marriage bed symbol

marriage bed symbol

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Conquering Gender Prejudice In Marriage: Avoiding the Double Standard Part III

WARNING: This post contains a topic of a sacred sexual nature and is intended for married couples only. Viewer discretion is advised.

One of the greatest quandaries a married sexual relationship faces is to understand what turns the other spouse on. If uneducated, husbands are left to assume their wife has the same sex drive and desires as he does. Pornography is written to play on this comfortable sexual prejudice, and visually trains a man’s mind by showing women as having the same aggressive drive as he does. This is easy to understand as porn is mostly written by men from a male perspective to appeal to what men want to see.

Conversely, the same is true for female pornography except from the perspective of a female and what drives her sexually. The sex drive and what arouses each are as alien to the other - as John Gray coined - as Mars and Venus. An understanding of the differences between men and women – specifically, their different sexual cycles, the arousal process, and their relationship modes and how to move between them – is critical in order to have enough of a working understanding of the opposite gender that will break the barriers of prejudice.

“He/She was so different before we got married…”

I believe the seeds of gender prejudice are sown in the dating process. Single, hormonally driven, sexually curious, lonely, infatuated or in love, a woman can appear to have the same sex drive as a male. Once sexually satiated after marriage or giving birth, her true psychological and biological arousal characteristics and sexual desires are allowed to manifest themselves.  From the female perspective, the pre-marriage boyfriend is romantic and attentive. Once married, he settles into his natural tendencies of relating sexually to his new wife. He has reached his goal of doing what it took to get a wife and reasons to himself, “Why do I have to keep romancing and dating her? I’ve already won my wife. Now we are free to express our love through sex.”

Both of these are the natural inclinations of a married relationship, and neither are wrong or abnormal or perverse. They are just different. When a couple gets married, they move from a highly emotionally-charged state into a comfortable 98.6-degree state with each other. This is normal and natural and what should happen. Trouble in this state starts when either gender starts taking the other for granted. When either spouse harbors gender-centrisms (believing the way your sex/gender feels about sexuality is superior or more correct than what the other sex/gender has exhibited), this is where they will come out.

To provide for and sustain a satisfying marital sexual life in the long term, a husband and wife must adapt and learn how to build and maintain what makes their spouse feel loved emotionally and sexually. One way the husband accomplishes this task is by communicating with her to learn what she needs to be aroused and loved (no matter how strange or un-arousing it may sound), then do it.  Likewise, a wife must also nurture and care for her married sex life by not rejecting her husband's idea of sex and allowing him to initiate the sexual process with her. She does this by communicating with him to learn what makes him feel loved sexually and (no matter how strange or un-arousing it may sound), be prepared to receive it or postpone it in a way that won't make him feel unloved or rejected.

Understanding the Sexual Cycles of each Gender

Men and women have different sexual cycles. For the husband, his sexual cycle begins with arousal and is completed with the satisfaction of orgasm and the renewal of the love and intimacy he shares with his wife.

The woman’s sexual cycle extends much further out than the man’s, both in time and in complication. For the woman, she receives pleasure and satisfaction from the arousal and orgasm cycle that is (in itself) unique to the man’s, but since childbearing is also part of the full sexual (procreative) process, her full sexual cycle is not realized until she births children.

In fact, it has been discovered that during a natural (non-drug) birthing process as the child is expelled from the vagina, the woman's body is flooded with a mixture of the same chemicals released at orgasm (dopamine, oxytocin, norepinephrine , phenethylamine)  - making it possible for her to have a similar rush as a man experiences when he has an orgasm. If trained in natural birthing techniques, many women can experience this and have. (Steve Buonaugurio, Pregnant In America)

Consider the example of the first married couple, Adam and Eve. Commanded to multiply and replenish the earth, Adam was satisfied in the garden, fulfilling his male sexual cycle, while Eve was able to complete her part of the sexual cycle and unsatisfied enough to be tempted by the possibility of becoming like God. We learn further in the Pearl of Great Price  that one of the primary reasons why they partook of the fruit was so that Eve could have children, thus fulfilling her sexual cycle. [i]

We see signs of this today, in looking at the incredible lengths women will go to in order to have children. They will try awkward and painful artificial insemination, or go through long and emotionally wrenching adoption processes when they are unable to bear children naturally, because the fulfillment of the woman’s sexual cycle can be just as compelling a drive to a woman as seeking out sexual gratification through intercourse is to a man.

Understanding the Arousal Cycle

A man feels loved when his genitals are acknowledged and stimulated. He therefore may associate love with how she views his genitals. Phrases that would illustrate this for him are “You’re so big”, “You feel so good inside me when we make love”; “I like having you inside me”, “I love your penis”, etc. When his genitals are stimulated he feels loved, appreciated and desired, because she is accepting him into the most loving and nurturing place he can imagine - her vagina. This sounds very foreign and silly to females, but it is very real and emotionally important for him.

The opposite is true for females. A female associates love with relationships and emotions. When her heart is emotionally touched, she becomes aroused and then desires her sexual spots touched, and not before. The cycle then must begin with the woman’s heart, because he won’t get what he wants (passionate reception into the vagina) until he does. To men, this is very foreign, but to women, it’s the right way to have sex, and it’s very much an emotional reality for her.

Again, the cycle goes: the man touches the woman’s heart which makes her feel loved, which makes her feel aroused which leads to her desiring to be physically close to him and accepting of his penis inside her. The man then has intercourse with her which makes him feel loved, which touches his heart, which leads to him expressing his honest feelings of love for her, which touches her heart and therefore completes one instance of the cycle of intimacy for both spouses. [ii]

Relationship Roles and How They Affect Sex

To conquer this barrier of our sex drive differences we must first understand how men and women are the same sexually, and the importance of relationship roles. Women need time to get aroused. Don’t men get aroused at the drop of a hat? Single men do, and so do single women. Without a regular sexual outlet, skin hunger and sexual appetites are allowed to develop to their most intense levels. When men find a woman that they are attracted to and the female reciprocates his desires, she then becomes “the girlfriend”. The girlfriend is the person who looks at him with desire, accepts his advances and makes him feel desirable. She is someone who focuses on him when they are together and someone he can focus his affections on.

When a man and woman first marry, in general they enjoy a season of being together, satiating their sexual desires, bonding and establishing their married relationship in their husband and wife roles. As time goes on, this relationship evolves into a different form, as each spouse has additional roles added within this relationship.

For the man, he begins with the keys of a boyfriend and after marriage obtains the keys and responsibilities of the husband. When the children come, the keys and responsibilities of father are added. For the woman, she likewise begins with the keys and benefits of girlfriend. After marriage and children she obtains the additional keys and responsibilities of wife and then mother.

Neither the man nor the woman can effectively wear all three of these hats at the same time, and each role they fill has its own rules and method of communicating. The mother, for example, would not speak and behave with her children the way a girlfriend behaves with her boyfriend. Likewise, a father should not relate with his children like a boyfriend relates to a girlfriend.

A man’s brain (due to the low levels of estrogen – the neuron building chemical – in his brain during development in the womb)[iii] is organized into compartments and the connections between them are not as strong as those found in females. This allows men to focus, but it’s harder for him to shift from one mode of communication to another. It makes it easier for him to get out of his logical brain and be in the primitive sex part of his brain.

Females’ brains are strongly interconnected and process more than one thought quickly , but they will tend to get comfortable in a certain mode (mostly wife or mother, because a lot of time is spent there) and will need some time and stimulus to re-channel that mode to be in girlfriend mode or into the sexual function of her brain. She will especially lean more toward being comfortable in mother-mode because, as reaching orgasm and ejaculation is the sexual goal and fulfillment of the male sexual cycle, motherhood is the sexual drive biologically and the fulfillment of the female sexual cycle. Just as the body floods a males body with reward chemicals when he ejaculates, a mother is flooded with reward chemicals when she gives birth and when nurturing her children.

If he is in the mood to be romantic and in the mood for a girlfriend, and his wife is settled permanently in her mother mode, the untrained husband may get frustrated and become tempted to look for a “girlfriend” outside of the marriage. When he watches porn, the actress looks at him like a girlfriend does, or he can at least become aroused by watching her get aroused. Over time, he will begin to feel that it’s too hard to get the wife or mother to get aroused. He may turn to porn and to masturbation to “keep the peace”. Although this is detrimental to a relationship (not to mention a man's spirituality and worthiness), it is an all too common justification. The only cure to ending this destructive sexual cycle is to end gender prejudice though education about each genders sexual personas.

The wife has achieved her full sexual goal in motherhood, but must keep in mind her husband’s sexual cycle as well. It would be abusive in marriage for a wife to undermine, ridicule and reject his biological needs because they do not match hers. Ex. “He’s such a pervert because he wants sex all the time” would demonstrate this lack of understanding and sexual prejudice.Likewise " She's frigid, she's such a prude. She never wants sex." Would exemplify his gender prejudice due to his lack of knowledge about her sexual persona.

If only he were to understand that to learn his wife's sexual persona, he could unlock a sexual tigress just waiting to be awakened. Her mind cannot be switched from one mental compartment to another. It is a raging river that must be channeled to her sexual brain. That takes time and skill.

After giving birth, a wife may feel content in the fulfillment of her creation and deny her husband sex for long seasons. To do so would be the same as the husband thinking that the goal for his wife is to reach orgasm and that she should be content with this and never let her bear children. It’s not bad for her to be in mommy mode, but it is unbalanced in a married sexual relationship for a wife to stay stuck in this mode perpetually and ignore the sexual cycle of the husband.

Projecting your sex’s sexual cycle on the opposite gender will always result in frustration. It’s actually damning to us and our marriage relationship to stay in one mode and say “This is who I am. Why does he/she not accept me for who I am?”  In order to progress emotionally, we must be flexible enough to move from one mode to another. Being married means to progress. It means being able to be flexible. It means learning to shift around in multiple modes effectively: girlfriend/boyfriend, wife/husband, provider/home manager, mother/father, grandmother/grandfather…etc. [iv]

Some may say that they feel insincere playing a role for their spouse; they’d rather be the same way with everyone. That is as unrealistic as saying we relate to our parents the same way we relate to a boss or to a young child. We don’t show all sides of ourselves to everyone, unless we are only willing to relate with everyone at a very shallow, superficial level. In order to deepen communication in a marriage and really gain the intimacy we crave, our spouses are privileged to see a side of ourselves that no one else should see…our sexual side. Our spouses will also see parts of us that others see, but it’s important to keep that sexual side alive for the one person we’ve covenanted to share that with…our husband or wife.

A woman can learn to shift from mother to girlfriend, but she needs help. A husband who understands this can create circumstances to get her back into girlfriend mode and thus allow the arousal cycle to begin. 

From Mark Gungor’s arousal model[v] we can conclude that if a man wants to get his wife into girlfriend mode, he must create circumstances that allow her to shift from wife or mother mode to girlfriend mode.  She must also be aware of his sexual needs and allow him to begin the process. Here she has the power to shut him down, but, at the hazard of rejecting him.  Like an object that shocks you when you touch it, a man will only tolerate this rejection so many times before he stops trying and either turns to celibacy or looks for other sexual or intimacy sources that won’t reject him.

He must also do things to make her feel loved. A man’s sex drive and natural inclination to be the initiator motivates him to do this for her.  He, however, must learn how. No man is born knowing how to be romantic or how to meet the emotional needs of a female.  Sometimes, a female knows she needs to be romanced first to be aroused, but may not know how to communicate it. Communication and experimentation is in order here. Each person is different in what they respond to.

“Neither the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord”

Men are not better than women; they are different. Women are not better than men; they are different. This cannot be emphasized enough if we are to get away from sexual prejudice and gender-centrism, and come to a united understanding and appreciation of each other as human beings and children of our Heavenly Father. Just because we are different does not mean we are incompatible. We can take turns meeting the emotional and sexual needs of our spouse. Make it a game. Have fun with it. With loving communication, cooperation and acceptance, we can find common ground and keep that divine love alive that we felt from the beginning of our relationship.

[i] 2 Ne. 2; Gen 1:28; Moses 5:11; Moses 4:12
[ii] Laugh your way to a better marriage” Mark Gungor.
[iii] Science of the Sexes” Dr. Helen Fisher
[v] Laugh your way to a better marriage” Mark Gungor.


Anonymous said...

Did a good job explaining the differences. It is interesting the cycle that occurs either way. Somebody has to start it if you want to get back on. The only part that I had difficulty with was the part that talked about men being rejected so many times before they seek it from somewhere where they won't be rejected. You do not cause your spouse to stray.

I understand the devastation of rejection but we are not products of our sex drives, we do have control of our actions and we can control where our sex drives take us. I do not like it when women are made to feel like if you don't do this your man will find someone who will. How childish is that? I am sorry just because you don't get what you want does not give you an okay to get it elsewhere. That is like going to you mom asking for something and when she says no then going to your dad because you know he is a pushover and will say yes even though your mom said no.

I also know plenty of men whose wives never tell them no and they still stray so no doing this does not mean you are safe from the straying spouse. Don't let people find comfort in that notion. Too many people have that prejudice that if a spouse strayed they must not have been getting what they needed from home and while it is true in some cases, in so many it is not. And even if it is it really doesn't matter fidelity does not have conditions. You love your spouse with patience and longsuffering.

Also the same could be said for women when they are constantly rejected to have their emotional needs met. Men may not be born to know how to do this but I am sure they have mothers or sisters and they certaintly knew how to do some things to romance girls when they were dating them. What is it about marriage that all of sudden makes them forget? I am sorry I don't accept that excuse. And women are no more equipped than men to know what their spouse needs or wants. None of us are mind readers and all of us need to be very clear about what our needs are and how to meet them.

That's it everything else was very helpful. :)

Anonymous said...

From: Chet C.

I have to somewhat disagree with you on the straying comment. What you are missing is that, generally, sex for husbands is not just a physical release thing. It is an emotional bonding and a reaffirmation that our wife loves and accepts us. It is a binding tie. When a wife consistently rejects her husband, or acts like she is only doing it because it is a wifely duty (we can tell the difference), then he starts to feel rejected and unappreciated. Just because a wife doesn't say no, doesn't mean that the husband feels the emotional bond. There is a difference between giving your body and giving all of you (your emotions, your love, etc.). When a wife consistently "just gives her body", makes herself available for him, a husband can feel like this is just one degree above masturbation (he is just using her body, instead of his hand, to get off). When she "makes LOVE" to him, she gives her emotion, love, passion, etc. to him. He feels her love for him, her want for him, her need for him, her acceptance of him. He feels complete.

And women who are feeling unloved, who don't have their emotional needs met by their husbands, do stray. The temptations for a spouse that feels unloved are much greater. I have seen it happen many times. Sure, the straying spouse has to accept the responsibility for their infidelity, but the neglectful spouse can be considered partly to blame. Many times the infidelity causes the neglectful spouse to open their eyes and realize that they pushed their spouse away, and when a reconciliation takes place the marriage gets stronger (over time), because changes are made and they don't take eachother for granted. There are many books that are written on this topic. One that comes to mind is "Affair Proofing Your Marriage".

We have a lot of control, or power, that can help prevent our spouse from straying. Certainly, there are exceptions, but I would bet that in the majority of the cases the straying spouse was lacking their emotional needs being met.

Grandma Nadeoui said...

Women also need to trust their know that they are chosen, "the one." They need to be able to trust that he will treat her thoughts and feelings, and brains, and ideas as important as his own. Without that trust, sex is more of a duty than a pleasure.

With trust, sex between a man and wife can be deeply satisfying even into the "golden years". I can't speak beyond that because I have not gotten there yet!!

Daniel Burgess said...

Perfect comment. I agree there are some very fundamental components that are missing from this blog post and throughout the Blog.

CoachSam said...

Dear Daniel Burgess,

Thank you for reading and your comment. As my readers can see in my references, this is not based upon my personal opinion but the research of social scientists, anthropologists, medical specialists, marriage therapists, and counselors in conjunction with scriptures and the apostles and prophets.

I invite you to please identify your specific argument and state the sources that you'd like us to consider. I always appreciate the opportunity to learn something new.