Love Your Spouse 

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Whether you are currently married or hope to be someday, this page could be helpful for you in restoring a healthy understanding of marital love.  This type of  love is a special kind of love that has its own set of challenges.  It can take time and work to master, but the results will be worth the effort.  Healthy love will bring blessings to every area of your marriage, including sex.   

As we noted on the Live in Love page, there is a difference between love and lust.  This difference is magnified in marriage and especially in sex.  People involved in sex addiction are often blinded to the difference between healthy sexual desire and lustful sexual desire.  In the table below, I've given some examples that highlight the difference between lust-based sexual desire and love-based sexual desire.       

Lust-based sexual desire
Love-based sexual desire
"I want my spouse to act out the fantasies I've looked at in porn" "I want to express my affection for my spouse in a way that he or she will enjoy it most"
"I want my spouse to be willing to try more erotic things during sex...I'm bored with "normal" sex" "I want my spouse to feel comfortable when we engage in sex....i.e., not pressured into doing something he or she feels is wrong and/or does not enjoy"
"Porn helps me get more excited about sex with my spouse" "I recognize that porn would weaken my love for my spouse by encouraging me to fantasize about other people. Porn also would make me less satisfied with my spouse"
"I need my spouse to perform a specific sexual act in order for me to feel satisfied during sex" "The simple joy of being together in sexual intimacy is more important to me than a specific act."
"It's my spouse's duty to provide sex for me, even when he or she doesn't want to do it" "Though I want sex right now, I'm willing to sacrifice the desire temporarily in favor of waiting for a time when my spouse and I are both interested in having sex."
"I find myself wanting my spouse to exert all the effort during sex"   "I cherish my spouse and want to bless her or him with affection." 
"What can I get from sex?" "What can I give during sex?"
"I'm not sure I'll find my spouse attractive when he or she gets older" "I recognize that there is so much more to sex than bodily appearance.  My love for my spouse goes way beyond his or her looks."

(for more info, see our page love vs. lust)  

God wants us to have love-based sexual affection in our marriage.   If we tolerate lust in our marriage sex life, even a little, it will weaken our intimacy and sexual satisfaction with each other.  Sexual dissatisfaction in the marriage can increase our vulnerability to sexual temptations. 

After God delivered me from porn addiction, he gradually convicted me of the lust-based sexual desire I was sheltering in my marriage sex life.  I was hanging on to some of the memories of porn I had viewed and allowing them to influence our sexual activity.  God brought me to a place where I was willing to surrender my lustful desires and ask Jesus to restore healthy sexual desire in me.   I asked him to teach me how to love my wife sexually without lust.  God has been answering those prayers faithfully to this day.  

A great help to "re-programming" our minds from lust-based thinking is  God's word.  The Bible has much to say about marital love. As we study God's original plan, we'll be able to better recognize the devil's counterfeits. 

Before discussing specifics for husbands and wives, I would like to point out that often the roots of many relational problems in marriage  go back to the curses caused by Adam and Eve's sin.   God said that Eve would have "desire for" Adam, meaning that she would want to control him and possibly undermine his leadership in the home.  Adam in turn would tend to rule harshly over Eve (Genesis 3:16), causing a truly miserable relationship.   The effects of these curses can still be seen working in unhappy marriages today.   Often they show up as subtle tendencies that pry spouses apart.   

We don't have to live with such curses.  Jesus broke the power of the curse by dying on the cross (Galatians 3:13-14).  In Jesus' name, you have the authority to break such curses and invite God to heal you and your spouse from any destructive tendencies at work in your marriage.   The prayers at the end of each section below will address roots related to the Eden curses.   

For Husbands:  Jesus modeled the husband's love in how he loved the church.  Ephesians 5:25-27 NKJV says: 

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish."

This passage underscores the noble call that husbands have.  Jesus surrendered himself for the church, in order that we might be sanctified, cleansed and presented as holy to God.  The husband is to follow this example of sacrificial love by placing his wife's interests ahead of his own.  Paul further explained sacrificial love in Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV): 

"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others"

Showing this type of love doesn't mean that husbands have to abandon their interests, but it does mean they must give their wives' interests priority at least on par with their own.  With that in mind, let's examine some further points about a husband's love:

Love your wife as your own body:  God instructs the husband to nourish and cherish his wife as a member of his own flesh (Ephesians 5:30-33).  Porn can cause a husband to value his wife primarily on the basis of her sexual appearance and/or performance.  Her body is not intended as a replacement for pornography, but rather, she is a God-given, lifelong companion.  

God wants us to delight in our wives in a much deeper way than just sexually.  Proverbs 5:15-20 instructs the husband to rejoice in his wife, to be satisfied with her body and to be captivated by her love.  Note that these are decisions the husband must choose to make.   Here are some practical examples of loving your wife as your own body include:

Love your wife with understanding:  Your wife is a delicate vessel and a co-heir in Christ.  If you don’t treat her gently and reverently, God will not hear your prayers (1 Peter 3:7)!  Your wife is not a sex object created to satisfy your lust.   She is a person, a wonderful creation made in God's image.  God has given her to you as a gift, and he expects you to treat her with respect, gentleness, dignity and consideration (Romans 12:10).  Practical examples of applying this include:

Show your wife her due affection - don't neglect her:  1 Corinthians 7:4-6 describes the mutual authority of the husband and wife over each other's  bodies.  This is not a mandate for the wife to give sex whenever the husband wants it.  Rather, it is a reminder to the husband and wife to be sensitive to each other's sexual desires so that neither becomes vulnerable to temptation.  Sensitivity is fostered through loving communication, affection, affirmation and tenderness.  When these are in place, the marriage sex life is virtually guaranteed to be wonderful.  Practical applications of this include:

Indeed, showing this type of love is something that husbands will need the Holy Spirit's help in doing.  It IS POSSIBLE and God will help you to live it daily!  If that is the desire of your heart for your marriage, please pray this suggested prayer:

"Heavenly Father, Thank you for giving me a model through Jesus of the love I am to show for my wife.  I confess that I have not loved my wife as you have instructed me to.  Please forgive me specifically for not __________________(list shortcomings).   In the name of Jesus Christ, I claim the finished work of the cross and break any curses operating over my wife, myself and our marriage.  Lord, I commit today to pursue Godly love for my wife by loving her as Christ loved the church, loving her as my own body, loving her with understanding and showing her due affection.  Father please strengthen me by the Holy Spirit to love her in these ways.  Please ignite the fires of passion between us and restore in us healthy sexual desire for one another.  I ask that you will help my wife be the woman that you want her to be.  Please bless her and work in her life.  Thank you, Father!  In Jesus' name, Amen."  

For Wives:  Ephesians 5:22-24 NIV is one key passage that explains the type of love a wife is to have for her husband:   

"Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."

The idea of submission does not mean wives are to be doormats for their husbands, but it does mean they are to respect their husbands in their applicable roles (husband, father, provider, etc.) just as they respect the Lord.  Granted, the husband's attitude will greatly help or hinder the wife from putting this to practice.  If he is not fulfilling his role in loving his wife as Christ loves the church, it will be difficult for the wife to submit to him as the church submits to Christ.

As mentioned above, women often have a tendency to want to control their husbands.  A controlling attitude conflicts with the idea of submission.   A wife can easily frustrate her husband with a controlling or argumentative spirit, derogatory words, or excessive criticism.  Solomon reflected on how this can affect the husband in Proverbs 21:19 NIV"Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife."   The challenge for such a woman will be to use her words to instead edify her husband, and surrender her desire to control him to God.   Practical examples of submission can include:

Other key points for wives include:

Adorn your heart with a gentle and quiet spirit:  Peter wrote: "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight" (1 Peter 3:3-4 NIV).  These qualities of your inner self will flow directly from your relationship with God.  They are closely related to the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), which grow in you as walk with the Lord faithfully.  The world values everything contrary to this, so you'll need to be relying on God for strength to live as a "counter culture" woman.

Show your husband due affection: 1 Corinthians 7:4-6 describes the mutual authority of the husband and wife over each other's  bodies.  This is not a mandate for you to give sex whenever your husband wants it, but it is a reminder to be sensitive to his sexual desires.  This also does not mean that you should submit to sexual acts that you feel are wrong.  Your availability and willingness to participate in "normal" sexual relations will help your husband be less vulnerable to external sexual temptations he faces.   If your husband is doing things that are causing your sexual desire to dry up, seek the Lord's direction in how to best communicate your feelings with your husband.  

Seek wisdom from Godly women:  Since there are no perfect marriages, putting the scriptural model for marriage into practice will present some challenges.  A valuable source of wisdom and insight on these challenges can be other Godly women.  Paul wrote to Titus about how the older women in the church were to train the younger women in the various aspects of love:  "Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God" (Titus 2:4-5 NIV).  You may have to look hard to find a Godly older woman who will help you and perhaps mentor you.  This underscores the need for you to be plugged into a church where people are living for God.  If you are unable to find a woman to help you, at the very least you can use 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 as the pattern for loving your husband. 

With God's help, you can love your husband in the above ways, no matter what his disposition.   If that is the desire of your heart for your marriage, please pray this suggested prayer:

"Father in Heaven, I desire to show pure love for my husband (and family).  I confess that I have failed to love him in the following ways: __________(list).  Please forgive me for those failures.  In the name of Jesus Christ, I break any curses that have been affecting my husband, myself and my marriage.  I surrender any desire in me to control my husband to you, Father.  Please work in his life as you see fit.  I trust him in your hands.  Please help me resist the desire to control or fix his life.  Please grow in me all the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and especially that I will have a gentle and quiet spirit.  Please help me be sensitive to his needs and faithful in speaking edifying words to him.  Lord, please lead me to a woman (or women) in my church that I can learn from.  Finally, Father, please ignite the fires of passion between my husband and I, and teach us healthy sexual desire for one another.  Thank you, Father!  In Jesus' name I pray, Amen."  

Repairing the sex life:  The sexual relationship in marriage often reflects the emotional condition of the relationship.  The above points perhaps have surfaced some attitudes that you've needed to deal with.  The below additional steps will help you reconcile with your spouse and move forward in repairing your sexual relationship.  

"Heavenly Father, thank you for my spouse and the gift of sex.  I lift up our sexual relationship to you.  I pray that we will enjoy sex to its fullest extent as you have designed it to be in marriage.   Father, please help me re-channel my "sexual energy" into pure and loving expressions of affection for my spouse (and not into porn, masturbation, etc.).  I surrender any selfishness that I have harbored in my heart as it relates to sex.  Please teach me how to romance my spouse and delight in him or her again.  Please restore our physical attraction for each other.  Help me to see my spouse's positive qualities and encourage him or her in them.  Finally, Lord, please cleanse my mind of the pollutants I have allowed to corrupt our sexual relationship: ________(list as applicable).  I apply the blood of Jesus to every thought and every memory associated with those things.  By faith, they are washed clean by the blood of Jesus.  Thank you, Father!  In Jesus' name I pray, Amen."  

It make take some time for the answers to the above prayer to manifest.  I encourage you to be persistent in your prayer and obedient to the Holy Spirit as he surfaces new areas for you to work on.   If you do this, God will answer your prayers and your sex life will improve!  I experienced this "sexual healing" firsthand in my marriage after God freed me from porn addiction.  

Personal Application Questions:

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