In working with couples it is quite evident that men and women each assign different meaning to lovemaking. It is common, and not terribly surprising that many women do not fully understand the nature of the sexual relationship from a man’s perspective. To be fair, men have a difficult time comprehending the nature of the sexual relationship from a woman’s perspective as well.
Sex is the Highest Form of Love
For women, having sex does not necessarily equate with feeling love. That seems to be a learned behavior. For a majority of women, it’s just not the primary way (or initial way) they feel love.
Not true for a man. For many if not most men sex is the epitome of love. Most wives would be hard pressed to find a better way to express their love to their husbands than by willingly and enthusiastically engaging in sexual intimacy with them.
One man explained it this way:
My wife has basically given up on having a healthy intimate relationship with me. To fill that void she goes out of her way to perform all of her other wifely duties. She keeps a meticulously clean house, is a fantastic cook, and in every other way is amazing. What frustrates me is that although those things are important I would ten times rather have an affectionate, loving relationship with my wife than any of those other things.
When enough time goes by, and she senses my frustration building, she’ll throw me the “obligatory bone” sexually, which has about has much romantic feel as taking out the garbage. My wife says that in order for her to get physically worked up for a satisfying sexual experience, it will take her three or four days of just mentally focusing on it, and that is only if nothing like a cross word or problem with one of the kids occurs . . . What are the chances?
It’s very difficult to not let a cross comment slip when there is so much built-up frustration. And then to make it even more frustrating, when she does respond you know that it is purely out of duty, and not because she desires it. She says she loves me, which I believe. It’s just a physical/mental desire thing, she says. It’s not that she’s not attracted to me, it’s just the physical desire for sex isn’t there. She has mentally given-up and moved on to other things.
A Pinnacle of God’s Creations
A lot of the men I work with find themselves in what might be described as a sexual desert in their marriages. They long for that sexual closeness with their wives, but find that their wives do not engage them sexually as they would hope. This deprived state of being certainly heightens a man’s sexual senses. One man living in a sexual desert in his marriage wrote the following on the meaning of sex:
When a man feels the desire for sex there is a sense of anticipation, even anxiety or tension. It is often felt as a tightness in the chest and even some pressure in the head. This is difficult to describe because when I put it in words it sounds unpleasant, but it is not. If it continued indefinitely and without a pleasant climax, I am sure it would lead to a headache and be quite annoying and unpleasant. But it’s not.
These physical sensations are accompanied by an emotional headiness. A man feels bound and sealed to a wonderful future and a lack of will to fight it. The outside world begins to fade and have less effect on his senses.
All his senses begin to intensify, sharpen and focus on his wife. Each impulse from his senses intensifies the emotional and physical sensations. The smell of her perfume becomes very strong and intoxicating. He is convinced that he could detect it from the other side of the earth even diluted by a thousand winds. His vision feels like it is much more acute. Every feature on his wife contains a thousand beauties to hold his gaze. It feels to him that he cannot physically turn his eyes away. Even if he could what reason would there be?
If he catches her eyes and holds them for but a moment, a feeling of weightlessness comes over him, and he feels like he is growing small and moving towards those beautiful pools. Her eyes grow larger and larger in the intensity of his focus until they seem to be the entire world, a world where there is only peace and comfort. Each sense bleeds over into the others.
When he looks at her cheeks, he can feel them against his fingers. When he looks at her lips, he can feel them against his. He is convinced that he can feel it, but he discovers that he is wrong, for the powerful sensation of the actual touch is almost enough to overwhelm his faculties. It seems that he is supported only by the excitement and tension that he feels.
The excitement continues to grow until he knows that his only desire is to be one with her, to be inside her. The senses continue to sharpen and focus. The emotions continue to build beyond what he thought he could bear. By the time of climax, he is unconscious of an external world, he is only aware of the one person who used to be two.
There is much more that I should say here if you are to get a complete picture of what sex means to a man, however I think we can suffice it to say that the feelings and emotions build beyond imagination. And then in a matter of seconds, the feeling changes 180 degrees. What was the most beautiful exhilaration becomes the most consuming peace.
The tension melts almost instantaneously. It would be difficult for him to remember any troubles or cares of the world. All is right, all is peace. Every muscle relaxes, and he lies next to the keeper of his heart. She has the power to take him beyond the veil to taste of a heavenly pleasure beyond this world. Peace and calm as deep as any ocean envelop him.
Sleep comes easily and is often difficult to hold back. To sleep with her in his arms is the greatest peace attainable on this earth. The effects of this experience last through the night and into the morning, when he wakens to see her lying next to him. He comes to know the impossible: that it was not a dream.
Such pleasure, such happiness is possible and she has given it to him. She is now the focus of his existence. He would give his life to keep her from care.
His senses are still acute. The morning sun is brighter than he remembered. He cannot recall seeing a sky that blue before. Or, has the rain always smelled so new and fresh? It cannot be, this is a sudden change that has come over the entire world. Each detail is improved and perfected for he is complete and whole. He marvels at the change that has come over him.
He feels that his heart is no longer his own but lives within her. He fancies that if he strays too far from her side, its life-supporting power will attenuate, and he will die. Here is beauty beyond imagination. Here is the embodiment of all that is good and wholesome and desirable. Here is the pinnacle of all God’s creations, and she, in her mercy, has given herself to him.
Man sees no negative to sex, and numerous positives. Perhaps the most important thing is that most men will never feel closer (more intimate) to their wives than when they are actually inside of her sharing the most powerful expression of love, passion, openness and oneness available to mortals.
I don’t know if all men would concur with this characterization of what sex means to a man, but I think it’s safe to say that especially for men, sexual love communicates that they are loved in a way that little else can.
A Responsibility to Communicate
I do believe that for the sake of the marriage it is every husband’s responsibility to be sure that their wives understand what sex means to them, especially if the meaning is anything like what was shared above. What sex means to a woman may be so different that the intimate relationship has little chance of success without open and effective communication on this vital subject.
I am convinced that many women do not understand how important sexual love is to their husbands, nor do husbands fully understand how best to love their wives. It’s one thing if husbands and wives have these conversations, yet choose not to give the love the other desires, and quite another for two people to live their lives disconnected because either or both do not understand what the other wants and needs.
If husbands out there are unsure of whether their wives understand what sex means to them, maybe they can start with the eloquent portrayal given here and adjust it to fit them, then put it in writing for their wives. I’m a big advocate of couples communicating through writing. That may be a good way to go–on such a topic as this.
If you think it would be helpful, and if you can communicate in a way that your wife will be able to truly hear you, then it could be a turning point in your marriage. After seven years of marriage, one woman told her husband that she hated sex. Hearing that blew him away, but it began a conversation that now, many years later, has had a very positive impact on all aspects of their relationship.
Sex is a powerful form of love for both men and women. Men, especially, may assign great power to sexual love in their marriages. Understanding what sex means to each other and making efforts to meet each other’s needs is a basic trust within marriage.