fighting against my own words in this post—but is it possible that my gut reaction is off-base here? Maybe being valued for sex isn’t as negative as I want to think.
I’d love to know your thoughts, ladies.
- Do you view sexual needs as bad just because they are physical?
- Do you dismiss your husband’s experience as invalid?
- Do you dismiss the connective and unitive value of sex?
- What if “just sex” is actually a compliment?
Have you wrestled with these questions? If you had a negative gut reaction to my attempts to think through the questions (just like I did myself), why was that?
The posts below are ones that got me thinking about these questions. Although they don’t address the questions directly, they are related (at least in my mind!)
- He Only Wants Me for Sex
- Six Things to Know About Sexual Refusal
- When I Stopped Seeing Sex as Sex
- Living in a Nearly Sexless Marriage
- Love Like a Woman
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