Every day at Authentic Intimacy we hear from men who desperately want help and encouragement for their marriages. Most commonly, they are frustrated that their wives are not interested in sexual intimacy. Many of these messages end with pleas like "Help me! What can I do to help her understand my needs?"
While most of my work is with women, today I want to share a secret with the men. It is the same secret that I see transforming women. Are you ready?
If you really want to change your marriage, you have to understand where you have power.
Men and women work hard to change their marriage by seeking ways to get their own needs met. Women are often upset when their husbands are unattentive, and men are often upset when their wives want nothing to do with sex. But instead of focusing on addressing your own needs, you need to focus on your spouse's needs. Otherwise, your marriage will never grow in those areas.
So remember, husbands, all of your power lies in understanding and meeting your wife's needs.
Your wife has two primary needs. Both of these needs give you power to draw her into intimacy—emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Your wife longs to be cherished by you. She wants to know that your love for her will never fade—that you have eyes for only her. Every woman receives love differently, so you need to become a student of how to love her. Study her. Ask her, "How can I make you feel like the most prized woman on Earth?" But only ask if you really mean it. Love is for the long haul. If you have been in a pattern of ignoring and rejecting each other, it might take awhile for her to trust your love. Be committed to this effort and you may see your wife transform.
Your wife needs to be protected by you. Even though women can be very independent and self-sufficient, they were created with the deep need to trust the strength of a "hero." You don't have to be a superhero, but she does long for you to be her protector. Protection can come in the form of physically caring for her or providing financially for her, but the deepest form of protection is emotional and spiritual. Peter encouraged husbands to treat their wives with great care as the "weaker vessel" (1 Peter 3:7). Your wife may not admit this or act like this, but she is emotionally fragile, especially related to her femininity and sexuality. How have you cared for her? Have you protected her sexual purity in your marriage by saying no to detrimental behaviors like porn? Have you honored her sensitivity to rejection and insecurities?
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Juli Slattery is a TCW regular contributor and blogger. A widely known clinical psychologist, author, speaker, and broadcast media professional, she co-founded Authentic Intimacy and is the co-author of Passion Pursuit: What Kind of Love Are You Making?