As women, we can feel like everything about sex comes easily for our husband. How come our steely eyed husband can survive bad messages, straying into porn, or years of poor choices with no impact on their sex life? But the more I’ve taught men, and the more growth I’ve experienced in my own marriage, the more I’ve realized baggage does impact our husband. He may not readily admit or easily recognize baggage, but it’s there.
Strong purity messages, growing up in a sexualized culture, making poor choices or simply the lack of healthy communication about sex impacts their freedom. The baggage may look different and they may process it differently but they have brokenness, just like us. When I realized my husband had baggage, I could foster compassion rather than taking things personally. The more we create a safe place, the more we encourage our husband to heal and grow, in their own time and in their own way.
Five years ago, when I decided to embrace my beauty I started trying to tantalize my husband with my body. I dressed different in bed and changed my clothes at opportune times to catch his eyes. Instead of sex in the dark, I wanted to watch our bodies come together. But I also wanted to feel my husband’s eyes fixed on my body. Frustration grew and feelings smarted when my attempts seemed to create little attention.
Eventually I realized my dear husband had spent our entire marriage intentionally keeping his eyes pure. He turned away from nude scenes in movies, discarded lingerie adds and constantly guarded his eyes – even from me. I remember at one point telling him, “I want you to look at me. I want you to watch me. This (my body) is for you and you only. God wants you to enjoy it”.
Purity messages to my husband, good messages about guarding his eyes, had made him feel uneasy about looking at me. Years of guarding his eyes had helped him control his drive before my awakening. But now that I was finally getting things right, I wanted my husband to experience freedom too.
Growing Up in A Sexualized Culture
Trying to do the right thing in a culture filled with details of women used and abused by men must impact men. Scared to say or do the wrong thing, good Christian men could easily become timid to their wives. They could even question whether their God given sex drive is a good thing.
I sometimes wonder how many of us throw out the baby with the bath water. Not just women, but men. Do men that are trying to be good Christian husbands limit themselves to vanilla sex because they think only ‘those people” do that stuff. Do we decide to not get too creative, have too much fun, get too wild, because we are worried it is not ok? Just like purity messages can impact wives, they can impact our husband.
Most men have viewed porn at some time in their life, especially our younger generation. Many continue to battle and feel the impacts even after they gain freedom. In one of our men’s classes as we talked about getting to know each other through sex, the question came up, “how do I know if I want to do something because it is part of how God created me, or because I saw it in pornography?” Being exposed to pornography complicates life.
Some men that battle porn throw out everything associated with those memories and limit themselves to only vanilla sex. Other men want to try every idea they’ve exposed themselves to in hopes of recreating what they’ve seen. Either way, porn impacts the choices and the freedom they experience in their marriage bed.
Viewing porn impacts the lens that men view women but also how they view themselves. Healing from porn means creating something completely different then what they’ve viewed– intimacy. We must learn to share our insecurities as well as our hopes and desires. We must create a Holy experience by praying over our sex life, asking for newness and for His will. Focusing on connection by communicating, eye to eye contact and staying present create intimacy.
Some men spent years treating sex as a commodity, trying to get all that they could. Years later, married to a woman they love and cherish, they realize they bought into using others for their own gratification. One man said, “After years of using women, I have a hard time even connecting sex with intimacy.” It is almost as if they have trained themselves to disassociate from what they are doing during sex, so they don’t have to feel bad.
In order to connect during sex, they may have to come to grips with the ramifications of their past life. God offers forgiveness, grace and new life to those with a repentant heart.
When my husband stepped up and took responsibility for his past mistakes, he changed. As he received grace and forgiveness from me, I saw him grow in confidence. No longer saddled by past failures or doubts, he leads me like a man that knows God’s grace.
Separating God from Sex
Many men have a harder time integrating and including God in their sex life than their wife. Silence from the church, crude jokes from the world and an attitude of “get as much as you can” make sex feel anything but Holy for a lot of guys. The idea that our God could look done on our marriage bed and say, “Drink, drink your fill.” Does not compute. Praying over our sex life feels strange and somehow, just wrong. Your husband’s past experiences and messages about sex impact what he believes and freedom to connect with you.
Men process their baggage very different than we do, and that is OK. I only share what I have learned about men in order to foster a sense of compassion. When we understand what has impacted them, then it helps us not to take things so personally. Become a safe place for your husband to realize his baggage and to receive God’s healing.