Question: When we talk about women and their issues, what is the most important thing to keep in mind?
The most important thought you need to keep in mind when talking about women is that their greatest fear is the fear of being disconnected or abandoned. We were created for relationship, all of us, but women feel very special and even cherished when they are moved toward and enjoyed relationally, especially with their husbands.
People everywhere long for intimate relationships that connect on a deep level. We all need to be close to someone. And most suffer intimacy deficiency. That need is there by God’s design. It is part of being created in the image of God. Man was created for fellowship with God, i.e. intimacy with Him.
But just because we are married, there are no guarantees of intimacy. It just provides the opportunity for intimacy. We may have “peace” in marriage, but it may not be a relationship based on intimacy. Therefore we can shut down our desire for the closeness we were created to want. In fact: In Arteburn and Stoker’s book Every Man’s Marriage they state that 84% women feel they have no intimacy in their marriage. And 83% feel their husband doesn’t even know about a woman’s basic need for intimacy or how to provide it for them.
Question: But what about single women?
Many times we counsel single women missionaries who have shut down the desire for any close relationships because of loneliness and lack of connection on the field. Instead they pour themselves into their work and put up walls in their hearts saying to themselves, I don’t need this, to the point of being self-sufficient, even not needing God or being afraid to admit their need. It is very hard to be single when there is no emotional connection with another person.
On the field the single missionary, just like the married missionary, has left family and friends, and those relationships that filled the void. Now they long to have that void filled and struggle to have someone care for them more than anyone else in the world. God is there but because they have shut down the desire, they have also shut the intimacy of God out.
One single missionary wrote to us saying: “Being alone I felt I had to be strong. Needing people or God was a sign of weakness to my mind. I didn’t want to need others because I didn’t want to be vulnerable to hurt if I “lost” them. I didn’t want to expose my heart deeply to God because I was trying to avoid pain or the demands of intimacy. I wonder if this is an increasing risk the longer one is on the field…all the having to start over, and build new relationships given the constant departures of teammates and colleagues…at some point I just didn’t want to make the effort anymore. …it meant risk and exposure of my heart.”
I agree with her, there are a lot of good-byes on the field and being numb, shutting down the need for connection, keeps us from feeling the pain of the good-byes.
Question: Ideally she needs connection, is created for it, but in the real world it often doesn’t happen. So what does she do to fill that void?
Because connection is so important to women, single or married, and she doesn’t have close relationships, she may sometimes choose a pseudo relationship.
Question: What are those?
Take chat rooms for instance. Women can connect emotionally with a man who they don’t know, but get their need for emotional connection met through a chat room. This is a pseudo relationship. Or they may get involved emotionally with someone not her husband, and that has the potential for a physical relationship. Connection again is the key! What drives women is their emotional need for connection.
Why do some women feed on romance novels? Men deal with the visual struggle and the fantasies they can construct around a woman’s body while women fantasize about a man whispering sweet nothings in her ear. Women want to talk and relate, while men want to look and touch.
A woman is far more vulnerable to an emotional affair when she feels her emotional needs are not being met. However, because it fills this strong need she won’t even give it up even if she has to give in eventually to a sexual affair.
Women say, ‘well it is only an emotional affair’, as if that were OK because there is no sex involved. Preferring someone other than our husbands is painful for our husbands. The pain will be the same as for the wife that is trying to heal and rebuild her marriage after the husband’s porn affair.
There is the book called Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerich; women want love, they say, and men want respect. This is true but of course at times both of us want love and respect. However, primarily the woman’s need for love is fueled by her fear of loss of connection. The man’s need for respect comes from his fear of loss of power, or being competent.
A woman’s emotional needs are just as important to her as her husband’s physical needs are to him. The danger for women is that while her husband’s battle begins with what he sees, a woman’s begins with her heart and thoughts. A man then must guard his eyes to have sexual integrity. Because we women are emotionally and mentally stimulated we need to guard our hearts and minds, as well as our bodies, if we are to enjoy God’s plan for our emotional and sexual fulfillment.
If it is true that what drives a woman is her emotional need, a woman can endanger her emotional integrity long before her body becomes vulnerable to temptation. So if we guard our hearts we will protect our bodies as well.
Shannon Ethridge in her book, Every Woman’s Battle, has stated it this way: “When we engage in emotional affairs, mental fantasies, and unhealthy comparisons, we are crossing the line of sexual integrity and undermining God’s plan to grant us ultimate sexual and emotional fulfillment with our current or future husbands.”
Question: We have an idea of how husbands cross that line but how do women? Not much is said about that.
Women cross that line of sexual integrity in a variety of ways.
- Reading romance novels or TV soaps etc., getting her emotional needs met in a false way by living vicariously through the characters in the story. Sometimes this can end in masturbation.
- Comparing her husband to other men. When we do this it increases our disappointment with our own husbands and can cause us to struggle to enjoy our husbands either sexually or emotionally.
- Fantasizing about someone else while making love with her husband. Fantasies need to be restricted to our husbands.
- Thinking about what it would be like married to another person. One that maybe we have enjoyed talking to and has made us feel good and enjoyed when we don’t feel this from our husbands.
- Emotionally getting involved with someone else.
What we need is to make a covenant with the eyes of our hearts not to look at other people, (real or imagined) to get our emotional needs met in ways that endanger our sexual integrity, whether we are married or single.
Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus in their book, Intimate Issues, said that women must ask three questions to determine if what they are engaging in is permissible. These are according to 1 Cor. 6:12:
- Is it prohibited in Scripture? If not then…. “Everything is permissible for me…”
- Is it beneficial? Does the practice harm our marriage/sexual relationship or if single compromise my moral integrity? If it does reject it! “Everything is permissible for me – but not everything is beneficial.”
- Does it involve anyone else? The marriage is for the husband and the wife only! Sex outside the marriage is prohibited in scripture. So if it sexually or emotionally involves another person it is wrong. “Heb. 13:4 which warns us to keep the marriage bed undefiled!”
Question: Those are three very good guidelines but can you give us a bit more of how that would play out?
For instance: We all have times when we notice some man who is good looking, carries himself well, or whatever and he can catch our attention. Is this ok? Does it pass the first, is it prohibited? No, it is not prohibited. At this point it even passes the second, but when does it not pass? If you spend time with him and notice you are drawn to him in a way that you begin to be attracted to him, then this is a warning sign. Now you have engaged your mind and emotions. You have to ask yourself the second question based on this scripture. Is it beneficial? No.
If then you start thinking about how he is interested in you and listens to you like you husband doesn’t and you feel enjoyed by him, you are heading the wrong way. If you can’t wait till you see him the next time and you think about him a lot, watch out. Now you have to ask the third question. Does it involve anyone else? Yes! The marriage is for the husband and the wife only! So if it sexually or emotionally involves another person it is wrong.
Then the chances are that you will start to feel affection for him and may want to show this through a gift, a word of encouragement, or a look. Your emotions are getting involved. He is making you feel good about yourself. There is a special connection starting to happen and this feels good. You are feeling an emotional attachment. Married women, guard your heart!!
The emotional attachment to another man is forbidden for married women. If we don’t guard our hearts we will head to an emotional connection and women in this stage find it difficult to not allow the man the ultimate sexual act because they don’t want to lose the emotional connection that they fear they would lose. Which remember is the woman’s greatest fear, loss of connection!
For the woman the affair starts with intimate conversation and then sexual intercourse. Because of our need for talking and the words which spark emotional connection, we need to beware. Awareness is 90% of the solution!
Question: So what should a woman do when she feels such a need for emotional connection and feels she may be going the wrong way?
- Take precautions way back when you first notice someone before you ever get beyond being attracted to them. We need to guard our hearts, minds, emotions, and Spirit.
- God is the only one that can give us what we need. We have longings for love and connection that can only be given by our Lord, perfectly. Our husbands can’t do it perfectly but God can. Instead of looking for other sources to have our emotional needs met we need to look to God and work on our own marriage in ways that build intimacy. Like:
Think only of our man.
Be open to discussing ways you can enjoy each other.
Encourage one another by giving to each other.
Minister to each other’s needs.
Treat each other as best friends.
Be willing to be vulnerable enough to reveal yourself to your husband.
Listen with your heart to each other.
Give Love and Respect.
Confess where we have failed and ask forgiveness.
Don’t shut out your heavenly Father because you fear his rejection of you.
Question: What should single women do?
- Guard your heart but don’t shut down your desire for emotional connection. It’s real!
- Realize your need for connection while not shutting God out.
- Watch out for the feelings of not wanting intimacy with God because he may let you down or leave you too! Trust the scripture when it says, “I will never leave you or forsake you”.
- Don’t run from close relationships because of the fear of losing them.
- Give of yourself to another person wisely without the fear of being vulnerable and therefore, rejected.
- Don’t be afraid of needing God too much!! He’s your heavenly Father who longs for your relationship!
The heart of us women is crying out for closeness, to be cherished and not crushed. But since the fall we have learned it is easier sometimes to close our hearts for fear of rejection than to open it and take the risk of being open and vulnerable! I believe it is worth the risk and the best person to take the chance with is our Heavenly Father. Keeping closed is more of a risk and loss.
Author Anais Nin wrote:
“Then the time came when the risk it took to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Connection is worth it, it is important, but emotional connection is a desire in the heart of every woman whether she admits it now or not. Where she goes for this is of utmost importance. Run to the Father, for you cannot run from His spirit: Psalm 139:7-10 “Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I make my bed in the depths, you are there, if I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Vs. 13… for you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb! Vs. 15 …my frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. Vs.16 …your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Vs 17… How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!” That’s intimacy at its best; that is emotional connection!