Friday, November 13, 2009

for women only (part 6) - sex

for women only:
you need to know about the inner lives of men
Shaunti Feldhahn

Chapter 5 - Sex Changes Everything
Why Sex Unlocks a Man's Emotions (Guess Who Holds the Key?)*

Some of you are thinking - now we get to the real stuff! Well, here it is:
  • men want to be wanted
For your husband, sex is more than just a physical need. Lack of sex is as emotionally serious to him as, say, his sudden silence, would be to you, were he simply to stop communicating with you. It is just as wounding to him, just as much a legitimate grievance - and just as dangerous to your marriage. (p92)
There is a lot in this chapter that is worth reading, but I'll try to be brief:

She outlines two benefits of a fulfilling sex life:
  1. Fulfilling, regular sex makes him feel loved and desired
  2. Fulfilling sex gives him confidence
And in contrast, the responses to an unfulfilling sex life are:
  • "If she doesn't want to, I feel incredible rejection"
Although we might just be saying that we don't want sex at that point in time, he hears the much more painful message that we don't want him. (p100)
  • Your lack of desire can send him into a lack of confidence, withdrawal and/or depression.

So, ladies, what are we to do? The simple answer is - desire your husband as he desires you, or start trying to. Feldhahn gives the following pointers:
  • Choose to love him the way he needs
you've probably been viewing his sexual need as mostly physical - important, yes, but probably also optional... But once you realise...he is saying "This is essential to my feeling of being loved and desired by you, and is critical to counteract my stress, my fears and my loneliness ... If at all possible, respond to his advances with your full emotional involvement (p102-3)
  • Get involved... and have more fun too. Your husband wants you to be interested, involved, and to occasionally make the first move. A quote from another man,
The woman needs to play an active role in the sex life. She needs to tell her mate what she needs, wants, and feels. Passive wife = boring life. (p104)
  • Get help if you need it - there can be reasons, medical and otherwise, why sex is a problem for a couple. Seek help and keep trying to seek help until you get satisfactory answers and hopefully, solutions.
  • Make sex a priority (or at least a higher priority than you currently do)- sometimes when we stop and look at the things we do in a day, we do all the things that matter to us (or even just what we think we should be doing - cooking, cleaning, caring for the kids, etc). It is possible that the thing our husband wants most, we view as just another demand on our time. I could almost guarantee that most husbands would be delighted with a sandwich or take-away pizza for dinner if they knew it meant that we had more time and energy to spend with them in the bedroom! Sometimes, it's also worth reminding ourselves that we usually enjoy it, once we make the effort (and, as I said above, if you don't - please seek professional help).
  • Try to listen to his signals. Your husband may have been sending you signals that he would like things to change - he may have hinted, talked about it directly, or become withdrawn and no longer suggest anything at all (in a mode of self-protection). Perhaps it's time to have an open and honest discussion about how you both feel about it and a way forward for you both.

Some things to think about:

For men:
  • Do you agree with what Feldhahn is saying in this chapter?
  • Are you willing to raise the issue with your wife?

For women:
  • Do you consider yourself 'a willing participant' in the bedroom?
  • What signals do you think you are sending your husband when you are disinterested in sex? Have you asked him what he thinks?

More reading:
  • 365 Nights, by Charla Muller. I reviewed it earlier this year here.
  • Feminine Appeal, by Carolyn Mahaney has a helpful chapter on both The Delight of Loving my Husband (more about our attitudes) and The Pleasure of Purity (about sex within marriage). I am planning to review this book later this year. Both Nicole and Jean have written about it previously.

Next time: Part 7 - visual images

* these are her titles and subtitles - not mine!

*** PLEASE NOTE: if you are reading this and I have had a conversation with you about this topic, please do not assume I was thinking about you when I wrote this post. I have talked about this topic with a number of people, always completely confidentially. ***

And, if you want to comment on this post, but prefer not to leave your name - that's OK too!

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