The importance of a good sexual relationship

Gerben and Judith are married and have three children together, when Judith makes a shocking discovery: Gerben turns out to be having an affair with a colleague. Gerben breaks off the relationship with the colleague, and he and Judith start looking for each other again. Gerben seems to have very different needs than Judith when it comes to intimacy and sexuality. How do they bridge these differences in desire?

After the birth of their third child, Gerben and Judith came to a point where they had grown apart considerably. Small children and busy work meant that they had little time and attention for each other and lived a little past each other. Gerben: “I met a nice colleague at work with whom I could tell my story, and one thing led to another. It resulted in me being unfaithful for a year and a half. It was not good, and at the same time it showed that something was very wrong in our relationship.”

After the birth of their third child, Gerben and Judith came to a point where they had grown apart considerably. Small children and busy work meant that they had little time and attention for each other and lived a little past each other. Gerben: “I met a nice colleague at work with whom I could tell my story, and one thing led to another. It resulted in me being unfaithful for a year and a half. It was not good, and at the same time it showed that something was very wrong in our relationship.”

“Judith found out about my cheating. First, of course, there was the pain and the anger.” Judith: “I thought: what should I do? Should I pack my things and go? Or should I put his stuff outside?!”

I thought what should I do? Should I pack my things and go? Or should I put his stuff outside?!

In retrospect, too little consideration was given to each other’s needs

After the initial shock and emotions, the couple realizes: we really have to change something. Partly because of a previous marriage course they had once taken, they found that they both had very different views – and very different expectations – about their sexual relationship. Gerben: “There we filled in a questionnaire about our relationship – and also about our sexual relationship. Judith scored something like a 7 on it, and I something like a 2. A very big difference.” Judith: “For me, everything just went as it should, but in retrospect there wasn’t enough attention to each other’s needs . Gerben actually needed much more on the sexual level, and I needed more on the communicative level – in terms of having a real connection with each other.”

When asked what Gerben lacks, he replies: “You can call it attention, but I can better describe it as: wanting to be wanted by your wife. I wanted Judith to recognize my need for sexuality and try to fulfill it. This means that you not only feel respected as a man, but also that you are allowed to be there and that you are truly loved. And well, for men it’s often best done through sex.”

“We really felt that there was something seriously wrong between us. I started researching and reading a lot about it because I felt that something needed to change on a much deeper level. In the Christian circuit there was little to be found about sex in Holland, but internationally there was. You also have to be selective in a way. I wanted to be true to my principles and certain boundaries. In any case, I noticed very quickly: this happens to many couples/men. I learned a lot about the masculine and feminine side of sex and how it works in relationships.”

What impressed me was how fundamentally different a man is compared to a woman.

Without emotional investment, sex becomes “empty”

“What impressed me was how fundamentally different a man is compared to a woman. For example, for a man, the sexual relationship actually comes first, then the emotional. For a woman, it is exactly the other way around. If the emotional relationship is not right, it is simply of no use. So I learned how important it was for me to invest in the emotional relationship. Without the emotional investment, sex also becomes ’empty’.”

The journey of discovery has brought Gerben and Judit a lot. Judith: “It certainly enriched our relationship, but I also learned a lot about myself. Who I am, how I am put together sexually, discover what Gerben is like and what he likes. With freedom and security for individual boundaries.”

Tips for a good sexual relationship

Gerben has another tip for men: “To be honest, many men are not satisfied with their sex lives. To them I would say: You can only improve it by not focusing on your sex life. Your wife generally needs something else. If you take the whole relationship to a higher level, sexuality will naturally follow.”

Judith adds: “Certainly not all Christians have learned that you can enjoy sex. There are still a number of themes to be released. sexy lingerie? It is okay. You’re not like a bitch or anything. A man likes to look at you, so leave the lights on. So many women suffer from their self-image on that point, while that man just sees a beautiful woman. A woman might as well seek out what gives her pleasure.”

What else have Gerben and Judith learned and how this process went, they tell openly in the podcast Heart to heart. Relationship therapist Julie Sharon also tells us what couples can learn from Gerben and Judith’s story. Listen to the episode below or on your favorite podcast app.

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