I was never attracted to my husband does God want me to fake it?

I received a letter today from a woman who married a man she was never attracted to when both he and she were not believers. She said she married him for wrong reasons.   Now she has become a believer and he is still an unbeliever.

She has embraced the Bible’s teachings on the submission of wives to their husbands and wants to serve her husband and see him come to Christ if it is God’s will. But she greatly struggles with her lack of physical attraction to him. In fact she is so un-attracted to him that it makes having sex with him very difficult.

When she was an unbeliever she did not try to meet his sexual needs but now she has changed her behavior and given herself freely to her husband – a man she has absolutely no physical attraction to. She does her best to fake it, sometimes even holding back tears.

He has no idea that she has absolutely no physical attraction to him. In fact he is excited by her renewed interest in having sex with him and is very excited about how their relationship has changed and asking if it was good for her and what he can do better.

But if there is no physical attraction what can she do? Should she continue to fake it as she has been? Should she hide her lack of physical attraction to her husband? Is she being disingenuous to him and herself by carrying on like this? Should she tell him the truth that she has never been attracted to him and she just fakes enjoyment when having sex with him?

She also made it clear she knows God wants her to stay with him for life and she has no intention of leaving him as she once did when she was an unbeliever. But what should she do? This was her question to me. We will just call her “Amanda” even though that is not her real name.

This was the email I sent back to Amanda

Amanda – let me say first and foremost that I am so happy you came to Christ and accepted him as your savior.

I am also so happy that you accepted God’s will and plan for your life that marriage is for life and that God means for you to honor, obey and love your husband despite your lack of attraction to him.

Now I will answer your questions with a story.

There was a young man from Kentucky who heard from a missionary to Japan speaking in his church one Sunday.  The missionary spoke of the need for Christian missionaries in the country of Japan. The young country boy immediately felt the calling of God on his life to be a missionary to Japan.  He graduated high school went to Bible college and learned the skills he needed to be a missionary. He learned the language. But one thing that he was always scared of was the food!

He was a fried chicken and steak man.  Japan is seafood country and he hated seafood with a passion! The smell of it disgusted him.  The texture of it disgusted him.  The taste of it disgusted him. He told himself that God would work it out – after all they still have hamburgers in Japan right?

Well the years went by and that man married a wonderful woman and had his first child and was on his way to Japan as a missionary. Once he was there in Japan the first thing he looked for were restaurants that would sell beef and chicken!   He was so happy to find them.  But as he began his ministry to the people of Japan he found himself constantly being offered various seafood dishes by people who came to his ministries and he would politely turn him down.  A fellow missionary took him aside and told him that his constant turning down of the Japanese food was hindering his ministry and was offensive to many people.

He prayed and ask God to help him to do two things.

“Lord the first thing I am asking you for is to help me cultivate a desire for seafood even though I am disgusted by it so that I can serve your people here in Japan better.   The second thing I am asking for is for you to help me fake that I like it until I actually do.”

Amanda – this applies to you.  The most important mission God has given you is serving your husband.  You may actually be able to help bring him to Christ by continuing to submit to him as you have been doing.  You need to pray that same prayer that missionary to Japan did.  Your lack of attraction and your repulsion to your husband is hindering your ministry to him.  I would suggest you pray this prayer and pray it often:

“Lord the first thing I am asking you for is to help me cultivate a desire and attraction to my husband even though I have no attraction to him so that I can serve this man you have given me to serve and perhaps he will come to you because of my respectful behavior toward him.   The second thing I am asking for is for you to help me fake that I like it until I actually do.”

Amanda – I believe these two passages of Scripture speak to what you need to do with your husband:

“1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;

4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:

6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.” – I Peter 3:1-6 (KJV)

“And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him…

For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” – I Corinthians 7:13 & 16 (KJV)

Conclusion

I believe many Christian men and women can learn from Amanda’s story and her courage to do what is right despite their feelings.  Some may have married a spouse who they were never attracted to.  Maybe they were attracted at one point and lost their physical attraction over many years.

But I think that we need to do our best to cultivate an attraction toward our spouse – the person we have made a life long commitment to before God. We need to ask God for help in this area.  Maybe we will never be fully attracted to them but God can help us fake it when we need to.

As I have said many times on this site “faking it” whether it be in things our spouses likes to do, attraction to our spouse or even in the bedroom is all part of being an adult. It is part of what it means to be a Christian.  We need to put a smile on and do what God has called us to do even when we don’t feel like it.

Now does this let spouses off the hook who totally let themselves go and don’t have good hygiene? No.  We have an obligation to keep ourselves as clean an attractive as we reasonably can for our spouses.  There are times where we may need to delicately speak about things like excessive weight gain and lack of basic hygiene. But I don’t think God wants us to just tell our spouse there is no physical attraction and there never will be.  There is no way that this would build a relationship and make it better.

If a Kentucky man who loves chicken and hamburgers can learn to enjoy eating octopus in Japan a woman can over time learn to enjoy sex with her husband to whom she currently has no physical attraction.

Is attraction required for marriage?

Just_a_touch_is_all_I_need

There are typically three things that most people in the western world would believe are required for marriage:

  1. Physical attraction
  2. Love(feelings of love)
  3. A willingness to make a serious commitment

From a Christian perspective (as well as many other non-western and non-Christian perspectives) only a commitment to the institution of marriage is required.

For thousands of years, and even today there are many outside of western nations that have marriages arranged by their parents. Often times they meet their spouse only a week or two ahead of when they are married. In western culture many despise these types of marriages as dull or unemotional. But if you talk to these couples, they often have much stronger marriages than we do in the west, and they have a tiny fraction of our divorce rates here in the United States.

I am not saying that looking to be attracted to a person is wrong. I wanted to be attracted to my wife before I married her and I definitely was. I also had feelings of love and attachment to her before I proposed. But in God’s eyes, the only thing that was required of her and I was a commitment before God to the covenant of marriage, anything more than that was simply icing on the marriage cake.

The reason I say this is, for many marriages the attraction, as well as the feelings of love may fade over time. God never expects us to keep our physical attraction to our spouse, or to keep our feelings of love to our spouse.

But someone might say – “Wait a minute! The Bible commands in many places that husbands and wives are to love one another”. That is absolutely a true statement. But the love the Bible is describing is love that is made up of actions, not feelings.

I am not commanded to feel an emotional attachment to my wife, I am commanded to take actions of love toward my wife. I wrote about the 12 attributes of Biblical marital love and you can read them here.

I am not commanded to feel attracted to my wife either, only to love her with the actions of love God has defined for a husband and wife.

Let me explain more of what I am saying by defining the sources of love.

The three sources of Love

Family, or instinctual love(Storge) – Most human beings have an instinctual love toward their parents and their children. There are some exceptions as in the case where a parent abuses a child and that child may have no love left for their parent, but in most cases love happens instinctually between parents and children.

Emotional, or Friendship love(Philia) – This is love based on either romantic feelings between a man and woman, feelings of infatuation, or love that is based on common interests. This kind of love is almost 100% based on how much each person puts into the relationship, whether it is a same sex friendship, a dating relationship, or a marriage.

Unconditional love(Agape) – This is a love that is based on a choice, a commitment to love someone no matter what they do. This is the kind of love we are told that God has toward his children (those who trust in his Son). This is highest form of love, because it not based on feelings, or anything that the recipient of this love has done.

God commands husbands and wives to have an unconditional love(Agape) toward one another in the covenant of marriage.

What this means on a practical level is, I am supposed to be patient and kind to my wife no matter what she does. My wife is supposed to protect my reputation and honor me, and I her, regardless of whether we feel an emotional attachment to one another, or attraction to one another.

Marital love is not earned, but emotional love(philia) and attraction are earned

I say everything I have said up to this point to present this extremely important principle for those who are engaged, newlyweds or couples that have been married for a long time.

Many people, both men and women, think that part of unconditional love is the fact that their mate is required to unconditionally feel an emotional attachment to them and also be attracted to them no matter what they do.

You cannot control your emotional attachments, or you whom you are attracted to, you can only control what you do with those feelings and attractions.

But I want my spouse to feel an emotional attachment to me and be attracted to me!

You want your spouse to be attracted to you? You want your spouse to miss you when you are gone and truly want to be around you, not just out of a sense of duty, but also because of how they feel about you?

Make yourself attractive, give them a reason to feel love for you, not just show love out of duty. Make them miss you because of how wonderful you are to be around.

Things that erode attraction and emotional attachment between a husband and wife

Criticism is perhaps the greatest killer of attraction. Every critical word that comes out of your mouth toward your spouse erodes at their attraction to you. Any time your correct your spouse, or tell them they are wrong, or doing something wrong you erode the attraction they have to you.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are times we need to speak the truth in love to our spouses about wrong things they have done. But we should be extremely choosy about when we do this.

Moodiness is another killer of attraction and emotional love as well. Maybe you don’t criticize your spouse much, but you have a frown on your face half of the time. Happiness and contentment are attractive, moodiness and negativity are very unattractive.

Complaining never builds attraction. Yes we all complain at times, but if we have a constantly complaining spirit, this is not an attractive quality. You may not be criticizing or complaining about your spouse, but simply the act of complaining all the time is very unattractive.

Physical appearance – yes physical appearance still matters after you get married, not just before you get married.

Guys – are you shaving and showering on a regular basis? Did you forget where your deodorant or cologne are? If you are not caring for your physical appearance, this can erode attraction and emotional attachment.

Ladies – do you spend most of your time in sweats and tea shirts? Do you ever wear sexy clothes and care about your appearance the way you did when you were dating? Did you forget where your perfume was? If you are not caring for your physical appearance, this can erode attraction and emotional attachment.

But I have tried all these things, but still my spouse is unresponsive!

This is a topic that requires its own post which hopefully I will have something on shortly. For now I will just say it is possible to be married to a spouse that is emotionally stinted (and yes this applies to both men and women). It is also possible to be married to a person that is so self-absorbed, or so overwhelmed by their own emotional issues(such as anger, depression, moodiness, health issues, job issues) that no matter what you do to cultivate attraction and emotional love they will never or rarely respond in a meaningful way. I will address this situation in a separate post.

Conclusion

Each man and woman are different in what they consider to be attractive and what builds emotional attachment for them. You don’t have to earn your spouse’s love in the unconditional, commitment sense of the word. God expects that no matter what, and that keeps marriages together.

But the conditional love, the emotional love,the attraction love, the love that is based on actions and appearance makes marriage much more than a duty, it makes marriage fun and enjoyable.

So you if you want your spouse to love you in the emotional sense, to be attracted to you and to miss you when you are not together – it is all up to you! Ask yourself what you have done and what you are doing to build that attraction and emotional connection. It won’t just happen, it requires intentional action.

Why do older men go out with younger women?

Bodycrimes made this comment in reply on a post she wrote about Older men and Younger women:

“Except that women aren’t making that sacrifice at all. Women who are university educated are now the most likely to get married and have families. Professional and educated men do not marry uneducated women. The worst thing a woman who aspires to a middle class or above life could do is to fail to get an education and career.”

Are there studies that on the surface would seem to support what she said? Yes.

This study sited at the HuffingtonPost would be one that seems to confirm her opinion:

“According to a new study by NYU sociologists Paula England and Jonathan Bearak, prepared for the Council on Contemporary Families, college-educated women are now as likely to get married as their less-educated peers — even if the weddings happen in a somewhat older age range. These findings contradict the previously prevailing idea that women who pursued higher education were more likely to delay finding a mate past some stereotypical “marriageable age” while studying and building demanding careers.”

However as you dig deeper into the study, you note the disparity between races on this issue.

“In terms of race, the delayed marriage boost that college education produces is far more pronounced for black women than for white women. While “black women have lower odds of ever marrying than white women … getting a college education raises ultimate marriage rates by the 30s and 40s much more substantially for blacks than whites.” Black women who don’t complete high school are far less likely to get married than any other group.”

Because there is a complete breakdown of the nuclear family in the black community of the United States, where almost 70% of black children are born out of wedlock Black women need that extra education to give them that leg up. But in other racial groups, especially with whites, where the out of wedlock birth rate is more around 30%, a woman having a college education does not have as high an impact on her marriageability or getting into the middle class.

This study cited by the Huffington Post also shows that these same college educated women, while having a better chance of getting married (and as I pointed out this is more in the black community than in other racial communities) also marry much later.

What they don’t report is that these women who marry later in life often have a lot more fertility issues and this is one of the contributing factors to declining birth rates in most western nations (including the US).

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/12/college-educated-women-and-marriage_n_1421792.html

But is a higher education all positive for women? Not really according to this study cited at Bloomberg.com:

“Women who have come out on top in the job market may not find similar success in the marriage market… Aversion to wives earning more than husbands could be leading to fewer weddings and more divorces, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper… couples where a wife earns more are less satisfied with their marriage and are more likely to divorce”

http://go.bloomberg.com/political-capital/2013-05-15/higher-paid-women-less-married-more-divorced/

The higher educated a woman is, and the more she makes directly lessens her chances of getting married and even if she does get married her chances of divorce are much higher.

The study cited in the HuffingtonPost and the one at Bloomberg.com are not contradictory when you look at the racial factor. There is truly a marriage crisis in the Black community, to deny so would be to deny what every government and private study shows us. Does poverty have some affect? Yes. But even in other racial communities where poverty exists marriage rates are much higher than in lower income black areas.

If you remove the racial factor, for whites especially, a woman having a higher education makes her LESS likely to get married, and when she does get married she will have a much higher chance of divorce.

That may not sit well with my feminist and egalitarian friends, but it is the truth.