Wife Not Turned On By Me
First, let me preface this by saying that DW and I are aware of what responsive desire is, and also that she has one. We really only learned about it ~4 months ago, so how it manifests may still be unknown to us in some ways.
So last night, DW and I were going through some questions for married couples, which we frequently do before going to sleep. The final question essentially asked for one thing that “really turns you on”. It was DW’s turn to go first, and after some fumbling it was clear that she didn’t have an answer. She was able to list several things you’ll often see women say (me playing with the kids, doing yard work, etc), saying they were mildly arousing. She also came up with one thing as moderately turning her on, but admitted she only liked it if already pretty aroused…but I’m not doing that unless invited anymore because it’s putting myself out there quite a bit and is usually met with an eye roll or even a LOL, which really embarrasses me and shuts my arousal down. I threw out a few suggestions, even saying she could answer “using the vibe”. Finally, after maybe 10 min all she could come up with is that she liked that I looked into things related to TMB, such as new positions and such, but she didn’t get really turned on by anything.
This was a huge blow. For years, I have harbored insecurities about her lack of attraction to me. With the discovery of responsive drive and what it is, many of those had been pushed to a much lower level or buried altogether, but now they’re back in a bad way. I kind of view this as her admission of not being attracted to me. I had no trouble answering the question, telling her I could answer it in half a dozen, if not a full dozen ways (with my actual answer being her bringing enthusiasm to an encounter, citing a specific example). Overall, my fear is that she married a man that she wanted to be attracted to, but was more attracted to the idea of me. Specifically, attracted to the individual parts of me, but not the whole package. In many ways, I did the opposite–I would not have chosen her as my mate based on her individual parts, but something about the whole package “clicked”. Over time, my attraction for her has increased (even with my period of porn problems), to the point that I’m now attracted to her individual components even. Essentially, my “type” is now her. But it seems the opposite has happened with her, or at least it seems that way in my head…she married a hard-working, financially responsible, highly intelligent, nice-body, excellent-father kind of guy who doesn’t really click for her.
Is this kind of thing common, and I’m just overthinking it? Or should I be worried about this? I do intend to talk to her about it sometime, but I’m not in a good place to do so right now. And it doesn’t help that we’ve only had sex once in the last two weeks even though it was the best time in her cycle for it.
PS- you do need to talk to your wife about it, once you can clear some fog, but also sooner is better than later. I feel there is more misunderstanding going on here than anything. Plus you have an enemy who is out to deceive and he’ll take every opportunity to cause confusion and sneak in lies and blame, so that he can steal, kill, and destroy you and your marriage. You two need to know exactly what the other means by certain terminology. This could all be about semantics and her hearing and seeing through her “pink” glasses and hearing aids, while you are hearing and seeing through your “blue”.
I think you’re over-analyzing. My wife is very similar to what you describe but she does respond very well to arousal. God created man and not the woman to be the initiator. Woman was created to be the responder. The fact that she talked to you about some things that arouse her to a degree is good. She doesn’t sound disinterested at all to me.
You mention past porn usage. You may be drawing an unfair comparison/expectation based on what you saw. Those women are actors.
Give your wife room to grow sexually and praise and thank her for that growth. Keep the talk friendly and not accusatory. Be patient, kind and loving. She WILL respond.
I agree that attractiveness and being turned on are two different things. To me anyway. I find dh attractive but that in and of itself is not what turns me on. I could list specific things that turn me on but they would be more attitude/behavior and atmosphere related which for me are totally separate from attraction. For instance my husband could look attractive to me while mowing the lawn but that wouldn’t necessarily turn me on. Not sure if that makes sense? It’s a hard concept to articulate. I definitely wouldn’t make the jump from “she can’t think of anything that turns her on” to “she’s not attracted to me”
Is it possible she has a mental block about the rightness of her being “really turned on”? Some women (and many women sometimes) feel that being “really turned on” makes them somehow morally unclean as opposed to being persuaded into having sex. Maybe she is afraid to see herself as having a strong desire for sex and that needs to be addressed so she feels the freedom to experience being “really turned on”. How was she raised to think about sex?
In my mind, there is a difference between “turned on” and “attracted to”. “Turned on” has a very distinct sexual response, it would be an awareness of arousal…which studies show that women are pretty unaware of their arousal state. We don’t have an obvious barometer on the outside of our body that says, “I’m getting excited.” Being “attracted to” someone involves more of the whole being than just a sexual response. I honestly would have a hard time answering that question as well….. and this is 6-7 years into my whole “sexual awakening” and coming to understand myself even better. If I was asked that question before that happened, or even in the beginning, I probably would be in the exact shoes your wife is in.
This post resonates with me. Your wife’s situation sounds similar to mine.
I wonder how many responsive desire women have thought of themselves as asexual. I am responsive most of the time, and there was a time when I thought I might be asexual. I definitely am not. Far from it. But I was confused by a lack of interest in sex that lasted a few months, and I was trying to figure out why. “Asexual” was the only term I knew at the time. Sometimes having an established label makes it easier to process. I didn’t learn about my responsive nature until this summer… that’s the “label” I was looking for. I’m still learning how to navigate that. Perhaps your wife is in the same boat.
My advice would be to not take this personally. I can’t think of a single thing about my husband that “turns me on.” But I can tell you that he is the only man I wish to be married to – and I’m around a lot of men because of a hobby of mine. I am very attracted to him in a way that I would never be attracted to them. And yet, I am not turned on by him. They aren’t the same thing for me.
So I think that what your wife said is probably more common than you’d think. And in my case at least, it means nothing personally against my Dh. It’s just the way I am. I wouldn’t worry too much about it, although having the conversation about it is a good idea.
Great news Scott! You guys are a spitting image of my DW and me. I am married for 10 years and 4 kids, my DW has a responsive drive which I am still currently learning the definition of. I recently confronted my wife last year about my porn addiction which she has helped me kick to the curb.
I had a conversation with my DW last week and oddly enough I asked her the same question. She could not tell me what turned her on, and just like when you hit your low sexual self-esteem, this hit mine too. But realizing that this just isn’t how her body and mind works, have now been my saving grace. She couldn’t pinpoint what turned her on but when she is able to empty everything going on in her mind and just relax, that is what gets her going. So as hard as it is to accept that when I walk in the room that my vibe doesn’t send a signal to turn her on I still know that her being with me, alone, relaxed, emptied mind and not thinking anything about what I’ve done or how my goods feel to her, is what gives her the biggest turn on.
Oh man, I could write a book on this, but I don’t have that kind of time.
Where to start…
Yes, it’s incredibly common. I think there are a ton of things going on here that are all interconnected.
For one, I think a lot of women (and some men) cut themselves off from what turns them on. We have such an anti-sex culture in Christianity, that we tend down the sexual part of ourselves rather than simply wait for an appropriate time.
Secondly, this is a part of responsive desire. She’s going to respond. Asking her what turns her on is, in part, asking her to lead. It’s not going to work. The best way to figure things like that out is try it, and then assess how it worked.
Thirdly, for most women, you have to arouse their mind. It’s not going to be an activity or touch or toy that turns her on. It will be a context, a story (for lack of a better word), a mood, etc..
Fourth, a lot of women feel extremely guilty about receiving pleasure. You can get them to, but they’re not going to want to be responsible for it. That’s why some of them get really aroused by things like bondage. It’s sort of like guilt-free pleasure. It’s not their responsibility, because they’re literally tied up. So, they can relax and enjoy it, because they have no say. In asking what turns her on, you’re asking her to take responsibility for her pleasure, and that’s a hard barrier to get over. Christianity does a terrible job at teaching Christians to enjoy life. They say Catholics mourn their faith, but all of Christianity does so to a certain extent.
And then you have things like her Sexual Inhibition System – what are the things holding her back. If she has her foot firmly on the brake pedal, it doesn’t matter how much you learn to stop on the gas pedal to hit her Sexual Excitation System. She’s still not going to go anywhere fast. Learn to help her get her foot off the brake. That’s often more helpful than trying to figure out what turns her on.
Anyways, that’s a very quick run through of a few things to think about.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
It’s been 5.5 months since I posted that and a lot has changed. For one, my DW (Zelda) and I now have this account as a joint account here (though I do 95+% of the participating, we do read/discuss some threads together). For us, learning to work with her responsive desire and understanding what her arousal patterns look like has been a long and continuous journey. We have made great progress and moved into the sex life we always wanted.
Several things have helped:
- An increase in communication, particularly about sex. She read this thread and was crushed–she is attracted to me and wishes that she would physically respond more to my touch. We’ve learned to work with what we have.
- My acceptance that her sexual desire is different from mine and other men’s. There is nothing wrong with that and it is a beautiful thing.
- Increased participating at TMB. This gives a better understanding of Godly marriage. The discussions also tend to get Zelda’s juices flowing a bit.
- Getting farther away from her last child delivery. She was touched out and still getting her hormones straightened out when I wrote this post in October. That has slowly improved, allowing for kissing and other non-genital touching to be pleasant.
So is my wife normal? Yes. Did I need to show more understanding? Yes. Does that mean that I need to wait until she’s “in the mood” in order to have sex? Definitely not! And she is so happy that I can lead her into sexual union and pleasure!