After hearing yet another variation on the “not tonight, dear, I have a headache,” Dan turned over and tried to go to sleep. Disappointed and frustrated, he wondered why he always had to be the one to initiate sex, and when he did, his wife was frequently less than enthusiastic or altogether uninterested. Even though the question “Will we have sex tonight?” crossed his mind just about every day, when he made romantic advances his wife often seemed caught by surprise, as if she was totally unprepared for the possibility of romance. In every other way their relationship was great, but Dan was starting to wonder what he could do to make himself more desirable so his wife would be more attracted to him and more interested in sex.
Sound familiar? It just might, if you’re experiencing the same frustration with your sex life. To me, this sounds like the typical married male who wants more sex than he gets. (Ladies, if you have the higher drive in your marriage, check out our special article series “When She Has the Stronger Sex Drive.”) The good news is that if Dan’s wife and your wife are like most other women, this likely has nothing to do with your attractiveness or desirability!
Let’s take a look at how how men and women differ in this important area of married life.
Men have “assertive desire” and are ready for sex very quickly.
My surveys of men and women have found that most of the time when there’s a difference in desire, it isn’t because of the husband’s desirability. Instead, it’s probably mostly a physiological difference between men and women. See, with more testosterone, most men have what is called “assertive desire,” and want to pursue sex and are ready very quickly. That’s why Dan can get into bed, snuggle up next to his wife, and immediately be ready to enjoy some intimate time with her.
Women need anticipation time.
But women have far less testosterone. So although most women enjoy sex when it’s happening, they just don’t think about it as much and—here’s the key—aren’t ready at a moment’s notice. A woman needs what we call “anticipation time”—time to think about it so she can be ready to enthusiastically enjoy your time together rather than being surprised by it. That’s why Dan’s wife sometimes seems caught by surprise when he makes his move—she’s just not ready like he is.
Accommodate your wife’s needs by giving her anticipation time.
Your wife probably needs to know what you’ve got on your menu for the evening before you get to the bedroom! Although you might think that if you were more desirable she wouldn’t need that anticipation time, remember that she is simply physically different from you. Dan began sending his wife sweet, flirtatious texts during the day and sharing a bit of silly but sexy love talk while they were cleaning up the kitchen after dinner. As a result, she was able to not just be prepared, but to look forward to their intimate time together later in the evening. So give it a try—make a little flirting comment early in the day (yes, that is a nice outfit, and maybe tonight you can see her with even less on) and get your wife thinking about it… and I bet both of you will enjoy the results!
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Shaunti Feldhahn loves sharing eye-opening information that helps people thrive in life and relationships. She herself started out with a Harvard graduate degree and Wall Street credentials but no clue about life. After an unexpected shift into relationship research for average people like her, she now is a popular speaker and author of best-selling books about men, women and relationships. (Including For Women Only, For Men Only, and the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage).
Her latest book, Find Rest: A Women’s Devotional for Lasting Peace in Busy Life, focuses on a journey to rest even with life’s constant demands.
Visit www.shaunti.com for more.