Every Woman’s Desire…

Posted on Jan 25, 2011 by Matt Marooney 3 Comments


A few days ago I was lovingly corrected regarding my understanding of a sensitive topic… I’m sure many of you will relate to this, so I thought I’d share it here with you…

Genesis 3:16 states the curse the Lord gave to Eve in the garden as punishment for sin.

16To the woman He said,
“I will greatly multiply
Your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children;
Yet your desire will be for your husband,
And he will rule over you.”

This scripture is often misinterpreted, and misunderstood by both men and women today. My focus is on the phrase,  “your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you”.  Various interpretations have been taught  for the meaning of this phrase, centering primarily around the definition of the word “desire.”

One popular interpretation says that verse means a woman’s desire will be subject to her husband’s. Her desire will not be her own. She cannot do what she wants, because her husband rules over her like a master over a slave and whatever she wishes is subject to his will.

Another point of view argues that a woman will have an immense longing, yearning, and psychological dependence on a man.  In recent years, a third interpretation has become more popular.  It teaches that, based on the use of the word “desire” in Gen 4:7, the woman will desire to dominate and control the relationship with her husband.  People who believe this viewpoint say, “The woman’s desire is to control her husband, to usurp his divinely appointed headship, and he must master her, if he can!”

Let’s look at this.  In Hebrew, the word “desire” used in Gen. 3:16 means “attract, impel, of desire, affection”.  I won’t bore you with all the exegesis of the individual words and their meanings in this verse, but if you were to study them, you’d conclude, as I have, that the words alone aren’t enough to determine the meaning of the verse.  However, the context of the surrounding verses does help very much in interpreting what the scriptures are saying about a woman’s desire for her husband.

As I looked into the meaning, I noticed a couple patterns in Genesis 3:14-19.  First of all, God gives each recipient of His judgment one punishment.  The serpent would crawl on his belly, Satan would be dealt a death blow by the seed of the woman,  In the judgment on man, and the ground will not easily bear fruit.  In the same way, in verse 16, its reasonable that the woman probably received only one judgment.

Secondly, I noticed that each of the judgments God gives in Gen 3:14-19, the nature of the curse has nothing to do with the nature of the sin committed.  The ground not easily bearing fruit doesn’t have anything to do with Adam’s eating of the apple (except that the apple is a fruit!); Cursing the serpent to crawl on the ground doesn’t have anything to do with him tempting Eve. So, it stands to reason that we can assume that the woman’s judgment doesn’t mean she is to be forever under the control (or “rule”) of her husband, because she rebelled and  stepped out of role of submission to him and listened to the devil.

Third, the judgments given to the woman and the man (3:16-19) both involve pain and work, and both have to do with life.  The context doesn’t indicate the desire of women to rule men,  but of the continuation of life in the face of death. That is the focus of the first part of Gen. 3:16.   That is also the focus of Gen. 3:17-19. Therefore, we can also believe that’s the same idea in the second part of Gen. 3:16.

I noticed another interesting thing that would refute the concept that a woman desires to rule over her husband is this:  In Gen. 3:16, the woman is specifically addressed by God, in the same way that the man is the one receiving the judgment in Gen. 3:17-19.  If the woman’s desire was to control and dominate her husband, then wouldn’t that make it a judgment on the husband?  Seems to me that the “desire” is only given to the woman, and is not shared with the man.

Finally, I noticed one other pattern in these verses.  In each of the punishments, God declares the judgment (or sentence) first, and then He gives an explanation after it.  The serpent (3:14) is sentenced to crawl on its belly, and the explanatory phrase that follows is “And dust you shall eat all the days of your life.” We all know snakes don’t actually eat dust!  It seems that God is explaining the fact that they would crawl around on their bellies, and therefore would be in the dust. In Gen. 3:15 Satan is punished with the part that says “And I will put enmity between your seed and her seed,” with the subsequent explanation about what that enmity would look like.  In Gen. 3:17-19 the punishment given to Adam is the cursing of the ground in the first part of 3:17, and then God explains how the curse on the ground would affect Adam and all men after him.  It would be safe to assume that the the same pattern is used in Gen. 3:16.  The last phrase must be an explanation of the punishment in the first part of Gen. 3:16. Since each of the other “explanatory statements” are related to the judgment statement, it wouldn’t be good to divide 3:16 into two separate, unrelated punishments. Rather, the second part of 3:16 is explaining the first part of that verse.

The “desire” is not a part of the curse but its an explanation of how women will relate to men after the Fall!  In the same way, the phrase, “he will rule over her” is not part of the curse, but it’s an explanation of how men will treat their wives as a result of their desire.

Now that we’re all on the same page, there’s a couple major problems that I’d like to talk about.  Ladies, one of them is your issue, and the other is your husband’s issue.  I’m going to start with the woman’s side, because it will help the men understand how to change their perspective!

The word for “desire” in Genesis 3:16 means to have an intense, romantic, craving or longing.  As a woman, you desire your husband!  The Lord created the desire in your heart, that yearning to be cherished and loved by your man!  This is a GOOD thing!

If there’s anything that can become sinful for you is that sometimes your desire can become idolatrous.  If you put your husband in the Lord’s place, you will struggle not to worship him and other men in your life and look to them to fulfill God’s role for you.  That is idolatry.  It causes you to resent your God-given desire, and resent your husband because he doesn’t fulfill the places in your heart that are meant for the Lord alone.  Your temptation to sin is becoming angry, and bitter toward your husband. That is the enemy’s goal. If he can get you to resent your desire, harden your heart, and live in bitterness toward your husband, then he has won!  The flip side is that he may also try to get you to react in the opposite way – desperately enabling your husband to continue to treat you like crap because you’re scared of losing him.  Either way, both reactions are forms of idolatry.

God gave your husband to you, and you to him, and He created your husband to meet needs for you emotionally, spiritually, and physically.  Desiring him is not wrong, it’s beautiful!  Sometimes your desire feels like a curse because your husband, who you so deeply desire with all your heart – as a result of sin, rules over you.

Okay, men… now for your part…

Your tendency to rule over your wife is the result of sin!

If you’re a true believer in Jesus Christ, you have been redeemed from the law of sin and death, and you are no longer a slave to it (Romans 8:2).  Therefore, you do not have to live out the result of sin toward your wife as God described it in Genesis 3:16!

You’ve been taught wrongly that your wife is doing all those “controlling”, “manipulative” things because she’s trying to dethrone you, and take over the role of “head” in your home.  This is a lie, and that thought is not even in the heart of your wife.  However, us guys are a bit dense sometimes, so we act out of our “strength” and exert our control to “keep her in her place”.

Sometimes this control manifests as outward, explosive kinds of anger, verbal abuse, or restraint to make sure she knows we’re bigger, stronger, and louder.  More often than not, we control our wives by not meeting their needs.  We dig in our heels and resist them.  When they reach out to us in love, out of their desire for us, we recoil, and get all threatened.  When we resist them, they try even harder to connect with us, or communicate their needs.  We resist even more, and they try harder and harder.  The cycle continues as your wife is thinking, “What is wrong, all I want is be close to him, and know him, and have him know me, why is he pushing me away and resisting me!?”

Listen guys… If you could truly grasp the truth about your wife’s desire for you, there would be no need to control or “rule over” her.  You need to STOP acting out the “curse” of sin, and ruling over your wife like that!  If you treat her in a tender, loving, cherishing, and honoring way, you’ll be meeting her desire for you, and meeting the deepest longing of her heart!

Here’s an example to help you relate to what it feels like…  Let’s say you’re the world’s leading expert in your career field.  A client calls you to come to their office, and partner with them on a project.  Even more than that, you actually feel that the Lord is sending you to this place, and calling you to provide the solution to their problem.  You have all the tools, wisdom, understanding and resources.  You go the clients place and humbly enter the office, not trying to flaunt your talents or gifts, just ready, available, and eager to help and serve.  The client greets you, and asks you to enter in to the meeting where they’re working on the issue.  As you sit there,  you get to watch them spin their wheels trying to discover a solution and figure things out.  Then, when you try to offer some help, they come over and tie your hands and put tape over your mouth!  So basically, you’re there wanting to love, serve, help and care but they don’t discern that or ‘make room’ for you… they don’t respect your voice, and hence they totally miss it and you end up leaving and finding somewhere that will truly appreciate what you have to offer, and a place where you can release the fullness of yourself into!

That’s how it feels to your wife when you resist her, and the things she shares from her heart’s desire for your relationship to be close, intimate, and meaningful for both of you!

The bottom line is that as a man, you can choose to act out the curse of sin, and “rule over” your wife by resisting her, and/or aggressively controlling her, or you can reverse the curse of sin, and redeem your relationship with your wife by dieing to yourself, loving, nurturing, honoring, and valuing your wife!  You have been given a priceless gift – your wife’s desire – you MUST steward and care for that gift!

In this way, your marriage can benefit and thrive the way the Lord meant it to before the Fall, and your wife’s desire for you can be one of the most amazing blessings you’ve ever been given.

Ladies, if your husband will meet you like this, and fulfill that longing of your heart in a healthy way, you won’t ever have to resent it or become bitter toward him again.  You will be well loved, and your heart will heal, and flourish!

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3   Comments

  1. Beth said : Reply

    Some really interesting details you have written. Assisted me a lot, just what I was looking for : D.

  2. Dory said : Reply

    > Ladies, if your husband will meet you like this, and fulfill that longing of your heart in a healthy way, you won’t ever have to resent it or become bitter toward him again. You will be well loved, and your heart will heal, and flourish! >

    And if he doesn’t? What is your advice?

    • Matt Marooney said : Reply

      Hi Dory! Thanks for your comment… Tell him to call us!

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