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Wifey Wednesday: What You Are NOT Responsible For

It's Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up!

Today I want to give a bit of balance to what I think is often misunderstood when it comes to marriage. Lots of marriage books, and especially certain Christian circles, really emphasize the idea that wives are pretty much solely responsible for a husband's sexual satisfaction. They should understand that it is a need that he has, and thus they should go out of their way to fulfill it.

To a certain extent I agree with this, and indeed it's something I talk about frequently. I don't think women always understand that sex is something very different to men than it is to us. They do have biological drives that we don't have in the same way, and they do often experience love through sex far more than they do through a hug. So we do need to confront our sexual in securities, deal with our sexual baggage, and as much as possible jump in and have fun!

BUT. And here's where I want to insert a big BUT. I have read some of the Every Man's Battle series of books, and some of the ones written for women made me feel distinctly uncomfortable. If sex is dirty, or if it is damaging to you, or if you have a lot of issues that need to be dealt with sensitively, you don't have to satisfy him whenever he wants it. You are not a receptacle. The passage in 1 Corinthians 7 where it says that the wife's body is the husband's also says that the husband's body is the wife's. Therefore, if what he is doing is hurting you, that's not right either.

I know when I was first married, sex was very difficult. I had a lot of trust issues, and even some physical issues with sex. To jump in and make love whenever he wanted it, with no thought to what I was going through, would have been very psychologically and emotionally destructive to me. I needed some understanding. I needed some love, and I needed some space. And when I did receive that, most of the problems went away (others went away later, but that's another story).

There is a thread in a lot of this literature that sex is somehow all about him, and so we need to adjust and make it fun for him. Use lingerie. Do what he wants. And I'm sorry ladies, but I just don't buy that. Not completely.

Yes, we need to think about him. Yes, we need to be sensitive to the fact that he probably needs sex more than we do. Yes, we need to initiate. But when we start talking about how we need to satisfy his sex drive, we're making the same mistake with sex that the world makes. We're pigeon-holding sex so that it's all about the physical, and not about the spiritual or emotional connection that it's supposed to encompass as well.

Sex is not only physical. It also needs to be a deep way that we connect on other levels, too. If we're just into "meeting his physical needs", then we start to think of it that way. It's for him, and it's about satisfying him, as if he's some sort of an animal. Sex doesn't become something that brings the two of you together; it becomes something that almost dehumanizes you. And that is not what God intended.

Unfortunately, part of the Christian church buys this. They think that because we were created to be his "help-meet", we have to help him in this area, and that should be our main task. But if we go in with that attitude, we miss the potential that sex has to be something that binds us together beautifully. And we can do some serious damage to some new wives' sexuality.

Sex is something beautiful; it's not a duty where you just have to act as into it as possible so that he will have a good time. It's meant for the two of you together. So instead of thinking of something that you have to do to satisfy him, think of it as a journey of exploration that you take together, where you get to know each others' bodies, explore each other, kiss a lot, and look into his eyes. It's not just about his release; it's about the bond that needs to come between the two of you. That bond is not going to happen if it's all about just satisfying him. Sex needs to be mutual.

So mutually you need to decide on frequency. If he wants it twice a day, you don't have to do that. You really don't. I would suggest several times a week, but that's something that needs to be between the two of you. And when sex does happen, make sure that you tell him what you want, too. Don't see it as a chore, which is how so many of these books seem to describe it.

There are also soem books that tell you that if he's addicted to pornography, you can break that addiction by simply being better. If you're sexier, and more fun, he'll lose the interest. That's totally a misunderstanding of how male sexuality works. The reason he's addicted to porn is because he's addicted to fantasy and to an image. He isn't addicted to a relationship. And you can't break that addiction by becoming sexier and more outlandish; in fact, if you do that, you'll cement the addiction because you'll let him act out his weird fantasies, and then you'll become part of his porn habit. You are not responsible for him becoming addicted to porn, and having sex constantly will not break that addiction. He needs to decide it's wrong, he needs to go to God, and you both need to find a way to make love in order to forge a spiritual connection, instead of just to find the next weird physical thing you can do.

I hope that this provides some balance. Women need to challenge ourselves to make our husbands' sex lives the best that we can. But the way sex is best is not when we just have sex all the time; it's when we embrace everything that sex should be, and that includes a deep emotional and spiritual connection. Work on forging that bond, and sex will be great. Think of sex as a chore where you have to act all excited or your husband won't feel loved, and you do great damage to your own sexuality. You feel cheap, used, and resentful. Don't fall into that trap. Embark on a sexual journey of discovery that's fun and mutual, and you'll be a lot better off.

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Have you ever had really bad marriage advice that has left you cold? What did you do about it? Or do you have something else to tell us? Write your own Wifey Wednesday post that links back to here, and then leave the link of THAT POST in the Mcklinky below. Thanks!

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At 9:20 AM , Blogger Lynn said…

Great article Sheila. Thank you...


At 10:49 AM , Blogger Teri Lynne Underwood said…

Great thoughts, Sheila! Appreciate this candid approach and honesty!!


At 12:39 PM , Blogger Terry @ Breathing Grace said…

You probably already know that I recently condemned another Christian marriage book for pigeonholing sex and in my view, belittling men in the process. So I agree with you completely.

I appreciate your candor, here. Are there people who have time for twice a day?

I hope that was just a hyperbolic example, Sheila.


At 1:58 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

Terry--LOL! Yes, it was a bit hyperbolic, but I have also seen that used in a few of the marriage books I'm talking about.

And yes, I did see your post about this very topic, but I was reluctant to link just because I hadn't read the book that you were talking about personally, and didn't want to be accused of criticizing something I haven't read. Perhaps that was the wrong call? I don't know.

But it's not just that book. I've read it in countless other books, too, and I don't think it's biblical that a wife should be responsible for "relieving" the husband of his urges. In Christianity, it's all about self-control and moderation. Sex isn't an exception to that. Sex should be the way that we bond intimately, not just physically, and as soon as we make it about us being responsible for his urges, we take away the mystery of sex.

But it is a balance. Men do have a biological need that we do not. We need to remember that without cheapening what making love is supposed to be.

And now I'm writing a whole other post, so perhaps I should stop!


At 3:04 PM , Blogger Mindy Lu said…

Great insight. I would like to comment on the issue you touched on lightly, regarding past sexual issues, possibly abuse or promiscuity, which was an issue I to face personally after marriage. Many women are finding excuses to hold back, using anger or hurt as the reason, when it is a fear based on past issues. I have found the bible study "The Path to Sexual Healing" has helped many women face those issues and allow God to start a healing process, which has helped their marriage beds immeasuably. I highly reccomend the study. Our church offers a class for women dealing with these issues, and there always seems to be a waiting list, since so many Christians are uncomfortable talking about sex in church, this class offers a safe enviorment to open up and let out the secrets, allowing freedom in many area's of life. I love your postings. God works through you. AMEN!


At 6:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Sheila, As far as I am concerned you could write ten posts on this subject! I am so grateful that you have noticed this trend in marriage books and spoken about it. A few years ago I read many popular marriage improvement books, as well as some Christian books, and every single one of them had the same tone. The outright or implied idea was that women should give themselves physically to their husbands whenever he wished. The only book that ever discussed what a wife might expect to receive from the relationship was one popular book which suggested that women talk to their husband for ten minutes (supposed to time it) and when the timer went off, she was to give him a hug and walk away. So a man gets sex when he wishes and a woman gets to give a ten minute monologue a couple times a week.

The thing I found so sad in these books is the shallow view of relationship. I do think that a relationship involves an ever deepening knowing of the other. I think the problem is that I, as a woman, do not bond emotionally by "making love". In fact I dislike that euphemism because it is implying that the act somehow creates love. I think the love has to be there first, in which case it would not be "making" love. How can a wife work on bonding in the way you mentioned if she does NOT feel connected by the sexual act but her husband does? (And there is no physical problem or past trauma.)

A Troubled Wife


At 8:33 PM , Anonymous Kristi Stephens said…

I so appreciate you touching on the pornography issue, too. I think MANY wives have that perception that they can "fix" their husband's addiction- which heaps unnecessarily guilt on themselves and is a fundamental misunderstanding of the problem. It is heartbreaking how rampant it is.

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Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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