In a healthy, sexual marriage the wife wants her husband to be a “Tender Defender” and the husband wants his wife to be a mix of “Madonna” and “Whore”. Both of these pairings have some tension, so let’s dig a little deeper into the four descriptors and consider how they can be balanced.
Edit: Commenter Dave suggests the word “Nymph” instead of “Whore” and I like that a lot! Nymphs are sexual, playful, wild, spontaneous, daring, and exciting.
Starting with husbands, here’s the most relevant definition of Tender:
a. Considerate and protective; solicitous
b. Characterized by or expressing gentle emotions; loving
c. Given to sympathy or sentimentality
a. To make or keep safe from danger, attack, or harm
b. To engage in or be prepared to engage in battle to prevent from being captured or occupied by an enemy.
The tension between tender and defender is immediately obvious. How can a husband be considerate, gentle, and sympathetic with his wife and family while simultaneously being ready, willing, and able to wreck havoc on an attacker? The stereotype is that women want to date “bad boys” and marry “nice guys”. Unfortunately, nice guys don’t get laid much, but the knight in shining armor always get the princess.
Husbands, if you’re experiencing strife or apathy in your marriage it may be because you aren’t balancing tender and defender properly. If you’re too tender you may not be letting your good masculine qualities shine forth, and if you’re too much of a defender (or worse, an aggressor towards your family) then your wife may not feel like she can be open and trusting towards you.
If you properly balance tender and defender your wife will be attracted to your strong masculinity and feel emotionally connected at the same time. Except when your family is being immediately threatened, these roles can usually be blended together because their targets are different: tender is aimed towards your family, and defender is aimed outward. Try to figure out which element is lacking and turn it up a little bit to see how your wife responds.
The Madonna and whore roles don’t blend together so easily because they’re both aimed inward towards the husband — instead, the wife will have to learn to switch between them at appropriate times. So what are they?
Madonna refers to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and her nature as loving, nurturing, conscientious, pure, affectionate, and good — the Wife of Noble Character from Proverbs 31. Here are the bullet points that Sexy Corte wrote in that post:
Intoxicate him with your love.
Bring your husband good.
Refrain from idleness.
Fear the Lord.
The other side of the feminine coin is the whore. In this context it certainly doesn’t mean promiscuous, but it does include proactive sexuality, openness to new things, spontaneity, risk taking, humor, and excitement.
Just like with the husband’s roles, you can see an immediate tension between the two archetypes that wives are expected to live out. The Madonna is responsible for making sure that the family is taken care of perfectly, but the whore just wants to have fun. Unlike the husband’s roles, it’s nearly impossible to “balance” Madonna and whore — wives, you’ll have to learn how and when to flip the switch and change between them.
If you have kids you’ll probably spend around 90% of your time in the Madonna role, which can make it seem like this role is more important than the other. It’s easy to assume that if you’re hitting home runs as Madonna that your husband must be happy — after all, that’s 90% of the “wife job” right? Well yes, a Wife of Noble Character is more valuable than rubies. But… just like “nice guys”, Madonnas aren’t always the most fun.
Wives, if everything in your marriage seems “fine” but you’re experiencing boredom or a lack of emotional connection you should consider turning up the dial on whore and see how your husband responds. Initiate sex when (or where) he isn’t expecting it, try that thing he never thought you’d do, put on something sexy just because, send the kids away for the night, meet him at the door naked when he gets home from work, take a risk, be a bad girl for a little while.
So there you have it — we need to balance two opposing roles in order to be everything our spouse desires: a husband who is a tender defender and a wife who is a Madonna/whore. If you can learn to fulfill both your roles you will be a blessing to your spouse and have the awesome sex life God intends for you.
Leave a comment below to tell us what you think and let us know how you balance these roles in your marriage.