Today’s question is from a frustrated husband, and I bet he’s not the only guy out there dealing with a situation like this.
My wife is kind of an inanimate object when it comes to our sexual growth. If I bring something new into our intimate lives she is generally okay with it and is often enthusiastic and supportive. But if I’m not driving that train, nothing happens. If I don’t initiate a hug or a kiss, they don’t happen. If I don’t initiate sex, it would likely not occur. . .
After 20+ years of marriage I’ve arrived to a point where our intimate life really needs to improve. Like a typical male I took it on like any other project — read, read, read, research, research, research. Then we’ve been talking — more than she would like, but for the pendulum to find balance I think it’s got to get pushed the opposite way from where it’s been. The trouble is, if I’m not constantly expending energy towards improvement, we fall back. . .
How do I get her on board? I want to increase our knowledge and pleasure. I want us to grow closer. I want more intimacy in all aspects of our lives. What do I need to do to help her expend energy toward that goal?
Just last week, I answered a husband who wanted to rekindle the flame in their marriage, and I made the point that we often think about what we want and don’t take the time to determine what our spouse wants that could improve our sexual intimacy. That could be an issue here too — with the husband talking up his own wants and not pursuing the underlying reasons why his wife isn’t interested or active in lovemaking.
But let me point out another disconnect I hear from husbands and wives. It goes something like this:
Hubby: “Why doesn’t she pursue me sexually?”
Wife: “I don’t feel comfortable initiating.”
Hubby: “Why doesn’t she want to have sex?”
Wife: “I don’t get in the mood very often.”
Hubby: “If she enjoys what we’re doing, why wouldn’t she want it more?”
Wife: “I like it when we do, but I just don’t yearn for it.”
By the way, if you’re the higher-drive wife with a lower-drive husband, just flip-flop that conversation and it might ring true for you.
Many women face obstacles when it comes to getting excited about getting busy in the marital bedroom:
They don’t feel comfortable initiating. Plenty of us Christian gals in particular were raised to think being sexual assertive put you right in line with whores, porn stars, and that cat-in-heat that yowled all night long in that super-creepy way. Wanting sex too much or initiating it seemed unladylike. Now we enter marriage, and suddenly our husbands want us to pounce like sex kittens (no connection to that cat), and it’s hard to switch that on all-of-a-sudden.
Other wives just don’t know what to do. We don’t know how to initiate. We might know how to flirt and give subtle hints, but that’s not the same as initiating sex. (Frankly, some wives tried subtle initiation and got nothing back from hubby — because many men don’t read subtle — so they gave up.) The whole idea of initiating sex simply feels awkward.
One option is to come up with clear and easy signals she can use to initiate. Get creative about ways she can give you the hint like:
- Lighting a special candle
- Wearing certain lingerie to bed
- Uttering a code phrase only you two understand
- Placing a piece of candy on your pillow
- Drawing a heart on your bathroom mirror
That way, she’s initiating sexual intimacy without feeling like a sexual aggressor or wondering how to get her point across without feeling so uncomfortable.
They don’t feel “in the mood” much. We’ve been learning more and more about female sexual arousal, and it’s simply not the same as most men. Women tend to get in the mood after physical interaction begins. Meaning that many wives don’t believe they’re sexually inclined because they don’t feel an independent sex drive outside of the bedroom. But that may not be how her body works.
It may be easier for you to initiate, recognizing her body will get into it more once you start. Or you could let her know you’re willing to engage in embracing, kissing, and touching without a demand for sex to follow. This could give her what she needs to get going and free her up from the pressure she feels when you start to kiss her, and she knows you want to have sex, but she’s not there yet, so she tenses up . . . (Yeah, I know, we’re complicated creatures.)
The more we women engage in kissing and touching that doesn’t necessarily lead to sex, the more I think it leads to sex. Because we awaken the sexual part of ourselves by engaging in romance and affection, and initiation follows. Will it always get there? No! But I think this is a good practice to encourage overall sexual interest for your wife.
She likes it, but doesn’t yearn for it. Hey, she likes it, she likes it! I know that doesn’t feel like enough right now, but that’s good. As I mentioned before, she may not have this independent yearning for sex itself, but with good memories, you can build an atmosphere that celebrates your sexual love and encourages anticipation for future intimacy.
Play a bit of remember when from time to time, pulling her into a close embrace and reminding her of a specific memorable encounter. Ask what she enjoys and be sure to do that next time. After lovemaking, make sure you allot time for her to bask in a bit of afterglow. Tell her you appreciate her and compliment how she makes you feel.
Make every time the best time you can have, and make good memories she can reference. Even if she doesn’t feel some burning desire to make love, she can have pleasurable feelings about your sexual relationship as a whole and become more responsive over time.
Finally, I want to encourage you to not talk about it so much. I understand what you’re saying about things getting better because you’re intentionally pursuing answers. And that’s great, it really is. However, lower-drive wives often tense up when their higher-drive husbands bring up the subject of sex. Again and again.
It can feel like you’re complaining or saying she’s not enough or communicating you love her for the sex. It can become a wedge in your relationship if that seems to always be on your mind when she doesn’t value it as much as other aspects of the relationship.
Sometimes I’ve encouraged people to stop talking about sex to their spouse, because the subject has become so stressful, the other cannot hear what you’re saying. If you’re bringing up the subject, and it feels like she clams up, closes up, and clocks out, that’s a sure sign it’s just too much for her. Back off, pursue her in other ways — like romance and speaking her love language — and consider how to help her with her sexual responses.
Hopefully, she can grow into greater intimacy and sexual initiation in your marriage bed.