This is really a starting point for How to Get Her to Want Sex, a long promised article on The Marriage Bed. There are several difficulties in writing something like this. Women are far more individual sexually than men are, women as a group have lower sex drives, more sexual baggage and injuries, and much of what will ultimately make a difference has nothing directly to do with sex. That last part is huge; men want a couple of special moves (or even a drug) to send their wife into a horny frenzy. Unfortunately, there are no such moves (or drugs). Most men can enjoy sex apart from a relationship, while most women cannot. This means men can want and enjoy sex even when the relationship has problems, but women cannot.
Most of what follows is foundational things that must be in place for a woman to be open to being sexual. Yes, it is a very big list, and if you have problems in most of these you have a lot of work ahead of you. It may not “be fair”, but it is how things are. You can accept this is reality and start working towards a foundation that supports more sex, or you can keep doing what you have been doing, and keep having the frustrations you have been having.
- Non-sexual touch: If every touch you give her seems to be an invitation to or request for sex, she will come to hate having you touch her. She needs to know you want to touch her for more than just sex! For more on the touches women want, and how it affects their sexuality, see Non-sexual touch and sex.
- Connect on an emotional level: If she does not have a deep, emotional connection with you, sex will feel like prostitution – without the pay. Connection does not just mean a good connection in general, it means connecting in the last few hours.
- Connect on an intellectual level: She needs to feel you want and enjoy her for more than her body. Find things the two of you can do and share. Have a life together in every way, including sharing your walk with the Lord in a deep and real way.
- Only have eyes for her: She does not want to be your release for sexual tension you have from what you have been looking at all day! This is called being used, and it is a huge turn off for a woman. This includes porn, but it goes way beyond that.
- Understand her cycle: The hormonal changes of a woman’s cycle have a deep and profound impact on her emotions, her mind, and her sexuality. If you learn to understand this, you can work with it and things will go much better. You may assume she knows all about this, but odds are she does not, or at least does not know how much her cycle affects her sexuality. As an outside observer, you are in a better place to see the changes than she is. For more on this, see Her Cycle – how to track it, and how it affects every aspect of her life (including her sexuality).
- Encourage her to be more sensual: Sex is (supposed to be) the ultimate sensual act. The more open your bride is to her sensual side, the more open she should be to sex, and the more she can enjoy sex. Things like bubble baths, massages, scented candles, enticing flavours (especially chocolate), rich music, and soft fabrics are all good ways to expand her sensuality. Powerful views, like a sunset or the ocean are also good. Something as simple as a screen save showing various beautiful pictures of nature can help her become more sensual.
- Treat her like an adult: She is a co-heir with Christ, not a slave, a servant, or a child. If you order her about, always tell her how wrong she is, or correct her endlessly, she will not feel loved, and not feeling loved does not bring about a desire for sex.
- Help her challenge cultural beliefs: Both society and the church have some destructive ideas about women and sex. Wanting sex does not make her a slut, and enjoying it does not make her a pervert. Additionally, a woman is not a man without a penis; she has different desires and feelings about sex than men. Let her explore her femininity and her sexuality free from cultural lies.
- Encourage her to deal with her past: Few women today make it to marriage without sexual injury. For some it is rape or molestation, while for others it is the result of their choice to use porn or be promiscuous. Even seemingly minor things like being teased about the size of her breasts (big or small) or being called “boy crazy” as a teen can leave a woman with sexual land mines. By the way, if you and she had ANY kind of sexual contact before marriage, this needs to be discussed and dealt with. Guilt over premarital sex is a common problem/limitation for women.
- Work on your expectations: Most men have seen plenty of porn by the time they marry (and many see more after). Porn is not real sex: real women do not want, would not enjoy, and could not do much of what porn portrays. Even if your expectations are not bad, they may be overwhelming. By nature women are not as sexually adventurous as men are, and she needs time to grow into her sexuality. If you ask her for more than she can handle, you shut her down, which means she stops being willing to do even what she would have been okay with. One way many women get hurt with this is being expected to want and enjoy any sex act she has ever tried. Please realise many women’s premarital experiences went beyond what they wanted to do; guilt, fear of rejection, peer-pressure, and not knowing how to say no all push women well beyond what they want or enjoy. PLEASE do not hold her past sins against her – it’s wrong, it’s rude, it won’t get you the sex you want, and it will probably limit your sex life for years to come.
- Help her avoid exhaustion and stress: The primary reasons women do not want and do not enjoy sex is they are too tired, too busy, and/or too stressed. Because her raw drive is lower than yours is, it takes less of these things to kill her desire for sex. Because sexual pleasure takes more time and energy for her, tiredness, busyness, and stress can mean she will not enjoy sex even if she wants it. This quickly becomes a problem in and of itself, resulting in her avoiding sex because it only adds to her stress and frustration.
- Seek pro-sexual friends: Research finds our friends have a significant influence on us, even to the point of resulting in something like weight gain or weight loss. These influences can occur both for real life friends and for cyber friends, and even friends of friends. The things we read and watch also cause us to be more or less open to a number of things, including a healthy married sex life. Just as reading porn and hanging with guys who talk about sleeping around hurts your ability to be sexually healthy, what she watches and reads, and who she spends time with, will help or hurt her ability to desire and enjoy sex. I suggest you make this a part of the bigger picture as you both work on your relationships and what you take into your mind. For more on this, see Do Your Friends Support Your Sex Life?
- Drive versus arousal: Finally, there is a very good change both you and your bride need to rethink female sexual desire. Men feel a desire which drives them to seek sex, While some women function this way, at least some of the time, the majority of women do not function this way, and some who do only function this way sometimes (see #5 above). For the majority of women, desire or drive follows arousal. You start foreplay, or just making out a bit, which causes her to get aroused, which leads her to want sex. If she waits to “want it”, she may be waiting forever. If she enjoys sex when she does have it, then she needs to learn she can enjoy it far more often by choosing to start, knowing it will result in arousal, desire, and pleasure. It would be like never feeling hungry, but learning if you cook a meal you will get hungry and then enjoy the meal a great deal.
- Bonus: If your bride uses any form of hormonal contraception, it is having some effect on her sexuality. For a very few women the pill solves significant problems, making her more likely to be sexual. However, for most women the affect is negative. For more information see The pill ruins sex?
Are you thinking none of this is going to matter, nothing you do is going to change how your wife feels or acts sexually? If so, check Encouraging Email from an Older Reader – if it can happen for this fellow, it can happen for you!