Last week in Sex 3, I talked about the psychological nature of sex as it pertains to a guy’s needs which, if satisfied, can lead to intimacy. Because a guy’s biology for the most part works evenly and continuously; we are simple creatures. Not so for women. Women are neither even nor continuous, and so are therefore complex. I do believe this is a blessing to man because it appeals to two very important aspects of a man’s nature – desire for sex and propensity to problem solving. Pursuit of sex matures us mentally and matures our character as we unravel the mysteries of a woman’s being. I will foolishly attempt to provide some insights into my decades of observation.
Before I forge ahead into a foolishness of this magnitude, I do want to throw out some caveats: 1) My 35 year old self would have read this Letter looking for insights into how to increase the quantity and quality of my sex life. Therefore, that is my goal for you here. 2) I believe that sex is God’s gift to mankind, not only designed for our pleasure, but provided as a destination/journey thing. If sexual pleasure were all we had, our relationship might eventually become empty. Therefore, God toys with us on quantity and quality in order that we seek a greater destination – intimacy. 3) Not all women would fit into my little perspectives gladly. These are my male perspectives and, as such, wrong. I provide them to you for perspective as you navigate your own sex life towards increasing intimacy.
As you know, the clock ticks much faster for a woman than a man. A woman must find a man by roughly age 30 in order to fulfill what she considers a prime driver in her life, having a baby. (Yes I know. I am not going to capture a large swath of exceptions, but I’ll need you to forget all the stuff I’m missing if we are to get anywhere.) I think this factor leads some women to weigh more heavily the practicality of the timing in a relationship than otherwise as time passes, so powerful is the need to procreate. Watching the movie The Help, she can relate to the mom’s warning “Eugenia, your eggs are dying.” Women have gradations of concern similar to military defense readiness. If Mr. Right shows up on time, dates appropriately, courts appropriately, weds appropriately, beds appropriately, then she’s at Defcon 5 (least alarm). But if dating languishes and courting seems remote, then the clock ticks louder and she goes from Defcon 5 to Defcon 4. You see where this is going. By the time she gets to Defcon 2 because her boyfriend wasn’t ready to get married and have kids, she’s outta there and actively on the hunt. There are a zillion movies about this. Insofar as men are waiting later in life to get married these days, women are getting more aggressive and may lower their standards as to what their morals are and with whom they’ll have sex. Their eggs are dying. Overly simplistic? Hmmm. I believe it’s a major factor.
In addition, short term biology plays a significant role in a woman’s attitudes about sex – the monthly cycle. Some women have a 3-day menstruation, some a 10-day. Some have debilitating cramps, others none. Some have hormone swings that range from vixen to bitch where only an off comment separates the two. So it’s dangerous to try and group all women into one category. But it is reasonable to say that most women are impacted by their cycle and that it is likely considered a hassle instead of a blessing. I say that because of the hurried pace of today’s couples. Even though monthly bleeding is a blessed part of motherhood, society is uncomfortable about it. It’s pushed aside. In relationships, I suspect it gets in the way of regular sex, vacation time, date night, and is cause for many a frustration. So when Aunt Flo comes for a visit, she’s often not a welcome guest.
Biology leads directly into psychology. It doesn’t take long in a sexual relationship to figure out the menstrual/hormonal timing for women. But what does take a little bit of insight and sensitivity is catching on to the attitude that borders a woman’s cycle, her body, and her femininity. It appears to me that a degree of shame and low self esteem affect women regarding menstruation. Women, on average, are uncomfortable with their own bodies, particularly around their cycle. The hassle, the pain, the emotional roller coaster, the smell, the mess, the inconvenience, the message that society sends them that menstruation is something to be hidden – all compounds to a potential feeling of shame. It’s been called a curse and women consider it so to some degree. Furthermore, and this is a very subtle thing, a doubt emerges with this idea of shame: “Am I loveable as a person or am I just a sex receptacle?” In other words, does the man only need a soft jar for his seed or is he in a relationship with a whole person? Unravel that one. (Keep in mind that this is a very objectionable line of thought, but should be kept in the back of your mind when it comes time to discuss your attitudes and relational inputs.)
For a woman whose cup is half empty, or worse, a cup that runneth empty, sex can be perceived as debasing and objectifying. (How porn is depicted certainly supports that thought.) If she is dealing with low esteem or is fiercely avoiding self pity, a woman will send messages that sex is not fulfilling or sustaining; or conversely, she may regard it as nothing and provide it wantonly. A woman may not know specifically what she’s looking for, but it occurs to me that she is looking for validation as a woman when in a relationship with a man. Someone who will figure her out using her languages of love. Until maturity evolves in a relationship, she may not know how to articulate what she wants and may instead engage in bickering or power struggles (just like a guy does). My wife, who is a mentor to other moms at Mothers Of Pre-Schoolers says that her MOPS moms complain the most about lack of family leadership––which I interpret to mean power-struggles and finger pointing. The puzzle to solve is for me to pour into her cup in such a way that allows her to pour out in turn. That takes vision, sometimes therapy, love in action, and patience.
For a woman whose waterline isn’t below the halfway mark, sex certainly is more an element of a well-functioning relationship. Though she may not suffer from chronic self esteem issues, she still needs her cup filled in a relationship in order to pour out. Young love finds it easy to participate in the pouring into one another’s cup. Doing little things, buying gifts, touching, complementing, and just hanging out. But over time as life’s busyness accumulates, it’s very easy to forget that newness, forget the balance, and forget the other’s needs. It’s commonplace to get into a routine that can become somewhat stale. A woman doesn’t warm to the sexual routine as quickly as a man. Here’s where issues arise, power struggles occur, and leadership is needed before weeds overrun the garden.
I have described above that women are more psychologically sensitive by their biology than men. The menstrual cycle and inclusive hormonal swings are an integral factor in how a woman feels about herself because of how she thinks her biology impacts the relationship. I have attempted to describe the implications of a cup that needs filling and how that lack thereof can lead to tension. I think a woman is naturally more inclined towards intimacy and is therefore, by nature, more vulnerable. As such she can be hurt more easily which also lasts longer than it does for men. She is looking for mature leadership from a man to create an emotionally secure world. All this by nature and by conditioning, a woman is less inclined to be the leader in bed.
The divorce rate is 50%-ish for a reason. I propose it is due in large part because of the issues described in these last two Letters – ineffective filling of one another’s cup. Sex is a major driver to happiness. For guys, by having sex, our cup is filled. For a woman, she needs to have her cup filled in order to have sex. Certainly she’ll have sex other times when her cup is not filled, but that is of a limited supply. Therefore, marital happiness and sexual satisfaction rests initially on the man’s shoulders to solve the problem of a woman’s nature and figure out how to fill her cup so she can in turn pour it out on him.
Next week: How to do that.
To your continued success,