The Two-Sided Secret of a Satisfying Marriage, Part 2
Men and women have differing needs. That fact is confirmed not only by the Bible, but by secular studies and research as well. Nearly all the studies I’ve seen in this area report that everyone has 10 or 12 basic needs, yet the top needs for women are very different from the top needs for men.
On practically all of the lists of needs that have been compiled, one particular need consistently shows up as being the most intense for men. A different need area almost always shows up as being most important for women. Would you like to know what your spouse’s “number-one” need is?
The “S” Word
It may come as no surprise to you that the number-one need for men is for sexual pleasure.
No doubt, some men reading this right now are thinking, Wait a minute, that’s not true for me. But those men are the exception, not the rule. In the overwhelming number of cases, sexual fulfillment is a man’s primary need in a marriage relationship.
That isn’t to say that the wife has no need for physical fulfillment, because she does. It is simply farther down on her list of priorities.
I see evidence of just how vital the physical part of the marriage relationship is to men almost every time a couple with marriage problems walks into my office for counseling. The man’s unfulfilled sexual needs are a trouble-making issue in nearly every case. That trouble can take many forms – extreme irritability and belligerence on the part of the husband, for one. He may not even be aware of it, but the sexual frustration he feels can produce resentment toward the wife.
Another even more disastrous result of a husband’s sexual needs going unmet is that it can lead to his involvement in sexual fantasy. On the surface, this may seem like a harmless activity. It’s not. Fantasy will invariably lead to adultery. Why? The Bible tells us that “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
No wonder God’s Word says in 1 Corinthians 7:4-5:
The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer….
This verse is the only place in all of Scripture where God makes meeting the needs of another person an absolute mandate. He is saying, “This is so important that you don’t have an option. When you’re not meeting that need for your spouse, you have defrauded him or her.”
I realize the subject of sex is rarely discussed in Christian circles. That’s probably one reason the Devil has been having such a field day in this area. We haven’t been shining the light of God’s Word on it, but it’s time we changed that. It’s time we began viewing sex in light of God’s plan.
Wives, you need to understand that when your husband expresses to you his need for sexual fulfillment, he’s not being carnal or worldly. He’s expressing something God put within him. One of God’s commands to Adam was to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” A man’s sexual needs make up the drive that compels him to bring eternal life into existence.
It’s an awesome thing when you think about it. We are the only beings other than God Himself who can create eternal life. When a child is conceived, an eternal being who never existed before comes into existence. That child will live forever, either in heaven or in hell.
Ladies, once you begin to see your husband’s desire as a God-given and vitally important part of the divine plan of creation and honor it as such, your marriage will take a giant step forward.
What Wives Really Want
Now that you know the number-one need in husbands, would you like to know what the researchers say is the number one need for wives?
That’s right, husbands. Just as strong as your need for sexual fulfillment is your wife’s need for affection. She has a very real, very powerful hunger for it.
Once again, researchers have stumbled upon a biblical truth in this area. Every study I’ve seen confirms that, as a rule, the wife’s primary need is for affection. Guess what? It’s been in the Word all along.
Ephesians 5:28 instructs husbands to “nourish and cherish” their wives as they would their own flesh. Nothing makes a wife feel as nourished and cherished as a husband’s display of affection. Some men are not as given to these displays of affection because they think it’s unmanly to show affection. A “real” man is hard, unfeeling, and independent, but that’s certainly not the case.
I remember one incident back when I was a pilot in training. My wife, Lynne, and I had only been married a few months. One day we were grocery shopping. As we walked along, we were holding hands and being very sweet and affectionate. Then I looked down an aisle and saw two of my pilot buddies walking toward us. Immediately I started trying to wriggle my hand out of Lynne’s. But the more I tried to get loose, the tighter she hung onto me. We ended up looking like we were arm wrestling. Of course, now I realize how foolish that was. I also understand the kind of message that must have sent to my wife.
Husbands, you have to get rid of the idea that affection is somehow unmanly. Your marriage depends on it. You’ve got to learn to show her affection whether you feel like it at that moment or not. She needs affection as much as you need the physical fulfillment of the marriage bed. But don’t confuse her need for affection with your need for sex. All too often a woman’s expression of a need to be held will be misinterpreted as a signal to initiate sex. She simply wants to feel close to him and he thinks it’s time to head for the bedroom. The result is that her need for affection goes unmet.
When this happens consistently, she can begin to feel frustrated and resentful. Often she will stop giving herself freely to her husband in the marriage bed. Then he begins to get frustrated because his sexual needs aren’t being met. It’s a destructive downward spiral.
Husbands, you need to realize how important this need is to your wife. It’s not silly. She’s not being unreasonable. She’s expressing a God-given need of the relationship.
But I’m just not an affectionate person. I don’t know how.
If you don’t know how to express affection, here are a few practical suggestions to help you get started.
Hug your wife and give her a kiss every so often. Do it without any sexual overtones or expectations. Just do it to show her you love her. Hold her hand. Whisper sweet nothings in her ear. Tell her how pretty you think she is. Send her flowers every now and then. Get creative. There are a thousand different ways to let your wife know that she’s your one-and-only. When all is said and done, what’s important is not the methods you use to express your affection, but the fact that you genuinely let your wife know that you’re blessed by her–that you’re proud of her, that she’s the crowning joy of your life and you’re never going to forget it.
If you’ll do that, I can guarantee that you’ll never have any problems with sexual fulfillment. The two things go hand-in-hand.
My needs, your needs. They’re very different but equally important. As you both unselfishly meet each other’s needs, you’ll be strengthening the relationship. Even better, you’ll be developing the kind of tightly bonded, one-flesh marriage that will make you “heirs together of the grace of life.”
Tune in each day this week for more information on what these top needs are for men and women.