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.