“Beauty is not only a terrible thing, but it is also a mysterious thing. There God and the Devil strive for mastery, and the battleground is the hearts of men.”
— Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Are you being the spiritual leader your wife needs you to be? What is your heart attitude? Spiritual leadership is a difficult task. It involves allowing God to mold our attitude over and over again into that of a servant’s heart. The Biblical model of leadership, Jesus, is a model of serving others. One of the clearest ways a husband can check and see how he is performing as a spiritual leader, with the right heart attitude, is by evaluating his leadership with regard to sexual intimacy with his wife.
As we all know, men are generally stimulated by sight initially, and women are initially touch-stimulated. Because of this, sexual intimacy with our wife is usually on our minds a lot more than our wife’s. This fits nicely with husbands being wired to lead and being initiators and wives desiring to have husbands that they can follow and be responsive to.
The original curse in the Garden of Eden for women was that their “desire” shall be for their husband. This did not refer to sexual desire. Eve had plenty of sexual desire for Adam; they had been having sex before the fall. The actual translation is more closely rendered: “desire to rule over.” A woman naturally knows when they are forced to be the servant leader, and it makes them angry because they are not being allowed to respond to their husband serving them, the way it is meant to be, the way she is wired.
This initiation and response is true in many areas of marriage, but not any less so in physical intimacy. Consider this incredible design with regard to the way He planned for a husband and wife to come together mentally, emotionally, and physically. It represents some very strong evidence of God’s hand in the design of marriage and sex. It helps us to imagine His joy when we come together sexually as husband and wife.
It’s only natural that a husband should be the one to initiate sexual intimacy – EVERY SINGLE TIME.
ATTITUDE CHECK: Men, are you okay with this, or does your male ego rebel and need worship from your wife? Of course a wife has the ability to initiate sex. Clearly it is wonderful when a wife initiates sexual intimacy; this is just icing on the cake! As you men know, this usually doesn’t happen in a vacuum, but often is in response to strong, loving servant leadership in other areas of your marriage. But initiation of sex is an opportunity for men to show loving servant leadership.
Many men, and I admit I have been guilty of this before, have been guilty of getting a bruised ego sexually – I like to call it getting “butt hurt.” Every time I personally have fallen into this trap of the enemy’s, it was because I wasn’t paying attention to my wife’s needs. Instead, I was having a “self-attack,” completely focused upon what I wanted. Thankfully I have a wife who is beyond gracious and lovingly let’s God change my attitude.
The Bible talks about “dwelling with our wives with understanding.” This does not mean understanding why they are the way they are or why they do certain things. It does include understanding how they are. We should understand, for example, with regard to sex: When is my wife most likely going to want to make love and be able to enjoy it, and when is she going to be distracted and not be able to enjoy making love?
For example, some wives do not like sexual intimacy when they have experienced a lot of stress; but some do enjoy sexual intimacy then. Some might enjoy sex after a stressful day if they are able to process the day with their husband first. How is your wife in this regard? How have you allowed God to mold your heart attitude and empower you to meet your wife’s needs? Believe me, deep in her heart she knows, and it is either wounding her spirit or giving her unspeakable joy.
This distinction can get tricky. The key here is being able to allow God to change your heart attitude “on a dime” if you are wrong in your assessment. The only way you can do this is with a close personal relationship with God fueling your desire to love your wife as Christ loves the church, which will translate into a pure motive of serving and giving pleasure to your wife.
It involves complete surrender and self-sacrifice. Always stay behind God’s leadership. If you initiate making love, and your wife responds positively, great. If you misread your wife, and she lovingly suggests another time, then what better opportunity to show unconditional love than unselfishly conforming your desires with your wife’s. Showing you love her unconditionally in this circumstance is what she longs for.
The opportunity to show unconditional love is even greater when things haven’t been going well in your relationship. There are times when you may know that your wife wants to make love, but is just too upset with you. Being vulnerable enough to lovingly initiate lovemaking with your wife and being ready to go forward or stop shows her that you care not just for her body, but for her heart. Pure and unconditional vulnerability will show her how much you love her.
This battle to submit to your wife’s needs and desires emotionally and mentally is the crux of the battle for your wife. John Eldredge calls this battle “a rescue” in his book Wild At Heart. You are actually rescuing your wife from having to take over the leadership sexually and by being the more vulnerable, stronger one in the relationship. On the other hand, when a man sulks rejection and from not getting his way and expects his wife to be the one to re-initiate sexual intimacy to heal both of their hearts, it wounds her deeply.
Another entirely different facet of this issue is desirability. Our society places a high priority on physical appearance and beauty. Having a desire to be intimate with your wife reinforces in her mind that she is the beauty you want. It doesn’t matter is she’s a store clerk or a CEO, every little girl grows up wanting to feel beautiful. Eldredge states that every man desires a “beauty to rescue,” and every woman wants to feel worthy enough to be fought for.
Initiating physical intimacy reassures your wife that you are willing to fight your desire to feed your own ego, to sacrifice that part of yourself, and also that you find her so attractive that you want to kiss, hold, and caress her; that you are still captivated by her!