Here’s a Thought: Instead of Asking Abby, Maybe Talk to Your Wife?

Here’s a Thought: Instead of Asking Abby, Maybe Talk to Your Wife?

Of the many stumbling blocks in the way of people having a satisfying sex life, one of the most common is the issue of initiating sex — or, more to the point, the problems that come up for couples in which only one person is willing to be the one who initiates sex, and that same person would appreciate it if their partner were to at least occasionally take the lead.

For some couples, even talking about this issue in any real depth seems to be too much to ask. For some reason, they can complain to third parties about the problem all day long, but having a serious, constructive conversation about sex with their partners is a (possibly soon-to-be-burned) bridge too far. The thing is, not talking your partner is a great way to not solve your problems, as well.

When you don’t talk to your partner about the issues interfering in enjoying your sex life together, it leads to unhelpful speculation, resentment, or even the end of the relationship. Given those stakes, doesn’t a bit of uncomfortable conversation seem like the much, much smaller price to pay?

Calico isn’t entirely unsympathetic towards couples who can’t talk about their sex lives, of course. But if the crux of the conversation is asking someone whether they can bring themselves to be the one who initiates sex sometimes — and then hashing out how to work around the issue if they say they just can’t be the one to initiate sex — Calico doesn’t have much patience for people who are THAT discomfort-averse.

Read all about it in Calico’s new post, “Here’s a Thought: Instead of Asking Abby, Maybe Talk to Your Wife?”

Calico Rudasill,

dear wife abby

Read on…

There’s an old joke about a couple that is struggling with the issue of how to initiate sex nonverbally – and how to communicate that they aren’t interested in sex nonverbally, as well, as this old-joke-couple also struggles to communicate verbally.

“How about if you want to have sex with me, squeeze my left breast once, and if you don’t want to have sex with me squeeze my right breast once?” the wife suggests.

“That sounds great,” the husband responds. “And how about if you want to have sex with me, grab my penis and pull it once, and if you don’t want to have sex with, grab my penis and pull it 1,600 times?”

If We Don’t Want It All the Time, We’re “Frigid” – But If We Clearly Want It At All, Then We’re “Sluts”

The reason people laugh at this joke (when they do laugh; it’s not that great a joke, honestly) comes back to the old, flawed stereotype that men always want sex, while women are less frequently ready to get it on at the drop of a hat – or more to the point, the drop of a zipper.

As a woman who spent much of her youth wanting to have sex more often than her male partners, these stereotypes always confused me a bit. I was also confused by being labeled a “slut” due to my admittedly voracious sexual appetite, when the truth was that I was having sex with a lot fewer men than many of my girlfriends, just having sex with those men a lot more often than my peers had sex with their partners.

I also long ago became comfortable with initiating sex, in part because my husband, back when he was merely my boyfriend, clearly was more turned on if I initiated than if I waited for him to do so.

This is not to say I’m always the one who initiates sex, or that I was always happy to be the one who did so when I did initiate. There were times when to feel desired, I needed my partner to be the one who got the ball rolling.

Don’t Make Your Partner Guess Your Needs

The thing is, I’ve also learned that my partners, amazing as some of them have been, are not psychic. They don’t have some supernatural level of intuition (or in some cases, any intuition at all), so sometimes if I want something from them, I have to – gasp!tell them I want it.

Yes, I know – communicating with your partner isn’t always easy, particularly if the subject is uncomfortable, or something about which you know they don’t want to talk. I have that concern every time I ask my husband if he’s changed the oil in our primary vehicle lately, myself.

What got me thinking about sex stereotypes, initiating sex and changing oil the importance of communicating clearly with your partner is a recent Dear Abby letter, in which a reader dubbed “Frustrated in the Bedroom” asks whether his wife never initiating sex means she’s “getting it somewhere else.”

Abby’s response is mostly sensible, including her “strong hunch” that Frustrated’s wife isn’t stepping out on him. I’m not so sure about suggesting that it’s “more likely she no longer has a strong sex drive at this point in her life,” but I applaud the advice that Frustrated should try communicating with his wife and working on the problem.

Frustrated’s wife “may not know HOW to initiate and need coaching,” Abby suggests. “If you can’t teach her, enlist the aid of a sex therapist. If you do, it may not only spice up but save your marriage.”

Fact: “Communication” Often Involves More Than One, Brief Conversation

I would add to Abby’s feedback a couple thoughts for Frustrated. First, in the time it took him to sit down and peck out that email to Abby (I’m assuming Abby’s letters aren’t snail mail at this point), he could have initiated something with his wife – by which I mean not sex, but a real conversation

To be fair, in his letter Frustrated does say he “brought it up three weeks ago,” but when you look at how he describes the exchange, it doesn’t sound like he probed the issue much at all. It sounds, frankly, as though his question was something along the lines of “why aren’t we having sex more often?”

If he probes the question more deeply with her, directly addressing the question of initiating sex, Frustrated might just find that the reason his wife doesn’t initiate sex is that she needs to feel wanted, needs to be pursued, in order to feel aroused. Or he might discover that she’s entirely in the dark about his frustration over the initiation question, specifically (as opposed to just being made aware that he’d like to have sex more often) and perfectly willing and able to initiate sex.

Of course, the onus to have this conversation shouldn’t land entirely on Frustrated. To the extent his wife is avoiding real talk, or holding back with her feelings in a way that’s hindering their sex life, she needs to get over that shit and lay it on the line. What does she want from their sex life and how does she see them achieving it?

Talking to your spouse about real stuff, in depth? Terrifying, I know, but believe me, you can do it. And if talking about your sex life doesn’t solve your problems, look at this way: Not talking about those problems isn’t helping either, so what do you have to lose?


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