It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post!
Ladies, today I am going to totally tick a bunch of you off. I understand that, and believe me when I say that this is not my intention. It’s just that I think sex is such a vital part of marriage, and it’s something that we women often get totally wrong.
Now, if you’re not a lady–if you’re a guy who has arrived at this page because you’re upset that your wife never initiates sex, I understand. You’ll likely appreciate these two resources: A post I wrote for guys to show their wives on why sex is important; and my 31 Days to Great Sex, a great way to start talking more about intimacy, and to rev up your sex life! It isn’t just 31 days of sex tricks; it helps ease into things by focusing on communication, having fun, flirting, and all kinds of great stuff before it even gets to making sex great. And it’s helped a ton of couples!
Okay, back to you, ladies: Let me start with some personal history that might make this pill a little easier to swallow. When Keith and I were first married, we used to get into a lot of fights about one thing: He wanted me to want him, and I never really understood what he meant.
He would say, “I just want you to want me!” and I would yell back, “But I do want you! I want you as my husband! I want you to be happy! I want you with me always!” etc. etc. etc.
What he really wanted was just for me to jump him.
And I couldn’t do that, because it felt somehow like lying. I really didn’t particularly want to make love. Sure I’d do it if he started it, but it wasn’t like I was sitting there, jets ready to go, just waiting to take off. I would much rather watch a movie, or read a book, or cuddle, or just about anything. I was frequently tired. I was still new at this so it didn’t always work all that well. And I was so, so tired of him wanting it all the time.
What I only understood later was how intrinsic to a man’s self-esteem is the idea that his wife actually desires him sexually. Most men really struggle with questions like, “Am I good enough?”, or “Does she really love me?”. What they want to know, more than anything, is that we think they are the best.
It’s not really so surprising. Remember all the books talking about how important respect is to a guy? Even more important than love? A man needs to feel like we are glad we married him not because we love him, but because we’ve looked around, and we’ve honestly concluded that he is the perfect one for us. We appreciate who he is and what he does.
Tied up in all of that is his sexuality.
It’s hard for him to believe that you’re proud of him, and that you’re happy to be married to him, if you don’t also want him sexually–if you never initiate sex.
If you don’t want him like that, then you really don’t think he can take on the world. You really don’t think he’s a capable guy, a strong guy, an amazing guy. You just want to be married to somebody, but you don’t actually respect him anymore.
It’s men’s ultimate self-esteem issue. And the best way to address it is if we, every now and then, actually initiate.
That may be the last thing you want to do, for a host of reasons. You may be tired. You may be angry at him because he doesn’t really pay attention to you, so why should you pay attention to him? You may be tired of sex because it just doesn’t work well for you, and he gets all the fun.
Let me suggest that if you start initiating sex, a lot of those issues will diminish in importance.
Let’s take just one: whether or not it feels good for you. The nice thing is that if you initiate making love, you get to set the tone and the direction for what you do! Perhaps one of the reasons it hasn’t felt that good is because he’s been rushing things. If you initiate, you can figure out what you want him to do. You can do it yourself! You can control things a little better. So why not jump in with the express purpose of figuring out what’s nice for you?
Or, conversely, if you’re tired of the stress of making sure that sex is nice for you (because many couples get locked into this quest to make sure that she reaches orgasm, for instance, and then it becomes too goal oriented for you to enjoy), you can initiate sex so that he can feel good. You can throw yourself into making sure that he enjoys it and giving him a gift. And he’ll feel ten feet tall. When sex becomes about him feeling good, but you’re the one who initiated it, it’s okay. When he initiates sex and you don’t enjoy it as much, he can feel like a failure. It’s just a different dynamic.
What about the other problems? Let’s say that you feel as if he is distant, and you’re a little ticked at him.
Part of the reason that he might feel distant, though, is because he feels as if you don’t want him sexually.
Truly, we need to understand how important this is to most men. They marry thinking that we will want them all the time, and when real life intrudes and it doesn’t work out that way, they have nowhere to go but to retreat. I’m not saying it’s right; I’m just saying that’s what a lot of men do. So if you’re feeling distant, why not take that first step to repairing the rift?
Men really don’t want to be married to someone who will comply when they suggest sex. They want to be married to someone who is actually enthusiastic about it. I know it’s hard to be enthusiastic sometimes, but I think we can talk ourselves into it. Make it a priority to think about sex in a positive light throughout the day. Try to figure out what you’d enjoy doing. Touch him throughout the day. And then, when the kids are in bed, you be the one to lead him to the bedroom.
Try to remember the last five times you made love.
If you didn’t initiate sex at least one of the last five times you made love, you’ve likely got a problem.
So why not rectify that by deciding that tonight is going to be different? Just try for a month being the one to initiate every now and then, and see if, at the end of that month, you both feel differently about the relationship. I’m pretty sure you’ll both have a lot more goodwill towards the marriage, and things will be better!
UPDATE: Now, one caveat: I know a lot of women who would actually love to have this problem. They DO initiate, but their husbands reject them (Like the first commenter!). You’ve got a slightly different problem: your husband doesn’t have a high libido. For various reasons, men’s libidos are diminishing in our society. In many marriages it’s actually HER who has the higher sex drive. If that’s the case, then excuse this post and my emphasis on women in a different situation than the one you find yourselves in. And read this one instead!
Do you have trouble initiating? Why? Leave a comment (anonymously if you want to), and let’s talk about it!
Marriage isn't supposed to be blah! Sex is supposed to be stupendous--physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. If it's not, get The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex--and find out what you've been missing.