In my previous Wife Talk post that covered some of the lesser-known reasons for dramatic, if not total, decline in a woman’s sex drive, there were two specific points I wished to elucidate further. The first is the need for the woman – the wife – to embrace the concept of sexiness within herself. The second point is that husbands can help their wives in this respect; but the most effective ways to do this are not necessarily the most obvious.
The first issue we need to contend with is that a woman feeling sexy is actually about sex. It’s not. Women generally do not compartmentalize the way men do. Therefore, multiple aspects of a woman’s self-concept come into play to create a sexy self-image. Answering a seemingly simple question like, ‘do I feel sexy?’ is really more like answering all of the following:
- Do I feel strong (emotionally and physically)?
- Do I feel appreciated? (is my hard work acknowledged? Am I valued as an individual?)
- Do I feel competent and capable? (are the challenges I face on a day-to-day basis both reasonable and intellectually stimulating? Do I experience success? Are my career and interests/hobbies satisfying?)
- Do I feel creative? (Do I have suitable outlets for self-expression?)
- Do I feel adventurous, open to new experiences? (Is my outlook generally optimistic?)
- Do I feel confident? (Am I ready and willing to take personal or professional risks?)
In addition, a married woman’s self-esteem is significantly affected by the degree to which she perceives she is elevated in her husband’s eyes. And, a woman feels most elevated by her husband when he invests his time helping her to be the best she can be. It is through her husband’s investment in her that she begins to place greater value on herself as an individual, and that she begins to embrace what is uniquely wonderful about her. And, THAT, my dear friends, is where sexy resides.
So…how can a husband help his wife answer in the affirmative to these questions?
- Take time to ask about her dreams and goals; what things she may have wanted for herself that she set aside to focus on being a mom
- Ask a lot of ‘what’ and ‘how’ questions; ‘what does feeling valued and appreciated look like to you?’, ‘what gets in the way of you feeling successful? creative?’, ‘what would you love to do for yourself that you aren’t doing right now?’, ‘how can I help you change that?’
- Recognize that sometimes conventional romantic gestures may be perceived as a prelude for sex, and that she might value different expressions of affection from you (and it’s okay to ask her what gestures she enjoys most)
- Let her know how you really feel about her; she needs to know that you are proud of her, inspired by her, amazed by her, and why
- Support and encourage her as she steps out in new directions, no matter how small
When you approach your wife with these questions, don’t try to boil the ocean all at once. She may perceive all the questions as an interrogation and respond defensively. Be willing to start in small doses, and be consistent (find a good time of day for little chats, and make it a regular practice). As your wife begins to open up more, take that as her cue that she’s ready for more in-depth conversation.
Here are a few books I’d suggest that expound on the concepts I’ve listed ever-so-briefly here:
“For Men Only” (Quick and easy read, full of great insights)