I saw an interesting graphic on Pinterest last week. It was titled something like “Reasons to Give Your Husband More Sex.” In it, the author discussed several ways that sex benefits women, including improved health, reduced stress and a stronger marriage, and made the case that regular sex in marriage is good for wives. I don’t disagree with that. As a matter of fact, I strongly agree with it. Despite that, the graphic really bothered me. And it’s still bothering me a week later.
Why? Because of this – “Give Your Husband More Sex.” For me, that title sets the wrong tone for talking about sex in marriage. I know the author was trying to encourage wives in their sex lives and to emphasize the positive aspects of sex. But to me it said this – “Sex is primarily about your husband. But if you’ll just go along with it, you’ll get some benefits too.” And I just wanted to say, “NO, that’s wrong. Sex is NOT primarily about your husband, with benefits for you tacked on as an afterthought. Sex is about both of you. It’s as important for you as it is for him.” But many women don’t believe that. If you’ve fallen into thinking that sex for you is not a priority, here are three reasons to move away from that mindset:
- It distances you from your own sexuality. If you’re always “giving” sex to your husband, it reinforces the idea that sex really isn’t about you. And that’s just not true. God created both of you as sexual beings and intended for both of you to enjoy sex in your marriage. For a lot of reasons, women often struggle to “own” their sexuality, and the idea that sex is primarily about men contributes to that struggle.
- It limits intimacy in your marriage. Obviously, sex is only one way to build intimacy, but it’s an important one. When it’s a shared experience that both of you enjoy, it enhances intimacy. When it’s always a “favor” you’re doing for your husband, it doesn’t. Sex is the activity that distinguishes your marriage from every other relationship in your life. If you’ll let it, it will create an intimate bond between you in a way nothing else can.
- It creates resentment. Unless you’re an exceptionally saintly person, if sex is always about your husband and never about you, at some point you’re going to begin to resent sex or your husband or, more than likely, both. And to be honest, your husband will probably resent it too. The male marriage bloggers I read (including Paul at The Generous Husband, Scott at Journey to Surrender and Jed at Rock His World) say that husbands don’t just want to have sex with their wives, they want to be intimate with them. But for them, sex is the door to intimacy. So over time, sex without intimacy can leave your husband feeling as if you don’t really love him, because you don’t want to be intimate with him.
(Just to be clear, this post is talking about a pattern in which the bulk of your sex life is about “giving your husband sex.” It’s not talking about engaging on occasion in sexual activity that’s just for him, as an expression of your love for him. That’s just a normal part of practicing generosity in marriage.)
If you often think of sex as something you “give” your husband, and have a hard time remembering that sex is about you too, here are four barriers that may be keeping you from enjoying sex and intimacy, and some ideas for overcoming them:
- Lack of understanding – Some women don’t understand the many ways their sexuality differs from men’s. Because our culture tends to hold up male sexuality as the standard, women whose sexual interest and response is not the same as a typical man’s may think that something is wrong with them. They may conclude that their libido is broken, or that they just aren’t interested in sex. For years I had the vague thought in the back of my mind that something must be wrong with me, because my sexuality was so different from my husband’s. Then I read this article and several others like it, which explained clearly that my sexuality was entirely normal – for a woman. If you’ve ever thought that your sexuality might be “broken,” do some reading and research – you’ll probably learn that it isn’t broken at all. This article, Sexual Desire in Women, is a good place to start.
- Fatigue and stress – For women, much more so than men, feeling worn out and stressed out can really take a toll on their enthusiasm for sex. If sex ends up as something you frequently “give” to your husband because you’re too tired or stressed to enjoy it, it may be time to take a serious look at your schedule and commitments. Few things are more important than building intimacy and increasing joy in your marriage. If you want those things, you may need to let go of some other things and find ways to get more rest, to say “no,” and to control your family’s schedule.
- Poor communication – Let’s be honest – it’s hard to talk about sex. But failing to talk about it leads to all kinds of problems, including unrealistic expectations, unmet needs and utter frustration. Sadly, I know this from personal experience. When my husband and I got married, I had no idea how to have an open and honest conversation about sex. It took me years to learn, and I’m still not very good at it. I wished I had learned earlier – it would have saved us a lot of heart ache and frustration. If talking about sex (or failing to talk about it) has tripped up your marriage, begin learning and practicing better communication. Tell your husband, “I know this has been a problem for us. I’d like to start talking about it so we can find a solution.” Read a book and share with him some things you’ve learned. Even better, read a book together and talk about it. Check out the Sex and Marriage Resources page for books and blogs that can help you get started.
- Difficult issues – Some of the things that cause women to lose interest in sex or see it as an obligation are difficult to address, and may require professional assistance. If your marriage is under a lot of stress or you’re dealing with serious marriage problems, it’s almost impossible to enjoy sex and intimacy. If you’re facing those kinds of problems, consider talking with a counselor who can help you address them. Similarly, women who have suffered sexual abuse at some point in their past may need professional help to deal with that trauma before they can address sex and intimacy issues in their marriages. In addition, women who are dealing with medical problems, or taking certain types of medications, that affect sex and intimacy may need to work with their doctor to address those problems.
What do you think about the idea of embracing your sexuality and enjoying sex in your marriage vs. “giving your husband more sex?” Do you think the “giving” mentality hinders women from embracing sex and intimacy? Or do you think I’m overreacting, and it’s just a phrase? I would love to hear your thoughts.