Lost in Translation

Are you and your husband speaking the same language when it comes to your sex life?

Sometimes Big Guy would say, “I want you to be more passionate. I want you to desire me.”

Huh? I can’t be something I’m not or make myself feel something I don’t.

I imagined how“passionate” would look; several images popped into my head. I pictured a woman who wanted sex all the time, just like my husband seemed to—and not only did she want it, she was aroused and ready to go at the very thought of sex. And she completely enjoyed sex, too. Unlike me, she had no stray thoughts pop into her head.

She was a tigress.

She most definitely was not me.

He wanted me to be something I was not, with a nature far different than my actual nature—kind of a female version of him.

Why can’t he accept me for who I am? I would wonder. Why does he want me to pretend I’m something I’m not? What’s wrong with the way I am?  Why can’t he love me anyway?

I thought my body was broken because it didn’t get aroused at the drop of a hat. I thought our marriage was fundamentally flawed because the sight of my husband didn’t “do it” for me, like the sight of me did for him.

His desire for me to be different was a source of hurt for me. I felt unloved and unaccepted as I was.

Becoming Passionate

When I began to change my approach to sexual intimacy, the first thing I accomplished was to become more engaged during sex. I figured this would definitely count as “passionate.”

When a stray thought popped into my head, I would push it away. I made myself relax. I focused on being content with how close I felt to my husband. I began to relax and enjoy our time having sex.

Eventually that enjoyment translated into thinking about sex when I was away from the bedroom. I didn’t crave the sexual release, and I certainly wasn’t walking around in a state of arousal—but I was definitely feeling more passionate in terms of wanting to have sex and looking forward to it.

Even when I’m “meh” about the prospect of an orgasm, I often crave the physical connection because of the emotional connection that will result.

I initiate a lot of the sexual teasing in our marriage. Surely, this is part of passionately desiring my husband, I would think.

A Matter of Desire

Over the past few years, I’ve been intentional about approaching sex enthusiastically. “Do you feel loved?” I have often asked Big Guy. “Yes, I do.”

Recently I was part of an online discussion that had veered into wives showing desire and passion for their husbands. The discussion prompted me to ask my husband if he felt wanted by me; he said he did.

The next day, I asked him again, saying, “Do you feel desired by me?” He hesitated, and then he said no.

Huh??!!! After all the changes I’ve made and all the sexual teasing I initiate . . . no?

He explained that he equates desire with a physical need for sex and that he simply doesn’t see that from me much–although he knows I love him and enjoy sex with him. Sigh.

I have come to feel more passionate. I desire my husband. I think sexually, and I express my sexual interest in him often.

Yet . . . he was not seeing this at all.

Translation, Please

Once again, I was feeling like I was being asked to be something I’m not—but then I realized that to an extent, it is a matter of translation.

I read my husband a list of suggestions from other men about what speaks desire and passion to them. He really liked those ideas, which basically were examples of ways to initiate sex assertively enough to communicate, “I need you now.”

It wasn’t quite what I’d pictured in the past, of a woman who wanted sex all the time and who was constantly aroused. Instead, the picture was of a woman who experiences moments of needing—urgently—to sexually connect with her husband.

She is a tigress—just not all the time. I can work with that.

I cannot pretend to be what I am not. I can, however, translate what I am feeling emotionally into a sexual expression that will speak to my husband. I can communicate what I am feeling honestly, and in a way that speaks desire and passion to my husband.

  • I may not be aroused at the sight of my husband—but I can train my mind to let the sight of him remind me how much I enjoy sexually connecting with him.
  • I can truthfully tell him I want him—even though my body may not yet be aroused.
  • Even without the urgency of needing a physical release, I can communicate a need to feel one with him.
  • I can honestly specify an activity that I want him to do to a particular part of my body, even if I will need his help getting me to a point where I’m ready for that.
  • I can express my desire for sexual connection in a way that communicates urgency.

All these things are true. They do not require me to be something I am not, or to pretend something that I don’t feel.

Now that I know what his need is and that I can do so in a way that is authentic, I will make some changes. I told him that I will try to integrate some of those ideas into my interactions with him.

To See and to Accept

Expressing my desire for Big Guy in a way that he perceives as passionate is something I can do for him.

However, our sex life is not just about him. Our conversation included changes I will try to make, but it also included something for him to work on.

I pointed out the many things I do to express my desire for him—all of which he has observed and appreciated. I said, “Every time I’ve done one of those things, I have been expressing my desire for you. You’ve missed seeing a lot of what I’ve communicated over the years. Maybe you could work on seeing these things as I intended them.”

Intimacy in marriage includes knowing and accepting each other. My husband needs to accept that my sexuality is different from his, and he needs to accept that what I will give him in the form of my expression is the best way I can translate my feelings into his being desired.

At the same time, I need to accept that my husband needs to feel sexually desirable to me.

We have a sex-positive marriage, yet this is an area where we were completely missing each other. Now that we know what we’ve been missing, we can both move in the right direction—toward each other.

Image courtesy of anankkml at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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12 Comments on “Lost in Translation”

  1. I so appreciate this post!!!

    For years I’ve been working on discovering and uncovering my sexuality. For years I’ve been extinguishing all the negative messages and beliefs about sex that have been drilled into my being over my life time. It hasn’t been easy.

    Through my journey, I have visited many sex positive blogs and one theme keeps popping up that seems to be a huge block for me and you’ve hit it here.

    I hear men commenting all the time on how they wish their partners were more passionate. How they long for their partners to desire them physically. That when their wife wants them sexually they feel admired and respected. They feel aroused if their wife would desire sex for sex’s sake. One guy was even expressing how women should show their man that they needed sex right now by rubbing her hands all over her body and giving him that “come get me” look. Where do these ideas come from? Porn star image?

    My husband has expressed similar desires. This is where I’ve put my foot down. I have decided it’s time for my husband to start to question some of his desires and social beliefs to see if it’s fair to project them on me.
    Men are just as influenced (perhaps more) by our cultural messages as women are.

    Perhaps that ‘need to be urgently needed sexually’ comes from pornographic acting. Perhaps it’s that tingle that rears it’s head when that sultry buxom dark haired sex kitten shows up in the lower right hand corner of the computer screen with that ‘come hither’ look in her eyes expressing how ‘she wants to teach you Spanish’.

    These messages are everywhere and I can tell you that men don’t miss them. But, are they real? Is it fair to expect this from your wife? Do real women act and feel this way? Is it true your wife doesn’t respect, admire, or love you if she isn’t jumping your bones daily? Is this really a need or just a fantasy? To me, they are about as real as me desiring that husband could passionately love me without needing sexual contact. Time for husbands to take on some of the responsibility for a healthy marital sex life.

    “Intimacy in marriage includes knowing and accepting each other. My husband needs to accept that my sexuality is different from his, and he needs to accept that what I will give him in the form of my expression is the best way I can translate my feeling into his being desired” Just beautiful!!!!!!!!

    Thank you so much Chris!

    I’ve been working so hard just to become all that I can be sexually. I don’t have it in me to work on becoming something I biologically can’t be.

    1. I’ve thought about this a lot, and while I used to think the men get their ideas from porn, I no longer do. I think it’s probably more that porn get its ideas from knowing what men like.

      Take a look at Proverbs 7. The woman is described as being prepared for sex (her clothing, her bed, etc.). She takes initiative. She invites him to join her in bed for the entire night. And the young guy falls for it–because she has tapped into a man’s desire for a passionate woman. (See Kevin A. Thompson’s post that talks about that a bit.)

      Rather than put your foot down, consider that perhaps your husband’s desire is one placed there by God–to draw the two of you closer to each other. I think it is a real need–although it likely is a need that is nurtured by the messages in society.

      The point of this post is just as much that wives need to work to meet their husbands’ needs as that husbands need to work at taking some of that responsibility.

      Before dismissing the idea, consider this: what if your husband’s desires are real, legitimate, and part of God’s holy design. How would that affect your response to his desire?

      Be all that you can be sexually–and then keep on growing. You should not be expected to feign something that you biologically cannot be, but you can express what you are and feel in ways that meet your husband’s needs.

      1. Chris, Thank you.

        I’ve have been thinking about your response all night.
        I’ve come to the conclusion that the post, somehow, triggered that old “sex is for men” mentality in me that I thought I had overcome. It made me feel like his sexuality is the only one that counts.

        Of course a man’s need to feel physically desired makes him feel loved. That’s how they express their love towards their wife…. physically. How could they know any different? How can a man feel a woman’s love if she can’t express it to him in his language?

        I have worked so hard on trying to be the sexual partner my husband needs.
        It seems that whenever I feel I’ve gotten there, I still haven’t accomplished meeting all of his sexual needs. At times I feel like I will never be enough.

        I am going to take a hiatus from growing right now. I have tapped myself out trying to be the perfect sexual partner and always coming up short.

        I am going to funnel my energies back into hospice for a while. At least there I am appreciated for the love I bring to the equation. Just my presences often brings comfort. At least there, my being who I am, the way I am, the way I express my love and caring is actually felt, heard, and appreciated. That is what fills my cup and I think that is what I need…to fill my cup before I have the renewed energy to continue to transform myself into someone that can express my love in a language that is still foreign to me. Perhaps one day I’ll get it right.

        Thank you again.

        1. I’m sorry the post triggered your “sex is for men” thoughts. I’ll have a post next week about how this works when the needs and desires are ours, not our husband’s.

          Never stop growing, but do stop aiming for perfection. There is no such thing. So many of us have dealt with the “I won’t ever be enough” issue. Both spouses should work on understanding and accepting each other.

        2. Think of it this way: there is always this pendulum. The reaction to sexual promiscuity is sexual repression, and vice versa. We are a reactive people of extremes.

          Take the passage in Proverbs Chris used above. It says how the woman prepared for sex and flirted to lure the man in, showing intent and presenting desire. It says NOTHING of her being desirous sexually. In fact, she was a whore and was probably more desirous of money, power, influence, etc and exploited the inner desire of man to get what she wanted.

          Now, that example is rather hard to swallow because of the deep sin within it. But it shows how we assume that because she put forth effort, she is already feeling amorous.

          Everything today is amplified. Comics and media take the gentle curves of womanhood and exaggerate them. If you are unfortunate enough to come across gay porn or erotic, the male genitalia are often depicted as very large while the male figure is an impossible physique. Women in porn behave, moan, flirt, and talk in amped-up ways. Men last a long time, thrust hard, strut, and peacock themselves in amped-up ways. It takes what is natural and pumps it full of figurative amphetamines to not just tap those natural desires, but kidnap them!

          Romance movies and novels do much of the same. I used to be so hurt when hubby would leave me alone when I was upset. I so wanted him to come find me and comfort me and love on me like the lovers in the books and movies do. I thought he didn’t love me or care about me. He thought it was more loving and respectful to give me space, and that I am grown up enough to not be coddled.

          Unfortunately, the pendulum swings has affected both men and women. We recognize the amped up alter universe of porn and romance novels and react by shutting that side of each other down. Women shut down sexually, men romantically. A wife puts little to no effort into their sexual relationship. A husbsbd thinks buying flowers is too old-fashioned, ridiculous, and a waste of money.

          My own husband finds romance stupid and so I am romantically starved. No flowers, no letters, no sweet words, no foot rubs, no hand in hand walks, no lingering conversations about our thoughts and dreams, no dates. Should I accept him as that’s the way he is and endure romantic starvation? Or should he put in some effort outside of his comfort zone?

          My desire for romance isn’t fueled by novels and movies. In fact, I don’t like romance novels and rarely ever watch movies. It is fueled by God, by my own nature. Sure, the world has amped it up with romance novels and movies, but the foundation is real. Do I expect my husband to be Don Juan or Casenova? No way!! I wouldn’t want him to be!! But I would like him to explore his romantic side more.

          It’s the same with many men and sex. Does hubby want you to be the latest moaning, lascivious porn star? No!! But I bet he wants you to explore your sexual side more.

          And if my husband doesn’t have a romantic side and you don’t have a sexual side that doesn’t mean you can’t. If a hungry, diseased whore can put together a trap for men in order to feed her drug addiction, how much MORE so can a loving, Godly wife put together a haven for her husband to feed their love and marriage?

          If the enemy can work something God-created for evil, how much MORE so can we work something God-created for its intended purpose and GOOD.

          It isn’t just “sex for the husband.” It is an act of worship to God. It is for you, for your kids (because it builds a better marriage), and for your marriage. Even when I am mad at hubby I have sex with him, and enjoy it, because it is an act of love, healing, cement.

          I think we humans forget that….and many wives seek to avoid it, and many husbands seek it out sinfully through porn….again going to the two extremes.

          Wide is the path that leads to destruction….as wide as a pendulum swings.

          Seek God’s truth, God’s reality about sex in marriage.

  2. Nice explanation of your progression. Don’t forget the relationship of Christ and the church. Martha thought it was serving Him. He corrected her and said, no, it was like Mary —desiring His very being. We are to stop being ourselves and act out His word, with the heart condition as the ‘heart’ of it.

  3. libl,

    Yes, the pendulum swings, and for me, I believe that men have swallowed the porn rendition of female sexuality hook, line, and sinker primarily because it plays on their sexual foundation of masculinity and ego.

    My “put my foot down” attitude may very well be my over reaction to the pendulum swinging too far in my mind.

    I just want my husband and, men in general, to start to question these inner desires. Are their beliefs true or have they been formed from seeing and hearing and absorbing the exaggerated examples of how porn and movies portray female sexuality? I think men truly want to believe that women really are sexually ravenous down deep inside. I think men believe that society and the church have succeeded in squelching these true inner sexual vixens, thus making married sex more difficult for them.

    I see comments all the time like:

    I want my wife to be a lady on the street and a freak in the bed.
    I want my wife to desire sex for sex’s sake.
    I want my wife to be sexually ravenous and want me to satisfy her every sexual need.
    The most alpha men have women panting after them like dogs in heat.
    I want my wife to urgently desire me sexually.
    And I have no doubt these men truly feel this way, but I want them to ask themselves why.
    I want them to ask themselves if it’s fair to project this desire on their wife who may very well be trying as hard as she can just figure out what sex means to her.

    Females exploring their own sexuality and their shared sexuality with their husbands is one thing and should be encouraged. But, if men truly do have these exaggerated secret desires for their wife’s sexuality, if they truly believe that one day she will wake up and become some hot horny sexually insatiable tiger, that one day they will find just the right button to push to turn their wife into a sex hungry kitten, they will always end up disappointed and the wife will always feel she is never enough.

    I think porn and the media are making it very hard for women to explore their own sexuality because it is causing men to always expect something else.
    What a way to make a woman feel inadequate.
    What a way to make a woman want to give up.

    Reality check please!

    I promise to re-evaluate my desire for my husband to put on his suit of shining armor, jump on his big white steed, and carry me off into the sunset. Maybe I’m just expecting a little too much from a man afraid of horses.

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