We have all been told the lie that men need sex and in our Conservative Christian value system and monogamy, it is the wife’s responsibility to fulfill that need because he can’t go outside the marriage to fulfill it. Thinking of sex as a need is problematic in marriages. In this episode, we discuss all of the many facets that affect your marriage when you look at sex as a need. I want to talk to you men and you women out there. This is something we can change!
One of the many lies perpetuated in society and culture today is that men need sex. Men need it, and within the Conservative Christian value system and monogamy, it is the wife’s responsibility to fulfill that need because he can’t go outside of the marriage to get those needs met elsewhere. Pressure is often put on the wife by the husband, but often just in general, that it is her responsibility to provide this for him so that he is not forced to cheat or look at porn. This narrative is extremely dangerous to both men and women, and marriage in general.
In Episode 167 – I asked the question “is sex a need?” And the answer to that is yes and no. It is not a need in the same way that we need air, water, food, sleep, etc. for survival. But, for many, in order to move to a higher level of existence, and to truly be happy, it is a need.
Sex as a need becomes problematic for marriages in many aspects, which we are going to address today. This topic is a complicated one with many facets, so let’s dive in, shall we?
Conditioning and Narratives
First we have to look at the narratives or the stories that both men and women are conditioned to believe throughout their lives by family, religion, and society in general.
We are taught that men are the sexual ones. That they are all insatiable beasts that need to be satisfied. But because we are also taught that sex is dangerous to our spiritual well-being, it becomes the woman’s job to manage the man’s sexuality so that his spirituality is not at risk. If not managed, he will be forced to cheat or look at porn and the blame is almost put on the woman because if she had been “doing her duty” then things like that would never happen.
This narrative is horrific in so many aspects;
- Both men and women are sexual, not just men
- We always (both) have agency that can be used to be sexual or not
- Sex itself is not dangerous. Sex is neither good or bad. It’s what we do with it that matters. Used within the bounds that have been set by God and the Law of Chastity, it’s a wonderful thing that can bless both men and women and marriages. Outside of those bounds, it can be indulgent and destructive.
- It is not a woman’s job to manage her husband’s sexuality or visa versa.
- Duty kills desire. Whenever we feel that sex is a job or a duty we have, something that we are doing for someone else and not for ourselves, we will no longer have the desire for it. Sex requires agency and freedom. Duty sucks all the joy and fun out of it.
Let’s move on to thinking about sex in a need framework and what that does to intimacy.
Intimacy is all about being fully known and also knowing the other person. When sex is considered a need, it isn’t about wanting and desiring to know. It’s just about getting what you think you need, and not necessarily considering what the other person wants and needs. When you don’t take the other person’s wants and needs into consideration, there is no intimacy. It becomes completely one-sided. Now this can go both ways. We often have the husband saying “but I need it” and not necessarily caring about what is going on for their wife and what she needs to truly be in a place where she can be sexual in her body, her heart, and in her mind. But then we also have the wife saying “he just wants sex” instead of understanding that what he actually most often wants is to show his wife how much he loves her, and sex is just the best way he knows how to do that. So we are lacking intimacy on both sides.
When sex is considered a need, we often feel entitled to it. I’m married, I have sexual needs, so it’s your job to give it to me since I can’t go anywhere else. When you feel entitled to something, you often demand that other people give it to you instead of working to achieve what you want by becoming your best self to get there. For example, are you entitled to a well-paying job? Or a fancy car? Technically you don’t need those things. So if you want them, you have to figure out how to get them instead of just expecting them to be given to you. So if you want a high-paying job, you’ve got to have the skills that are valuable. If you want your wife to be sexually interested in you, are you demanding that she be sexually interested or are you learning how to be sexually interesting to her? Big difference, right?
One of the biggest reasons why we want sex is validation. Validation that we are attractive, sexy, desirable, and worthy of love and affection. So often when we want sex, it’s actually the validation that we are craving. But, when a spouse is craving validation, it’s usually pretty unattractive. The more you need that validation (through sex or otherwise) the less likely you are to get it because it’s seen as needy and unattractive. I see this time and time again from the women that I work with. They don’t feel as attracted to their husbands because of his constant neediness for validation through sex.
When women are constantly feeling like they have to take care of their husband’s needs, it’s just one more person they have to take care of. They take care of the kids all day, then they have to take care of their husband too. They become the sexual caretaker instead of freely giving of themselves. Caretaking is antithetical to great intimacy and sex. Biologically it makes sense why we aren’t attracted to a husband who is needy. As humans, we are not supposed to be attracted to the people we take care of. It’s not natural. So it’s a huge turn-off.
When women refuse
Now, let’s turn this around. Ladies, you’ve heard all the evidence of why sex isn’t a need, and how it’s been framed, the narratives you’ve been given, the reasons why he feels like it’s a need. But you have a responsibility here too. Sex may not be a need for his survival, but most likely it is a need for him to be truly happy in this life and in his marriage to you. Sex is a really important part of our human experience. I truly feel it enriches our lives as individuals and it definitely enriches the marriage. Sex isn’t a need, but it is an important want. An important desire. Desires are important. Desires are God-given. Desires lead us to our best life.
When we can freely choose to desire for ourselves and care about our partner’s well-being and desires we will thrive sexually and in our marriages. But often women are dismissive of this and are not willing to do the work to improve this part of themselves to make sex great for both of them. They don’t realize that sex can be just as much for YOU as it is for him.
As women, we are really good at being manipulative, dismissive, throwing up barriers to hide us from topics that we feel uncomfortable around. We are not good at self-confronting. We are good at using our emotions to avoid dealing with the hard subjects. It’s easier to make our husbands into the bad guys than to do the hard work ourselves.
It’s time to do the hard work ladies. It’s time to stop making him into the bad guy for wanting sex with their wife. It’s time to step into the discomfort, the fear, and face your own unwillingness to change. It’s time to face the moral superiority that you have felt as you blamed him for giving into his carnal desires. Those desires were put there for a reason. To love you. To become ONE, mind, body, and soul with their eternal companion. And it’s often YOU that is unwilling to make changes to make that happen. Yep, I’m calling you out. Let’s make 2022 the best year in your marriage yet. Let’s make 2022 your year to finally confront those hard things and make true changes to better you and better your marriage.
If you are ready, my next group starts February 16. I hope to see you in coaching.