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He wants passion. Intense passion. The hormone raging, intoxicating, make you forget where you are, time standing still kind of passion. It involves erotic appearance, attire, and attention. All five senses operating at peak power. He just informed her that if he doesnt get it, hes going to leave her.
She wants passion too at least thats what she calls it but it isnt the same desire that he knows as passion. Her notion includes gentle romance, flowers, small talk, be there when the kids need you, call during the day, laid back, well have sex occasionally and just hold each other the rest of the time kind of passion. She doesnt understand why that doesnt fulfill him.
If youve been reading this series of articles, you already have an idea as to why they dont understand each other; why they arent fulfilling each other. You know that love between two people has three aspects commitment, intimacy, and passion. With that awareness you can see that hes keying on the passion aspect of love while she focuses on the intimacy dimension. Hes feeling so frustrated by his lack of passionate fulfillment that hes abandoning (or has already abandoned) the commitment aspect of love. His need is for excitement, intensity, and physical and emotional gratification. Hers is for closeness, warmth, and bondedness that dont necessarily involve any intense physical dimension at all.
So whos right?
Whos the selfish one?
Which one needs to come to his or her senses?
If your primary need or desire is for intimacy, you likely believe hes the cause of their problems. You may think, If hed just grow up and quit seeking the thrills of a sexually neophyte teenager, they would have a chance for a great marriage. On the other hand, if your craving is for more passion, you likely believe that its her fault. You may think, Why does a woman exude such sexuality during courtship, struggling to contain herself from being promiscuous before marriage, but lose nearly all interest as soon as she says I do?
Think Im exaggerating?
In my Marriage & Affair Recovery Seminars, Ive heard both those statements made emphatically by men and women across America. If you think that you know which statement came from women and which from men, you will be surprised to know that Ive heard each from both genders. It isnt the stereotypical battle of the sexes thats at issue here; its a persons needs and desires. If passion is a key to fulfillment for an individual, you can try teaching the person that he or she doesnt need it but you wont accomplish much. Same goes for intimacy.
In other words, neither is being unreasonable in wanting his or her most important emotional needs to be fulfilled. Either or both may be unreasonable in demands, expectations, or timelines. But emotional needs themselves are valid in every person, whether his or her spouse wants them to be or not!
My counsel for husbands or wives seeking greater passion, more sensuality, and uninhibited lovemaking, is that they should first learn the kind of love craved by the spouse and make sure you fulfill that need. My counsel for spouses seeking greater intimacy, warmth, vulnerability, and openness is that you discover the dimension of love your spouse wants and give it. As my friend Dr. Willard Harley, author of His Needs, Her Needs says, Meet you spouses needs as you would want your spouse to meet yours. By the law of reciprocity inspirational writers used to tout, your spouse will be much more likely to meet your needs if you first meet his or hers. If youre afraid that youll give him or her what he or she wants but will never get what you want in return, that fear will keep either of you from being happy.
Give before you get. Fulfill before expecting to be fulfilled. Meet his or her needs so that he or she will learn how to meet yours.
So how did I help the couple mentioned in the beginning of this article?
My suggestion to him was that they first develop deeper intimacy. His desire for wild and wonderful sex with his wife probably isnt going to happen if she doesnt have her need for intimacy fulfilled first. In their situation, I think that if she tried to fulfill his needs for uninhibited, sensual sex without first feeling very secure in a warm, close relationship, she would feel as if she were his concubine rather than his wife. I guaranteed him that wouldnt last long.
I recommended to her that if she wanted a warm, loving husband, she stood a much better chance of having him develop into one if she were to become a sexual siren at home. She admitted she knew how to become what he wanted but resented becoming that without his first meeting her needs. I asked her what she had to lose compared to what she had to gain.
All that happened about 5 or 6 years ago. I happily report to you that each took my advice (since each was unaware of what I had suggested to the other) and they are now very happy. He tends to her every need and, though he doesnt talk about it, the perpetual grin on his face leads me to believe that shes fulfilling him quite handsomely also.
A couple of articles ago I stated that we are moving forward to discuss vulnerability and intimacy. Though it may not appear to be germane, the last two articles have been essential to our explaining how to do that. Check in for the next article and youll see what I mean.
While I cannot answer every question, I will answer in this column pertinent questions that I believe are generally helpful. If you have a question you would like to submit, send it to email@example.com.
Title: "Different Desires"
Author: Joe Beam
Publication Date: June 9, 2000
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