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Intimacy and Sex: How Men and Women are Different — and Why

The first path to a satisfying sex life is through increased knowledge of your spouse's sexual mindset.

Guys, one of your challenges is to understand the incredible complexity of your wife's sexuality. I recommend reading The Way to Love Your Wife by Cliff and Joyce Penner. Gals, we need help understanding our husbands' struggles and temptations. My eyes were opened after I read about the sexual temptations men face. As you read, talk openly about what you are learning.

I've already mentioned the need to become a student of your spouse. The greatest roadblock to this is a lack of communication. Although couples often argue about sex, they rarely talk about it. Consider discussing your insecurities, temptations, turn-ons and turn-offs. Try to talk and pray together about your sex life at least once a month. Because these topics are so sensitive, be a sympathetic and supportive listener.

Accept what you can't understand. In all my efforts to understand my husband, I eventually became frustrated with the gender gap that we could never bridge. We could talk until we had no words left and still not know what it feels like to be in the other person's skin.

The problem was rooted in the fact that neither of us had accepted what we could not understand: Men often view sex as a physical release and a way to reconnect with their wives, while women tend to see it as an outgrowth of their emotional intimacy.

Gals, we struggle to understand why men are tempted visually. Guys, you may not understand the emotional energy sex requires from your wife. (What makes matters more complicated is our own human shortcomings and selfishness.)

There comes a point when we have to move beyond understanding and come to a place of acceptance. God simply created men and women differently. When we genuinely accept each other, without judgment and resentment, we can begin to enjoy our differences.

I have often wondered why God made men and women so different. Wouldn't it have been easier and more pleasurable if we had the same needs, drives and preferences?

These differences are actually designed to show us how to give ourselves to each other in love. According to the Bible, true love can be expressed only through unselfishness.

Were it possible for me to love my husband while pursuing my own selfish desires, I would never know the beauty of real love. A great sex life is only possible as both the husband and wife commit to laying their needs down for the other.

One of God's great gifts for us is marital sex. Through it, we gain an even richer blessing: the experience of loving and being loved unselfishly.

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The article originally appeared in the February 2007 edition of Focus on the Family magazine. Copyright © 2007 by Juli Slattery. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

Next in this Series: Great Sex Doesn't Just Happen