Here's Theresa's 3rd review for
“The Power of a Praying Wife”
His Sexuality and His affection
The topics we tackled this week were two of the most sensitive and personal aspects of a marriage; Sexuality and affection. Stormie had some great Biblical references to remind us as women what God’s intention is for our marriages in this area.
Book review: His Sexuality
While reading this chapter, I couldn’t help but think of an episode of “Malcolm in The Middle”. I don’t know if you were familiar with that show, but basically, it revolved around a family consisting of a mom who is always on edge, a dad who is happy go lucky and their three very different boys. Their house was always a mess and in disrepair, the grass yellow and weeds overtaking the lawn. In one episode the dad had to have an operation so the parents’ sex life was put on hold for a few weeks. When they hear the news, both parents look at each other as if to say, “What are we going to do!??” As the episode went on, the house became sparkling clean and orderly, repairs were made and the grass turned a lovely shade of green. Just as they were getting used to the fresh order of their household, the doctor gave the green light for sex again. Soon the house became the eye sore it was before, but neither of the parents seemed to care. This is a comedic look at the dynamic between husband and wife balancing their intimate relationship alongside other responsibilities. Do you ever feel as if you don’t have enough energy in a day’s time to fulfill both obligations of taking care of home, kids, etc. and taking care of your intimate relationship with your husband? It can absolutely be a struggle to find a balance at times, and Stormie give us great Biblical reasons for why we should place intimacy with our husbands before other obligations and encourages us that if we do this, our home will not suffer a fate of disrepair, but rather things are more likely to fall into place.
One of the best things for us to remember is the fact that sex is not only a desire for our husbands, but a need. As Stormie says, “For a wife, sex comes out of affection. She doesn’t want to be affectionate with a man who makes her feel angry, hurt, lonely, disappointed, overworked, unsupported, uncared for, or abandoned. But for a husband, sex is pure need. His eyes, ears, brain and emotions get clouded if he doesn’t have that release… wives sometimes have it backwards. They think, we can have sex after we get these other issues settled. But actually there is a far greater chance of settling the other issues if sex comes first.” This made me think… is there anything that I NEED to function properly? Is there anything that, if withheld from me, would make my head fuzzy, and make me less pleasant to be around? The answer would have to be nutrition. If I don’t eat in a timely manner and become overly hungry – I cannot think or function properly and I am not the best company. Now what if Josh had the control over my food supply and when I would receive it? I would surely be grateful when he was faithful to provide for that need in a timely manner. On the other hand it would be hard for me to communicate, be loving and desire to serve him if I felt he was withholding this need from me for no good reason. I may even feel as though I needed to seek another source to feed me. When I looked at it in this way, the need for a wife to biblically meet her husband’s sexual needs became much more clear and tangible. Stormie also made the comment, “A man can easily be made to feel insignificant, beaten down, discouraged, destroyed, or tempted in this area of his being”. Again, since I think it’s safe to say that most women do not feel this way as a result of lack of sex, we need to identify something that, if absent from our marriage would result in these desperate feelings so we can better relate to our husbands in this area.
So what exactly does God say on the subject? Thankfully, He actually gives us quite a bit to help us along. 1 Corinthians 7:4-5 says, “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body but the wife does. Do not deprive each other except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control”. God makes it very clear here that both the husband and the wife hold the responsibility of making sure their spouse does not become tempted outside the marriage because of a lack of intimacy within the marriage. The Bible also says, “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). It is easy to read this verse and acknowledge that God is saying sexual morality outside a marriage means abstinence, but we also need to understand that inside a marriage it means just the opposite. It is a sin for a husband and wife to deprive each other of sexual intimacy.
Stormie points out that often when kids are part of the picture, it can be difficult to find the time, energy, and state of mind to look forward to sex. She describes a mom who has been hung onto, poked, and spit up on by kids all day and is looking forward to hitting the pillow and sleeping only to find her husband has different plans. She encourages us not to dismiss our husband’s need and desire to be with us, but rather to ask him for fifteen minutes. In that time, she suggests washing up, putting on perfume, brushing our teeth, changing into something we feel attractive in and praying for God to put us in the right state of mind. Of course, there are times this is much easier said than done, but her point is to try. For those who have the unusual circumstance of a husband who does not desire intimacy, there is something deeper going on that she encourages you pray about and possibly even to seek counseling. To wrap up this chapter, Stormie mentions that in this day in age, many marriages have baggage from former outside relationships sneaking into the marriage bed. She encourages those in this situation to confess the sin of sexual immorality before marriage and pray that God would set you free and heal you from those memories. “Remember, it’s never too late to pray for sexual purity, no matter what has occurred in either of your pasts. Sometimes sexual problems in a marriage happen as a result of sexual experience before the marriage.” As always, the prayer she has written for us on page 65 and 66 is worth reading, underlining and meditating over.
Discussion/ Study Guide questions
1. List the top ten priorities in your life. These are things that occupy your attention, time, and energy such as kids, work, friends, church activities, and so on. In the list, where does your husband fall? What does this reveal to you about your priorities? Even if your husband is at the top (right under your relationship with God of course,) is the sexual aspect of that relationship a priority? Write a prayer asking God to help you make this more of a priority.
2. Are you sexually available for your husband at his request? Is he available for you? Have you discussed a happy frequency and agreed upon it? Write a prayer asking God to put you both in complete unity about this aspect of your relationship.
3. Do you keep yourself sexually attractive to your husband? Do you try to stay healthy, fit, clean, fragrant, attractively attired and rested? Is there anything you could do to improve yourself physically, mentally or spiritually? Say a prayer asking God to help you acknowledge what needs to be improved upon and give you the strength to do so.
Since this is such a personal subject, our discussion was kept to a minimum. We did discuss the needs we ourselves would require met to function and how we would feel if our husbands had the power to meet that need, yet didn’t. For some it was coffee, for another it was order, for others it was sleep or a shower. What about you?
We also talked about 1 Corinthians 6:18-20. We discussed the fact that we need to be careful when we teach our children about this aspect of their lives so they understand the duplicity of this verse. We cannot demonize sex in itself as we teach them abstinence outside the marriage, but rather teach them that sex is a blessing from God made for marriage. If they can understand that God’s purpose for abstinence outside marriage is for their own well-being (physically, mentally and spiritually) they will better be able to understand that sex within a marriage is special and good – a gift to be embraced.
Finally, we talked candidly about the steps taken when we were dating our husbands to make sure we smelled and looked good. I remember always having a piece of gum in my mouth when I greeted Josh as we dated. It seems, however, with young kids, putting effort into this area of our lives often seems to fall by the wayside. We encouraged one another with short cut tips to prepare for our husband’s homecoming at the end of his work day and acknowledged that no matter what ‘women’s lib’ may say, it is important to make ourselves presentable to our husbands. Not only does it please them, but we are more likely to feel ok with being close to our husbands if we don’t feel like we look or smell bad. We also discussed the need to find time for rest or put something aside in our day in order to have the energy we need to be physically available for our husbands. This can take a conscious effort many times – especially with young children, but we all agreed our husbands would much rather we had energy for them than a list that has been fully check off.
Book Review: His Affection
Stormie points out in this chapter that often men are not as naturally affectionate outside the bedroom as their wives would like them to be. “Many people, even godly men and women, live in marriages that are dead because there is no affection. And women endure it because their husbands are good in other ways, or they don’t feel worthy enough to ask for affection.” The Bible however, makes it clear, “Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her and likewise the wife to her husband” (1 Corinthians 7:3). Stormie mentions, “affection is often not at the top of a man’s priority list because men often see sex and affection as being the same. A women’s greater need, however is for affection.” If this is true, it would be easy then, for a wife to feel unloved if the only time she is touched by her husband is for sexual reasons. God understands, however that affection does not come as naturally for many men and that is why he makes a point in Ephesians 5:28-29 to remind husbands that they must show their wives love. “Husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church”. So if our husband is not affectionate, how do we make him so? Well, the first step, of course would be prayer. I think, however, that while we are in prayer, we might find our own faults in this area that have jeopardized the affection in our relationships. I know I did. Let’s go to the study guide questions and dive deeper into this thought.
Discussion/ Study Guide Questions
1. Do you feel your husband is affectionate enough toward you? Explain.
2. Does your husband feel you are affectionate enough toward him? Are you sure? What could you do to improve?
3. What does your husband feel is the best way to communicate love toward him? (ask him if you aren’t certain. Are you able to do that?
4. Do you have children? Do you feel you and your husband have modeled for them a marriage that is filled with an abundance or lack of affection? How do you think it will affect them in their own marriages? If you have modeled lack of affection, would you both be willing to change?
5. 1 Corinthians 10:24 says “Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being”. In what ways could you seek your husband’s well-being above your own?
6. Is there some act of affection you could show toward your husband today that would pleasantly surprise and bless him? What is that? Are you willing to do it? Write down the results after you’ve done it.
I have to say I was caught off guard by question #2. Being the more naturally affectionate one in our relationship, I thought this chapter would be about how I could pray for Josh to become more affectionate. This question made me realize, however, that much of the affection that has been lost in our marriage has been a result of my own actions. When I became pregnant with our first child, I experienced morning sickness. I felt so disgusting and sick; I truly did not want to be touched. During this time Josh and I got into the habit of not being affectionate with one another and when the morning sickness was over, it seemed to have stuck. Once my daughter was here, I was getting so much cuddle time from her, my affection meter was being filled, and I didn’t notice it missing with Josh. Two sick pregnancies later and another child to hug, snuggle and smother with kisses, my affection meter seems to be filled to its quota every day… sometimes a little too full! What happens though, when the kids grow up and don’t want to cuddle anymore or when they leave home and there are only the two of us left to fill each other’s need for affection? As I thought about this, I realized that I am allowing our marriage to get into a bad habit and while it might not be a problem now, it could become a big problem for me later if I don’t work on it. Another mom confessed she also pushed her husband away during the early years of her child’s life and needed to confess her part in creating a rift in their affection and talk to her husband about her desire for it to be a part of their marriage again. If you are in a marriage where the affection is not a high priority, I encourage you to truthfully answer question #2 and pray for God’s guidance as you attempt to bring affection into the daily routine.
There is an awesome book called “The Five Love Languages” that lays out five main ways people feel loved. They are quality time, physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service and gifts. In a marriage two people can have two different love languages with each trying to show the other love through their own language and missing what their spouse responds best to. Josh and I read this book years ago and I highly recommend it. I know that Josh’s love language is words of affirmation. What do you think your husband’s is?
Question #4 got us all thinking… do we really model affection toward EACHOTHER enough in front of our children? I know for our children, they feel loved on all day long with hugs, cuddles and kisses. When I think about it, however, the amount of affection they receive from their parents is highly disproportionate to the amount of affection they see us giving each other. How about your children? When our children see healthy affection between their parents played out in the home, they have a better example to follow than what they will find elsewhere. One of the moms mentioned how she and her husband will often realize they haven’t shown affection in front of the kids for a while so they will intentionally give each other a big hug and stay like that until they see each kid has noticed which often results in a huge family hug. Another of the moms mentioned that each time her husband gets home they take ten minutes on the couch together to cuddle and talk in front of the children and tell them it is mommy and daddy time. The children are welcome to observe and play nearby, and are reminded of the special time between their parents if they interrupt. As weird as it seems to think that affection might take practice, it seems to be true. We need to be practicing affection with each other and making sure we demonstrate affection in front of our kids.
When talking about number five it was easy for us to think of ways we could put aside or own needs and care for our husband’s. In every instance it was clear that when we do this, our own needs are more likely to be met as well, so it is in the best interest of our husband, our marriage and ourselves if we follow this God-given principle.
Finally I encourage you to first pray the prayer Stormie has laid out on page 72 and then read and carry out number six.