My clients often say that they don’t communicate well with their husbands, but actually, we as humans are really good at communicating. In fact, only about 7% of communication is verbal. We pick up on the non-verbal cues that our spouses are giving us, and sometimes we don’t like what we “hear.” So in this podcast, I’m talking to you pursuers out there. (I’m talking directly to the men today, but there are also women who do this too.) The pursuers are the ones who feel like when their wife says no, that just means try harder. You’ve already caught her since you’re married. Are you actually causing her to run when you chase her?
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As humans, we are really good at reading other people for the most part. We can often track what’s really going on. Psychologists at Princeton have found through a series of studies that it only takes people one-tenth of a second to make an initial judgment of someone, primarily based on body language. When couples tell me that they have trouble communicating, my initial response is, as humans, we are always communicating, whether we are verbal or not. In his book Silent Messages, Dr. Albert Mehrabian discusses the fact that only 7% of communication is through words; the rest of it comes from vocal cues and nonverbal messages, like facial expressions and stance. The ability to track and read others is a good skill to have. As parents, we can attune to our children. As married couples, we can also attune to our spouse.
But what happens when we don’t like what we are tracking in our spouse?
In a recent session with a client, she said that it feels like no matter what she does to improve the sexual relationship with her spouse, it will never be enough. When she gives more, because she genuinely wants to, he still wants more and more and more. And when she stays in integrity with herself and sometimes doesn’t feel like sex, then she accused of “going back to how things used to be” or “not continuing to develop herself.” Which neither of those is true, it’s just his insecurities and his desire for validation through sex coming out.
Even if we don’t want to always acknowledge it, or we don’t like the behaviors that are presenting, the truth is we all want to feel desired by our spouse. Often when my clients complain to me that their husbands won’t leave them alone, I ask them how they would feel if he NEVER did those things. If he never touched her, never acted like he desired her. How would that feel. Most say that while initially that sounds appealing, over all they actually DO want his touch, his affection, and his desires pointed at her because it’s better than feeling like they are not desired at all. But, much of the reason why they don’t like what’s happening is because of how they are tracking the motivations in their spouse.
Let me share with you an example…
I had a boyfriend in high school that I was crazy about. He and I met at a choir competition. That boy could SING! It also didn’t hurt that he was also a model. But, when we would go on dates, it was all about him and what he wanted. And when he touched me it felt like he was trying to take something from me. It didn’t feel good. It didn’t feel right. But, I also had other boyfriends who were so respectful and kind. I didn’t feel taken from, but given to. That they cared about my experience just as much, if not more than their own.
As women, we can often track when touch, pleasure, and sex are about extracting or taking from us rather than giving. We can tell the difference. So it’s no wonder when we don’t respond to our husbands often in the way that they want. This plays right into the “sex is for him and not for me” dynamic. When women feel like they are being taken from, and feel like they give and give and give all day long and then their husband is just another person who is taking from them it doesn’t bode well for the sexual relationship.
I work with women a lot to change their mindset around this. I teach them how sex is just as much for them as it is for their husbands and they can choose to think differently. But they can still track when their husband doesn’t feel that way…and let’s face it, there are lots of husbands that extract instead of give. This is where boundaries come into play.
I think there is often a misconception that women liked to be chased. Now don’t get me wrong, we like to be pursued, we like to be desired, but in a way that creates a healthy dynamic, not to be taken from. So let’s look at some of the mindsets/thought patterns/belief systems of the sexual pursuer. And while I am putting this in the framework of the man being the sexual pursuer, women can also be the sexual pursuer. In fact, in about 40% of marriages, women are the sexual pursuer.
Mindsets of a pursuer:
- You feel you can’t do without sex
- You feel like your partner is your only choice to express this desire
- You think you are entitled to it within a marriage
- You think everyone else is getting it
- You are fixated on sex and nothing else will do
With these kinds of belief systems, what do you feel? Scarcity, frustration, resentment?
When you have these kinds of thoughts or belief systems, the actions you take tend to come off entitled, aggressive, demanding, and frankly unattractive, which usually takes you away from what you actually want!
So what can you do instead that might make it more likely to get what you want?
- Explore other alternatives, options, or possibilities available to you
- Develop yourself so that you become more attractive and desirable to your partner
- Identify what new belief systems and actions that need to be taken to accomplish what you want
- Identify what is within your control and what is not
- Focus on taking action of what is actually in your control.
So when you are sexually pursuing your partner, what is within your control? The only thing within your control is to make yourself more attractive to your spouse. I’m guessing they were attracted to you at one point, which is why they married you, so maybe working on your communication, grooming, language, body-language, confidence level, humor, knowledge, academic and professional success. When we are dating, we tend to put our best foot forward. Think about what that looked like. You were kind, compassionate, thoughtful. You were curious about her and what made her tick. You want to know everything about her. That created emotional intimacy between the two of you and for her that created the safety and the intimacy she needed in order to be physical. Now, you aren’t doing this just to convince your partner and to get more sex. This needs to be genuine and coming from the best in you. What is not within your control? Whether or not your partner is actually attracted to you or not.
Have you heard the adage “what we chase will run?” Often men think that when a woman says “no,” she really means “try harder.” Most of the time, it does not. If you chase your partner, most likely they will run. What does that look like? Rejection, avoidance, or maybe even playing dead…or them just laying there while you use their body for your satisfaction. Normally, unless they liked being chased (and let’s face it, you already caught them if you are married to them) people tend to avoid the chasers because it freaks them out. They feel like they are being pushed and poked by someone who doesn’t see their disinterest. They feel so much pressure to be what you want them to be and perform when you want them to perform and it doesn’t give them space to feel freedom around their sexuality, which is exactly what they need in order to be sexual. They often feel frustrated that they have expressed what they want and don’t want and it is not being honored, while you may think that you are just proving your love by being persistent. But you don’t look persistent, you look needy. And neediness in a man is very unattractive.
If your spouse has expressed to you what they want, believe them. Rather than chase, communicate. And then learn how to self-regulate/self-soothe, if you don’t like their answers.
Turning back to the sexual withdrawer (often the wife) pay attention the energy that is within the dynamic. You’ll need to evaluate your belief systems to decide if your spouse is really trying to take from you or if you are reading into things that aren’t there. Often they don’t realize the energy they are giving off and so it’s important to communicate how you think and feel. But that doesn’t mean shutting down the conversation just because it’s uncomfortable, avoiding, or thinking the worst in him. He probably doesn’t even realize how he is coming off. Like I said before, he’s probably just trying to be persistent and thinking you need to be won over.
This is where coaching can really help the dynamic. While my Embrace You! Elite Society coaching program is definitely geared toward the lower desire woman, I also have higher-desire women in there too. While the desire levels may be different, the tools to come to a place of peace in your marriage and sexual relationship are the same. I also encourage husbands to join in on some of the coaching calls, if their wife is amenable. This program is not designed for the husband to be the primary one who uses it, but the tools and skills can be learned by both parties and both of you can take advantage of our coaching calls.