It is a common topic when women get together: why do men want sex so much more than we do? Sure, some couples are happily on the same page. But for many women, at the end of a long day we are just done – and we don’t understand why he takes “not tonight, honey” so personally.
I used to wonder the same thing. But after interviews and surveys with thousands of men I finally see what guys are thinking – and realize that we women have a fundamental misunderstanding about what sex means to men!
See, for us, putting dear hubby off for another night doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. It isn’t personal — we’re just tired. In other words, we are thinking that, for him, sex is primarily a physical need. In the same way that sleep is a physical need!
Well, actually, for him…. no.
As I surveyed all these men over the years, I was shocked to discover that sex is actually primarily a powerful emotional need for men. It meets a very deep need in a man to feel that his wife desires him – a need that hits at the core of who he is, and is thus far more central to his sense of emotional well-being (and thus the marriage relationship!) than most women realize.
Being intimate with your husband tells him one thing: you are desirable to me. And that, believe it or not, gives him that oh-so-necessary sense of confidence he needs to get through life. In fact, feeling desired at home actually gives him a sense of well-being in all the other areas of life! One husband I interviewed explained, “What happens in the bedroom really does affect how I feel the next day at the office.”
And it works the other way, too. Your “please leave me alone” signals probably tell your husband (without you realizing it), you are so undesirable you can’t even compete with my pillow. Looking at it from his standpoint, can you see how that would be a pretty depressing thought?
In fact, do you see how responding—or not responding—tells your husband something emotionally important in a way you never realized?
The men I interviewed often used this analogy: a lack of being physically intimate is as emotionally serious to a man as going silent would be to you. It would be similar to how lonely and abandoned you would feel if he suddenly stopped talking to you.
Now, all that said: we all realize it is sometimes just difficult to get in the mood for intimacy. It is sometimes difficult even to think about enjoying it when we are tired, stressed, dealing with the kids, late on doing chores because of the ballet and karate runs, worried about work, and so on. Most of us don’t intend to send messages of rejection to our man!
But he doesn’t know that. He simply feels rejected. And because feeling desired is so tied in to how he feels about himself, it is personal.
So here’s my challenge for any of us who want an awesome marriage: show your husband that you desire him. Help him understand YOU and how you need anticipation time to get in the mood (more on that in another article). Or tell him it would help if he’d do the karate and ballet run – and then show him later that you mean it! Talk to him about what would make this more feasible for you.
Don’t worry – there’s no reason to think this means “every day!” Every couple has their own pattern. But if you have gone many days or weeks without being together, be aware that your husband, the person you love most in the world, may not be feeling truly loved and affirmed by you. Thankfully when you find ways to get engaged in this way, I think you’ll truly enjoy watching the difference it makes; not only in his demeanor but the whole relationship.