A Wife’s Guide to Sexual Man Speak

Last Thursday, I wrote a post that got some flak. Because I explained how my husband tried to initiate sex in the middle of the night. In our conversation later, he’d said something like, “I woke up and felt turned on.” Which makes it sound like he just had an urge and expected my body to meet his “need.” Not at all what happened, because I know how loving and gentle his advances were, how he views sex in our marriage generally, and how to translate man-speak.

A Wife's Guide to Sexual Man Speak

Oh, if only our men would express their heartfelt desire for closeness and connection the way heroes do in the pages of romantic novels! Novels almost all written by women.

I’m not knocking all romance novels. I actually enjoy some of them. But many do a poor job of illuminating the mind of a man. We can come to expect that a man’s mind works much like ours does, and then when we find out otherwise we’re offended that “men are pigs.”

But they’re not. They’re just a different side of the same human coin. So let’s give our husbands some grace, remember that — by and large — husbands truly love their wives, and translate some common hubby phrases when it comes to sex.

“I’m turned on.”

It sounds like he flipped a switch and expects you to be ready to go just as fast, right? But really, this translates to “You turn me on.”

I’m not saying a man never gets turned on by other stuff, or just it being that time of the day. (Even with all the research I’ve done, I still find their equipment to be a bit of a mystery.) But the consistent message I hear from husbands is that they get most turned on by being with the wife they love.

And it can happen slowly or quickly. It could build from intimate actions and deep feelings throughout the day, or she can just walk through the room naked. Maybe that’s why it feels so weird to hear “I’m turned on” for some wives. Because the pattern for women is more often getting turned on after romantic and sexual activity begin, while hubby can get turned on by you and then seek a sexual encounter.

Just be assured it’s most likely about you. Not simply a burning need in his pants.

(Note: Men do get turned on by porn, and that’s a whole different issue. God definitely intended the turn-on stimulus to be one another, not third parties or images of third parties. If porn is a struggle in your marriage, it needs to be addressed immediately, lovingly, and firmly.)

“I need sex.” 

Speaking of need, here’s another phrase you might hear in your marriage: “I need sex.” This rarely means “I have a purely biological need to have sex, and you’ll do.” Yes, God did make us sexual beings, with reproductive biology and sex drives. Most husbands feel sex as a need. But husbands tell me again and again that their need for emotional connection to their wives is even stronger.

Yes, he “needs” sex in the sense that he has a biological drive to sate the desire he feels in his gut, his brain, and, oh yeah, his groin. (It’s all connected.) But “I need sex” is more about “I long to experience the love and intimacy I feel when I have sex my beloved wife.”

“I want you.”

In too many wives’ minds, we complete that sentence with extra stuff. Like “I want you to do me a sexual favor,” “I want you to be at my beck-and-call,” “I want you to sate my desire.” Yeah, I get it. To some extent, those are all in the fantasy wheelhouse for plenty of husbands. Not all — yes, I see you, higher-drive wives! — but some.

We wives often put the emphasis on want when, once again, it should be on the you. And very often, it means that he wants all of you. Not just your body. He wants you to be fully involved in the experience, giving yourself 100% to the physical intimacy that binds you together as one flesh. He wants all of you engaged in the marriage bed.

I suspect most of us know the difference between letting your body show up for sex and engaging your whole self in sexual intimacy. When your husband says he wants you, consider that he wants all of you — your heart, your body, your pleasure, your connection.

“You’re beautiful.”

To husbands, this means: “You’re beautiful.” Yep, they’re actually saying what they mean. Unfortunately, we ladies often read their words as “he’s just saying that,” “he only wants sex,” “he knows I’m not as beautiful as ____.”

But for the most part, hubbies think their wives are hot. Not because we’re all objectively Helens of Troy, but our guys love us, they have history with us, they like our curves, they think our smile is cute, they know that bodies don’t stay 20 years old forever, etc. Basically, your husband’s love for you gives him special vision that helps him see past the pounds, wrinkles, and self-doubt to the beautiful you that you truly are.

For the men.

And guys, do you see how you come off sometimes to women? I get that many of you are straight-to-the-point, as-few-words-as-possible men. Believe me, I’m married to one. But use your words to express what you really mean and what your wife really means to you.

If you want sex with your wife, express that you want her, not just the sex. Your wife is worth the extra effort to consider your words carefully and be a little more of a romantic hero in her life.

Also worth reading: Ten Lies Wives Believe about Sex (And Ten Truths Husbands Want You To Know)

Amazon / Barnes & NobleSex Savvy February 2016 Ad

23 thoughts on “A Wife’s Guide to Sexual Man Speak

  1. Beth

    Some women have trouble with their hubby saying “I want you”? That’s one I actively encourage my husband to say. For exactly the reason you mentioned. I’ve never thought about adding anything after it.

    Reply
  2. Kim

    I am married to a man with even fewer words. I wish I would hear things like “I want you” or “you’re beautiful”. Every man is different and it’s our job to decipher his language. With my husband, it can be what seems completely out of nowhere…”let’s go to bed”. Romantic? Hell no, but we still have one child living at home and with our schedules I’ve learned that’s his voice for all of the above phrases but he knows time is an issue so let’s grab our alone time now.

    Reply
  3. Keelie Reason

    Love your translation guide. 😀 If we understand what men mean when they are speaking, it really helps. I love that you are sharing this, because so many women need to hear it.

    Reply
  4. libl

    Yeah, I gotta admit that sometimes I just want to feel my husband inside of me. It sounds base and maybe selfish, but that’s what I feel. I don’t want anyone else there or a toy. Just my husband. So, in turn, I am ok with him just wanting to “stick it in me.” So long as it is me. Me is the key word.

    Yes, I want all the love and romance and words and emotion and connection and so long as all the other components are there in the marriage overall, the baser stuff from time to time is ok because there’s the implication that the other stuff is still there.

    Where I do get my panties locked up is when he watches something provocative and then comes to me for sex. I feel like just an outlet for someone else on his mind. However, from what I have heard from other men us the provocative gets the idea in his head to pursue his wife. Wife is the focus. The actress may have pulled the trigger on the catapult but the aim is for the wife. (Men should still guard their eyes). It also helps if he adds some good foreplay in to keep focus on me/us rather than just getting it on.

    Reply
    1. e2

      libl

      The others are right. We men may get triggered by images we’ve seen, but that doesn’t mean we’re thinking about those other images/women when we make love to our wives. In 25+ years of marriage, I’ve seen plenty of images of sexy women (and I’m not into porn). Many times, those images have triggered hormones in me to make me want to pursue my wife. But, I can honestly say I have never once thought of wanting to have sex with anyone in any of those images, nor have I ever been thinking about any of those images while making love to my wife.

      I shared recently about how it happened the other way around, when my wife jumped me after we watched a provocative scene in a movie together. Because I know the feeling of arousal in such a situation, I fully enjoyed her attack. It never occurred to me that she might have been thinking about anything or anyone but me.

      Reply
  5. B

    This was a good post, and thanks for remembering the higher drive wives!

    My husband is driving me crazy. I have major issues with him giving me pity anything. Pity sex, pity compliments, anything. I do not want pity.

    He tries the “you’re beautiful” line, and while I know it doesn’t mean he wants sex, I know he’s just saying it because that’s what husbands are supposed to say. I have a hard time believing he means it and I have a harder time believing he feels it, because we both know it’s untrue. (He has long since stopped “noticing” other women in my presence – or at least stopped being obvious about it – which I appreciate. However, when he did notice these women, they did not look a thing like me.) So that is all the proof I need that I am not the type of woman he is attracted to. He can stop trying to pretend. We both know he does not find me beautiful, because I look nothing like the women who catch his eye. So stop saying it.

    My husband sends the most mixed signals. Sometimes he’ll touch me in a sexual way and then claim he was just “being affectionate”. Other times he will just cuddle and then claim he was interested in sex. It’s maddening, the mixed signals.

    Once in a while he will say “I want you” but not too often. He has never been big on initiating sex. I kinda think he likes sex when I initiate it, but the fact that he rarely pursues me is all the more proof that he does not find me attractive.

    I’m trying to learn to believe in his love, but it’s a bumpy road. And yes, I would have been super thrilled if my husband woke me up in the middle of the night for sex. You are very blessed that your husband is hot for you!! 🙂

    Just last night, my husband claims he tried to come on to me, but I wasn’t into it. I have trained myself to resist his touch because I don’t want to be aroused when he is “just cuddling” and it isn’t going to lead anywhere. So I was not thinking he was thinking about sex. It would have been helpful if he had said ANYTHING, like a simple “let’s have sex” whisper would have been all I needed! But nope. And he got mad that I didn’t read his mind. It’s really, truly a maddening experience.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Don’t you think this is a maddening experience for him too? You’ve described your situation many times with comments, and at this point, I think you two need to see a Christian marriage counselor. Please consider that option, and any others you might have. Many blessings! Praying for you.

      Reply
      1. B

        I’ve suggested counseling, but he’s not interested. He doesn’t think we need it.

        I haven’t commented in a while, but this post jumped out at me. I apologize for the comment. Please delete if it is detrimental to the conversation. Thank you!

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          No, no. I don’t consider it detrimental. But there’s a sad pattern in your perspectives in this marriage, and I simply long for things to improve for you both. Wishing you all the best!

          Reply
        2. Eliza

          My heart goes out to you and your husband B! I am speaking from the perspective of someone whose husband doesn’t believe it when I say how sexy he is, it really is very maddening to try and ‘prove’ that he is still attractive to me.
          Anyway, my advice would be that seeing as your husband doesn’t want to participate in counselling, I would go alone. After all, the only person you can change is yourself! You might find that your husband will see positive change in you and will respond positively too!

          Reply
    2. e2

      Hey, B, just a couple thoughts.

      He’s stopped being obvious about noticing other women. My dear B, that’s HUGE. To me, it PROVES he loves you with God’s agape love. He cares about how you feel and loves you enough to make an effort to not notice other women. I’ve shared before that I don’t believe his “noticing” means as much to him as it does to you; we men often simply see and notice what’s in front of us. Just curious; have all the women he’s noticed looked alike? I can’t believe they do, so I highly doubt that the fact that he sees other women means you’re not attractive. I’m sure he is maddened by your steadfast refusal to believe his compliments. I know its a total turnoff and mood killer for me when I compliment my wife and she doesn’t believe me. At such a time, I will just abandon any lovemaking efforts I may have been trying.

      Your comment about his “mixed signals” made me chuckle (in a nice way). We men can never figure you ladies out with all your subtle and mixed signals. I shared before about how one night my wife was crying because I didn’t initiate sex and then after four straight nights of love making she complained that I only wanted her body. Do flannel pjs mean “no sex tonight” or do they mean, “I love the softness of flannel, it turns me on”? Does putting lotion on your legs mean “I want you to touch my legs” or does it mean “It’s winter and my legs are dry”? I can’t count the many times I have misread my wife’s signals.

      You mentioned earlier that your husband wants to improve communication for 2016. I have a suggestion. Tell your husband that you want clear direct communication, too, and that you’re having a hard time reading his signals. Then suggest this; anytime either one of you wants to make love, you simply say to the other, “I would like to make love.” No confusion, no mixed signals. Just clear direct communication. Maybe you can even say it several hours before the event, just to let the idea simmer a while. Now, you may get (or give) a “not tonight” which will hurt like crazy, but at least you’ll not be wondering about what he’s really thinking. I know it’s not romantic or subtle, but it might increase love-making and help clear up some confusion. Just a thought.

      Still praying for you two.

      Reply
      1. J Post author

        Good points. And I advise women all the time to just say what they want and mean to their husbands, because most men do not read social/emotional signals as well as we ladies do.

        Reply
    3. D

      I am so starving for my wife’s intimacy. She just had a hysterectomy about 8 months ago. I don’t know how to deal with it. She just treats our love life like a chore. I’m hoping this hormone therapy will work.

      Reply
  6. Anonymous

    As a man, I have learned NOT to use phrases like “I want sex”, “I’m turned on” and “I want you”. My wife finds these phrases offensive. However, I do say that she is beautiful on a daily basis and she has learned to accept it.

    Reply
  7. P

    We are both in our 70s and have been married for over 40 years and to me my wife is still and ever will be the most beautiful woman in the world. I tell her she is beautiful and I mean it. I tell her she is wonderful and I mean it. I often tell her I love her and mean every word. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful wife. She is a thrilling lover and of course she is my best friend. We cuddle every night before we sleep and we pray for our marriage daily.

    Reply
  8. Anonymous for my husband's privacy, please

    My husband, for professional reasons (he teaches courses on film) sees virtually every quality movie that comes out, foreign films included. He sees some explicit material at times. He tells me that it doesn’t turn him on because movie sex is so ‘unrealistic’. A couple of months ago, he saw a film called ‘Anomolisa’ which is done in stop-motion animation with puppets, and he said the sex scene in that did have an effect on him because, he said, it was actually more realistic than most movie sex because it showed the awkwardness of real sex. LOL!

    Like most women, I do feel concerned about my appearance, size, etc. and I often ask him about those beautiful actresses. He tells me I am beautiful – I’m not, but I know I am to him. He’s never going to have Scarlett Johansson climbing into bed with him, but I’m there every night. Also, he knows I am crazy about him, and as I always tell him, he might have found another woman who would have loved him just as much, but he’ll never find one who could love him more. He’s lucky (blessed) to have me; I’m lucky (blessed) to have him.

    Reply
  9. Edwin

    I love reading your stuff as a man. I like the perspective it gives me on how other woman think. My wife and I just went to the family life marriage conference. They covered things just like this. My wife and I have the same issues as everyone else. I’m male and can get turned on in a heart beat. Reading your posts and the conference really helped be not take it so personal.

    Reply
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  11. D

    I want to ask if how to approach your wife after a hysterectomy. She is taking hormones. I love her so much. She is so beautiful. I show love in so many ways and will always. She just has no sex drive. I’m always ready to make love to her. Just don’t know when she will want me again.

    Reply

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