From “Have To” to “Want To”

A Wives Only Wednesday Post

Love can move your sex life from “have to” to “want to”

Today is a Wives Only Wednesday post, so you guys can tune out. I’ll deal with you next week in a follow-up Men Only Monday post.

In my recent marital needs poll, I asked husband and wives to answer this question: “What is the one thing you need most from your spouse?”

First the Facts

Some pretty clear trend emerged among those who participated. Ladies, you might guess the need that more husbands chose than any other: sex. But rather than accuse or blame you, I want to try to help you see your husbands desire for sex from a slightly different perspective.

By a significant margin, more men reported needing “a satisfying sex life” as their number one need than any other need. Overall, 49% of husbands reported sex as their number one need. This stands in stark contrast to the 2% of wives who said a satisfying sex life was their number one need.

For comparison, at a distant second, the next most reported need for husbands was “being respected,” which came in at 14%.

Here’s the tough part. While almost half of the husbands stated sex was their most important need, more than half of these men (58%) said their need was not being met very well at all, giving their wives a 1, 2, or 3 on a ten-point scale. On a more positive note, 22% said their need for sex was being met well (7-10 score).  The other 20% fell in the middle (4-6).

Overall, that means the husbands in three of ten marriages represented by survey respondents are living with their number one need unmet. That’s not a formula for a happy or enduring relationship.

From “Have To” to “Want To”

I thought it would be best to get some assistance with this post from some of my female blogging friends who have recently written some excellent posts on the topic. So I contacted them and asked if I could use excerpts from their posts, and both graciously agreed.

Robyn Gibson of Up With Marriage did a couple of great posts on the issue of sex.  In her first post on this topic, Serving Through Sex, she examines the key distinction between “have to” and “want to.” As she explains, in her own life moving from “have to” to “want to” was a matter of adapting her thinking to God’s plan for sexual intimacy in her marriage.

Adapting enables the flesh to grow up. Adapting is what changes the stoic ‘have to’ in our flesh of obedience into the loving ‘want to’ in our spirit. 

She adds this scripture:

And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart.

Ezekiel 11:19

Her point here is that when women think of sex as simply “serving their husbands,” it is more of an obligation – something only for his benefit. But that’s not how God intends sex in marriage to be. She concludes her post with the example of a husband who “serves” his wife by reluctantly agreeing to dinner and a movie but freely admits he would rather have just read a book or watched TV.

He is in the mindset of “I have to” not “I want to.” It feels deceitful and is an affront because when we read, “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25), we know God didn’t mean for Christ to love the church through conciliatory gestures.  Have to is serving. Want to is loving. I don’t want my husband to have to love me; I want him to want to love me.

So, back to the sex of it … as long as I feel that I am serving my husband through sex, it will always be a conciliatory gesture and never authentic genuine love.

Did you catch that? Let me say it again: Have to is serving. Want to is loving. 

When it comes to sex in marriage, an attitude of "have to" is that of a servant. An attitude of "want to" is that of a lover. Choose to be a lover. #sextip #marriagetip #heaveanmademarriage Click To Tweet

There’s another great quote from Robyn in the part 2 of Serving Through Sex.

The reason many of us have of a hard time wrapping our minds around this juxtaposition is because we try to reason in our flesh that we need to understand what God is asking of us before we do it. We wrestle with thoughts like:  “If it would just make sense then I could adapt.” Or,“If I just knew how this was going to turn out.” Or,“If I do this, how can I be sure that it will be fair?” Or at the very least, we want to be assured that our spouse won’t take advantage of us in the slightest. It seems we want some kind of guarantee before stepping out in faith. 

Stepping out in faith requires that we relinquish our need for a guarantee that everything will work out in our favor.

As Robyn explains, Jesus’ submission to the will of the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane was not an act of service. It was an act of love. Love says, my desire is to do what God’s will is for the sake of love. 

Serving through sex is a method for a wife to compartmentalize the act itself. She will be able to have sex and at the same time not be fully engaged: only as much as she has to be.

When I trust that God’s ways are excellent I will adapt to His plan for marriage. The submission of my whole self in marriage will demonstrate to God that I am all in. Nothing will be held back. I won’t be stuck in the mindset of having to serve my brother through sex. Instead, my transformed heart will want to have sex with my husband.

Guided by the Holy Spirit, Not Emotions

Chris, who writes the Forgiven Wife blog, encourages wives with the testimony ofhow God transformed her heart and her marriage after twenty years of sexual “gatekeeping.”

In a recent series, Chris shares the story of Janna Allen, a wife whose marriage underwent a similar transformation, The series is titled Journey of Change and starts here.  In the third post of her story, Janna explains why she thinks this transformation will stick.

I believe it is because it is NOT based on what I am “feeling”, physically or emotionally.  It is based on conviction and love, love of my Lord and my husband.  No matter if my sexual desire dips (which it does), it’s not an option to do nothing. Or no matter how I am feeling towards my husband at the time (which I have had hurt and anger to work through this past year), it’s not an option not to work through things and go back to a “self-protective” state where I build walls and harbor unforgiveness and /or bitterness.

I could never have done it without the conviction and power of the Holy Spirit, and I believe that it will only be through Him that this will be a forever change. Where I am concerned, all that’s dependent on me is surrendering and obedience to Him, because by nature I am way too selfish, independent, rebellious, and prideful to keep up an act of serving and loving my husband without some supernatural help and empowerment.

As I explained in my last post, Are You A Love or a Worker, being guided by love doesn’t mean you are guided by emotion. Rather, you can choose to focus on the truth, despite what your emotions might tell you. One of those truths is that, as a believer, you have the fullness of the Holy Spirit inside you – the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead. That is power!

Practice allowing your spirit to rule over your soul (mind, will and emotions).

More of You

If you struggle in the area of sexual intimacy with your husband, here is a notion that might help you shift your mindset. Rather than thinking of your husband as simply wanting more sex, realize that what he really wants is more of you.

He wants the kind of intimacy with you that only a thriving sexual relationship can enable.

Let your love for God and your love for your husband, empowered by the Holy Spirit, transform your “have to” into a “want to.” Who knows, maybe you might even end up at “get to.”

Let your love for God and your love for your husband, empowered by the Holy Spirit, transform your "have to" into a "want to." Who knows, maybe you might even end up at "get to." #sextip #marriagetip #heavenmademarriage Click To Tweet

Photo by Morgan Lane on Unsplash

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