In part 1 of this series, we discussed how even Hollywood unwittingly supports God’s design for unconditional love being absolutely vital to a woman in order for her to truly enjoy sex with a man long-term. Because in the end, for her the perennial question will always be, “Do you love me for me—unconditionally?” And when he assures her of his unconditional love toward her by acting out C.O.U.P.L.E.—the six biblical ways God’s Word reveals that a man should love his wife—he will be hitting on all cylinders the premiere aphrodisiac for his wife.
But what about husbands? Do they only want sex and no love? Do they only want love and not sex? What do we need to understand about a husband’s sexual drive or the lack of sexual drive, and how this relates not only to love but to R.E.S.P.E.C.T.?
At the end of the movie For the Love of the Game, Billy Chapel, the baseball pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, comes to his senses (see part I for further content on the movie and how it relates to this series). He recognizes that what he needs and desires in his deepest heart is a meaningful and faithful relationship with one woman: Jane Aubrey. Having slept around for years, he awakens to his foolishness. He declares, “I used to believe, I still do, that if you give something your all it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, as long as you’ve risked everything, put everything out there. And I’ve done that. I did it my entire life. I did it with the game. But I never did it with you, I never gave you that. And I’m sorry. I know I’m on really thin ice but, when you said I didn’t need you . . . I do need you.”
Billy Chapel awakens from his carnal and worldly coma that a woman is a mere sex object, a plaything. This is about needing a woman, a wife. This is about unconditional love.
TREATING A WIFE AS A SEXUAL OBJECT
When a husband wants only sex from his wife, he not only treats her like a naked mannequin, he fails to obey God’s command to him to love his wife as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25, 33; Colossian 3:19). Such attitudes and actions are indefensible. For this reason, I assume the husband reading this series does not subscribe to the notion of his “wife as a sex object.”
Honorable husbands feel sad when reading the following from wives:
“So many nights he would come home, watch TV till late, come to bed wanting sex, and I would then feel used and unloved.”
“He lacks interest in pursuing me and my heart as he tends to be a passive man; if he is fulfilled sexually and I appear to be happy and content with life, then ‘all is well’ to him . . . He thinks life should go on and I have no reason to be unhappy. He just does not understand me as a woman.”
Having said this, many husbands wish to make known their love for their wife through sexual intimacy. Sexual intimacy enables a husband to feel connected with his wife. He does not see it as selfish but as an expression of his love. However, this husband must first take an honest evaluation of himself concerning C.O.U.P.L.E., the biblical way of loving a wife that I address in my book Love and Respect.
Yes, he desires to express his love toward his wife through sex, as does she, and there is nothing wrong with that. But she first needs to be assured of his unconditional love toward her through these six biblical ways. “Does he love me for me—unconditionally?” she is asking herself. “Or does he only love to use me as the object of his sexual release?”
Though he communicates his love through sex, he must show his love apart from sex. To act loving to get sex is pseudo-love. Refusing to apply C.O.U.P.L.E. will deflate and defeat every wife. She needs to know he wishes to be close to her, open with her, understanding of her, peacemaking with her, loyal to her, and esteeming of her. When he consistently applies C.O.U.P.L.E., he can then say, “I wish to express my love sexually as well.” She will respond to him, and gladly so since she needs sex too. Such love relaxes her and makes her feel secure.
DEPRIVING A LOVING HUSBAND CAN DISHONOR HIM
On the other side, thinking of the good-willed husband, few things wound a husband more than being met with sexual rejection despite his consistent love for his wife (C.O.U.P.L.E.). Not only does he feel deprived sexually, but more profoundly, he feels disrespected and possibly unloved. Most husbands know their wives love them, but when rejected like this, it goes to the core of their being, and they feel dishonored. And in a male’s world, this is colossal. This is less about sex and more about honor. He has a need that only she can meet, and when she rejects him sexually, she leaves him feeling without worth and importance. She shames him, and Proverbs 12:4 says, “She who shames him is rottenness to his bones.”
Sadly, some wives actually intentionally use disrespect to keep him away sexually. A wife wrote, “I used disrespectful behavior to avoid emotional and physical intimacy with my husband.”
At the same time, some wives are innocently ignorant. A wife told me, “Though I demanded my husband to communicate with me as an expression of his love, I did not know that sex was a way of showing respect to him. Selfishly, I felt it was always about me and my need for love. I did not take seriously my call to respect my husband.”
Many husbands who encounter chronic contempt from their wives have little interest in pursuing or responding to sex. Every wife must ask herself, “Is my husband shutting down on me sexually because I appear like I have disdain for who he is as a man?” A critical, complaining, and contentious wife who longs for sex should not be baffled when her husband does not woo her sexually. That’s comparable to a husband telling his wife she personalizes his harshness and anger way too much and she should still hunger for sex with him.
Put it this way: How does the other woman in Proverbs seduce a husband? “With her flattering lips she seduces him” (Proverbs 7:21). It isn’t about sex, not at the beginning. For him, the aphrodisiac is Respect Talk. Am I endorsing flattery as manipulation? Absolutely not! But when a wife speaks sincere words of praise and admiration, it increases his feelings of love for her, and he wants to express this love sexually.
Have we recognized how vital it is to successfully walk the delicate balance of love and respect as it pertains to sex? Because actually, there are two groups, each with very reasonable claims. One group exclaims, “I need love and respect to respond sexually.” Based on Ephesians 5:33, a wife needs to feel loved and a husband needs to feel respected to be sexually aroused. The other group heralds, “I feel unloved and disrespected when deprived sexually.” When depriving a wife sexually, she can feel unloved. Rejecting a husband sexually can leave him feeling disrespected as a man.
Let me remind us here that wives can feel sexually deprived. One wife shared with me, “My husband doesn’t need me in any way. He’d rather do everything himself—including sex. I suffer in silence, knowing I don’t turn him on, and can’t talk to anyone about it or I’ll look like I’m disrespecting him. This cycle has gone on and on, and I’ve become heavier and angrier. I didn’t know how to continue in a marriage that my husband never wanted or needed me.” She feels her husband is saying, “You’re not special to me. I do not want you. You do not captivate me.”
The unspoken message from many husbands can be, “Honey, when you meet my sexual need, you honor me. When I feel respected sexually, my spirit softens, and I feel fond feelings of love for you. However, it is also true that when you show me disgust and disrespect, I shut down sexually.” To portray husbands as craving little else but sex misses their more profound need for respect (Ephesians 5:33; 1 Peter 3:1–2; 2 Samuel 6:20–23). When they feel their wives’ contempt, these men lose their appetite for sex with her. More startling, no husband feels fond feelings of love and affection for his wife who disses him. Sexual intimacy is tough for him as he envisions her earlier words of disdain and looks of disgust. The good news is that when a husband feels sexually deprived and his wife initiates sexually, he can begin to feel respected and re-open his spirit to her.
WHICH IS IT IN OUR MARRIAGE?
In part 1, we provided the working definitions of C.O.U.P.L.E., the six biblical ways in which a wife desires her husband to show love to her. Now I’d like to share the acronym C.H.A.I.R.S., the six biblical ways that a husband seeks to be shown respect from his wife. Both are expanded on fully in my book Love and Respect.
Wives, if your husband is shutting down on you emotionally and sexually, please consider the following information, and be open to addressing these matters with your husband.
Warning: During the discussion, absolutely refuse to appear unloving and disrespectful. Because if you do come across as such, the conversation will escalate beyond what is helpful. The following commentary on C.H.A.I.R.S. can serve as the basis of a discussion between you.
CONQUEST: Because a wife is to be a helper suitable to her husband like Eve to Adam (Genesis 2:18; Proverbs 31:10; 1 Corinthians 11:9), when she affirms and supports his work efforts and his desire to achieve in a particular field, this feels respectful to a husband. When she belittles his desire to work and achieve, he can pull back emotionally and sexually. Agree or disagree? Why?
HIERARCHY: Because no wife is called to be the head protector and provider but to place herself under the shield of her husband’s safe keeping (Ephesians 5:22-24; 1 Corinthians 11:3), when she affirms his willingness to take care of and even die for her as Christ our Head died for us, this feels respectful to a husband. When she attacks him for feeling he is the head who is responsible to protect her, and shows contempt toward what she perceives as his paternalism, he can pull back emotionally and sexually. Agree or disagree? Why?
AUTHORITY: Because a wife is not to exercise final authority over her husband but have an attitude that God will judge him, not her, for the spiritual leadership in the marriage and the management of his household (1 Timothy 2:12; 3:4, 12; Colossians 3:18), when she affirms God’s call on him to be the spiritual leader, this feels respectful to a husband. When she undermines his desire to lead responsibly and exercises veto power at every decision, he will pull back emotionally and sexually from her. Agree or disagree? Why?
INSIGHT: Because a wife is not to be deceived like Eve but be prudent (1 Timothy 2:14; 2 Corinthians 11:3; Proverbs 19:13,14; 1 Corinthians 14:35; Job 2:10), when she affirms her husband’s desire to analyze and counsel her for the purpose of serving and protecting her, this feels respectful to a husband. When she puts down his ideas, telling him that his input and solutions are unloving and he needs to quit trying to fix her, he can pull back emotionally and sexually. Agree or disagree? Why?
RELATIONSHIP: Because a wife is to be a lover-friend (Song of Solomon 5:1, 16; Titus 2:4), when she is friendly and positive, doing shoulder-to-shoulder activities, without always needing to talk about her concerns and their issues, and shows that she likes him, this feels respectful to a husband. When she is regularly negative and complaining about who he is, and feels more like an enemy than an ally, he can pull back emotionally and sexually. Agree or disagree? Why?
SEXUALITY: Because a wife is to respond sexually to her husband who needs sexual intimacy sometimes more than she does, which is comparable to her need for emotional intimacy with him, when she affirms his sexual needs and desires (Proverbs 5:19; 1 Corinthians 7:4), this feels respectful to a husband. When she states that he is sexually pushy and selfish, and she displays disgust with him, he can pull back emotionally and sexually. Agree or disagree? Why?