In this series:
1. Understanding your husband’s sexual needs

  1. Understanding his sexuality
    3. Sex is a physical need
    4. Sex is an emotional need
    5. Sex is a spiritual need
    6. Sex is a relational need
    7. So, what’s the holdup?
    8. Your husband’s sex drive is God’s gift to you

Although the average wife acknowledges that her husband’s sex drive is stronger than hers, she still tends to underestimate the impact this one aspect has on their relationship. According to a poll of 150 Christian married men, 83 percent stated that they don’t believe that women understand a man’s sex drive.1 Husbands feel alone with their secrets and desires; they are at a loss about how to communicate this to their wives. For many men, their attempts to bridge the gap have been met with disinterest or even disdain.

From the female perspective, male sexuality is often viewed as a sordid desire. It seems to represent the worst of masculinity — passion without love, drive without self-control, sensuality without sensitivity. I’ve talked to more than one wife who would rather pretend that her husband’s sexuality just didn’t exist. At best, women tend to compartmentalise their husbands’ sexuality. Sex represents Mr. Hyde, tainting an otherwise moral and approachable Dr. Jekyll. Here’s how one woman put it:

"Although we have a pretty good marriage, sex feels like another chore on my list. I hate that my husband thinks about it so much and that he always wants it. I dread going to bed, fearing that he’ll ask me for sex. Sometimes I find things to do around the house, hoping that he’ll fall asleep before I’m ready for bed. I just wish I could shut him off somehow."

Truth be told, many wives can identify with this sentiment. Over time, their sex life has become a burden. They feel guilty for withholding and responsible to keep their husbands pure, but mostly they wish the whole ordeal could just be put on hold for a couple of years.

When we think about the relationship between sex and guilt, the natural link is feeling guilty about sexually immoral behaviour, a flirtation at work, or a checkered past. Although these aspects of sexual sin often result in tremendous guilt, I believe even more women struggle with the "guilties" of not meeting their husbands’ sexual needs.

Practically everything a Christian wife hears or reads about sex revolves around the message "Your husband needs sex, so give it up." After a hefty dose of guilt, she resolves to make sex more of a priority in her marriage. Her resolve lasts a while, but eventually she becomes resentful. She and her husband may be having sex more often, but it’s not getting any better.

Although feeling guilty can cause you to examine your heart and actions, it isn’t a good long-term motivator for change. Your sex life won’t significantly improve because you feel bad about not meeting your husband’s needs or because you’re afraid he will cheat on you otherwise. Feelings of guilt are simply an indication that something is wrong. If you don’t take the time to examine the underlying problem, you’ll continue in the cycle of reacting to your guilt temporarily, only to fall into the same pattern of resentment. Besides, your husband doesn’t want you to have sex with him because you feel guilty; he wants you to want to be with him!

This series is all about understanding your husband’s sexuality and why sex is so important to your marriage, from his perspective. Please understand, this information isn’t intended to add to your guilt. Instead, I pray that this series will challenge your heart. As you more fully understand the place of sex in your husband’s life, my hope is that you will catch a glimpse of the bigger picture of sex in your marriage. Guilt won’t last, but a change based on love will.

  1. Archibald D. Hart, The Sexual Man (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 1994), 79.
From No More Headaches: Enjoying Sex & Intimacy in Marriage, a Focus on the Family book published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. © 2009 Juli Slattery. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Dr. Julianna Slattery

Dr. Juli Slattery is a clinical psychologist, author and the co-founder of Authentic Intimacy, a ministry dedicated to reclaiming God’s design for sexuality. In addition to speaking, she hosts the weekly podcast Java with Juli. In 2020, Juli launched Sexual Discipleship®, an online platform to equip Christian leaders for gospel-centred conversations about sexual issues. Juli served at Focus on the Family from 2008 to 2012 as a writer, teacher and co-host of the Focus on the Family Broadcast.

She’s the author of 12 books, including God, Sex, & Your Marriage; Rethinking Sexuality; and Sex & the Single Girl. She and her husband live in Akron, Ohio, and have three grown sons.

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