My husband said I expect too much of him when I want him to be emotionally intimate with me during sex. He says it is just physical for men that is how they are made. Men are visually stimulated and physically driven and women are stimulated by emotions and touch. I want a deeper connection with him and don’t know how to help him discover that part of him that I know is there. He is Catholic and we recently had our wedding blessed after 6 years of marriage. We decided to start using NFP and following Catholic guidelines for sex but he is resisting it in practice. I think the Catholic view of sex is right on target and is very conducive to true godly intimacy within our marriage. How do I help him participate in intimacy?
What do you mean by “emotionally intimate”?
Welcome to the forums.
I only have about 4 years of experience as a married lady, so keep that in mind. I also don’t have a degree in psychology, so here goes…
Have you made specific requests, and communicated what you enjoy, during the act itself (or afterward)? For example, if he were to say, “I love you,” during the marital embrace, would you immediately say how you love to hear that? This may be too much information , but my husband and I talk a lot during sex, to let each other know what we like (physically and emotionally).
My advice may be too simple, but I think you’ll get plenty of posts wiser than my own, with more ideas.
Honestly: He does NOT know what you mean, so help him so he can’t claim ignornace (O, the Battle Cry of married men “I DIDN"T KNOW!” )
After 18 yrs and my share of “drive by shootings” in the middle of the night, I have an inkling I know you mean.
You ought to sit down and think through this though: what does “deeper connection” mean to you??? You don’t have to say it here—tell *him some specifics. For eg., deeper connection might mean I want my husband to LOOK at me in the eyes and touch my face, but to you *it means something else. It might mean time taken too? It might mean making a special date?
God Bless YOu and your husband
But you need to be specific, so that he can know how to make you happy:)
Sounds like you need to go to Retrouvaille. It is a program that teaches married couples how to communicate, and it sounds like that is your major problem–lack of communicaiton. Please check it out, it has saved a lot of marriages, mine included. Link is in my sig.
I hate how some men state their own limitations and say it’s true of ALL men. Really, I should make up a museum display of my husband to prove that there is at least one man capable of all these things so many guys claim that men just cannot do. (More like WILL not…)
That said, I think your DH probably has no idea what you want. Men don’t usually use the emotionally charged language we ladies are so fluent in. He might be able to relate and give you what you want if you stated it differently, but if you said it to him the way you said it here, I bet he’s totally confused. That can feel threatening to a guy, and that can cause him to just shut down. He probably doesn’t mean to sound insensitive, but that’s how it comes out. Try to let that roll off your back and get to the core of what’s needed, so you two can work this out constructively without it becoming a fight.
Men are very concrete. Tell him what you want him to do… NOT during lovemaking, but at some neutral time when you can address the topic in a non-threatening way. Things like, “sex would feel more like LOVEmaking to me if you .” Examples: touch my face, kiss me on the lips, whisper loving things to me, etc.
I know for my DH, sex is very much connected to the emotional and is NOT just physical. He doesn’t talk about it if he doesn’t have to, but I know it based on his life experiences that he shared with me and just from our relationship over the past 14 1/2 years. (Whoa, did I just really type that? It doesn’t feel that long!) That’s probably true for most men, even though some may honestly not realize how much, while others realize it at some level and just don’t acknowledge it. I’m fairly sure sex IS related to love for your DH, too, even if he doesn’t want, or know how, to put it into words.
By emotional intimacy. I mean that he wants to make love to me, the whole person body and soul. Not just my physical parts. It is the intention behind his attraction to me. He has a great body but that is not why I want to be intimate with him. It is because I truly love who he is and I want to be closer to him in every way possible. I know he loves who I am but for him it is a contradictory feeling because he associates sex with taking pleasure from someone he is physically attracted to and that is it. He says he does not like objectifying me like that so he is held back from enjoying sex fully. He also stresses the importance of working out which I do and enjoy doing. But I worry about when I get pregnant and older if he will still be attracted to me if we don’t have a deeper connection in the bedroom.
I can relate to you here, with the post-pregnancy body worry. Before babies, my husband would always compliment me on my figure, so much so that I got a little nervous when my figure changed after my first pregnancy.
I actually confided in him last night about it – About how I was a little nervous to “lose my figure,” but he assured me that the pregnant figure is just as alluring, in fact more so, than the non-pregnant figure. He said that a lot of guys really like seeing their wives pregnant; there’s just something about that belly, and knowing your baby is inside her. And he really likes the more permanent changes (like bust size) that pregnancy did to my body. You never know, your hubby could be the same way!
Your husband loves you, and I’m sure he’ll love you (and be physically attracted to you) throughout pregnancy and beyond. Many husbands have walked the same road in the past, despite changes in their wives’ waistlines and hair color.
Have you shared your fears with him? Do you two talk a lot? It might help you to hear it straight from him, you know? Also, the longer I’m married, the closer and more bonded I feel with my husband. Have you been married very long? I would say that I feel 10 times closer to him now than when we married 4 years ago (and I thought we were close then).
Like Teak said below, Retrouvaille can help you two communicate better. I’ve never been to a Retrouvaille retreat, but I’ve heard only good things about it.
Okay, the red part above is, I think, the most important part of your post. Your husband has been very well-educated in the secular attitude about sex. You both are learning a new paradigm, and it takes effort and time. The good news is, your husband feels the disconnect, so hopefully, he will be willing to work on it. Basically, he needs to allow himself to open up to the feelings that actually ARE behind his attraction to you, and not let the secular objectification of you he has learned get in the way of that. Also, if he focuses more on pleasuring you, and getting satisfaction from that, he will feel less like he is using you. Trust me, guys are so much easier to “get there” so he will not miss out on his own pleasure. But if it becomes less of a focus for him, if he practices sexuality as a service instead of just a function, he will get more in touch with the sacramental side of marital sex. I second the recommendation of Christopher West’s work. Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is a beautiful statement of how we as Catholics should regard the gift of our bodies and how they should be used, and Mr. West helps make it easy for laypeople to understand it.
The blue part above shows the consequences of the secular attitude about sex. Even married women now have to worry about keeping to a shallow culture’s definition of attractive and beautiful, and fear they will be abandoned if they do not. Even women in happy marriages with men who really love them. Men face absolutely no social ramifications for abandoning perfectly good wives who love them and have mothered their children, thanks to the disgusting secular attitudes that prevail about sex, marriage, and desirability. Women must fear, if not constantly, then at least often, abandonment, even when they have done nothing to deserve it. Your husband needs to re-learn some things in this area, too. And it’s not really his fault…he has learned from his culture. But, the choice he makes now is entirely his responsibility. Tell him that you see his reminders to work out as a veiled threat sometimes, like, “if you don’t stay thin I won’t love you or want you.” If he is encouraging working out so that you preserve your health and because he wants to make sure you are there for him to grow old with, that is good. If he is “encouraging” working out because he can’t stand the thought of you being fat, even if you have a good reason, like having recently had a child, that is not good. And trust me, once you have had children, your body will NOT look the same no matter how much you work out, unless you are extremely lucky. It won’t necessarily be bad, just different. But if the man who fathered the children, and knows exactly why your body looks the way it does, punishes you for that…well, let’s just say that speaks a lot about his character. I’m not saying anyone should just let themselves go, and get grossly and unhealthfully fat, but concessions need to be made to the realities of childbearing and aging. Loving spouses in a sacramental marriage realize they are in this together for LIFE, and that there are seasons and changes and you ride them out together.
:rotfl: You can put mine right next to yours.
Man, gate-crashing the party here with a suggestion. Men ARE sexually different than women - and not just in the plumbing. Once he’s highly excited is not the time to try to start teaching him about your needs.
Instead, start by explaining to him that you need some emotional intimacy BEFOREhand. If you STILL get a blank stare, explain that it will make you want it more often. THAT will get through and it is at least a place to start.
We can’t help it, we’re built as results driven creatures. It’s all we know until somebody teaches us something more. But you have to crawl before you walk before you run…
I have read both your posts twice and I still am not clear on what exactly you want from your husband. I am sorry if I am misunderstanding you because I want to be helpful. I know you want closeness but I have been married a while and if I told my husband this he would not have any idea what I meant and he knows me pretty well.
My husband is not the same as yours of course, but I agree completely with some other posters here when they spoke of giving concrete examples and specifics to your husband. My husband thinks like this: If I tell him that I want to “be closer to him emotionally” he would be clueless. If I tell him “please hold my hand and sit by me on the couch after supper” he would be happy to do that!
I am not trying to be sexist or make excuses for men. Women have been given beautiful gifts from God. We crave emotional connection and sometimes we express ourselves somewhat poetically. This can be difficult because many men have not been given that gift of poetic-type communication the way many women have.
Sometimes sex is an emotional explosion and sometimes it feels like “just sex”. Remember that you are in a sacramental marriage and even though something seems like “just sex” it really isn’t.
Sometimes my husband comes up to me and kisses me because he loves me very much at the moment. Other times he kisses me because he knows he promised to kiss me every night and he is keeping his promise even though he may not feel like a kiss! Over the years the kisses out of obligation have grown in meaning for me, even more so than the emotional kisses! Anyone can give an “emotional kiss”, but only a husband living out his marriage vows and trying to keep his promises to his wife can give a kiss out of obligation.
What I am saying is not everything meaningful is packed with emotions. Hope this helps.
he is wrong both according to the standards of the Church in defining marriage, and by the standards of mainstream marriage counselling and statistics on marriage and relationships. Yes, men and women respond differently, but without emotional intimacy there can be no true marriage act. In fact for both men and women, sex without intimacy is a relationship destroyer, because each is acting in isolation from the other, bent only on momentary pleasure and gratification.
Thank you all for your advice. I will get that book and hopefully it will help us.
I do communicate with my husband about all these things and he agrees that he has disordered passions when it comes to sex and intimacy. The problem is not that he doesn’t understand what emotional intimacy is, it is that he does not correlate it with marital sex and his skewed perception of sex is evidenced by his lack of passion and his emotional seperation from me in bed. He is very philosophical in nature and is very interested in Catholic theology so I really believe this book will help.
He has a hard time letting go of ideas from his past and this perception of sex was formed since the time he was 12 and he just doesn’t see how he can change it. I know only God can change someone but I want to support and love him any way I can. Sometimes I do well and other times I put too much pressure on him. I will continue to talk with him and talk to God about it. I would greatly appreciate any prayers you would like to offer up for us during this time as well.
Sounds as if some Catholic marriage counseling might be a good idea, along with a Marriage Encounter weekend, as I had mentioned in a previous post. You might also want to read some of the books by Christopher West, which discuss the Catholic view of marriage and sex (“Theology of the Body.”)