Tag Archives: Sex

Does more relationship experience lead to better relationship success?

Published in the Journal of Marriage and Family
Published in the Journal of Marriage and Family

Consider this article from the Institute for Family Studies.

It says:

In most areas of life, having more experience is good. Want to be great in your chosen field? Sustained experience is essential. Want to be great at a sport? There’s no substitute for practice. And anyone who runs a business can tell you that their best employees are those who have been in the job long enough to have learned how to handle the normal well and the unexpected with wisdom.

While more experience is often beneficial in life, the story looks different when it comes to some types of experience before marriage. For example, in our Before “I Do” report, we surveyed a national longitudinal sample of young adults about their love lives prior to marriage to examine factors associated with future marital quality. We found that having more sexual and cohabiting partners before marriage is associated with lower relationship quality once married. In particular, having only ever lived with or had sex with one’s spouse was associated with higher marital quality. Our findings are consistent with other studies showing that cohabiting with more partners before marriage is associated with greater likelihood of divorce1 and that a higher number of sexual partners before marriage is associated with lower marital quality and greater likelihood of divorce.2 As we noted, what happens in Vegas may not always stay in Vegas. But why?

There are many reasons why having more romantic partners before marriage may put one at higher risk of difficulties in marriage. One of the most important explanations comes under the heading of what some call selection effects. For many people, an elevated risk of difficulties in marriage was present before they had their first relationship experience. Background characteristics such as parental divorce, low education, and economic disadvantage are associated both with having more sexual and cohabiting partners and also with lower marital quality and/or divorce.3So it may not be that having more sexual or cohabiting partners causes further risk because a lot of risk was already in motion. Selection is a big part of how relationships unfold, but is it the whole story? We believe that, in addition to selection, behavior matters and has plausible connections to marital outcomes. We are going to explain four reasons why having more relationship experience before tying the knot might make it harder to succeed in marriage.

Here are the 4 reasons:

  1. More Awareness of Alternatives
  2. Changed Expectations: The Perfect Sexual Lover (in Your Mind)
  3. More Experience Breaking It Off
  4. Babies

I have to quote the one that I’ve personally encountered in my mentoring – number three: more experience breaking it off. I’ve seen this commitmentphobia in two women who had “wild” periods in their past who had broken up with cohabitating boyfriends.

It says:

Cohabitation has characteristics that seem paradoxical. Living with a partner makes it harder to break up than dating, all other things being equal, and often now comes at a time in relationship development where people have not really chosen each other for the future.8 And yet, cohabiting couples frequently break up, and they are more likely than any other time in history not to end up marrying.9

These days, cohabitation has become more a part of the dating scene than a lead-up to marriage. Let’s call the phenomenon cohabidating. In this context, some people are getting a lot of experience at leaving serious relationships (or surviving being left). Just as with our prior point, that does not sound bad in one way—at least insofar as people are breaking off relationships that had no future. But it’s also true that people tend to get good at things they have a lot of experience doing. People can get good at moving out and moving on.

How does that impact marriage? Some people probably so deeply learn that they can survive leaving a relationship when they are unhappy with it that they leave reasonably good marriages that would have given them and their children the best outcomes in life. They bail too quickly.

Obviously, many others leave very poor or even dangerous marriages only after a lot of agonizing and effort. We’re not suggesting divorce is ever easy or that it is not sometimes the best course. But in a day and age when people get so much experience moving out and moving on, we think many may learn to do so too rapidly, and to their detriment.

If you want to get good at relationships, experience may not be the answer. Reading good studies like this, and making decisions that line up with the research is much wiser. As always, never follow your heart. Always follow rational arguments and evidence, and keep connected to a good panel of advisors who have had long-term relationships success. That’s the best way to avoid disaster.

People ask me how to learn how to do relationships well if your parents are divorced and the culture is a cesspool. The answer is to go back in time to before radical feminism, to the time when men and women had distinct roles, and had to attract each other without using sex. Men had to prove their feelings to women with actions, and when women chose men for the roles of husband and father. Parents were consulted to give advice about courtship and marriage. Where can you find this today? Well, books by Christian authors like Jane Austen are very helpful. If you like DVDs, go out and get yourself the BBC production of “North and South”, which is based on the book by Christian author Elizabeth Gaskell. My favorite romance is Edmund Rostand’s “Cyrano de Bergerac”, just make sure you get the Brian Hooker translation if you are reading it in English. Although the best version is the original French. Shakespeare is also good – I got my rule of saving the first kiss for the proposal / engagement from Henry V.

You have to dig if you are going to get away from a culture that trains people to fail to prepare for marriage. You have to fight to develop and maintain your ability to love another person well, in a Christ-like way. The culture says to treat the opposite sex like a commodity, but you should instead think of them as something designed to be presented to God. Never treat them in a way that causes damage to that vertical relationship, that’s the most important thing about them – how they see God.

The meaning of marriage: a lecture at Google by Tim Keller

Painting: "Courtship", by Edmund Blair Leighton (1888)
Painting: “Courtship”, by Edmund Blair Leighton (1888)

Disclaimer: I have reservations about Tim Keller. I consider him to be too liberal for my tastes, especially on scientific (intelligent design) and political/economic issues. However, I think he did a good job explaining marriage in the lecture below.

Here’s the the video:

Details:

Timothy Keller visits Google’s New York, NY office to discuss his book “The Meaning of Marriage.” This event took place on November 14, 2011, as part of the Authors@Google series.

Timothy J. Keller is an American author, speaker, preacher, and the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. He is the author of several books, including “The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism.”

“The Meaning of Marriage” touches on topics that all readers can relate to, starting with the role of marriage in our culture, its history and the pessimism that is often associated with it. The Kellers also discuss the feelings of and acts of love, romantic relationships, gender roles, singleness, and the role of sex in a marriage.

I saw a lot of things in his lecture that echo my own views. One point where we agree is on not just looking for traits and virtues in the other person, but in seeing how they handle conflict and solve problems with you.  You have to give the other person things to do and see if they make progress and work cooperatively with you. The most important thing to look for is someone who sees potential in you and is committed to helping you realize it. You want someone who won’t give up on you, no matter how hard things get. There are fun and happy times in a marriage, but those come naturally – the real question is how well two people stick together to get things done when it’s hard. I definitely recommend Keller’s book on marriage, it’s such a good vision of what marriage could be.

Here’s an article entitled “You Never Marry the Right Person“, that discusses one of the points in the lecture.

Excerpt:

In generations past, there was far less talk about “compatibility” and finding the ideal soul-mate. Today we are looking for someone who accepts us as we are and fulfills our desires, and this creates an unrealistic set of expectations that frustrates both the searchers and the searched for.

[…]The Bible explains why the quest for compatibility seems to be so impossible. As a pastor I have spoken to thousands of couples, some working on marriage-seeking, some working on marriage-sustaining and some working on marriage-saving. I’ve heard them say over and over, “Love shouldn’t be this hard, it should come naturally.” In response I always say something like: “Why believe that? Would someone who wants to play professional baseball say, ‘It shouldn’t be so hard to hit a fastball’? Would someone who wants to write the greatest American novel of her generation say, ‘It shouldn’t be hard to create believable characters and compelling narrative’?” The understandable retort is: “But this is not baseball or literature. This is love. Love should just come naturally if two people are compatible, if they are truly soul-mates. “

The Christian answer to this is that no two people are compatible. Duke University Ethics professor Stanley Hauerwas has famously made this point:

Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become “whole” and happy. The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that if we look closely enough we will find the right person. This moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect to marriage. It fails to appreciate the fact that we always marry the wrong person.We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary challenge of marriage is learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.

Hauerwas gives us the first reason that no two people are compatible for marriage, namely, that marriage profoundly changes us. But there is another reason. Any two people who enter into marriage are spiritually broken by sin, which among other things means to be self-centered—living lifeincurvatus in se. As author Denis de Rougemont said, “Why should neurotic, selfish, immature people suddenly become angels when they fall in love … ?” That is why a good marriage is more painfully hard to achieve than athletic or artistic prowess. Raw, natural talent does not enable you to play baseball as a pro or write great literature without enduring discipline and enormous work. Why would it be easy to live lovingly and well with another human being in light of what is profoundly wrong within our human nature? Indeed, many people who have mastered athletics and art have failed miserably at marriage. So the biblical doctrine of sin explains why marriage—more than anything else that is good and important in this fallen world—is so painful and hard.

When you are courting, don’t worry about appearances and feelings and passion so much, because that is all subject to change over time, and those things won’t help you with the real challenges you’ll face in a marriage. Worry about whether they are the kind of person who can make commitments and love other people self-sacrificially – even if they are unlovable. In the long run, their ability to read and understand issues, to care for others and serve them, to keep promises, to be respectful and supportive, to argue respectfully and reasonably, and to solve problems constructively, will all be far more important than appearances and feelings and passion.

During the courtship, give the other person things to do that challenge them and see how they handle being given responsibilities – giving a person hard things to do is a much better way to test a person than recreational nights out with recreational drinking, recreational dancing and recreational sex. Marriage means commitment and hard work, not recreation. And that’s what you should test for – the ability to work hard at the relationship and to keep promises and commitments and to communicate reasonably and to work through difficulties fairly. The most dangerous thing you want to avoid is self-centeredness. You don’t want someone who is primarily interested in minimizing your feelings, and then getting her friends to agree with her that this is legitimate for whatever reasons. You want a person who has had a hard enough life that responsibilities and obligations are natural to her, and who doesn’t try to wiggle out of self-sacrificial acts of love when she doesn’t feel like doing it. Each person needs to invest in the other, so that both can have fuel to do their job in the relationship.

Miriam Grossman explains what young people are taught about sex in the schools

Lets take a closer look at a puzzle
Lets take a closer look at a puzzle

I wanted to post a lecture given by someone with experience counseling students about sexual health at a major university campus.

Here is the speaker’s bio:

Miriam Grossman, MD, has been a psychiatrist at UCLA Student Psychological Services for more than ten years and has worked with students for twenty years. She received her BA from Bryn Mawr College, her medical degree from New York University, and her psychiatric training through Cornell University Medical College. She is board certified in child, adolescent and adult psychiatry.

I found this lecture given by her to NZ Family First here:

Rather than try to summarize that lecture, I found a full transcript of a similar lecture that she delivered at the Heritage Foundation about what public schools teach young people about sex, and why. This is especially good for those who want to read rather than listen.

Here’s the abstract:

The principles of sexual health education are not based on the hard sciences. Sex education is animated by a specific vision of how society must change, and because of this, sex ed curricula omit critical biological truths and endorse high-risk behaviors. The priority for SIECUS, Planned Parenthood, and Advocates for Youth is not the health and well-being of young people. These federally funded organizations are fighting “repression” and “intolerance,” not herpes or syphilis. But when sexual freedom reigns, sexual health suffers. Our children are being taught that you can play with fire, and we are obligated to inform them of the risks they face and to teach them biological truths, even when they are politically incorrect.

And here’s a scary excerpt:

You’re all familiar with the epidemics of STIs, sexually transmitted infections, in this country, but there’s another one. It’s a man-made one. It’s an epidemic of ignorance, misinformation, and duplicity.

If you go to the medical library and browse through the journals, you will learn some amazing things, such as a girl’s cervix is more easily infected by sexually transmitted infections than a woman’s because it has yet to mature. Boys and men don’t have a corresponding area of vulnerability in their reproductive system. The neurobiology of teen girls is unique, and it makes a girl’s developing brain more vulnerable to stress, especially the stress of failed relationships.

You’d learn that the adolescent brain functions differently from an adult’s. The area responsible for reasoning, suppression of impulses, and weighing the pros and cons of one’s decisions is not fully developed. Furthermore, under conditions that are intense, novel, and stimulating, teens’ decisions are more likely to be shortsighted and driven by emotion. You would discover that oral sex is associated with cancer of the tonsils and throat. The human papilloma virus infects those areas just like it does the cervix.

You’d find loads of articles—in fact, entire books— about oxytocin, a hormone that tells the brain, “You’re with someone special now; time to turn caution off and trust on; time to create an emotional bond.” In both sexes, oxytocin is released during cuddling and kissing and sexual touching, but estrogen ramps up the effects of oxytocin, and testosterone dampens them.

[…]You’d learn also that the healthy vagina, due to its architecture and biology, is an unfriendly environment for HIV, while the rectum has cells that facilitate the entry of HIV directly into the lymphatic system. This and many, many more things have been known for years, but when you turn to sex ed curricula and, most disturbing, the Web sites that are suggested to young people and their parents, nothing: none of this information.

So there is a man-made epidemic of ignorance: ignorance of biological truths that should be central in any sex ed curriculum or parent education program. Awareness of these truths can save lives.

I put the responsibility for the epidemic of ignorance directly on those organizations that are at the helm of teaching sex education because, contrary to their claims and promises, their programs are not comprehensive; they are not science-based or medically accurate or up-to-date.

I’ll go even further: They are not about preventing disease. Sex ed is a social movement. Its goal is to change society. The primary goal of groups like SIECUS, Planned Parenthood, and Advocates for Youth is to promote sexual freedom and to rid society of its Judeo–Christian taboos and restrictions.

The rest of the lecture transcript contains specific examples of how sex educators put children at risk.

I read Dr. Grossman’s first book, and I bought her second book, and I really, really recommend these books to people who think that sex is harmless and that sex educators have no agenda that they are trying to push on children. I really can’t recommend these books more highly to parents who trust public schools to tell children the truth about important issues like sexuality. They have an agenda, and so you should be armed with the facts.

Should we only blame boys for the highly-sexualized culture?

Man helping a woman with proper handgun marksmanship
Man helping a woman with proper handgun marksmanship

If you wanted to read just one article that summarizes a lot of my views on radical feminism and the Sexual Revolution, based on my experiences with young women in high school, college and the workplace, this article from The Federalist would be a good choice.

I am going to excerpt a piece of this for my post, but you really need to click through and read the whole thing.

Excerpt:

Let’s build on that foundation and ask why porn is driving expectations for young women.

As with the prevalence of porn among boys, the answer to this question has two parts. The victimization half of the answer is that we’ve deliberately avoided giving girls any other kinds of expectations. Think about it for a moment: Why should it be so hard to tell a guy “no,” as girls reported in the survey? Why should she think it’s mean?

Feminists would have you believe that all girls are shrinking violets who never learned how to lean in, but the far better answer is that these girls don’t really know of any good reason to say no. “I don’t want to” is a reason, but it’s the kind of reason one must weigh against others’ desires in any kind of voluntary relationship.

Chastity, which is the view that relationships work better when sex is confined to exclusive, permanent marital commitments, is out of favor in our society, thanks to feminism. In place of chastity, feminism encourages young people to have recreational sex outside of marriage.

What happened next?

If sex is just meaningless fun without any moral or spiritual dimension, and if youth is just a time for sexual adventures without any thought to actually forging a lasting relationship—as we are all taught these days—then surely it would indeed be mean to arbitrarily withhold that meaningless fun from someone she is fond of.

In a sexually amoral context, having sex with him so he’ll watch a movie with her is a decision with no more gravitas than watching “American Ninja Warrior” with him so he’ll watch “The Bachelorette” with her. Without bringing chastity back into the conversation, there’s no meaningful objection. The only expectation is that the boy and girl work out their different wants together, and they have already done so.

In the past, sexual expectations were founded in marriage and family—that sex is part of a permanent and exclusive partnership rooted in a mutual commitment to one another’s well-being and the promise of future children to whom that commitment is extended. Those are the expectations girls were taught, and they generally navigated relationships according to them. They provided a foundation to undergird their refusals.

Unfortunately, feminists found such expectations restrictive and demeaning, and over a generation successfully uprooted them only to replace them with… nothing of substance. It’s only natural that media depictions of sex—porn included—would fill that void and create new expectations.

[…]We cannot meaningfully condemn this situation unless we venture back into the world of sexual morality. After all, if our only concerns are for the desires of those involved, nothing proves the girls’ desire for emotional connection without providing sexual gratification is any better than the boys’ desire for sexual gratification without providing emotional connection.If this is the extent of our concern, then our response should not be the horror we feel in the pit of our collective stomach, but rather pride that these two different groups were able to negotiate terms by which both sides can get something they want. It would be like the end of a children’s program where everyone learned to compromise and work together.

If girls in general want a deal with terms more favorable to them, there’s always collective bargaining with the boys. Nevertheless, it’s difficult to see how the results would substantially differ from traditional sexual morality. After all, most girls would need to withhold sexual access until granted a commitment more meaningful than “I promise not to sleep with anyone else until I want to be done sleeping with you.” Accordingly, the “scabs” (to borrow union terminology) who give away access for less would have to be treated with less respect than those who maintain the bargaining position.

Meanwhile, the other side’s interests would need to be taken into account or they would have no incentive to come to the table. The popular boys are already getting what they want, and the rest are already going their own way. Providing sex couldn’t be held off for decades while education and career take a front seat.

Plus the long-term commitments boys offer as they become men could not be so one-sided that the woman could unilaterally dissolve these at any time and simultaneously claim a man’s home, children, and future income. In other words, any mutually beneficial bargain would have to restore chastity, slut-shaming, and early marriage while ending no-fault divorce. What collective bargaining will never achieve is the feminist pipe dream that boys be dutifully subject to feminine whim. They have no incentive for that.

And this part further down is really good too:

Is it really safe to assume these girls have hooked up with a completely random and evenly distributed sample of boys their age?

It would be more accurate to say that the boys who are popular with the girls are generally like this. After all, it seems rates of teen girls’ sexual activity are actually somewhat higher than those of their male peers—a gap particularly pronounced among whites. The disparity is probably even greater since other studies have shown that men are prone to exaggerating their sexual activity while women are prone to minimizing it.

All of this suggests that a larger pool of girls is competing for the attentions of a smaller pool of boys. Many anecdotal accounts reinforce this, suggesting a version of the 80/20 rule is at work in hookup culture (i.e., that 80 percent of the girls are sleeping with 20 percent of the guys). That particular proportion is almost certainly an exaggeration, but the disparity is there.

Most likely, the sexually inactive majority of boys aren’t receiving sex acts in exchange for their attention, just as the sexually inactive girls aren’t providing any. Plenty of boys are left out in the cold who would happily adopt a measure of chastity and provide emotional intimacy if it meant access to romantic relationships. The girls are simply choosing not to enter relationships with those boys. So why are the girls going for the boys who make the demands they reportedly despise?

I just don’t see how you can do better than that. This is a very conservative view, because it respects traditional morality, but it is not one that is championed by most “conservatives”, who want to just blame men for refusing to put out after feminism has re-made the culture.

In the old days, many men expected women to give them something physically if they spent money on dinner and movie. In the present day, fake man-blaming “conservatives” expect men to put out marriage for women who have done nothing at all to prepare themselves for it. In a world where chastity has been replaced by radical feminist hook-ups, and marriage has been replaced by no-fault divorce, there is no incentive for men to engage. Trying to get them to engage by attacking their manhood is just plain stupid, but unfortunately, most “man up” pastors and “conservatives” ARE just plain stupid.

Frequent denial of sex breaks the marriage covenant as much as adultery

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

Let’s start this post by quoting a passage from the Bible.

1 Corinthians 7:1-5:

Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman.

But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.

The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.

The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

So with that in mind, I want to turn to a well-known Jewish talk show host named Dennis Prager, who is much loved and listened to by Christians. Dennis Prager features a lot of discussions about male-female relationships on his show, particularly during the male-female hour. In this two part series on male sexuality, he explains why women should not deprive their husbands of sex without a good reason.

Part 1 is here.

Excerpt:

It is an axiom of contemporary marital life that if a wife is not in the mood, she need not have sex with her husband. Here are some arguments why a woman who loves her husband might want to rethink this axiom.

First, women need to recognize how a man understands a wife’s refusal to have sex with him: A husband knows that his wife loves him first and foremost by her willingness to give her body to him. This is rarely the case for women. Few women know their husband loves them because he gives her his body (the idea sounds almost funny). This is, therefore, usually a revelation to a woman. Many women think men’s natures are similar to theirs, and this is so different from a woman’s nature, that few women know this about men unless told about it.

This is a major reason many husbands clam up. A man whose wife frequently denies him sex will first be hurt, then sad, then angry, then quiet. And most men will never tell their wives why they have become quiet and distant. They are afraid to tell their wives. They are often made to feel ashamed of their male sexual nature, and they are humiliated (indeed emasculated) by feeling that they are reduced to having to beg for sex.

When first told this about men, women generally react in one or more of five ways…

He then explains the 5 ways that women respond to this.

Here’s one:

1. You have to be kidding. That certainly isn’t my way of knowing if he loves me. There have to be deeper ways than sex for me to show my husband that I love him.

I think that this is a common mistake that liberal women make because they think that men are just hairy women. But men are not women, we are different and sex means something different to men than it does to women. In the past, most women understood how men are different than women, but younger women have been taught that there are no differences between the sexes. To think any different is “sexism”.

Here’s another from the list:

4. You have it backwards. If he truly loved me, he wouldn’t expect sex when I’m not in the mood.

Again, this is the common mistake that many younger women today make in thinking that love is a one-way street – flowing from men and children to the woman. If men and children DON’T do what the woman wants, or if they make demands on her, then they don’t “love” her and she is justified in ignoring them.

Liberal women have been taught to believe that they are always victims or some group of oppressors, such as men and children or corporations. It makes them rebel against having to do anything for anyone else, because they don’t want to be “oppressed”. That makes them unable to accept that relationships are give-and-take, Once a commitment to love another person permanently has been made, then each person has responsibilities to provide for the needs of the other.

I actually had a conversation with a Christian woman once who said that women should not be obligated to do things that they didn’t feel like doing. I asked her if men were obligated to go to work when they didn’t feel like going. She said yes, and acted as though I were crazy for asking. I just laughed, because she didn’t even see the inconsistency. The truth is that men often don’t feel like working, but they get up and go to work anyway, whether they like it or not (in most cases). Similarly, a women should feel obligated to have sex with her husband, even if she is not in a perfect mood for it (in most cases). Sometimes, a man stays home from work, and it’s OK. And sometimes a woman says no to sex, and it’s OK. But it’s not OK to stop doing it for months and months with no good reason.

Part 2 is here.

Excerpt:

Here are eight reasons for a woman not to allow not being in the mood for sex to determine whether she denies her husband sex.

He then explains the eight reasons.

Here’s one of them:

7. Many contemporary women have an almost exclusively romantic notion of sex: It should always be mutually desired and equally satisfying or one should not engage in it. Therefore, if a couple engages in sexual relations when he wants it and she does not, the act is “dehumanizing” and “mechanical.” Now, ideally, every time a husband and wife have sex, they would equally desire it and equally enjoy it. But, given the different sexual natures of men and women, this cannot always be the case. If it is romance a woman seeks — and she has every reason to seek it — it would help her to realize how much more romantic her husband and her marriage are likely to be if he is not regularly denied sex, even of the non-romantic variety.

Women have to engage their husbands if they expect their husbands to engage in the marriage as a husband and father. Men can’t do their protector, provider and spiritual leader roles forever unless their needs are met at some point. Performance of these male duties is not free. Wives have to love their husbands in the way that men expect to be loved. That’s what they vowed to do in the wedding, isn’t it?

At the end of the article, Prager makes a general point about women that I think needs to be emphasized over and over and over:

That solution is for a wife who loves her husband — if she doesn’t love him, mood is not the problem — to be guided by her mind, not her mood, in deciding whether to deny her husband sex.

This problem of sex-withholding is so widespread, that it really makes me (although I am a virgin) wonder what women think that marriage is about anyway. When a woman vows to love her husband, what do they think that word really means? Why do women think that men marry? What do men want that marriage provides for them? Which of those needs are the women’s responsibility to provide for? I think these are questions that men should ask women. I think women should be prepared to answer them. Men should expect that women be reading books on men and marriage, and that she has relationships with men where she is giving support, respect, affirmation, affection and approval. You can learn a lot about a woman by how she treats her father, for example.

Unfortunately, many men today haven’t thought through what they need from wives in a marriage. They spend their young years chasing women who are fun and sexually permissive. Every husband I asked about what they need has told me that respect, affirmation, affection and regular sex are more important than appearance and fun. Pre-marital sex, having fun, getting drunk, and going out, etc. are not the right foundation for marriage – which requires mutual self-sacrifice in order to work.

Another point: I have a friend who is very concerned that men are breaking sexual rules, but he seems oblivious to 1 Corinthians 7:1-5. I asked him privately what he thought about sex-withholding, and whether this might cause husbands to turn to pornography and even affairs, and I mentioned 1 Corinthians 7:1-5. He said: “no, it’s not something I take much interest in”. I was tempted to ask him if the Bible was something that he does not take much interest in.

I think he misreads 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 so that it could only be used to condemn men. If that were his view, then it actually worries me if well-meaning men are actually undermining marriage, by teaching women that they have no responsibilities to keep the marriage going, and helping them to feel like victims when their marriages fall apart. Sometimes even people who claim to be pro-marriage can undermine marriage practically-speaking, because of their unBiblical belief that women are “naturally good” and should not have any responsibilities in a marriage.

I thought this attitude was so interesting in view of what I read in the Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. In that book, Dr. Laura urges women to be sensitive to their husbands’ different male natures in order to avoid them looking at pornography and having affairs. Withholding sex from a man is the equivalent of a man withholding conversation to a woman. Sex is how a man feels loved! What’s remarkable is how female callers on her show are shocked that men react badly to being deprived of sex.

I do think that some men will look at porn and cheat regardless of what their wife does sexually, but then it again falls to the woman to choose a man who has demonstrated that he has self-control – i.e., a virgin who has remained chaste with her throughout the courtship and protected her from doing sexual things outside of the covenant context. Chastity is hard, but it is how a man loves his wife self-sacrificially, before he even meets her. It should be a trait much sought after and respected by women. Basically, women need to be led by their minds, not by their feelings, when choosing a husband.

A man has to get up and go to work every day for his family, regardless of whether he feels like it or not. In fact, the many decisions he has made before getting married are also made not because they make him happy, but because he needs to be responsible to his future wife and children. The decision to study science? Loving obligation. The decision to go to grad school in science? Loving obligation. The decision to work in a demanding, risky career? Loving obligation. The decision to save money and eat instant oatmeal for dinner? Loving obligation. Men don’t do these things because we enjoy them. We do it because we love our wives and children self-sacrificially, before we ever even meet them. I think that women need to do the same.