“Giving” Him Sex…

I had a number of really interesting conversations with people online about the suggestions from yesterday for women who are having a hard time getting help around the house from the people they live with.  We talked specifically about kids and husbands.

What was of particular interest to me was the topic of sex as a “reward” – some thought I was suggesting that our husbands are like circus animals to be trained, others thought I’d missed the heart issue of loving your husband such that we seek one-ness with him, still others thought I was right on target with how women feel.

I updated the post three times trying to clarify what I meant, balancing the many issues represented with the concept.

I still don’t think it hit the mark.

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There were also two things I found interesting about the dialogues. First, they occurred via email or Facebook, and not here on the blog. I am confused by this. Why do you think people took the conversations to the side of the discussion?

Second, I agree that I missed it in how I talked about the heart issue of one-ness.  I haven’t seen any research on this, but from the discussions I had yesterday, one actually with a man, and one comment from a reader in particular, I’m thinking it is highly advisable for us ladies to NOT use the terminology, “giving” or “reward” with men when talking about sex.

Men don’t want us to “give” sex to them.

They don’t want to view it as a gift.

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Instead, I think they want us to WANT to “be with” them.

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Maybe in just the same way as we want them to WANT to be loving toward us – without our asking, but rather because they WANT to show us love. Or maybe it’s different.  I’m still chewing on this one, honestly.

But I am sorry for offending or hurting anyone as I talk about this – I suppose this topic stirs up a number of issues for many people, and I apologize for not being more sensitive to that.

I know that a majority of women (according to the research, anyway) do not think about sex the same way men do, nor are they thinking about it as often. Women typically also have to make a conscious effort to even remember sex because we do not have as much testosterone (the hormone that creates drive in the first place) as men do. Not wrong, but different, right? :)

I  also know that for some of us, because of what has happened to us as children or in other relationships, sexual intimacy is a scary, bravery-required thing. I know suggesting that we be open to our husband, receiving his advances, even pursuing him ourselves can be frightening. I know there are triggers involved in the discussion, and suggesting to those of you who are in circumstances where you are taken from in this department by the man you married, it’s a huge leap to get from there to the place one man suggested when he said:

My experience in marriage tells me that I would rather mature the relationship to the point where my wife’s trust in me exceeds her fears and this leads her to desire being with me, not to please me, but to be with me. I don’t want my wife to please me, I want my wife to want to be with me and for her to want me to be with her. It is important to understand that “want” here does not necessary reflect a physical enjoyment only, but rather a desire for oneness that is mutual.

And one reader wrote with this story:

Hubby and I just experienced this last week. As most working mothers, I’m not always game for a mid-week romp, but one evening after the kids were in bed the mood just hit. Afterward, hubby was curious where my motivation came from and I honestly told him it was because he took the time to clean the kitchen earlier that day. This was a huge deal for me. Kids have been sick all week, we were both exhausted and stressed from trying to catch up at work. I hate cooking in a dirty kitchen. More than that, I knew what a huge deal it was for him. Very rarely does he do housework on his own accord.
 
He’s a wonderful man, but he just doesn’t do it unless we tag team it together. But my comment baffled him and I think, hurt him a bit, too. And he said “It’s not supposed to be a reward.” I explained what it meant to me and how validated I felt. That simple gesture was so unexpectedly attractive that I just couldn’t help myself.  It may be misconstrued too often, but it was the sensation that hubby and I were part of one team that propelled me toward him.  Everyone needs something and when our needs are met it is a beautiful thing.
 
So, readers, what do you make of all of this? What’s a wise woman to do here?  I’ll also throw out there that I was interviewed once by a pastor with a radio show – he accused me of giving bad advice in my bookspecifically the chapter that encourages women to approach their husbands physically, communicating intention for intimacy.  I asked him how he would feel if his wife let him know she found him physically desirable – if he believed that was un-biblical. He coughed and laughed and said, “Well, when you put it that way…”

What say you today on this topic? :)

If you are parenting small people, you should totally follow Leah and Debbie if you have tweens, teens, or twenty-somethings. Like us on Facebook so you can know when Daughters of Sarah becomes available in video format this year. I’m also active on Twitter as @NinaRoesner.  Come join the discussion!

And PLEASE  keep us in our prayers as we walk through the next steps of finishing the work for the video version of Daughters of Sarah!!  We’re back in the studio next week. :) I can speak to large groups of people, but the camera… not my favorite! :P

Love to you,

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Comments

  1. says

    My love language is quality time. There are times I go for days without ANY quality time with hubby. Sex at that point becomes an act of my will. When he has communicated – albeit accidentally – that he does not want me to feel close to him, a sexual overture on his part is hurtful. It says that there is only one thing about me that he values. I have promised that barring illness or other physical barriers, I will always say yes. But there are times I weep afterward.

  2. Heather says

    Here is my problem with sex in my marriage. I am not consistently attracted to my husband. I am consistently attracted to men in general (from afar) and I really like sex, but not with him. I find him to be unmanly and I usually don’t respect and admire him. He’s not a bad guy, he just isn’t what I find attractive in a man. Although, he is very nice and funny. What do I do? I’ve been working on my part of the relationship for a year and a half now. I just think he’s an androgynous person. Duty sex is all I can usually muster.

  3. ARA says

    As a fellow blogger – in regard to the comments that came via email or Facebook – I would share that such is actually how I receive most of my comments. Part of me believes there’s something about connecting within that – that it’s more personal… like a conversation between the two of us that they may or may not believe is important for everyone to see. Just my 2 cents…

  4. says

    Hi Nina, warning, wall of text incoming, I hope you read it all :). I just finished reading your post and all of the comments. A couple of comments of my own:
    1. “There were also two things I found interesting about the dialogues. First, they occurred via email or Facebook, and not here on the blog. I am confused by this. Why do you think people took the conversations to the side of the discussion?”
    There is a very simple explanation for this (on my part at least, not sure about the emails). I don’t get notifications of your blog because you always post to Facebook so I haven’t subscribed (although I may soon :)). The way that I saw your article yesterday was via Facebook and in your post to Facebook you specifically asked “but am wondering, husbands, what do YOU think?” but on your blog you didn’t ask for any input from husbands so it seemed that the most logical place to respond was on Facebook.

    2. In an effort to elaborate on this more, please allow me a moment to compare and contrast. Yesterday in your article you said:

    “you know, I’ll be highly motivated to play tonight if you can get the garage cleaned out today…*wink*“

    As I said yesterday, this *feels* like a very works based contractual agreement because of the fact that a) the wife is stating something that she wants and b) she is stating something that she will give to get it (especially given the context of the overall conversation, i.e. she is doing all of the work). Let’s compare this with something that you said today from another mother (I actually have a different thought than her husband did, but I also wasn’t in the rest of the conversation that she may have left out parts of):

    “one evening after the kids were in bed the mood just hit. Afterward, hubby was curious where my motivation came from and I honestly told him it was because he took the time to clean the kitchen earlier that day.”

    Renee above said:

    “I was suddenly drawn to him -very turned on because at that time in my life, the “love language” of ACTION spoke volumes – I realized he saw us on the same team – in that “one-ness” that I felt, I wanted to be “one” with him intimately.”

    Notice what is being said here. I would submit that the wife is NOT saying “you did X for me so I wanted to do Y for you” she instead said “X that you did for me caused me to feel Y which put me in the resulted in me being in the mood”. In the end, the sex that they had was out of a reaction, a genuine feeling of wanting to be with her husband as a reciprocation of the acts he had done, not due to some contract she had agreed to previously. This may sound subtle but I think it can be profound because of the (key word incoming) motivation factor. She used the exact word “motivation” and I think that this is at the core of the issue. In the example used yesterday, the motivation for sex was for services rendered (not trying to be offensive, just the way it seemed) where as the motivation in her example was out of a reciprocating love and truthful desire to be with her husband.

    3. After talking to my wife about the topic last night I would like to add an addendum, in case it helps. I don’t think that most husbands PREFER to have sex with their wives when they don’t desire it vs when they do desire it, who would want that? That being said, I do think there is a place for a wife to show her love for her husband by meeting his physical desires (or him meeting hers!). 1 Corinthians 7:5 says: “Do not deny yourselves to each other, unless you first agree to do so for a while in order to spend your time in prayer; but then resume normal marital relations. In this way you will be kept from giving in to Satan’s temptation because of your lack of self-control.”

    The key thing we talked about though was the normal order of affairs in the sexual realm within the marriage. If the relationship is such that the wife and the husband can mutually enjoy sex (either physically, spiritually, emotionally or however you enjoy it) as a general rule, then acknowledging the fact that the woman desires it less (in most cases) is an important thing to do and then it doesn’t become a stigma around sex where the man constantly thinks “She doesn’t want to have sex with me REALLY but she is WILLING to because she loves me”. Is it sacrificial? Yes. Is it loving? Yes. Does it feel good to know that the person you are trying to be intimate with considers it a sacrificial act of love most of the time? No. How do you solve this? It’s complicated, but I assure you that it involves God (as you said 1+1+1).

    4. The last thing I want to say is that I also think there are 2 problems that should be at the root of this discussion as well as the main point of your discussion yesterday.

    Firstly, the comment from TC above on how this topic is not discussed well enough among Christians is in my view a very real concern. Men need to mentor their sons and women their daughters in this area (or elder men to younger men and elder women to younger women). Titus 2 has some great words on this.

    Secondly, the fact that the women feel like they have to do everything shows a breakdown in the home to begin with. If we get to the point where we as husbands have to be rewarded with sex to get us to do something then the system has broken down to the point of no return. Men are charged with leading their homes and doing what is needed to serve their families. Do we always do it well? No, and it will only get worse if men don’t change the direction things are going. I am in no way implying that it is the man’s job to do all of the work around the house (it may be, if that is what is needed), rather it is his job to help lead his family into the right order of things so we don’t get to the point where a wife has to reward her husband with sex to get him to do something.

    Let me say it this way: It is a worse to me that the husband has put his wife into a position where she feels like she has to reward her husband with sex to get him to do something than it is that she actually does it (although neither are exempt).

    I hope that this helps in some way. If you have any questions or think I misrepresented you or need correction in anyway, please let me know. Any progress that we can make in understanding this topic better is beneficial for all who read it :) (hopefully!).

    • Nina says

      So Adam! Thankful for your well-thought-out response here – the conversation I had with you on facebook was one of a number I had with others via email – I expect responses on facebook, and here, but email always surprises me – especially in reference to blog posts. :) I can see I’m still seriously growing as a communicator in writing!

      And for more on that:

      “I was suddenly drawn to him -very turned on because at that time in my life, the “love language” of ACTION spoke volumes – I realized he saw us on the same team – in that “one-ness” that I felt, I wanted to be “one” with him intimately.”

      Notice what is being said here. I would submit that the wife is NOT saying “you did X for me so I wanted to do Y for you” she instead said “X that you did for me caused me to feel Y which put me in the resulted in me being in the mood”. In the end, the sex that they had was out of a reaction, a genuine feeling of wanting to be with her husband as a reciprocation of the acts he had done, not due to some contract she had agreed to previously. This may sound subtle but I think it can be profound because of the (key word incoming) motivation factor. She used the exact word “motivation” and I think that this is at the core of the issue. In the example used yesterday, the motivation for sex was for services rendered (not trying to be offensive, just the way it seemed) where as the motivation in her example was out of a reciprocating love and truthful desire to be with her husband.”

      THAT is the essence of what’s going on in my heart – and referring back to yesterday’s post and an awesome comment by senterwife, she said: “Know that I view my biblical role of “helper” as important – and that means helping my husband understand things sometimes when he doesn’t, so yeah, I really might have said that, because it would have helped him understand.”… “I also actively gave grace to myself and my husband. I literally extended empathy to myself,”

      This is a wonderful post, but helping my husband understand was a major lightbulb moment for me! My wonderful husband really doesn’t do empathy very well (something to do with being logical and rational). It makes such sense to explain to him instead of being hurt by his lack of empathy!

      So yes, I encourage women to not take these things personally, but rather to try to be helpful, instead of being angry. At the risk of being mis-interpreted as manipulative, I have also learned from very wise women and psychologists that the best marriages have both partners helping the other – the heart is one of helping – which can be useful, especially given that research shows men are more systematic in their thought patterns and less empathetic, which is a strength in some areas and a potential opportunity in marriage. In some marriages, especially those where husbands are extremely analytic, without this type of help from the wife, the husband misses many opportunities to love well. So she sets up situations for him to be successful. It is really no different than letting him know on his way home that the teenager had a car accident, the tweener’s best friend and she are in a fight, and the college student failed a midterm, so he’s walking into a house full of distraught people – he’ll have his awareness heightened, and her letting him know what’s going on is helpful.

      The other point that I tried (and failed at! :) LOL) making yesterday was that many of the older couples that have been together for a long time “play” with each other in the way they communicate about sex. It’s an active part of daily dialogue for many of the healthier marriages – and it’s not done in an atmosphere of “bribery” or “manipulation” but rather just of play, fun, where BOTH are actually looking forward to the time together, but it’s just a way of bringing up that someone is interested, as opposed to a parenting move. I hold car keys over my teenager’s heads – they don’t get to go do that thing they want to do until their work is done – interacting with my husband at that level would be the most demeaning thing I could possibly do – so know that’s not the vein I meant to communicate any of that in. The research shows sometimes our hearts follow our behavior, and sometimes it is the other way around, but regardless, we need to be doers of the Word, regardless of where our hearts are. So yes, we need to keep talking about this – actually could stand to talk about it probably significantly MORE, per your points yesterday AND today!!!

      It’s quite the journey – and for the record, I think if more men thought the way you did, we might have fewer issues with this – having said that, however, I read oldgravelroad’s post, and I cried for this man. He is doing so much – and receiving so little. I’d encourage you to reach out to him, and encourage him. So glad for your input today and yesterday, Adam. :) THANK YOU!!!

      In His Great Love,
      ~Nina

      • says

        For the record, I agree that saying something like “you know, I’ll be highly motivated to play tonight if you can get the garage cleaned out today…*wink*“ is perfectly acceptable within the context of a marriage where the sexual relationship is healthy and the wife doesn’t feel like she has to do everything. It’s just like you said about the couples who do this for play (not as a prerequisite), I think that is perfectly fine (and we do this soooooo :P), it just didn’t sound right given the context of how to “involve your [husband] in the work” ([husband] inserted through inference). I hope that makes sense :P

  5. TC says

    There is definitely an issue with e concept of sex as a reward. Like the husband you mentioned, I don’t want my wife to be with me, as some sort of reward for good behavior, since I’m commanded to love her as Christ loved the church.To me that means being always considerate of her, and doing everything I can to help her, whether she appreciates it, or not.I do admit, it’s hard to do this, and keep my motives pure. There’s always the temptation, to set myself up with expectations of, if I do X, maybe she’ll be in the mood tonight.
    I think part of the problem, is the church throughout history, has not done a very good job of teaching on the subject.Many Christian women seem to have the view that, because the world is so overly obsessed with sex, that the act itself is somehow shameful, rather than recognizing that it’s a perversion of something God has ordained as pure, and right within marriage.I would like to see Christian wives adopt the concept supposed worldly attitude, of women in society towards sex, only keeping exclusive to their marriage. In my view, the perversion in the world, is not the desire and passion, so much as not keeping it exclusive to marriage, thereby making marriage obsolete.

    • Nina says

      TC – I totally agree it’s NOT shameful. It can be the glue that holds things together when the whole world is falling apart – like raising teens, health issues, aging parents, etc.
      Glad you are here!
      In His Great Love,
      ~Nina

  6. Renee says

    I remember when my children were little and I was EXHAUSTED trying to do everything…and my husband quietly took a broom and started sweeping the kitchen…I was suddenly drawn to him -very turned on because at that time in my life, the “love language” of ACTION spoke volumes – I realized he saw us on the same team – in that “one-ness” that I felt, I wanted to be “one” with him intimately. I didn’t realize this shocked him so until his BOSS said to me, “So your husbands tells me you said, ‘There’s nothing sexier than a man with a broom in his hand’ – is that true?”

    • says

      Both my wife and I work full-time. But in everything you see in most marriages, we are the complete opposite. Meaning that in addition to working, I am also the primary housekeeper who constantly asks for but is denied more help with it. I am also the one that pursues the relationship consistently, being the communicator, doing the date-nights and the gifts, and hand-holding, opening doors, pulling out chairs, reading all the marriage/marriage intimacy books, listening to the Christian family radio programs and trying to apply them all. Always try to look my best for her. Done The Love Dare several times, tried getting us into counseling for our many issues with her not wanting to go. No, I don’t think sex should be a reward, and just want her to “want to be with me”, but like those who were so happy that their husbands suddenly did certain chores, I often feel that with all these efforts, I should be more attractive to her, But instead, I often get handed one of nearly 20 excuses. The most recent being a physical issue she is having that I have begged her to get checked out for. What am I doing wrong?

      • TC says

        I understand, how oldgravelroad feels. I have been the same way in my marriage, with the result that my wife made the comment, that the only thing I seemed to need her for is sex.According to the apostle Paul, that is the primary reason for marriage.Sex is what makes a brother and sister, husband and wife.You can have bit of intimacy as a brother and sister, apart from sleeping together and having sex, that you can have in marriage, but it isn’t marriage. Somehow, this view that sex is the icing on the cake of marriage, rather than mutual desire for one another, being the cake and all the rest is icing, has become the predominant view in the church today. I am of the opinion that if you enter marriage with no desire or intention of being intimate with your husband or wife, why bother? Simply live together as brother and sister, resolved to love one another, and remain celibate.To do otherwise in my opinion profains the sanctity of marriage. I realize this sounds harsh,however there’s no use dancing around inconvenient truths.

      • says

        oldgravelroad, I will pray for you and your efforts with your wife. I don’t presume to have all of the answers but the one thing I will say in terms of things you can do to improve this in your marriage is something that you didn’t mention in your post (but you may be in fact doing, I just don’t know): share the truth of your struggles with your wife in the most loving way that you can. By share I mean with words, sit down and tell her that you want to talk to her about something very important to you. Tell her how it makes you feel as a man that things are going the way they are. It is important to try to not blame her because there may be issues that are preventing her from wanting sex (as Nina has explained many women have), but it is also just as important to explain the effects it is having on your relationship.

        If your wife is a believer then go to her with the trust that she will listen, if she isn’t then pray that God will justify her. Pray before you talk to her, even if it takes weeks or months before you feel that God has prepared you, seek his will in that time. When you talk be clear and gentle, but don’t waver. Be prepared for rebuttals and hold your tongue from returning them with harshness. I don’t know how long you have been married, but these things can take time. Something like the sexual relationship between a man and a woman isn’t fixed overnight, but it has to start somewhere and that place is where you show her the truth about what you feel.

      • Jim says

        OldGravelRoad:

        It sounds to me like you are getting played. She knows you will do all of the chores, plus work full time; and she doesn’t have to do a thing to get you to do it. She won’t even give you the “time of day” (er, night) in the bedroom.

        In short, it sounds like she has no respect for you.

        I would look for ways to back off from doing everything. Do less of the chores. Leave some of them undone, for her to do. Perhaps she will respect you more if she isn’t able to use you to do everything.

        Been there, done that.

Got thoughts?