Friday, January 25, 2008

More thoughts on The Subject

Okay, I'm sure I'm going to get totally spammed for having the S*x word on my blog now, but it's a risk I am willing to take to get the conversation started. I think each of us has a little different perspective on this, and that's okay. We can keep it civil and we can learn from each other.

My heart goes out to those women whose husbands deal with hormone imbalances, struggle with depression, have deeper issues that have ramifications in the marriage, or who struggle with addictions. I will be praying for you, and, knowing how much of a huge deal this is to your man (and the effect this has on you), I would encourage you NOT to wait, but to seek help. Now.

When I wrote the post, I was thinking, however, that in general, most of us are dealing with fairly normal husbands, in fairly normal marriages, who (in theory, anyway!) want to please their fairly normal wives. Rather than make an issue of sex, I would say the typical Christian husband is NOT forcing the issue. Instead, it becomes the Taboo Topic.

Then, by not dealing with it, spouses begin to isolate from one another, and it begins to fester. It did in our marriage. I was not meaning to be ugly; I was just TIRED (busy/preoccupied/etc). I was totally oblivious to it and just thought he was stressed or something. I had no idea the pain my lack of interest was causing my husband. Thankfully he pursued me and explained his perspective (which was totally foreign) to me. I do believe if he had not, it could have had disastrous results - if not now, then down the road.

It just helps me to realize (DUH) that my husband is wired differently from me. I think our generation of women has huge expectations for our husbands to study us and learn what makes us tick. We somehow think they "should" know that we want flowers, gifts, help with the kids and the dishes, and lots of affection. These are things that are NOT necessarily natural for a man to think about. We expect him to cultivate the ability to think about what pleases someone who is completely different from himself.

I was clueless, because I thought I was doing such a great job as a wife. I encouraged him, gave him affection and respect, spent time with him, and enjoyed his company. I even did his laundry and kept the house clean. These all came "naturally" to me (except the house part!), so I assumed they demonstrated my love to him. And they did. However, the the one way that speaks volumes of love and respect deeper than any other way did NOT come naturally to me. So I'd simply neglected to offer it to him freely or respond enthusiastically.

Yup, it is a two-way street. Like Dennis Rainey says, we each need to give 100% to the relationship - it is not 50-50. I think I expected 100% from him, but I only wanted to give 50% - the 50% that came easily to me.

It's not right, and I'm really working on it. The good news is, it has given me renewed excitement for looking for ways to please him - not just in the bedroom - but as a person. I am loving what it is doing for our relationship.

As I alluded to here, when we anticipate a need (or desire, depending on what you want to call it) and give freely, something beautiful happens. It does not make sense, but it's the Paradox Principle in action: Die to Live.


And here's a timely article from Family Life on Romancing Your Husband


Anonymous said...

Katherine, Thank you for wonderful posts. I hope that the women who have husbands who have a lower sex drive check in and realize that there are many of us out there. I have had to deal with this in my marriage for almost 4 years (of a 4 year marriage)...we have sought help and chemical imbalances is only a minor cause: I have married a wonderful man who worries and cares about everything before himself. And he thinks that sex is selfish. And you are right: the important issue is putting your marriage in top priority. I was very heartened to see so many couragous couples speaking out that marriage is tough and always needs attention and work to flourish. Thanks

Marian said...

Knowing that Rachel Anne probably reads your blog, and knowing that she is running her Company Girls club, with assignments for creating home sanctuary... I wonder if there are points for this... ; )

Peapod Four said...

Thank you for being so honest and transparent. We've struggled through the same stuff and I've been awfully blessed to have such a patient husband. It's good to know that we are not alone, and I'm glad you're willing to take the spam risk.

The Living Proof Ministries Blog opened comments for Titus 2 advice today. Much of the advice centers on this very topic...often referred to as "tending to our ministry". Since I hit the topic twice in one day, I guess I'm going to have to pay attention. :)

Heather said...

My husband struggles with insomnia--and when he does his drive drops. I need to be very careful with my actions and words so as not to discourage him while making sure his needs are being met when he is having normal sleep. :)

Jen said...

Wise words. I want to thank you for all you do. These words you teach us are more powerful than you will ever know.

Aimee said...

One other thought :) i think our marriages need oneness on all levels...body, soul, and spirit to flourish and enjoy each other to the maximum. I think men tend to be more perceptive/feel the "need" of sex in our marriage...that WE need sex as a couple for closeness. I don't feel that "need" but that doesn't mean that I don't need it. There are times when my husband has said "I really think I know what you need right now :)" and he was right...we needed to be intimate on a physical level. I think women are more perceptive/feel our "need" for connecting on a spirit/heart level...WE need that in a marriage...whether he "feels" it or not, he needs to relate on a spiritual/relational intimacy level but needed you to prompt that in him. I think the Lord has given us complementary roles to help each other to see our intimacy needs on all levels. WE need relational intimacy...WE need spiritual intimacy...WE need sex...I think b/c we are "one flesh" we have the same needs in the marriage but maybe we need each others unique perceptions/drives to get us interdependence. Random thoughts while I was napping this afternoon :)

Queen to my 3 Boys said...

I often wonder why God has wired men and women so.very.differently.

Anonymous said...

I have lurked in the shadows of your blog for some time, but have really enjoyed your posts the past couple of days and wanted to comment.

It's been so comforting to hear couple after couple state the very thing that makes me feel abnormal! Making sex is a priority is sometimes hard. With so much on our plates sometimes this is last thing we (I) make time for.

But as a famous therapist once said "sex is such a small part of marriage, unless it's not happening". I agree, if I adequately meet my husband's desires (which he really needs less than I realized) it never seems to be brought up. But when we go through the droughts BOY OH BOY is it a constant issue. And not in a derogatory way on his part, but I know that he is longing for some me time.

AND after years of marriage and conversations he understands the lack of desire on my part is not a rejection of him. However, I know that I need to reach out even when I do not desire it. BUT in those times I remind him that when we were newly weds, before there were so many other demands on our time, I was quite affectionate with him, and still have that desire in my heart but my body doesn't always cooperate. My prayer is that while his needs are being met now and we both receive enjoyment, that once the children have been raised and move out that we can return to that unbridled passion we openly shared in the early years.

AND Shaunti Feldhahn's book is a great resource into the lives of men all the way around.

Anonymous said...

Katherine, I just found your blog today through Rocks In Her Dryer and I have to say that it must be a "God thing". I have just been in a funk the last few days, feeling blah about my marriage, blah about my kids just blah about life in general. Then I found your blog and started reading current posts and past posts and I feel like I've just taken a breath of fresh air. I'm not alone. Sometimes this life can be so hard but once I get past my feelings, get some rest and PRAY things always get better. I didn't think I had time to read one more blog each day but I just have to add you to my daily reading! Bless you.

Wifeof1Momof4 said...

Katherine, Thank you for the last 2posts. We had this exact same conversations last weekend. Open and honest. I will admit, I do not understand what he is thinking, but know that it IS important to him and so I MUST make time for my husband of 12 years, and make him a priority. It really hurt me when he told me that he sometimes feels left out of my everyday life. I spend so much with the children 11,2,1 and not enough time with him. I thought getting up at 5am making breakfast, his HOT lunch everyday, making sure he has snacks and dinner IS here every night was what he wanted and it is, BUT, he wants the other sooo much more and more frequently. I will have to die to self, die to self. I want my marriage and I want to have a great marriage! Thank you again!

Julie said...

Hi Katherine,

These were great posts, and so true.

I have struggled with this over our 23 years of marriage. I didn't realize how important it was to my man until about ten years into the marriage. I am a slow learner.

The other night I jokingly asked him if he thought his drive would slow down any time soon? After all we have been married a long time. Um, no, was his immediate answer. There is something very special about having a man still desire you even when you have gained a few pounds and everything isn't neccesarily in the same place as it was before you nursed five children.

If my husands needs are met at least once a week our house runs smoothly, he has patience with the kids and all is good in the world. If a week passes with no contact, um, watch out. There is a storm a brewing.

I have taken the very unromantic tactic of marking the calendar so I know when I last gave my hubby some attention. This may seem strange to some but with five kids and sports and school and everything else a week can go by in no time and you really haven't even noticed.

If I notice hubby getting a little grumpy I generally know that the week is coming to an end.

This has been a great discussion,
I look forward to reading others thoughts on the matter.


Mommy-fied said...

I knew men were wired very differently even before I got married thanks to a great friend and mentor I had. But I was not cued in on the sex part till our honeymoon. Thankfully somehow we talked about it in general and I kinda figured it out through the conversations we had then.

But let me tell you I wasn’t prepared to know that the men will still “need” it even when we’re old and grey. My mom actually cued me in on this and let me tell you it wasn’t something I wanted to find out from mom. We don’t have that kind of relationship but somehow one day while we were chatting she let it out. She told me that as long as a man is able he’d want it (she and all her girlfriends are finding out). And she went on to say that after menopause we women may not be so up to it and it’d hurt more as we’d be more “dry” you know where. After that conversation I went into my room, hid my face in a pillow, cringed and screamed. Too much information!!! I’m still where I don’t need to know that mom and dad are doing “it”. Aaaaahhhhh!

I must add I still had (have) issues to deal with in my marriage… (just in case you think I live in a castle somewhere with my handsome prince)

Monica said...

Thank you for addressing an issue that does become (too) taboo for women to talk about, especially Christian women. But, boy, do we need to talk about it! I have discovered that my husband is happier and more at ease at home when his needs are met.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I have never, ever fought about s*x...until we had our 3rd baby. They two youngest are only 18 mos apart, and what with being tired, and busy, and tired, and feeling I'm giving, giving all day, and did I say being tired?...well, it's been an issue more than once lately. My husband has really been brave in telling me how he feels. Sometimes we women just assume "he wants to feel good", but of course it is about SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT! When my husband says "I just want to feel close to you"...well, THAT melts me right there and I'm suddenly game for anything! :) Men should use that line more often...

I think that our generation (well, I'm 29) were raised to think that women and men are the same--or I was anyway. My mom was more influenced by the feminism around her than she realized, I think. She used to tell me that men and women are basically the same...and it has taken me a long time and a lot of marriage conferences and books to realize that is CERTAINLY NOT the case. A lot of the issues my husband and I have had were related to my misunderstanding of this fact...Let's make sure we teach our daughters the truth--and their beautiful role in marriage and family as explained in the Bible. Phebe

Lucy said...

Great post Katherine, you're very inspiring.

Emily said...

Katherine, I just really like you.

Praying for you and the Raising Five fam here in Wheaton!!

Emily :-)

Keri said...

I'm a little late commenting on this, but I have to echo everyone else's kudos to you for discussing such a tender topic.

I also have to tell you that you're now my husband's all-time favorite blogger!!! :-)

Unknown said...

Hey - just wanted to say I have appreciated these posts. Thank you for writing them!!

I am in the chapter with 3 (almost 4) little tiny kiddos, and I am definitely in the "exhausted by 7pm" camp. I agree with everything you said about his needs and understand the struggle to carve out that time to look into each other's eyes, be romantic, and just love each other without interruptions / distractions. Thanks for the encouragement; this is the kind of thing I think young women in the church need to see and hear from our Titus 2 mentors who have been there!

Laura said...

Katherine - you are simply crowned as one of the wisest bloggers out there for Christian women. Well done here. This is an issue for us, and I know that when I step up, my husband does too, in all the ways that I need.

ravengal said...

Though we women are specially equipped to enjoy physical intimacy, I think many of us see physical pleasure as the exclusive domain of men. God designed both sexes to enjoy marital sex. Don't cheat yourselves of this wonderful blessing. Like exercise, don't wait for the energy to get started. The energy flows WHEN you get going!!