Arousal versus Desire
A recent discussion with a woman reminded me that some women do not understand arousal and desire are different things for men.
Desire is a wanting, a longing. I desire an ice cream sundae. I desire to have sex with my wife. I desire to listen to some music.
Arousal is a physiological response to stimuli. The smell of bread makes me hungry. The sight of my naked wife turns me on. Hearing the music played at my father’s funeral makes me sad.
Arousal is not under our control, and it is not always wanted. Teenage boys experience unwanted and embarrassing erections – sexual arousal they wish was not happening! Things we do not desire and things that disgust us, can arouse us.
Men are more easily aroused by what they see than women are. The part of the brain involved in visual sexual arousal is two to three times larger in men than in women. Additionally, sexual images more strongly activate several parts of the brain in men (particularly the amygdala and hypothalamus). Finally, men are more aware of sexual arousal than women are. Studies find male reports of how aroused they are match physiological and brain measurements of arousal. Similar studies of women find a great deal of difference between self-perceived arousal and actual arousal of the mind and body. This means men know when something they see arouses them.
In modern society men deal with sexually arousing stimuli daily. Those who want to be faithful to their wife do all they can to avoid arousing sights. We also learn to turn our eyes and our minds away quickly when we see potentially arousing sights. Scantily clad women are an annoyance, not something we desire to see.
If your husband is normal and healthy, odds are he is somewhat sexually aroused many times a week by something other than the thought or sight of you. Even if he hates this, he is powerless to prevent it. However, if his desire is for you alone, he is not dwelling on those sources of arousal.
Bottom line: Desire is a choice, arousal is not.
~ Paul – I’m XY, and I thank God I am near sighted!
Men and Women Differ on Sexual Arousal | Psych Central News
Men and women differ in amygdala response to visual sexual stimuli [Nat Neurosci. 2004] – PubMed – NCBI
Imaging gender difference in sexual arousal