If you’re married, we’re sure this will come as no surprise to you: Men and women view sex differently. Very differently.
In some areas of marriage, our differences don’t matter that much. Husbands and wives may have different styles of communication or may enjoy different hobbies. But because our sexual involvement touches us at such a deep level, the differences can sometimes be a source of conflict.
It’s important to remember, though, that God intentionally made males and females to be different from each other. And we need to celebrate those differences. Our lives would be quite different if males and females looked alike, were shaped alike, thought the same way, felt the same way, and responded the same way. Our differences add richness and diversity as well as excitement and joy to our marriages.
However, our brains and sexual organs are wired differently. Men are aroused by visual stimuli; a husband can just look at his wife and become aroused. Women are a little more complex. They need to be “warmed up.” Sex therapists and researchers tell us that women take as long as thirty minutes to become aroused during sex.
Studies suggest that men think about sex every seventeen seconds, but women think about sex every seventeen days—or seventeen years, in some cases! Although these statistics highlight the extremes, they do point out a distinct difference, and the truth is, that difference is not going to change. But we know that already, right?
If, in fact, our distinct wiring is such a commonly understood issue, if we know so much about why we are wired so differently, why is it still a problem in so many marriages? Why do husbands and wives forget and act as if this is breaking news—or bad news? And why do we continue to allow these differences to keep us from having strong sexual relationships?
We have found the problem is not that couples don’t know about gender differences. The problem is that even though we recognize the differences, many of us never take the time to study, appreciate, and pursue those differences as being good and worthy.
Instead, many couples continue to assume that the wife will respond like a husband, and the husband will respond like a wife. This is the Golden-Rule mentality: If I treat my spouse the way I want to be treated, then we’ll be happy and have a fulfilling sex life. This is one of the great misunderstandings of all time. If you’ve bought into that line of thinking, let us remind you: That is never going to happen. Period. It’s that simple.
This is the Golden-Rule mentality: If I treat my spouse the way I want to be treated, then we’ll be happy and have a fulfilling sex life. This is one of the great misunderstandings of all time.
So what should a couple do? Should they resign themselves to experiencing a boring—or nonexistent—sex life?
In our own marriage, whenever we have taken the Golden-Rule approach, we’ve bumped up against our differences. But those times are great reminders to learn about and appreciate the differences in each other. God made us different, but he also made us to be complementary—to balance each other, to fit together, to make us one.
The exciting reality about sexual intimacy is that God made us different to spice things up! And ultimately, those differences teach us about serving the other person. When we give our spouses what they need—not what we think they want or need—then we fulfill God’s design for sexual intimacy. And the reward is that together we experience true intimacy.
What we have to realize is that our different ways of approaching sexual intimacy are okay—and normal—because God made us different . . . on purpose. And that’s a good thing. We waste so much time and energy trying to shape our spouses into sexual clones of ourselves. Then we wonder why we’re frustrated and disappointed with our sex lives! So rather than growing frustrated and upset, taking it out on each other, walking away, and pouting, take those opportunities to accept that our approaches to intimacy are going to be different.
The reality is that we often want the same things. Our deepest desire, whether we’re male or female, is ultimately to become one. He wants intercourse; she wants intercourse. He may want physical intercourse more than she does, and she may want emotional intercourse more than he does, but when a couple can meld physical and emotional intercourse, they will find the pathway to great sex.
Our deepest desire, whether we’re male or female, is ultimately to become one.
To meet our needs, we have to meet our spouses’ needs. They are ultimately connected. Of course, that’s not to say that men only want the physical and women only want the emotional. Both need both. It’s just that God wired us to get both by coming at it from two distinct ways.
So how did God do that? He wired a man to feel connected to his wife by experiencing orgasm. The physical act of sex opens his feelings and allows him to become more vulnerable. Sex gives him a sense of closeness and intimacy. He is better able to concentrate on such things as his emotions. God wired a woman to feel connected to her husband by experiencing emotional connection. Emotional connection gives her a sense of safety. She is better able to give herself to physical sex.
God made husbands and wives to complement each other: A husband invites his wife into intimacy through sex, and a wife invites her husband into intimacy through emotional connection. Together, they make a satisfying whole.
Ultimately, through sexual intimacy (emotionally and physically connecting), God calls us to be vulnerable and to serve each other. He calls on men to connect emotionally with their wives in order to have their physical needs met; he calls on women to connect physically with their husbands in order to have their emotional needs met. It involves tension, to be sure. But it’s also exciting foreplay!
*For more revealing insights about what your spouse’s most intimate sex needs are - and how to meet them - check out The 5 Sex Needs of Men and Women in our online bookstore!