Your wife does desire you. It’s just that her kind of desire looks and works very differently than yours.
A Men Only Monday post
If you are like many husbands, you probably frequently feel undesirable to your wife, especially when she doesn’t seem interested in sex. In most cases, however, that actually isn’t true.
Her Desire Is Different Than Yours
Dr. Douglas Rosenau, in his book Celebration of Sex, explains that what we often attribute to lack of desire, actually comes from differences in the nature of desire as typically found in men and women.
Sometimes the problem is not inhibited or blocked desire, but actually understanding various types of desire with their gender differences. Assertive desire is more typical of male desire, while receptive desire is more typical of female desire. Often couples believe both partners should crave and seek out sex with their partner (assertive desire). An interesting observation on assertive desire is that the partner may have already been thinking about sex and often comes to the lovemaking ready to go. This type of desire initiates and seeks out sexual adventure and connection with more of a physical drive.
Attraction, Desire, and Arousal
For you, as a guy, attraction equals desire. If you have one, you have the other. For the 75-80% of wives who have a lower desire level than their husbands, however, it isn’t necessarily so.
Your wife may admire you, respect you, appreciate you as a husband and father and even think you are hot. All these give her reasons to be attracted to you, but they don’t necessarily trigger physical desire. For most women, despite what you see in the movies, attraction does not equate to desire – at least not the kind of assertive desire you typically feel. Receptive desire doesn’t work that way. Rosenau says,
Many wives are relieved to find out that being open to sex, enjoying the closeness it can bring, and getting involved after initiation (receptive desire) is more typical of women. Sexual thoughts and arousal may come to the wife [while] engaging in lovemaking, with an internal response of ‘I wasn’t thinking of sex tonight but, wow, this was a good idea.’
It Doesn’t Mean What You Think
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the lack of expressed desire from your wife means that you just aren’t attractive enough. In For Men Only, author Jeff Feldhahn, puts it this way:
I know we guys think that if we were desirable enough, sex would be spontaneous because your wife couldn’t keep her hands off you. No such luck. If she is like most women and wired for receptive desire, even with the wonderful dinner date you planned, the flowers you brought home, or your thoughtfulness in doing the dishes so she could get to bed earlier – all that by itself doesn’t mean she’s thinking about sex.
Maybe you saw the Mr. Clean ad during Super Bowl LI yesterday.
If you can’t see the video, here is the YouTube link.
Despite the message from the advertiser, “You gotta love a guy who cleans,” it’s just not true that your wife will jump you if you clean something. It’s not even true that if you are as buff as the cartoon figure in the ad that you’ll instantly trigger a desire for sex in your wife. The actual truth in the message of the ad, as my wife had to point out to me because I’m a guy, is that a woman with receptive desire will respond to a guy who is flirty, playful and confident enough to be a little forward without being crass.
How Can You Help Her?
In a survey they did for the For Men Only book, Feldhahn found that 82% of wives would prefer to have a sex drive that matched their husband’s drive. So in most cases, your wife wants to want to. But unlike how it is for you, there are dozens of interfering forces, any one of which can derail her desire for sex. Things like too much unfinished laundry, her mother’s health, the kids’ lunches needing to be packed, her boss getting mad at her that day, her menstrual cycle, or just being tired will put the brakes on desire.
So as an assertive desire husband of a receptive desire wife, your job is to figure out what will help get her foot off the brake and on the accelerator of sexual interest and desire. Ask, “What can I do that would help get you in a more sexual frame of mind?” Or maybe, “How can I make it easier for you and me to enjoy a sexual connection later?”
In asking such questions, make sure you convey that your motivation isn’t simply to get more sex, though that may be a byproduct. Your motivation is a stronger relationship built on the deep and unique kind of intimacy found in your sexual connection with each other.
It’s important to understand that your wife’s sexual desire works very differently than your own. Just because her desire is different than yours, however, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Work together to learn the intricacies of her sexual wiring, and discover together how to foster a deeper sexual connection. For the sake of your marriage, it’s well worth the effort!