Improving Your Sex Life
Men and women tend to think about sex differently. This may seem laughably obvious, but in my work providing couple counselling, I often see clients in which the spouses assume that their partner feels (or should feel) exactly the same way they do about sex. But they don’t always, and this can lead to an avalanche of hurt feelings, tension, and bad vibes between them, which can eventually translate into a sexual dry spell.
So let’s break this down and see if we can’t gain a better understanding of our partners and ourselves. Of course, we need to keep in mind that this is a generalization and that there will always be the exception to the rule. So if you’re a guy and you’re reading the part about how women feel and think, “That’s me!”, no problem. There’s nothing wrong with you, no need to be alarmed. Just flip the genders of the roles, and keep reading.
Let’s start with women. Women typically need an emotional connection in order to have sex. They need to feel relaxed, taken care of, and/or emotionally close to have sex on the radar at all. This is why unloading the dishwasher can be the most effective foreplay for some women: having her partner step in and take something off her to-do list and be a partner in the less-than-sexy elements of running a household can be just the ticket to help her feel loved and close to her partner. And after a fight, for example, tends to be the last time a women feels like being intimate. So the take-away here is: for women, they need to have an emotional connection in order to want sex.
Men, on the other hand, see sex as the best way to gain an emotional connection. It’s often how they bring intimacy into their emotional lives, too. This is why they might very well suggest sex right after a fight, because they’re trying to repair the relationship, and make things better by taking the first step to being emotionally close again.
So what happens when he suggests sex after a fight? His wife, shocked that this would even be a consideration, flat out refuses. From her point of view, this is the absolute last time she would be interested in sex, since the tension between them is high and the emotional connection is low.
But what happens when she refuses him at this moment? He sees it not as just a rejection of sex, but also of him. He’s trying to do something that will make the relationship better, and in his view, she’s not even interested in improving the relationship. This makes it very hard for him to be kind and loving toward her, which is exactly what she would want in order to improve the relationship and then feel more interested in sex.
Do you see how easy it is for this cycle of misunderstanding and hurt to keep repeating itself?
So the question is: now what?
It’s important to keep this concept in mind during our day to day lives with one another. For men, make your partner feel important, work as a team by pitching in together to keep the house running, share of yourself by talking about your day and your feelings. Remember that she needs an emotional connection to feel amorous, so devote some energy to creating moments of romance and closeness between the two of you.
And for the ladies, take this advice from my mentor Michele Weiner Davis in her book The Sex-Starved Marriage: “…the best way to ensure a strong emotional and spiritual bond with your spouse is to do the one thing that defines your relationship as different from all others: stay sexually connected.” (page 32) There will be times that you don’t feel that sexy or sexual, and that’s ok. But make an effort to notice your sexual urges – most people have them, just in some they’re more subtle and need a little more nurturing. If there’s an emotional barrier, work on that. Seek out individual or couples counselling and focus on solutions that help you move toward each other in your marriage. And sometimes you’ll be surprised by how much fun you have once you just get started, so don’t resist “going with the flow” once in a while.