Introduction of an Obsession
I have a bunch of nephews. They are older than my own children by more than 20 years in some cases. When they were getting married, a thought began to form. Married life is good and hard. It can be tricky at times. There is a lot of advice I feel comfortable giving, and much that frankly, I don’t. But that doesn’t mean that advice isn’t a good idea.
Take this morning for example. One of my sons was playing with a heavy duty bamboo skewer. He was throwing it around as if it couldn’t seriously injure someone. When I told him that playing with a skewer like that wasn’t safe, his eyes lit up and he told me a story that his cousin (my nephew) told him. It seems that one day, this group of nephews decided to see if bamboo skewers would work as arrows. They did. It turns out they work so well as arrows that they will stick in a person’s head and take at least a little effort to remove.
“Interesting,” I told my son. “So now you can either learn from that story, or you can experiment on your own to see what it’s like to have one stuck in your own head.”
Shoulders of giants. Learn from my mistakes. Don’t reinvent the wheel. All of these axioms describe the motivation I have in advising the next generation. The only problem is (ready?) No one wants advice about their love life from their (old? weird?) aunt. I see you nodding your head.
But it’s possible that they might not make the connection with someone who would care enough to give it. All of these thoughts led me to I become a little obsessed with solving the problem of getting this information into the hands of the husbands. I came up with a system using email. I put together a diverse list of women and sent them the login information to a gmail account along with a request to send any insights from that email account to my own email address. It seemed like it might work. I did get some advice! And then I had our fourth child, and I got a little distracted.
I still think it’s a worthwhile project, so I am diving in again. This is “For the Husbands.” For the Husbands and for the wives, in hopes of stronger relationships, better love lives, and more joy in the world. I believe in marriage. I believe it can make us better, happier people.
Following are some of the contributions, edited for length, clarity, and how much I agree with them. (Just kidding!) Seriously, though--Please let me know if something you wrote did not emerge as you intended! If you woud like to contribute to the For the Husbands project, just go to gmail.com, sign in as firstname.lastname@example.org (password: forthewives) and send your email to email@example.com
Thank you SO much to the women who have taken the time to write and send notes on what they think husbands should know/learn!
Thank you SO much to the women who have taken the time to write and send notes on what they think husbands should know/learn!
If you could teach every boy, young man, teenager and adult to give hugs and affection to their spouse like the hugs or affection that they would give their mother or their children, that would be a great thing. The point is, if every sign of physical affection has a sexual overtone, it lacks the comfort, connection, warmth and intimacy that women need. There's nothing wrong with sex at the right time, but not at all times.
Physical affection—freely given, without an undercurrent of a request for more—creates trust, and can lead to sex eventually.
I waited to have sex until we were married. Once we were married, it was like the finish line was finally open and we were free to cross into territory that was off-limits before. It was more exciting than romantic, more like finishing a race than giving in to an overwhelming desire. Maybe its not so different for a guy, but for a girl, the difference between the two situations is pretty different.
This brings up a weird word: lubrication. Along with this long and embarrassing word, I’ll give you a simple fact: girls are not all the same. Some girls, for example, are naturally well-lubricated while others are not.
I am one of those who is not. Does this mean I have to do something special any time I want to have sex? Yes and no. If sex is the end of a race and the goal is basically to do the deed, then my own body wouldn't be ready, physically. Although it is possible to do it, it's uncomfortable at best and painful at worst. BUT, I think it's worth mentioning that sometimes, sex that starts this way can end up being good. I want my husband to be happy. For me, that means that I sometimes pretend to be more interested than I am. My husband doesn’t do a lot of foreplay. I do appreciate it when he seems interested in just being loving and caring instead of all about sex.
What advice would I give men? Keep a sex journal, or intimacy journal, or at least a list, to make sure you don't miss cues from your lover. It takes a lot for some people to speak up, and if you don't pay attention to what she says, she may decide that you aren't interested in what she has to say. She may even give up in having any input in your sex life, which would be sad. She may adopt a “grin and bear it“ attitude instead of enjoying what can be a strong and positive part of your marriage. Some people talk a lot. Some people are not shy about asking for what they want or need. Some are shy.
Here are examples of what she might say:
"I don't like it when you rub my feet that way."
"I like that!"
"That feels great."
If she is silent, watch out! Maybe you could try backing off for a bit. Try a different approach. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. A five minute back rub is better than no back rub, same for feet or hands. If you feel tired and unwilling, try to remember what you are working for: a healthy, active, engaging sex life. If she is unresponsive, try tickling her back or asking her about her day. Even if you find yourself very motivated, if she isn't, proceed with caution. If she is unresponsive and not willing, even if she doesn't seem opposed, pushing yourself on her can feel like rape.
What if you are the one who isn't interested? The stereotype of a sex starved husband and a bored wife doesn't always play out that way. If she is interested and you are turning her down, do your best to figure out why you are feeling distant or disengaged. Try to talk about it in a nonthreatening way. Find another way to spend time with her in a meaningful way.
First, I would recommend an open dialogue. Make it clear that she can ask you about anything.
Next, I’d recommend “The 5 Love Languages.” If I’d read that book before I got married, I know it would have spared us some arguments in our marriage. For example, my husband communicates though action. His keeping my car running well, full of gas, his going to the store for me and taking care of the bills is his way of saying “I love you.” That’s great. I appreciate all of those things—but my love language is touch. I need to be hugged, kissed, even bumped into! And I really mean bumped into.
I found that when my spouse stepped aside to get out of my way instead of bumping into me, I felt like he saw me as a stranger. His parents were not touchers, so it hasn’t come naturally to him, but because I have talked about it, he is working on it. One thing I do is when he does it right—reaches over and touches my knee while we are working together—I make sure to say, “Yes. Thank you. This tells me you love me!”
As for the nitty gritty, men need to know that women are not just breasts, butt and a vagina. There are other parts that can be brought into play. Sometimes touching everything but those can build a great fire! I can almost guarantee you that caressing legs, hips, and her stomach while kissing will make everyone happy.
You can think of it like putting together a good pot of chili. You keep the heat at medium and slowly add ingredients. It’s not properly done until you let everything boil together for a while.
I think it is also important to know that not all guys are “hot and ready” all the time. Movies, books and TV want us to believe that, but it’s not true about all guys. A lot of guys have other things on their minds. If this is you, you need to have an open dialogue about what you expect.
When you are newly in love and first married, it seems like both spouses are on the same page. but after a while it might change. For me it did. Talk about it. Intimacy—sex—for girls and guys seems to be so very different. Girls tend to have more emotion involved. For some guys it is a just a fun thing to do, so they might not want to talk about things like how great your love is and how deeply you both feel. Is this true for you? Tell her about it. Circle this part and let her read it. Please don’t give up!
From “Elodie,” an LDS health care provider
Sex is critical to a healthy relationship, and a part of eternal growth. Sex is an integral part of the Plan of Salvation and the Gospel. Hear me out: God’s work and glory is our exaltation. If sex weren't critical to our relationships, why would God make it necessary to “multiply and replenish?” There must be a grand scheme. I don’t know how it all works, just that I have faith in His Plan.
Have you ever heard a beginner play a violin? How about a trumpet? How does it sound? Usually pretty crappy! We often mistakenly think that since sex is a “need” and a natural act, we must just instinctively know how to do it, but like any skill, it is learned. Instinct will guide us up to a point, sure, but that's pretty rudimentary!
We must give ourselves time and space to learn. Learning can be pretty enjoyable, but not always. For instance, if both newlyweds are virgins, often it’s a bit hard to not just jump each other. It’s normal to feel like waiting is impossible! The first time might be the best 30 seconds of the guy's life. As for the girl, well, the first time might involve disappointment and even some pain. Sometimes newlyweds think that sex is this mysterious activity that must be the most fantastic, earth-moving event ever imagined, and that they will just want to do nothing else—several times a day in every place they go. This is a great goal, but …work up to it!
Should her pain and possible disappointment be an afterthought? A woman’s anatomy can be a little mysterious. Your wife’s bits stretch inside, but less at the opening. Do you, as a newlywed, want to spend your honeymoon having no sex because your wife is hurt? No? Then you need to get interested in how to make it more comfortable. I have known girls who tore and required sutures to repair their anatomy. Right, then! Wedding night. Pain and bleeding that won't stop along with a trip to the ER is a real honeymoon disaster. (All girls are different. Some girls need some medical help so that the stretching is adequate and they don't tear.)
There is an expectation that both man and wife will be blown out of the water with ecstasy when they first do the deed. There may be some confusion when reality meets expectations. Sadly, if the expectation is fireworks, disappointment and confusion will result. And what is a newlywed to do? After all, who wants to say, ”…that was weird” to their beloved? So, even if there isn't injury, just know that few women can orgasm the first time. Both sexes should know this: Men WILL come. Women will LEARN how to come.
Yes, good sex is learned, folks! It takes practice!
Give each other permission to be sexually curious and active, but always allow for safety and security. It's good for guys to know that there needs to be some time and effort put into sex to help the girl start to seriously enjoy it. Women are very capable of multiple orgasms, guys not so much. A man who wants to enjoy sex to the max will find that the better it is for her the better his experience will be and the more often she'll be wanting it.
Everyone has their own learning curve, and some things will not be ok with one partner. We have ideas about what "good people" will do or won’t do. Treat this with the love and respect you have for this person. We say we will do anything for our beloved... but the joke is “when a man says that to his wife, he means slay dragons, not clean toilets!” The reality is, we all have a list of "...but not that!" This includes sexual activities.
Part of the sacred nature of the husband and wife relationship is that you will teach each other everything. This is an integral part of the relationship. We teach each other everything about ourselves in every facet of our relationship. There is much that we will learn about ourselves together. Like sex! What the heck does a novice know?
A pilot has to learn how to fly a plane, even if he or she has longed to be a pilot all his or her life! They still have to learn how the plane works, aeronautics, and weather! You need an education in aviation! Education is not all fun and games. After a pilot has studied for four years for a degree, then he or she must fly thousands of hours in different types of fixed-wing aircraft to be proficient. It doesn’t matter how much you want to be a pilot. Wanting it doesn’t make you one.
We want with all our hearts to have great relationships with our spouse. We want to be married. We want to be parents. We want our love to grow. We want to have sex. But wanting ain't getting, and getting ain't got!
It IS possible to “earn a PhD” in our spouse—in every possible aspect, including sexually. This will come after a few years of pre-school and kindergarten. Relax. Enjoy. Communicate and explore.
There are some good books (kind of “how to” manuals) that are very well done and very clinical without seeming like pornography. The topic is treated with class, respect and frank honesty! They do include pictures, but are done with sensitivity and are not titillating at all—even for the very private, shy person.
When the door is opened, couples start to ask questions—specific questions, interesting questions—not titillating questions, but questions that come from a genuine desire to learn. If you are in this situation, answer honestly, frankly. Be somewhat clinical. This is the time and place to ask. Commit to no judgement and no embarrassment. It helps to allow questions about anything and everything. If possible, make it clear that you can revisit the topic anytime. Just ask, and you will arrange a measure of privacy. Another approach would be to arrange a couple more opportunities to come back in and ask about anything.
Amazingly, almost every couple who counseled with me came in several times—before and after the honeymoon. There is a lot to wonder about! Feel free to wonder! If you can't answer everything now, you can certainly find answers. Many of us are pretty ignorant of the anatomy and function of our body parts. We ought to become experts in our own bodies. Everyone deserves to know the physiology of these “private parts.” Being a health care provider helped some people ask their questions. It helps when curious people know they'll get answers—not reactions. One kid even called on their honeymoon. (WOW, I was surprised!) Sex changes as life changes, so the questions may never stop.
Another thing I wanted to teach was about foreplay. I joke that it takes 2 weeks for females, and 2 seconds for most males. Exaggeration? Yes, but girls want to feel beautiful, appreciated, admired and respected. As life gets busy with the mundane, one of the most seductive things a husband can do is the dishes, the laundry, pick up toys and get kids to bed.... If he gets home from work first and sits in front of the TV, then she comes home and he says “I'm hungry, what’s for dinner?” he is losing points.
She is not your mother, or your maid. Sorry, but if a man expects to be cared for and catered to like by mom, but with benefits in the bedroom, then he is going to have a mom figure in the bedroom (and most moms are very very not interested in their son sexually...big turn off!). And vice versa.
In reality, most women respond sexually to feeling cherished and adored—being treated like she is important! Making your wife an appendage, a servant, or a sex object usually won't result in a great sex life. Some guys can have a big fight with their bride, then try to get cozy a half hour later for some love making and they don’t know why the bride thinks he's an idiot! There are things to learn! Those who don't learn this stuff might end up in counseling, discussing how they were disillusioned by their "One True Love.”
Education is power. There are a lot of myths about sex that serve no one. Get brave. Open the door. Talk about it. Don’t be so serious! Laughing reduces tension and helps people feel safe.
Yes, I’m a girl. I have a vagina and a clitoris. Lucky me! I like these parts, but the rest of my body is sensitive, too. Since we’ve been married, it feels like my husband forgot how much I love having my back tickled or rubbed. To me, this was the best “foreplay.”
I miss it a lot.
I have an amazing husband who is really good at holding me. Some people call it snuggling, some people call it spooning. I just know that it makes everything feel right with the world. I sometimes get self conscious about my belly not being perfect, but when he holds me, I believe that he loves me for me and it doesn't matter if my body isn't like a swimsuit model's. Some people talk about foreplay, but snuggling is the best. I love my husband a lot and I am grateful for all he does.
Opening The Door
The next section is a number of statements that could help open the door of candid conversation about your intimate life with your lover. The idea is that she can read through these statements and use them as a way to start a conversation. Of course YOU can use it, too. Good communication goes both ways. You can mark it up in one color, she can mark it up in another. She may prefer to mark the statements that are true for her or false for her and let you review them on your own, or you could go through them together and talk about whatever is most interesting. You could use this section once a week, once a month, or once!
- I don’t like to be touched very often.
- Certain smells don’t appeal to me, specifically _________________________.
- If I could have any part of my body tickled for 20 minutes, it would be…
- My favorite thing to do with you is…
- One thing you think I love that I actually don’t LOVE is…
- My favorite music for sexy time is…
- There’s something I am scared to talk about….
- My favorite body part is…
- There are times when I want you, but you have no idea!
- I feel least attractive when….
- I feel most loved when…
- I want to ask you to do something with me just because you love me…
- I want to go on dates more and just kiss.
- I feel totally silly doing this…
- One thing I don’t mind doing is…
- I have this crazy story to tell you that no one else knows….
- My favorite snuggle position with you is…
- My favorite love making position with you is…
- The three things that I worry about most are…
- I would like it if you touched me more (in a sexy way).
- I would like it if you touched me more in a loving, comforting way.
- I don’t need to be touched more to be happy.
- I would like it if you kissed me longer.
- I would be fine with less kissing.
- My hard feelings get in the way of me feeling loving toward you.
- I want to know your love language!
- You have misunderstood my love language.
- I would like to spend more time ______________________________ with you.
- I love you!
- I will only love you if you are perfect and flawless.
- I’m scared that you will only love me if I am perfect and flawless.
- I would like to spend more of my time taking care of myself.
- When you touch my __________________, it drives me crazy—in a good way!
- I feel like your mother when you _________________________.
- I always thought marriage would be….
- I am self-conscious about my…
- Please don’t ever ask me to ___________________________.
- On Valentine’s day, I secretly want you to….
- On my birthday, I secretly want you to….
- I don’t know how to help you feel loved on special days! What do you secretly wish I would do?
- My love language is:
- I would like to feel more like a partner to you.
- I am scared of you when…
- You are irresistible to me when….
- My secret wish for myself is…
- When I would like to talk with you in depth, what is the best way for me to let you know?
- I miss __________________________.
- My most embarrassing moment with you was…
- The best thing about being married to you is…
- What does it feel like when I do this?
- I feel lonely when….
- Something you would never guess my looking at me is…
- Something I would never guess by looking at you is…
- I secretly long to set goals with you.
- I secretly long to make babies with you.
- What you think is my favorite position isn’t actually my favorite position.
- I don’t think I will ever get tired of ________________________.
- I would like to kiss/make out/cuddle/make love _________________ times per _______________________.
- I like it with the lights on.
- I like it with the lights off.
- I like it in the shower.
- I like it ____________________________.
- I don’t like ____________________________.
- Let’s buy some __________________________ to play with.
- Let’s practice _____________________________.
- I really love it when you _________________________ before we go to bed.
- My favorite time to get naked with you is ___________________________.
- Let’s practice going longer before you finish.
- I have never had an orgasm.
- I don’t have orgasms as often as you think.
- I don’t have orgasms as often as you think, but I’m fine with it.
- I don’t have orgasms as often as you think and I want more.
- I want more ________________________.
- ___________________________ makes me want to barf.
- I need to teach you more about my body.
- You need to teach me more about your body.
- I need to know more about my body.
- I am scared to become pregnant.
- I don’t really enjoy it when you _____________________________.
- I don’t want to hurt you and I’m afraid that you will think I don’t love you if I tell you that _________________________.
- I would like to show you how I like you to touch my ___________________.
- Somehow you missed the ________________________ memo.
- I love you even though you ___________________________.
- Your _____________________________ is/are perfect.
- I hope our kids get your _____________________________.
- I hope our kids get my ______________________________.
- I don’t want children.
- I want to adopt.
- It sounds crazy, but I want to _______________________________________.
- Let’s make babies!
- Let’s start a band.
- I want to join a gym.
- I secretly thought you would ______________________________ after we married.
- I sometimes get jealous of other women.
- I don’t have any idea why I ______________________________.
- I want to try ______________________________ with you.
- Can we please say “_______________________________” instead of sex?
- Can we please say “_______________________________” instead of penis?
- Can we please say “_______________________________” instead of vagina?
- Can we please say “_______________________________” instead of make love?
- Instead of saying, “Please stop now, I hate this.” Can we please say, “_______________________________?”
- Instead of saying “I want you right now!” Can we please say, “_______________________________?”
- I am secretly proud of my _____________________________________.
- Ask me anything. I’m an open book.
- When you __________________________ I always think about _______________.
- I feel like you are less interested in me than in sex, and it’s a turn off.
- I feel like you are more interested in sex than in me and I like it!
- Generally speaking, I like tenderness, not roughness, in the bedroom.
- Generally speaking, I like roughness, not tenderness, in the bedroom.
- When I’m on my period, I would like you to ______________________________.