Why your wife doesn’t know what she wants

Jay Dee

Why your wife doesn’t know what she wants

May 21, 2012

Does your wife have trouble telling you what she wants? Do you feel like she expects you to read her mind? Ever wonder why she can’t just tell you?

If your wife is like mine in this regard, and from my conversations with other men, many are, your wife doesn’t know what she wants a lot of the time. Or at least, your wife does not like to tell you what she wants from you.  Your life is full of questions like

“What do you want for dinner?”


“What do you want to do today/tonight/tomorrow?”

or if you’re doing well

“What do you want to do to me?” while you’re in bed.

These sort of questions set an internal conflict off in our bodies.

  1. We know what we want, most of the time.
  2. We don’t what she wants, and we’ve been trained to be submissive to women, especially when married.  Perhaps not overtly, but we’re taught to be the “Nice Guy” and take her needs into consideration, and above our own.

So, we get stuck and say “I don’t know”.  Because we don’t know if you’re asking what we really want, or if you’re asking what we think you want us to want.

And here’s the really dastardly part about it:

Your wife doesn’t know what she wants either!

She has a similar conflict, either consciously or subconsciously:

  1. I want him to be dominant, to be the alpha male, to assert himself, to make choices, to let me know he can take care of us/me/the situation.  To ravish me.
  2. If I tell him I want him to be dominant or tell him what I want, and he does it, then he’ll be following my orders, which puts him in a submissive role.

They want you to be the alpha, the head of the household, the dominant partner, but just asking or suggesting that would negate getting what they want.

Now, if you’re asking “Why does she want me to be dominant?”  The secular school of thought is that biologically we’ve evolved so men are bigger and stronger (generally) so we’ve naturally the most dominant.  Millions of years of evolution have built instincts that tell men to be dominant and women to seek a dominant mate as a source of the best offspring.

The Christian viewpoint (which I hold) would say that God originally designed the male gender (Adam), and then female (Eve) to support him, which is not to say that men are superior, just different.  Eve was created to help Adam, but his was the actual job of caring for the garden, of defending the Earth.  This is further reinforced in Paul’s writings to the Ephesians:

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church – he himself being the savior of the body.  But as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Ephesians 5:22-24

Then it goes on to tell you that you must love your wives (I don’t want people thinking I’m ignoring that part).

Now, I think this message has gotten twisted over the years.  In the past, people have taken this to mean that their wives must submit, and we must forcibly dominate them, to the exclusion of their desires/wishes/well-being.  Now, the pendulum has swung the other way entirely.  Men grow up being taught to “You are the head of the household, like Jesus, and He died.  So you need to be the best servant you can and let them do whatever they want.”  We may not get that verbatim, but that is the general teaching. We’re not taught to lead in the relationship or the family in general. Certainly not during sex. The majority of the advice we get is pretty much to lay low and do whatever she tells you to.

Now, this is contrary to anything I read in the Bible.  Jesus was a pretty alpha male, dominant sort of guy.  He never wavered on anything He didn’t let people belief non-truths without confronting them.  He was constantly pushing, laying down the law and generally being a strong, clear, confident male.  He was also loving, caring and compassionate – those two things aren’t mutually exclusive.

If your wife asks "What do you want ... ?", she's looking for you to be confident and assertive.  DO NOT ANSWER WITH: "I don't know, whatever you want."

And so that is my model as a husband, and that is ultimately what my wife is looking for in a husband, whether she knows it or not.

So, the next time your wife asks you “What do you want …?”, recognize it for what it is: as clear a request for you to step up, be the alpha male, and assert dominance as you’re ever going to get.

Looking for help?

35 thoughts on “Why your wife doesn’t know what she wants”

  1. Rena Gunther says:

    We women need to start showing the respect our husbands crave even when we disagree–even when they’re not fulfilling their job well as leader. We all {men and women} are responsible for our own actions. If we’ll trust Christ enough to lead our men and start respecting them as we should and start encouraging rather than blasting {GUILTY!} then I’m certain He will work through that. And women would be so astonished to see their men rise up to that place they’re called to be.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      The unfortunate part is that coming from a man, that sounds awful most of the time. Society plays a dangerous trick on us. It tell us that we’re not allowed to be dominant anymore, that it’s “unsophisticated”, while at the same time telling us that if we’re not dominant, we’re not fully male. So, what’s left is for us to abandon masculinity. Of course, then society teaches women to lament the loss of real men.

      And we wonder why 50% of marriages end in divorce. The males are being castrated because that’s what society has told women they want.

    2. jack says:

      Hi Rena…………enjoyed your post! One question: it’s a typo, right, in the sentence”…If we’ll trust Christ enough to LEAD our men and start respecting…….”. If this is a typo, what would would you use instead of lead?

      Respectfully yours,


      1. Rebecca says:

        “If we’ll trust Christ enough to lead our men [instead of us leading them] and start respecting them….”

  2. Melissa W says:

    YES! This is so right. I didn’t choose him to be my husband because he wants to do what I want him to do…I chose him because he’s smart, strong, Godly and because I TRUST that he is going to do what is best for us. Most of the time I try to answer my own question keeping in mind what I know about my husband and what I THINK he would answer, but sometimes I come up blank. So, when I ask him what he wants, it’s because I have tried, and can’t come up with what I think is the best answer and I am depending on him to know. Women, whether they admit it or not, want a man that can make a decision, and tell us what it is.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Well, thank you for admitting it!

    2. Angel Dust says:

      That’s exactly what I want from my husband, but he is one of those guys who refuses to make decisions. Even though I constantly reassure him that I back him 100% no matter what that decision is (and I have shown him that I actually mean it every time!) he still refuses to make decisions

      I don’t think a man has to make every decision – I think the man decision he has to make is whether it’s a decision he does make or one that he delegates to his wife. But I get frustrated because my husband refuses to make decisions, and refuses to delegate any to me, and therefore decisions don’t get made, and that is what makes the whole family suffer.

      Even when it’s a decision where there is no “wrong” decision as long as he makes one, knowing full well not making a decision is the only wrong decision, he still refuses to make one because is frozen by paranoia about making the “wrong” decision, so he ends up making the only decision (not making a “decision” at all) that IS wrong.

      I know it’s not just me and our marriage – everyone I’ve spoken to has said he has done this as long as they have known him and that he has suffered terribly by missing out on fantastic things, and suffering bad things from his constant running and hiding from making decisions. I don’t know what triggered it – maybe something as a child – but it’s something he’s done for many years, long before me. His family and friends have always taken the attitude of “it’s his life and if he wants to do something stupid and suffer the consequences, it’s not their place to intervene” and they’re right – as friends and family, it’s not their life, and sometimes you have to sit back and let people make bad decisions if that’s their choice as they never learn.

      But when you are married and have young children, it’s not just your life anymore – it’s your spouse and your children who suffer if you make bad decisions. And in my husband’s case, it’s the refusal to make decisions that has cost us greatly in so many, many ways. He suffers very little (sometimes not at all), but it’s me and the kids who suffer. If he refuses to make a decision and miss a deadline and it costs us thousands of dollars, he doesn’t suffer. He still can pay the rent, he still has food, he still has petrol in the car, and he still has all his leisure activities as he is a gamer and all his games have already been paid for and doesn’t mind waiting to buy more. But it’s me and the kids who suffer. It’s the kids who can’t go on school excursions, it’s the kids who we then can’t afford the therapy they need, it’s me who can’t afford to see my friends and family because we can’t afford petrol for my car (and he needs his petrol to get to work), he doesn’t care about visiting friends and family so he doesn’t see that it matters. He doesn’t need therapy so can’t understand why it’s so important the kids get theirs. etc.

      I desperately want a man who can make a decision – or be gracious enough to admit he is too stuck to make it and let me make it (not all the time, but if a good manly man gets truly stuck, he shouldn’t be too proud to delegate to his wife to let her make it). He’s married and has children now. It’s not just his life.

      I have told him over and over, I don’t care what he decides, as long as he decides (or lets me decide if he can’t). I have always backed him totally on anything he decides, even if it’s really tough (I moved half way across the country for his work, giving up my dream job and faced unemployment and permanently losing my career for him, and I have no regrets doing it for him – he knows that I will support his decisions no matter how much they effect me), but it’s the refusal to make decisions that I can no longer cope with it. He knows I support all his decisions, I always have. But I’m tired of suffering for his lack of decisions.

  3. Beth says:

    I absolutely agree that when I ask him what does he want, it’s because I want him to take control.

  4. Holly says:

    Just a little constructive criticism, I’m not trying to be annoying, but to tell the truth a little editing would have made this article easier to read and understand, some of the errors were a little distracting and unprofessional. Having said that, I found the content really helpful!

    1. Jay Dee says:

      You are absolutely right, I must not have read it over before publishing, my apologies. I’ve gone through and fixed the glaringly obvious typos, spelling mistakes and grammar issues.

  5. Robyn Gibson says:

    I LOVED this post! In a world of female castrators, I appreciate godly men like yourself who’ll step up to the plate!

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I’m glad you liked it. This was sort of an epiphany of mine, or seemed like it. One of those moments of clarify when you go “aha!” Where you know that your not quite smart enough to have come up with this on your own, so it must be a God thing.

      1. William Carson says:

        everything is a God thing

  6. Matt W says:

    I completely agree.
    I was raised by (wolves?..no wrong story…) parents who were consistent Christian liberals in certain aspects, and in theory at least, in gender roles. Their experience was that it just did not work, and in going back to the word of God, they discovered much the pattern you teach. However, knowing and doing can be very different things. I am still working on what I have learned to call, “being deliberate.” Naturally, I have learnt to react to women’s likes, but when I deliberately weigh up the situation and then act, things tend to work out a whole lot better. ‘Weighing up’ must absolutely include prayer (often moment by moment internal cries for wisdom!) and then caring action. I think it is our image of compassion, servanthood and care that may be the problem. Jesus’ deliberately and forcefully chose to care for us, and had to over turn many ‘apple-carts’ to get to the cross, and yet was not the macho male of Hollywood dreams. Now I have started to be ‘deliberate’, our sex life has *definitely* improved, along with just about every other aspect of our married life. Mind you, I still talk things over, (obviously), ask her advice and accept her insights. In fact, all these things can now happen much more effectively, as they are happening in the context of my beautiful wife being a ‘helpmeet’, rather than the reluctant judge/leader/gatekeeper.

  7. Married30yrsM says:

    This is very enlightening conversation, thanks all for posting. The issue I have, and am guessing lots of men have, is the sort of “judgement” that comes from wife when I have attempted to step up, so to speak. I feel sometimes that the “what do you want to do” is a trap. Heres what I mean: If I don’t “take control” or “be the man”- it doesnt get decided at all. She just wont do it. So, I do take control, after which I am often criticized or judged for what I “want” or what I “decide”. Those of us in this sort of situation aren’t wimpy, we are in a no win situation. So we defer and delay and avoid. I think in some cases if we went to some counselor or something, they would tell us that we are dealing with passive aggressive behaviors from some wives, (particularly Christian-taught-when-young wives). What I mean by that is that they are trying to be what they were taught a traditional wife is- and want to be that, inside. But, the reality is that they are educated grown ups with opinions, values and experiences which may lead them to think differently. So its like two people we are dealing with! The one who is the submissive christian wife and the one who has a masters degree, 401K and 13 people who work for her.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I think not being wimpy is deciding to do it, even in the face of such opposition. And yes, some wives can be passive aggressive, but her sin of not submitting doesn’t absolve yours of not leading.

      As for the last point, there is no reason a Christian wife with a master’s degree, 401k and 13 people under her can’t submit to her husband. That has nothing to do with education…it has to do with their relationship with God more than anything.

      1. married30years says:

        Thanks for your insight, but I think we’d all agree that Charlie Brown should have stopped falling for Lucy’s invitation to come kick the ball. Lucys sin was, in fact, a reason for Charlie to stop.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          And if Charlie Brown was commanded by God to continue kicking the ball? Would it still be a valid reason?

          1. married30yrs says:

            I think we all, (you included) ultimately decide which commandments are ‘of the day” or “not in context”, or whatever. Some people are more literal than others, but one example that we all probably can relate to, is that I dont execute my disobedient children, as “commanded ” in Matthew 15;4 . So -commandment is relative unless we are going to be Christian Taliban or something.

            Listen, Im sorry to have raised some ire here and am leaving the board but please understand that the point of my point of posting was to suggest that the women are 50% responsible for the failure of a relationship AND for the sexual failure of it. The other 50% is the other persons responsibility, clearly. But most women don’t want to accept that responsibility -and get testy- or angry – if called out on it. If your husband as the leader expresses interest in exploring B&D or other play WITH YOU, your 50% is that you meet him halfway on it. Likewise, if you want rose petals and soft music, his responsibility is to not call you names, but meet you half way on it. If neither of you do it, youre both 50% wrong and the consequences will be what you have. Sorry, thanks, bye

            1. Butterflywings says:

              Marriedfor30years not all women are like that. My husband has never had any issues with me actually judging him or criticising. Yet he constantly defers, delays and avoids. Because it’s part of his nature in ALL areas of his life. It’s something he is seeking counselling for because he does it in his work life, his church life, his social life, his hobby life as well as in the home and marriage. It is an anxiety disorder and 100% to do with him, not 50% my fault. Same as it is 100% his fault at work and church etc. Me and our church and his boss and workmates are all very supportive. He’s made some decisions that he openly admits weren’t the greatest but I have always supported him and gone along with them, helped him fix up things up afterwards and never criticised (he sadly criticises himself way too much).

              And when it comes to the bedroom, he has never made any requests at all. I repeatedly have told him I would be more than happy to do anything he wants. I have made suggestions of things that I’ve been told most men enjoy (that are purely for male benefit, not female benefit) and he’s not interested in trying. I don’t request much in bed – I just want sex. Don’t care how or when or where or why. B&D, soft romance – either will do. long or quickie – either will do. For me, it’s not about the sex, it’s about being wanted sexually.

              You are wrong to assume that it’s always 50% both partners’ faults. Sometimes it is, sometimes it’s not. A lot of people come to marriage with baggage. In my husband’s case, his baggage is paralysing fear of judgment and criticising even from people who have always been supportive and never critical. Sometimes indecision is 100% the husband’s fault. I am doing everything I can to support my husband to overcome his fear, and he has improved immensely in the last few years but still has a long way to go.

              And it’s a separate issue from our sex life anyway, because he knows how I feel about our sex life – that he is absolutely amazing in bed when we do it, that I will never say no when I can humanly possibly do it (the only two times I don’t have sex is when I am very physically ill and if it’s after midnight and I have to be up at 5am for work – and I know he only asks during these times because he knows I can’t do it and he’s admitted before he only asks me at these times to make me feel desired and doesn’t actually want sex and wants me to say no). And I said, he knows I’m willing (and want to!) try anything he wants in bed.

              Don’t assume just because sometimes the wife is contributing to the problem that she always is.

  8. Karen says:

    I love, LOVE nothing more than when my husband clearly and powerfully whispers in my ear exactly what he wants to do with me and to me. And I love when he tells me exactly What he wants me to do with and to him. It’s a huge turn on, and to me he feels very powerful but oh so tender and caring. It takes all the anxiety out of the night when the menu has been firmly decided and ordered up! I don’t have to worry about any guess work, and I can concentrate on knocking his socks off fulfilling his desires. And I know exactly whats in store for me, which is oh so arousing! Men, own it!! We want you to possess us powerfully and boldly! Don’t be tentative! We revel in your strength and desire for us! Your confidence is such a turn on!

  9. Jean says:

    Well, I am sorry, but he needs to submit to one another, because honestly, there are things a husband must allow his wife to have autonomy on. There are issues that. Man absolutely cannot be allowed to decide pver her. If you want me to elaborate, I can and will be glad to.

    Men are evil creatures just like wives. There is so much sin in this world, Anyway, a man cannot be trusted to be the leader. Men are not equipped to be leaders. they fall short. a woman had better keep her eyes open. And anyway, a woman is not a jackass and people, she has a mind and opinions and choices TOO!!!!

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Well, that’s a nice sentiment, but unfortunately, it’s neither Biblical or practical.
      If you wish to elaborate, go ahead. I you will permit me to elaborate, you can read my posts:
      Household Leadership: According to the Bible, which gender should lead?
      Household Hierarchy: What does our physiology say about who should lead?
      What does household leadership mean for the husband?

      And of course women have minds and opinions, no one is saying otherwise.

  10. Pk says:

    Why do you all think that a woman doesnot have choices. You people have taken this man made doctrine too far!!. She ain’t a dog gone animal!!

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Egalitarianism is man made, husband leadership is Biblical. And who said she doesn’t have choices? Frankly, I find your comment confusing.

  11. DontHateTheIgnorant_Educate! says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how many people get offended at other people’s lifestyles. The OP never said women are inferior, stupid, useless, not-a-PEOPLE (lol?), or anything else. He simply said submissive, which doesn’t mean what a lot of people seem to think. Submission is NOT slavery. My wife willingly submits to my authority and will a lot. It actually gets her excited and aroused even.

    While I don’t agree with the OP that EVERY marriage would work out better this way, I do think that most women actually crave this type of relationship. My wife and I changed our relationship dynamic about a year ago to this style of marriage. Tbh, my wife was so stressed making all the decisions, and I felt depressed and bored for a long time. Now we are both much happier. She is stress free and we both have an exciting and fulfilling family and sex life. 🙂 However, I do not agree that all women are better off this way. I am a Christian, and I do agree with this view. However, some of people aren’t Christians nor would they enjoy this dynamic. I don’t agree with forcing any ideas on to others, but I like how you are spreading around what worked for you!

    1. Jay Dee says:

      No, I agree, we can’t force anything. But, I do think every marriage would benefit from this dynamic…but then I think they should all be Christian, ideally.

  12. Frustrated says:

    I found this article by searching “Why won’t my wife tell me what she wants?”.

    The article gives some usable input, but it stops short of answering the question, that frustrates me the most. I know what I want, and I tell it to my wife, but when it comes to the bedroom, more often than not, she does not want to do what I ask of her. Now, she has made it very clear to me, that she wants an active sex life, I do too, but when she wont follow my lead, this kills the action, and things begin to repeat themselves, which becomes boring. So, as far as I can see, the only way to get things going, is for me to figure out what she wants, which I would love to give her, but that’s the most frustrating part: she wont tell me!

    So, to summarize; on the one hand, she does not want to follow my lead, on the other hand, she will not tell me what she wants. This stalls everything.

    I have asked her, if she has any suggestions as to how to solve this, but she keeps telling me in very drawn out and elaborated ways, that I just have to seduce her. Now, then I try doing what I might imagine that she would mean by that, but since I have no idea, how am I supposed to ever hit the nail?

    Also, she wont give me any feedback, e.g. I try to do something, that I imagine she would find titillating. I then ask her afterwards, if it did anything for her, and she will give cryptic answers, something like “Well, I am not a man, so I can’t tell you” almost as if women cannot get the same joy in bed as men.

    It should be said, that she has never had an orgasm. When I ask her why she has not figured out how things work for her, she tells me that she find it disgusting to touch herself when I am not there. She tells me that she expects me to give her an orgasm, but, as I have told her, I am absolutely convinced that that will not happen as long as she does not even know how to give it to herself.

    Okay. That ended up being much longer than intended, but I would really appreciate if you had some input on this!

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I’m wondering if perhaps she’s afraid to share what she wants because she’s bought the whole “good girls don’t like sex” mentality. Perhaps expressing her desires violates a rule like that in her head. That admitting that sex could be good might make her sinful.

      Have you ever discussed what your views on sex are with each other? What does she believe about sex? If she believe it’s sinful, or a necessary evil, then that could be part of the issue.

    2. Bill Laughlin says:

      Use a Hitachi “magic wand.” Guaranteed happy ending for her!

  13. Nate says:

    Interesting article. However, I can honestly say that my marriage is quite the opposite. I was raised in a conservative Christian household where my father was the Alpha. Period, end of story. So I grew up with a decent example of loving leadership. And while I know how to lead, and I’m very good at it. But I don’t really have an alpha personality. I can lead or follow, as need be without any injury to my pride. My wife, though, is an alpha, and a natural leader. Regardless of her gender, she can’t follow for very long without going nuts. We’ve been happily married for 17 years. When we were first married, we butted heads a lot, because I was trying to lead, and she was too. After the first year or so, we went to counseling at our church. Our pastor explained the biblical basis of leadership and submission in marriage. She agreed to try. Fast forward another year. No more arguments or butting heads, but she was profoundly sad. Finally we had a long talk which took half the night. She finally looked me straight in the eye and said, “I can’t be a follower. I need to lead. I’ve been trying to be someone I’m not, and it’s killing me inside. I can’t change that part of myself any more than your father can stop being a leader.” And I realized she was right. Asking her to stop being a leader was to deny something that speaks to the core of her personality.
    So I agreed to step down, and let her lead without interfering. And I was amazed to find that she is excellent at it. Most stereotypes of domineering women are of angry, unhappy, and unreasonable women who crush their families souls. To the contrary, she is calm, capable, and happy. She makes decisions that are the best for our family, and she selflessly puts the needs of others first. Since she began leading, every aspect of our marriage improved drastically, especially our sex life. The last 15 years have been bliss. And I don’t quite understand how submitting equates to abandoning your masculinity. I am a real man, and no one can take that from me.
    So, if anyone reads this, they might think, “If this guy is so satisfied with this arrangement, why is he posting this long winded comment?” And the reason is this. Our church thinks it’s a sinful way to live. I just don’t see how. There is so much divorce and broken homes in this world. In my case, you have two people, happily married, committed to putting each other first, with a solid foundation of love and mutual respect. And we have three children who are growing up to be strong Christians. How is this a bad thing? And I just don’t see how my wife trying to turn herself into something she isn’t will improve things. I mean, sure, I could take the reins of leadership tomorrow and do just fine. But she would never be happy or satisfied. I’m open to any comments or thoughts. And I appreciate this blog. Always enjoy reading new posts. Thanks!

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I’m less worried about your marriage, and more worried about the statement “I can’t be a follower”. In Christianity, while being a leader is helpful, being a follower is a requirement. If you cannot follow God, then you end up at war with Him.

    2. OKRickety says:


      “Most stereotypes of domineering women are of angry, unhappy, and unreasonable women who crush their families souls.”

      I am intrigued as to why you described a person leading as being “domineering” (one definition is “asserting one’s will in an arrogant way”). As you have experienced, leading does not need to be domineering. Perhaps your lack of desire to lead is because you subconsciously equate leading with dominating.

      That quote also jumped out at me, because I perceive it as similar to the common response to the idea of wives submitting to their husbands. It goes like this: “If a woman submits to her husband, then he is likely, maybe even almost certainly, going to use her submission to his complete advantage and, in the process, crush the spirit of his wife and children.”. That is not how the Bible teaches husbands to lead. I suspect the resistance is primarily due to the false feminist teaching of the world being absorbed into the beliefs of Christians, usually unknowingly.

  14. Michael Dion says:


  15. David Krueger says:

    I think what we all keep dancing around can be summed up in one word, communication. Or lack of..
    I keep telling my wife I’m not a mind reader. It helps for a short while, then returns back to where we started.

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