Romance

Steve Arterburn

Men tend to be less romantically inclined than women. In itself, that’s fine. However, we shouldn’t let that tendency cause us to fall short when it comes to stoking the fires of our marriage.

It’s easy to think, ‘Okay, now I’ve got a wife. What’s next on the agenda?’ But men, that’s a big mistake. Romance lies at the heart of the female essence. Most wives are incurable romantics, and it’s highly unlikely that your wife’s an exception.

Bring her flowers on your anniversary, or sometimes for no particular reason at all. Take her to eat at your old haunts; drive by your old homes and apartments; skip a Monday night football game to take her to dinner; walk together at dusk holding hands; and give the gift of your time generously.

Romance tends to become less a priority after marriage. To make matters worse, many of us tend to confuse sex for romantic intimacy. One married woman put it like this:

‘I love the romantic intimacy of a hug and extra attention, but any little hug and kiss I give’seems to suggest that I want to make love. How exasperating! I just want him to know that I love him, and I just want the same response back without feeling that I have to jump into bed. I just want him to hold me and talk to me; I just want to be near him.’

Men, being mindful and responsive to your wives’ need for romance is one of the most practical and powerful ways to love and honor her.

Physical Intimacy

For woman, physical intimacy flows naturally from relational intimacy within marriage. So, guys, if you’ve been remiss on learning the style of servant-leadership that creates and fosters relational intimacy with your wife, you’re probably experiencing an unsatisfying sex life with your wife. That’s perfectly natural. In fact, it’d be strange if it were otherwise, since relational and physical intimacy are bound together.

A pastor once said, ‘See that chair over there? That’s my counseling chair. Do you know what complaint I hear most often from married men? I’m just not having enough physical intimacy with my wife.’

My own experience in ministry confirms this. Readers of my book Every Man’s Battle send e-mails asking a variation of one basic question: ‘How can I get my wife to desire physical intimacy with me?’

Well, men, let me turn that question toward you: why don’t more wives desire more physical intimacy with their husbands? The answer isn’t mysterious. In the vast majority of cases, wives feel they have no real relational intimacy with their husbands. These women don’t feel loved and honored in a way that creates a desire within them for physical intimacy.

But here’s some news that should inspire you: every man I know who practices servant-leadership in his marriage also experiences a corresponding spike in physical intimacy with his wife. Men, you can’t put the cart before the horse. Cultivate relational intimacy with your wife, and physical intimacy will naturally follow.

– Steve Arterburn

Knowing the Needs of a Man’s Heart

Bob Damrau, LPC, LMHC

Men feel most like men when purposefully moving through life with the confidence that what they have to offer impacts the lives of family members and neighbors in some positive fashion. Navigating this side of eternity, however, is rarely marked by fair skies and calm seas. The storms of life often bring doubt in one’s ability to make a difference. The winds of adversity can add despair as thoughts spiral downward. Men tend to think, ‘I don’t have what it takes,’ so they drop their sails and are tossed aimlessly in need — never sending out a call of distress.

Most men learn to hide their needs as boys. They are taught what is acceptable and not acceptable at home. The masculine characteristics are encouraged and usually include strength, independence and fearlessness, while unmanly attributes like weakness, dependence, and fear are disdained. So, to be accepted, guys strive at an early age to gain supreme control over their feelings (usually by pushing them down) which results in not being able to identify the needs that are embedded in those emotions. Dragging this type of strategy into adulthood results in a continual denial of a man’s needs, as well as the deprivation of his heart’s longing for genuine connection.

‘Needs are a key factor in love and intimacy,’ says David Ferguson in his book entitled Top 10 Intimacy Needs. Ferguson continues, ‘It’s possible to ‘hydro-plane’ through life and never share the joys of intimacy with another human being.’ The lack of a real emotional life, where feelings are voiced and needs are met through caring for one another, leaves a man vulnerable to the changing current of his times. When not directed by their feelings about themselves or the needs of those for whom they care, many men turn to an addiction, which will never bring satisfaction ‘ lust.

Before reading the rest of this article, I encourage you to reflect on these questions.
What do you think are the origins of lust in your life?
How does this problem affect your relationships today?
Are you willing to change course?

If your musings conclude that your acting out behaviors go deeper than, ‘It feels good;’ if your fantasies often center around the desire for real intimacy; and if you genuinely want to break the compulsive cycle, then listen up. IT’S OK TO HAVE NEEDS! God created man with emotions in line with His own image. He also made humanity needy, so that individuals might exercise faith in the context of relationship both with Himself and others bearing His likeness. The very first problem recorded in the Bible is spoken by the Lord. Genesis 2:18 says, ‘It is not good that man should be alone.’ God’s remedy for this was to create another human being for the purpose of relationship. Man was never meant to go it alone, neither should he remain isolated.

So, what does a guy really want? Knowing the needs of a man’s heart requires him first to identify what he is feeling. Let me explain. When a man acts out, whatever he was feeling would most likely go away, leaving him unable to target that emotion and, therefore, sinking him deeper into need. You see, there are needs imbedded in every feeling. For instance, a person feeling alone needs support. Or a man who is in transition may need comfort (change always carries a degree of loss). The guy who is feeling rejected probably needs acceptance or a sense of security. Now, once the feeling is identified and the need is generated, then a healthy connection with a spouse, friend or brother-in-arms will lead to getting that need met. And whether or not a need is met has a profound impact on a man’s life. This is another appropriate place to reflect.

Are you OK being a person designed with needs? Can you identify the relationship between your acting out and your unmet needs? What are your most vulnerable internal triggers (feelings/needs)? A person admitting he has needs is not admitting some personal weakness or that he is unhealthily dependent or that he lacks courage. Rather, it is a confession of one’s humanness. All men have needs as per God’s design. Acknowledging neediness is both truthful and beneficial. It is the rudder that keeps a man on course as he grows to love God with his whole heart and those around him from his heart. May you have fair skies and favorable winds.

For more help on this subject, please see Every Man’s Battle.