It’s no secret that men think about sex a lot. Research shows that women do too, but as a guy who regularly talks to a girl—I’m pretty sure that men think about sex a lot differently than women do. Sure, both sexes think about sex. How could we not in a culture that divinizes sex? But even if the world wasn’t so infatuated with sex, there is still a healthy way to look at it. God has gifted humanity with the blessing of sex—and it is not an evil thing to enjoy within God’s beautiful design. But I think about sex in a different way than my wife does. Because of this difference, Gina and I thought it would be helpful for a husband and a wife to offer some perspective on a variety of issues related to sex and marriage. Since we’re a husband and a wife, it might as well be us. What follows is our take on a handful of questions.
Question: You said that you think about sex in a different way than your wife does. Could you explain this difference?
I drive a sports car that runs off testosterone. I’m not the speedster or brand new car that I once was in my early twenties, but I still have higher levels of T than my wife does. What this means is that I’m hardwired for sex in a way that my wife is not. My engine can be revved at a moments notice, and that makes me different from my wife. We’re different, but unique.
As a woman my hormones dictate whether or not I will be in the mood. There are days when the absolute last thing on my mind is sex and others when I cannot wait for my husband to walk through the door. My body has grown babies and fed them for months on end so switching gears from mom to wife has been an issue for me. I am also being touched, grabbed, and am constantly needed by three young kids all day long. At the end of the day I just want to go to the bathroom by myself. My role as a mom and as a 24/7 caretaker clearly takes a toll on my body and mind. This of course affects my desire to want sex or think about it.
The funny thing is that before marriage sin makes you think of nothing else other than sex. At least, that was the case for me while I was dating my husband. I couldn’t wait for the day we could lie down together and wake up next to each other. But now that I can have intimacy whenever I want, it doesn’t become an insatiable need because it is always available.
Question: This seems like a pretty big difference between you two. How do you overcome it?
I can’t begin to love her in the way she needs to be loved if I don’t seek to first understand her. Knowing that my wife doesn’t work the same way I do helps me manage my expectations. For our first two years of marriage, I thought it was the same for both of us. Maybe it was at the beginning. We had a lot of time together to explore one another in our early years, partly because we lived in our own apartment and partly because it was before kids. But a lot can change in just a few years. The only way to overcome this difference now is by both of us giving up ourselves in some way in order to gain each other. We have to die to ourselves in order to live together. The only way we can do this is because of our faith. Christianity is like this. Jesus died in order to bring new life. Only through death are we given life. The great mystery is that although we lose much, we gain more through what is lost. We overcome obstacles that otherwise are too great for us to overcome because Christ achieved victory through dying to himself.
Communication. Communication. Communication. The only way to combat our differences in how we think about and experience sex is simply by talking it out. We have to talk about our desires and expectations. If I simply told my husband “no” every time he asked for sex but did not explain why I answered like that he could easily think I no longer was attracted to him or loved him, which is never the case. Most of the times I cannot truly explain why I was not in the mood other than my body was simply tired. After listening to some great podcasts I have been encouraged to put my selfishness aside and pursue my husband more in this way because it is a desire of him. The fact that my husband desires me should be enough for me to want to be with him and I think acknowledging the gift before, a husband who desires me helps me to push past my exhaustion and to be present with him. Another great thing that has worked for us is getting away for a night or two alone. The times where we got a nice hotel for the night are times that I am not distracted by kids, to-do lists, laundry, and dishes and can focus solely on my marriage. These little moments away to regroup as a couple have only strengthened our relationship and also is good for our kids to see that after God, mommy and daddy come first.
Question: What do you do when your sex life or marriage is in a rut?
What I should do is pray and talk to my wife about what's going on inside, and if I can't talk to her to at least speak to a friend about something related to it so we can get out of the rut. But sometimes I won't do what I should and I’ll just bottle it up and lash out at others in small ways. I’ll get angry easily. Feel agitated. Accuse others. Blame-shift. So I don’t always do what I ought. On a good day, I'll pray Lord have mercy on us, and we will talk about what's going on.
When I am in a rut I pray, listen to podcasts, reach out to a really close friend that I trust., but many times it doesn't bother me because sex is not always on my mind. I think it is normal to believe that our sex life and marital matters should stay between only the husband and wife. I even remember our pre-marital meetings where we were told about the circle of trusts and what should be kept only between the two and not shared with anyone else. The problem with this is sometimes there are things that only someone of the same gender would understand. This is where a friend who shares similar life circumstances with you and whom you can trust can be a lifesaver. To be totally honest, the selfish side of me will almost always wait for Nick to bring it up because I have other things consuming my mind.
Question: How do you pursue one another?
The apostle Paul encourages the husband to “love his wife as himself” (Ephesians 5:28, 33). I think he says this because men have no trouble at all with loving ourselves. But if we want to truly love ourselves, we are called to die to ourselves and to live for our spouse and our children. I pursue my wife mainly through mini dates (date night), or bringing home flowers, and planning out as many vacations as possible for us to get away and reconnect. I used to pursue G a lot more than I do now. I remember writing her lots of notes and cards in our earlier years, now those are more of an afterthought. With the kids, work, and church responsibilities it is so much more difficult than it used to be for us to feel close. We had a pretty rocky year in 2015 adjusting and catching up with life, but this year has been a lot better. I’d say some of the biggest changes have been us texting more throughout the day. I think it’s important that G knows she’s still first in my mind, even though we’re not with each other all day long.
This question in itself is convicting. I don’t pursue my husband most of the time. When he walks through the doors at 4:30 PM my patience is at an ultimate low and it is the countdown before bedtime for the kids. Sadly, there are days when I do not acknowledge him when he comes in the house because I am preoccupied with what is going on at the moment. My husband pursues me and if it were not for him taking the time to arrange a babysitter for date nights or asking for time with him I can see myself often forgetting to pursue my husband. Don’t get me wrong though he is my best friend and we talk and laugh together all day but pursuing him in a way that makes him feel loved and wanted is the hard part for me.
Question: Is it okay to talk to a friend or mentor about your sex life when you have questions?
With anything, you need to exercise wisdom. I have seen the benefits of reaching out to a friend to talk about sex but I also know there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed. Marriage is between one man and one woman so when if I am discussing matters of sex I make sure I 1. Am not putting my husband down; 2. Am not allowing that person too deep into our personal circle; and 3. Am not saying anything that my spouse would be embarrassed of me to share. If you are going to someone to seek encouragement, prayer, and advice it should only help your marriage and not hinder it. When we only speak to friends and mentors and not our spouses about matters in the bedroom that is when problems can arise. I do not think the church or even circles of friends talk about this enough though.
Yes, I do think there is an appropriate time to speak with someone else about intimacy issues and I agree with my wife’s response above. If anyone does decide to open up to a close friend about their sex life, it’s hard to walk this fine line without falling off on either side. But there are seasons of life when you just need some help. Sometimes we need encouragement and unfortunately our own sin and selfishness can cause our hearts to become embittered toward our spouse. When that happens, we do need a word to come from outside of us to either A) knock some sense into us (guys need this from time to time) or B) remind us of Christ’s sacrificial love for us; his bride and church.
Question: Doesn't sex with the same person in mostly the same ways get boring? How can you live life in a monogamous relationship?
Monogamy is widely assumed to be dull and outdated today. People assume that having the same sex with the same person is going to inevitably be very boring. But the opposite is true. Having a new partner on any given night is what actually gets old fast. With the emergence of Tinder (and other hook-up apps), sex is easy and frankly, it's cheap. There is nothing costly about Netflix and Chill sex. There is no sacrifice or time involved; it's just one and done. The problem with this is since there's nothing to lose in a one night stand, there is, therefore, nothing to gain.
This is true in gambling: the higher the stakes the greater the prize. Who wants to play for pennies? Who wants to win a jackpot of nickels? But that's exactly what so many people are doing every day when they exchange a monogamous relationship for a one night stand. The lie is that hook-ups are more fulfilling, when in fact a hook-up dumps all meaning out of a relationship and reduces everything down to an orgasm. So no, sex with the same girl never gets boring. Each day that we grow in our love for one another only intensifies our experience of life in and outside of the bedroom. Every day there is much to lose, the stakes are so high, and therefore there is much gained.
I don't think sex has ever been boring for me. There is much more involved than just the act of sex. When I am intimate with my husband it is a physical, spiritual, and emotional encounter. It requires me to be vulnerable, exposed, and is a time to put any shame aside and to be me. I cannot fully answer the monogamous question because I think being in just one relationship, to one man requires so much in itself that the thought of relating to another man on any level would be overwhelming. My husband knows all of my sin, all of my flaws, my weaknesses, and my strengths. I often wonder how someone can be with more than one person because of what it takes to be truly intimate with just one person.
Tim McGraw has a song (“Humble and Kind”) that sums up my thoughts on monogamy pretty well:
Know the difference between sleeping with someone, and sleeping with someone you love.
But to answer the first question more directly, no. Sex in my experience is never boring. I don't think you need a book of new and exciting tips and tricks to make your bedroom life more interesting. Sex is much more than “just sex.” Each and every time we come together we are glorifying God and with that I believe God is sanctifying us to sacrificially love one another not only in that brief moment, but for the rest of the day and the rest of our lives too.
Talking with your spouse about sex is a worthwhile investment. There is no one else in the world that we can be closer to. Our hope is that sharing our experience about what helps us will foster a desire to open up to your spouse about sex.
Are there any important questions to ask that we missed? Feel free to ask more questions in the comment section.
*This post first appeared on my wife's blog, Baby Blue Mom.