When I hear people say that women don’t struggle with sexual issues like men do, I cannot help but wonder what planet they are from or what rock they have been hiding under. Perhaps what they really mean is, the physical act of sex isn’t an overwhelming temptation for women like it is for men.
Men and women struggle in different ways when it comes to sexual integrity. While a man’s battle begins with what he takes in through his eyes, a woman’s begins with her heart and her thoughts. A man must guard his eyes to maintain sexual integrity, but because God made women to be emotionally and mentally stimulated, we must closely guard our hearts and minds as well as our bodies if we want to experience God’s plan for sexual and emotional fulfillment. A woman’s battle is for sexual and emotional integrity.
While a man needs mental, emotional, and spiritual connection, his physical needs tend to be in the driver’s seat and his other needs ride along in the back. The reverse is true for women. If there is one particular need that drives us, it is certainly our emotional needs. That’s why it’s said that men give love to get sex and women give sex to get love. This isn’t intended to be a bashing statement, it’s simply the way God made us.
Another unique difference between men and women is that many men are capable of giving their bodies to a partner without feeling the need to give their mind, heart, or soul, whereas women are relatively unable to do this. He can enjoy the act of sex without committing his heart or bonding spiritually with the object of his physical desire. A woman’s body, however, goes only to someone who she thinks of night and day and with whom her heart and spirit have already connected (unless there is dysfunctional or addictive behavior involved). When she gives her mind, heart, and soul, her body is usually right behind. The four are intricately connected.
While men are primarily aroused by what they see with their eyes, women are more aroused by what they hear. He may fantasize about watching a woman undress, but she fantasizes about him whispering sweet nothings in her ear. The temptation to look at pornography can be overwhelming to a male, while females would much rather read the relational dialogue in a romance novel. Men want to look and touch, whereas women much prefer to talk and relate.
Most men experience a regular, recurring need for a physical, sexual release. Some feel this intense need as often as every couple of days. Others experience it a couple of times per week or even less (according to their season of life). While the frequency of the need varies from man to man, each one has his own sexual “cycle” in which he experiences these physical desires. While it may be difficult for some women to fathom that sex is actually a cyclical need for men, don’t we have our own unique cycle as well? Although physical pleasure may not be a cyclical need, we long for attention and affection on a regular, recurring basis.
Just as a man would become far more vulnerable to a sexual affair if his wife rarely responded to his physical needs for a sexual release, a woman becomes far more vulnerable to an affair when her emotional needs are neglected over and over. When a woman falls into a sexual affair, most often her affair initially begins as an emotional one. It is out of her emotional needs that her heart cries out for someone to satisfy her innermost desires to be loved, needed, valued, and cherished.
(Next time we’ll take a quiz to determine if YOU are entrenched in your own battle for sexual and emotional integrity, so stay tuned!)
Excerpted from Every Woman’s Battle: Discovering God’s Plan for Sexual and Emotional Fulfillment by Shannon Ethridge. Copyright 2003. All Rights Reserved. Published by WaterBrook Press, Colorado Springs, CO 80921. Used by Permission. Not to be copied without Publisher’s prior written approval.