Q. Whenever we make love, my wife seems to enjoy it as much as I do. But she never initiates. I've told her I'd like her to initiate every once in a while and she agrees, but then she doesn't follow through. What gives?
A. This is a common complaint for couples. The average man thinks about sex several times a day. These frequent sexual thoughts prompt you to pursue sex with your wife. That's how God made men. Whether it's a sports car or practical sedan, the vehicle for your sex life is typically in drive. Your wife, on the other hand, isn't wired the same way. Most women are in neutral. They aren't opposed to sex (the parking brake isn't on nor are they in reverse); they just need the right kind of stimulation to get them moving.
Once you initiate sex and she's receptive, both of you move forward. Frequently, about 10 minutes into sex play a woman begins to be aroused, is enjoying herself (and you), and is aware of her desire for sex. So she's being honest when she expresses her enjoyment and desire to please you by saying she'd like to initiate. But then she'll probably go the next several days and not even think about sex again. She doesn't think about it until you initiate or bring up the subject. While she might agree that she "should" initiate or is willing to initiate sex occasionally, it's difficult to get her in the mood when she isn't thinking sexual thoughts.
Make sure you aren't missing her cues. Many couples disagree on how to initiate or what actually constitutes an initiation, so they miss each other's "signals." Women typically initiate sex in more subtle forms. Your wife's initiation might be as subtle as taking a shower after work. Make sure you talk about how she prefers to let you know she's in the mood.
Could he take a shower?
Q. Before my husband and I have sex, I shave my legs, brush my teeth, and rinse with mouthwash. He doesn't do anything! So his breath is terrible, he needs a shower, and his fingernails are dirty. It's gross! How can I get him to take care of himself so we both enjoy making love?
A. When 2,000 Christian women were asked what they liked least about sex, the fifth most common answer was, "How my husband smells." That sad reality means you're not alone.
Try clearly, calmly, and firmly expressing your desire: "I want to touch and make love to you, but when you don't shower, clean your fingernails, or brush your teeth, you send me a message that you don't care about me or want to please me. I know that's not your heart. I know you want our lovemaking to be wonderful and exciting. So from here on out, I'm going to wait for you to do those things so I won't associate pain (emotional, olfactory) with having sex with you, which would hamper my desire and possibly cause me to withdraw from sex."
Be seductive and playful: "Let's take a shower together," then make love afterward. You also could instigate sex play in the shower. Be creative. Keep steady pressure on the issue, and don't give up!
Michael Sytsma, Ph.D., is a minister and founder of Building Intimate Marriages (www.intimatemarriage.org). Debra Taylor, MFT, is co-author of Secrets of Eve (Thomas Nelson). Both are certified Christian sex therapists and co-founders of Sexual Wholeness, Inc. www.sexualwholeness.com
Copyright © 2008 by the author or Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership magazine. Click here for reprint information on Marriage Partnership.