Husbands of gate-keeping and refusing wives often say that even more than sex, their desire is to be desired. My husband says there’s nothing that makes him feel more like a man than being wanted by his woman. It’s a caveman thing, I’m told.

Throughout my years of restricting sex, one of the common refrains I heard was that he wanted me to initiate sex sometimes. My usual response was along these lines:

Seriously? It’s bad enough that I have to have sex, but now I have to be the one to ask for it? That makes no sense. If you want sex, you initiate.

Or, Fine. I’ll initiate sex when I want it—which is, like, almost never.

I couldn’t believe the man. He was the one who wanted sex and thought we needed to do it more. I was perfectly content with our sex life. And what was the point of me initiating anyway? He would know that I didn’t mean it, right? How would that make him feel wanted?

Now, I cringe reading my own words, even though there is still part of me that can still see my old logic in them. My husband opened his heart to me. He made himself vulnerable to me. At some level, I think I recognized that he was being authentic and vulnerable with me, and I reacted against that as well. How dare he be real with me? That makes me look bad because I’m won’t do the same thing. So my reaction was to not provide him with what he had just told me he desired. It was to taunt him with how he wouldn’t know it was real desire if I did initiate.

On very rare occasions, I would initiate—by saying something like, “So, I suppose you’re going to want sex tonight? Fine. Let’s go get it over with.”

My heart was horrid.

After I began to open my heart and body to my husband, I had a lot to learn. During the early months of intentionally making some changes, I focused first on being an active participant when we were having sex; then, I worked on not saying “no.” My next big thing was to try to initiate sometimes. I didn’t understand why it mattered to my husband who started a sexual encounter. In my effort to try to do things differently, I decided to try to initiate just to be able to check it off the list of all the effort I was making. (Confession: I had a mental checklist in my head, and I was pretty sure that one day, I’d be able to pull it out, show him all the things I’d done that he’d asked, and then make my own demands. My transformation began for selfish reasons, and it took time and a lot of work to control that selfishness.)

It couldn’t be too hard, right? I remembered initiating during our early years, so I’d done it before. And by now, I was actually starting to enjoy being more sexually active. I was starting to feel more content in our marriage outside the bedroom and was thinking that maybe things could really get better. Initiation? No problem!

You know the phrase, “Use it or lose it”? Yeah, that’s what had happened. I had absolutely no idea what to do.

I’d spent almost twenty years learning how to creatively say “no,” “not now,” and “fine” (usually said with a martyr-like sigh). I’d never learned how to say, “Ya wanna?”

It took me a long time to work my way up to it. I needed to learn to express willingness to accommodate his sexual interest. Then I needed to learn how to express my own interest (and by then, I had some!). Each of these steps took several months. I needed to try things, get comfortable, say things in the dark so he couldn’t watch me say the words, try new phrases, and touch him in new ways. Bit by bit, I got more comfortable with this.

One of the things we need to remember while we are trying to break out of hurtful sexual patterns is that learning is a process. We have to unlearn bad habits and then learn new and good ones. I knew that what my husband really wanted was for me to say, “I want you.” So many times, I would think about how I just wasn’t able to do that. I wanted to give up and stop trying—but I pushed myself. Each small thing I tried, I repeated until it became comfortable and felt natural. And then I tried one small step further. And each small step became a bit easier to take.

Slowly, as I was opening my heart to my husband and finding my courage, I realized that my desire for him was genuinely increasing. I began to really want him, for my own sexual sake and not just for his. So one day, I initiated because I had a hunger for my man.

After years and years of sexual restriction, my husband finally experienced his desire. I will never forget the look in his eyes the first time I said, “I want you. Now.” And really, really meant it.

My caveman was very, very happy.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


17 Thoughts on ““I Want You”

  1. parched on June 18, 2013 at 10:01 pm said:

    Thank you for writing. I cherish the hope that one day my beautiful bride will open up as you have.

  2. I want my husband ALL the time and honestly have to say I do not understand a woman NOT wanting her husband or desiring to make love. Well, I kind of can…I lived in a 20 year abusive marriage and hated sex with my ex.
    I’ve now been remarried for 1 1/2 years to the most caring, loving, and unselfish man, yet his desire for sex is much less than mine. We are a little older, 48 and 58, and he does deal with ED because of blood pressure meds. When we make love it’s amazing and he always, always wants to pleasure me first. I know he loves being sexually intimate with me, but his work hours make it very hard to have any time during the week.
    I just want him to tell me that he wants me, even if he is too tired. I just need to know that he truly desires me and lately I just feel such a sexual drought and a discontentment in our marriage.

    I love your blog and reading your heartfelt words. I cannot necessarily relate to all that you write, but your posts have certainly been food for thought.


    • I am the same age as you, and due to some of my husband’s medical issues, we’ve had similar drought and discontentment issues at times. It is hard, and I’ve thrown myself a few pity parties. Even if my husband doesn’t want me right now, I need to know that he wants me. Hang in there.

  3. hope on June 19, 2013 at 8:15 am said:

    I was given your link from marriage missions website. Prior to coming here, I kind of knew why I could not be intimate with my husband but NEVER took the time to try and change anything about myself.

    Now, we are six weeks into our marriage crashing. Porn has been an issue for all of our marriage, all 16 yrs. 10 yrs ago I had an emotional affair just bc I wanted to be lusted. I never gave him all the details ab that until recently. But I never had sex or even came close to having sex with the other man. But my head was in that fantasy world for a few months.

    What has recently come to light on his end after I stumbled onto to several things and then searching more is this, he has been contacting other women for over a year. I couldn’t even tell you how many. Well over 100. That’s a hard pill to swallow. There are more details but I won’t get into it.

    What I’ve experienced lately is nothing short of an extreme emotional roller coaster. When I’m able to be with him and not be lost in despair, I’m able to finally be intimate and enjoy our time together. I don’t know how that is even possible but my emotions and love for him is so strong during that time. I love him very much.

    The rest of the time I feel our whole life together has been filled with some form of infidelty. Every phone call feels like a lie. That’s a lot of lies. My marriage feels like a cruel joke. Not even a marriage at all really. I honestly don’t see any happiness in my future with him. I expect at the bare minimum porn will raise its ugly head again and who even knows what turn it could next time. I feel he is half heartedly remorseful. He has a way of simplifying things in his head, that are clearly black and white to me.

    I feel lost, broken, alone, emotionally numb to things that have always brought me happiness. I feel so separated from Jesus and I want so badly to feel him.

    Anyway, thanks for helping me to atleast see a portion of why I withheld intimatacy from my husband over all the yrs. It didn’t even have anything to do with him. More my life experiences and then crashing into his porn.

    I can’t help but wonder if I had realized more ab myself earlier and been able to be intimate with him, if things would be different. I also am too scared to even think ab devoting more time to find out if it could change the future.

  4. Hope, I believe it’s never too late to work on yourself. My understanding is that while porn often seems to be a problem, it’s more likely to be a symptom of a deeper problem and an emptiness in your husband. He has been seeking fulfillment and intimacy, just as you are wanting now. Are you both willing to do some work on yourselves individually? Have you talked with a pastor or a counselor yet to talk about how your marriage can move forward in healing?

    • hope on June 19, 2013 at 9:43 am said:

      Yes to both your questions. I can’t seem to find anything to hold onto. Other than the stupid saying, time heals all wounds.

      • Time heals wounds when we do the work. Keep at it. Work on your relationship with God.

        • Hope,
          I would also suggest praying with your husband. There is no better way to connect and bring healing to both of you and your marriage. I am praying for you.

        • Martha on June 20, 2013 at 9:46 am said:

          Hope…I am walking this path with my husband too, although we are ahead of you in the process of recovery. My husband was also into porn and is now going to a men’s 12 step program/Bible study and I am in a women’s group. The porn was an issue for him since he was a teen, and he brought that to our marriage. His lusting for porn, and the immediate gratification it provided made it impossible for me to compete. It is NOT about you! It is about the feel good chemicals that porn so easily releases.
          Please seek out some books/ websites/ counselling. I recommend
          “An Affair of the Mind” and Every Man’s Battle” as a good starting place to help you understand the pit your husband is in. You marriage can recover, if you are booth committed to do the work. I too have hope. Praying for you!

    • parched on June 20, 2013 at 9:19 am said:

      FW, I think you’ve shown more wisdom than most I’ve heard on this subject:

      “My understanding is that while porn often seems to be a problem, it’s more likely to be a symptom of a deeper problem and an emptiness in your husband.”

      When a man desires his wife over anyone, anything else (including porn) but can’t get her to respond, is porn substantially different than her insatiable desire for romantic movies?
      I am NOT saying there is no harm in porn! I think its overstated at the same time as we ignore similar behavior more characteristic of women.

      • I don’t think the harm in porn is overstated at all. The more I read about the effects of porn on the brain and how it affects a person’s ability to sexually respond in a healthy way to a spouse, the more I see its danger. I used to read sexually charged romance novels a LOT, and I know that affected my marriage in terms of my emotional expectations of my husband. We shouldn’t ignore that behavior any more than we should ignore porn.

  5. Great post. There is nothing quite like a hearing your wife say words like that an to really mean it. Wife’s really do make their man feel good when want us. There is nothing sexier being with a woman who wants you as much as you want them!

  6. A Happy Hubby on June 19, 2013 at 5:25 pm said:

    Wow! Your post are great every time you do one of them. You really hit a nerve that is real. I love the song from Cheap Trick, “i want you to want me” but I can’t listen to it or I start to cry feeling that my wife does not want me.

  7. Pingback: Dare 38: The Dare That I Aced | The Forgiven Wife

  8. It has been at least 29 years since my wife last said she wanted me. 🙁

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