Over at Sex Within Marriage, Jay Dee and I have had a nice bunny trail discussion in the comments of What about sex for the surviving spouse? He said, “what did we do to women that makes the current stereotype that they almost need to be tricked into sex? Because it sounds like they were quite voracious in Biblical times.”
The Jews of old did indeed think women had strong sex drives. The Bible seems to agree – if a man took a slave as a wife, then later married another woman, he was prohibited from giving the first wife less food, less clothing, or less sex (Exodus 21:10)! In talking to Timothy, Paul assumed widows under sixty would be so driven to have sex they would be unable to keep a vow of chastity. (1 Tim 5:11) What’s more, the Jewish civil law said a man could be forced to divorce his wife if he was not giving her enough sex – the only way a woman could get a divorce.
This is not the only evidence of women with healthy sex drives. In medieval Europe women were believed to have a stronger drive than men did. In some simpler cultures women are much more sexual – maybe not more so than men, but every bit as interested.
Okay, but why?
In 2005, the BBC did a cross-cultural Internet survey of more than 200,000 people from 53 countries. Men reported fairly consistent attitudes about sex across culture, while women showed great variation. Basically, women in societies that repress women were less sexual. This strongly suggests culture affects women’s sexuality far more than it does men’s sexuality. Men are driven primarily by biology. Women are driven by biology, but are also driven or inhibited by the sexual expectations of their culture. It seems society has made it difficult for women to express and enjoy their God given sexuality.
Am I saying there is a lusty woman inside your wife trying to get out? More or less, yes. The question is how much that part of her has been beat down. What kind of fear does she have about wanting or liking sex? Could she live with herself if she started to want sex?
Can you help your wife change? If you don’t push too much you might be able to nudge her in the right direction. She may have many things she needs to unlearn, and she is likely still getting messages that re-enforce her wrong ideas. Do what you can to put better ideas in her path, and reduce the bad messages she gets. You should also change how you think about her. Stop seeing her as trying to limit you sexually, and understand she is trying to fit into a very wrong understanding of sex. The frustration she causes you is a side effect of the struggle she has between the desire God gave her and the messages society gives her.
A great resource for this is a fairly new blog called The Forgiven Wife: Learning to Dance with Desire. The author’s “about me” says “After 20 years of being a sexual gatekeeper and refuser, I am now learning to dance with desire and enjoy the full intimacy that comes with passionate and joyful sex with the husband God provided for me.” She is currently working through The Respect Dare, but most of her posts are about moving from resisting sex to wanting and enjoying it. Check out Naked and Broken for example. Getting your wife to follow this blog that would be good, but regardless I suggest you read it to gain a better understanding of the struggle going on inside your wife.
Enough from me – let’s hear from you in the comments!