Friday, 14 November 2008

Marriage, Sex and Ministry 2

As we all know, sex is just one aspect of marriage. But an observation we have made during our years in pastoral ministry is that the quality of a couples’ sex life is a good ‘barometer’ for the health of the marriage overall; if a couple are not communicating or are having problems in one part of their relationship, you can almost guarantee that that will quickly be reflected in the bedroom.

As part of the ‘Sex, Romance and God’ seminar, Deb and I spent some time looking at the different needs of men and women when it comes to maintaining intimacy in marriage. Gary Rosberg, in his book ‘The 5 Sex Needs of Men and Women’, sums it up well in the following quote:

He (God) calls on men to connect emotionally with their wives in order to have their physical needs met; he calls on women to connect physically with their husbands in order to have their emotional needs met.

As a broad generalisation (and there will always be exceptions), women need to feel emotionally connected in order to be physically intimate, whereas a man finds emotional connection through sex. Interestingly, men are wired in such a way that they are often more emotionally open after sex. Gary Rosberg says, ‘Sometimes the best way to unlock a husband’s emotions is through satisfying his physical need for sex.’ H. Norman spells out these differences in this way:

For women sex is only one means of intimacy out of many and not always the best one. For many men, sex is the only expression of intimacy. Men tend to compress the meaning of intimacy into the sex act, and when they don’t have that outlet, they can become frustrated and upset. Why? Because they’re cut off from the only source of closeness they know. Men are interested in closeness and intimacy, but they have different ways of defining and expressing it. (This) is an area where men and women need to talk, listen and understand the other person’s language.” (H. Norman, quoted in ‘A Woman’s Guide to Sexuality’)