Editor’s Note: This article is also available in Spanish.
I recently had the opportunity to take part in a “Man Panel” for a wonderful mothers group at a local church and I agreed. My wife is a member and they were extremely supportive of us when we went through some tough times. All I would have to do is sit with a few other fathers and answer a series of questions we received a few weeks in advance. When the day came it was pretty obvious that the men had given a lot of thought to their answers. They were honest and did a good job covering some pretty sensitive subjects.
Everyone ate coffee cake, laughed, and enjoyed the conversation. But at the end one of the women raised her hand and asked what the men on the panel wished women knew about men – but didn’t. It wasn’t one of the planned questions and the other men looked a little panicked. So I decided to take advantage of the opportunity by saying…
“That for men, sex is actually very rarely just about having an orgasm.”
Well, you could tell that this was not an answer that any of them had expected. Within the span of three seconds I had about thirty women looking at me with the most confused faces you have ever seen. So I took a deep breath and went on… “Why do you think guys love playing basketball or football? It’s one of the very few situations where it’s OK for us to touch each other and show affection. It is very common for men to go for days without anyone touching us in a friendly, loving, or intimate way. For single men it can be a lot worse. It can go on for months… or even years. Now, I know that’s pretty hard for you to understand because you’re women. It’s been completely different for you for your entire lives. It has always been OK for you to hug, or sit close to each other, to hold hands, give each other foot rubs, or even snuggle under a blanket. But how would you feel if you saw your husband doing any of those things with one of his friends?”
Then I paused and for a moment it was so quiet in that room that you could have heard a pin drop. I could tell from their expressions that they had never even thought about this. Somewhere along the way they had allowed it to slip into that mental category of things that just were.
So I went on, “You need to understand that one of the very few times that a man gets to feel pure, unfiltered, and completely open physical love is during sex. A lot of the time for us it’s the only chance we get to feel some intimacy. To feel your skin on ours and run our hands over you. To be genuinely close and not just hear the words “I love you”, but actually FEEL them. To feel them in the way you hold us.”
“Now I know that’s probably very hard for you to understand because you’re women. You get to feel that every day with your friends, mom, sisters, or kids. But for us it’s so rare that every single time it’s significant. It’s one of the very very VERY few times that we get to feel really, truly… loved.”
I stopped there and another long silence stretched out as they sat looking completely stunned. Then after a moment one of the younger woman spoke up to say “Oh my God he’s right. That’s so… so… horrible” and she began to cry. Afterwards I was astonished by the number of women who came over to thank me for opening their eyes. Despite being some of the most compassionate and giving people I have ever met they had been completely unaware. But I don’t blame them for that. It’s just not a part of their world and as men we are equally unaware of a lot of the things that women deal with.
The Bible says “Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (Ephesians 5:33) and I think there’s a lot of wisdom in that. After all, if we dedicated ourselves to a deeper understanding of each other’s burdens, isn’t love the inevitable result?