In The Message, verse 4 is paraphrased: “Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out.” Because God gave us the gift of sex, and we gave our individual bodies as gifts to our husbands, we are indebted to each other. Sex is not an unpleasant duty but a privileged responsibility. Sexual relations between a husband and wife are God-ordained and commanded. Failure of either to yield sexually to the authority of their spouse brings dishonor to God because it dishonors marriage.
Some of you may be thinking, is Scripture saying I can never say “not tonight?” No, but we would caution you to be very careful about how you can say it. Men are very vulnerable in the sexual area. You may think women are sensitive in this area, but men are even more sensitive. Remember, their feelings about their masculinity are wrapped up in their prowess as a lover. Your husband feels emotionally rejected when you turn down his sexual advances. It is important that wives understand the vulnerability a man has in offering himself to her.
Yes, there are ways to lovingly say “later” or “for now, let me satisfy you,” but we must remember that God says we are to give our bodies as a gift. Perhaps you think that since we are writing a book on sex, both of us are always ready and eager to make love. Not so. Like you, we get tired. We have wacko hormones. We often have “more important” things on our minds. Sometimes we find ourselves irritated with our husbands and don’t want to be in the same room with them, let alone the same bed. But we’ve made a commitment to honor God and be exciting lovers to our husbands. That decision helps our attitudes when sex is the last thing on our minds.
Our friend Brooke told us that she recently struggled with her attitude, yet made the choice to honor her commitment to her husband. She shares the following story from her journal:
Driving home on the snowy roads, my heart was singing. Tonight I would be alone. Jake had a basketball game with the church league and the children were each invited to a sleepover. An empty house. What joy! Visions of slipping into a bubble bath with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate danced in my mind.
When the garage door opened, I saw our blue car. Jake was still home. I was totally unprepared for him and his plan for the evening. With a grin, he informed me that a night of lovemaking awaited me in front of the fire. My heart sunk to my feet. I was anticipating aloneness — not togetherness.
I felt sad that my evening alone had vanished. Sex was the last thing on my mind. Perhaps I could get up for hors d’oeuvre sex, but it was obvious Jake wanted Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings! I just wasn’t in the mood. What was I to do?
My thoughts went to a conversation I’d had with a friend. She told me my husband never wanted her. I should be grateful that after 17 years of marriage, Jake still yearned for me, that he preferred a romantic evening with me over a basketball game. But I wasn’t. Not tonight. Help, God, I prayed. I love this man. Help me want to love him. One decision followed another. I prayed that Jake would not see how hard this was for me.
I told Jake how much I loved him, told him how I was going to give him pleasure, but my mind and heart were in the bath with my book. I continued to pray and love my husband. I choose to love him, Lord. Give me desire for him.
As I write, it’s hours later. My Jake is asleep. I can’t sleep because I’m still thinking about what happened tonight. It was a beautiful time of lovemaking — exquisite. Afterward we felt so close and intimate.
What a lesson for me. Yes, my plan was shattered, but how grateful I am that I made a choice and went with the new plan. I made one husband very happy, and I’m at peace that I chose to love. And someday, God will even have an evening alone for me.
Brooke had to make some hard choices to change her attitude but what a difference it made. She chose to give unselfishly and to allow God to work.
We don’t know the number of sexual relationships sabotaged by a wife’s poor attitude, but we know it is high. When it comes to sex, we must each answer the question: Will I selfishly demand to have my own way, or will I minister to my husband and trust that God will bless my obedience?
Making the right decision is never easy but there are benefits to adopting the right attitude. When we choose to love selflessly, we honor God, we make our husbands happy, and we find more pleasure in our lovemaking.
Dying to self is difficult, but it is necessary if you want to grow in godliness. Being godly means having a godly attitude. Godly attitudes result in godly actions, such as giving your body to your husband. This is easier if you surrender to God and allow His Spirit to work within you. “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). He is able to give you desire where none existed before. He can help you exchange wrong thinking with godly thinking. He can cause you to enjoy deeper intimacy than you ever thought possible.
God, I confess that I have not always appreciated your gift of sex — or even wanted it. I have shunned You and withheld my body from my husband. Forgive me. I want to be a willing and creative lover — but it’s hard. Please stir up in me passion and desire for my husband. Help me get my mind off myself and focus instead on him. I surrender myself to You and humbly ask that You begin now to work in me.
Adapted from the book, Intimate Issues by Linda Dillow & Lorraine Pintus, published by Waterbrook Press. To read more, go to intimateissues.com Copyright © 1999 by Linda Dillow & Lorraine Pintus, Used with permission.