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What Your Spouse Wants You to Figure Out

Strive to be intimate friends who unselfishly serve one another.

From the editor:

Few preachers make better use of humor than Dave Stone. He's especially gifted at knowing exactly the right point to insert a funny line or anecdote or story just when things are getting a bit too heavy or uncomfortable—but never at the expense of what needs to be taught. In this sermon, Stone tackles the tricky topic of sex. Pay attention to how he weaves appropriately disarming humor throughout the sermon.     


Several years ago, I learned that most all instructions and directions are written at a fifth grade level. I did not believe that until I finally got in the habit of reading them. I've got to tell you: if you pay attention to instructions, some of them are hilarious, because they are so obvious.

If you have a Rowenta iron, it has a warning on it that says, "Do not iron clothes on your body."

Years ago I was snow skiing in Colorado, and my wife and I were riding on a ski lift. We're about 200 feet above mankind. The skiers looked like little tiny ants down there. We're going past this large trestle, and it has this sign on it that says, "Warning: Jumping from ski lift will result in loss of lift ticket."

One time, for Father's Day, my mom gave me a set of Auto Shades. Auto Shades are something you put inside the windshield of your car so that in the summertime, when everybody else's car interior is 98 degrees, you car's interior is 96 degrees. Here are the actual instructions on my Auto Shades: (1) Unfold the Auto Shades inside of the car; (2) Push the cutout portion behind where the rearview mirror is; (3) Pull the sun visors down to hold the Auto Shades in place; but (4) Warning: Do not drive car with Auto Shades in place.

God has given us instructions on marriage in his Word.

Instructions seem so simple, but it still pays to take the time to read them. They are designed to protect you from harm and to insure that you get the most out of that product.

It's important to remember that sex was God's idea. Some have called sex "God's wedding gift." This wedding gift comes with some instructions and warnings that are written at about a fifth grade level, but they will protect you from harm and allow you to get the most joy out of this gift within your marriage.

In the Book of Genesis, God lays out some foundational instructions. Genesis 2:24–25: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame." Notice that the husband leaves his parents. He cleaves to his wife, and they weave an intimate union as they merge themselves together physically. The merging is not instantaneous. Note the words of Moses: "They become one flesh"—not they became one flesh. Oneness is not created overnight—even a honeymoon night. Marital oneness is a lifelong spiritual, emotional, and sexual quest. Max Lucado says: "God desires to make you one with your spouse, and sex is one of his tools. Don't overrate it like society does. Don't ignore it like religion has done. Just appreciate it."

What wives wish their husbands would figure out

So what does your spouse wish you would figure out? Let's begin with the wife's wishes. Her first wish would probably be that her husband would communicate and take a genuine interest in her. Right now, there are some guys who may be thinking, What does that have to do with physical intimacy? And your wife beside you is thinking, Hello! This is what I've been telling you for years, but you never listen! In a woman's mind, it has everything to do with it. Communication is the key.

Husbands, your wife wants you to take an interest in her life's pursuits—to become a sounding board that she can bounce things off of as she thinks out loud. She wants to hear you call and say, "I was just thinking about you." Sometimes, husbands, when we speak to our wives, we can be so short with them. Sometimes we talk more nicely to strangers than we do to our wife. Choose your words carefully and communicate with an attitude that honors rather than demeans.

God wants us to understand both the seriousness and the joy of sex. He also wants us to understand the importance of communication in sex. He wants us to understand that so much so that he included an entire book in the Old Testament on the subject of romance and sexual intimacy: the Song of Solomon or the Song of Songs. Some of the imagery used in this book, which is a diary or a personal journal of a married couple, is somewhat erotic. Song of Solomon talks about the importance of both verbal and physical foreplay in a relationship. In our passage, the husband praises his wife's body. The passage closes with him saying, "You have captured my heart, my dear friend. You looked at me, and I fell in love. One look my way and I was hopelessly in love" (Song of Songs 4:9, The Message). 

That's communicating with his wife face-to-face. Husbands, if you were to talk like that to your wife, with genuine sincerity, you would capture her heart. Josh McDowell says the chief dysfunction in failing marriages is not sexual but verbal. Fulfilled marriages are enjoyed by those who share their feelings and have a great amount of openness with their spouse. Ecclesiastes 9:9 reminds us: Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of your life. When my wife and I are communicating—staying in touch throughout the day, getting each other's advice and counsel—things go pretty smoothly, and marriage is great because we are verbally interacting.

Dr. Kevin Leman wrote a book a few years ago entitled Sex Begins in the Kitchen. The premise of that book is that romance is an all-day process. In other words, what happens in the communication outside the bedroom sets the sexual climate for inside the bedroom. Husbands, when you care and lovingly serve your wife, you are displaying in that particular moment, she is much more important to you than you are.

I'm in a small group Bible study with some other couples, and one week we were talking about romance. One of the gals said, "You know, when my husband helps get the children their baths and puts them to bed without me asking him to do it, I find myself very attracted to him that night." I think that week, every guy in that room was constantly giving their little kid a bath. The kid was probably yelling, "I already had one!" "I don't care! Get in there anyway!" they yelled in return.

All joking aside, though, husbands—make certain that you don't have ulterior motives. Instead, do what Paul commanded in Ephesians 5:25: "Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." Christ sacrificed, and he served the church. His love was evident, and his motives were pure.

Wives also wish that their husbands would cuddle with no strings attached. Women need affection. When you're walking to your car after church, hold her hand. When you pass her in the hallway or in the kitchen, give her a hug. Men and women are very different emotionally, especially in this arena of cuddling. When a woman says, "I just want to be held," you know what she's really saying? She saying, "I just want to be held." It took me a long time to figure that out. That is not a cue for you to try and take it to the next level.

Ephesians 5:28–29 says: "Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it just as Christ does the church." Gene Apple, formerly of Willow Creek, once said, "When Jesus wanted to reach out to us, what did he do? God came into our world and met us where we are. That's why he was called Immanuel; God with us." Gene says, "Guys, if we're going to feed and care for our wives as Christ does the church, we're going to have to get down off of our high horses, step out of our world of career or self-importance, step out of our world of sports, and enter into the world of our wives and nurture them and fill their soul."

Our wives are not impressed with how successful we are, how many deals we've closed, or how much money we've made. What gets their attention is when we leave our world and, like the Son of God, we enter into their world, their sphere, their interests, and we get involved. That might mean that you go and watch a chick flick with her. It may mean that you take an interest in antiques to get to spend some time with her. But find some way to get involved in her life.

What husbands wish their wives would figure out

What do the men wish that their wives would figure out when it comes to sexual intimacy? When it comes to the sexual relationship, men are wired more like microwaves, and women are more like Crock-Pots. Guys are like a light switch, and women are like a mercury light that takes some time to warm up. Guys are visually stimulated; women are more emotionally stimulated. I don't know why God created each of us that way, but he did. Ladies, let me tell you some things your husband would enjoy in your physical relationship.

First, your husband wants creativity. Light some candles. Put some planning into creating a special moment. Invite him to lunch some day and say, "Hey, let's meet at the house." Be creative and have fun. Make it an experience, rather than a duty. Variety adds spice to your marriage and joy to your husband. Ladies, you put so much planning and effort and attention for some of the hobbies that you have or for a trip that you plan with your girlfriends; what about putting some effort into the most important earthly relationship that you have?

Second, your husband is concerned about frequency. I know that's probably not an earth-shattering revelation, but is the marital act rarely on the menu, or is there regularity to this celebration? Is it something that both husband and wife look forward to and anticipate? There are some exceptions to this, but surveys consistently show husbands desire this more often than wives.

A doctor gave an older couple a terrible report concerning the health of the husband. The doctor requested to speak privately to the wife. When the door was shut, he said, "I've got some bad news. I think your husband is probably going to die within a week. He doesn't have long to live. But the good news is this: if you cook him three meals a day, if you bring him breakfast in bed, if you pamper him, if you make love to him as much as you did the first year of your marriage, I think that man might live for a year or two."

The wife went out to the waiting room. Her husband said, "What did the doctor say?"

She said, "You're going to die."

Discuss the sexual issues you face as a couple. Openly agree on one another's needs—but both need to be flexible and not legalistic. It was Dr. Willard Harley who shared a compelling illustration that may help a woman understand a man's sex drive:

Suppose there was a stool with a glass of water on it, and the husband was next to the stool, where he could easily reach the water, and the wife is next to the husband, but she is immobilized and can't quite reach the water.
The wife turns to her husband and says, "Would you please pour me out a glass of water? I'm getting thirsty."
And the husband responds by saying, "You know, I don't really feel like it. I'm just not in the mood. Maybe in a couple of hours."
The wife says, "Well, I'm really thirsty now."
The husband says, "Well, you know, it's been an awfully long day, and I'm a little bit too tired to get you a glass of water right now."
Well, the next day, the wife, having gone without water, says again, "Will you please give me a glass of water now?"
The husband says, "Why do you always have to ask for water? I'll give you a glass when I'm in the mood."
The wife can feel her temperature rising, and she's not happy. She's thirsty. And the only person who can give her her water is her husband. She begins to demand it, and the husband glares at his wife and says, "You're not going to get any water with an attitude like that."
The next day, the husband finally says, "Okay. Here's your water, but drink it fast and don't be telling me you're going to be thirsty again tomorrow."
The wife drinks, but she does so with bitterness and frustration.

The New Testament talks about the frequency of intimacy in 1 Corinthians 7. Paul says, "The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control" (1 Corinthians 7:3–5). There are some times when you won't be together as regularly, but it doesn't go on for a long, long time. As Paul is quick to point out, Satan will tempt you. Paul says we don't have a whole lot of self-control, so use that time for prayer.

Finally, your husband also needs affirmation. He needs and wants affirmation from you in his career, in his appearance. Tell him if he pleases you. Ladies, talk to your husbands about your physical relationship—not your girlfriends. That is a relationship that is private and personal, and don't share those details with others. That's between the two of you.

The male ego needs a lot of strokes and validation. Wives, you need to affirm him and encourage him. You might be shocked if you paid attention to some of his needs, what kind of a person he might become. At times, you take the initiative when it comes to your physical relationship, as he will find that quite affirming.

Listen to the affirmation given by the wife to her husband in Song of Solomon 5. Do you think her words made him feel special, loved, affirmed?

Intimate friends unselfishly serving one another

If I could capsulate into one thought what I want to say to all the married couples, it would simply be this: strive to be intimate friends who unselfishly serve one another.

Proverbs 5 begins with the first 14 verses telling us not to pursue the wrong type of a mate, and then it tells us what we should pursue in verses 15–19. Solomon writes: "Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets? Your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed. May you rejoice in the wife of your youth, a loving doe, a graceful dear. May her breasts satisfy you always. May you ever be captivated by her love." The word captivated means, "may you be left staggering from your physical interaction with your wife." In other words, may her beauty and her love for you be so intoxicating that you can't even see straight. The Bible uses that word, husbands, so that you wouldn't even consider a fling with a coworker. The Bible uses that word, wives, so that you wouldn't act like a desperate housewife.

The world has it all wrong when it comes to the concept of sex. They think that sex is all about getting. No. God's view of sex is all about giving wholeheartedly to the person that you will spend the rest of your life with in a marriage relationship. Withholding sex as punishment or demanding sex by threats—these are not the ways of God's people. The bed should be a place of servanthood, not selfishness. And there are no sex experts—only God's children attempting to discover the joy that comes through God's purpose of intimacy of one man, one woman, for one lifetime.


Ann Landers received a letter that is good wrap up. It says:

Dear Ann,
Last weekend we celebrated my parent's 50th wedding anniversary. This morning, they left on a long-awaited trip to Hawaii. They were as excited as if it were their honeymoon. You see, when my parents married, they had only enough money for a three-day trip, 50 miles from home, and they made a pact then that each time they made love, they would put a dollar in a special metal box, and they would save it for a honeymoon in Hawaii for their 50th anniversary.
Dad was a policeman and Mom was a schoolteacher, and raising five children was a challenge, and sometimes money was short. But no matter what emergency came up, Dad would not let Mom take any money out of the Hawaii account.
My parents were always very much in love. I can remember Dad coming home and telling Mom, "I have a dollar in my pocket." And she would smile at him and reply, "I know just how to spend it." And when each of us children married, Mom and Dad gave each of us a small metal box, and they told us their secret, which we found inspiring.
Mom and Dad never told us how much money they managed to save, but it must have been considerable, because when they cashed in those CDs, they had enough for airfare to Hawaii plus hotel accommodations for ten days and plenty of spending money. And before they boarded the plane, Dad winked at us and said, "Tonight, we're starting an account for Cancun."

For those who do it right, the relationship gets better and better the longer you are married. Some of you would say that at best, intimacy in your relationship is mediocre or infrequent or lackluster. Do you assume sex has to be stale because it's in marriage, and the most exciting physical relationships can only be experienced in illicit liaisons or diverse lovers? Or do you believe that God can give you, within your marriage, immeasurably more than you all you ask or imagine?

For your reflection:

Personal growth: How has this sermon fed your own soul?

Skill growth: What did this sermon teach you about how to preach?

Exegesis and exposition: Highlight the paragraphs in this sermon that helped you better understand Scripture. How does the sermon model ways you could provide helpful biblical exposition for your hearers?

Theological Ideas: What biblical principles in this sermon would you like to develop in a sermon? How would you adapt these ideas to reflect your own understanding of Scripture, the Christian life, and the unique message that God is putting on your heart?

Outline: How would you improve on this outline by changing the wording, or by adding or subtracting points?

Application: What is the main application of this sermon? What is the main application of the message you sense God wants you to bring to your hearers?

Illustrations: Which illustrations in this sermon would relate well with your hearers? Which cannot be used with your hearers, but they suggest illustrations that could work with your hearers?

Credit: Do you plan to use the content of this sermon to a degree that obligates you to give credit? If so, when and how will you do it? (For help on what may require credit, see "Plagiarism, Schmagiarism" and "Stolen Goods: Tempted to Plagiarize")

Dave Stone is the former Senior Pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky,

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Sermon Outline:


I. God has given us instructions on marriage in his Word.

II. What wives wish their husbands would figure out

III. What husbands wish their wives would figure out

IV. Intimate friends unselfishly serving one another