Join us here on our blog as we talk about each of the top five sex needs for men and women over the next few months and challenge you to take some steps to a more fulfilling sex life in your marriage!
Let’s start our challenge by talking about the top sex need for both husbands and wives.
For women: Affirmation
During a recent conversation a friend told us, “Every once in a while I need to know that my husband recognizes and affirms what I do for him and our family. When I hear him say ‘Thank you’ or ‘You did a good job’ or ‘You are such a good mother,’ I feel closer to him and am much more open to his physical advances.”
Affirmation is essential to a successful sexual relationship. It is so important that 65% of the women we surveyed rated it as their number one sex need.
So what exactly is affirmation? Simply put, affirming your wife means building her self-esteem. It’s giving her genuine compliments, actively listening to what she says, giving her the opportunity to slow down from her busy pace of life, saying complimentary things about her in front of other people, and encouraging her when she’s discouraged. Affirmation is pointing out what she does right, overlooking her failures, and reminding her how much you appreciate what she does.
Affirmation is especially important during sex. Women need to hear how beautiful they are and how much they satisfy their husbands. The truth is, a majority of women struggle with body image. It doesn’t matter how old or how fit they are, they are always comparing themselves to other women or to themselves at their best form—which may have been when they were in high school.
What are some ways you can affirm your wife?
1. Be consistent. If you give affirmation only when your wife has done something right or performed well, you can actually cause more harm than good. Your wife will begin to feel as if your love is based on her performance. Instead, affirm her. Thank her for the things she does for you and the family. Welcome her advice and insight. Praise her attempts.
2. Make her feel beautiful. Airbrushed images, movie stars, and models suggest that only certain body types are beautiful. Your wife needs to hear you tell her that she’s beautiful. When a wife feels confident about her body, she is more willing and eager to pursue and enjoy sex. Appearance (weight, body size, breast size) is a sensitive issue for women; it can make or break a great sex life. Never tease your wife about her body.
Sheila told us, “I was shocked when my husband looked at me during a movie in the theater and whispered, ‘You really are beautiful.’” If you think those kinds of thoughts about your wife, say it!
One man called into our radio program and told us, “But I do think my wife is overweight and needs to lose some pounds. It’s not attractive to me at all. I struggle to become aroused.”
“That’s an issue you need to deal with too,” we challenged him. “Telling your wife that she needs to lose weight is the fastest way to make sure she doesn’t lose the weight, and it is sure to kill your sexual intimacy, which will then kill other parts of your relationship.”
If a wife knows or believes that her husband is not attracted to her—especially because of her insecurities about her body—she will disconnect from him. She will feel that his love for her is conditional. Part of a husband’s responsibility in loving his wife “as Christ loved the church” is to affirm and encourage her.
If becoming aroused is the issue, then make love to your wife with the lights off. Change body positions. If a husband wants to help her wife become more physically pleasing, then he can offer suggestions such as, “I’m in the mood to take a walk. Want to come with me? That way you can tell me about your day.” It’s connecting to her without criticizing her shape. Another option is to start affirming what is beautiful to you—her smile, her eyes, her breasts, her hands, her laugh, the way she wears her hair. Encourage your wife. Pray for her.
3. Verbally affirm her during sex. When a man talks to his wife during sex, he communicates to her that he is mentally present. The strongest way to make that connection is to describe what she means to you and how much you appreciate her. To affirm her appearance, tell her that you’re enjoying her body. Then describe her body in beautiful ways. (Check out how Solomon described his beloved in the Old Testament book Song of Songs.) Tell her how you love looking into her eyes, love the feel of her skin, her shape, and her scent. Tell her what she’s doing right! Get excited over her attempts to please you sexually. Remember, women are responders, so if you tell her that you’re “into it” by affirming her, she’ll be more into it too.
For men: Mutual Satisfaction
Yes, men need a physical release. In fact, they not only want it, but they actually do need it. Testosterone builds in their systems, and they need to release it. Yes, they do think about sex a lot, but God also designed them with a strong desire to need their wives to enjoy the experience just as much as they do.
More than 67% of the men who responded to our survey listed mutual satisfaction as their top sex need. They indicated that they believe a good sexual relationship is one in which both husband and wife experience satisfaction during lovemaking.
Men often find it difficult to express their needs and fears. Even though a husband's behavior may suggest that he feels sex is all about him, on the inside he desperately desires to satisfy his wife just as much as he wants to feel satisfaction. That's why a man feels threatened when he thinks his wife is dissatisfied with their sex life.
Sexual satisfaction is more than simply a physical release for a man. The purpose of mutually satisfying sex is not just orgasm but satisfaction through an emotional and spiritual connection. In his book Learning to Live with the Love of Your Life, e-Harmony founder Neil Clark Warren writes, "A satisfying sex life is not totally dependent on having orgasms. While only 29% of women reported always having orgasms during sex, compared to 75% of men, the percentage of women and men that find their sex life 'extremely' physically and emotionally satisfying is about the same – 40%."
A man feels like a man when he can please his wife. Gary has found in his counseling that nearly half of a man's self-image is locked up in his sexuality; in some men it may be closer to 90%! A man often thinks, Am I a good lover? Am I capable? Can I do it well? Thus any man who hears his wife say "I just don’t need sex" will hear an internal resounding no to those questions and will feel robbed of his self-esteem.
Wives, your husbands really want to give you pleasure. A friend of ours put it well: "All men like to think they are low-level superheroes. That doesn't stop when they walk into the bedroom." When a wife receives pleasure from her husband, he feels wanted. Their intimate sexual interludes affirm his masculinity. They say to him, "I like the things that make you a man."
What are some ways you can meet your husband’s need of mutual satisfaction?
1. Say yes as often as possible. The fastest connection charger is to say yes to sex. It may not be a great night or you may not feel like it, but there is no time like the present to work on meeting the need of mutual satisfaction, and if he’s asking you now—go for it. Of course there will be times it really is necessary to say no. But when it’s possible to say yes, do it!
2. Decide to enjoy sex. Sex actually starts in the mind. You can choose to enjoy sex, or you can choose not to enjoy sex. Your decision becomes a trajectory for your relationship—inside and outside the bedroom. In a majority of couples we talk to, we find that women really do enjoy sex when they start out by choosing to enjoy it.
3. Help your spouse know how to please you. If your husband does not know how to please you, teach him. Men are not mind-readers—especially in bed. The great myth is that men automatically know how to be great lovers. Where did this myth come from? Where do we think men learn these great secrets to passion? The junior high locker room? Not exactly the pinnacle of great knowledge. Your husband needs to know what gives you pleasure. When you are making love, place your hand over his and lead him. Whisper in his ear what you would really like him to do. There is nothing embarrassing or shameful about that kind of communication.
Take the 10% challenge.
How many times do you have sex with your spouse in a week? How about a month? Try increasing that amount by 10% this month. Remember that great sex often starts outside the bedroom by meeting one another’s needs in small ways. Husbands, affirm your wives, and wives, communicate with your husbands.
The challenge is on!