Here’s a question I received nearly a couple weeks ago, and I’m trying to catch up on my email, so here we go:
How can I help my wife understand that she’s a sexual being too?
My wife enjoys sex (which happens about 1-2 times a week), but rarely orgasms. When she does, it can be intense (she’s even squirted twice)… but she doesn’t seem to pursue her own sexual climax, ever. It just sort of happens. If I ask her to tell me what she likes or what feels good, she’ll equivocate and not really give an answer.
We have 3 kids under 5 (which of course presents it’s own set of problems), but this is the way she’s always been. Sex is always about me directing what we’re doing–she never initiates any position switching, or directs our intimacy in any way.
The frustrating part is that she definitely CAN have a great sexual experience, but she just doesn’t care enough about to really pursue it.
That’s a difficult one. I’m glad you said “how can I help” instead of “how can I make”, because you can’t make anyone do anything. But, honestly, your situation sounds pretty normal. Women, in general (but not all), prefer to be led in the bedroom. Most like to be the recipient, to be submissive rather than dominant, prefer to be invited and seduced, not take charge and lead themselves. Part of this, I think, has to do with how we were created. I think in general men need to lead more, in this and other areas.
But, that’s not to say women can’t express themselves, be more invested and learn to be equal partners in their sexual relationship. I think part of the blame for them not doing so lies in how our church (and in small part society) still views sex. Often sex is still seen as “for the husband”, and women are discouraged from expressing too much interest, excitement or passion for it. It’s hard to change that mentality overnight.
And even when you want to change, it’s not easy to. That’s why I build a course to teach those wives who are trying to change their mindset about their relationship with sex. The good news is: it’s possible to change, our course participants are living proof of that. The bad news (?) is: they have to want to. You can’t just sign your wife up and expect her to change. If she doesn’t want to do it of her own free will, then it’s doubtful she’s going to accept the mindset changes needed to be free of those barriers.
So, is there nothing you can do?
No, you can help, in small ways. The first is to continue to lead in this area. Don’t stop just because you’re tired of always being “in charge”. One of the saddest dynamics I’ve seen is when a wife finally “wakes up” and has a paradigm shift, realizes how much sex is important, and suddenly wants it more and wants to explore it more…but by then her husband has long since given up and his drive and attraction has decreased to the point he no longer is interested. So, be sure to keep that alive, just in case she has a change of heart.
Secondly, you can take baby steps with her. Don’t ask her to come up with a whole new idea on her own. Ask instead which of two ideas she likes better. If she has trouble choosing one, make them more diverse. Something she would obviously like vs. something that she might not get much out of. For example: would you like a full body massage, or to give me a blow job? Most low-drive non-sexually-engaged wives would jump at the massage, even if they know it’s going to result in something sexual. But, at least it’s a decision. Then start making the decisions closer together. Like I said, small, baby steps. Show her that making decisions about sex, that having an opinion, isn’t sinful, or dirty or shameful, or whatever is going through her head.
And lastly, keep communication open. Talk about sex, not just about what’s bothering you, but good things too. Sex needs to be seen as a “normal” topic for husbands and wives. That’s hard to accomplish from the start. It’s awkward and strange, so for that, I’d suggest our 37 questions for spouses to ask each other about sex. It’s sort of a cheat sheet to get you up and running communicating about sex, so you don’t have to think up the questions yourself.
Remember, she’s not a guy
I know, hard to forget when you’re in bed naked together, but sometimes we expect our spouses to act like we do. And for many men, that means expecting our wives to approach sex like a guy (though we’re careful not to think of it exactly like that). Actually, this applied to any high-drive spouse I think. We want our spouses to be as excited about sex as we are, because that’s how we feel emotionally connected, loved, and how we show love (at least one way, if not the primary way). And when it doesn’t happen…well, we have a tendency to feel disconnected, unloved, and that our expression of love is rejected. But, that’s not what your spouse is feeling.
So, you’re going to have to get better at seeing sex through her eyes, not so that you can change how you view it, but so that you can understand how she does, be compassionate about dealing with the conflict, and communicate more effectively about each other’s perspective.
And you might have to step up your leading and dominance in this area. I don’t have a course for that yet, but I’m working on it 🙂