How to Look at Your Wife with Love, not Lust

How To Look At Your Wife With Love, Not Lust

Gentlemen, have you ever had your wife completely turn down your advances, seem completely disinterested in your attempts to woo her, and instead be totally annoyed with you? If your answer is yes, then you’re meant to read this.Why might she be reacting in this manner? The answer is she probably feels USED. If this truth hurts a bit, let it weigh on you. This very serious issue must not be downplayed. Getting to the root of this problem and finding genuine solutions can help lead both your wife and you to the height of marital bliss – inside and outside the bedroom. Where do we begin?

Let’s begin our conversation with the distinction between love and lust, as explained by one of my favorite saints, Pope Saint John Paul II. Let these soak in:

Love between persons is essentially a creation of human free will. (Love & Responsibility, p.51).

Only the one who is able to be demanding with himself in the name of love can also demand love from others. Love is demanding. It makes demands in all human situations; it is even more demanding in the case of those who are open to the Gospel. ( Love & Responsibility, Chapter 1)

L]ust is a real part of the human heart. When compared with the original mutual attraction of masculinity and femininity, lust represents a reduction. In stating this, we have in mind an intentional reduction, almost a restriction or closing down of the horizon of mind and heart. It is one thing to be conscious that the value of sex is a part of all the rich storehouse of values with which the female appears to the man. It is another to "reduce" all the personal riches of femininity to that single value, that is, of sex, as a suitable object for the gratification of sexuality itself.” (TOB, 9.17.1980)

The statements above make it clear that as human beings, we are called to love. This great mission is fraught with challenges, especially the temptation to reduce another to an object, instead of valuing her for all the “riches” of who she is. Because she is unique and unrepeatable, her value is way more than mere sex appeal.

10 reasons why lust is bad news for your marriage

Keep in mind the statements from John Paul II as we lay out 10 reasons why looking at your wife with lust is problematic: 

  1.  She doesn’t like it. Need I say more? Trust me guys, she knows. When a woman is looked at solely for the purpose of sexual gratification from her husband, she does not feel loved. And this will flow into every area of your marriage.
  2.  She’s not a piece of meat. No woman wants to be looked at as something to be devoured.
  3. She’s not a carton of cigarettes. In the words of C.S. Lewis:

We use a most unfortunate idiom when we say, of a lustful man prowling the streets, that he ‘wants a woman.’ Strictly speaking, a woman is just what he does not want. He wants a pleasure for which a woman happens to be the necessary piece of apparatus. How much he cares about the woman as such may be gauged by his attitude to her five minutes after fruition (one does not keep the carton after one has smoked the cigarettes). (The Four Loves) 

4. It’s killing your sex life. How? Well, how do you think she would rank your mutual love making? Do you think she is content and grateful? (If you don’t know, man up and ask her. She’ll be happy to give you an earful.)

5. You’re losing interest in her. It’s hard to hold interest in anything with which we’re not invested. When we don’t have a true commitment that requires sacrifice, it becomes just another thing. In this case, this “it” is your wife.

6. It affects the whole of your marriage. Sooner or later, there will come a point where a hug is rejected, because in her mind, that action has become associated with lustful intercourse – and she’s tired of it. Imagine your marriage without any physical touch whatsoever. This is what your future holds if lust holds sway in your heart. 

7.  Your kids are watching. Your son is watching how his mom is treated – and he will grow up to treat and expect the same from his wife. Your daughter is watching how her mom is treated – and she will grow up to expect the same treatment from other men in her life. If this treatment is not in accordance with the dignity of your wife, this message is being internalized in your children. Is this a message you want to resonate and grow within them?

8.  Lust becomes violence. When the goal is lustful satisfaction, this will eventually end in sexual frustration, because lust is fantasy and can never satisfy. This frustration becomes an unattainable passion, building into anger, and often becomes explosive rage. And guess who will become the recipient of your outburst? Your wife.

9.  Your priest will find out. Guys, even if you have a problem with lust and you don’t bring it to confession, it’s not a stretch to say that your wife will end up talking with your priest about the way she is being used. The conversation that comes after this between you and your priest will not be a comfortable one. I recommend addressing this problem before it becomes an even bigger issue.

10. You’re going to destroy your marriage. A lustful marriage inevitably becomes a loveless marriage. And a marriage that is not full of love will not last. 

If the above items make you a tad bit uncomfortable….good. The first step to healing is admitting there is a problem. We believe that no matter how bad a situation can get, God is waiting with mercy, as long as we are willing to humble ourselves, get real about our situation, and cooperate with grace to make a change.

Why love your wife? 

Before we can discuss specifics about how to transition from lust to love with your wife, let’s examine why developing a look of love – with your eyes and your heart – is so important for your wife and your marriage: 

1. The Personalistic Norm. The person is the kind of good who does not admit of use and cannot be treated as an object of use; as such, he or she is never the means to an end (Karol Wojtyla, Love and Responsibility, pg. 41). In other words, the human person should always be treated as a gift. 

2. This is why you’re created. To be loved & to love. If you’re honest, it’s also the reason why you got married. 

“What if I could speak all languages of humans and of angels? If I did not love others, I would be nothing more than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. What if I could prophesy and understand all secrets and all knowledge? And what if I had faith that moved mountains? I would be nothing unless I loved others." - 1 Corinthians 13: 1-3

3. This is why you’re married. You signed up for this. To forsake all others and devote all of yourself – your mind, heart, soul, spirit, body, time, attention, money, etc., to your wife.

Betrothed love differs from all the aspects or forms of love...Its decisive character is the giving of one’s own person (to another). The essence of betrothed love is self-giving, the surrender of one’s ‘I’. (Love & Responsibility, p. 96)

4. God commands you to love. To love is not an option; it is the way to fulfillment, peace and joy. For the Christian, the way of love is essential for salvation. 

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.  – Ephesians 5:25-29.

5. Lust never satisfies. Lust leaves a bad aftertaste. Intercourse – and the actions connected to this act – entered into without love, is merely a pleasure-filled experience that leaves one feeling used and the other (maybe) momentarily satisfied. If you’re honest, you don’t feel like it was the best thing ever. Guilt, shame and self-hatred will rip through you. No matter the stories we tell ourselves, our inner being knows this adulterous act is wrong. 

6. You’re building your legacy. As you continue to invest in your relationship with your wife and marriage, you will be developing a friendship, partnership and a beautiful legacy that your family and friends can aspire to be. By learning to love as Christ loves His Church, you’re one step closer to Heaven.

7.  You’re witnessing to your children. Your kids will learn to be loved as God made them to be, as well as learn what it means to love. They will feel secure in your home, growing in their identity as men and women of God, learning to reciprocate this with others.

8.  It’s fun to actually grow old with someone. Marriage is a lifelong Sacrament that takes a ton of work in the beginning. Remember: you reap what you sow. When your kids grow up and leave, it’s your wife with whom you’ll be spending the rest of your days. I’d like to spend my golden years with my wife who is my best friend; don’t you?

9. Your marital intimacy will be better. Isn’t this a good enough reason just on its own? If you think lustful sex is pleasurable, imagine the kind of sex life God created you to have, when true love is the driving force. Why would you deny yourself – and your wife – this?

10.You were built for sacrifice. To be a disciple of Christ, one must take up his cross daily and follow after him (cf. MK 10:45). This is not something that automatically just happens; it is a day-by-day journey you are called to undertake. It’s built into our masculine bodies to make a gift of self. It is in sacrificing little momentary pleasures for the good of others that creates the discipline necessary to grow in the virtues of the saints. If you practice this, your wife will thank you and you will have peace in your home. 

Transforming lust into love

So how does one practically move from lusting after one’s wife to learning how to love her? Warning: this is not a simple list, but takes a lot of grace, humility, and effort to put into practice. Buckle your seatbelts, gentlemen; it might get a little bumpy.

1. Dump the porn. Your wife is not a porn star. Even porn stars are not really porn stars. They are daughters of God, made in his image and likeness. Everything that you see is staged. What you are viewing is an act of exploitation. The mental maps you are developing by watching creates impossible standards of comparison that leads not to an orgasmic ecstasy but rather to a disappointing isolation. The only way to cut out false expectations is to dump porn all together (Need help in this area? We can help. Visit freedom-coaching.net and drop our team a line).

2.Spend time actually listening to her. Get rid of the distractions: your phone, TV, laptop; anything that has notifications and takes you away from actually listening to her. If your kids are a distraction, dump them too! (Just kidding. But maybe they need to learn how to be quiet when dad and mom are talking.)

3. Date your wife. Whoever came up with the idea that you don’t date anymore because you’re married is a knucklehead. When you’re married is when you need to go all out and have more dates with your wife. You had to date your wife before marriage (unless she found you on mailordergroom.com). Now that she’s your wife, till death do you part, this demands 100% of designing and executing date night. Thus look into things that she’s interested in and wants to do, make a plan, and make it happen frequently. (FYI: A poker game with the guys as she serves hors d’oeuvres is not a date, nor her idea of a good time.)

4.  Help her to grow as a person in her skills and passions. Focus on activities that have no strings attached and have no expectation of anything afterwards. Help her to grow by giving her time to explore and discover activities that she’s interested in. Then...talk with her about her experiences.

5. Cultivate a culture of beauty in your home. Art has a major role in conveying the beauty of God’s creation, especially the human body. It is essential to cultivate a culture of beauty through art, for in doing so, you will appreciate the inner and outer beauty of your wife.

6.  Practice 5 positive affirmations to 1 negative critique. It is difficult to never hurt someone’s feelings, especially when you’re in the same living quarters for life. The way you do things are different and there will be critiques, but for each critique you should have 5 affirmations for your wife. Lust is a breeding ground of bitterness and resentment. The opposite is praise and gratitude. Fill your relationship with this and watch your wife bloom.

7. Grow in your relationship with Jesus – individually and as a couple. You are an image of the divine bridegroom. It is your responsibility to guard the heart of your wife and marriage. Invite Him into all areas of your life, including the intimacy you build in your bedroom. Any pleasure on this earth is a pale foretaste of the ecstasy we are destined to participate in Heaven. Thus learn how to love from the heart by going to Jesus Christ, individually and as a couple, and you will unleash heaven on earth.

8. Go to confession. We mess up because we’re broken human beings. And to put two broken human beings in the same house and say just “work it out” is asking for trouble. We have a Father who is merciful, always waiting for us to come back to him. Reconciling ourselves with God will enable us to reconcile more easily with our wives.

9.  Pray the Rosary. Our Lady is the perfect symbol of femininity and womanhood. This small 20 minutes of sacrifice of time will pay huge dividends in your marriage. Ask Mary to guide you in loving your wife, and she will unlock for you the secrets of your wife’s heart. 

10. Learn your wife’s love language. We tend to focus on how we receive love, and then hold it over the other person to deliver that. But that is not the way to happiness, but instead to serve the other without any expectations of returns. Try this instead: Learn how your wife receives love. Then, show your love for her daily in a way that she recognizes your love. This is how you fill her cup, and increases the likelihood that she will reciprocate love to you. 

So there you have it. Gentlemen, love your wife, treasure and cherish her. Let us become who we are called to be as men of God – genuine lovers and not users of our wives. By doing so, we will fulfill the law of Christ for our marriage.

Steve Pokorny is the Founder of Freedom Coaching, a one-to-one mentoring system designed to break the power of pornified images in both men and women. His book, Redeemed Vision: Setting the Blind Free from the Pornified Culture, is available from Amazon.




 

May 16, 2024 - 8:00am
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