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?
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?