Welcome to my His Needs, Her Needs series where my husband, Rob, and I share our thoughts and reviews of this great marriage resource. If you are just joining us, you can check out our opening post here.
He Needs Sexual Fulfillment
I’m a very private person; I don’t “kiss and tell.” Thus, this topic is somewhat awkward for me to write about with any personal detail. What I can say is that there was nothing too surprising about this chapter. Very clinical, it could be useful to a premarital couple that thinks they know all about sex but probably don’t. I would hope people who have been married a while are not surprised by the biology discussion. (As an aside, a good Christian “sex manual” is The Act of Marriage, if you can get past some of the male-centered tone of the book.)
I think the most important part about the chapter is to recognize that there is a bit of a dance that goes on in marriage in regards to her need for affection and his need for sex. If you are lacking in your need, it makes you less likely to feel like meeting the other’s need – which in turn makes them less likely to meet your need, and so on. A nasty downward spiral to be sure. But the good news is that the opposite will happen if you are willing to make the first move in meeting your spouse’s need. As Harley states, “Meet your spouse’s needs as you would want your spouse to meet yours.” This is a life-long dance I have admittedly not mastered.
As I’ve stated before, and probably will continue to state, I’m not the typical guy in most areas. But I am a guy, and sex is a major need, there’s no denying it. It’s biologic, yes; but more importantly it is one of the ways I emotionally connect with my wife, because of how powerfully intimate and secret it is.
Yes, secret; it’s the best word I can use here. It’s just between me and her. We saved ourselves for marriage, which is pretty much unheard of today. I have no regrets about that decision; I love that we waited. No one else knows me like she does; no one else knows her like I do. And as long as the two of us continue to strive towards loving each other, it will always be that way.
Bethany will probably be saying more, but that’s all I’ll share about our secret.
This is a weird topic for us to write about. Maybe it’s because we are not the typical couple or maybe we are more typical than we realize. During the first year of our marriage I was a full time student, more than full time really. My husband worked a bank customer service job where he served an average of 3 customers a week. We used to fight about sex. But I was the one angry about lack of intimacy. We were in non-typical roles for that season. Anti-depressants can have a difficult effect on male libido, especially frustrating to newlyweds. We adjusted our expectations and tried to keep communicating. Five years later he weaned off his medication, and we had to adjust again. Then came parenthood.
I had a horrific postpartum recovery, with extreme pain during sex for almost a year. I say this without embarrassment because at the time I thought I was alone and no one had ever told me about such a thing. Breastfeeding may be good for the baby but it isn’t kind to your intimate life. Don’t suffer in silence. Talk to your doctor or midwife, and let them know the emotional and physical toll this is taking on you.
At the same time, my husband was descending into a deep clinical depression. It was a rough year. But we got through it. When baby number two came along, I was anticipating the same kind of difficult adjustment period, but I was prepared to get medical help ASAP. But as it turned out it wasn’t needed. But what I was lacking was energy and time. With two kids, we barely had a moment alone. One or the other was always awake and needed something. We felt like we’d never have sex again. Seriously, want to do a good friend a favor? Take their kids on a Saturday afternoon so they can have sex alone in their own home.
So where are we now? We’re striving to find our equilibrium again. We work at it, because sometimes it seems easier in the short term just to do it less, but in the long term our relationship suffers for it.
Plan sex. Yep, that’s it. I know it sounds so unromantic, but it actually can be incredibly romantic. Anticipation can be fun. I’m not saying never give into spontaneous arousal, but don’t count on it and certainly don’t wait for it. A satisfying sexual relationship, especially after children, is like a thriving garden. It requires planning, and work but will produce the wonderful fruit of a happy marriage.
Now for you ladies who don’t get why this is so important, you don’t have to understand why it matters. You just need to decide if you love him enough to try. As we plow through these chapters you will find lots of things that are important to one spouse and not the other. This is where we have to choose as wives to invest ourselves in things that may or may not matter that much to us. Yes, having a satisfying sex life is important to me. It provides an important link to my husband and let’s face it, when done well, it’s fun. But my idea of satisfying may look different than his.
Men; talk to your wives. Don’t think she’ll guess what you want and how often you want it. Ladies: talk to your husbands. If you are too tired, tell him and give him ways to help. Would you be more in the mood if he helped with the dishes, put the kids to bed, or let you take a shower alone (or perhaps not alone)? Tell him. He can’t do what you don’t ask.
Next: She Needs Conversation
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