We all know the stereotype: the wife expects her husband to read her mind and he never can. I always used to roll my eyes at this stereotype as it played out in sitcoms. And then I got married and, of course, became the stereotype.
Let’s start with birthday talk. (And Christmas, your anniversary, Valentine’s Day, etc.)
“We’ve been married 4 years now, so he should remember that I like to go to a fancy restaurant for my birthday, right? I shouldn’t need to remind him…”
“I mean, I mentioned my favorite author’s new book like 5 times. I wasn’t ‘hinting,’ really…I expect he’ll just understand it would be a great Christmas present.”
False and false. I’m embarrassed to admit the arguments we’ve had over these such scenarios.
I’m slowly (slowly) learning: my husband still needs to be reminded, and likely always will. He needs me to be direct. I don’t need to be annoying about it, but if I sit around hoping he’ll know what I want, I’ll inevitably be disappointed. I’ve started gently, but clearly explaining to him what I’d like. In turn, he’s learned to be better about remembering to ask. Perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned that I don’t need to always get everything exactly how I “wanted.”
(A brief aside to any newlywed readers: the above may sound rather tedious and unromantic, but trust me when I say there’s still plenty of space for spontaneity and romance! Maybe you’re not one to be concerned about how special days are celebrated, but it’s quite likely you’ll have some similar scenario in another area, i.e. home cleanliness, money management.)
Now let’s talk about sex.
First – since we started with talking about birthdays, does anyone else want to admit to knowing the hit club song “Birthday Sex?” Talk about false expectations. In reality, sex on either of our birthdays comes with way too much pressure for it to be the best sex ever. We’ve had one to many awkward “birthday sex” moments, and finally just stopped trying to force it. If this is you too, maybe next time try some more spontaneous “day before birthday” sex.
Second – just like everything else, you are going to need to be direct and specific about sex. Perhaps more than any other area – men have very little idea what is going on with a woman’s mind/body sexually. Before and during sex, don’t be afraid to spell things out for your husband. It is much easier for the husband to become aroused, so you will likely need more help than him. Getting aroused (and having pleasurable sex in general) will often require giving him guidance. If you don’t know what you want, here are some suggestions on where to start:
1. “I’ve had a stressful day with a lot on my mind. I’m going to take some time to myself, draw a bath, and then we can…do the sex.”
2. “Before we have sex, can you please give me a massage? Specifically, my lower back and shoulders are tense. This spot right here.”
3. “Remember that one time before we were married, when we kissed so intensely in the car that we steamed up all the windows? I’d like to try that again…” (And if, during the kissing, he tries to jump into sex quicker than you’re ready: “Can you kiss me a little more?”)
4. “I’m so sorry but my mind is in a million places right now. Can you talk to me about my body, to help direct my thoughts toward us?”
5. Few words needed for this one – move his hand down toward your genitals. Direct his fingers to stroke your vaginal opening and clitoris. If you’re new to sex, this might take some discovery for both of you – try to keep it light and fun. Encourage with short instructions: “faster…slower…this spot right here.”
Don’t forget, like everything else, you’ll need to continue to explain your arousal needs to him – probably for your whole marriage. Eventually he’ll learn more. Eventually he’ll remember to ask more. He loves you and he wants to help make you happy on your birthday, and in the bedroom.