I received this question a couple of weeks ago through our anonymous Have A Question page:
I understand that this page is about sex in marriage and making it good. However, I have a question. Why does it seem that men see good sex as the measure of a good marriage, and women are made to feel that they should see that exactly the same way? What I mean is, yes men seem to feel loved through sex, which is fine, but then they often seem to focus so much on that that the rest of the marriage isn’t worked on to the same degree. This causes problems for many women, as good sex is generally the result of feeling loved and cherished. Where do you address this? I have been reading quite a few of the posts here, and though this is alluded to at times, the sex itself and making sure that is humming along seems to have a much larger focus. That makes me, as a woman, feel, again, that my needs are secondary and that I should just focus on making him happy. I have done that for years. And I will continue, but I do not have the same consideration coming back at me. I feel like blogs like this one perpetuate the problem by focusing so much more on the man’s physical needs than the woman’s emotional ones.
This is a site about sex within marriage
As you say, the focus of this site is sex within marriage. So, that’s why I focus on it. That doesn’t mean the rest isn’t important. Whether you want to say the rest makes sex better, or that sex makes the rest better, that’s up to you. I think there’s a symbiotic relationship there. Yes, men tend to feel loved through sex, and in a healthy man, having sex will make him want to be more loving to his wife in ways she feels loved. The problem is that a lot of men aren’t healthy in this regard. It’s not just men. A lot of women aren’t either. It’s a human problem, not a male problem.
Where do you address other forms of intimacy?
Actually, I have a few posts over the years talking about other forms. Here’s a list of some of them for easy access:
- What do you need from me?
- Your marriage is your primary relationship
- The most common answer to marriage problems
- Do you need to have regular date nights?
- It’s all about the relationship
- Active Listening
- The 5 Levels of Communication
- Does your spouse get the best “you”?
- If you can’t change your spouse, how do you change your heart?
- Is resentment ruining your marriage?
- Is your marriage an oasis?
- Book Review: Keep Your Love On
- How do I build trust in him again?
- Learning to Talk R.I.T.E.
- It’s not just about sex
There are more, but that’s a start. There were also a lot of our year long marriage challenges devoted to other kinds of intimacy. Those posts are gone now as they move along the challenge, but you can sign up to be notified when we release the entire year as a resource. Now, as one would expect with a site called “Sex Within Marriage”, the majority of my posts are on the topic of sex. But, to assume that sex is some kind of idol is a mistake. If I had a website about writing, no one would complain that I didn’t have enough posts on reading. Because that’s not the focus of this site. That doesn’t mean that reading isn’t important to the writing process, or important in life itself. It just means that that’s not what we’re here to discuss.
And yet, I do seem to discuss other forms of intimacy an awful lot, despite it not being the main focus.
Addressing both sides of the marriage
I don’t agree that this site perpetuates that men’s need are more important. That said, I do think there is a lot more to be said on the subject of intimacy. Because I think men have a need for intimacy beyond sex as well. In fact, I’d argue some of them need it more, because they don’t even know what they’re missing.
And I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I have some plans in the future (I’m not quite sure how far off, but likely by the end of the year), to start moving to address a broader scope of intimacy in the marriage. To, stay tuned for that.Have a Question? Ask it here!
6 thoughts on “Is it all just about sex?”
I have sympathy for the person asking the question. I am in a marriage where my wife has said she didn’t like the idea of sex even before we go married. I view her as much more of a gatekeeper where she views her role as making sure the amount of sex is kept well onset control (2-3 times a month at max). No matter how many books I read about “how to make her feel loved” and implemented all they recommend, she still refused to even talk about any increase in frequency. We have talked and even gone to a therapist where she says she notices my efforts and it makes her feel very loved, but she says that has nothing to do at all with how often we have sex.
So this blog is slanted to those having issues with sex being prominent enough in the marriage. Other blogs focus on the non sexual aspects of a relationship (sometimes ignoring the sex portion). So BOTH sides are important and if one side is neglected it causes problems.
I think something a therapist told me once highlights the need to be balanced. She said the first thing she does is try to get a feel if the mail issue is non-sexual or sexual. Because in some marriages if you fix the relationship the sex will fix itself while others you had to fix the ses issue and the relationship will take care of itself.
I’m in sort of the same boat as happy hubby above, although he doesn’t actually sound happy. He’s married to a woman who is blatantly ignoring 1 Cor. 7. At first in our marriage I was content with sex 3-4 times a week, but wife was eager for sex 5-6 times. I was happy oblige her. Gradually we evened out to sex about every other night. Then a switch flipped she didn’t want sex at all. She wanted a fourth child, but no sex at all. I could talk her into sex about once every 3 or 4 months. We went to counseling over her massive spending sprees that were nearly bankrupting us, and sex was mentioned. She and the counselor told me that the no sex was my fault. I need to get into shape, and start making my wife feel loved, specifically through all 5 love languages. (Horrid book BTW, both theologically and psychologically). I did that and sex became even less frequent. At first, my wife took everything I did as insincere, then she told me that she did not need sex any more because she was convinced I loved her even with out sex in our marriage. What was interestingly the only changes I made in behavior were doing the dishes at night instead of in the morning, and going to the gym 5 days a week instead of 3. That was years ago. A second counselor shocked me when correlated all of my wife’s demands with my current activities. When she said that she didn’t need sex to feel loved he responded, “What about your husband? What does he need to feel loved?” She didn’t know and honestly seemed surprised at I needed to feel loved. She still doesn’t get that her husband needs to feel loved. In 15 years of marriage she was never asked me what would help/make me feel loved. Three times in marriage counseling and twice at marriage retreats she has refused ask the question. We have sex more frequently now, but she continues to claim that I, as a husband, have no need to feel loved. She backs this up with scripture about Husbands loving there wives as Christ loved the Church… but is quick to point that wives are not commanded to love their husbands. She claims to love me, but says that even though she loves me she is under no obligation to show it, sexually or otherwise.
You should show her Titus 2:4-5… Though I don’t think a verse is the answer in this case. It’s a heart issue.
“That makes me, as a woman, feel, again, that my needs are secondary and that I should just focus on making him happy.”
She has a need for sexual fulfillment too, and a mutually satisfying sexual relationship is a need for the marriage. When that is in place everything else will be much easier to accomplish, but what spouse wants to go out of their way for a partner that refuses them and denies them the fulfillment they need? That is what she is really saying, her needs are not being met and that makes it hard for her to meet his.
BOTH spouses should put their own needs as secondary to the needs of their spouse. Getting there will take some communication to understand what your spouse needs from you. If both do it, they both have their needs met and are happy. If each makes their own needs their priority,, neither will be happy.
I really hate questions like the above. It’s always the assumption that sex is only a desire for men and a chore for women. Whether men and women realise it or not, they both NEED sex for a healthy marriage.
For example – in our marriage, my husband is the refuser. Yet he is the one who has the biggest positive response to having sex. For a few days after, he is much happier, much more relaxed, much less stressed and anxious and to be quite blunt, he is also more respectful and kind and more loving in non-sexual ways. But he is the refuser!!!
He is the one who needs sex, emotionally. And he is destroying our marriage and our lives with his refusal.
I like this blog because it focuses on a couple’s need for sex, that it respects that women have just a strong need for sex and the damage it does when one spouse denies both themselves and their spouse of a real relationship by refusing sex.
My thoughts on this are that some men struggle with finding ways that their spouse can show them connection. While most men understand that for them sex equals a connection. So, when a man feels deprived of a connection he will seek out a way he knows to increase the level of connection, and that is often sex. When both spouses work to increase the connection they have, the mans need for sex will never go away but, could mitigate. It is finding this balance that can be a life long journey but is so worth it.