Q&A with J: Why Did God Make Sex So Hard Sometimes?

Today’s reader question is a short one, with a longer answer.

I had (what I hope is) a quick question. I’ve read that for men, arousal tends to follow desire, whereas for women, desire tends to follow arousal.

Do we have any thoughts on why God created things this way, assuming it was not by accident?

Q&A with J: Why Did God Make Sex So Hard Sometimes?

My first thought is that God has quite the sense of humor. Not only do we have to get naked and get into these awkward positions to have sex, we have to figure out the one we love and all those ways they’re different from us. We plan for our sexual intimacy to look like a passionate love scene from a romance novel, and sometimes it ends up feeling more like putting together an IKEA bookshelf unit with no assembly instructions. (Not that I read the instructions anyway.)

It reminds me of this Yiddish proverb: We plan, God laughs.

We plan, God laughs.

However, God did not design us this way just to have a great big belly laugh, especially not at our expense. He is generous and wise, and I think He created such differences for a higher purpose.

That higher purpose is to make us more like Jesus. Yep, I really believe that.

It’s true that for many husbands, arousal follows desire. He wants sex; then sees, thinks about, or touches you; and bam! he’s ready to go. Yet for many wives, desire follows arousal. Which is why some wives feel they don’t have a sex drive, but if they choose to engage and become aroused . . . their libido kicks in. One way isn’t better than the other; they’re just different. Getting you both on the same page to feel arousal and desire together can be a challenge.

But if husband and wife approach sexual intimacy and satisfaction differently, then they must display traits characteristic of Jesus to get in harmony and experience the best in their marriage. The Bible says that’s how we should conduct ourselves in our relationships with each other, including marriage:

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

The passage following (Philippians 2:6-11) is quite possibly a hymn sung in the early church about Jesus’ humility and servant-mindedness as he left the throne of Heaven, became a servant on earth all the way to the cross, and was then exalted by God to the highest place — where He belongs.

And the verses before this one tell us about several Christ-like characteristics we should pursue:

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,  then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:1-4).

Did you see those traits? Tenderness, compassion, like-mindedness, love, unselfishness, humility, consideration of others.

I can’t assume my husband will approach sexuality the same way I do, so I have to make an effort to understand him, honor him, arouse him, and satisfy him. And he should make that effort for me. As we display that kind of tenderness, compassion, love, etc., we become less selfish and more like Christ.

Our sexual intimacy better mirrors the relationship we Christians have to our bridegroom, Jesus. We understand more about our spouse, but we also understand more about Christ and the loving, intimate relationship He wants with us.

I’m not saying that you can never pursue your own pleasure in the marriage bed. Jesus fed others, but he also ate and drank plenty, including at supper at people’s houseswedding celebrations, and a dinner in his honor. It’s okay to want the good stuff for yourself, but you must also attend to what your spouse needs.

God making us different forces that equation.

But it acts like a cycle too, where honoring one another’s different sexuality brings us more pleasure in the end anyway. Satisfying one another becomes satisfying for ourselves. I know that in the throes of ecstasy, when my husband is rockin’ my world with a capital R-O-C-K, I feel especially motivated to turn him on even more. Turning him on, turns me on. Turning me on, turns him on.

Sex often doesn’t start that way. It can be a choice one spouse makes to engage and allow their arousal to follow — often the wife, but it can be the husband who has less independent sex drive. And that higher-drive spouse — often the husband but not necessarily — needs to be patient and considerate of their beloved’s need to warm up more slowly.

Your mismatch in drives and arousal could be a big problem, but they could simply be a difference — a difference that pushes us toward being like Christ. Even in the marital bedroom.

So I don’t think God’s trying to make sex harder for us. He’s trying to make us better for one another and more like Him. Our calling is to embrace the sex drive we have or can cultivate and trust His generosity.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12).

20 thoughts on “Q&A with J: Why Did God Make Sex So Hard Sometimes?

  1. nylse

    As it relates to sex, I’m baffled as to why people feel it would be different from any other area of relationships. We are each different, you know – opposites attract, etc. Sex is just another area we get to navigate and figure out together…sometimes he’s in the mood, sometimes you’re in the mood…sometimes your coming together is “perfect” and sometimes it’s not. So what? You have each other, you can laugh, you can talk and figure it out. Sex is not the be all and end all in a marriage, though it is important. It’s another means of connecting and connection is always good.

    Reply
  2. B

    * sigh * I agree with you that God isn’t trying to make sex harder for us, but it is still so hard!

    My husband and I have issues in this area, like many folks, I suspect. However, the main issue is I want him far more than he wants me, and this makes me feel ugly and quite worthless. Even unworthy of his love. But hold on…

    Things are improving, we have finally been communicating better (after 20 years! – and for reference, I’m in my very early 40s and he is mid-40s, so there should be plenty of drive left, right?), and I’m starting to understand him a little better.

    But here is a perfect example of how my man drives me insane. Keep in mind during a rough time, for a couple YEARS, I initiated and was rejected more often than not. This left deep scars, but we are coming out the other side. He really seems to love me, and wants me to believe him, and claims he thinks I’m beautiful and he is attracted to me (although I still struggle with believing that). Ok, on to the example…

    My husband loves to work. He works all the time, usually outdoors, and he is an incredibly hard worker, skilled, in demand, and provides well. All good, right? Sure. Unless you’re the one who wants to spend time with him. Anyhow, he gets up at 4 am for work. So he’s exhausted by 7:30, 8:00 pm. I have a more traditional schedule, and kids on traditional schedules, so our schedules don’t match.

    I tried getting up really early to be with him in the morning (I read normal men like sex in the morning). But alas, in the morning my man is too focused on work, so busy thinking about all the jobs he’s got going and where he needs to go, and who needs what at which job, etc., that he simply doesn’t want to even think about me or sex at that hour. So no go in the morning.

    Well, as we’ve been communicating, he’s been loosening up. A little. Now yesterday afternoon he kept actually flirting with me. I think I might have even seen him actually check me out for the first time ever (but I don’t want to jump to conclusions). He was saying romantic things, even making sexual innuendos, and touching me at random times when no one was looking. All indications that perhaps he actually was interested. I allowed myself to think, “wow! Maybe this is what it feels like to have a husband that’s actually interested in you and willing to show it.” And then…

    I noticed he looked tired. And he mentioned his allergies were annoying him (it is bad here right now). So instead of doing the thing where I hint around and try to figure out if he’s interested, I flat out asked him. He looked at me with that SUPER ANNOYING “what am I supposed to say – what answer is she looking for?” look that I hate. I said, “I love the way you are flirting with me, but before I get all wrapped up in wondering, and we play the hinting around game, just tell me – are you looking for love, or not today?” And he said, “maybe it would be better if we just waited until tomorrow.”

    Bang! Balloon popped! Rejected – AGAIN. No big thing. I’m used to it.

    I didn’t make him feel badly. I said, “okay.” I do understand that he does get tired, plus I know he doesn’t find me all that enticing, anyway. But my question is, then why the flirting? Why the “sexual” hints? Why torture me? Why pretend? Why does this all have to be so complicated? (And no, we can’t schedule sex. I suggested that but he doesn’t find that “romantic” – and he finally admitted he’s afraid if we schedule it and then he’s too tired or not in the mood, then I’ll get my feelings hurt).

    Sex is WAY TOO HARD. It is supposed to be a beautiful thing between a husband and wife, and it is just WAY TOO COMPLICATED. * SIGH *

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Why does that have to be torture? What if you thought that flirting and touching as foreplay? And he said “tomorrow” — I’d jump on that. Keep trying for the positive. I believe you two can work this out! Saying another prayer.

      Reply
      1. B

        Thanks. I do appreciate the prayers.

        But foreplay for a whole day??? Like over 24 hours? How are you supposed to know if he’s just “playing around” or if he’s actually hoping to be intimate?

        And it’s tomorrow. And he’s asleep (he worked all day, and apparently didn’t sleep well last night). . And the kids have friends over. And there’s baseball tonight. And we are just not meant to be together. 🙁 So odds are tomorrow will turn into tomorrow will turn into the next day…

        I have no desire to keep pestering him until he gives in. He never asks for sex. He waits for me to initiate, and then if he feels like it he gives in. It’s a horrible feeling, to not be pursued but to be given in to. I feel like by getting my hopes up at his flirting yesterday I was just being foolish. I’m trying to be positive, but it’s not working out. I feel like being hopeful is just a recipe for being let down.

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          I just mean that all that flirting, etc. makes for an atmosphere. And I’d approach him and say, “You said tomorrow. When and how can we make that happen? We have a lot on our plate, but I want us to prioritize us time.” Keep planting seeds! Harvest may take a while.

          Reply
      2. Anon

        But when the ‘foreplay’…all the flirting and touching and playing…goes on and on, but no sex happens for another whole week, yeah, it’s torture like B said. 😉
        Our weekend is up, the window for another opportunity to make love before the very hectic work week hits has slammed shut. He got lucky on Saturday morning, me not so much, but now I wait another week and hope that maybe I can get lucky too next Saturday. But by then it will have been 2 weeks for me and I cannot begin to tell you how frustrating it gets.
        🙁

        Reply
  3. Anonymous

    My husband and I were discussing your post during our weekly Saturday morning ‘lie-in’ (we stay in bed for a while, talking and snuggling). We both think that for women, desire and arousal follow emotion. We also agreed that the crux of it that we give and take in a relationship; relationship is what matters, nice though sex may be.

    He wanted to know why there are so many Christian sex and marriage blogs. I tried to give him the woman’s perspective, of having to make the transition from being pure, naive and innocent (awful words for it, aren’t they?) to being the red hot honey of a wife. He was baffled.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      How lovely that y’all discussed this whole subject! And I’m not surprised how much we baffle one another. 😉

      Reply
  4. Christina Rhoads

    I am wondering about this topic too. A relative of mine has not been intimate with her husband for months, and it breaks my heart for them. Not sure what the issue is, but there is always an issue. Makes me sad for them. I am a firm believer that there is something underneath the issue, something that often people do not want to dig into…then there is a tear in the relationship. I do not want my intimate success get in the way of talking further with her, but I think it does. I pray she will open up to me and we can dive deeper together.

    Reply
  5. B

    Alas, I am sorry to report that I’m still waiting on tomorrow. I knew this would happen. My husband said on Friday, “maybe it would be best if we waited until tomorrow.” And I took that in stride, secretly worried that one day would pass into the next. And it has. That was Friday. It’s Monday night. And he’s asleep. So tomorrow, Tuesday, will be the fourth tomorrow. I feel worthless. Every day I wonder, “will I be good enough today?” And if I tell him how I’m feeling, it upsets him. He claims he wishes I didn’t feel that way, and then he feels badly that I don’t feel attractive or loveable. It’s not his fault. He can’t force himself to be attracted to me. Work and sleep are what appeals to him, and I need to accept that. But it’s hard.

    And then the struggle begins. And the negative thoughts start. Like, where are all these men I read about that want sex all the time? Why doesn’t my husband feel that way about me? What wrong with me? Am I that bad? I would not be unfaithful, but I wonder, would any man on earth be the least bit interested in me, or attracted to me sexually? I’m pretty normal looking. I’m clean. I have great hair. 🙂

    I hate having these thoughts. They are bad, wrong, and dangerous. Does my husband realize how lonely and horrible I feel? I can’t really tell him or he will pout and feel badly about himself. Once, just once, I’d like to know what it’s like to be desired and pursued, like most women. I am incredibly frustrated.

    I know the answer. I need to pray. I need to accept my lot in life. I need to grow closer to God and focus on His love. I try. But the bad feelings are still there and I hate it.

    He was very attentive and seemed interested on Sunday morning. But – I literally had less than ten minutes to get dressed, hair fixed, and in the car to go to church. He knew that. I am convinced he starts things at inopportune times because he knows nothing can happen then. And then later he can say, “but I did try coming on to you and you said there was no time.” He’s a job superintendent for a living – his time management is impeccable – so there’s no way he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

    I want to give up.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Two practical tips:
      1. If he says tomorrow, don’t wait for him to hint or initiate…remind him. “Hey, remember how you said tomorrow? Well, it’s tomorrow. Can I have 15 minutes of your time?” Or however long, but you know what I mean.
      2. If he seems interested on Sunday morning and you have ten minutes, just be a few minutes late to church! Not every time, of course, but I personally think God will be okay with you missing the opening song to be intimate with your husband. That’s my position, and I’m sticking by it. (God can smack me if I’m wrong. *watches the sky*) 🙂

      Reply
      1. Amy

        I’m not B, but a couple things I would say about your tips:

        1) There isn’t always really a tomorrow. What I mean is that a spouse may say, how about tomorrow, when in fact tomorrow will not be possible because of work schedules, kids’ schedules, etc. So even when tomorrow comes there may not be 15 minutes to spare or whatever, if that makes sense. My husband is very good at saying things like, “I probably won’t work on Wednesday because we’ll likely get rained out”…meaning, I know you didn’t to finish last time we made love but probably on Wednesday. Well, here we are and no he did not get rained out and will most likely work all week as usual so it will be over a week before we have any time together again.

        2) And I’m all about missing part of or sometimes all of church if that makes it possible for my husband and I to finally connect sexually, I don’t see anything wrong with that. But it sounds like B has kids at home still and it may not be possible to be late to church if the kids are waiting to leave. I know some would say, will lock the door and just do it whether they are right there or not, but even then it most likely will be only for her husband and she is left waiting for another ‘tomorrow’.

        Just my thoughts on this as I too have a similar struggle to B of making the time for intimacy with my hubby. 😉

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          I completely understand what you’re saying. My overall messages are to (1) be direct and (2) get creative. Rain checks should be honored, so I follow up if I get one, and so does my husband. And we often have to squeeze out time by shoving something else aside. Always tougher with kids, but oftentimes if we make an effort we can at least find more time than we had before — meaning you might not get up to the frequency you want, but you can improve on the frequency you have.

          Thanks so much for chiming in! Good points.

          Reply
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  7. K

    I feel like my husband has given up on me. We still have sex but its like he has given up trying to please me. We have been married 7 1/2yrs and I haven’t had a orgasm. He used to try to please me but now he has given up and just pleases himself he doesn’t even want forplay most of the time he gets upset because I don’t orgasm and thinks its because he is bad in bed, he doesn’t. Believe me when I say I still get a lot of pleasure out of sex even tho I didn’t orgasm. I feel like most of our sex is just quickies sometime with a min of forplay. And he wounders why I don’t always get wet. I. feel like he h as given up on me and only has sex to please himself. I tried to explain that I need forplay and he got upset saying that he cant do anything right.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      He may need a lot of reassurance that it isn’t about his sexual performance or your desire for him. Your body just needs something different, that’s all. I pray that you can find the words of wisdom to speak with him and that he can truly hear you.

      Reply
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