SWM 101 – Why does my spouse always push for more during sex?
Way back in November, I received this email about a struggle a wife was having with her husband appreciating what she does in the bedroom:
Jay, I enjoyed the book (Introduction to Talking Dirty) that my hubby put on my iPad. The thing is, no matter what I do in my comfort zone, it isn’t enough. I do many, I mean many, of the examples you use, even the F WORD. How do I get him to be grateful for what I do instead of needing more? I always feel inadequate.
Anyways thanks for helping many couples enjoy their intimacy more!
Don’t worry, I responded to her in November when the email came in, but I also asked if she’d be okay if I used her email for a blog post because I know this is a common conflict in marriage. My wife has felt this way as well.
To all the wives who are reading this – I hope this helps you feel less inadequate. To the husbands, I hope this helps give you the words to express your perspective with your wife. To those whose dynamic is flipped, adjust the genders as needed. It may not be a 1:1 translation, but I hope it will give you a framework to discuss it.
Men tend to be predisposed to push for adventure. Many of us are hard-wired to want to win. We drive for the next milestone, the next award, the next level, the next championship, or anything that constitutes a new pinnacle of greatness. This drive is why men gravitate towards sports or video games because both tend to employ goal-based systems.
And part of it is because winning means an increase in status. That’s why we like the idea of championship rings, black belts, trophies, ranks, etc. They signal to others that we’ve done something; we achieved something.
But it’s not only about that. Even if noone is around to see it, even if there is no scorekeeping, no opponent, no levels, or anything else – we still feel that internal joy of simply achieving something. We live to conquer, to dominate, to subdue, to win. Even when there’s no opponent, we will fight against nature itself. We just want to climb higher, run faster, and hit harder. Higher, faster and harder than what? Anything. It can even be ourselves.
As a result, we’re constantly looking for the next adventure. The next peak to climb, the next skill to learn, the next monster to slay. Because when we “win” at anything, we get this fantastic boost of dopamine that makes us feel like we’ve done something, like we have a purpose. It makes us feel like we’re men.
But it’s even better when we can share it. When there’s someone with us on the adventure, someone to not only witness our winning but to win with, we can witness their winning as well. That’s why we like teams. It’s why we build pseudo-teams in activities with only one winner, like martial arts and Olympic sports. We like to win together.
This translates into every part of our life, including sex. After all, sex has a lot of similarities with sports:
Physical activity – It requires movement, coordination and stamina. Whether you’re engaged in vigorous, aggressive or rougher sex, or slow, sensual touching, sex can be a form of physical exercise that gets your heart rate up and works out your muscles.
Strategy – You and your spouse might talk about what you like and don’t like and come up with a game plan to maximize each other’s pleasure. You might try out different techniques and positions to figure out what works best.
Practice and improvement – The more you do it, the more comfortable you become and the better you get at knowing what works for you and your spouse. Let’s face it, having sex is a skill, and if you’ve had it regularly for years, hopefully, you know you’ve gotten better at it.
Teamwork – You and your spouse need to communicate and work together to create a fulfilling sexual experience. This might involve asking for feedback, being open to trying new things, prioritizing your spouse’s pleasure over your own, and various other team-focused, rather than egocentric behaviours.
Competition – Maybe you’ve played around with some friendly competition in the bedroom. Played a round of Sexy Memory, or see who can make the other orgasm first, or who can cave during foreplay and beg to move on to something more fulfilling (whatever counts as foreplay vs “more fulfilling” for you).
And, of course, sex releases that same chemical dopamine that makes us feel like we’re on top of the world.
It’s no wonder that men look at sex with much the same enthusiasm as they do for other pursuits.
In all of this, men tend to suffer from a common flaw – enjoying the win. That dopamine spike is usually so short-lived that it’s not long before we’re chasing the next win. We often don’t take the time just to sit and enjoy where we are, what we’ve accomplished, and how good it is at the top of this mountain. We too often look over and see a bigger mountain and think, “wow, it’s really great here, but I bet it’s even better there.”
As a result, wives often feel “pulled” in this constant quest for “what’s over the next peak,” thinking that their husbands are unsatisfied with them, which leads to this feeling of inadequacy.
But in reality, he’s not thinking, “ugh, I’m not happy here; I need to find something better,” but rather, “Wow, that was amazing! I can’t wait to see what’s next!” It’s not like reading a bad book and trying to find a better one. It’s like reading an amazing book and then reading everything else the author has because you loved it so much. It’s the belief that “what’s next will be even better – so why would I stop?”
So, wives, if you feel like your husband is constantly pushing for more – it’s likely not that he thinks you’re inadequate. Quite the opposite – he thinks you’re a worthy teammate to scale the next mountain, and he’s excited to get to the top with you. He wants to share that win together.
If you’re not ready to climb the next mountain, remind him that it’s okay to sit at this one for a bit, to relax and enjoy how far you’ve come. Revel in the newness of it and reflex on how amazing it is. Then, when you’re ready, start the next climb together and find that next peak. But don’t sit around too long. While moving forward may be uncomfortable for you, staying still will likely be uncomfortable for him, so you need to find a balance there. Studies like this one show us that having a wider range of experiences also improves our mental well-being. You may remember a time in the past when you tried something new in bed that was a little adventurous, maybe a little scary to contemplate, but the next morning you were all smiles and giggles as a result.
Husbands, slow down. Your climbing partner might need more time before another climb. Let them acclimatize to this new altitude. Let them take in the sights and the sounds. Rather than drive for the next level, be more of a completionist. Work on perfecting this level before moving on to the next. Don’t just try a new activity once and then move on. Get really skilled at it, see how amazing it can be with some practice and fine-tuning.
Also, listen to your wife. There’s a reason God gave us differing drives. Some mountains should not be climbed. Sometimes we can get blinded by our pursuit of what’s next, and in our rush to find the next peak, we can be tempted to explore dangerous paths. Often our spouse can be a sober second thought. When that happens, stop, pick a time when you’re not aroused, and talk through it.
With the two of you working as a team, letting one lead so you never get stuck at a plateau but also be sure never to leave a teammate behind, or force them to move forward before they’re ready, you can scale those mountains together and enjoy the most out of the experience.