It was gut-wrenching to hear the agony and despair in my coaching client’s voice as she made the reasons behind her “frigidity” crystal clear: “Why in the world should I want to have sex with a man that I can’t stand the sight of?”

She wasn’t frigid at all; rather, her heart had grown stone cold toward the man she’d married. And as hard as it was for me to hear these words, I can’t imagine how far more painful they were to her husband’s ears as he sat there on the couch with her. His entire body was trembling, maybe partly out of anger that she was verbally ripping him to shreds, maybe partly out of fear that their marriage was over.

Unfortunately, this dynamic isn’t uncommon, especially in religious couples. Why? Because Christians can be experts at understanding parts of the Bible, while completely missing other parts. In particular, most men are quite aware of the apostle Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:22–24: “For wives… submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.”

If this passage is read in isolation, it’s easy to conjure up images of the stereotypical dominant male, watching a sitcom in his recliner, yelling for a sandwich, expecting sex before bed, throwing his weight around, and demanding that it’s “his way or the highway.” But is this what God intended? Can a man require such blind submission and servitude from a woman simply because he is the “male head of the household”?

No, respect and submission from a woman can only be inspired, not required. And the same is true with sexual interest. A husband can certainly inspire a woman to blossom with him in bed, but requiring such can be about as effective as grabbing a rose bud by its outer petals and trying to force it into full bloom. It will simply break rather than blossom if not given the time and proper nourishment to flourish.

Of course, sometimes the relational dynamic is reversed. Husbands have also sat on my coaching couch feeling absolutely no sexual attraction to their wives at all because of how she treats him disrespectfully or even rudely. Sadly, there are indeed many women who have some unresolved anger or resentment issues toward previous male authority figures (such as a distant father, or an abusive ex-husband or boyfriend perhaps). This can make any sort of respectful submission difficult. If that describes you, I’d say, “Baby girl, how long are you going to drag that baggage around? You’re only making life hard on yourself and your family, so how about lightening your load and seeing a counselor who can help you function more effectively in your relationships with men?”

PRAYER: Lord, teach us what proper submission in marriage should look like. Help us to inspire love and intimacy rather than require it.

Read the next posts in this series here:

Part 2

Part 3

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