So our little family recently went back to Az to see our extended family. While we were there we had some bickering, like what usually happens when you go on vacation. He wants to do this, I want to do that, we both want to do this but we are running out of time, we both don’t want to do that but we have to…etc. It happens. But something that is vitally important to men is sex. Don’t be embarrassed. Its true. Its normal. Its natural. And for women it is normal and natural to not want it as much when confronted with various stressors, such as being on a busy vacation. Now for some reason being on vacation actually makes my husband want it more. I’m not sure if that goes for all men, but I would imagine this is pretty common...
So while we were vacationing John was trying to be patient, waiting for me to initiate. That doesn’t work. And it wont for most people. Women just simply don’t want it as much as men do, or rather, we are much easier to be put out of the mood than men are. 

So if you’re a man reading this -heck this goes for women too- if you want sex and you’re waiting for your spouse to initiate, and you don’t say anything, its your own damn fault you’re not getting any. If you want it, make it happen. If that means you have to do something a little out of the ordinary, then so be it. For John this usually means that he has to cuddle with me, kiss me a lot and say a few nice things. Just because your spouse says no, doesn’t mean they cannot be convinced. Be willing to ask why they aren’t in the mood, and if there is anything you can do to change their mind. You must, however, be willing to accept that your spouse may actually not be in the mood from time to time. But I cannot stress enough how important it is for you as a wife to make sure you’re tending to your husband’s sexual needs. It is absolutely vital to a happy marriage. You have to teach yourself to want it. You have to teach yourself how to get in the mood. Does this mean its all on you to have a happy sex life? Yes and no. Your husband has much the same responsibilities to help guarantee your sexual happiness, his job is just a smidge easier because guys, in general, want sex quite often. Women have to work at it. Men have to work at being more courteous and considerate in the way they initiate and the way they handle 'rejection' of their offer/request. That's just the way it is.

Anyway, I got a bit complacent about this simple fact while we were on our trip and things got a little ugly over it. John, (as I view it) after a few days of being passive aggressive and waiting for me to make a move, told me repeatedly in one day that he wanted to have sex that night. Well, we got busy doing other things, seeing family and whatnot and I simply forgot all about it. And the kicker is that he never made a move! Even when we did have some down time and could have fit in a quickie, he didn’t make a move! Now its 1:30am and I have already been in bed for about 30 minutes. I fall asleep quickly, so this is a big deal for me. He comes in and jumps on the bed and immediately tries to engage me in intimate activities. I had been asleep!! And woken rudely! When you’re sleeping any swift or sudden movement makes it seem like the whole world is shaking. It freaks you out! I am sure most of you women have experienced something to this effect at one point or another. It makes you mad, am I right? It makes you not want to cooperate.  And THAT’S OK! I am not saying a woman HAS to oblige her husband  whenever he has the urge, but you should strive to be cooperative more often that not. That being said, it is perfectly ok, and should be expected, that each of you set some ground rules for initiating sex.

For me, this means that if John wants it after I have gone to bed, it is his job to wake me up slowly and gently. If he does not comply with this I am under no obligation to accommodate him. He doesn’t always remember this, or agree with it. So when it comes up I simply, without trying to get too worked up, remind John that this is not the first time he has done this, and each time it has ended badly. I remind him of a time that he was very slow, gentle and loving in the way he woke me up and on that one occasion it went very well for him, but that if he insisted on waking me the way he just had, that it would not be pleasant for him and he would end up going to bed unsatisfied. That’s just the way it is. Now, even though I have had to do this before, and even though John has been through this before, this time we got pretty emotionally charged and argued a bit. I was really angry, annoyed, and saddened by some of the things John had said to me in his anger and sexual frustration. I was taking it pretty hard. But, something we as women need to remember, is that men are, for the most part, fickle creatures. If your husband says he will never ask you for sex again, he usually doesn’t mean it. Even if he does mean it, it wont last for long. Just as he wont stay angry with you forever. It will eventually blow over, but you can help that process along. Just stay out of his hair for a little while, go to him in private after he has had a chance to calm down -however long that might take- and be willing to apologize.

What I had to do with John was apologize for not having made time for him the last few days. I explained to him that I was feeling overwhelmed with what all we still had left to do on our trip and that I just simply hadn’t been thinking of his needs. I acknowledged that I could understand how he would feel left out and unloved by my inattention to his desire to end the dry spell. I apologized again for not having been paying enough attention and promised to try to make it up to him (which I did later that night, the follow through is absolutely essential). I asked him that if something like that happens again, that he needed to be the one to initiate because I am unlikely to notice that he is feeling left out. Or that if he wants me to be the one to initiate and do something special to help him feel more loved, that I needed him to say so, and I would then do my best to comply. I reminded him of the simple differences between man and wife and asked that he do these things to help me eventually be able to think about these things on my own. Its a process and we have a responsibility to help each other out.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to accept and admit your own responsibility in the situation rather than dwelling on what your spouse’s failure was in the situation. If you focus on what you could have done differently, and what you can do differently in the future to avoid further problems, then your spouse will be more likely to feel comfortable doing the same. You cannot ever expect them to do something you are not willing to do yourself.  It is perfectly ok to discuss and explain why you feel a certain way, or why you responded as you did, but only in the context of creating a game plan for dealing with it in the future. It is important to explore why a situation arose in the first place, otherwise you are doomed to repeat it over and over again. The best way to accomplish this is to, after you have apologized, ask your spouse how they feel about what happened, why they get angry, frustrated…etc. Focus on their side of the story. Seek to understand it. Your spouse is not going to care how you feel if you don’t care about how they feel. Columbia Counseling Center has a great explanation of effective communication within a relationship. Keep in mind this is an advanced technique for most people but you CAN learn to do it. In fact, you probably already know how to, and use it on a regular basis with many people you interact with. But for some reason we forget to do this with our spouse. The link to the explanation is as follows: http://counselingmaryland.com/knowledge-center/couples-communication-strategies

A book I have read about the importance of communication is called And They Were Not Ashamed: Strengthening Marriage Through Sexual Fulfillment by Laura M Brotherston. Yes it is written by a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or a mormon as most people call them, but it’s a fantastic book that helps couples walk through their hang-ups about sex, how to talk about it effectively, and how to re-ignite passion in your marriage.  Yes, its comes from a religious aspect, but most people in the US have some kind of religious background, wither you are currently practicing or not, that can cause some roadblocks to full intimacy in marriage. But the communication diagram discussed in that book works perfectly for talking about any issue, with anyone. Side note- most couples who decide to divorce are also dissatisfied with their sex life in addition to any other issues that may have arisen. If you’re not happy in the bedroom it WILL cause other stresses in the relationship, or will cause a disproportionate emotional response to things we ordinarily wouldn’t get mad about. If you’re not happy with the sex in your marriage, learn to talk about it. It will save both you and your husband a world of heartache. But please, DO NOT even THINK about talking about such a sensitive subject without first learning a little more about how to effectively communicate with your spouse. If you insist on talking about it without developing better communication skills you will only do more damage that will just have to be undone later. Save yourself the trouble and do a little research first.  
Stephanie
1/11/2012 09:48:14

This is really great advice about communication, and I agree 100% that sex is a crucial part of marriage. However, I do think that the husband has a responsibility to his wife as well as the other way around. Not to be crude, but if a man enjoys having sex often (which most do), he should ensure that his wife or partner also enjoys sex. Let's face it, if a man pays no attention to your needs (whatever they may be) or is rude with regard to demand or initiation, you're not going to enjoy yourself and you're not going to want to have sex as often. I personally believe that the responsibility goes both ways: it is the wife's desire to fulfill her husband's needs as it should be the husband's desire to fulfill his wife's needs and make sure sex is a pleasurable experience.

I'm really enjoying reading your site!

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Mom
1/11/2012 12:45:45

I agree completely with Stephanie. I've been married for just about 28 years and we have just recently started figuring out the communication thing. And sex IS a two way street. He's got to be there for you as well. Men have sex to feel loved. Women have to feel loved first in order to feel safe enough to have sex. A man would be wise to do what makes his wife feel safe with him emotionally and physically if he wants great sex.

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The Imperfect Marriage
1/11/2012 13:28:24

The third paragraph does touch on this briefly, and you are exactly right. Husband's have every bit as much responsibility to meet the needs of their wife as the wife has to meet his needs.

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