My wife and I were talking about people’s responses to yesterday’s post. Our conversation let to what initiation was. We had just had sex, and I mentioned that I had initiated that encounter. Initially she disagreed saying “I came to bed naked”. I countered saying that she often comes to bed naked. That’s not an initiation, that’s just making yourself available.
She agreed then, that making yourself available is not initiation. As we continued talking I shared that I’ve gotten emails in the past from wives (I haven’t received any from husbands yet) who were upset because they felt they initiated sex all the time and their husbands said that they never initiate sex. In every case like this so far, the initiations have, in fact, been either so subtle it’s no surprise their husband didn’t notice it, or they weren’t actually initiating, they were just making themselves available.
Now, making yourself available is a wonderful thing, don’t get me wrong. It’s great to make initiation less scary for your spouse, but it’s not initiating. In fact, I don’t think you can consider it initiating unless your spouse recognizes that that’s what you’re doing.
For some, coming to bed naked might be initiation. Especially if they don’t come to bed naked except when they want sex. But, it only counts if your spouse realizes that’s what you want. My wife has come to bed naked and then shared “I’m exhausted, I could really use some sleep tonight.”, and so I don’t initiate, because, while she won’t say no, I’d feel like a jerk who was forcing her to have sex. So coming to bed naked, while awesome, is not an initiation in our case. It might not even be considered making herself available.
I think perhaps it’s mostly wives that contact me (high or low drive) who have trouble with initiation, because women tend to want to be more subtle. Often their idea of initiation is something like wearing clothes they look good in, putting perfume on, going to bed at the same time, hanging around their husband, being attentive, or giving “the look”. In a lot of cases, these are too subtle.
Men tend to be a bit more blunt and to the point. “Let’s have sex” is pretty clear. Plus, men’s genitals make it a lot more noticeable when their aroused, if a man is standing their naked with an erection…pretty good chance he wants sex. It’s not always the case, but generally. Of course, there are times when men want sex and they don’t have an erection, so don’t use that as a test, merely as a signal.
Women’s bodies are a little more subtle, again. The outward signs of arousal are very subtle. Most of us won’t notice swelling of their lips. I mean the lips on their face. Yeah, they swell when aroused. Men won’t notice nipples changing shade (did you know that on average men can distinguish fewer shades of red than women do)? Wetness is not necessarily a sign of arousal either, it might just be cycle-driven.
So, I told my wife if she wants to initiate and be clear, if she wants me to pick up on it, it needs to be unsubtle. Grabbing the penis works. Pulling off her shirt, sitting in my lap and pulling my face to her chest would work. Undoing my pants and starting oral sex would work. She laughed and said that those would just be crude, but that she’d keep them in mind.
That’s part of the problem though. The initiation that most men want is considered crude by women. The initiation that most women want is considered too subtle by men.
To confuse the issue even more: A lot of women seem to want initiation to be a bit more crude, from time to time. There are some men who want to be romanced more, but that seems to be a much smaller percentage.
So, if were to compromise, then the rule should be: Sexual initiation should be as subtle as possible while still having the intent clear to your spouse. Except that I don’t believe that. Because many wives won’t tell you what they want. I think many women have this romantic idea in their head about how they want sex to be initiated … but I think many also want to just be … ravished. This isn’t me being misogynistic, I’m telling you what I’m hearing from wives and husbands. Truth is, a lot of (most?) women like their men to be … men, and men tend to be less subtle, more “crude”. So, if men started initiating like women … then it loses something, and their wives tend to lose a bit of interest.
For some reason this doesn’t seem to apply both ways though. I’ve yet to hear a man say “I wish my wife was less obvious/direct/crude when she initiates.” Maybe they exist, but I haven’t come across them yet.
So, I’m going to stick with my initial premise: Initiation only counts if your spouse recognizes it as such. If you aren’t sure, ask. I think a lot of wives would be surprised, thinking they’ve been initiating for years, when their husband says they never initiate. I know, because I get a lot of emails from wives thinking they have been and wondering what counts as initiation.
So, wives, be crude. Be obvious. Be direct. Your husband will most likely love it. Maybe try this Sunday for Father’s Day.
As for the husbands: open your eyes. You might be missing a lot of signals, and if your wife doesn’t read this blog, then she isn’t going to know she needs to be more direct.
13 thoughts on “Initiation only counts if your spouse recognizes it”
I really wish this was the case. Oh, you didn’t notice the special perfume I wore, how could you not have sex with me?? Haha
Pretty much as a formerly refused wife the night used to go like this: Me: ‘well, you seems really stressed out. I assume sex isn’t happening tonight/we aren’t having sex.’
Him: ‘no, I’m pretty tired/stressed, etc.’
Now, I realize now there is initiation with a negative expectation (no sex) but that is pretty much how it worked. Many times it was verbalized (I would ask about sex) and then be straightforwardly refused.
And then occasionally when I would initate in a more crude way while in bed I would just get forcibly shoved over to my side of the bed.
So I guess not one size-fits-all on this piece of advice, I wish it was this simple.
Anon, I wish my wife were more like you (in the past). Now she initiates all the time, and I love it. I show up naked, and she grabs me. Or she starts grabbing me, and I get naked.
As a currently refused wife, you’ve described exactly what has been happening our entire marriage.
Thank you Jay Dee for writing this post. I would initiate sex by dropping down on my husband he thought I was over sexually active. I still think there’s something wrong with me, because I want to be sexually free with my husband but it’s not happening so I blame myself. I don’t take anything out on him but I keep it to myself. It’s not often my husband initiates sex but I give myself to him.
Nothing is wrong with you. Sex is supposed to be free and fun in marriage. Our spouses have to understand they are the only source of physical intimacy. Plenty of times after a hard days with the kids I want to drop to knees on my wife but she thinks I’m crazy. I think talking and sharing the heart is key.
I agree with you on this one. It is really important to be bold with what you have to say.
There is something to be said for classy seduction too. Crude or classy though, we men need to see a deliberate focused effort to get us aroused, and broadcast in no uncertain terms your own arousal and desire.
I agree with your assessement. Initiation is in the eye of the beholder, so to speak.
As I mentioned over on Keelie’s related post, in my sexual satisfaction survey, I found that women think they initiate a lot more than men give them credit for. 44% of wives claimed that they initiated more than their husbands, but only 14% of husbands said their wives initiated more often. I think this disconnect is for exactly the reason you state – when it comes to initiation (as so many other things) men tend to look for something different than wives do. In this case, they want something more overt that clearly states desire, not just availability or willingness.
This is a discussion about sex so we are referring to the “initiator” vs the respondent. But this goes on in most aspects of the marriage concerning communication in general.
One spouse says or does something with expectations that the other spouse “understands” the message being sent.
As to sex itself, if you need to send a signal. a clear one is more advantageous and not as “crude” : putting a certain scarf over the bedroom (or similar) lamp, or putting a smiley face on the mirror or some other specific notation that is a n agreed upon sign, or just coming out and speaking about a specific sex act tonight.
My point is that innuendo’s leave too much room for misinterpretation. As a husband of 42 years, I wish we had not missed each others “clues”. No matter how long you have been married, have this talk as soon as possible to clarify a signal or specific words to let the other spouse know you are in the mood!
Either husband or wife please don’t be so cute that your spouse doesn’t know you want them. I tend to say it physical and vocal. A two away approach. Great job Jay Dee viewing the topic from both angles. Most guys like there wife to be aggressive in words and/or actions. You have to learn your spouse language
OMG!!! I haven’t read the article yet and I agree from the title!!! One cannot say it’s initiation is the other does not know it!
I hope the post was what you expected. Or that you were pleasantly surprised.