I’ve been really thinking about a concept that is so often stated as fact. That concept or statement is that “men need sex.”
I’m a marriage and family speaker and coach; we talk about sex all of the time. We describe the importance and value of it AND we highlight the differences between men and women – and that USUALLY the man in a relationship “needs” sex more often than the woman. At this point, I’m not convinced that’s true. Sure, men often have a reputation for not being able to control their desires for sex, but is it truly fair to say that men NEED sex as much as people say they do.
Different experts suggest 2-3 times per week is a healthy amount of sex in a marriage, but realistically that often isn’t possible in a world consumed by multiple jobs, kids, adult education, kids events etc… but that’s for another post.
What I wanted to get at today was the fact that we tend to use the term “need” far too loosely.
Now before I get into it too deeply I wanted to give a few qualifying points of clarification. Sex in a marriage is vital to a healthy and vibrant relationship. It adds connection and is the primary thing that sets marriage apart from any other friendship with someone of the opposite sex. Sexual desire varies in individuals; women can and are often becoming the more sexually aggressive partner in many marriages. At no point in this post am I suggesting withholding sex from your partner, or using this post to say things like “I told you so, you don’t really need it, so you don’t get it!”
Those things said, I’ve run into a roadblock with the statement “men need sex” and I’d like to tell you why.
Arguments for this concept include men needing sex because of the 72 hour cycle of sperm development, more testosterone, stress relief and security and connection with their spouse.
As much as none of those things are untrue, I am finding that we are setting women up for high expectations of sexual output AND setting men up to think that they are entitled and that it’s a biological need that they can’t control.
Here are a few points of potential damage this mentality can have for men.
1. We need affection too. It damages our awareness of our own need for physical affection and puts all of the emphasis on sex, and when we don’t feel fully connected even when we are sexually engaging regularly with our wife, we wonder why.
2. It creates a self-control issue. If we don’t have access to sex with our wives we begin to assume and think that we need to meet these needs in other ways, including masturbation, porn use and eventually even affairs.
3. Entitlement and blame is created. If we as men believe we need sex, then we often begin to point fingers of blame at our spouse when we aren’t getting it. Rather than increasing closeness, every time we feel an urge we begin to believe that our spouse must oblige, and if they don’t, bitterness and blame ensue. Sex isn’t owed to us, everything in marriage is mutually beneficial, including sex.
There are probably more but those are the ones that come to mind. I know that I have found myself thinking along some of these lines at times and had to catch myself, and it hasn’t been good for my marriage.
Realistically sex is good for us and our marriages, yes, BUT we don’t NEED it to survive or think straight. It shouldn’t be the foundation that the relationship is built on, and we talk about it like it is.
One of the reasons this stood out to me recently was because of the reality that we expect, or at least ask and teach, our youth and young adults to abstain from sex before marriage. If the bible says we should then we obviously can, but then why are we teaching married men that they simply can’t live without it?
Or turning the tables, why are we telling kids to abstain but in the same breathe and in the same room telling married adult men they can’t go a week without it and still have a healthy relationship with their spouse?
It doesn’t add up, and I for one have noticed an issue.
Here are a few points from the Bible that might relate:
1. We need self-control (which is not limited to those who are unmarried) Proverbs 25:28
2. We should abstain for the purpose of prayer, therefore its good for us to abstain at times.
1 Cor. 7:5
*And keep in mind “deprive” isn’t suggesting giving in at every request, its saying not to intentionally withhold.
3. To love each other and put others first even to the degree of laying down our lives for each other. 1 John 3:16; John 15:13. It seems to me that the least we can do is control ourselves, if the timing is wrong or circumstances arise, saving ourselves for our wives is honourable and loving and it makes us long for them more too! (Eph 5:25).
One of the reasons I saw the need to write this is because changing my way of thinking from “I need it” to “I don’t need it, but would really like it and deeply love my wife and see the incredible value and impact of sexual intimacy with her” has made a drastic difference in my perspective.
It’s an adjustment for sure, but a VERY good one.
Remember, sex and marriage are good and God designed them for each other, the two put together are powerful. The marriage relationship values it and is strengthened by it, but God provides each of us with enough self-control to save ALL of it for our spouses, which is exactly what makes it so powerful. It is to be enjoyed mutually and saved entirely for one another.