A woman shared that when she married her husband, she did not think she could EVER say no to sex. For over 20 years, every single time he initiated, she went along with it. Her young husband had a strong drive and they often had sex once a day, or even twice a day. The first ten years of marriage, things were ok. They were young, had energy and were not too sleep deprived from raising kids. But as the pattern continued through the years, resentment began to build.
Every single time her husband initiated, she obliged. No matter how exhausted she was, she did not turn him down. Ten years later sex had become a dirty word and a huge point of conflict as her resentment built to anxiety. She read any physical touch from her husband as a prelude to intercourse and began avoiding all touch for fear of leading him on. The couple eventually ended up in counseling and are in the process of rebuilding their marriage and their sex life.
I asked her, “why didn’t you feel like you could say no to your husband once in a while?”
Her only explanation was that she grew up in a conservative church where she was taught that fulfilling her husband’s needs was her duty. She had also been taught that fulfilling his needs would prevent him from looking at porn or other women. Saying yes to sex was part of submitting to her husband, and she took her faith seriously.
This might seem like an extreme case but actually I don’t think it is all that unusual. Countless Christian books by both men and women perpetuate the lie that sex is a duty – a need of men fulfilled by women. Many books also insinuate that if the wife will just take care of her husband’s needs, he will not struggle with purity. That is a lie. Men can struggle even when their wife is giving them all the sex they want.
Who is responsible if they look at porn? The person that looks at porn.
Who is responsible if they allow themselves to look at other people? The person looking at other people.
No matter what, we are always responsible for our own actions – even men or women with a high sex drive.
Trust me, I am pro sex. In fact, I am very pro sex.
I think sex is super important to a marriage and I think we should have lots of it. Having sex binds us together in ways that nothing else can and if we are not having sex, we are opening our marriage up to danger.
But I don’t think it works to tell women to do it for their husband, and honestly, I don’t think that is what a husband wants.
One book written by a respected Christian author says, “Maybe it’s not convenient, it’s uncomfortable, it’s not on your timetable – but you do it anyway for the sake of love, not passion.”
I read that passage to the men’s class and they were shocked. They all agree, that is NOT what they want. They want a wife that is engaged and enjoys sex.
Most men have no idea what a battle their wife faces, because they have received very different messages. Most men would agree that from the time they were boys, they somehow new and understood that,
“Sex was going to be the BEST thing ever.”
They knew it, the believed it, they expected it, and it was.
If you look at the overall messages Christian girls receive about sex, two things are understood…
“Don’t do it, don’t do it. Don’t Do it!!!”
“Do it for your husband.”
These messages are hammered into us from the time we are young girls.
We hear it, we believe it, we expect it, and it is.
So, while this wife was feeling force fed, her husband was thinking, “I don’t understand. This is the best thing ever. Why isn’t she enjoying it. Maybe if I just try a little harder.”
The Bad Plan of Duty Sex
Telling a wife, she has to have sex is kind of like telling your kids they have to go to church. You can drive them there and make sure they sit through the service. But can you make them worship God, or take God’s word to heart? You could threaten them and coerce them, but can you make them love God? And the more you try, the more resentful they become, and the more they dig in their heels.
Wouldn’t we rather help our kids own their faith, by showing them who God is and sharing what He means to us. We need to speak God’s truth and share testimonies of His healing and grace. We need to help our kids understand how much God loves them and we need to pray for our kids. But ultimately, we need to let go and release our kids to God.
Just like you cannot make kids fall in love with God, you cannot make your wife love sex – and ultimately isn’t that what you want. Women need to hear that God created sex for them as much as their husband. They need to hear how sex strengthens marriage and creates intimacy. They need to be encouraged to seek help in order to heal from past experiences. Their husband needs to tenderly communicate what sex means to them – emotionally and spiritually. Women must have the right to say no sometimes or ask for a rain check without carrying the responsibility of their husband’s purity. Clear answers must be available to help women figure out how to make sex as enjoyable for them as it is for their husband. But ultimately, a husband must love his wife like Christ loves the church – no matter what.
Understanding Your Wife
So what does a husband do if their wife is not interested in sex? I’ve written a few articles on the subject in the past and I would encourage you to read them with a sense of compassion. Lies Your Wife Battles, IF – the Game Changer, Do’s and Don’ts for a husband. Because most wives are not trying to hurt their husband, in fact deep down many are riddled with guilt and feel broken. So don’t give up hope. Your wife needs you to be her biggest cheer leader.
Ladies, there are women in your church that need help understanding how important sex is to them and to their marriage. Would you pray about hosting an Awaken-Love video class and share a different message about sex?