Last week I promised to talk about sexual attraction! As you may have guessed, I do feel it is an important component when considering a man for marriage, primarily for this reason:
“…you will be sleeping with this man and sharing the marital embrace with him for the rest of your life! He will know if you are not sexually attracted to him!”
So, if sexual attraction is important, what can you reasonably expect when considering a man’s offer of marriage? Why does it seem that the men you are sexually attracted to are not the men who are pursuing you for marriage? Finally, does our idea of sexual attraction change over time and if so, how does this happen?
What Can You Expect?
I love Elisabeth Elliot’s book, Passion and Purity. In Chapter 6 of the book, she tells us about a young pretty girl who is determined to marry a ‘handsome and wealthy’ man. I cannot do the story justice so I am going to let you read the super-short 3-page chapter (page 42-44) for yourself.
Elisabeth: “What if God chose for you a man who is homely and poor?
Pretty Girl: “Oh, but He wouldn’t!”
Elisabeth: “Why not?”
Pretty Girl: “Because He loves me.”
Ah, the snake’s reasoning. I remember reading this chapter when I was single and thinking that sexual attraction may be something I will have to do without. If I get a husband at all, I thought, I should just be grateful and not complain about the lack of sexual attraction. Based on my experience, I was sure that if God had a man for me, he was going to be someone I was only marginally attracted to.
You see, the men to whom I was sexually attracted were not the ones proposing marriage to me. Yet, it seemed that I could easily capture the interest and attention of the ones I did not find sexually attractive. The negative effect was two-fold for me:
Self-Doubt: If only I was more attractive, I could capture the interests of the men I was attracted to.
Guilt: If only I wasn’t so picky, I could accept the ones that were attracted to me.
Change My Heart/Change My Vision
When I see photos of the 20-year-old Gregg, I have to be honest and say that he was not my type (sorry Gregg). He was into his career in the rock band, away from his faith and living under the influence of the culture. He was just beginning to be pruned and healed by God. Like everyone, he had some things to work out.
I also needed pruning and healing. God needed to first change my heart and teach me what was important. Then, He changed my vision so that when Gregg and I finally met, I could see Gregg the way I needed to see him. God had to first form Gregg into the man he needed to be. The only way God was able to heal both of us was through time, suffering, healing, pruning and experience. By the time we met at 37, I was very attracted to Gregg physically, spiritually, emotionally and intellectually. My vision had truly changed.
How Our Vision Changes
My original approach to discussing Sexual Attraction was to try to convince you to examine what you are looking for in a husband and then figure out what to trade-off. But, when I look at my own experience, I really did not have to trade-off anything.
I sincerely believe that God has to change our vision through His healing grace. It is not something that we can do for ourselves although we are required to participate in the process.
When you read this it might look like I am saying that you are single because you need to be pruned and healed. Please don’t misunderstand me. I have no idea what is causing the delay in your vocation.
Yet, it is easy to see a trend in the culture that causes delayed marriage and it is these same trends (the hook-up culture, contraception, cohabitation, abortion, divorce) which are causing the wounds. These are the wounds that need to be healed in all of us. And, that healing takes time.
Remember God our Father is committed to healing you. He designed sex and wants you to have a healthy sexual relationship with your husband. God knows exactly how to heal you. I want to encourage you that God is “working all things for good.” Let go of the self-doubt and the guilt and instead embrace the healing. Participate and trust in the process.
Did you see this post by Arleen Spenceley where she interviewed Audrey Assad? I loved what Audrey said about ‘sanctification‘ and ’tilling the ground’ in her tips for singles. She accurately described what I mean by ‘pruning.’
Arleen Spenceley: What’s one tip for readers who are single?
Audrey Assad: Single life is just as much a path to holiness as marriage is, so don’t miss the occasions of sanctification while they’re still there! Enjoy it as much as you can, and seize the opportunities for holiness that exist in your current state in life.
Arleen Spenceley: And a second tip for singles?
Audrey Assad: If you’re called to marriage, you’ll be a better and more whole spouse if you till the ground of your heart during your single years.
Time, Chastity and Superabundance
We all need to be pruned and healed of our ideas of what we want in marriage when it comes to sexual attraction. If this is a stumbling block for you, I want to encourage you that a man whom you might not be attracted to at 20 years old, may be very attractive to you when he is 25 or 30 or even 37. But, you must commit to staying out of the culture’s traps which will wound you in the meantime.
I am firm believer that God will supernaturally infuse all that is needed in this department, as long as Chastity is present prior to and after marriage. A lack of Chastity will keep your eyes from seeing a person with eyes of love and attraction. Unchaste behavior causes more wounds and delays the much-needed healing. Chastity, however, leads to wholeness and an ordered life. It allows you to see clearly and it allows for the veil to be lifted at the right time and with the right person.
Till The Ground
What qualities are you attracted to in a man? Are you able to see sexual attractiveness in a man based on him displaying these qualities and virtues?
Generosity, HUMILITY, consideration, a good conversationalist, a good listener, a practice of faith, intellect, personal cleanliness, authentic masculinity, a sense of purpose, kindness, the way he looks at you, a desire to make you happy
If not, keep praying and living the Sacramental life. Accept the pruning and healing that comes from the single life. Let God ’till the ground’ of your heart. Trust that God knows exactly what He is doing in preparing you for your vocation. Keep praying for your husband; that he will be pruned and healed so that he can see in you what he needs to see.
God love and bless you!
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Your article really resonates with me. What to do when a really nice guy is pursuing me, but I have no physical attraction at all? I just keep praying. – Karen
Yes, pray. Glad the article was helpful. Write to me anytime, Karen!
This is so eminently sane every teenager should read and discuss it. We would have a lot fewer failed relationships if people understood this.
Thank you, Barbara!
Beautiful! In my experience, trusting everything entirely to God bears so much fruit in every part of a relationship–I’ve found that the more I get to know my husband (after 4 years) and the more I admire his virtue and character, the more attractive I find him–and he was already so handsome and attractive to me in the first place! Physical attraction is obviously an important part of loving someone, though not the only part, but I think that with the right person, when love is authentic, attraction flows naturally from the other aspects of what each person sees in the other.
Hi Stephanie! Thank you so much for visiting and commenting. Virtue and character definitely enhance attractiveness. God bless you and that little baby! Cindy