Intimate Issues, Part 1February 5, 2009
You’re in the mood, but your husband isn’t. Authors Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus discuss some things that might be the cause of a man’s diminished sex drive.
You’re in the mood, but your husband isn’t. Authors Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus discuss some things that might be the cause of a man’s diminished sex drive.
Linda: I think of one dear woman, Christie, who said to me, "I realize that the only person I can work on is myself. My husband has not changed in this area. He still is not interested, and my self-worth can't be dependent on whether he is interested in me sexually. I must love him as God wants me to love him, seek ways to encourage him, but this cannot be ballooned into something that's going to ruin my life."
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, February 5th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Today we'll provide some help for wives whose husbands would say, "I am just not interested." Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. And it's appropriate, as we start today's program with Day 32 of the Love Dare. We've been going through the book, "The Love Dare," which was featured in the movie, "Fireproof," which is now out on DVD, and if you go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, you can find information both about the book and about the DVD. You can order them, and we can send them to you.
So your dare for today, if at all possible, try to initiate intimacy with your husband or your wife today and do it in a way that honors what your spouse has told you or what you picked up about what he or she desires from you in this area of your marriage. Ask God to make this time something that is enjoyable for both of you as well as a path to greater, deeper intimacy in your marriage. So that's your Love Dare assignment for today and, again, if you'd like more information about the book, "The Love Dare," or the DVD of the movie "Fireproof," go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and we've got the information available there.
And, again, we've been talking about this subject of intimacy in marriage and the sexual dimension of marriage this week, and we've encouraged our listeners, you may have younger children who you would want to divert during this conversation, because we're trying to talk appropriately and respectfully on a subject that is for mature audiences.
You know, a Hebrew boy was not allowed to read the book, The Song of Solomon in the Bible until after his bar mitzvah because his father knew better than to let him go reading around in that book.
Dennis: Yeah, I'll never forget, in class one day Howard Hendricks made the statement while I was in Dallas Theological Seminary. He said, "We should not be ashamed to discuss that which God was not ashamed to create." And I think how many times we, as Christians, stutter and stammer and, you know, we don't want to talk about such intimate issues publicly let alone on Christian radio, Bob, but it needs to be talked about because there certainly are enough messages being communicated through the media today that we need to get the Christian message out through that same medium.
Bob: Well, I wouldn't encourage anyone to do this, but if you were to scan your dial right now on the radio …
Dennis: Oh, my goodness, right.
Bob: And just stop on each station and listen, you'd find a half a dozen stations where there is a song playing or a DJ talking, and they're talking about what we're going to be talking about, but they're not talking about it from a biblical perspective, and that kind of mind pollution is what's got us in the mess we're in today.
Dennis: It really has. With us today are the authors of a book called "Intimate Issues, Conversations Woman-to Woman About the Subject of Sex." Lorraine Pintus and Linda Dillow join us here on Thursday for FamilyLife Today. Ladies, welcome back. I feel like it's been a – well, a time of honest communication but a good time of talking about an area that doesn't receive a lot of clear communication in Christian circles. So thanks for being on the broadcast this week and thanks for your book, "Intimate Issues."
Linda: Thanks, it's great to be here.
Lorraine: We're glad to be here.
Dennis: Today on the broadcast, what I want to talk about is a subject that doesn't get addressed in Christian circles, either. In fact, usually, it's the complaint that women are not interested. But I want to begin today's broadcast by talking about men who aren't interested in the physical relationship, because you address this in your book, and we get letters here on FamilyLife Today from listeners who say, "It's not me that's not interested, it's my husband."
Linda: It is a real problem today, Dennis. I was speaking at a conference, and during that one weekend, three different women came up to me and said, "Linda, there is nobody I can talk to here. Nobody would understand," and each of them had the same problem – their husband was never interested.
One of these women, when I walked in the door, I spotted her across the room, and my first thought was, "What a classy lady." She was about my age, and she was exquisite. It looked like she'd walked out of a Vogue magazine, and yet she was one of those women that came up and said, "Linda, this is what my husband said to me. He said, 'I love you, I admire you, but there is no chemistry between us, and there will be no sexual relationship.'"
That is so devastating to a woman, because she feels unfeminine, she feels unattractive and, believe me, this woman was attractive. I was thinking, "Oooh, I wish I looked like she did," and yet her husband had said to her, "I'm just not interested in you." It is a major problem today, and we call it the "problem no one talks about," because most wives are standing around saying, "Oh, I wish he wasn't so interested," and a dear woman doesn't want to interject and say, "Gosh, I wish I had that problem. My husband is never interested in me."
Dennis: Linda, do you think this is a recent phenomenon or do you think this has been a problem that's been around forever?
Linda: I'm sure that the problem has been around forever, but I think it has escalated because of pornography. Many Christian men are involved in pornography on the Internet, and when they are stimulated by such unhealthy, evil things, they are not that interested in a normal sexual relationship with their wives.
Lorraine: Another reason that husbands sometimes aren't interested is they might be taking a medication that might inhibit their desires – things like heart medications, antidepressants, many of these things inhibit sexual desire, and in the book we do have a sidebar that lists some of those drugs.
Dennis: Sometimes what can inhibit a man's sex drive can be his attention to work and the stress he is under in his vocation. Also, some men, I think, are afraid of a relationship with their wives. I think the safe and secure route is to avoid the initiation. Sex, for a man, is a very risky proposition. And for a young man today, starting out his marriage, who may be carrying some emotional baggage into that relationship, he may find it difficult to initiate with his wife and risk the rejection, risk the failure as a man in initiating the sex act.
And a wife, at that point, can begin to feel rejected and feel like he's not interested in her at all.
Lorraine: That's right. I think there are two things a woman can do – the first thing is, she needs to have an honest talk with her husband. They need to talk out these things. A husband may need to express it's the stress at work, or possibly these things that happened in my past are affecting me. So they need an honest talk together.
And then I would suggest that a woman have an honest talk with God; that she get on her knees and plead with God to intervene with supernatural wisdom for Him to show her how she can minister to her husband.
Linda: And also to ask honestly, "God, is there something I am doing that is causing him not to be interested?" Recently, a young woman came to me, and for a long time her husband would not be honest with her, but finally he said, 'You try to control me. You try to run my life, and how can I be interested in you sexually when you regulate every area of my life?'"
So there was something that she needed to bring before God and change, and it was really an emotional issue in their marriage that was showing itself out in the sexual relationship.
Dennis: I think it's very important for a couple, whether they've been married for six weeks or six years, to address the issue not merely as a couple but maybe seek some outside help in their marriage. I think, many times, we try to pull ourselves out of a ditch and, in doing so, much like I did this past weekend with Barbara when we went to pick up a load of pine straw to put on our garden, I pulled off in the ditch and thought I would pull right out, and the more I tried to pull out of the ditch, the deeper the tire slid into the ditch. And finally I realized I better stop trying to pull myself out of the ditch, and I called a friend that came and got me and quickly pulled us out because we hadn't gotten in a deep, deep hole. I hadn't buried the pickup all the way to the axle.
And a lot of married couples, I think make the mistake of trying to fix their own relationship over and over again and don't realize that an older couple, a wiser couple from church, a godly couple, can step into their lives, and with some honesty on the young couple's part of admitting where they are struggling, can receive some counsel and some advice that can save them many, many hours of agony late at night when needs are going unmet and when one person is feeling rejected, and the other person is retreating. It's very important to, I believe, at points, seek others outside that marriage relationship.
Linda: Yeah, we need to not be afraid to ask for help.
Lorraine: That's an important point, and yet I know women who have had an honest talk with God, had an honest talk with their husband, gone for counseling, and yet nothing has changed. And I think of one dear woman, Christie, who said to me, "I realize that the only person I can work on is myself. My husband has not changed in this area. He still is not interested, and my self-worth can't be dependent on whether he is interested in me sexually. I must love him as God wants me to love him, seek ways to encourage him, but this cannot be ballooned into something that's going to ruin my life."
Bob: Many times we'll talk, Linda, about a wife's responsibility to meet her husband's sexual needs to protect him from temptation, and we don't often repeat the same counsel for husbands. But a husband who is inhibited in his sexual desire still has a responsibility before God to meet his wife's sexual needs. She has sexual needs, too, doesn't she?
Linda: She definitely does.
Bob: And he needs to protect her from the temptation of another man who will sit down and communicate with her and who will say, "You look pretty, are you doing something different with your hair?" And will speak romantic words to her …
Linda: You mean you noticed my hair? That's what we like!
Bob: 1 Corinthians 7 cuts both ways. Paul says that a wife's body is not her own but belongs to her husband, and conversely, a husband's body is not his own. He is not off the hook just because he doesn't have sexual desire.
Linda: The word that's used in that passage, Bob, is the word "authority." It says that neither of us has authority over our own bodies; that that authority should have been given to the other person, and this is a passage that is so misunderstood because it talks about duty, and, Lorraine, what do you think of when you think of the word "duty?"
Lorraine: I think of something I have to do.
Linda: It's a chore, and this is where the whole idea for a wife – of a wife – "wifely duty" to meet her husband's physical desires came from.
Lorraine and I were excited when we studied what that Greek word that is translated, "duty" really means, because it's not a good translation in the English Bible. The word means "a debt that is owed." And God says that a husband owes his wife a debt, and a wife owes her husband a debt. Why? Because they have participated in a gift exchange.
In this passage, first we see that God gave the gift of sexual passion to marriage couples. But then He says, "You exchange gifts." And what should have transpired on our wedding night is that the wife should have given the gift of her body to her husband, and the husband should have given the gift of his body to his wife.
Let me tell you about Kathy, a young wife who came to me, and she was really struggling in this area of her marriage, and she was a godly woman. But she wasn't a sensuous wife, and as we talked, I looked her in the eye, and I said, "Kathy, have you ever given the gift of your body to your husband? Did you do that on your wedding night?" She got real quiet, and she finally said, "No, I have never given it to him. All the choices have been mine. I have kept authority. I might give him a little taste of my body here, or he might be able to enjoy it a little bit here, but it was always my choice."
And I said, "Well, what do you think God would want you to do?" She said, "Well, you know, next week is Valentine's Day, and I think that what God wants me to give my husband for Valentine's Day is the gift that I failed to give him the night we were married." I said, "Well, why don't you wrap yourself up in a white bow and give him the gift."
She sent me, several weeks later, 10 pages from her journal, and I'd just like to share a couple of statements from her journal, because I think they're so beautiful. She wrote, "February 14th. Today is the day when I will give my body to my husband as a gift. Honestly, I am nervous. Why? This is what God desires of me. Why am I so nervous?"
"February 15th. Last night was a sweet evening. I told John when I gave my body to him that I had never really fully given my body to him when we were married. It was my body not his. So I stood in front of him with a ribbon on, nothing else, and offered myself to him. He wept, and he continued to weep. Do I feel different? Yes, I do, because I fulfilled what God asked me to do, and I've experienced a freedom sexually that I've never experienced before."
You know, when we ask women that question – "Have you ever given your body to your husband as a gift?" We get a lot of blank stares. But I think a whole lot of what we've all been discussing together revolves around this for husbands and for wives that we each need to give that gift.
Dennis: That gift can only be given if there is a commitment in place where there is the security of a covenant; where there is the confidence that that gift will be valued and respected and esteemed by the other person. That makes it reasonable for that gift to be given.
I think of the marriages – some that I know – where it would be difficult for that transaction – to put it in such an economic term here, but it would be difficult for that gift to be given simply because there isn't the trust, there isn't the protection, there isn't the ability to entrust that body to the other person and trust that they'll take care of it and treat it with dignity.
Lorraine: I wonder if what might be hard to give to her husband – in other words, she wants to give her body as a gift to her husband, but they don't have the relationship there where that's easy for her to do. I wonder, rather than doing it unto him, she can do that unto God and say, "God, Your Word says that my body is a gift. And so even though I'm having a hard time with my husband right now, I will do this as obedience as unto You."
1 Corinthians 7 gives a good test – it says right after Paul talks about the gift exchange, it says "stop depriving one another" and says "the only reason to not enjoy your sexual relationship together is prayer." Well, I've heard women give lots of reasons, but I very rarely ever heard prayer. And so if there are other reasons besides prayer, the woman still is keeping authority over her own body.
Dennis: You're saying that if a woman says she's too tired …
Lorraine: In our book, Dennis, we talk about ways to say "not now but later." But it's the whole spirit – we're talking about the spirit of a relationship. A woman can just walk away and act, "Ugh, I'm not interested," or she can say, "Honey, I am just so exhausted. Can I just pleasure you or can we meet tomorrow morning when I'm more rested? I want to love you, but now is not a good time."
It's the spirit – and the same goes true for a husband. We're talking about the husbands not being interested – a husband needs to be able to say to his wife, "You know, honey, I love you, but I'm really tired right now. What about tomorrow?"
Bob: You know, Dennis, when most couples sit down and evaluate a marriage that's in trouble, if you ask them, "What are the issues?" Undoubtedly, they're going to talk about communication or finances or sex. This is one of the big three covenant-threatening areas of a relationship.
And any couple who is committed to their covenant has to be committed to healthy communication with one another; to being able to handle the basics of finances in their marriage, and they've got to be committed to sexually enjoying each other.
Dennis: And, you know, Bob, in all three of those, there is the call to die to self and to love another person regardless of how you feel. Love is not a feeling, love is a commitment. Love says, "You know what? I will take care of you even when I don't feel like it. I will love you even when I don't feel like it. I'm committed to you, and that commitment transcends my feelings, it transcends other issues. You are the priority of my life after Jesus Christ, and before our children and before our family, and I am committed to you."
And I think whether we're speaking to a man who is not meeting his obligations and duties toward his wife sexually or speaking to a wife who may not be doing that with her husband, both need to realize that this covenant – commitment – they made was one that called them to get out of the "I don't want tos" and get into "I am willing to meet your needs over a lifetime together."
Bob: This is one of the subjects that we spend unpacking at our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences which, by the way, we're kicking off next Friday in a number of cities around the country. I know you're going to be speaking at the conference in the Dallas/Fort Worth area at the Gaylord Texan Resort; we've got a conference at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, Pennsylvania – you think about Valentine's weekend and chocolate and a Marriage Conference, I don't know how you can go wrong on that; got a conference in Washington, D.C.; a number of other cities all across the country, and on Saturday afternoon at the conference we spend time talking to husbands and wives about this whole area of marriage, because this is an issue, I think, in so many marriages and yet where are you going to go to get biblical help? Where are you going to go to hear this subject addressed candidly and yet biblically? And that's what happens at the Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference. And I want to encourage our listeners to go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about the upcoming spring season of conferences.
Again, the website, FamilyLifeToday.com or call us, toll-free at 1-800-FLTODAY and someone can answer any questions you have about the conference, when it's coming to a city near where you live or how you can get registered. We're going to be hosting these conferences in cities all around the country throughout the spring, so even if next weekend isn't a good weekend for the two of you, there are good weekends coming up this spring.
Again, the website, FamilyLifeToday.com, or call 1-800-FLTODAY. If you go online, you'll also find information about a resource our team has just recently updated. It's called "Simply Romantic Nights" and we've been offering this here for a number of years at FamilyLife Today. It's designed to provide a husband and wife with some creative ways to renew the spark and the passion in their marriage relationship – special date nights that you can enjoy together, a dozen for husbands to make happen for their wives, and a dozen for the wives to put together for their husbands. And there's more in the kit than just that.
All the details are available online at FamilyLifeToday.com. You'll also find information about Linda and Lorraine's book, "Intimate Issues," answers to the 21 most often-asked questions by women about this issue of romance and sexual intimacy in marriage. Again, go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, or give us a call at 1-800-FLTODAY for more information about any of these resources or about the Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference.
You know, we appreciate those of you who listen regularly to FamilyLife Today. I saw an e-mail note from a listener just today. Someone who had written to us and said, "I was reflecting back over the past several months and thinking about a series that I had heard on FamilyLife Today that God had used in a really profound way in my life and in my marriage relationship." And she said, "I wanted to make a donation to your ministry because your ministry is having an impact in my life."
We appreciate those of you who, from time to time, make a donation to help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. This month, if you are able to make a donation of any amount, we want to send you a thank you gift. It's a two-CD set that features a conversation that we had with Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, the author of the book, "Love and Respect" about the issue of unconditional respect and what that ought to look like in a marriage.
That CD is our gift to you when you help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today, again, with a donation of any amount. If you are making that donation online, when you come to the keycode box on the donation form, type the word "respect" in the box, and we'll know to send a copy of the CD to you or call 1-800-FLTODAY and make your donation over the phone. When you do, just mention that you'd like the CDs on love and respect and, again, we're happy to send them out to you. We do appreciate your support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
Well, tomorrow we want to talk about what it might look like in a marriage relationship when a husband and wife take a fresh look at the subject of marital intimacy and how they can serve one another in this area. That comes up tomorrow, I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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