"One thing that helped me was for Richard
to tell me honestly about his needs."
Rare are the husband and wife who have not at times bounced unhappily over rocks in the road of marital lovemaking. It is an enigma that something so enjoyable should be the source of so much tension and conflict, yet many testify that it is, and we are among them. It would be good for you to hear this story from Mary's vantage point.
"Before we married, I was convinced that I was going to enjoy sex immensely. I would never tire of it. Maybe other couples would struggle in this area, but not us. Sex would be no problem for us! It took no longer than the first night of our honeymoon to discover that I was wrong.
"The first hurdle for me was that I was unable to consummate the sexual act immediately because of fear. Feelings of failure, frustration and hurt welled up within me, expressed outwardly by tears. Richard was patient, loving and gentle with me and within a few days we were able to say, 'Yes, we are truly one.' It was a rough beginning, but now that it was behind us everything was going to be all right--I thought.
"But to my amazement I found that I could tire of sex quite easily, that often I just wanted to be held and kissed without having sex. I also found that my young husband never got tired of sex. At least that's the way it appeared to me. There were times when I thought I had married an animal, that no other man wanted sex as much as he did. I used to tell him that if sex were right and good, then God would make me want it as much as he did. And since I didn't want it that much, it must not be what God desired. That sounded so very logical to me. It was another stress point in a stress-filled relationship.
"I have since discovered that while some women desire sex more than their husbands, the majority feel much as I do, and their husbands much as Richard does. He turned out to be a perfectly normal man after all. But no one had instructed us about the differences between men and women before we married, and so we kept muddling along as best we could. But I knew sex was part of God's plan for marriage and an important part of a healthy marital relationship, and I knew I had to find a way to work through my problem.
"One thing that helped me was for Richard to tell me honestly about his needs, to explain to me his desire for my body, to show me in the Scripture God's viewpoint on sex. God actually instituted it all the way back in the garden of Eden. 'For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed' (Genesis 2:24,25).
"Solomon said, 'Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; be exhilarated always with her love' (Proverbs 5:18,19). The apostle Paul put it like this: 'Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control' (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). The writer to the Hebrews added this note: 'Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge’ (Hebrews 13:4).
"I did some serious thinking about these passages in God's Word and became convinced that sex was good, created by God even before Adam and Eve sinned, that it was perfectly proper for a husband to desire his wife's body--that our bodies actually did belong to each other. I realized that I had to set my mind on doing what I knew was right. It would be an act of obedience. I had to consider my husband and his needs before my own feelings. That's what the Lord wanted me to do. It occurred to me that I could be thankful for a husband who was willing to share his needs and desires with me, and who would help me work through some of my inhibitions with gentleness and understanding.
"I have come to see that the choices I make in this area of life are extremely important. I can choose to turn my husband down, which carries with it the danger of making him feel rejected, or I can choose to accept his love willingly and respond positively to a kiss or a hug, even if at that moment I do not feel like doing so.
"There have been times when I have hesitated to respond positively because I thought it would mean we had to jump right into bed. When I explained that to Richard, he understood and he endeavored to show me in a variety of ways that I was not just a sexual object, but that I was important to him as a person. He also tried to be more sensitive to my feelings and desires before approaching me sexually.
"But as hard as he has tried, the whole issue of our sexual relationship continues to be a learning and growing experience for me. There are still times when I have problems. But I start at the beginning again and remind myself that sex is good, that it comes from the Lord, that it is pleasing to Him for me to give my body to my husband, that I have a choice to make and that no one else can make it for me, but that the Lord will help me fulfill my responsibility as a wife when I step out by faith and obey Him.
"And I have made a surprising discovery. When I respond as I know the Lord desires, I usually find myself enjoying sex far more than I thought I would. Seeing God work in this way has been a fulfilling adventure. I have also discovered that sex benefits me physically. When I am uptight, it relieves the pressure I am experiencing. And sometimes it actually relieves the headaches. The excuse, 'I have a headache' has long since disappeared from our house. Now if I say that I have a headache, Richard knows that I am suggesting that I want to make love."
That's a summary of our story about sex through Mary's eyes. It has not been particularly easy for her to tell it, nor for me to agree to her telling it. But we tell it for one reason only, and that is to encourage others who may be facing similar difficulties.
I would like to add a few comments from where I stand. I think my sexual expectations in marriage were much too high because of some literature I read from the world's distorted perspective before I was married. Men who consume the world's "fantasy" view of sex expect their wives to perform as the women in that unrealistic dream world, and they seldom do. When we stay with God's perspective and unselfishly seek to minister to our wives' sexual needs in ways that please them, rather than expect them to pleasure us in ways that they may find offensive, we will find ourselves enjoying true sexual fulfillment.
That is not to say that variety and experimentation in love-making are wrong. But it is to say that endeavoring to please our mates above ourselves results in sex at its best. And that is what we are discovering.
God created sex and He said it was good. If it is a problem in your marriage, spend a quiet evening together talking about your sexual needs and desires, being careful to maintain an open and understanding spirit.