I’ve been talking recently about things that both husbands and wives do that derail sex in their marriage. These unproductive behaviors create fertile ground for misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and unmet needs. But when each person’s intimacy needs are being met, the overall satisfaction with the marriage often goes up. If one partner’s needs are not being met, however, the focus on physical intimacy becomes paramount and receives a disproportionate share of attention. To remedy this and have sex return to being one just one aspect of the relationship (albeit an important one), it is necessary for each partner to understand the needs of the other and intentionally meet them.
Men and Intimacy
Men fall in love with their eyes. They are biologically hard-wired to be interested in women who are young and healthy to increase the chance of reproduction. They are also wired to be ready to procreate at any time. The time it takes for a man to identify an opportunity for sex, get ready, and complete the task is about fifteen minutes on average. This natural tendency for getting down to business does not always meet with success in a committed, long-term relationship. It takes time and attention to the needs of your partner to make a relationship work. Man’s evolutionary penchant to prowl and hunt can complicate this process.
Women and Intimacy
Women fall in love with their ears. Their mental development involves a greater use and dependence on words. Women are hard-wired to pay attention to the global perspective and the context of a situation. This is a necessary ability to have if they are to recognize and act on potential threats to their children. It also is part of the reason women take longer to become aroused physically. Physiologically, women are just starting to relax and give in to their bodies when men are finishing. This timing issue may seem to be a set-up for frustration but is just a way for a woman to find a mate who is able to control himself and allow her to catch up to him. This often implies a man is older and more stable and therefore a better partner for her and her prospective children.
Making it work
Many years ago, Parade Magazine had an article addressing how men can get more sex. It recommended men do the dishes. I have also heard that if men want mutually enjoyable intimacy later in the day, they need to start setting the stage in the morning. It really is almost that simple. Both suggestions involve being aware of what the woman is doing and thinking. If you make a pass at your wife while she is doing chores, reading, or watching TV, you often won’t get the response you are seeking. You also will probably be met with frequent rejection if you grab her as she is getting in bed. However, if you take the time to be loving and attentive to your partner throughout the day and take some of the tasks off her plate, you stand a greater chance of getting a green light.
Women must be more intentional in meeting their partner’s needs as well. They must own that it may take them longer to get in the mood and be more willing to make the effort to get there. A few years ago, some of my female colleagues were talking about this. A couple of us stated that if our partners wanted to be intimate and the answer wasn’t a definite no, it would be yes. Frequently we would get into it and be glad of our decision. If not, we looked at it as a gift to our partner. Either way it brought us closer together as couples.
The underlying point is that both partners must make the effort to meet the other’s physical intimacy needs. The responsibility of making the relationship work in this important arena falls to both people. When only one of you takes on the responsibility for meeting the physical intimacy needs of the other, the relationship becomes one-sided. This is also when the very existence of the relationship becomes vulnerable. And that’s the last thing either of you want.
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This post was previously published on The Hero Husband Project and is republished here with permission from the author.
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