Since I re-read the vows that Dani and I said at our wedding I've been really thinking a lot about the phrase, "With my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow." This phrase while surprising to many of us as American Christians I think uncovers 2 of the areas of constant marital strife. Our sexual relationships and our financial ones. Today I'm going to deal a little bit with the sexual relationship side of things and later address finances.
The first thing we need to discuss is the idea of worship. Fundamentally worship is giving appropriate worth to someone or something. So when we worship God we ascribe to him the majesty and glory he deserves. When we worship our spouses, we don't elevate them over and above God instead we give them appropriate value which places our spouse in a secondary position beneath God. Of course, a spouse can become an idol, but in this context it speaks to honoring our spouses, and that we live out that appropriate honor, by giving our spouses what they deserve and desire through intimacy.
It has often been said that men desire respect in the husband/wife relationships more than anything. That as the head, and leader of the family, a man desires his reasons and opinions and decisions to not be challenged and undermined. Of course, constructive challenges and criticisms are often necessary, and the wise and loving husband will seek his wife's input and perspective on decisions in order to include her, understand her and care for her needs and well being. In short to show her love.
This same situation applies to the marriage bed.
3The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent...
So here we see that both spouses should seek to fulfill each other sexually whenever the other is interested. I believe this supports the primary desires of husbands and wives.
Husbands who desire respect experience a woman's acceptance of his advances as respect. Her willingness affirms that he is worthy and she wants to express and reward that. In the same way that he wants his wife to accept his decisions as wise and good he wants his wife to accept his advances. He wants his wife to submit to his will and choices both in life and in the bedroom. When she says yes, she is in essence saying you are good, I trust you and want to please you. However, when the advances are denied it undermines that respect. Men don't want excuses, I'm too tired, I'm too busy, headache, whatever. All those things communicate, you aren't good enough for me. I'd rather sleep, work, clean whatever than be with you. That is some pretty crappy stuff to rank beneath. All of those things communicate the opposite of respect and certainly don't give a husband the worth he is due.
Women want to be given appropriate value and worth as well, and men need to remember that and realize how we can love our wives in a way they feel worthy. Women desire to FEEL loved, rather than respected. For most of us men, if our wives will give it up at all times, (which is God's plan btw, and is awesome) we'd likely stop doing all the loving, caring things that score us enough points to actually get us what we want. Its our sinful and selfish nature. Honestly, If I wasn't regularly rejected I wouldn't try so hard to make SURE it happens "this time." If I wasn't regularly rejected, my negligence would probably make my wife feel used, rather than honored. It would make my wife feel unappreciated and not loved. And I think this is the key for guys. That is, make sure that we listen to and understand our wives preferences and needs and not simply expect that she be available. Then we will seek to do the things for her, that make her feel loved. In response she'll want to be available. So give the massages, buy the flowers, just cuddle (I don't get it either!) all those things just because we want to honor our wives with our bodies, not because we want to get something out of it. We need to love through doing the things that she enjoys and that give her pleasure and not simply expect her to bend to your (my) preferences. Because if we do that, women feel used and not like she is being given appropriate worth.
So the command to both husband and wife, the promise Dani and I both made is that we will worship each other with our bodies. For me that means putting her first, loving, caring, serving, giving, all the time no stopping, no putting my self first. All her all the time.
I just hope she is reading this, and is way better at her job than I am at mine.