Sex – more than one thing, more than one need.

I was recently introduced to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. What I find interesting, and right, is that sex shows up in more than one place. You see sex at the bottom, on the Physiological level, and also see sexual intimacy two levels up as part of Love/belonging. I’d add something sexual to the fourth level up, Esteem.

What I often see in men is that their basic Physiological sex need is not being taken care of, and that leaves them unaware of, or unable to feel, their sexual intimacy need.  Women tend to be far more aware of, and thus focused on, the intimacy or Love/belonging aspect of sexuality. That’s not wrong, it’s a function of how God made women. The problem comes when a woman expects a man to be as she is. Some women find their husband’s awareness of sex on the Physiological level to be distasteful, or unloving, or just wrong. Sometimes a woman will withdraw from sex because she wants to have her Love/belonging sexual need met. The problem is that this just makes his Physiological sexual need intensify, and that makes it just about impossible for him to have sex on the Love/belonging level.

In short, a woman can make what she wants, Love/belonging sexuality, difficult to impossible for her husband to provide because she’s not meeting his Physiological sexual need. It’s kind of like trying to teach a child table manners by denying them food when they fail to show good manners. Thing is, the hungrier they become, the less able they are to not grab what they can and stuff it into their mouths as fast as possible.

Am I suggesting that a wife should unilaterally give her husband what he wants? Actually, I am. Not because her wants and feelings are unimportant (they are very important), and not because I think sex is primarily for men (it should be for both of them). However, it’s easier to take care of Physiological sex when you lack Love/belonging sex than the other way around. This is the same as with the child who needs to learn table manners – it’s easier when they’re not starved.

That said, my audience here is primarily men, and I know most of you can’t (or shouldn’t, trust me) forward this to your wife. For you, my suggestion is to understand what’s going on, and why. See what you can do to give her what she wants, even when you’re tempted to grab anything you see. Try to treat her with love and respect even when you’re so horny you can’t think of anything other than sex. Try not to be a jerk when she fails to understand and meet your sexual needs. Then, when you are not feeling sex-starved, or at least when sex is not possible for a while, talk to her gently about her needs and your needs, and ways to meet both needs more often.

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13 Comments on “Sex – more than one thing, more than one need.

  1. Yes and Amen. I had to help my precious one come see this. I called it ‘Beast and The Beauty’. Fortunately, she appreciates the hot, erotic side of sex as well as the sensuous, intimate side. And because we have a lot of trust in each other, we can talk about all things sexual with aplomb.
    I introduced her to this idea by starting a conversation on the differences that she perceived betweeen ‘the sexes’. Then I guided that toward this topic by asking her some leading questions. She was receptive to the idea but it didn’t become part of her heart-of-thoughts till we began dealing with some sexual issues from her past; experiences that had put lies into her heart-of-thoughts. Slowly, though, over time, she became more responsive to me as she exposed those thoughts for the lies they were and soon found that it was to her pleasure, also, in being there for me because, also, our marrriage bed is free from religious guilt.

    Being good, just as I was created to be!

  2. “Am I suggesting that a woman should unilaterally give him what he wants? Actually, I am.” I can imagine this will do wonders for establishing a pattern of demand and disrespect in the relationship. His needs will be met and she will continue to long for the intimacy she craves. Is this the sort of “Godly advice” that needs to perpetuated?

  3. Would LOVE to see a “generous wife” companion piece on this. (hint hint). It is so true, and so hard to show your wife that that the physiological need for sex is not something she should be offended by.

  4. @Vida – Your comments would be justified if I had said nothing more than what you quoted.

    See next Saturday’s tip for the rest of the story! ;-)

  5. Actually it can be justified regardless if your entire post is taken into context :)

    To assume that by following your advice an otherwise selfish husband would respond in kind by being attentive is a rather large assumption if up to that point he has disregarded her need for intimacy. I’m sure you know the type of fellow I am referring to: The Entitled Male ;)

    One can hope that it would work out the way it is described in your scenario but the reality is that countless wives/women know this not to be true in their daily life.

    I’m looking forward to your follow up post. :)

  6. Good blog. I cannot count the number of times in a counseling situation that a wife has said, “I can’t respond to him sexually until he’s made me feel loved.” When I reply, “Has it ever occurred to you that he has trouble feeling love toward you while you’re ignoring his sexual needs?” they look at me like I’ve started speaking in tongues. It has never occurred to them that their husband’s need for sex is legitimate.

  7. Hey Vida!

    You said:

    “To assume that by following your advice an otherwise selfish husband would respond in kind by being attentive is a rather large assumption if up to that point he has disregarded her need for intimacy. I’m sure you know the type of fellow I am referring to: The Entitled Male”

    In the italicized portion you hit the nail on the head. There is a dynamic that develops between a husband and wife because of the God -breathed differences between the sexes. And Dynamics create tension. And tension must be resolved. In a nut shell, this is the elegant process that God intended to exist in marriage so that, because of both having instilled into them the desire and need for Sex and Intimacy and Love, we work through those tensions to each others benefit.

    So, have you ever thought of it that way?

    Can you perceive that the ‘rather large assumption’ that is being made by Paul is that the husband is a good husband? That is to say not what you call an ‘Entitled Male’?

    So should he keep quiet on this issue for the goodness that might result among those who are good, just because there are some selfish, ‘Entitlted Males’ out there?

    I’m good and I appreciated his advice. Are you good?

    Besides, is it not always right to do what is right, regardless of the outcome?

    Did not Paul say to those who first believed and who had unbelieving spouses to reamain married to them unless the unbelieving spouse chose otherwise? Didn’t he say “Who knows? But that you might win them with your righteous behaviour”?

    Perhaps you could think on these things a bit and find that they might help you to see things from a better perspective than the one you have that lead to the religious anger I felt from your post.

    Be good!

    Just as you were created to be!

    • As a woman of faith and Christian upbringing I can sincerely assure you that there is no religious anger here Eleutheros ;) Of that you can be sure. I emailed Paul offline to give him some background. Thanks for your reply.

  8. “Try to treat her with love and respect even when you are so horny you can’t think of anything other than sex. ”

    I know I’m a few days late on this one. But do you have any more to say on pulling this off? I know this is in my heart to do. But damn it’s hard some times when I feel like my gas tank never get’s filled.

  9. I need advice.
    As a woman, i have done my fair bit of understanding of what Men needs.I have come to realize that most women refuses sex because they are simply exhausted and need time to vent. and that it’s their responability to pamper themselves to be available for their husbands.I have also understood that most husband fail to be patient with their wives and thus create a deep misunderstadin and ressentment from the wife.A woman certainly married for love and sex so if she says No she is not rejecting you as a person.

    here is a good website that made me luigh about why some women simply refuses sex :

    Personnally, i am trying the best i can not to refuse sex too much on the simple basis that I am tired. I like sex and my husband does it well so he strive to please me and we try to please each other.where i am having difficulty finding the energy for sex is that i am disappointed in my husband and wished i am married to someone who stand up for himself , his values in life, as a christian, he backs off when someone challenges christianity be it a kid.I am more upfront and and he sits back and i can do all the talks. he will not support me and sometimes tries to put me down everytime i bring an idea.
    I am sick of this.there have been a word few times from strangers on his life to be a minister but he is scared and basically doesn’t know what to do with his life.I am a stay at home with our two kids.he resigned from his jobs 5 months ago and apply for jobs once a week.His father pays our bills and he has no sense of emergency for this to be sorted.his fathers treat him like a kid still.if i was his father, i will give him a date by which i would stop paying the bills. but he can just go and look miserable in front of his dad for him to get a cheque. i find it hard. i have decided not to nag and yell and let him come to terms of what he wants to do with his life.because i don’t want to be held responsible for his indecision.
    I feel he ressents me because i am home i don’t do nothing, i don’t pay the bills.
    He will say things to me like this or this couple the wife works, or if you were working we would have this or that…or may be i can stay home and you go to work. when we got married 5 years ago, we both agree that i should stay home with the kids and that we will give the best of ourselves to what’s this?
    So i have started looking, i don’t have the heart but i asked the Lord to have be doing something i know i would enjoy, so i recorded some songs and and thinking about organising a small concert i believe God would helpme. I intend to do that every year .My husband’s reaction was to tell me who would come to hear me sing and tried to discourage me.he usually for ANYTHING comes up with the worst possible scenario that could happen for him not to do anything.I am not like this and for 5 years i had thought he is actually quite meticulous and i am the one who rushes into things.Today i am trying not to expect anything from him.I said to him i am not scared to follow God’s direction.
    I am quite very sorry not to have a man’s shoulder to encourage me.
    I utterly disapointed in him.I cannot raise him in high estime and yet he is my husband.he would not read his Bible , not pray, until he is cornered and ask the Lord for something.his dad is a pastor by the would think he is a christian who understand what it is to be a man in the family.for him there is no problem since i give him sex and i take it upon me as my duty and that once in the middle of it i do enjoy it myself,that;s my comfort, but most of the times it’s hard to bring myself to the point of wanting sex with him and i feel it shouldn’t be.
    I just don’t desire him.he tuns me off.what should i do? I want to be on my own.i have been comtemplating Divorce and marryin a better man but I am aware that the devil is enticing me.but the reality is I cannot stand this situation for long.

    • Wow, sounds like you’ve been enduring quite a bit. Also sounds like you may have been keeping a lot of this in. I’m no expert, and anyone please feel free to correct my advice, but…

      1. Your account of you and your husband’s relationship makes it sound like nearly everything he is doing is wrong and nearly everything you are doing is right. This may certainly be the case, but every story has two sides. I say all of that to simply encourage you to pray and ask God if there are any attitudes or behaviors in your life that may be hurting your relationship with your husband. For instance, you mentioned you don’t desire him, and you are “utterly” disappointed in him. It’s likely that he knows this or at least senses this. Not that that’s wrong in itself, but it may be affecting some of the ways you act toward him.
      2. You need to talk about this to a godly woman you know and trust. I think it’ll be good for you to get some of this off your chest, and I believe a godly woman will tell you to keep doing what you’re doing (hanging in there, meeting his physical needs, not nagging or yelling at him).
      3. It sounds like you and your husband need counseling. I highly recommend a Christian counselor. It doesn’t sound like he treats you like he should, and he needs to hear it (from someone other than you; hearing it from you would likely make things worse). It also may reveal to you ways that you may not be treating him the way you should.
      If you cannot afford it because of your current financial situation, don’t let that prevent you from getting help. I know many counselors offer reduced fees for those in tight financial situations. They may even waive the fees altogether, but even if you do have to pay something, your marriage is worth it.
      4. I’m sure you are praying for your husband and your family. Keep doing it. During this time, you may need to serve as the spiritual leader of your household if your husband is not filling his role. Make sure that you spend daily time with God and lead your children spiritually until your husband once again assumes this role.
      5. Try as much as possible to involve your community of faith (i.e. church) in your family life. Yeah, it’s no fun having others in our “business,” but we have been called to live in community, and if you are in community you will have godly women supporting you and he will have godly men confronting him about his behavior. You said you can’t stand the situation for long, and I’m sure you can’t do it by yourself. You need to be relying first on God and then on your community. They can also help you work through difficult decisions such as what (if any) action needs to be taken on your part. I don’t believe that divorce is a solution, and separation may only drive you further apart, but these are things that need to be discussed with godly women and men. I also believe your community of faith can help you sift through some of the advice I’ve listed here, since, after all, I’m no professional.
      6. I put this last because I’m not sure to frame it, but how much of this have you talked to your husband about? For instance, you mentioned, “I feel he ressents me because i am home i don’t do nothing.” Have you mentioned that to him? You said, “when we got married 5 years ago, we both agree that i should stay home with the kids.” Have you talked about that with him? Of course, these things must be said in a loving way. You can’t sound like you’re attacking him or challenging him. It’s important to be discrete about timing as well as the words you choose. You said you’re disappointed in him. You may want to phrase that differently, but perhaps he needs to hear that from you as well.

      From the perspective of a man and husband, it sounds to me like your husband has some issues. He may even be feeling insecure about the fact that he’s not supporting your family financially, or guilty that his relationship with God isn’t where it needs to be. He may even feel worse about that since his dad’s a pastor. He could simply be selfish and lazy, but it sounds like there may be more to it. He may be disappointed in himself that he hasn’t found work, and after all, it isn’t easy to find work these days. He may be scared. Odds are it’s probably a combination of many issues. Human beings are complicated and fragile, and while none of this excuses his actions, perhaps it can help you be more understanding. It may even be beneficial for you to ask him what he’s going through. Many men have difficulty communicating their emotions, and he may be going through a lot he’s never mentioned.

      Having said all of that, I have enormous respect for you for sticking through all of this. Hang in there!

  10. This topic endlessly frustrates me. As a woman whose top need is physical touch, I cannot imagine NOT having regular (and amazing) sexual intimacy with my husband. In fact, we have actually had seasons of our marriage where my drive was higher.

    I would easily say MOST of my female friends will have none of this. Things like negotiating for a clean bathroom for a romp – WHAT?? That is not a joke. What man would have signed up for that if they knew? And who would blame them?

    What woman would be ok with her greatest need(s) being willfully ignored? Because women are willfully ignoring this. It isn’t that they don’t know. It is that they have the power and they misuse it.

    As you can see, I’m not that popular with women on this subject but I feel passionate about this. Being a mother of sons has only heightened this, as I wonder what kind of wife and relationship my sons will end up with. Judging by my friends, I don’t have high hopes.

    I have a lot of respect for men who stay, who don’t stray and who silently suffer. I wish there was another choice, one that would wake up their wives to the amazing truth that IF these wives would try this and give it time (for the starved man to trust this is the new normal), then the WIFE will receive an incredible blessing – a husband who longs to be with her, longs to meet her intimacy and closeness needs. It is just that someone has to go first and just as you write, for a man who is physiologically starving, he just isn’t able. I know these women don’t believe their husbands will transform, not for a minute. But they must trust God because men have this capacity and lovingly exhibit it WHEN able. After years of starvation and pain, it might take a while to heal, but it will happen. And these women will never be happier. The gift will turn out to be for them.

    Thanks for trying! I do wish there would be a companion piece for the women, but I’m sure that would go over like a lead brick.

  11. Cheri,

    your husband is truly blessed to be married to you. Thank you for sharing and understanding : )

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