How Can I Get My Wife to Understand How Important Sex is to Me?

How Can I Get My Wife to Understand How Important Sex is to Me?

How can I get my wife to understand how important sex is to me?
by Jackie Coleman

Let’s look at the options:

1. Being romantic just to get sex will be seen as manipulative.
2. Hinting at your desires will most likely push her further away.
3. Not doing anything about it will make you resentful.

Fortunately, there’s a better option, and that’s to talk to her!

But before you do, take some time to understand exactly what sex means to you. Dr. Michael Sytsma, co-founder of the Institute for Sexual Wholeness, sums up the science behind sex; with orgasm, oxytocin and prolactin levels increase in males, helping them to feel connected and relaxed. Furthermore, at the basic emotional level, guys need to feel wanted, loved, and desired. All of which is to say, sex is central to a man’s confidence and well-being. The only problem: she probably doesn’t understand this. Thanks in part to Hollywood and mainstream sitcoms, in your wife’s mind, you may seem, as Shaunti describes, like “one giant sex gland with no emotions attached.” Nothing could be farther from the truth.

This is where the breakdown in communication typically begins. Most men do not fully understand what sex means to them, and therefore cannot communicate their desires. And many women believe “he just wants more sex,” and miss the fact that for men, sex is more about feeling desired than about the physical act. To get beyond this, Dr. Sytsma suggests taking your wife to a neutral place where sex isn’t an option (sit in a coffee shop, go on a long walk, etc.), and talk to her about what intimacy means to you. Plan out in advance what you hope to say, and go with the attitude that you’ll work through the issues together.

When you go out let her know that you would like to talk about what sex means to you and the benefits that a fulfilling sex life would bring the both of you. For some ideas on what to say, read the list below to discover what many men have shared about sex. Let this list be a springboard for your own thoughts:

When it comes to sex, it is important to me that you are engaged and satisfied. Seventy-five percent of the men in Shaunti’s survey said “No, I will not be sexually satisfied if my wife offers all the sex I want but does it reluctantly or simply to accommodate my sexual needs.” That’s how important it is to me that you are content with our sex life.

Having a regular, mutually enjoyable sex life makes me feel loved and desired, just like talking and being held makes you feel loved.

I may make advances at times that seem to be the furthest from a ‘sexual’ time, but that’s because making love is a comfort to me, just like being in my arms is a comfort to you.

I feel more alive and confident in general when our sex life is working for both of us.

The confidence you feel when you look great in a certain outfit, is the same confidence you give me when our sex life is working.

When sex is repeatedly NOT a priority to you, I want to withdraw. This makes me feel just like you would feel if I stopped talking to you.

When you say “no” to sex, I do take it personally and it hurts me – it’s not just about having more sex.

When you desire sex, and especially when you initiate sex with me, it gives me a surge of confidence and power even the next day in my work.

Understand that men and women were created with physiological differences. Men typically have an assertive drive, which means they pursue sex. Women, on the other hand, have a receptive drive, so they enjoy and receive sex, but rarely initiate. Talk through the differences and brainstorm about potential solutions. (Ladies, if you have the higher drive in your marriage, check out our special article series “When She Has the Stronger Sex Drive.”)

One possibility may be to help her feel close not only in the bedroom, but also elsewhere. Pursue her in non-sexual ways (notes, date nights, midday calls, etc.), give her warm-up time before sex, flirt with her throughout the day, and create a context of closeness and emotional security. Understand that some women with young children find that they are physically exhausted by the end of a day. Help her to plan ahead for a nap on a certain day of the week so she can feel more rested or wait until the weekend when she can get caught up on her sleep.
For her to understand you better, explain that if you don’t feel desired, it affects all areas of your life. A survey done for the book For Women Only, supports this idea: more than three out of four men claim that sex gives them confidence, a greater sense of well-being, and satisfaction in life. By understanding the male’s emotional need, she’ll see her own potential to help her husband gain the confidence he needs to face the world.

So, your efforts in putting together a romantic candlelight feast may result in the desired after-dinner activity for one night. But a meaningful discussion could benefit you both—and could lead to many nights of satisfying romance.

Jackie Coleman earned her Master’s degree in Professional Counseling with a concentration in Christian sex therapy at Psychological Studies Institute and the Institute for Sexual Wholeness in Atlanta, GA.

13 Comments

  1. iha says:

    …and if over the course of several decades, this discussion (whilst calm and holding on to oneself) has absolutely NO effect, NO improvement, NO change?

  2. dlicona says:

    You may want to consider seeing a professional counselor. There may be other issues involved in which they may be able to help.

    You can find good Christian counselors in your area at one of these websites:
    http://www.focusonthefamily.com/counseling/find-a-counselor.aspx
    http://www.aacc.net/resources/find-a-counselor/
    http://www.newlife.com/counselors

  3. Anonymous Woman says:

    For me, aside from the hormonal changes of menopause, the thing that most squashes my sexual desire is a sense that my husband doesn’t understand my need for intellectual intimacy. Hugs and cuddles and being romantic do not make up for his unwillingness to truly hear me out and understand where I’m coming from on certain theological and philosophical matters. My views, if they differ from his, are often placed in the “womanly thinking” or “uneducated thinking” box and dismissed. (There are certain things we just can’t discuss any more because he’s afraid to entertain my views.) For me, romance is of little value when I feel vulnerable in this area.

    That said, I have learned that it’s better to play along with the romance game. If he pursues me, I receive his advances, and I even initiate at times as an added encouragement to him, in spite of the fact that I’m rarely actually in the mood. I don’t find that sex actually builds a sense of intimacy for me, but it obviously does for him which makes our overall relationship better.

    Bottom line my point is that for me, surface-level displays of closeness are of diminished value if deeper openness and trust are missing. Guys need to be willing to know the deepest things about their wives and handle that knowledge without belittling or contempt. Contempt is an intimacy killer. Respect is a two-way street.

  4. Tyler says:

    So good. Spot on with the suggestions for what to say. Thank you.

  5. Anonymous says:

    What am I to do when I give it a try to be more sexual with him and literally a month later we get pregnant and now, thanks to being pregnant, I’m just uncomfortable and gross all the time and sex has been a mostly no-fly zone for me? I feel bad because he doesn’t see the change because it didn’t last very long… It’s not my fault that being pregnant is making me so sick and uncomfortable. I’ve tried explaining it to him and he seems to think that I’m just using my pregnancy as an excuse now.

  6. Tina says:

    I wish my husband still pursued me and had interest in sex. He did so much when we were younger that it was a bit overwhelming at times. I did not say no, but I was not always as enthusiastic as I should have been. Now that our children are grown, I have a lot more interest, but he doesn’t. Plus, when we do (which is about 2 or 3 X a year tops) he has a lot of difficulty and hasn’t taken any initiative to do anything about it. I even got him to agree to a physical check up, but he never mentioned his difficulties to the doctor. He told me the doctor had a lot of appointments and there wasn’t sufficient time to bring it up.

    I try not to be resentful about the fact that when he was interested, I was there for him. (not always enthusiastic but I tried) now that things are reversed, it is a different story. Talking about it makes him defensive and he’s quite sensitive about the subject, so we just never talk about it, although I think about it all the time. I love him a lot, but it sometimes makes me feel rather insecure that he doesn’t seem to care about this aspect of our relationship.

    I would give anything to turn back the clock and relive those days when we were young. I would definitely savor those times when he couldn’t keep his hands off me. We’re in our early 50’s now and I wish someone had told me that once you hit 50, sex would be a thing of the past. So ladies, ask yourself what it would be like if he had no interest? What it would be like if you were basically roommates and nothing more. I wish I had known then what I know now. We are still the best of friends, but intimacy seldom if ever occurs.

    Anyway I share this to encourage the ladies to appreciate being desired and realize that it may not always be that way, and when it is no longer a part of your life, YOU WILL MISS it. Someday he may stop pursuing you, and that is far more bothersome and painful than being wanted all the time.

  7. Tina says:

    Thanks for the article Caroline. I believe I’ve read it or similar before. I don’t consider myself to have a high sex drive, but once a month would be nice. It has been more than 7 months since my husband and I were intimate. I really don’t know what to do about our situation other than to accept it. Talking doesn’t work as my husband is unwilling to discuss it and he gets upset. I repress my feelings about the matter and try to act as though I’m okay with it. I suspect there are medical issues, but he is unwilling to discuss it or to seek medical help. I think pride may have something to do with it, but I’m not sure. Nonetheless I love him, I just miss the closeness.

  8. CuriousL..S says:

    Hello, I hit with this website searching answers about why my wife doesn’t have any sexual feelings for me, we only have 35 and 32 years old with only 10 years of marriage and a seven year old boy.
    I can stop crying after reading Tinas comment, for some reason I don’t want to my wife ended up like her.
    I love my wife but I feel like I can’t not more.

    I wish I can express myself better but my English is not that good.
    Tina I wish you the best.

  9. Highlyfavored says:

    Thank You so much it helps me understand why I feel the way I feel. As me and my wife have only been married a month now and have been together almost 3 years I would think this part of our marriage would be the most sexually actively. Yet I feel unwanted and it seems I am desired more from women outside of my wife than her. Me and wife do not flirt for she doesn’t know how, whenever we do have sex she makes me feel as if it’s only because I want it. I don’t even know when she’s sexually stimulated or in the mood because she shows no signs or sexual affection. Usually when we have sex either she says; “Maybe we can have sex later?”, which is a mood killer because it doesn’t mean anything for the simple fact that she has to announce it instead of just engaging, When she says it she makes me feel like a kid or as If she’s throwing a bone to a dog like she’s only doing it to satisfy me and when we do engage in it she doesn’t touch me, there is no real emotional connection. I’ve even controlled my sex drive because I’ve felt like maybe I wanted sex too much, I went from wanting it everyday to atleast 2-3 times a week but this is a struggle to the point now I don’t even want to initiate it with her and I get angry when she can lay in bed with me a whole night and it it even come across her mind that it’s okay to have sex. I don’t know what I should do at this point I can honestly say that I am beginning not to look at her in an attractive manner anymore.

  10. Leon says:

    After almost 2 years of relationship,I always thought its too early for us to have sex and she may not be ready for it (im just 18). But since the day we met i’ve always loved her with all my heart and dying to have a sexaul connection with her. Some people think its bcz of my age or bcz im a guy and i just wanna feel good, but its nothing except i love her sooo much that i want to make her feel good and want to have sex with me even if i wont sexually feel anth at ALL. I just need her wanted sexual connection with me and wanting to have sex that would be more than enough for me, and i will stop suffering from this feelings of emotionally broken, always moody, psychologically affected, always angry and mad, searching for a reason to fight. I tried EVERYTHING and EVERY WAY to let her understand sex and sexual stuff are very important to me, more than anything is this world, she never understood me and keeps on fighting about it, she even thinks im the wrong one and she’s always right. Can anyone help me in any way and tell me what to do?

    • Kriss says:

      Leon,

      Yours is an understandable struggle that a lot of young guys face. I don’t know if you or she are Christian, but it is possible that (if she is) she is trying to save herself for marriage because of moral reasons (if she is not) it could be for personal reasons; a general lack of trust for relationships where sex is had outside of marriage, wanting to stay pure for her future husband, etc.
      It is very likely she doesn’t understand that for you, your emotions are so tied up in the act of sexual intercourse, and that you wish for release.
      However, it isn’t healthy for her or you to seek that kind of depth in a relationship before marriage; there will be consequences that are extremely damaging to you both. Yes, it’s an enormous struggle to wait till marriage to please the one you care about, but if you do that you will will be waiting until she feels secure; and that you valued her enough to wait.
      Hope you find this to be some help, but please, talk to a trusted, mature adult about this.

  11. Karen says:

    I would want sex a lot more if my husband could actually take direction in bed. Unfortunately for me, he had many many sex partners before we got married. I guess many of those women faked orgasms enough to fool him into thinking his way of doing things would work for every woman. He doesn’t understand why that doesn’t work for me, and when I try to make suggestions he gets irritated at me. So I am left with a devastatingly disappointment of a sex life. Why would I want more sex if it has to be all about him every time and I get absolutely nothing out of it. Men who have had a lot of experience should approach their wife as if they had none. They need to understand that they are discovering a new person entirely and that person won’t necessarily respond the way everybody else has in the past.
    You can’t imagine how frustrating this is been for me to have waited so long for marriage and believed the lie from the church that it would be so great only to get nothing. Sex is supposed to be one of the good things about marriage even when other areas of the relationship is tough or not great. I would’ve never signed up for marriage if I would have known that it was going to be this way. All the misery with none of the pleasure. I feel really jilted.

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