Creating an atmosphere of change

Hand in hand |

This is a follow-up on yesterday’s post, and more specifically some of the comments and emails generated by the post.

…you can be the best person possible, even near perfect, but if your wife doesn’t want to also do this, the place where Paul has gotten to cannot be attained. This obviously applies also to a good woman with an uncooperative or indifferent husband.

So this is my question for Paul: what made your wife decide to turn towards you and move forward to the place you are at?

My bride addressed this in the comments, as did I, but I want to say more about it. The concept here is true for any desired change.

It’s easy to understand how we could do things to reduce the chances of our spouse making the change we want. It is often more difficult to see what we might do to make it more likely they will change, so let us start with the negative. It is not just your attitude and actions about sex that can mess things up. Sure, you could be a total jerk about sex, which would discourage her from wanting to do it at all, much less work on it, but you could do things completely unrelated to sex that would have the same effect. If you are mean to her, if you refuse to spend time with her, if you ignore her every request, she will be far less inclined to have sex or to work on making sex better. Not doing all these things removes roadblocks, which increases the odds she will change.

On the other side, you can do things have nothing to do with sex that will increase the odds she will change sexually. Being kind and generous will make her feel better about you and about herself, and both of those make it more likely she will want sex, and more likely she will enjoy it when she has it. It is human nature to be nice to those who are nice to you, to do for those who do for you, and to sacrifice for those who sacrifice for you.

Try this thought exercise – imagine your wife started to do what you wanted sexually. Over a matter of a few months, she became so sex positive and sex desiring you wondered if she had been replaced with a clone. If she was everything you ever desired sexually, what would you be willing to do for her? If she mentioned something in passing, might you go out of your way to do it for her?

Why do you think your wife would be any different? If you were blessing her greatly, giving her everything she wants, don’t you think she would be likely to want to do the same for you? Don’t you think mentioning you would like more sex might result in her making sure it happened? If she has real struggles with sex, is it not possible she would become willing to work on that because of how much you were blessing her? Don’t you think you might be willing to work at something you hate if she were giving you all the sex you could handle? Why would she be different?

There are some possible problems:

  • Your bride could have major sexual baggage. This could be past abuse, or bad experiences with boyfriends before she met you. It might also be bad experiences with you. It’s also possible she has been limited by being taught sex is dirty or a way men abuse and control women. Yes, this is a problem, but it’s not insurmountable; my bride had all of those issues!
  • Often the problem is the husband is doing too little. He is working to be better to her, but he is only doing a small amount.
  • Other times, the husband needs to keep at it longer. This is especially true if you have been married for a long time and even more so if you were unloving for a long time. (Unloving, by the way, is about not giving her what she wanted.) To be blunt, if you have been a selfish jerk for a decade, don’t expect a month or two of being a perfect husband to make a difference to her. Anyone can play a role for a while, but that does not mean they have really changed. It may take six months to a year for her to think it’s for real, and to start reciprocating.
  • Another possible problem is a woman is just mean and selfish, and no matter what her husband does, she has no interest in ever doing anything for him. Yes, such women exist, but they are far fewer and farther between than you think. You have no chance with a woman like this, but odds are this is not what you are dealing with. Give, and give, and give some more, and see if she changes. Even if the changes are not where you most want them, good changes prove she is not totally selfish.
  • If you want to encourage her to give you what you want, you have to give her what she wants. If you want more and better sex, you would not be impressed by her becoming a far better cook. Yeah, it would be nice, but it would not meet your real need. The same is true with her – giving her things other than what she most wants and needs from you is “nice” but it’s not life changing.

The bottom line is this: the more you give, the more likely she is to give to you; the better you meet her deepest needs, the more likely she is to try to meet your deepest needs. The more you sacrifice for her, the more she is going to be willing to sacrifice for you. This is true of anything in life, including sex. There is no magic, no secret, just hard work to love her as best as you can.

If I had it to do over, I think I could have gotten what I have now in a fraction of the time. I would do it by talking a lot less about sex, doing nothing more than letting her know what I hoped our sex life would become. Along with far less talk about sex, I would do far more giving, loving, and sacrificing. Every time she “failed”, I would take it as a cue to work even harder to bless and love her.

Finally, as my bride said, pray a lot. Don’t just pray for her to change; pray primarily for you to change. Ask, no beg, the Lord to show you how to be move giving, and to help you to sacrifice more. Give until you can’t give any more, then pray for the strength to give even more. Ask God to help you become a model of Christ like, sacrificial love. This is one of the most powerful things any man can do.

Image Source

Links to blog posts that stood out to me this last week:


The Generous Wife

The Big Fight ◄ Generosity and stinginess – which is winning in your life?
Can Your Word Be Trusted? ◄ About as important as it gets.
A Thoughtful Gift ◄ The thought only counts if you think!
Marriage Retreat ◄ Pro-marriage movies.

Hot, Holy and Humorous

Confessions of My Sexy and Sex-Happy Hubby ◄ Spock speaks on sex.
Forget the Hedge, Erect a Wall ◄ Are you fully fortified against adultery?

Journey to Surrender

Living Your Purpose ◄ Make your walk fit your talk.

Marriage Gems

Divorced friends may have good marriage advice ◄ Learn from the mistakes of others!
Is true and lasting love possible? ◄ Note #6 of 7.

Marriage Life

What’s Your Priority? ◄ Priority check!
My Marriage Is The One That Matters ◄ Focus check.
Can You Read Your Spouse? ◄ Keep studying.

Marriage Missions International

Two or Three Perspectives? ◄ The other, other story.

Marriage Works

The Truth About Forgiveness ◄ What it is, what it’s not
Do It For Jesus ◄ A great addition to my post above.


Kick Your Wife Out of The House! ◄ This is sacrificial love.
Sex; Be Clear About What You’re Asking For ◄ Very important.
Ten Things Every Husband Wishes His Wife Knew About Sex, But Doesn’t Know Quite How To Tell Her ◄ A great guest post Gerald did on this bride’s blog.

One Flesh Marriage

Introducing ◄ One Flesh Marriage adds some resources – check it out.

13 Comments on “Creating an atmosphere of change

  1. I wonder if these suggestions are meant solely for men? I find that I the wife am sex-starved and would love more sex than I could handle, but can’t get it from my husband. However, I find it very hard to take on this role of pursuing and initiating. It’s not natural or easy, at all, for me, and most importantly, I want to feel that. I want to feel wanted by him. I want to feel sought after, desired. I honestly do not initiate more sexual encounters because I feel void of that, but by no means does that lessen my need for sex. I want it way more often than he does and I think that, along with other factors, is why he doesn’t pursue me to begin with. BUT I’M STARVING…sexually. And when I do initiate because I can’t take it anymore, I feel cheapened. I feel like I gave it up too easily without getting what I need from the sexual experience between husband and wife: feeling wanted, desired, longed for. I initiated it to have sex because I couldn’t take it anymore, but if I held out longer, so would he with no problem. And we’re both believers. He hasn’t ever been unfaithful, and is a very disciplined follower of Christ, both raised in the church. I was unfaithful about 9 years ago, which I confessed to about 3 years ago, with someone but there was never sex, or intercourse. He forgave me, and we’ve been working through that. However, I am the only one who still follows up with a counselor, and besides my personal issues of weakness, this same need was one of the major driving forces behind why I sought the attentions of someone else. I wish he would get that. I need him to want me and/or to work with me on what is keeping him from wanting me. How can I do this??

    • Hungry – What I have suggested can’t hurt, but it may not be enough for two reasons. Firstly, women are more likely than men to respond to non-sexual attention. Secondly, it’s easier for a woman to “go along” with sex when they are not interested. Both physically and mentally this is more difficult for me. I’m not saying they can’t or won’t, but it’s a bigger hurdle for them.

      Most men have a strong sex drive, and when that seems lacking I always wonder why. Yes, some men just have a lower sex drive, but usually there is something more than that. It could be personality, fear, his past, stress, and on and on, but odds are there is something going on that is suppressing his sex drive. (Someone will suggest he get his testosterone levels checked, but if his drive has always been low this is unlikely to be the issue.)

      My suggestion is to write him a letter on an email and explain what you said above. Tell him you need to have more sex, and you need to have him pursue you sexually. Tell him that without this you feel unloved, wounded, and alone. Don’t make threats, just tell him the facts. Then ask him to talk with you about ways to fix this situation.

      You may have to be willing to think outside of the normal lines. If he offered you his hand or his mouth a couple of times a week, and asked for nothing in return, how would you feel? Certainly that takes care of the physical need, but would it make you feel he cared about you? Not desired, but at least cared for? The sneaky side of this is that doing something like this for you a couple of times a week would probably kick his drive up. Maybe he can agree that he will do something for you twice a week, and when he wants something as well he will let you know. Then when it’s more than just for you, you will know he wants it, he wants you.

      I realise this is not a romantic solution, and not what you really want, but it is probably more likely to happen. At this point I would think any change in the right direction would be good, and once change is happening you never know what might happen.

      And yes, men, you can suggest something similar to your bride. It is less likely to hook into her natural sex drive, and it might get in the way of her healing, but sometimes it’s a good step, and sometimes the husband needs this just to stay sane.

  2. Some marriage sites for men say that a husband continuing to pile on the “beta/nice guy” actions will not stimulate his wife’s sexual desire for him unless he is also taking some “alpha/bad boy” action in the marriage. Although these sites promote a lot of things that Christians could not support, I do see how this point could be true. I think that a wife can love/appreciate/care for her husband, but not feel a sexual attraction to him, and can see how adding some “alpha” male stuff could increase her attraction. I’m wondering what your thoughts are on that? Thanks.

    • Gaye – I would use other words, but I do understand and agree that just being “nice” does not make a man sexually attractive.

      On the other hand, I’ve heard women say that seeing their husband doing the dishes makes her want him sexually. ;-)

      • LOL – very true about doing the dishes! I just worry when I read some Christian marriage advice for men that they aren’t getting the full picture of what is needed to create sexual interest and desire in their wives. Yes, it is critical to be a loving, supportive husband, but the odds are good that loving and supportive isn’t enough to spark your wife’s sexual interest. My husband and I had to learn that from non-Christian sites, and then try to put it in a Christian context.

  3. I believe we should strive to love and give to our spouses. I agree with this. But at least with respect to sexual refusal, I don’t believe that the way a husband or wife is treated by their partner is the main reason for the refusal. I think THAT is actually very rare, at least from the reading I’ve done on The Marriage Bed refusal boards over the last 5 years. I HEAR “well, if he treated me better” or “If he was a spiritual leader” or if “She allowed me down time” or whatever, but I believe those are just excuses to avoid the real reasons.
    Sex isn’t important.
    Libido is low.
    Lack of sensitivity/empathy.
    Misunderstanding scripture.
    Low testosterone.
    Misunderstanding gender differences.
    Fatigued by ordinary life.
    Misunderstanding marriage.

    Some women actually think they can be a good wife without having sex with their husbands. They think that everything else they do can ADD up to what sex provides for their husbands. Its a ridiculous notion to believe. It will NEVER add up to enough!

    I guess Paul, this post……… Brother I LOVE your ministry. It has helped me SO much! ……

    This post feels like what I’ve heard my whole life. “Sex starts in the kitchen.”

    I no longer believe that. I used to. Women who say they are sexually turned on by their husbands doing the dishes are ALREADY there.

    I guess I agree that if a husband isnt stepping up then He has no chance in general. That’s like the baseline. But some wives, (and I believe MANY) are clueless as to the importance of sex in marriage. The churches almost never teach it. Their bodies DON’T prompt them and resting after a long day trumps all. And besides, “We had sex last month. Whats the fuss about. I’m tired and made dinner. That should be enough.” I don’t think this is rare. It pervades our society and our churches.

    In 40+ years of church attendance I’ve ONCE, only ONCE heard a pastor say that women should have sex more. And this was to a small group of about 10 people. One pastor, one sentence, in over 40 years. But I can’t count the number of times they admonished men to treat their wives better.

    Are women EVER told they need to put out? EVER? (Well the Apostle Paul tells them this, but I’ve also never heard that preached either)

    Again, I love your ministry Paul. I’m just talking here. We should be the best husbands we can be. On TMB we have a little group we call our fellow “Oarsmen” (as in we are in the same boat – we have women on the crew too) For us, being better spouses really never seems to have any connection with sex.


    • landschooner – I am not deaf to what you are saying, and I know it’s very true for some. It is, however, not the norm.

      S0me guys have become great, but only after years of not being the husband they should. Most were not horrible, just clueless. That adds to any of the valid issues you mention, and gets used as the excuse. Frankly a lot of women figure they should not have to make the effort when their husband is failing them in so many ways. That’s wrong, but it’s reality.

      I agree that women need to understand the reality that sex is very important to their husbands. A growing community of marriage bloggers is doing this very well, and I have hope of it spreading into the larger Christian community. While pastors who will say this are still rare, they are less rare than they once were.

      Another problem is that refusal and low sex marriages tend to go on a long time before the one being refused says “enough”. By then it’s become entrenched habit. It’s also difficult to convince someone that something is critical when it’s not been provided for many years. “You don’t need any more than you’ve been getting” sounds pretty valid. I think this is a result of the anti-male and anti-sex teachings of the world and the church respectively. Men don’t push because they have been told they are monsters, and women don’t push because good girls don’t feel such things. It takes years of frustration to push the person past those fears and lessons, and that delay is a huge problem.

      The ultimate solution to this, and for that matter to most marital problems, is mentoring that starts before the marriage and continues for at least the first year of marriage. It requires mentoring by a couple who will get in the faces of the newly weds and ask the hard and important questions. Dealing with things before the end of the first year of marriage is easy; the longer it goes on, the more difficult it is and the less likely it is that a real change will occur.

  4. This is a great post Paul! As I posted in your earlier post on the subject…my husband has been great at helping me become that sex positive wife, and from when I read to him my reply to your post to his surprise he does a lot of it without even knowing it. He said he does a lot of it because he knows it will make me happy and it does. The walks in the park draw me closer to him, the passionate kisses make me want him to never leave, holding my hand as we praise God together makes me feel adored, and going to bed early so we can talk and make eachother laugh reminds me how much in love with him I am and he does all of this just to make me happy.

    Granted all the above hasn’t always happened all the time. We’ve certainly had our dry areas in marriage and believe it or not all of this has really just become our journey starting in May. Our Marriage to be honest was on the brink, but we made a decision that things had to change. I’ve learned more about this man of mine in 3 months than I have in the going on 9 years i have known him.

    Keep the great post coming!!!

  5. Paul for starters wanna say I love your and your wifes blogs, they’ve helped me a lot. I am one of those wives that “wants” it more than my hubby, while he has started “trying” its few and far in between attempts. But he is at least attempting so we’re workin on it, but a month ago he started a new job on first shift (he has pretty much worked 2nd the entire 12 yrs we’ve been together) and he has to get up at 5:30am, what I’m dealing with is at 8 when the kids lay down he heads to bed too. He may read his bible for a few mins but then its to sleep he goes. I’ve tried to get him to stay up for at least a little bit so we can have some “couple time” to just talk or whatever without having to deal with the kids, and he’s like “i need at least 8 hrs of sleep”, i get that he’s tired and I just brought it up this week because i know this and i know its a transition, but when i tried to talk to him about it tonight he seriously said “some nights i might but I’m wore out most of the time” well today he didnt work and slept till 10:30, we didnt attend church because he wanted to catch up on some sleep since this was his only day off. I try very hard to be understanding, very hard but everytime something is brought up its “ill try” and to put it bluntly his trying pretty much means when he feels like it. I try to do my best to do things he likes, i do it mainly because thats just who i am i always try to do sweet, kind things for my loved ones, i very rarely tell him no for anything and i try and go out of my way to please him in various ways. I am plumb out of ideas, i used to get upset and very angry and i have gotten a lot better at just talking but it seems like he doesn’t get it unless it turns into an arguement.
    Also i agree with the church not paying attention to the marriage in general really but especially the sexual side, i honestly have felt the calling to serve in this area, just waiting for him to show me how.
    Thanks for all that you and Lori do its truely a blessing!

  6. Wow sorry that was kinda a complain fest, huh. Guess i needed to vent, Sorry ’bout that I’m really not as upset as that sounded, just frustrated. When you hear I’ll try so many times and it next to never happens its frustrating. And really we have a good realationship, pretty awesome most of the time just little areas that need improving, like all marriages.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: