Hardware, Software, and Great Sex

December 28, 2013

in Links to good stuff, Sexuality, Understanding Her

You’ve seen your wife naked, right? Her body doesn’t look like your body looks – especially the sexual parts.

For several decades there’s been a concerted effort to convince people most gender differences are just skin-deep. The hardware is different we are told, but we all run the same software.


We run different software, and this is especially true for sex. I think many sexual problems come from men and women thinking her sexuality should be like his. This is a sure road to frustration and problems.

Sex Error Message © Paul H. Byerly

One big difference between men and women’s sexuality that has come to light the last few years is how arousal works. For most men it”s as follows:


While this pattern is true for a few women most of the time, and some women some of the time, it’s not the most common female arousal pattern. For most women, sex usually works more like this:


This means kissing, making out, and foreplay cause desire, and then stimulation and desire together cause arousal, which can progress to orgasm. In short, “spontaneous desire” is the norm for men, but uncommon for women. (For women spontaneous desire is most likely near ovulation.)

The problem is we’ve bought into the lie she should only have sex “when she wants it.” Actually, that would be okay if we defined “wanting it” correctly, but we define wanting it as feeling sexual desire. We think she should feel “horny” before sex starts. The truth is she will usually need sex to start to cause her to feel horny.

She’s been taught that if you want sex you feel horny, and if you don’t feel horny you don’t want sex. So, he asks is she wants to have sex, and she, not feeling horny, says no. He feels unloved and neglected while she feels he should respect her lack of desire.

Imagine a different reality. They both know it’s very rare for her to feel desire before they start to have sex, but she has learned stimulation almost always results in desire, followed by arousal, followed by orgasm. She has also learned sex is very enjoyable on many levels, and even when she doesn’t get aroused she enjoys making love. So, when her husband asks if she wants to make love, she thinks about how great it is to make love with him, and she says yes.

If you’ve been doing it “wrong” for years, fixing it is going to be difficult. The first step is to understand you’ve both been treating her like male software running on female hardware. Realise this is a factor in most of the problems and frustrations in your sex life and commit to changing your mindset. Stop expecting her to experience desire outside of sex, and figure out how she really works. Start from scratch and build a new sexuality as a couple.

By the way, expecting her to initiate sex seems a bit unfair if you understand she doesn’t experience spontaneous desire. It may indeed be true you would never have sex if you didn’t initiate, but so what? If she enjoys it when it happens, you need to initiate for both of you!

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JR Bob
JR Bob

I really think this model of Women's sexuality makes a lot of sense.  I am reading "And They Were not Ashamed" (which seems great so far).  She talks about a similar idea in there as well.

I also agree that the popular idea of women having a sex drive cycle similar to men is so false.  I don't know why this has been pushed so much by the media and so many books, and  I'm really surprised though that more women don't call them out on that if it is false.

Even so called "sex experts" really push this idea of women's sexuality being essentially similar to men's.  Why?  It really has lead to a lot of confusion and frustration.

My wife and I are really struggling with this.  She has really low interest (though true to this model once things get started the LM is great!).  She also isn't willing to talk about it or work on the problem in any way.  So I'm trying to think about divorce, but I can't get my head around it because we have 3 kids and i do love her sooo much.  I think I'm stuck.


Do you have more information concerning the research in regards to differences in arousal


A suggestion for darklordlarry, you might try to make your foreplay last all day and keep it light. As an "older" guy myself, we both know that our sex life has changed over the years. Our desire is there but our wife's has changed.  Often I will do subtle small things to "hint" lightly that I am interested tonight. 

She is always intrigued by my imagination and enjoys the chase.

Enjoy the time together!


 This is great insight and I wish that I had had it as a young man. I'm now 56 and my wife is 55. We have a great sex life overall, but one of the challenges is that she has had a hysterectomy and because of that and our age, she rarely experiences "desire" even like she used to. Mine, on the other hand, is pretty much as keen as it was when I was 25.

This caused some frustration initially but I think we arrived at a nice solution as a result of talking it through. She enjoys the closeness and intimacy of it (as do I); I also feel like I need it to stay sane (in other words, for me it continues to be more of a biological thing, in addition to a psychological one).

So we had an open and honest talk about frequency. How much do we want/need it? I said, "At least once a week, sometimes more." She said, "Once a week is about right for me." So we agreed we would establish once a week as a baseline, and made a weekly appointment (almost always the same time and place). This doesn't sound terribly romantic, but it's actually worked out very well. We both look forward to it as the week wears on, which contributes to the enjoyment of it. Plus we've built a lot of "us alone time" kind of stuff around it which we also need to keep our relationship healthy and strong.

And, if I have one of those weeks where our appointment isn't enough and I feel like I am going crazy, I have permission to initiate and she has agreed to humor me. :-) And of course she can always do the same. (Which still happens ... occasionally!)

Of course sex is just one component of a great relationship. I also have to love her in every other way possible: serve her and seek to meet whatever needs I can; talk with her; understand her; etc. And she loves and respects me (in other ways than just sexually) as God has called her to do.

Next year is our 35th anniversary ... and it just keeps getting better!

 Thanks again for the creative blog. We men are thick and need such wisdom!

TheGenerousHusband moderator

@JR Bob  Because "good Christian women" don't talk about sex, they do not have the opportunity to hear that other women are just as they are. 

Have you told your wife the sexual problem is so bad you have contemplated divorce, and you want the two of you to get help? I'm sure you have told her often it is a problem, but have you made it clear just how bad it is?


@JR Bob  - If I may be so bold, I'd like to counsel you against ever mentioning (or even thinking) the word "divorce." That's become too easy to do in our culture. However, when you married your wife I'm willing to bet you vowed something along the lines of "for better or for worse ... 'til death do us part." Your commitment of love to your wife should be considered a 100%, all-or-nothing, ironclad commitment. (And, by the way, if you adopt this attitude of commitment, this will also help your wife through her struggles.)

I understand (from personal experience) how frustrating it is not to have our sexual needs met. But as with any other needs, our first responsibility is to take this frustration to the God who created you (and your wife). You can work on it, but you need his help and perspective. He alone can truly provide the answer to getting all your needs met in the right way and time.

I would also find one or two other men, wise friends, who you can share your frustrations with honestly, and who can be depended upon to give you wise counsel (and keep confidence). Please don't think you're going through something that others haven't gone through before!

Hang in there!

TheGenerousHusband moderator

@darklordlarry Sounds like you have found a very good solution. Amazing what a couple can accomplish when they communicate!


JR Bob
JR Bob

@TheGenerousHusband @JR Bob  That's a really good point, the short answer is no, I haven't.  I've tried so many times to try to talk about it, but she absolutely hates talking about it.   When we talk, she might say some kind of vaguely positive things, but in the end she blows it off.  If i felt like i was being heard, that would go a long way.  Might try some type of marriage counseling though I've heard nightmares about it.

TheGenerousHusband moderator

@JR Bob @TheGenerousHusband  I do understand - we don't want to push too much, and we end up not making the point as strongly as we should. Often by the time we make the point correctly our spouse has stopped listening.

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