Differences between men and women

Counselors have agreed for many years that sex is one of the four or five main areas of marital conflict.

I love asking young couples preparing for marriage why sex would be such a big source of conflict in marriage. If they’re striving for purity in their relationship, one of their toughest challenges is keeping their hands off each other! 

Most engaged couples don’t understand why sex would be a source of marital conflict. It sounds strange to them. So premarital counselors must look down the road and help them to think realistically about life — and, reality is not unclear on this matter. 

I tell singles and engaged couples that one of the primary reasons sex is a source of conflict in marriage is the very thing that makes it possible. I always get a look of confusion from them until I say: “It involves a man and a woman!” Then, after awkward laughter, they return to their confused look. To help them understand, I use the illustration of microwaves and crock-pots. 

Microwaves and Crock-pots

Men tend to be like microwaves when it comes to sex; women tend to be more like a crock-pots. Sex for most women is more of an extended part of an overall relationship. It tends to be more of a physical act for men.

I am not validating all that could be implied by the imagery, I am just trying to illustrate general facts. The point of the imagery is that men and women typically approach sex differently.

In most marriages, sex will be more of an area of intentional giving for women. But relationship-building will require more thoughtful intention from men. A primary reason sex is a source of conflict is the fact that husbands tend to want more sex in marriage than their wives. When you factor in how a man often tends to connect his sense of self-respect to sex, things can get really bad if he feels rejected or like he is always the initiator.

I’ve sometimes observed resentment from husbands over the way their wives were sexually aggressive before marriage and shut down after marriage. Some single women (sadly) assume that they must use sexual advances to “win” a man. In doing this, they give him the impression that this is how life together will be. I’ve talked with men who resentfully express how they had more sex with their wives before they were married. 

Lest I sound like I am picking on women, in a similar way, men are often guilty of using intentional relationship building to “win” a woman and then shifting into complacency after marriage. The pastor who performed our wedding charged me with these words: “The graces you used to win her love, use to keep her love.” 

Sober words for married couples:

When it comes to the sexual part of marriage, couples should pause over these words:

“But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (I Corinthians 7:2-5, NLT)

If couples want to have a better love life, husbands must be intentional and take initiative in building relationship and wives must be intentional and take initiative in sexual matters. 

Wives, please remember that you are God’s source of protection for your husbands. Couples must view sexual frustration as a threat to their marriages. Prolonged sexual abstinence must not be permitted in a marriage. Scripture specifically identifies it as an opportunity for the evil one!

Teach singles 

Men and women are different. Without some prior discussion about this reality, the differences will likely become unnecessary sources of selfishness and conflict. Many images have been used to explain male/female differences. Men are from Mars, women from Venus; Men are like waffles; women like spaghetti. The differences are real and should be studied by couples preparing for marriage. Once understood, couples should consider the way God can use their differences to build stronger oneness. 

A unique challenge in the Church

The challenge to allow differences lead to oneness is sometimes hindered by an unfortunate tendency to use biblical references to headship and submission to diminish the uniqueness and contributions of wives. When a husband insists that life conforms to his dominant identity, he violates God’s original plan for marriage and fails to embrace the original truth that it’s not good for the man to be alone. 

I’ve also observed women who suppress their identity under more dominant men who frankly need their gifts and strengths. Sometimes these women entertain misguided understandings of headship and submission. Trying to be “submissive wives,” and letting their husbands be “leaders of their homes,” these women violate the original design by not fulfilling a complementary role for husbands who badly need their unique gifts. 

The original plan assumes the necessity of individuality and uniqueness (in both husbands and wives) for the completion of oneness. The two must become one — without one disappearing into the other.

 Steve Cornell 
This entry was posted in Anger, Counseling, Divorce, Divorce and Remarriage, Engagement, Equal Rights, Feminism, Love, Marriage, Ministry to young singles, Passion, Pornography, Relationships, Sex, Sexual temptations, Sexuality, Should I get married?, Single's ministry, Uncategorized, Wedding, Wives, Women and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Differences between men and women

  1. JG says:

    Are there really no women who just like sex and take the initiative?

    • Lynx Firenze says:

      Of course there are women who simply enjoy sex as a physical act, probably more than I think but (religious and societal) pressures force them to suppress those needs as either sinful or anti feminist etcetera

  2. oysterbed7 says:

    I totally agree with your last section. My husband wanted us to take a more Eph. 5:21 stance. It has been the greatest strength for our marriage. Our two parts made a whole, a complementary relationship. Even so, we have had conflict with sexual expectations. But, sexual desire differences wasn’t the crux of our marriage issues. Once we were able to peel back the layer of sexual conflict, we were able to see that the sexual intimacy issues were just a symptom of some deeper problems. Just like a cough may be a symptom of pneumonia. Once we cured the pneumonia, the cough was much better!

  3. Anonymous says:

    My husband (of 25 years) and I had both heard this teaching growing up in the church: Men have a stronger sex drive than women….and, after 22 years of pastoring together and doing counseling, I would probably agree that is generally true.

    However, this caused a HUGE problem in our marriage from the beginning. Because of this teaching, he assumed that if he didn’t want sex that I didn’t either. And I assumed that if I wanted sex he must want it even more. Neither was true in our case. NO ONE had ever told us that it was possible for the wife to have a higher sex drive than the husband.

    Because he only wanted sex about once a week I assumed there was something wrong with me….because I felt that he should want it more often. This caused some real problems as I felt that his lower sex drive was somehow a poor reflection on me.

    After several years, I finally said to him, “Are you happy with our sex life?” He gave a resounding “Yes! You are responsive and in all these years of marriage you’ve never once said ‘no’ to anything or anytime that I’ve wanted you.” I then reminded him of the many times that HE has been the one to say “No, I don’t feel well” or “Let me just hold you tonight” – always assuming that if he didn’t want it then neither did I. Then he asked how often I would like it and when I responded with “every day is good for me” it took him a while to adjust to the idea that women actually DO have a sex drive and it can be comparable to a man’s…or greater.

    Having that conversation helped (as has the advent of Viagra)….but, please, for the sake of us crazy ladies out here….don’t ever assume that the male drive is always higher. I’m 44 and he’s still working to keep up with me, bless his heart.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly! One of my biggest frustrations is that we are consistently taught that all men want it more! My husband and I have only been married for 2 years, and so far sex has been one of our only consistent arguments. It’s almost always that I want more sex and I’m tired of the “vanilla” version and he struggles to want it often or out of bed. Fortunately for me I don’t care if I’m different from the norm, but hearing that for so long made me think something was wrong with him.🙂 Of course after opening up with other married friends about half of them assured me that they’re more interested in sex than their husbands. I just wish more people had been open before we were married and reiterated that every marriage is just as unique as the individuals going into it!

      • Lynx Firenze says:

        Damn it. Where’s all the crazy women where I am?🙂 and in response to the op, dom-sub relationships do happen and indeed work so long as there’s some communication between the two instead of just either side trying to completely dominate the relationship

  4. Anonymous says:

    I think it’s really important acknowledge that there may be different wants and needs between spouses, but I’d like to suggest that you not make it about gender. It’s much more holistic to encourage young couples to pay attention and enjoy discovering what makes each of them tick, instead of reinforcing caricatures about men and women that stand in the way of true intimacy – physically AND emotionally.

  5. Nicoletta says:

    Are there any habits singles can practice in their present state to prepare them for the sexual aspect of marriage?

  6. David Sweet says:

    Thank you for this blog. As my wife and I have helped engaged couples prepare for marriage, it has often been difficult to know how to approach this important issue. This blog gives interesting and practical insight into how this can be accomplished.

  7. Boot says:

    as a parent, I worry how I might somehow(?) prepare and counsel my three kids when the time comes to avoid marrying a person who is wrong for them in this regard. I wonder if the four parents of a young couple should conference together on this (and other) topic? There are so many hidden issue possibilities and abuses in this regard, that unless put on the table up front, a godly child can later on find themselves walking a marriage minefiled unawares, because he has chosen to remain pure for his wedding. I want to avoid that for my kids. I first married a mental illness case, because I was not aware of the signs in the beginning.

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