Sex should not be based on a male paradigm.
God designed sex to be for both husband and wife. He designed both of us to experience sexual desire and pleasure, and He designed sex to unite us in a way nothing else can.
Men and women have different sexual experiences. We don’t experience arousal in exactly the same way. Orgasm is different for us. We experience sex with bodies that function differently and brains that aren’t exactly the same.
Nonetheless, we sometimes measure a woman’s sexuality by comparing it to a man’s. She doesn’t want to orgasm every time? Something must be wrong. She takes 45 minutes to get warmed up? She’s frigid. She is distracted by her to-do list or relationship problems and has a hard time getting into sex? She must have a low sex drive.
We do ourselves a disservice when we don’t embrace all of who we are. God designed women to be sexual beings—yet far too many of us suppress that aspect of ourselves.
With our sexuality kept out of the bedroom, it’s no surprise that the male paradigm can dominate our perceptions and expectations.
Why do we want to lock away our sexuality? I think for many of us, it is a result of experiencing guilt, shame, or pain in conjunction with sexual thoughts or feelings. Experiences with being molested, engaging in premarital sexual activity, negative relationships with male family members, not understanding our bodies, and learning “good girls don’t” can all lead us to the desire to suppress our sexuality.
Even knowing in our minds that God designed us as sexual beings, it isn’t easy to change years of thinking and feeling in order to unleash our inner tigress on our husbands.
I spent years minimizing my own ways of experiencing sex, viewing them as somehow lesser than my husband’s ways.
His desire was what counted, not mine. My own need for sexual release and for the emotional closeness that happens during sex was diminished—even in my own mind.
Through a lifetime of exposure to culture and a few years of premarital sexual activity that revolved around sex being the only currency I thought I had, I managed to learn that sex was for men and not so much for me. I thought my own sexual desire was something of an aberration, and I eventually learned to associate my sexual feelings with guilt and shame.
When I married, I still believed that sex was mostly for my husband. I think my husband believed that, too, although I don’t know if that was a belief he brought to our marriage or one that I taught him over years of “let’s just get this over with” and “I’m too tired to do more than a quickie.”
Sex was for him; I was only along for the ride.
Motivation to Change
For years, my husband asked me to work on our sexual intimacy. All I could hear was “I’m horny and you’re broken.” At no point did Big Guy talk about why it might be good for me, too, if we had a better sex life.
He would ask me to change, and I would think, Why should I? It’s all for him. The thought of having more sex with such an insensitive man doesn’t do anything for me. I want to like sex—but since the reason I don’t is that he isn’t very loving, it’s completely out of my control.
By the time I began to actually work on sexual intimacy in our marriage, I felt completely worn down. In my mind, it was my last-ditch effort to work on our marriage (To be honest, it was my first actual effort to do anything.)
If I’d thought I was working on sex for my own benefit, I don’t know that I would have done it. The prospect sounded too overwhelming and exhausting.
After understanding how deeply I’d hurt my husband, though, I could convince myself to work on things to help my husband feel better.
I began to work on sex only for my husband. Eventually, I realized that I had needed to work on it for my own sake as well–but I felt so undeserving of healthy and joyful sexuality that it took me a long time to understand that.
A Starting Point
Sex is not just for husbands—yet I often suggest that as a starting point for wives who want to work on sexual intimacy.
It isn’t as contradictory as it may sound.
While it is important to work on sex for your own sake, for some women, that might be a long-term goal rather than a first step.
The only thing that got me willing to take the first step—and the second, and third, and so on—was the thought of doing it for my husband to make up for having hurt him.
It can be so overwhelming to look at the whole of what needs to be worked on in sexual intimacy. My husband had a list of things he wanted to see changed. I had my own mental list. I suspected that our relationship might require some things beyond what we individually wanted. There was no way I could hold this all in front of me.
I had to start somewhere—and for me, the simplest place was to start with my husband’s complaints.
Some women do better starting elsewhere, but changing in response to our husband’s desires can be a good first part of the journey when we don’t know where else to begin.
Even more than changing my sexual behavior, though, beginning the journey at the place of my husband’s desires for our sex life helped change my heart.
My previous response to my husband’s requests for change was, Why should I? It’s all for him. I was thinking selfishly, wondering how I would benefit from my efforts.
Thinking about what my husband needed and wanted trained my mind and heart into a habit of serving him.
Through learning to be a servant lover, I grew into a habit of thinking sexually.
Thinking sexually grew into a reclamation of my own sexuality.
Introducing my sexuality into our marriage bed reframed the paradigm of sex for us so we could enjoy the sex life God designed us to have.
The sex life God designed us to have—THAT’S what was in it for me.
I am my lover’s and my lover is mine . . . Song of Songs 6:3
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