In my follow up post to What Men Think About Sex Versus Reality, I will now tackle what women think is normal sexually, which includes some pretty incorrect assumptions. Thankfully you have your friendly neighborhood blogger slash psychologist to dispel these myths right now. Get ready to email your wife and tell her she’s wrong, because that usually goes well.
1- It isn’t about love for him, it’s about getting off.
First of all, that’s a pretty depressing way to think about your husband wanting to have sex with you. It can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy too, by which I mean, if you think your husband just wants to get off, you will detach emotionally from sex, and then sex for both of you will just be about getting off (and that’s even in a best case scenario where you both do). But honestly, I have never seen a couple come into therapy where the man truly viewed sex with his wife in this way. As Michele Weiner Davis discusses in The Sex Starved Marriage, the partner who wants sex more frequently (in my post I’m calling this the husband, but in actuality it’s very often the wife) does not just want an orgasm. They want the closeness of the physical connection. Sex, or touch, is the love language of this partner, and when they are continually sexually rejected, it feels as bad for them as an emotional rejection feels for the other spouse.
2- He doesn’t find me attractive, I’m just the only person he has around to have sex with.
Boy, you really like making yourself feel like crap, don’t you? Yet again, I draw on clinical experience to tell you, very very infrequently does a husband come in and say (even when his wife is not in the room) that he no longer finds her physically attractive but has sex with her because she’s the only option. Much, much more frequently, the man acknowledges that his wife may not look identical to her wedding photos anymore, but he still finds her desirable physically. However, many men no longer find their wives as emotionally attractive, by which I mean, their wives do not speak to them with love and appreciation as they did back when the sex was hot. (Yes I know that you have plenty of reasons that you don’t speak to him affectionately anymore; I am just focusing for now on the fact that men usually still find their wives physically arousing even if they have gained weight or have some wrinkles.)
3- Porn is disgusting and if he watches that stuff, he is disgusting too.
I’m with you that porn watching in excess is not good for the marriage, but this is extreme. Men are very visual and enjoy watching porn from the age of puberty onwards. If you view your husband’s sex drive in any capacity as disgusting, it is going to be a marriage killer. What if he told you that he found you repulsive for the secret fantasies you harbor, or for let’s say, reading 50 Shades of Gray? I’m assuming you would feel hurt and ashamed, and it’s safe to say he feels the same way when you condemn him for porn watching. I am not saying that porn viewing isn’t something that should probably decrease as a marriage gets healthier, but the attitude towards it ideally would not be accusatory and contemptuous. (In fact, no area in the marriage benefits from an accusatory or contemptuous attitude, but let’s tackle one thing at a time here.)
4- Other guys initiate sex all the time and here I am stuck with this passive blob who never initiates.
You would be surprised how painful sexual rejection is for men. Often, I see couples in which the man still remembers and is hurt by a sexual rejection occurring even years ago, at the start of the relationship. Men frequently say things like, “Ever since the first couple times she moved away when I tried to touch her, I never tried again.” It is likely that in your husband’s mind, his passivity is a natural response to having been rejected. If he doesn’t try, he can’t fail. Also, many men have a fantasy of a woman initiating sex. If she initiates, it means she really wants it, and will be really into it. Ask your husband why he doesn’t initiate. The answer may surprise you. Use a curious, warm tone if you can. At the very least, aim for better than “so, what is wrong with you anyway that you never try to have sex with me like real men do?”
5- Men want crazy stuff in bed, that’s why they watch porn. I can’t (or won’t) do all of that, and that’s why he isn’t satisfied with me.
Most men I see have one wish: that their wife would act like she genuinely enjoys their sexual and physical relationship. I have yet to have a male client who was solely obsessed with sexual activities that you would see in a porn movie. But, you ask, what about how he always wants oral sex? Well, the fantasy here is really to be with a woman that is so into them, and so into sex, that she enjoys oral sex as well. It is not just the oral sex per se, but rather the idea of a woman that is that sexual and who wants to please her partner.
Ask your oral-sex-requesting husband which he would prefer- oral sex done by a woman who doesn’t really like it, or intercourse, or even FRENCH KISSING (for real) with a woman who is extremely turned on by him and expresses this. The answer may surprise you. In couples counseling women are shocked when I ask their husbands if they would rather have their ordinary sex where the wife isn’t that into it, or a sexy letter written by their wife. Most men pick the letter, because it would show them that their wife is truly into them and into having sex with them.
You do not have to do every activity that your husband requests, obviously. But he may be requesting these things because he doesn’t have the language to ask for what he really wants, which is for you to act like you are attracted to him and excited by him, and therefore that you really love him.
So, use this post to start a conversation with your spouse about sex. Sex, unlike what many people think, improves when it is discussed. Both partners can learn to open up and connect in a genuine way, without faulty assumptions about what the other thinks and feels.
Dr. Rodman is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Maryland, and a happily married mother of three kids under 4 1/2. Visit her at Dr. Psych Mom, on Facebook, and on Twitter. She is also a blogger for The Huffington Post and has been featured on Scary Mommy. Contact her at email@example.com.
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