I like to know, “Why?”
And I lean toward the scientific side.
When my libido did a Houdini and disappeared, I questioned why a libido was necessary. I went as far as to question why sex was even necessary. My husband and I were done pro-creating by mutual agreement. Sex was important to him, but was it necessary? Why is it so important to most men?
Yes, the Bible counsels it to be so:
Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come back together again so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command. 1 Corinthians 7:5-6 NIV
Why do most men have this innate need?
“Their brains are wired differently,” you may answer.
Yes, but HOW??
Thus began my quest in understanding a few why’s about sex.
Male and female brains share the same structure and chemicals. However, male brains contain a different ratio of chemicals and different sizes of some structures. These differences, in large part, explain the basic natures in men and women – why men like hunting, sports and military video games and why women nurture the young and enjoy conversation.
Let’s take a look at some of the differences.
The corpus callosum connects the right and left hemispheres of the brain. The corpus callosum helps the two hemispheres “talk” with one another. Women have six or seven language centers in both hemispheres to process and verbalize. The average male’s corpus callosum is 25% smaller than the average female’s. He also does language only in the left hemisphere, in part because the smaller corpus callosum doesn’t communicate as effectively.
The amygdala is larger in men. Part of the amygdala’s function involves aggression.
The hippocampus is smaller in men. Part of the hippocampus’ function involves retaining new memories and the associated emotional responses.
It was in the chemical arena that I found so many answers to my question of “Why sex?”
Oxytocin is a calming and bonding chemical. It is divine, drenching us in feelings of calm, happy and connected.
Male brains are bathed in lower levels of oxytocin. It is because of the lower level that it takes a man longer to form emotional bonds.
Women have 10 times more oxytocin bathing their brains than men. For women, conversation is a key distributor of oxytocin. If she talks out her troubles to a friend, her brain releases oxytocin.
Guess when the level of oxytocin in men is equal to that of women? At the time of male orgasm, oxytocin is released by the bucket fulls. At the time of orgasm, our men feel complete bonding with us. At the time of orgasm, their brains are happy as clams!
That’s all I needed to know. Libido and sex are important because that’s how my husband bonds with me.
This epiphany was another confirmation to me of how our Lord knows us and loves us. He gives us mandates for our benefit.
Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:1-5 NIV
I desired for my husband and me to feel connected on a deep level. Neither of us had been feeling safe, secure, or significant to the other. It was like we were two people residing in the same house, yet living separate lives.
With this new information, God was healing our marriage and at the same time satisfying my desire. He was helping me understand a little secret. It is through sexual intimacy my husband feels connected to me. Sexual intimacy is the mystery Paul was explaining in Ephesians 5:32. Isn’t Christ connected to His church? That’s the kind of connection that sexual intimacy creates between husband and wife.
Yes, having this biological understanding of sex made me a better person. I became more empathetic to the aching need my husband’s brain had for higher levels of oxytocin. I held less disdain and became more empathetic to male sexual need (but not condoning acts outside of God’s guidelines).
Sex is more than a physical union, there is a spiritual and emotional aspect. However, it helped me immensely to understand the underlying physical processes.
This may all sound very clinical, but it screamed romance to me! At the time my libido disappeared, I felt disconnected emotionally from my husband. He felt disconnected from me, too, because he was getting limited amounts of his “oxytocin fix.”
Good resource: Read more about the marvelous male brain, “What Can He Be Thinking?” by Michael Gurian.
Bonny Logsdon Burns writes at the OysterBed7 blog where she encourages the low-libido wife from a Christian perspective. Bonny wishes to help wives understand the many dimensions of desire. She gently blends scripture with her science and her lay-counseling background for those women who fear they may never again experience sensual cravings. In her light yet sensitive manner, she offers practical wisdom and sound information while covering everything in prayer. She wants others to have hope as she shares her own journey toward reclaiming her sex drive and enjoying full intimacy with her husband. Walking alongside hurting women is her passion.
When she isn’t deciphering the latest info on female sexuality, she can be found chatting it up with three other marriage and sex bloggers on the podcast, Sex Chat for Christian Wives. She also is focusing on her University studies to complete pre-requisites to enter a Family and Marriage Therapy master’s program. She and her husband make time to spice things up by experiencing new culture through travel and dining. They married in 1986 and have three grown sons.
Also available by Bonny Logsdon Burns
Unlock Your Libido