One of the most delightful discoveries on my journey to cherish Lisa was finding out the difference cherishing makes with the best sex. A cherishing mindset helps you enjoy the richest aspects of sexual intimacy while protecting you from the worst tendencies of sexual desire and pleasure. Because sex can be such a powerful experience, it’s easy for the desire and pleasure to take over until it becomes more about two bodies than two lovers and two spouses. And with the ever-present promise of such intense pleasure, it’s easy to become selfish.
When you decide to let cherishing direct what happens between the sheets, you make it your goal to “use sex” to cherish your spouse instead of using your spouse to cherish sex. The difference is enormous.
For instance, when a man is cherishing his wife, she, not an act, is what he desires and cherishes. Sex becomes a tool to proclaim her beauty, her worth, her desirability and her excellence. When a man desires sex in general instead of his wife in particular, she’s going to feel used rather than cherished, and the sexual act can actually do great harm. (I’m not trying to be a prude here; maybe she just really wants the pleasure and physical release as well—there are different kinds of sex in a lifelong marriage).
For your husband, cherishing means he also wants to be desired sexually, not “serviced” reluctantly. If he’s healthy, he doesn’t want “obligation sex,” though he may take it when life is crazy busy (again, real life), but his soul will be filled only by cherishing sex.
It made such a difference when I began to look at each act of sexual intimacy as another opportunity to cherish my wife. That mindset changed everything, helping me to let go of unhealthy and selfish views of sex, and bringing to the forefront the best parts of sex.
Wives, God designed your husband’s brain to cherish you and to be enthralled with your body. In His word, he directs men to put one hundred percent of their sexual focus on their wives: “May you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always; may you ever be captivated by her love” (Proverbs 5:18b-19).
If you want me to be honest, the Hebrew word translated “breasts” is actually slightly more specific, but there’s no way I’m putting that in my blog. You can figure it out on your own.
This God-designed power of wives’ bodies to enthrall their husbands revealed itself to me during a trip to California. Lisa and I drove to a trail where I planned to run and Lisa planned to walk.
“Do you have your cell phone?” I asked her.
“No, I left it in the room.”
“I don’t want you walking out here without a phone. Why don’t you take mine?”
I took off running but came to the end of the trail less than a mile later; we had started in the wrong direction. I turned around and met Lisa walking toward me. “Hey,” I said, “We need to turn around. The trail ends up there. But can I have my phone for a second? I want to type in some notes so I can clear my mind.”
“Sure,” Lisa said, and pulled my phone out of her…jog bra.
I had been married to her for about 30 years at the time. I had had that phone for at least two years. But that black piece of plastic carried almost a supernatural glow like I had never seen. “Sacred Cell Phone!” (sorry) Just holding it, I forgot what I was trying to do.
“What?” Lisa asked.
“Give me a second,” I said, pathetically trying to remember why I was holding this now sanctified piece of plastic in my hands.
As embarrassed as I am to admit this, God made me to respond to Lisa’s body and in particular, her breasts, just like that. It pleases him. When a guy is enthralled with his wife, and a wife knows she has that kind of power to transfix her husband, it’s a beautiful thing and helps keep the power balance in marriage. I’m not, not, not defining a woman’s power by (or tying her worth to) her sexual appeal, but as part of a healthy marriage, it’s a wonderful thing.
The other God-honoring aspect of this is that the more I’m enthralled with Lisa, the more I’m freed from sexualizing any other woman. I can appreciate their wisdom, wit, faith, insight, friendship and leadership without valuing them or evaluating them based on physical appearance or sexual appeal. If you’re already full, it’s easy to pass up a Big Mac.
For her part, Lisa doesn’t have to worry if she’s desired by any other man or struggles to maintain a false stereotype of a never-aging body that the culture at large deems desirable. She knows the mere act of carrying my cell phone in her jog bra is enough to turn me into an embarrassing adolescent who is so gob-smacked he can’t even remember what he wanted to say (30 years after we got married, mind you!). Too often, a woman who is ignored or under-valued by her husband is more inclined to “test” her desirability with other men, a perilous lose-lose situation, biblically speaking.
Another aspect of cherishing sex that transforms the relationship is that this is the only occasion when a husband’s pride and ego work in his wife’s favor. One of the absolute best ways for a wife to “give” to her husband is to learn to receive (and even ask for) sexual pleasure with abandon. When a husband can leave a wife exhausted, panting and smiling and can say to himself, “I did that to her, thank you very much,” well, both spouses win.