Respecting the Marriage Bed, Part 1
Editor’s Note: This is Part 6A from the Let’s Talk Sex series.
The Need for Respect
It all starts in the head and the heart. By it, I mean a seven letter word – R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
Your husband thrives on respect. Men need to feel and know that they are respected. That’s the way they are hardwired. Ephesians 5:33 says, “…let the wife see also that she respects her husband.” As a wife, you are created to be his helpmeet, his ezer kenegdo, his ‘sustainer-beside-him,’ but you can’t really be helpful and sustain the marriage if you don’t respect your husband. When you disrespect your husband, you forget your specifically and uniquely designed role in a marriage.
Men are also incredibly physical. They enjoy working with their hands whether it be working under the hood of the car or playing an Xbox game, whether it is building something or tearing something apart to see how it works. I call it “tinkering” when my husband is working on something to understand it better. Men were created to work. Men like to fix things. But they also deeply appreciate and admire physical beauty and crave physical intimacy. When a man is unable to work or can’t fix something, he feels defeated, and he desperately needs to be respected and uplifted. On the other hand, when a man can’t have sex or feels physically and emotionally insecure with his wife on the marriage bed, he perceives disrespect.
Some Actions that are Disrespectful
- Withholding sex
One of the most disrespectful things you can do is to withhold sex from your husband, not just sexual intercourse, but open access to your beauty. Because men so often equate physical intimacy with love (men need sex to feel loved and women need love to have sex), withholding your body is the same thing as withholding your love and respect for your spouse.
When we were first married, I had an embarrassing habit of withholding physical affection and attention from my husband when I was angry or frustrated. It breaks my heart to think of the times I wouldn’t let him touch or hold me or refused him because I wanted to hurt him. Thank the Lord that He convicted my heart and made me aware of how sinful this was. Now I hate it when I hurt Adam, and although it sometimes takes everything within me and the help of the Spirit to stay when I’m mad at him, I stay because I love him, and ultimately because I respect him.
1 Corinthians 7:3-5 says, “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
When a wife decides to withhold sex while her husband wants to continue having sex, this one-sided decision causes unnecessary tension and sorrow in the marriage. Temptations may arise for a man to seek sexual satisfaction elsewhere (i.e. pornography or an affair) if sex is withheld for too long.
Keith Krell, Senior Pastor of Emmanuel Bible Fellowship in Olympia, Washington, writes in his sermon, ‘A Touchy Issue,’
“The word translated “stop depriving” literally means “do not rob one another,” or “do not do fraud to one another.” The word means to cheat somebody out of what is properly theirs. If you withhold your body when your partner seeks sex, it is biblical fraud. We have failed to satisfy and protect our spouse…”
Withholding sex is disrespectful because it undermines his authority and attacks his manhood by refusing to meet his needs.
- Belittling him or making fun of him sexually
A man’s physicality and sexuality are tightly interconnected to his ego. When you say mean things about his body or the way he performs, you are insulting his manhood. James 3 equates the disaster our tongues can create to a “forest fire.” The tongue has the power of life and death.
Proverbs 12:18 says, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
When you, as a wife, don’t watch what you say to your husband, even if you meant in a teasing manner, you disrespect your husband, causing both physical damage to your sexual intimacy and emotional damage to his pride and self-image.
- Discussing your sex life or venting to your girlfriends about your sexual problems with your husband
Your sex life with your husband is deeply intimate. It is meant to be private. Bringing in third parties is extremely disrespectful to your spouse because it takes something personal and makes it public.
Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” It doesn’t say a man leaves his parents and becomes one flesh with his wife and she includes others. Her friends don’t actually have to be there to cause problems.
Complaining about your sex life problems with others is also disrespectful because it brings shame to your spouse when he cannot fulfill your sexual desires or needs and you leave him wide open for criticism, guilt, and hurt.
Disrespect Shames. Respect Strengthens.
Proverbs 12:34 says, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.”
Disrespect shames your husband because it causes him pain when you dishonor him by withholding your physical beauty and body from him, when you dishonor him by making light of his sexual shortcomings or failure, and when you improperly include others in your sex life by betraying intimate details regarding your sex life.
Respect your husband by protecting yourselves from temptation by giving of yourself freely, willingly, and joyfully.
Respect your husband by uplifting him when he does please you, and encouraging him when he fails, or keeping silent instead of complaining to or criticizing him.
Respect your husband by honoring the marriage bed as sacred and private, refusing to engage in gossip about your husband or another woman’s husband.
Strengthen your marriage by being respectful of your husband in your thoughts, emotions, and actions.
- Think Positively
Reflect on the good things about your husband, focusing on the positives rather than the negatives. Don’t focus on his weakness and shortcomings. Start with this question: What is one good thing that your husband does for you sexually?
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8
- Act Selflessly
Whether your husband forgets to take out the trash or forgets to spend time with you, you have a choice in how you react. Choose selflessness. This means taking out the trash for him without nagging him. This means forgiving him when he’s hurt you. It’s not your job to punish or condemn your spouse. Being selfless means sacrificing yourself for the good of someone else. Is it good to explode in anger? Is it good to withhold your love? No.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4
- Emote Lovingly
Love the way you would want to be loved. It doesn’t matter that you did all the chores in the house if you don’t have love. You are like a squeaky wheel on a cart in the grocery store, an embarrassment to your family and an annoyance to those around you. It doesn’t matter that you are kind to everyone outside your home if you aren’t kind to your husband. You are like a diseased lung, appearing fine to those around you, but rotting on the inside. Show your husband respect by being loving and considerate on the marriage bed.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
I’d love to hear from you…
What ways can you show your husband respect and honor in your sex life?
To see other related posts in the Let’s Talk Sex series, click here.