This is now the third (and final!) entry in this short series written by my wife, Aileen. In the last article she talked about rejection and how it effects both wives and husbands. The day before that she dealt with sexual desire, pointing out some of the differences between men and women. Today the series concludes.
One thing I want to say. In this series she has been dealing predominantly with “average” marriages. It is impossible to write about sex and marriage and speak to everyone equally; there are always exceptions, always special cases, always difficulties. But do realize that in these articles, and today especially, she is writing mostly for “normal” people in “normal” circumstances. If your husband has a serious addiction to pornography or if there are other exceptional circumstances in your marriage, some of this may not apply or may apply very differently.
by Aileen Challies
So far in this series we’ve come to the conclusion that as a wife you need to be willing to constantly examine your heart and your motives when it comes to sex. For some reason this is a real challenge for so many women. So many of us struggle to enjoy and express gratitude for what is meant to be a great gift from God. We express anger about this gift. We resent this gift. If God had left us a gift receipt for it, we’d take it back in an instant and trade it in for something better (like a good night’s sleep).
The challenge for you, as a wife, is not just to tolerate sex but to find real joy in it. The challenge is to find joy in the act itself–as a means of grace within your marriage, as a means of blessing your husband, as a means of knitting yourself ever-closer to him, as a means of bringing glory to God. It is not only something you can tolerate, but something you can delight in.
Statistics say that you, as a woman, very likely have less desire for sex than your husband does. Meanwhile your sexual desire is more deeply tied to your mind and emotions than is the case for him; his desire (like you haven’t figured this out) tends to be more physical in nature. He has the easy job of having his body speak to his mind; we’ve got it tough in having to make our minds talk to our bodies. So how then do you work on your mind and your heart so you do not just put up with sex but that you actually desire your husband?
In this brief article I want to give suggestions on how you can increase your desire for your husband. I’m hoping to offer some practical suggestions that help you enter the bedroom open, willing, joyful and even initiating physical intimacy with your husband. I’m not talking about techniques to help get you in the mood “in the moment,” but rather practices for all of life to help you align your heart to do what God wants you to do–to desire your husband and to enjoy his desire for you.
To write this article I made a bunch of awkward phone calls to my girlfriends to ask them how they deal with this. I asked them what things they do to find delight in their husbands and between the bunch of us we made up a list of practical ideas that may help you. Here they are:
Pray. First, and most importantly, pray. Don’t pray just before or during sex (though you may have to do so then, too) but pray as part of your day-to-day walk with the Lord that he would help you desire your husband and that he would help you serve and enjoy him in this way. Do you pray regularly for joy and freedom and fulfillment in sex? Do you pray the same for your husband? If not, you should!
Study. Look to the Bible to learn God’s will for sex. Know that he wants you to desire your husband, that he wants your husband to desire you, and that he wants both of you to enjoy sex. Don’t believe the lies that good girls can’t find great joy and satisfaction in sex. By regularly enjoying sex with your husband, you are doing exactly what God commands and you are bringing glory to him (Read Song of Solomon and see how the woman is not passive, but a woman who feels strong emotional and physical desire for her lover.). Form a theology of sex; believe it and live by it.
Remember. In the midst of all your responsibilities as a mother, it is sometimes difficult to remember that you married your husband, not your children. Biblically, he is your priority over your children. Obviously you cannot abandon your children and still have to be a mother to them. But do not lose site of your marriage amidst the busyness of motherhood.
Stop. Learn how to carve out time for your husband, not just to have sex with him but to find and enjoy common interests (television probably doesn’t count). So often with married couples the concerns of life begin to outpace the importance placed on the relationship. Everyday schedules and worries begin to take over until you forget to take time to enjoy your husband. No wonder, then, that you have trouble desiring him! If you are anxious, thinking about the needs of the kids, worrying about what to serve for dinner the next night, thinking about the laundry that needs to be done, or any of the other 10,000 things you need to do every day, all of this will negatively impact your willingness and ability to enjoy physical intimacy. So take time to be with him, to hang out, to cuddle, to just be together.
Tell. Spend time deliberately focusing on what is desirable about your husband. Write and leave notes about what you find desirable about him where he will find them (and where only he will find them). Email him during the day and let him know you are thinking about him in that way. Be coy, be fun, be alluring. Stewing about the fact that he didn’t put his towel in the hamper or take out the garbage hardly instills feelings of desire. Focus on the positive. Anticipation is wonderful for you and for him.
Initiate. Most men love it when their wives initiate. Instead of always waiting for him to make the first move, let him know you are interested even hours before bedtime–and remind him a few times. And even if you aren’t truly interested, act like you are. Let your mind take the lead and your body will catch up eventually.
Beautify. It’s hard to desire intimacy when you feel that you are frumpy or unattractive (or when you are deliberately making yourself frumpy or unattractive). Feeling beautiful helps you feel desirable and helps your husband desire you. Get rid of the sweats and stop hoarding his old t-shirts for your own use. Keep the floor-length flannel nightgowns for only the coldest nights.
Decorate. Make the master bedroom an attractive room in the house. You spend around one third of your life in your bedroom, so why not make it a pleasant place to be? Nice sheets, candles and lack of clutter can go a long way to encouraging a romantic atmosphere.
Delight. Be thankful that your husband desires you. This is good and right before God. Think about it: your husband wants you. Your husband wants you. Would you really be happier if he showed no interest at all? Of course not! So be grateful that God has given him a desire for you and be sure to thank God for it.
Schedule. This can be controversial, but it has its place. If you truly struggle to have sex regularly, it may be beneficial, at least for a season, to schedule sex. This may happen when you have young children or maybe when you are struggling in marriage. All I mean is that you may want to set aside certain nights of the week and make sure that you have sex on those nights. And on those days, do your part! Coming to him with willingness and joy is far better than making him beg and then rejecting him. Remember what we learned in the last article about setting up your husband (or yourself) to be tempted by sexual sin.
Here’s the rub. God calls you to love and serve and desire your husband. He created sex as a means of cementing (or supergluing!) the marriage relationship. God gives your husband sexual desire as a trigger to remind him to pursue you. God has provided you, the wife, as the one who can and should provide the fulfillment of that desire. And he provided the act of making love so that it becomes about far more than just the physical act. To reject any of this is to reject God’s perfect plan for marriage.
In all things remember that God is for you, that he is for godly marriages, that he is for the godly woman who is committed to loving her husband! When you seek Him you can have confidence in his help. Strive in all things, even in this, to bring glory to God.
When forming these articles I re-read sections of three books that I thought would be good to share with you as additional resources. They are Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney, Becoming the Woman of His Dreams by Sharon Jaynes and Love that Lasts, by Gary and Betsy Ricucci. These books are beneficial not just for learning about physical intimacy, but also in helping with other areas of married life and Christian living.