How are you doing with your “needs” list? Have you started it yet? If not, why not take a moment right now and create a document in your computer that will help you keep track of the needs you have for a dynamic relationship?
As we continue our discussion about needs that husbands and wives have in a relationship, the time has come for a discussion about sex and its companion, attentiveness. Sex and attentiveness go together like peanut butter and jelly, like Mickey Mouse and Minnie, like the Giants and Super Bowl winners (my sympathies to all you Patriots fans).
Let’s talk about sex first. In our experience, Cindy and I have found that couples often don’t talk much about their sexual relationship. And, if you are like many couples, you may not be aware that, according to a 1994 University of Chicago study with over 3,000 married participants:
** The average for frequency of sex for married couples is amazingly consistent across racial, religious, and educational groups. While frequency is affected by the age level of the participants, the average frequency range for number of sexual encounters per month runs from four to eight (or 1 to 2 per week).
** The data also indicates that 88 percent of married people receive great physical pleasure from their sexual relationship, and 85 percent reported the same positive experience in the emotional area. Who said marital sex is bland?
In working with the many couples we have seen over the years, the husband usually has a higher sex drive than the wife. While there is a debate as to why this is, Cindy and I believe there is a physiological component to it. The male anatomy is structured such that it produces semen that collects in the male’s body. For many males, at a certain point, they begin to have an urge to release the semen through sexual intercourse. This, then, is one reason why there is such a “normal” sexual encounter rate among married people that runs from Alaska to Australia (about 1 – 2 times per week). While debate rages as to how often a male “needs” to have sex, the reality is that something physiologically is driving that desire.
A second reason for the male’s desire for sex stems from a connection that is made in many husbands between sex and respect. While I believe that respect is what most husbands really want, husbands tend to believe that sex equals respect. As a result, many husbands tend to experience sex as the fulfillment of their need for respect. Thus, the almost insane focus on sex for many husbands (because they feel, erroneously at times, that having sex with their wives means their wives respect them).
Now, many wives don’t get it. They don’t understand that their husbands need sex like a person needs food, water or oxygen. Whether because of their physiological need or their respect need (or whatever else is going on), most husbands need sex on a consistent basis to have a mountaintop marriage. The good news is that, in my experience, that is about all they need (when we have asked husbands for their top 5 needs, rarely do they get beyond 2 or 3, and sex is most often at the top).
However, husbands would have a greater frequency of sex with their wives if they took action to meet the “attentiveness” needs of their wives. For most couples in dating, it was the guy (at least in my generation) who showered his girl with time and energy and gifts. It was the guy with flowers and candy and dinners and shows, etc. And, the woman who was receiving all of this said, “Wow — this guy really cares for me and I think he will be attentive to my needs the rest of my life — so, I will marry him”.
So, they get married with the expectation that the husband will be attentive to his wife’s needs as they go through the stages of life. The wife has a need, usually, for her husband to be attentive and help around the house, to be involved in the lives of the kids, to take her out on a date every now and then, to say nice things about her, to bring her fun treats, etc. Fundamentally, like a husband has a need to feel respected, the wife has a need to feel loved, cared for, and cherished.
Unfortunately, after the wedding, the husband often reduces his time devoted to making his wife feel cherished. He focuses on new conquests, new hobbies, new dreams (though, what could be better than focusing on a mountaintop marriage?)
And, this is why I say that sex and attentiveness go together. What often happens in our busy lives is that the husband stops focusing on attentiveness and the wife stops feeling the desire to have sex. A wife’s desire for sex is often connected to the positive emotional feelings she has toward a husband who is being attentive to her needs. If a husband isn’t being attentive to her needs, the wife isn’t feeling desirous for sex.
If this is true (and I think it is), then your growth assignment this week is to do the following: Husbands, if you have a desire for more sex, put it on your list. And, think about the fact this week that how you treat your wife will go a long way to determining how she feels about wanting to have sex with you.
Wives, this week, I want you to think about your attentiveness needs and what that looks like for you. How can your husband make you feel like you are cherished, loved, and cared for? And, along the way, remind yourself that your husband needs sex like you need air. You might want to stop breathing for a minute or so and see how that feels.
With all that has been said, it is the reason that I say that attentiveness and sex go together — kind of like “the birds and the bees”.
Well, what do you think? For most of you, you have emails that don’t reveal your name (and, if you don’t, get one!). Then you can feedback without letting others know who you are.
Look for my next blog on Thursday as we contine this discussion on sex and attentiveness.
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