Lots of men can relate to Robert Byrne's quote, "Anyone who believes that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach flunked geography."
We've all heard the pithy one-liners and jokes about the importance of sex to a man. While there's far more to men than just sex, and not every husband views sex in the same way, it's important for women to understand that most husbands do approach sex differently than their wives. What follows is a list of what many men wish their wives understood about them and their approach to sex. While it may not characterize your husband exactly, it can certainly provide you with new information and perspective in understanding him better.
1. Understand our sex drive.
While you may acknowledge that, in general, a woman's sex drive is lower than a man's, most women completely under-estimate how important sex is to their husbands.
The vast majority of husbands do not run around trying to sleep with every woman we see. We truly love you and are passionate about monogamy. Our fidelity matters to us, but so does sex.
2. We get "turned on" very quickly.
Although you get aroused very gradually and need to warm up to the idea of sex, men don't have to have much foreplay, or even forethought, to be ready for sex. This is why Gary Smalley's (Greg's dad) classic line "Sexually, men are microwave ovens and women are Crock-pots" is so true.
This is also why I (Greg) love the joke about what women and men need to be ready for sexual intimacy:
For the woman: Support her, hold her, compliment her, listen to her, laugh with her, cry with her, romance her, encourage her, believe in her, cuddle with her, shop with her, give her jewelry, buy her flowers, write love letters to her, and go to the end of the earth and back again for her. Now she might be ready sexually!
For the man: Show up naked!
A man could have the worst day ever and still enjoy sex. Emotions can impact a man sexually, but most times he can push those aside and be instantly ready.
3. Sex is a legitimate physical need for a man.
For men, sex is an appetite that keeps returning. Sperm cells are building up 24/7, and simply put, they want out. If there isn't a release, your husband may find it uncomfortable or, in some instances, painful. To help you understand how this feels, think about when you have to urinate really badly or when a nursing mother's breasts are painfully engorged with milk. It is similar for a man. Relief will happen through ejaculation by orgasm, masturbation, or nocturnal emissions (wet dreams). But we would much rather it be with you!
4. Realize that sex is intimacy to us.
For most women, intimacy is primarily an emotional thing; for most men, it's primarily physical. Dr. Juli Slattery, author of No More Headaches, explains this well: "If you really want his attention, work with the way God designed him. . . . Your sexual relationship may be the 'on- ramp' to communication, conflict resolution, and building the emotional intimacy you are longing for."
When you give him the physical intimacy he desires, it releases oxytocin (the bonding hormone), which significantly increases the chance that your husband will provide the emotional support you long for.
5. Understand that our sexuality is a core aspect of our identity.
In her best-selling book For Women Only, Shaunti Feldhahn explains that sex has a deep emotional impact on men. Her research revealed that being sexually fulfilled in marriage significantly impacted most husbands' confidence and masculinity. Seventy-seven percent of men agreed that if their wives were interested and motivated sex partners, it would give them "a greater sense of well- being and satisfaction with life."
Understand that as much as men want sex, we also hate rejection. Your "Not tonight" translates into "I'm not interested in you." Make sure that if you're responding with a no, you gently discuss it with him. Men are more fragile emotionally than their wives often realize.
6. We need compliments as well.
As women, you look in the mirror, but so do we. We can feel unattractive, out of shape, and embarrassed to let you see us naked. These things make us question whether you still desire us anymore. However, when you compliment us, this gives us sexual confidence.
More importantly, as bodies change and age, remember that the beauty of a person really is more than skin deep. See God's glory in your husband as a total person, including the external packaging. And then verbalize that to him.
7. We like it when you initiate sex.
Most husbands feel as though they're the ones who always initiate sex. But we also like to be pursued—especially sexually. We don't want you to have sex with us because you feel guilty. We want you to want to be with us. Don't be shy about letting your hubby know you're in the mood.
8. At the same time, don't take it personally when we don't initiate sex.
While we've said that most men need sex, what does it mean if your husband doesn't pursue you sexually or seems to have no interest in sex? Don't jump right to personalizing this, second-guessing, or blaming yourself. Don't instantly conclude that he's having an affair or looking at pornography.
In spite of the myth that men want sex anytime anywhere, this isn't true. Men can compartmentalize various events (like a bad day at work), but they don't necessarily disengage from their deeper feelings. Although your husband might not be able to verbalize it, he may not always be able to detach from what's going on emotionally.
Other issues—both physical and emotional—can affect also your husband's sex drive. If your husband lacks interest in sex, be wise and sensitive in conversing with him about it. Ask him if there is anything affecting his desire to be sexually intimate. Inquire about anything you're doing that might be impacting his sexual desire and ask if there are positive things you can do to renew his sexual interest.
9. We like a good quest.
In his book Wild at Heart, John Eldredge says that deep in the heart of every man is a longing to romance and win the affection of his bride. Unfortunately, these days there are very few quests to pursue. Many men get their adventures from video games and their romance from porn. But in a healthy marriage, sex can be the adventure we long for. It's amazing that God made us to want to pursue you and made you to want to be pursued.
Allow your man to court and woo you! And respond when he does. Compel him to live out Proverbs 5:18–19 (NASB): "Rejoice in the wife of your youth. . . . Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; be exhilarated always with her love."
Help your husband enjoy the adventure of captivating you. A woman can't force her husband to pursue her, but she can sure flirt, tease, hint, entice, and reward him—and marriage is the right place for this to happen.
10. Help us battle sexual temptation.
As men, we are faced with enormous temptation in our world today. We're more visually stimulated than you are as women; plus, the world is throwing half-naked women at us in every other commercial on television, on the Internet, and at the mall.
More than likely, your husband has daily battles with some form of temptation. Realize that God brought you into his life as a helper (Genesis 2:18). You help your husband guard against temptation by regularly connecting with him sexually.
Dr. Juli Slattery offers this encouragement to wives: "Your husband depends on you to be his partner in his battle against sexual temptation. . . . You're the only woman in the world whom your husband can look at sexually without compromising his integrity!"
She also recognizes that wives have a powerful gift: "You cannot compete with the raw sensuality dangled at men in our culture. Yet what you do have to offer your husband is far more profound. Fulfilling your husband sexually encompasses so much more than the physical act. It means . . . embracing all that he is, hopes, and desires. No magazine, no coworker, no porn site can be this teammate and confidante for your husband. This is your gift. Unwrap it."
Remember that God created sex for marriage, and you are the only one who rightfully can give your husband this gift. Keep in mind that there are times in marriage when you may simply choose to give this gift even though you may not feel like it. By nurturing all the ingredients of a great sex life, you can help forge a deeper connection and move toward a more loving relationship with your husband.
Taken from The Wholehearted Wife by Erin Smalley, Greg Smalley, and Gary Smalley copyright © 2014. Published by Focus on the Family. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.