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.
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.
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)