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.
But 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 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, more so than for 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.
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.
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’d love to hear your thoughts.
If feeling good about and interested in sex is a struggle for you, take a look at Sheila Gregoire’s Boost Your Libido video course. Sheila is the leading Christian sex blogger and author, and she’s passionate about helping women embrace their sexuality and enjoy sex and intimacy in their marriages. I’m working my way through the course right now, and it’s excellent.
At first the title upset me, because I enjoy sex, and don’t give it but engage in it pleasurably. Then I realized we were on the same page. My thoughts are, if you are not enjoying it, then you are doing it wrong, or with the wrong person. Teach your partner to do what pleasures you. Being a generous lover has always seemed to come natural to my husband, so I am thankful. I think many men, don’t realize it’s often harder for a woman to have her first orgasm, so they start to feel inadequate, then the relationship suffers, and they think their wife doesn’t enjoy sex, when she really just needs more stimulation. Thank you for a great post. I think many women feel like sex isn’t for them, but for their husbands, and that’s sad. I hope you will join us Friday for our Anything Goes linky party. http://bacontimewiththehungryhypo.blogspot.com
Thanks Mindie. I was a little worried about the title, because I know it can be taken the wrong way. I agree that communication is key – I have realized over time that my husband is not a mind reader (!), so I have to let him know what I want/need when it comes to sex. Also, educating myself has been helpful to me, because now I know it’s normal for my sexual response to be completely different from my husband’s.
Thanks so much for stopping by.
Amen. I work in a middle school and I am always so torn when I hear women teachers talking sex ed to female students and using lingo like” give it up”. You’re right, inherent in that language is that sex benefits only him. Thanks to your post, I have something to refer to when I suggest different language.
Hi Nothy – Oh, I cringe at the thought of teachers saying something like that to girls or young women! Thanks for trying to introduce more positive language to the conversation.
I totally agree with what you said, tho I do think that this phrase is used for women that refrain and hold sex from their husband to punish them or to pay back hurt that their husbands have caused them. This is the first thing that women take away from their husband when they get mad, resentful, or bitter. Which is so sad cause God tells us women to not refrain from our husbands. It literally gives satan a foothold into our marriage. I think all you wrote is great for women to look at, and yes sex is not just for the husband, but it’s also not for the wife to dictate when they have it and when they don’t. We have a lot of friends who are married that no longer have sex, the men are frustrated cause that’s their way to be close and show love, and she is bitter and holds it from him till it’s been so long she feels obligated to give it to him. This should not be so!!!
Communication is key for a healthy marriage and a healthy sex life. Men need to dwell with their wives with understanding, and get to know why their wives withhold sex from them. Pursue her in other ways besides just sex and let her know your interested in her heart, dreams, and desires. And women let go of bitterness and resentment and learn to love as Christ calls us to love, and don’t withhold sex from your mate allowing satan a foothold in your marriage.
Hi Sarah – Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I know that this in an area of real pain in many marriages, and I wish I had an answer for all of the husbands and wives who are hurting. I agree with you that communication is key. Also, both spouses need to think first of the other person and his/her needs. When each person focuses primarily on his or her own needs, it’s a recipe for disaster.
I probably wouldn’t have given the article a second thought but you make a great point! It is definitely a two way street;0)
Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. I really appreciate it.
I have learned all these lessons in your article – the hard way. They are 100% true. Wish I could’ve read an article like this earlier in my marriage – thank you for it. I would add making yourself feel attractive to the “things that may be hindering you.” This was a big deal to embracing my sexuality and making sex an intimate, enjoyable experience for both of us rather than something else I had to do for someone else. For me, making myself feel attractive involved going from couch potato to doing a mild but consistent workout around 3 times a week, about 30 min each time (Hip Hop abs is fun and not too strenuous; I jumpstarted with a month of Insanity but that’s all I could take of that!). It helped me get my figure to a place where I felt more attractive but surprisingly just doing the workout and knowing that I’m putting forth that effort made me feel more attractive. I HAD to couple this with some serious prayer and biblical research about where a woman’s value was though because I realized that I had totally (subconsciously) bought the cultural lie that a woman’s value lies primarily in her physical attractiveness. And since I hadn’t been feeling attractive, I felt pretty worthless although I didn’t recognize it for a long time; it was very subconscious. And I also had to pray to a healthy place that would help me accept my body even though I was still squishy and jiggly; I had to silence that inner perfectionist that told me if I couldn’t look like the girls on the workout videos then there was no point in doing it. I also changed my wardrobe – I bought (on half off day at the thrift store!) new clothes that flattered me and stopped wearing t-shirts and sweatshirts out. If I stayed home, I actually started putting on makeup anyway and real clothes (for home, comfy jeans and comfy but flattering tops instead of pajama wear). I started regularly wearing ($1 jewelry store!) jewelry and spending a little more time on my hair. I started taking a relaxing bath about once a week when I could let my body soak and give it a good scrub down (walmart knockoff of St Ives apricot scrub is cheap enough to use on your whole body and makes skin soooo soft!) and lotion up afterward. The bath routinehis is a really great way to calm your soul and mentally prepare for intimacy which crucial for women. (And if your husband understands this maybe he would help you out and tend to getting the kids to bed while you’re bathing & preparing?). I shave my legs consistently now instead of just when I’ll be wearing a dress or shorts. I can’t believe how much better all these changes made me feel about myself which has in turn had a positive impact in many areas of my life and especially my marriage and intimacy. These things are good things to do as long as they don’t replace Christ as the center of your identity! For me, I felt like I was finally embracing the feminine creature He made me to be! These were what worked for me, but you have to find the changes that will work for you!
Hi Daina – Wow, this is one of the most powerful comments I’ve received in the two years I’ve been blogging. The lessons you learned (the hard way!) are powerful ones. I believe they could make a difference in the lives of many women. And other women, as you said, will need to discover the changes that work for them. I really agree with you that helping yourself feel attractive, whatever that means to each woman, is critically important. Like you, working out regularly is key to feeling attractive for me, as are many of the other things you mentioned.
Thanks so much for sharing your experience and the things you learned. I think they are really going to bless other women.
Joe Robinson says
Thanks for this article that is much needed.God indeed created sex for the pleasure of both husband and wife. I want my wife to enjoy our moments just as much as I do. When she doesn’t it doesn’t go we7 with me except when it is intended by her to be that way. Sex should be an enjoyable experience not a job that someone has to fulfill.
Thanks for letting me reply.
Remember to always
Move Your Marriage to Greatness
Thanks so much, Joe. I’m glad for a husband to confirm that his wife’s enjoyment is very important to him.
I so nearly didn’t click this link from the Motivational monday party, this is not the normal thing I read but you had me intrigued. What a well thought out post, I completely agree with your points. Great sensible advice. I’m glad I clicked now.
Thanks so much, Julie. I really appreciate you taking the time to read it and comment.
I struggle in this area too. Abuse and pre-marital sex and medical reasons make it difficult. We are getting better at communicating. Love building is a processes and when there has been abuse, patience is key. I am blessed with an amazing hubby. Thanks for this post. It helps me and reminds me of our needs as a couple. 🙂
Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, Sierra. Those things do make sex and intimacy more difficult. I’m glad that you and your husband are getting better at communicating, and hope you will be able to seek professional assistance if needed to deal with some of those difficult issues.
Gaye, I just feel so inspired when reading your posts!! Thanks for writing this.
Thank you so much, Camille. That makes me so happy!
This is a wonderful post Gaye. Your writing has taken me to places that I have not even allowed myself to think about. I will certainly have plenty to discuss with my husband this weekend.
Thanks so much, Christina. That really means a lot to me.
Carrie Groneman says
Gaye, I appreciate your insightful post. You tackle delicate situations with grace and dignity. Thank you for bringing these things to light. Carrie, A Mother’s Shadow
Thank you, Carrie. I really appreciate your kind words and support.
Carrie Groneman says
CONGRATS on being the MOST Viewed at Wednesday Blog Hop! You are amazing and have so much to offer for help and advice. Carrie
Thank you so much, Carrie! I am thrilled!
Hmm. This is really interesting. I don’t know if I took the title as something demeaning – I more or less thought it put women in the power seat – we decide if they’ll be any sex at all, etc. This gives me something to think over!
Hi Madaline – Thanks so much for stopping by. No, I’m definitely not advocating putting anyone – husband or wife – in the power seat. Just trying to encourage women to embrace their sexuality and develop their intimate life with their husbands, rather than viewing it as something that’s just for him.
Steve Horsmon says
Great one, Gaye.
I believe there is nothing wrong with “giving” your gifts of love, approval, affection, respect, and touch if it is COMING FROM A PLACE OF LOVE.
When those things are given with the intent and energy of “sacrifice” or “keeping the peace” or “obligation” it will become very destructive for both parties.
Both men and women can choose to give their gifts without expectation and without apology.
What are the barriers to making that choice?
Thanks Steve. What are the barriers to making that choice? That’s a good question. I can think of a number of barriers for women, but I need to see if I can figure out which are likely to be the top ones.
Gayle, this is by far one of the best posts I’ve read in a long time and it’s spot on, which gives me more of a reason to nominate you for a VIP Award! > http://bit.ly/1Ab2QUM
Thank you so much, Antionette! I really appreciate your kind words and the nomination.
Thank you Gaye and Andrew. I didn’t realize it, but I needed that talk. My husband is amazing, but I need to communicate my intimacy needs. Giving is definetly not the right mindset for either of us.
“Time for me to get some” (just a little funny-haha)
Thank you, Lisa. Communicating our own needs for intimacy is hard, but I think it really pays off for us AND our husbands.
“Time for me to get some” – amen to that! lol
A very good and thoughtful post, Gaye!
Yes, intimacy is as important to most men as to most women. And, no, most men do not want sex to be ‘given’ to them as though they are a charity case or an inconvenience.
It really is about attitude and communication…and no the communication is not always easy…often it is extremely difficult…but usually worth the effort…
Thanks for sharing!
Thanks Joe. You’re right – not way, but definitely worth the effort.
Andrew Budek-Schmeisser says
I think you’re spot-on. ‘Giving’ sex is demeaning to both parties, because it reduces the husband to the level of an animal, and the wife to the level of an appliance. Or worse.
The word ‘giving’ is supposed to be operative, but it rarely works out that way. Giving becomes toleration becomes “close your eyes and think of England”, and the marriage suffers.
It’s a dangerous mindset. In the interest of perhaps helping someone else, I will – reluctantly – share my own experience. I will stress at the outset that we’re still married, I love my wife dearly, and think she does love me.
When I realized that my wife would ‘give’ me sex, but really didn’t want that in our life, I had to come to terms with that. I couldn’t take the ‘giving’; I could not do that to her, or to myself.
So the physical side of the marriage ended, full stop. With it went hugs and casually intimate (nonsexual) contact. I didn’t want what I did to be misinterpreted, because a certain level of tension developed. Hugging a person who’s doing an imitation of a mannequin doesn’t really work.
I should have handled it differently. I should have heard WHY my wife didn’t want sex (because I was hopelessly inept!), and worked at it. Instead I got my pride hurt, and pulled away. Not with an intent to hurt, but to avoid the discomfort of an implied rejection based on misunderstood motives, and the feeling that I could never develop the expertise to be a satisfying partner (probably true, and I’m not trying to elicit sympathy).
It can’t be fixed now. The doctors say I’m dying, and there’s no point in overturning a functional modus vivendi.
For Pete’s sake, guys, if things go dysfunctional in the bedroom, get counseling, communicate, and be forbearing to your wife. Listen to her, learn from her.
Because sleeping on the sofa for six years sucks.
I am so sorry for what you have gone through, Andrew. Thank you for sharing your experience so that others can learn from it.
Gaye-Swamped with a personal problem right now, but I will be back to visit. Thanks for your visit.