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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

You can move your sex life from "have to" to "want to."

With this post and the next one we are getting down to the nitty-gritty of marital needs.

Today is a Wives Only Wednesday post, so you guys can tune out. I'll deal with you next week in a follow up Men only Monday post.

People are still taking my marital needs poll, in which I asked husband and wives to answer this question: "What is the one thing you need most from your spouse?" (You can add your own answer by clicking here).

Though the final results aren't in yet, there are some pretty clear trends emerging. Today, I'm going to tell you, wives, about the need that more husbands chose than any other.

First the Facts

By a significant margin, more men reported needing "a satisfying sex life" as their number one need than any other need. Overall, 49% of husbands reported sex as their number one need, as compared to 2% of wives.

For comparison, the second most reported number one need for husbands was "being respected," which came in at 14%.

Here's the tough part. Of those 49% of husbands who stated sex was their most important need, 58% said their need was not being met very well at all, giving their wives a 1, 2 or 3 on a ten point scale. On a more positive note, 22% said their need for sex was being met well (7-10 score).  The other 20% fell in the middle.

Here's a question for you to consider: how enduring will a marriage be when a spouse's most important need is going almost completely unmet?

From "Have To" to "Want To"

I thought it would be best, considering the sensitive nature of sex in marriage, to get some assistance with this post from some of my female blogging friends who have recently written some excellent posts on the topic. So I contacted them and asked if I could use excerpts from their posts, and both graciously agreed.

Robyn Gibson of Up With Marriage did a couple of great posts on the issue of sex.  In her first post on this topic Serving Through Sex she examines the key distinction between "have to" and "want to." As she explains, in her own life moving from "have to" to "want to" was a matter of adapting her thinking to God's plan for sexual intimacy in her marriage.
Adapting enables the flesh to grow up. Adapting is what changes the stoic ‘have to’ in our flesh of obedience into the loving ‘want to’ in our spirit. 
She adds this scripture:
And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart.
Ezekiel 11:19
Her point here is that when women think of sex as simply "serving their husbands," it is more of an obligation - something only for his benefit. But that's not how God intends sex to be in the marriage relationship. She concludes her post with the example of a husband who "serves" his wife by reluctantly agreeing to dinner and a movie, but freely admits he would rather have just unplugged and read a book.
He is in the mindset of “I have to” not “I want to.” It feels deceitful and is an affront because when we read, "For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church" (Ephesians 5:25), we know God didn’t mean for Christ to love the church through conciliatory gestures.  Have to is serving. Want to is loving. I don’t want my husband to have to love me; I want him to want to love me.
So, back to the sex of it … as long as I feel that I am serving my husband through sex, it will always be a conciliatory gesture and never authentic genuine love.
Did you catch that? Let me say it again: Have to is serving. Want to is loving. 

There's another great quote from Robyn in the part 2 of Serving Through Sex.
The reason many of us have of a hard time wrapping our minds around this juxtaposition is because we try to reason in our flesh that we need to understand what God is asking of us before we do it. We wrestle with thoughts like:  “If it would just make sense then I could adapt.” Or,“If I just knew how this was going to turn out.” Or,“If I do this, how can I be sure that it will be fair?” Or at the very least, we want to be assured that our spouse won’t take advantage of us in the slightest. It seems we want some kind of guarantee before stepping out in faith. 
Stepping out in faith requires that we relinquish our need for a guarantee that everything will work out in our favor.

As Robyn explains, Jesus' submission to the will of the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane was not an act of service. It was an act of love.

Love says, my desire is to do what your will is. 
Serving through sex is a method for a wife to compartmentalize the act itself. She will be able to have sex and at the same time not be fully engaged: only as much as she has to be.
When I trust that God’s ways are excellent I will adapt to His plan for marriage. The submission of my whole self in marriage will demonstrate to God that I am all in. Nothing will be held back. I won’t be stuck in the mindset of having to serve my brother through sex. Instead, my transformed heart will want to have sex with my husband.
Guided by the Holy Spirit, Not Emotions

Chris, who writes the Forgiven Wife blog, encourages wives with the testimony of her marriage, and how God transformed her heart and her marriage after twenty years of sexual "gatekeeping."

In a recent series, Chris shares the story of Janna Allen, a wife whose marriage underwent a similar transformation, The series is titled Journey of Change and starts here.   In the third post of her story, Janna explains why she thinks this transformation will stick.
I believe it is because it is NOT based on what I am “feeling”, physically or emotionally.  It is based on conviction and love, love of my Lord and my husband.  No matter if my sexual desire dips (which it does), it’s not an option to do nothing.  Or no matter how I am feeling towards my husband at the time (which I have had hurt and anger to work through this past year), it’s not an option not to work through things and go back to a “self-protective” state where I build walls and harbor unforgiveness and /or bitterness.

I could never have done it without the conviction and power of the Holy Spirit, and I believe that it will only be through Him that this will be a forever change. Where I am concerned, all that’s dependent on me is a surrendering and obedience to Him, because by nature I am way too selfish, independent, rebellious, and prideful to keep up an act of serving and loving my husband without some supernatural help and empowerment.

As I explained in my last post, Are You A Love or a Worker, being guided by love doesn't mean you are guided by emotion. Rather, you can choose to focus on the truth, despite what your emotions might tell you. One of those truths is that, as a believer, you have the fullness of the Holy Spirit inside you - the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead. That is power!

Practice allowing your spirit to rule over your soul (mind, will and emotions).

More of You

If you struggle in the area of sexual intimacy with your husband, here is a notion that might help you shift your mindset. Rather than thinking of your husband as simply wanting more sex, realize that what he really wants is more of you.

He wants the kind of intimacy with you that only a thriving sexual relationship can enable.

Let your love for God and your love for your husband, empowered by the Holy Spirit, transform your "have to" into a "want to." Who knows, maybe you might even end up at "get to."

Next time: The Number One Need of Wives


Anonymous said...

If only 2% of wives think that sex is important, perhaps more men should understand this. Men should love their wives the way their wives want to be loved, not the way they want to be loved. Being Christ-like is not about what you want, it's about serving others. Most men need to sacrifice and compromise on their so called sex needs instead of trying to bully and be selfish about it.

Scott said...

Hi Anon - let me turn your comment around and see how it sits with you.

"If only 2% of husbands think talking is important, perhaps more women should understand this. Women should love their husbands the way their husbands want to be loved. Being Christ-like is not about what you want, it's about serving others. Most women need to sacrifice and compromise on their so called conversation needs instead of trying to bully and be selfish about it."

Get my point?

Male or female, the thing is, you don't get to decide what the top needs of your spouse are. And you can't change them or negotiate them away. But you do get to decide what you are going to do about it.

Anonymous said...

"Overall, 49% of husbands reported sex as their number one need, as compared to 2% of wives."

All I can say is WOW ... That is a huge difference! *still picking my jaw up and formulating*

I mean, I kind of knew it - but when you see the numbers, it just rings true, all over again.

Scott said...

Robyn - first, thanks for sharing your great content.

The numbers are certainly striking. I ran a similar poll last fall and the results were similar but not as exaggerated. In that poll sex was reported as a number one need by 22% of husbands vs. 4% of wives. In that poll respect was number 1 for husbands, at 23%, barely beating out sexual satisfaction.

Anonymous said...

How do you account for the difference?

Anonymous said...

What if men felt the same way about women's needs? I used to think like this then I thought: I would be really hurt if my husband told me to sacrifice and compromise my need for an emotional connection because he is not willing to try and meet it .

Scott said...

Robyn, not sure why the results are so different this time vs. six months ago. I did rephrase the statement from "Having a satisfying and exciting sex life" (last time) to "Having a satisfying sex life" (this time).

Anonymous said...

Great post! Thank you. But what if one spouse all they can to (humanly) lay their life down for the other, talks about what's missing in their lives, and gets no response? Surely you can't force someone to love you the way you need to be loved? How do you deal with it without giving up?

Kentuckybranch said...

May I post what I think are some roadblocks for husbands having a satisfying sex life? Yes, it is important to acknowledge this need and that love is a motivator but there are some specifics that can change things to gain attraction and interest.

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