Have you ever wondered why God made you and your husband so different? For many years, I thought that might be my first question to God when I got to heaven. The differences between me and my husband, particularly in the bedroom, were driving us both crazy. Sexual intimacy created more conflict in our marriage than unity, and more pain than pleasure. It seemed like a cruel joke, or a gift we were staring at but couldn't seem to open.
I know I'm not alone—I've talked with many women who also argue with their spouses about how often to have sex, whether or not to try new things, when to have sex, and how quickly to get to the "main event."
Over the years, God has been teaching me the beauty of differences. I am getting glimpses of his grand design—even in the middle of the frustrations differences can sometimes cause. Now I see that sexual differences between a husband and wife can be a spectacular form of blessing. In fact, it is through differences that the deepest unity can be achieved.
If you are doubtful about that statement, give me a chance to prove it.
Man and Woman were different before the Fall
Imagine that you and your husband live in sexual utopia: You always want to have sex at exactly the same time, and in the same way your husband wants it. Every initiation is met with an eager response. There is never any conflict about foreplay, being too tired, giving each other pleasure, or trying something new in bed because your desires are always exactly the same. How fantastic would that be? It would be almost like the sex portrayed in movies—what a great love life!
God, the creative Creator, certainly could have made sex that way. He could have created men and women to be exactly the same sexually. But he didn't. In fact, he intentionally made us vastly different.
Did God make a mistake? Did he "mess up" the master design of sex by making a us so diverse? Does he sit up in heaven and laugh that we can't seem to please each other?
Remember that even before sin entered the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had primary sexual differences in the way God created them. God declared his creation of man and woman "very good," and this "very good" included sexual differences.
Here's the deal. God's design for sex is not just for immediate, exquisite pleasure (although he is all for that). God has a much more beautiful gift of intimacy for you and your husband to open than what the world says sex is about—but here's the catch: it requires a different kind of love.
Sex is designed to be more than an expression of love between a husband and wife. It is also the refining fire of love, as it tests and teaches a willing man and woman to reach beyond their natural desires, and to learn what servant love really is.
How to love your hubby on a "bad husband day"
Every time you and your husband disagree about something sexual, you are presented with a question: What kind of lover will I be?
The world knows only of a love that feels good. We are born with the natural response to "love" those who meet our physical and emotional needs, but this kind of natural love is essentially self-love. It really says, "I love the way you make me feel."
You already know how to love your husband with natural, selfish love. It's easy to please him when he's pleasing you. But do you know the secret of loving him when it's a "bad husband day"? Do you know how to respond to him sexually when it's the very last thing on earth you feel like doing? Do you know how to give him grace when he isn't able to meet your sexual needs? This is the kind of love that God wants to develop in you and your husband. And he just might be using your sexual differences as the training ground.
In contrast to selfish love, God's love for us is unconditional, unchanging, and steadfast. I call this servant love. Instead of always asking, "What's in it for me?," servant love asks, "How can I bless my husband?"
Marriage inevitably burns through the natural love pretty quickly. The time always comes when your husband isn't meeting your needs, or wants to do something you have no desire to do. If your love is limited to the natural, it will disappear in the challenges of differences. You will shut down, complain, or criticize because your husband just doesn't do it for you. You will wonder if you are "falling out of love." God is very concerned about what kind of lover you are becoming. Only by his love can you reach beyond what you want and begin to consider what your husband desires.
The beauty of becoming a great lover
Sexual intimacy is one of the most tangible tests of love in marriage. There have been seasons of my marriage in which I would be willing to do almost anything for my husband, except give my body to him. I would bake his favorite cookies or go camping with him, but giving myself sexually was asking too much.
Now I see the beauty of becoming a great lover. Through differences, God taught me aspects of love like empathy, mercy, forgiveness, and unselfishness. He's taught my husband these same things. We are learning to yield to each other out of deep love.
Look at it this way: if men and women were exactly the same, great sex would never require commitment or unselfishness. The way God has designed it, great sex over the years is impossible without genuine love. The greatest pleasure is reserved for those who are the greatest lovers. What a beautiful design!
How about you? What differences are you and your husband fighting about? Ask the Lord right now to begin showing you how he can use those differences to challenge and refine your love!
Sign up for TCW's free Marriage Partnership e-newsletter for weekly updates and encouragement through the joys, trials, and tribulations of marriage.