In my last "get it on" post I told women that if they want their husbands to act like a man, they should treat him like a man. It seems like such a simple statement but we live in a time in which gender roles are growing, changing and stretching. In so many ways the attributes that made our grandfathers men are no longer considered mandatory for the manhood of today. Some of the changes I lament and others I welcome with the slow clap of victory. I have a book's worth of opinion to write on the subject. However, for the purpose of this article I will keep my definition of manhood constrained to that portion that affects the husband segment of the population.
Ready? Let's go.
A man is not made by physical strength, a sense of superiority or rigidity. Manhood is not predicated upon an ability to fix, make or shoot. A real man is not ashamed of softness, but he does not bow in the face of hard things. The things that make a man have nothing to do with class, race or rank. Rather manhood is found in the core values that bind together people as diverse as the gentleman scholar and warrior soldier. A man puts the woman he loves first. He wakes up at night with crying babies and closes the door as he leaves the bedroom so that his wife can sleep while he soothes. He works every day, inside and outside the house, for the life his family deserves. He knows that in marriage there is no "his and hers," there is only "ours." He knows this applies to the drudgery as thoroughly as it applies to the joy. A man gives happiness before he asks for any in return.
I think there are a lot of men and women still trying to understand what manhood means and where it has a place in their lives. Some maintain 1950's sensibilities in a world that has outgrown them like a pair of childhood saddle shoes. Others were told by people "who knew best" what to expect or deserve and woke up one day disillusioned because the people "who knew best" were wrong. Many don't know they have the questions but sense they are short of answers. And all the while it becomes harder and harder to hold onto physical and emotional intimacy.
There are so many men that come home each day, throw their socks on the floor, turn on the TV and wonder why the women they love have stopped wanting them as men. And so many of the wives in those homes lean against the wall and wonder when that boy they married will start acting like the man they thought he would grow up to be. Then the kids go to bed, the lights are turned off and they each fall asleep until the next morning that leads to the next distant night.
Sex is at once so much more than anything else and so much less. It is a sacred language only the two of you speak and a good laugh. It is slow and love and fast and lust. It is give and take. It is an escape from the everyday and a return to yourself. It is reality and fantasy. It is need right now and forever I promise. It is giggles and fizzles and fireworks and almost there and don't let go. It is important.
And many men can't figure out why they're not having it.
Ahem. Hello Sir. Yes, you. Go ahead and turn the TV off, put away the video games, walk away from the preparations for the boys only camping trip. I want to have a few words with you. You know that girl you married? The one that hasn't let you touch her for days, weeks, months, years? Well, she's not having sex with you for some pretty damn good reasons. If you promise to be nice, I can let you in on five of them right now. Put on your big boy pants and get ready for some truth bombs. (Don't worry too much, I think you are man enough to take it.)
Now, on to the things you need to do, haven't done and can learn with flair.
1. Women need you to listen, they need you to remember and they need you to say thank you. We are not asking for much here.
You need to listen. A woman needs you to listen to their dreams, their concerns, the way a day has made her feel and the aftermath of her successes and failures. Listening to your wife is one way of showing her that she is not just a reflection glanced upon at the end of each day. It is a way of communicating to her that you know she is complete and important and of worth.
You need to remember. And I am not just talking birthdays and anniversaries. (Although I would strongly suggest you don't forget those.) Of course, every now and then remember to bring home your wife's favorite flower or a packet of those pens she loves or tickets to that concert she mentioned a few months back. It is amazing what the simplest gesture will do for a woman that loves you. Also remember who your sweetheart is, remember where she hopes to go, who she hopes to become. And then on the days when the world gets too big and the rooms are too small she can call on you and you can help her remember, too. It is amazing what striving to understand the woman you love will do for the life you have together.
You need to say thank you. It can be a tiring place, this happily ever after. Yes, there is love and there are kitchen dances and sweet cream baby cheeks. But there are also sleepless nights and mortgages and post baby stretch marks. Thank her for every long day and long night. Thank her for every smile and laugh out loud. Thank her for your babies. Thank her for the dreams she pursues and the ones she puts on hold. Gratitude is often an action. Show it by washing the dishes, playing with her hair, giving her time and holding her hand. But every once in a while knock her socks off by actually saying, "Thank you."
Men! Those three things! That is romance! That is courtship! That is love! And you know what gets women hot?
ROMANCE. COURTSHIP. LOVE.
2. Take her out on a date at least twice a month. Put on spiffy clothes and take her to a restaurant, museum, movie or stroll around downtown. Open her door and put your hand on the small of her back. Be the boy she fell in love with and she will be the girl that made your heart race. Making out in the car before driving home (while optional) is strongly suggested.
3. If you want your wife to treat you like a man, you have to act like a man. Your wife did not marry you in order to raise you. She does not live to wash your dishes, pick up your socks or put the kids to bed by herself while you watch the game for "just five more minutes." (Although she will happily do all of those things once in a while just because she can.) You are not her project or responsibility. There is nothing sexually appealing about a person that means more work, more worry and less freedom.
Your wife married you because she decided her life would be richer and more meaningful with you as a partner. Stop trying to prove her wrong. You are her ally in adventure, tedium, fear, joy, laundry, dishes, children, lack and plenty. There is no such thing as women's work or men's work. There is only your life's work together and she needs you to roll up your sleeves and dig in right alongside her. Cook dinner, change diapers and kiss bruised knees. You will be amazed at how much more happily (eagerly!) a woman will share her body when she knows you are there to share all the big and small parts of her life.
Side note: If I hear one more of you say you are "babysitting the kids" while your wife is gone, I will start handing out copies of The Feminine Mystique. (And nobody wants that.) They are your kids as thoroughly as they are hers. You aren't babysitting, you are parenting. When she leaves don't make her feel guilty, don't ask her to take the baby with her (she will if she wants to) and don't text or call to ask when she is coming home. They are just children, for heaven's sake. I think you can handle it.
4. She needs a moment in each day that is just about her. Your wife needs time and space, two things that are in short supply in a life full of work and play dates and pick ups. She needs room to breathe, create, to stop and do nothing at all. Every woman is different. Some of us dive into bubble baths, others walk under the stars and some (this one included) write until they find themselves at the end of a sentence. Remind her to escape. It will help her remember she wants to come back. When she returns she will be rejuvenated and renewed, the absolute opposite of, "Not tonight, honey. I am too tired." Hint. Hint.
5. It isn't any blasted fun. Yikes. There it is. The elephant in the room. Women are more likely to want to have sex when an orgasm is involved and too often, it is not. For reasons unknown, the female orgasm has been shrouded in a cloak of mystery and unattainability. (In case you were wondering, the cloak is made of polyester and really doesn't breathe well.) I have to lay the blame for the perpetuation of this myth at the feet of men. I believe the accepted reasoning goes something like this: "Female sexuality is very different from male sexuality therefore the workings behind it must be impenetrable." (IMPENETRABLE! I am sorry. I couldn't help myself.)
This, of course, is not true.
I had a professor that once gave the perfect description of the differences between the two sexes, ahem, "get up and go." He said male sexual arousal and orgasm was like turning on a light. Locate the switch, turn it on and let there be light. Mr. Professor then said female sexual arousal and orgasm was more like flying a plane. Once you get in the cock pit you have to flip switches and buttons in the right sequence in order to prepare for takeoff. The process is slightly more involved and yes, you have to get a feel for it. But once you do... holy cow, the sky is the limit. (Oh my gosh, I hope my Dad stopped reading two paragraphs ago.)
Don't be intimidated. At any given moment most men can explain the rules behind the BCS, know what is happening under the hood of their favorite car and quote stats from sports people only care about when the Olympics comes around. You guys are capable of processing information and applying it in life. That is the only skill needed here. No magic involved. Educate yourself. Read a few books. Ask her questions. Women have been having orgasms since, you know, there were women. The how to's are not a secret. Don't be embarrassed. There is nothing cringe inducing about making your wife and her needs a priority. You are learning together and my goodness, could you ask for a better lesson plan? Practice makes perfect. I hate to say it. But to get good at sex you need to have a lot of sex. I know, such a burden.
Hello again, sir. How are you doing? Did I say orgasm too many times? I am so sorry.
Alright, so maybe you haven't been at the top of your game the past few hours, days, weeks, months or, ahem, years. One of the purest joys of life is our ability to change for the better. Start now. Leave the TV off, take a break from the video games and postpone that camping trip. You have work to do and what a great work it is.
And my goodness, isn't she worth it?