Saturday, August 20, 2011

Growing in Love for Our Husbands: Captivating Him by Our Love

Last week we started a new series entitled "Growing in Love for Our Husbands" and began with a look at the ever-controversial topic of submission. This week, continuing with the thought of submission, we will discuss what the apostle Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 7 as fulfilling our wifely duties.

When man and woman join in the sacred bond of marriage, a union of sexual intimacy and commitment is formed. This design for sex within the marital covenant began "in the beginning," just as the hierarchical relationship between husband and wife began in the Garden.
"For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed."

Genesis 2:24-25
But where do we fit in that "wifely duty" among the many other chores demanded of us? We are pulled in so many different directions as women that often times our relationship to our spouse comes in last place. You might be thinking, I have to feed everyone, do the laundry, scrub the toilets, teach the children, buy groceries, and on and on and on ad nauseaum.

Yes, we do have responsibilities to our family, but where should our husbands be on our list of priorities? After our relationship with God, our relationship with our husbands should be our highest priority, even over the children, the house, and our jobs.

In His Needs Her Needs, Willard F. Harley, Jr. discusses the ten most important emotional needs for husbands and wives and how to meet them. Foundational to a good marriage, he says, is affection for her and sex for him (59). Let me repeat that: Sexual intimacy (for the husband) and affection (for the wife) are foundational to a good marriage.

Women need emotional release: we need to be able to talk to our husbands about our day, to vent our frustrations, to be appeased and encouraged. When our husbands refuse to listen or respond, we feel unloved and unimportant.

In a similar fashion, men need physical release: they require sexual intimacy. In Proverbs 5:18-19, the wise king Solomon describes the beauty of God-given sex within marriage:
"May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
A loving doe, a graceful deer--
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be captivated by her love."
God intends for couples to experience mutual enjoyment and satisfaction in their marriages. There will be seasons of difficulty when marriage becomes dull and temptations may entice one or both partners to pursue a relationship outside the covenant relationship, but that is not God's design nor should it be an excuse for extramarital sex.

As wives we are to "captivate" our husbands by our love and by our attention to their physical needs. That means allowing our husbands free and full reign over our bodies. I know that is not a politically correct statement to make in our liberated day and age, but that is exactly what the apostle Paul tells us:
"The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control."
I Corinthians 7:3-5
The beauty of this God-ordained design, though, is that we also have full reign over our husbands' bodies. For many women that may not sound so enticing, but consider that as wives we are to submit to our husband's authority: he is the head and leader of the family. However, within the realm of sexual intimacy, both partners are on an even playing field: there is no head, only mutual submission. Wives and husbands are both commanded to submit their bodies to one another. Neither is to withhold themselves from the other with the exception of a brief spiritual reprieve for fasting and prayer.

In Love & Respect, Emerson Eggerichs says that when we deny our husbands the sexual release they need, they feel disrespected just as we feel unloved when our husbands deprive us the emotional release through communication that we need.

The common response when we feel neglected is to withdraw from our spouses and think, "Well, he's not talking to me, so I'm not going to be intimate with him. He's going to have to change if he wants my affection." That is a selfish human response. If we refuse our husbands what they were designed by God to need, then they are going to refuse us what we were designed by God to need. It's a vicious cycle spinning violently out of control until someone finds the attention he or she needs outside the marital sphere.

Instead of waiting for our husbands to change, we must step up and be the bigger person. We need to break that cycle, starting with showing our spouses the respect they deserve, fulfilling their desires, and telling them how much we need them. I love what Harley calls "the marital golden rule":
"Meet your spouse's needs as you would want your spouse to meet yours" (60).
When we treat our husbands in the ways they want to be treated, then we will find our husbands wanting to spend time with us and showering us with the affection we crave.

God has a perfect plan for the marital relationship: Husbands are to love their wives, showing them the affection they desire, and wives are to respect their husbands, giving them the sexual fulfillment they need. Wives are to be subject to their husbands; husbands are to be willing to lay down their lives for their wives. Husbands and wives are to submit their bodies to one another in an act of mutual submission.

As wives we have a duty to captivate our husbands by our love, meeting his physical needs and showing him how much we truly need him.

How can we show our husbands that we appreciate their desire for sexual intimacy?
  • Respond more often to him. {Stop the "I've got a headache" or "I'm too tired" excuses.}
  • Initiate sex every now and then. {Want your husband to finish that home improvement project he started six months ago? This is one surefire way to get it done.}
  • Understand he needs sex just as you need affection. {Don't deprive him hoping to get him to open up. It won't happen; if anything you will only push him farther away.}
  • Educate yourself. {If you are not interested in football and your husband is a diehard season ticket holder, then what do you do? Learn more about the game. This shows him how much you love and respect him and will result in the completion of loads more DIY projects.}
What are your thoughts? Did I leave something out that you think I should've discussed? Did I lose you somewhere? As always I would very much appreciate your feedback on this post.

Blessings to you...

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  1. Wonderful insight and perspective, my friend. A good reminder of what our daily priorities should be. I liken 'submission' to 'respect'. When we do our part and respect our husbands as God commands, it's pretty awesome to see how God becomes the center stone of that relationship and strengthens that unity. It takes 3!!

  2. I am really enjoying this series... a lovely reminder that I should place my wifely duties higher on the priority list.

  3. Wonderfully stated, Keri, especially where you said, "captivate our husbands by our love." If we satisfy our husband's needs, he won't have to look elsewhere. :)
    I'm stopping by from the Time Warp Wife link up. And I'm your newest follower. :)
    Blessings to you,

  4. Thanks for your encouraging words, ladies. I really have to work hard to keep my priorities in the right order, and I'm constantly messing up. Thankfully, we have a merciful Savior! Glad to have you, Lisa. Blessings...

  5. Enjoyed reading your post. I celebrate 40 years with my best friend next month! It just getts better and better. Blessings, Debbie

  6. Wow! Congratulations, Debbie! That is amazing. My husband and I have only been married for 4 1/2 years and some days it feels like an eternity. HA! :) Thanks for stopping by!

  7. This is an excellent series. I can hardly wait for the next installment.

  8. Thank you and thanks for visiting my site. I'm a new follower of yours--love it!

  9. I loved this post and am LOVING this series! Just in these first two my perspective is already changing, for the good I know it! For example, moreso before I was saved, I would look at being submissive to my husband as "lowering myself". Now, I find it honoring. The same goes for intimacy. Everything you have shared in this post is true!!!!

  10. Thank you, Jennifer, for your sweet and very encouraging comments. Aren't we all just a work in progress? I know I am! I'm learning every day how to be a better wife and mommy. Blessings to you!

  11. I ask this. What about the times when being sexuall submissive isn't permitted, per doctors orders, or is painful for a wife? Examples. Right after the birth of children, or during pregnancy sexual relations can be incredibly painful, if they are even permitted for some women. What then? I'm really asking for an answer, not just in sarcasm. I agree that women want the things you talk about and men want more physical affection. I'm just wondering what you do when you can't.

  12. Anonymous,
    My thoughts are that in a situation where a wife is unable to have sexual intercourse due to pregnancy, the birth of a child, or any other health issue she needs to communicate her concern with her husband to see if there are other ways she can meet his physical need for affection. Also, her husband needs to be willing to make sacrifices for a time; he should be understanding enough to give his wife time to heal (six weeks following delivery is usually the time frame to refrain from sexual intercourse). Of course, a wife should not delay gratifying her husband's desires indefinitely, but the two should discuss the time frame and what the expectations are in the meantime.