By Dr Olubusola Ijaduola-Komolafe.
We usually approach life assuming that others see things the way we do.
Among the many things to consider, one element we often don’t understand or overlook is that how we view life is affected by the result of our biological make-up either as a male or female.
The way we are wired doesn’t make us better or worse than the opposite gender; it makes us human and unique.
When gender harmony is reached between husband and wife, you see it as part of God’s mighty work and you praise Him. When disunity is reached instead, you might see harmony as unobtainable.
We need to recognize our differences and then learn to accept them. They don’t go away. Skill or wisdom regarding gender differences is important in any marriage and it’s even more essential because of the specific obstacles to overcome.
Sex is the fiber of your relationship. It is the act that distinguishes you from roommates and offers a way of revealing yourselves to each other that is uniquely yours. At its best, sex is a channel for communication and connection between you and your partner.
At its worst, sex is a chore that begins to feel like a mere echo of the pleasure you once shared. When you got married, emotions ran high as you explored and lubricated in each other.
As real life inevitably intrudes on your relationship, it’s essential to find ways to tune back in those days when everything was exciting. Both partners need to feel satisfied with what is going on in the bedroom. The key is making it work for the two of you and compromise is the key.
In order for sex to be successful in a relationship, women and men must work to understand what the other partner needs. One of the struggles every married male I have interviewed has is with his in-born, hormonally pressured interests in sex beyond marriage.
These I call “sexual distraction.” A husband may love his wife very dearly.
He may be extremely satisfied with his sexual encounters in his marriage. And then when walking down the street, in his office or just sitting on a park bench reading a magazine, or even in his own home watching the TV or surfing the internet, his thoughts turn to other women.
He sees someone attractive and wonders about her sexuality. Anecdotally, at least, he undresses the woman in his imagination, and entertains fantasies of a sexual rendezvous or being ravaged by her.
This is a good man, the “I truly love my wife” type. But then he says to himself, “why do I have to think about women this way?” Without any attempt to play the moral umpire research, however, has shown that men are morally less upright than women.
This is a fact that has nothing to do with how religious or conservative they are. If a male has been programmed with a lot of fantasy in early years, then he will continue to use fantasy as a sexual escape, no matter how satisfied he is sexually in his marriage.
To help with these issues I asked some of my conservative, religious good men to help with the survey.
About 32%, or one in three, married, morally upright and good men acknowledged that they were either extremely or strongly attracted to women other than their wives.
Many are bothered by the fact that they feel attracted to pretty women. The fact is, men notice attractive women, and they have to be blind and brain-damaged not to. No immorality is implied just because a man notices a pretty woman. It doesn’t end there; it might even get deeper to attraction in a sexual way which might lead to lust!
Men are very conscious of their propensity for lust. They are conscious of their roving eyes and feel more hypocritical than women in regard to their sexuality. Many wives know this but don’t want to hear or talk about it.
They withdraw into themselves and avoid sharing intimate, dark secrets that could jeopardize their marital happiness. Only 9% of my survey said they felt no sexual attraction toward other women. Not his fault, that is the way he is wired.
God placed in a man’s body an atomic bomb called testosterone. It fires him up sexually, and it doesn’t take much to set him ablaze. Men have many times the level of testosterone than women do, which in large part explains their heightened sex drive.
Men have been accused by women of being unfeeling beings but I found out that just like women, men are inherently emotional beings. It takes a woman to help develop emotional expressiveness and initiate the man into emotional intimacy. Men can’t learn on their own!
Why is there this huge difference between men and women? This is a very sensitive issue, so hang on! Most married adults have a basic knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the reproductive system, but that’s about as far as their knowledge goes.
Wives and husbands know they react differently to sexual drive and stimulation and that their sex drives vary, but they don’t understand the intricacies of their two very different systems. Lack of knowledge about technique is only one kind of ignorance.
Another has to do with expectations.
Below is a note from a concerned husband:
Dear Dr. B:
My wife and I have fallen into a pattern of having sex once a week—mostly on Sunday night. She insisted it has to be at night, this suits her fine because she is a schedule-oriented person. I don’t feel that she really wants to have sex but merely another item on her to-do list for the week. I try so hard to understand that this is just who she is, but I am beginning to resent her.
Try writing a letter to your wife, expressing your love and desire to be thoughtful husband. Point out the things you appreciate about her. Then let her know about your hurt and frustration – even how awkward you feel about telling her that. Then express how you really feel about this issue.
Discuss male sexuality in general, and then mention how you feel about being controlled in your sexual interaction. Indicate your longing to discover a more spontaneous solution for achieving oneness with her. Open, vulnerable, straight talk about your feelings and desires is the only way to avoid sounding critical or being forced to beg.
While you resent this path toward sexual intimacy, your wife may be unhappy about other issues, such as emotional intimacy. Sex for sex’s sake is not very appealing to a woman. But sex as the natural outcome of relational intimacy is very appealing.
As the two of you talk openly, you may discover a better way toward mutual satisfaction (it worked in my marriage, and the credit goes to my husband).
Of all the areas of tension in marital sexuality, frequency of sex is the most troublesome. How often, or rather the regularity of sex in a marriage can be filled with emotional baggage, such as anger, guilt, fear, jealousy, and shame.
Emotions such as anger, guilt, and shame affect a woman’s sexual response more than they do a man’s, perhaps because a woman opens herself to being penetrated. Becoming vulnerable is hard to do when a woman is in emotional turmoil.
So how often to have sex? You decide! My suggestion, however, is that if you’re struggling with differences in your sex drives then keep working toward sexual oneness. Sexual oneness is a process but it’s worth working for because it can bring satisfaction into every level of your marriage.
A good relationship is one in which both husband and wife learn to give in to the other at times, despite what they may want as individuals.
Authentic marital sexuality can be achieved only if the two are in agreement about their sexual interaction. There is no room for the misguided view that the husband initiates and dominates while the wife submits in obedience. Rather, 1 Corinthians 7:4-5 and Ephesians 5:21 assume mutual desire for and interest in lovemaking.
This requires sensitive communication between the couple about their sexual desires. Just as an orchestra plays “with one voice” when each instrument contributes its own unique part and the music is brought together in harmony, so a married couple reaches sexual harmony through communication and sensitive understanding of each other’s needs.
Having a good relationship with each other is among the most difficult tasks there is. It means you are looking at yourself honestly, while trying to join with another.
A loving relationship has to be an ongoing negotiation. It is not a battle for control or a one-way street, in which one partner is getting his or her needs met while the other is not. There has to be a clear understanding of what each person is capable of giving to the other.
By approaching life as a team, you make a pact that will compromise along the way, while also reaping the benefits of each other’s strengths. Like everything in life, our intimate relationships are a subtle negotiation.
They are a balance between passion and practicality, between getting and giving. Making your relationship work means juggling your needs and wants with your partner’s. It takes two to do the job!
Remember, good sex never starts in bed. Instead, marital sexuality should include an element of playfulness. Although game playing is destructive, a sexual relationship benefits from a sense of fun and playful interaction, which depend on an absence of self-consciousness or embarrassment about nudity and sexual involvement.
Honesty in communication, a healthy view of oneself and one’s body, and comfortableness with one’s partner are vital ingredients of being free to bring playfulness into a sexual encounter. Accordingly, the level of fun in a relationship is often a good measure of the degree of intimacy.
When two unite and truly become one, both should feel enveloped in love, security, respect, and trust. An understanding of the differences between man and a woman is the first step to a healthy sex life.
Is mutual sexual satisfaction really possible for every couple? Yes—and you as a man can make the difference! God designed sex to be a vital, passionate expression of marriage.
Your wife is a very complicated creature – emotionally, hormonally, spiritually, relationally, and sexually. Her variety and intensity may appear in the sexual realm as unpredictability and strong reactions – both of which can intimidate and confuse you.
To deny the multiple facets of womanhood is to reduce her to a single dimension—the sex object! Next week we’ll be talking about the woman’s sexual complexity as seen in anatomy and in sexual response!