In many marriages (but not all), sexual intimacy is very high on a husband’s list. In books like William Harley’s His Needs, Her Needs, sex is listed as the number one thing a husband needs in marriage. Many men would nod in agreement and tell their wives in so many words that they need sex; however, I’ve never known of a man dying because he didn’t have it.
I’ve heard Christian speakers say things like, “A woman should never say no to her husband’s sexual advances.” Talk about a guilt trip! Wives in this situation would naturally feel manipulated, with a cloud of guilt hovering over every initiation. If he needs sex and you’re the only one who can give it to him, sex becomes less romantic than cooking him dinner. You may feel like a “sex dispenser,” just there to meet your husband’s biological needs. Even if you once liked sex, all pleasure and anticipation has been drained out of it.
This is certainly not God’s design for sexuality in marriage. A couple who operates with this thinking is doomed to experience no “intimacy” in sexual intimacy. So how do we reconcile the “need” factor without sex becoming an on-demand obligation?
Is Sex Really A Need?
We have a strange relationship to the word need in our society. We claim to need everything from a cup of Starbucks to the most recent smartphone. In reality, we need very little to survive. Food, shelter, community, and family. However, there are other things we don’t need for survival but that are necessary to function in our world. For example, you don’t need a car . . . but you do. You won’t die without a car, but unless you live in a big city, it would be very difficult to navigate life without one. We also have emotional needs, like feeling loved and valued. While we won’t die without feeling loved, we also may not want to keep living.
Think of sex in a similar vein. No one needs sex, but a marriage needs sexual intimacy to thrive. Intimacy in the bedroom is directly correlated to overall marital happiness. When a couple regularly engages in sex, even their body chemistry is working to build a positive emotional connection.
In most marriages, the husband is the more constant reminder of the need for sex. Because he has more testosterone and his body is wired to respond sexually, it’s usually on his mind much more often than it’s on hers. In other marriages, the woman is unsatisfied if too many days go by without sex. God has wired our bodies to express the importance of sexual intimacy, whether it is the husband or wife who prompts the other.