The Husband's Emotional Health and Sex Life
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
1 Timothy 5:8, ESV
Many men have said, “If I bring home the bacon, I did my part! My job is to be the breadwinner, isn’t that enough?” No, it is not! While God’s calling on the Christian husband does include a financial provision, it is not limited to that! To provide for one’s household seems best to include emotional and spiritual support as well.
This is perhaps the most important and the hardest to do for any husband. Men are by nature more closed than open about their feelings. They often admit that they have a difficult time engaging emotionally in relationships.
According to research:
- 77% of men polled have suffered with common mental health symptoms like anxiety, stress, or depression
- 40% of men have never spoken to anyone about their mental health
- 29% of those who haven't done so say they are "too embarrassed" to speak about it, while 20% say there is a "negative stigma" on the issue
- The biggest cause of mental health issues in men’s lives are work (32%), their finances (31%), and their health (23%)
- 40% of men polled said it would take thoughts of suicide or self-harm to compel them to seek professional help
If men are in such bad shape, how is the husband supposed to provide an environment for an emotionally healthy home? Clearly, providing financially is far more straightforward and easy to understand than providing emotionally, is it not? To provide financially at least means going to work, earning money, and paying a mortgage, but providing emotionally? How is a husband to do that?
Recently, when I asked a number of women how their husbands could better meet their needs, the number one response was the same -- they all said, “Listen, I want my husband to listen and seek to understand me.” That’s it. It wasn’t some complicated answer or big request. They just wanted to be heard and understood. They wanted their voice to be heard. They wanted their husbands to value their insight as a wife and seek to understand their feelings. In fact, in one survey I recently found that more than 80% of wives said they would rather have an emotional connection over physical intimacy.
While it’s generally the opposite for men, men desire physical intimacy over emotional connection. Or maybe it would be better to say that most men experience emotional connection through physical intimacy. What’s important to understand in all of this is that the emotional connection is a foundation for a healthy sexual connection for the marriage to thrive!
If a husband desires sex, he must connect emotionally. Another way to say it is the sex life is usually an indication of the emotional life. If there is a lack of sexual intimacy in the marriage, there is likely a lack of emotional intimacy in the marriage!
Men you are called, as Husbands, to love and provide for your wives emotionally. You must make the emotional deposits if you want the physical withdrawals. This requires you to provide and prioritize emotional health for the marriage.
In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, he commands the husbands to “cherish” and “nourish” their wives (Ephesians 5:29). The Greek words here are translated to mean “to provide for” or to “care for”. The idea here indicates feeding or caring for a child. Paul is calling the husband to tenderly care and provide for her. This requires what the Apostle Peter called for, “To live with your wife in an understanding way” (I Peter 3:7). So how does the husband do this?
The husband can give life to his wife by emotionally engaging and providing time and space to cultivate an emotionally healthy marriage. This may look like the husband helping navigate the kids to ensure that his wife has time for herself, friends, or hobbies! In addition, this may mean that husband provides emotional support by protecting the wife from other toxic relationships that drain her emotionally.
The charge is clear. Husbands, provide and care for your wife, emotionally engage by asking questions, seeking her wisdom, and spending time with her to cultivate the friendship! That is your responsibility and no one else’s. If you don’t do it, she will suffer from neglect or find her needs met somewhere else.
Talk About It
- Ask your wife how you can better care for her emotional needs!
- Reaffirm her desires and requests and tell her you will honor those to the best of your ability.
- Ask her to share her thoughts on how you can help her have more time for herself, friends, family, or hobbies.
Got Questions? Want to Learn More about Marriage?
I am relaunching Real Life with Ryan on my personal Facebook page, which will have live videos starting with Marriage & Parenting on Thursdays at noon. If you have questions about our current series or just about marriage and parenting, please send them over to me at www.RyanRice.org, where I have a form that you can use to ask me questions that I might use in the Facebook live events. Join me beginning Thursday, August 25th at noon.
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