This is the sixth post in the 1/2 Marathon being orchestrated by the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association. I have a bunch of questions left from the A Males Perspective teleconference I spoke at last week. As such, I’ll be using this marathon to answer some of the questions I received. Please note, these are my perspective. I cannot vouch for all males and when I’m giving my perspective on women, I certainly cannot vouch for all women. Also, all references to gender traits are based on the average population, there are exceptions of course. Please do not be offended by these if you are not “neurotypical” for your gender. So, on to the question:
Does it hurt a man’s feelings when we give instructions to him in the bedroom on what we like and dislike as a woman in bed?
I hate this answer: it depends. But it does, and it depends on mainly two factors, and to illustrate, I’m going to use a decision matrix, because, well, it’s rare that I get to use them. So, the two factors are the wife’s attitude and the husband’s attitude. They both need to be in the right place for this to work as it should.
So, let’s start with the wife’s attitude, because she’s the “instigator” in this little scenario. The wife has really two options when she wants to confront her husband about an issue like this.
I think the default is to be mean, uncaring or ignorant. Really, those all amount to the same sort of reaction. The wife just blurts out “you’re not doing that right” or “that doesn’t feel good at all” or “you don’t have a clue do you?” or slaps his hand, or pushes him away, etc., etc.. Sometimes it’s because what he’s doing really does feel awful and a part of the wife wants to retaliate. Sometimes it’s just so bad that it’s instinct to slap or push away. Sometimes a wife has no idea what sort of impact her words/actions have on their relationship and just said what came to mind. They all have the same instantaneous and long-term effect: emasculating your husband. You have just taken something he needs to feel he’s good at and told him he’s terrible at it. I think the equivalent would be to tell any loving mother “You’re really bad at this parenting thing, aren’t you? What were you thinking, having children?” Anyone would be hurt by that and should be.
The other option is to be loving, aware that your words and actions can hurt and phrase your concern appropriately. Something like “Why don’t I show you what I really like?” or “Why don’t we do something we’ll both enjoy more?” or if he’s really persistently bad at something he won’t give up, then at least going easy on him and saying “I know you want to bring me pleasure, and I want you to as well, and I think we need some work to find the best way of doing that, so let’s start exploring together.” Most men won’t admit how fragile our egos are when it comes to sex. If you listen to any talk show about sexuality for a decent amount of time, you will invariably come across a call from a guy or girl or couple who all of a sudden find the man is experiencing erectile dysfunction even though he’s young and healthy. Nine times out of ten it comes out that she’s said or did something to shut him down and he is so scared of rejection subconsciously that his body won’t even respond lest it gets put in the same situation again. It’s amazing how often a simple apology fixes those cases.
So, if the wife takes option 1 (the mean/uncaring/ignorant route), her husband is either going to be hurt or angry or both. But, if she’s compassionate and caring and takes the time to go slow and gentle with his ego, then we’re on to the husband’s attitude to see how he’ll handle it.
Now, a well-adjusted man will understand that he doesn’t know everything there is to know, that he certainly doesn’t understand women, and thus should not be expected to completely understand their bodies. I mean, who could? They change day to day, sometimes during the day, and after a pregnancy or two (or four), what used to give your wife a guaranteed orgasm in minutes now has her cringing and pulling away. I often joke and say that I married my wife because she’s the best toy God could ever give me, a puzzle that I can solve one day yet is still a challenge the next day. Sometimes it’s frustrating, but wow, the prize, if you can solve it that day, is great! Anyways, back to the topic at hand, so a well-adjusted male will understand this and if he’s smart he will listen very carefully when his wife is telling him how to make her happier. My best friend growing up said one thing over and over when I was engaged “Happy Wife, Happy Life” and while it’s not the whole truth, it’s a part of it. That said, something has to be wrong with a guy who will not accept a clue about how to make his wife happier, especially coming from the wife.
On the other hand, a man who is not well adjusted, who is insecure, whose ego is so wrapped up in performance that he can’t take a hint even if it would save his marriage, it doesn’t matter how the wife phrases it, he’s going to balk and sulk and yell and get upset. He’s going to feel personally offended if someone even suggests that he does not know how to please his wife, even if that person is his wife. This guy needs help.
So, I’m afraid there is no 100% positive method of teaching a man that he will accept, it will depend on the man, but a wife can raise her chances by choosing her words and actions carefully.
Men: Are you willing to learn? Or do you think you know everything?
Women: Are you willing to baby our egos when teaching us how to please you so we can both be happier?