Security in the Bedroom

I’ve had a theory for several years, in answer to the question: What do women want?

My response? Security.

By security, I don’t mean the “I’m a weak female, I need man!” cliché. Not at all. I simply believe that we women are comfortable and confident in our relationships when there’s a sense of security. Different women seek different types of security from their romantic relationships in different proportions. Some ladies are into strong, protective men — which appeals to a desire for physical security. Others are looking for ambitious and well-off types — for financial security. Some gravitate toward men who give affirmation, affection, and romance — emotional security. And of course, many of us Christian women want a guy with a deep faith — which gives us a sense of spiritual security.

Security is actually what Naomi wished for her daughters-in-law after their husbands all died: “May the Lord bless you with the security of another marriage” (Ruth 1:9).

But how about sexual security?

Cartoon couple sleeping in bed

Yes, I believe most wives want to feel secure regarding the marriage bed. This need for security can explain why the following situations are so detrimental to marital intimacy.

Insults about appearance. I’ve repeatedly touted that most husbands are very attracted to their wives, in spite of our imperfections, but sadly not all men. Some husbands do indeed critique their wives’ appearance. Putting her down for how she looks or pounds she gains or aging that happens makes her feel insecure in herself and in her sexual desirability. Even if a husband asks later to have sex, how likely is she to feel safe getting naked and showing her body?

Pushy requests for sex. Obviously, I’m an advocate for regular sexual intimacy in marriage. I go to bat all the time for husbands who want more sex with their wives, knowing this is a natural and God-given desire. However, a husband who aggressively pursues the sex act without regard to his wife’s emotional needs or her physical pleasure can make the marriage bed an insecure place. She may wonder if she’s only there to satisfy some animalistic lust of his. Does who she is matter, or would any female do? Is her pleasure important, or is sex only about him?

Comparisons to others. Most women have a tendency to compare themselves to others, wondering if they can ever measure up to models on magazine covers, supermoms who make parenting look like a cakewalk, co-workers who seem to have it all together, and more. (If this is an issue for you, check out The Woman I Am.) Thus, it’s even more damaging when a hubby adds to that burden by comparing his wife to others when it comes to lovemaking. “Why aren’t you more adventurous like X?” “My last girlfriend loved doing Y.” “I never had a problem making my ex-wife climax.” Whatever form the comparison takes, it yanks away the sense of exclusivity and safety. Having to prove yourself worthy in your own marital bedroom doesn’t make you feel secure.

Porn. A wife whose husband is into porn isn’t simply satisfying his own lust (which is bad enough). He’s undermining his wife’s sense of safety. Knowing that he looks at other unclothed women makes her doubt her own beauty, her ability to fulfill his sexual needs, her desirability, and the exclusivity she should enjoy in her husband’s mind and bed.

Adultery. Having your husband cheat with another woman ups that ante on insecurity. When a spouse gives away what should belong only to his mate, trust is damaged. Questions creep into her mind about her appeal, his love for her, and what the other woman offered that she didn’t. (Which, by the way, is a feeling, not truth. Because even if you need to change something about your marriage, his cheating is his sin, not yours.)

Rejection. Contrary to the typical storyline, every day in many marriages, the wife is being turned down for sex. Her husband is refusing or withholding sexual intimacy from her. Since she’s heard all her life how sex-driven men are, the reality of her husband’s rejection is especially painful. Is there something specifically wrong with her? (See Does Your Husband’s Rejection Make You Doubt Yourself?) Very likely, no; most sexual refusal in marriage is a problem within the person refusing. However, the constant rejection can undermine your confidence, make a wife doubt her appeal and her relationship, and foster emotional insecurity.

Now that I’ve completely depressed everyone about the many causes of insecurity in the marriage bed, what’s the answer?

The answers are specific to the problems. Certainly, when you feel unsafe on a wooden bridge with broken slats, fixing the bridge will remove that sense of insecurity.

But start here: Proverbs 3:26 says, “…the Lord is your security.” Grounding yourself in His love, finding your identity and worth in His care, can give you the confidence to see these problems as they are. These challenges are not about you as a person, but rather your husband’s personal struggles or relational issues to be addressed.

When you reintroduce security into your own heart and soul, you can begin to rebuild security in your marriage bed. That may require difficult but necessary conversations, setting boundaries, seeking counseling, finding mentors or accountability partners. It may require emotional vulnerability, ongoing prayer, and serious changes.

But God wants your marriage bed to be a secure place — an intimate harbor from the storms of life. He desires your marriage to be a place of love and safety. Start with God as your security, and then seek security in your bedroom.

What makes you feel insecure in your marriage bed? Or how have you found security in your marital bedroom?

18 thoughts on “Security in the Bedroom

  1. Joy

    There is another security you missed. When we are not a team. There is enough money to pay the bills, we live in a nice place, we just seem to be roommates not teammates. He chooses himself first. So after many years the wife can feel a little less trusting.

    1. J Post author

      I don’t think I covered all the types of securities wives desire. And yes, that isolated feeling can undermine security. I’m saying a prayer for you.

  2. libl

    This may fall into the refusal section, but we have sex frequentky, but my pleasure is on the back burner. No foreplay, and he will not take responsibility for my pleasure. I have to masturbate while on him even though oral and manual.from him are even better for me pleasure-wise. He either refuses or begrudgingly half-baked puts in minimal effort. We’ve talked, fought, gone over excerpts from books, etc, but he simply won’t. His reason* I take too long (5-20 minutes).

    How can I be completely open and vulnerable with him when he feels that way? I pray all the time for God to change his heart. Sex emotionally hurts every time. I don’t refuse him, but I want tp many times.

    1. J Post author

      I suspect there are plenty of men who’d like to take your hubby out and say, “What are you thinking, man?? 20 minutes to rock her world? Do it!!!”

      That said, the question is what do you do about his attitude. It’s definitely affecting your pleasure and security. My initial reaction was “boundaries.” I don’t know if the Boundaries in Marriage book by John Townsend and Henry Cloud deal at all with sexual issues, but they do instruct on how to set reasonable boundaries withing your marital relationship that are respectful. You’re not merely there sexually to pleasure your husband; of course, that’s a role you want and should play, but sex in marriage should be mutually satisfying. Continue praying for a change of heart, but I’d also ask some questions about changing my own actions to see if I can help him see a new perspective.

      Hope something I said helps! You have my prayers.

  3. P

    I admit that in the past I failed in appreciating my wife. Now (we are both in or 70s) I am trying to love her as commanded by Paul in Eph5:25-33 and it has made an amazing difference. I make sure to let her know regularly that she is the most wonderful and beautiful woman in the world to me. I remind her that I am glad I that she married me. We both make sure that whenever we part our last words are “I love you”. Our last words in bed at night are the same or something similar. We pray together every day for our marriage. Our marriage keeps getting better and better and our love making is more thrilling and satisfying to us both than ever before.

    1. Robin2014

      To “P” , I commend you, better late than never! Personally during my 26 years of marriage my husband has been guilty of all of the above stated points except for Adultery(that I know of). Ironically for the past couple of years he has been seeing me in a “different light”. It is very hard for me not to question his new behavior and feelings towards me without still living in the past. He and his actions opened, in me the windows of self doubt, self conscience, self worth and major lack of “security”. Just two days ago I was able to express to him how that truly felt and still feels. I am sure he does not comprehend the damage that he has done. No matter how much time has passed, the feelings of discomfort, isolation and detachment still keeps popping up, Many times I feel that I was stolen from, all the dreams that I had for close intimate marriage was wiped out by words and actions. Sometimes I feel that I will never be able to get over the hurt no matter what I try. Any apologies that he makes sound pretty minimizing,
      like I should just get past it. My wounds are pretty deep.

      1. J Post author

        Even deep wounds can heal. Seek that healing, and continue in prayer and love. I’m saying prayers for you two as well.

  4. P

    Robin, my heart aches for you. You do say that he has changed recently. I am no marriage counsellor but all I can say is for you to remember how much Christ has forgiven and continues to forgive in His followers. Pray that He will grant you a forgiving heart to help you in turn to forgive your husband. Our marriage has gone from good to great since I changed MY attitude towards my wife whom I know is God’s gift to me. I pray that yours will also improve. Nothing is impossible for God.

  5. The Man

    Couple of comments:

    1. I read recently (and I’m sorry I can’t find the link right now) that actually, when a woman is secure in a long term relationship, that actually decreases her desire for sex.

    2. I would take issue that male rejection is degrees worse for the wife than the reverse. Any difference would be only a matter of degree, but I can tell you from experience that it is degrading, and hurtful in the extreme, eventually leading me to the verity that I don’t want a darn thing I have to beg for – I’m too good for that.

    1. J Post author

      1. Well, I’ll link to one study myself that said this (maybe it’s the one you were thinking of?): Security ‘Bad News for Sex Drive’ I’d argue with researchers’ conclusions. Given that the women reported wanting more tenderness as well, I have to wonder if a long-term relationship is insufficient for a wife to feel secure — that she needs more. (Also, I generally balk at human sexuality being compared apples-to-apples with animals, because God made us different in many ways.) Maybe what really needs to happen is for married couples to expend the same level of effort — albeit with a different focus at different seasons of marriage — as they did in the first few years of their relationship. Maybe that intense commitment actually enhances a sense of security…and a desire for sexual passion. There’s my two cents on that.

      2. And rejection just hurts. I hear that from both husbands and wives. I do think husbands have historically had greater empathy from others, but that is changing. My heart aches for your situation, which is all too common. I pray it improves!!!

  6. Paul Byerly

    Great thoughts J, thanks.

    I could argue men want sexual security too – as in being secure about getting it. If either spouse is lacking in sexual security, I suspect they react by doing things that upset the sexual security of the other. And around and around they go…

  7. M

    To The Man-

    I’d just like to say that I think you’re very wrong about rejection being harder for guys. How is it harder for guys? I feel like it’s worse for girls because the cliché is that all guys want sex so bad and when we’re rejected by our husbands, and want more sex than them, we feel doubly hurt. Like something is wrong with us for wanting sex so much. And it’s our fault that they don’t want sex with us, because all guys want sex and so we just aren’t good enough. But as J said, rejection is hard. No matter which spouse. I just wanted to straighten out that it’s hard for us too.

    Also, I’m in a secure long term relationship (married), and I want sex all the time. My husband is mine forever. And we were pure until marriage, so once married we got to delight in each other finally. And it never gets old because it’s something we valued and treasured and worked for. It’s a blessing. It just gets better. Definitely don’t feel decreased desire, but maybe that’s just me..

    M

    1. The Man

      Didn’t suggest that rejection is worse for men, only that in my opinion it wasn’t any less that for the ladies. I frankly am not sure how you grade on a continuum what the pain of rejection by a spouse. It seems rather binary.

      Now, I could make a case that it is worse for men. Because unlike a woman, a man contending with a lack of sexual connection in marriage is not terribly likely to receive a great deal of sympathy. Pop culture makes great sport of the clueless man, only interested in sex and how his desires are illegitimate and his refusing or gate-keeping spouse is finally able to exercise control of her body and how terrific it is for men to be abandoned in marriage. I have seen television show, after television show that carries this subtle sub plot.

      Sex positive, intentional Christian women are the exception and not the rule. Many people wouldn’t even classify what happens to men and women whose spouses are complacent, or outright hostile to working to maintain a vibrant marriage as rejecting their spouse, simply as maintaining their autonomy. Maybe that is the correct view but I don’t think so. I reflect often on how things are in my marriage and how being a loving, attentive, and industrious in the relational department spouse, hasn’t really resulted in what I wanted my marriage to be.

      so, back to the statement of I don’t want a darn thing I have to beg for, and who knows what happens when our primary points of mutual interest move on to live their own lives. It will be sink or swim time.

  8. A

    I would make two points:
    1) lack of desire in a long-term committed relationship has nothing to do with the fact that its a long term relationship, and everything to do with something else, such as drifting apart emotionally or some breach of trust by one of the partners.
    2) I think its a complete waste of time to argue over whether sexual rejection is worse for a man or a woman. Its just bad, period. When the ONE who is SUPPOSED to want you sexually would rather play a game on his or her tablet than climb into bed with you, it hurts equally as bad for either gender.

    Security is huge for my wife, and especially security in the bedroom. Early in our marriage when she discovered me looking at porn, we both discovered I am a sex addict. She lost every shred of trust and respect she once had in me, and nearly walked out on me. At that point, the very thought of sex with me repulsed her so much so that she recoiled in disgust when I reached out for her even in a non-sexual way. I successfully fought to save the marriage, and I can now say we have a good marriage, and that she feels secure (because I worked hard to make that possible) but that security does not make her want sex. She no longer recoils in disgust, but she does not respond when I express sexual interest in her either. The damage that was done in those early days is still there, and Its that damage, and not the state of our relationship, that makes her not want sex.

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