When we surveyed couples, it was no surprise that men cited sexual intimacy as their number two love need. We have learned over the years at men spell intimacy S-E-X, and women spell it T-A-L-K.
God created males with a strong sex drive. Men also have the uncanny ability to compartmentalize their lives. They live in “boxes.” They have a work box, a church box, a friend box, a sports box, a sex box, and so on. The sex box is always on the periphery of their lives, ready to be opened at a moment’s notice. Men forget all the other boxes when they become sexually aroused.
Women, however, tend to tie all of these boxes together. Or perhaps a better way to say it is that when one box is open, they are all open. That’s why open and vulnerable communication is so important for a woman. That’s what helps her sort out all the rest and relax into physical intimacy.
Most of men don’t like to talk about sex with anyone. That includes friends and wives. Rarely will a husband approach his wife and say, “Let’s talk about our sex life.” Men want the sexual aspect of their life to take care of itself. But after years of counseling couples, I (Gary) can tell you, it rarely does.
When Your Husband’s Need Isn’t Met
When a man’s sexual needs are not met in marriage, he responds in one or more of three ways:
He feels rejected as a person
Often when a man’s needs are blocked, he will feel rejected and will isolate himself rather than express his frustration and verbally connect with his wife. Many men won’t even risk opening up about their feelings of rejection because that only subjects them to fear of further rejection.
He shuts down or pulls away
Some men, when their need for sexual intimacy with their wives is not met, will just shut down emotionally. They begin to withdraw from their wives and isolate themselves.
What do wives do when this happens? Sadly, most welcome the relief. Some wives rationalize that “sex isn’t like food or air. He doesn’t need it.”
He Looks Elsewhere to Get His Needs Met
When a man feels rejected or isolates himself, the enemy is right there, ready to provide an alternative that will ruin not only his family but also the generations that come after him.
Some men turn to other women. Other men turn to a perverse fantasy life and pornography. With the Internet, this is now even more readily available in the home.
While husbands are certainly responsible for their own moral decisions, a wife plays a key role in keeping her husband from desiring to meet his God-given sexual needs in a place other than their marriage. She is the person chosen by God to fill those needs. That doesn’t mean she’s a sex slave; it means she has the privilege of being the sole person to meet her husband’s sexual needs and to have him meet hers as well. Thus, you play a vital role in your husband’s contentment.
Your Husband’s Need for Sexual Intimacy
Sexual intimacy is a very real and vital need for your husband. When you respond to him sexually, you affirm him beyond anything you could imagine. This will result in a reciprocal response from your husband. He will be increasingly motivated to meet your deep needs for affection, nonsexual touch, and tenderness. So what can you do to be sure you’re meeting this need for your husband?
Talk to God about the Issue
One of the best places to begin is to be honest with God and directly admit to him what he already knows: The sexual aspect of your marriage may need some review. For some couples, of course, the sexual relationship is the only aspect of the marriage that is working. Typically, though, couples who are struggling with conflict, disappointment, lack of communication, isolation, and pain report that their sexual relationship really is a barometer of the problems in the marriage.
Start with Your Own Heart
Before two bodies touch, two hearts must touch. And before two human hearts open up to each other, our relationship with Christ needs to be open and transparent.
As you bring the issues of your heart to God and ask him to cleanse you, he promises to forgive you. “If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong” (1 John 1:9). And as you receive his forgiveness, he brings you into intimacy with him. When that happens, your heart is prepared for the intimacy of the marriage relationship with your husband
Learn What Satisfies Your Husband
It’s necessary for each of us to become a student of our spouse—emotionally, spiritually, relationally, and sexually. Study your husband. Learn everything you can about him: his sexual rhythm, his needs. The mystery—and beauty—of a healthy sexual union is the desire to be known at the deepest, most intimate level. The best source for finding out what your husband desires and needs is your husband.
Commit Yourself to Meet His Needs
Your husband’s sexuality is so entwined with his masculinity that as you reach out to him and meet his need for sexual intimacy, you will affirm his God-given masculinity. So commit yourself to meet your husband’s needs in this area of sexual intimacy. But don’t keep it quiet - tell him of your deep desire to encourage him sexually. And then do it!
A fulfilled and vibrant sexual relationship is part of God’s plan for a great marriage. That’s why when a man and a woman are committed to oneness in their marriage, their sexual relationship only gets better.
*If you want help to better understand your mate, check out our book, The 5 Love Needs of Men and Women. It’s available in our online bookstore!