A wife sent me an email that got my shoulders slumping and my heart sagging as I read—not just because of what she wrote, but because she represents the thoughts of too many women. It’s a longer message, but I’m including all of it below.
All my life, and in my own personal experiences with men, I have always observed that sex does not equal love for a man. As a teenager and young adult, I always knew to be wary when dating because most guys only wanted sex. I received advances from men that barely knew me much less loved me. Also, I know that many men look at (or struggle not to look at, depending on their convictions) porn. It seems to me that their sexuality is completely disconnected from love. They can be turned on by the sight of any woman. It doesn’t have to be their wife. They have sexual fantasies about other women. So why is it that that somehow changes when it’s sex with their wife? How is his desire for his wife different from his desire for the porn actresses or the woman who walks by on the street?
I have a hard time taking my husband’s sexual advances to mean that he wants emotional intimacy when I see him look at other women the same way he looks at me when he’s “in the mood.” I know he has an emotional connection with me that he doesn’t have with the other women, but to me that’s because we share a kind of friendship that seems totally separate from sex in my mind. From what I can tell, he can be turned on by other women just as much (if not more than) as he’s turned on by me. Even men who try not to lust after other women because of their convictions still have to TRY NOT to.
From my observations, it appears that my husband merely needs available female body parts and I happen to have them. I just can’t make sense of these articles that say that a husband is seeking to feel loved through a sexual connection. Because it’s hard for me to believe/understand that, it’s also hard for me to get in the mood for sex because I feel exchangeable. Any insight you can offer would be helpful.
I want to take this woman in my arms, hug her, and apologize for all the times she was treated as less than a person, when she is a daughter of the King of kings.
But I also want to stand on my soapbox and shout at the top of my lungs against the lies and half-truths she’s received and absorbed throughout her lifetime. So let’s tackle what she says.
I have always observed that sex does not equal love for a man.
Sex doesn’t equal love for anybody. That said, women are more likely to become attached to a sexual partner, due to oxytocin that releases and makes her feel bonded. Meanwhile, men (overall) don’t experience that level of oxytocin unless and until they engage with a woman in a relationship.* Men also have a tendency to compartmentalize more. So yes, the likelihood of attachment is a bit imbalanced. However, plenty of women have slept around without feeling terribly attached, and plenty of men get attached quickly.
Regardless of how we feel, though, God says you do attach to someone you have sex with. Consider 1 Corinthians 6:16: “Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.'” That doesn’t equal love, but it does equal sex being a Big Deal. For both women and men.
While sex doesn’t equal love, it is one way God provided for husbands and wives to nurture love and express love. Not everyone out there understands that purpose of sex, but it’s what God intended with His design.While sex doesn't equal love, it is one way God provided for husbands and wives to nurture love and express love. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet
I always knew to be wary when dating because most guys only wanted sex.
I was told this a lot growing up, and it’s so wrong. I’m not saying a lot of guys didn’t want sex—they did. My premarital promiscuous past is partly due to various guys wanting to go past kissing to fooling around and more. But this statement has two main problems.
First, guys don’t only want sex. They want to be accepted and loved too!
If men only wanted sex, they’d only date the girls clearly willing to have sex quickly and easily. But men date all kinds of women, because they want a woman who can also engage in conversation, share recreational companionship, make them feel loved, etc.
The presumption that men only want one thing—and we all know what that one thing is, wink, wink—sells men short. It makes them sound like shallow sex machines just looking for a female hole to put their thingamajig inside. Thankfully, I know too many great guys to believe that.
Second, women want sex too. Guys aren’t the only ones who want to be sexually active. Acting as if men are the ones who want sex sells women short: God created us as sexual beings as well!Acting as if men are the ones who want sex sells women short: God created us as sexual beings as well! @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet
Frankly, it’s frustrating how prevalent this teaching has been—that men only want sex from women. It has sold men short, denied female sexuality, and plunged too many couples into sin—because the single man believed himself justified in pursuing sex and the woman faced too big a burden trying to manage two sex drives (his and hers). Let’s please stop telling people this terrible half-truth!
I received advances from men that barely knew me much less loved me.
So did I, girlfriend. So did I. But I also had male friends who treated me like a whole person worthy of respect.
Are there jerks out there? Sure. But are all men jerks? No way. (See What I Truly Believe About Men.) However, one jerk can harass many women, meaning if John Donkey makes an unwanted advance to every appealing woman he encounters, he makes an impression on hundreds of women about how men behave. And those encounters are more memorable than the guy who held the door open for you, the guy who looked you right in the eyes and asked you how your day was going, or the guy who didn’t look your way at all because you’re just another person in the universe.
I’m saddened that you were treated this way, because you shouldn’t be! But in a broken world, it happens. If we can recognize that the jerks of the world are not as many as we might think, though far more prevalent than we’d like, we can deal with them as we should—tell them to get lost. Or, when needed, take greater precautions to protect yourself.
Also, I know that many men look at (or struggle not to look at, depending on their convictions) porn.
Yep, a lot of men look at porn, including Christian men. And that stinks to high heaven. But I have heard so many redemption stories, with husbands devoted to learning a better way. I also know men who haven’t sought out porn in years and are solely attached to their wives. In addition, this isn’t a struggle for my husband at all, and he’s not the only one.
Porn can change how a man views sex and women, which are terrible effects. But to believe that men are destined to lust or look at porn isn’t accurate by statistics, real-life examples, or the teaching of God’s Word.
It’s more than possible to overcome or never have the problem in the first place. (See When Should You Stop Battling Porn.)
They can be turned on by the sight of any woman. It doesn’t have to be their wife.
Again, there’s some truth here. I agree with those who say men are more visual than women, although women can also respond to visual stimuli strongly. And yes, the sight of a beautiful woman can stir interest and even result in physical arousal or lust. But that’s not inevitable, and your husband noticing another woman doesn’t mean he wants her. (See Does Your Husband Look at Other Women?)
Consider a couple of interesting studies on this involving the “bonding chemical,” oxytocin. In one study, 40 male participants in long-term relationships viewed pictures of attractive females, including their own partner. Some received a dose of oxytocin (nasal spray) and others did not. “In the men who were given oxytocin, the pleasure and desire regions of their brains lit up when they saw pictures of the women they loved—but not when they looked at strangers. Some of these regions were also activated by the images of the women the men knew, but not as strongly as by the pictures of their loved ones, suggesting that it made their partners more desirable.” (Time – How Oxytocin Makes Men (Almost) Monogamous.)
Remember how oxytocin is released during physical touch and sexual intimacy? So a husband engaged in regular sex, with regular hits of oxytocin, may well find his own wife more attractive than some other woman anyway.
But a second study is particularly interesting, in that a dose of oxytocin made men desire more physical distance between them and a female who wasn’t their partner. “Unexpectedly, the men who had received oxytocin and who were also in monogamous relationships preferred keeping a significantly greater distance between themselves and the temptress researcher—the hormone promoted bonding with their significant other, not the stranger.” (The Atlantic – Study: Oxytocin (‘the Love Hormone’) Makes Men in Relationships Want to Stay Away From Other Women.)
Although these findings were subtle rather than strong—and we are responsible for our own choices—it’s interesting to see research showing that men really do have a preference for the lady they love.
They have sexual fantasies about other women.
No, they don’t. Well, some men do. But a lot of husbands do not sit around and fantasize about other women. They may have a memory of another women or an image pops into their head of a particular woman, but that’s not tantamount to “fantasizing” or lusting.
And if your husband is fantasizing about other women, that’s not merely because he’s a man, but because he’s a sinner in need of repentance and redemption. Our desire and sexual interest should indeed be focused on our spouses! (See Lust: The Pigpen or The Feast?)
How is his desire for his wife different from his desire for the porn actresses or the woman who walks by on the street?
Bluntly put, for some husbands, it’s not that different. Sadly, I’ve read comments, received emails, and even come across blogs from presumably Christian men who treat sex solely as a man’s physical need and expect wives to simply fulfill the duty to let him have sex with her so he won’t have sex with someone else.
However, that’s a minority. I sometimes wish women could read my many more emails from husbands expressing their incredible love for their wives, their focused desire on the mate they chose, their longing to be one flesh and enjoy mutually satisfying sex with the woman they adore.
For most men, the gal down the street may get a moment’s attention, but their wife has their heart, their devotion, and their love. Which makes sex not merely a physical act, but a covenant bonding of husband and wife. And even a testimony to Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:31-32).
Is Sex Disconnected from Love?
Returning to the original question: Is sex disconnected from love for men? Are you just “available female body parts” that your husband needs?
I can’t speak to what your specific husband has learned about sex or how he demonstrates his love for you. However, I’m convinced that while sex can be disconnected from love for men, they, like us, want the two interwoven. Sex is more meaningful in the context of marital love, and marital love is richer in the context of fulfilling sexual intimacy.Sex is more meaningful in the context of marital love, and marital love is richer in the context of fulfilling sexual intimacy. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet
Honestly, it sounds like sex and love are not connected enough for you. God longs for you to have something better, including the full experience of intimacy while making love. Begin to work on how sex can become a better experience for you and your marriage.
Also, check out 5 husbands talking about how sex and love are connected!
*I’m 100% sure I read the study on this, but I cannot for the life of me find it online now. If you can point me to it, that would be great!