Understanding Sexual Needs and Wants In Marriage Why it’s important that both spouses to understand one another’s sex drives. BY DENISE J. CHARLES
Humans are sexual beings and understanding needs versus wants will make both spouses happier.
“ We must recognize that our worth is not tied to whether or not our needs are met in the way we prefer.”
A guy once said to me that he needed sex regularly in order to take care of his burdensome erection. Basically, he was intimating that his wife should have no complaints about his strong sex drive. According to him, she simply needed to understand that his sexual readiness most mornings or nights was really outside his control. It was just a fact of nature, which she should accept; especially if she wanted to make him happy.
Although we women also have sex drives that peak according to our monthly cycle with the rise of our sexual hormones, there may be nothing that quite prepares us for the strength and voracity of the male sex drive. That being said, it is important to note that women also like and need sex. Sex is not the exclusive purview of men, and women need to get this. The problem in relationships arise, however, when sex becomes an act that is all about us as individuals—whether man or woman—and very often that selfish bent for sex can land squarely at the feet of men who often seem to have sex on the brain—constantly.
When, as a couple, we appear to be at sexual cross-purposes, very often it is because our relationship needs and expectations don't quite line up. Men often crave sex on demand while women want sex accompanied by connection and emotional intimacy. So how do we respond to this common relationship challenge? Our response is often contingent upon our emotional maturity, our understanding of ourselves and our partner, and our willingness (at times) to put our spouse's needs before our own.
While many of us assume that adults having sex should be able to handle the responsibility a sexual relationship brings, my counseling experience has taught me that this isn't necessarily the case. The fact that we enter relationships or get married with several emotional deficits means that our expectations can often be skewed in a direction, which magnifies personal gratification above all else. In other words, the needier we are emotionally the less willing we are to accede to the needs of someone else. This can inculcate a self-centered drive in either individual to have his/her needs met at all costs.
When a refusal to grow up emotionally is extended into the sexual relationship, the result can be damaging. A wife may deliberately withhold sex or other demonstrations of affection simply because an emotional or financial need remains unmet, while a husband may withhold affection because he is unhappy sexually. A dearth of sex for most men can also lead to responses ranging from childish petulance to anger and emotional withdrawal. Of course some husbands fail to realize that "punishing" their wives is unlikely to bring them any closer to candy-land, but women understand this knee-jerk response and are often prepared with their own slew of relationship missiles. This tit-for-tat behavior is, however, counterproductive and will serve to drive a further wedge in the marriage.
Emotional maturity means being able to put the needs of our partner before our own; and it also means dealing with issues as soon as they come to light, without allowing them to fester and spill over into the bedroom. This has implications for the importance of communication. It is necessary that we attempt to understand and accept the intrinsic differences between men and women. When we embrace the fact that our needs and priorities are different, then this can relieve much relationship tension. Recognizing that no amount of sex or no amount of emotional engagement will make us completely happy is also critical.
While healthy relating and engagement are essential components of a successful marriage, a healthy dose of self-acceptance and self-love are also critical. These should allow us to handle incremental rejection without going off the deep end in self-pity mode. We must recognize that our worth is not tied to whether or not our needs are met in the way we prefer. This means putting sex and romance in their rightful place in our relationships and translates into acknowledging their importance without making unrealistic demands of our spouse.
While husbands look forward to easy sexual access after marriage, women long for enduring emotional support. These needs should not be used competitively against each other, but should dove-tail wonderfully to strengthen the overall texture of the relationship. Ultimately, selfish agendas have no place in a relationship built on love.