Romancing a Man

He may not admit it, and may not even know it, but odds are your husband likes being romanced.

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I explain romance to men as doing things that show you are thinking about your spouse while the two of you are apart. The planning show intent and thought, and knowing what your spouse enjoys show you are paying attention. As you are probably more aware of what he does and likes than he is with you, you have a distinct advantage on this one. Give it a go, you will bless him, and you might inspire him to reciprocate!

Wishing you a happy Valentine’s Day!

~ Paul, I’m XY and I like it when my wife is romantic.

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Why Men Hate Valentine’s

I know some women are not fans either, but I think men in general are more unhappy about Valentine’s Day than women in general.

The short answer to why men dislike it is “Nothing in it for me, and a high risk I will get it wrong and pay for that.

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Of course, that is a major generalisation, but a good many men would agree with me. Valentines seems to have become more and more about pleasing her, as opposed to a holiday for lovers. I suspect we can blame marketing to a large degree.

Men complain the holiday is all for women, focused on what they want and need, while ignoring what men like. Some have suggested they would be fine if there were a holiday for men. (Some are promoting a male alternative to V-day a month later – a day all about steak and oral sex – but I digress.)

The other big complaint is being unable to give their wife what she wants. I used to think this was just men being especially clueless, but then I saw guys do all the things we think women want only to be told they failed. I suspect it is not the norm, and it is played up to make guys feel better about not really trying, but for some it is a real issue.

I do know many men really do not understand romance. To them, romance it is a secret dark art with rules they cannot decipher. Most women do not think about love and romance the way men do, so we can do what seems good to us and completely miss it. A few well-intended misses is enough to convince a guy he is being asked to play a game he cannot win. If he got that from a former girlfriend or two, he may have given up before he even met you.

As with most things, if you want him to understand what you want, be obnoxiously clear. Men tend to miss or misinterpret hints.

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Are You Inoculating Your Husband?

No, I am not opening the vaccination can of worms here; I am thinking of another kind of inoculation that happens in marriages. 

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The Merriam-Webster On-line Dictionary defines inoculate this way:

to give (a person or animal) a weakened form of a disease in order to prevent infection by the disease

In the same way, I think we can give our spouse a weakened form of an issue that prevents them from taking us seriously when we get tired of whatever and want it to change.

Something he does bothers/offends/hurts you. Maybe it is something to which you are sensitive, and maybe it is something that would deeply bother 99.87% of sane women (either way it is valid). I am not talking about how he hangs the toilet paper; I’m talking about bigger issues.

It goes something like this:

  • Wanting to be kind, you mention it nicely and say something like “Would you mind not…”
  • He makes no effort to change – so much so you wonder if he heard you.
  • You repeat your kind request several more times.
  • He still makes no effort to change.
  • You ask again, a bit more firmly.
  • He does nothing.
  • You keep bringing it up, slowly telling him it is more and more critical he do something about the issue.
  • He keeps ignoring you, or says he will change and does not.
  • You reach the end of your rope and blow.
  • He looks at you like you are crazy… and still does not change.

When you first mentioned it, you made it sound like it was no big deal. You made it sound like something that would be nice, but was not important. That inoculated him against hearing it really is important when you try to communicate your need more accurately.

I have seen both men and women do this, but men seem more likely to be inoculated.  I think there are a couple of things at play here. Women are often taught to be nice, to set aside their feelings for others, while men are taught to be up front and forceful, and to see their wants and needs as valid. Additionally, men tend to “set it and forget it” – once they (think they) know how you feel about something they write that to their internal hard drive and ignore any contradictory information.

Dealing with this for future events is easy – be clear about how important it is for something to change the first time you mention it. What about those things he has already been inoculated against? You need him to change the data on his hard drive, and a good way to do that is by addressing the wrong data currently on the drive. Get his attention (there’s another post  ;-) ), then let him know when you first brought up the issue you were not honest with him about how much it bothered/offended/hurt you. Then tell him how much it upsets you, and if possible why. Give him a clear idea of how you would like the situation to change, and ask him for feedback.

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Men Being Emotional

I have mentioned I am not a football fan. However, when you live in Washington and the Seattle Seahawks are in the Supper Bowl, not watching can get you run out of the state; so we went to a Super Bowl party on Sunday.

In addition to watching the game, I was watching the dozen other folks at our two-room gathering. I watched the men go crazy, urging the Hawks on and celebrating when they made a good play. One fellow in the other room came running and jumping into our room each time the Hawks scored. I have known most of these men for a year or more, and I have never seen any of them show as much emotion as they showed on Sunday. Had the game not gone well for our side I would have seen just as much emotion – of another sort.

Clearly men are able to show emotion – when it is socially acceptable.

Man Crying © David Castillo Dominici|

It is easy to say, “Just get over it” but control of emotions has been engrained in us for our entire lives. Most of us were told, “big boys don’t cry” from a very young age. During our school years, many emotions were seen as a sign of weakness, and showing those emotions got you teased – or worse. It was not just other guys who were doing the teasing, plenty of girls joined in. I suspect this is similar to body image for women; even if we decide it is wrong and we should not follow what society tells us, we still struggle with the issue.

If you want to help your hubby with this, be wise about it. Telling him how awesome it is he is not afraid to cry while he is crying may be a bad plan. If he is already feeling exposed, pointing it out will just make it worse. It is much better to tell him you find his willingness to show emotion attractive when he is not crying. If you really want to make an impact, tell him that and then seduce him!

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I worry what others will think of me if they see me shed a tear.


Last week’s survey, for which we would like more data, was Sex: How often? The anonymous survey asked how often you have sex, and how often you would like to have sex.

This week’s survey, Married Masturbation, is an updated rerun of one of our most popular 2012 surveys. The anonymous survey asks married folks if they masturbate, and what they think of those who do.

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Lost in Translation

I had some trouble with my last post (Ginger or Mary Ann?). I said something that I think virtually every man would have understood, but some women heard something else. (And this after my ever-helpful wife warned me and I tried to fix it.) I think this is one of those cases where men and women mean different things by certain words and phrases.

I had several close female friends in high school, and I think I understand “female” better than many men do. However, it is still a second language to me, and I am far from fluent. I understand some, I speak less. So, when I try to explain something to women I sometimes fail badly. 

Translate Button © Stuart Miles|

I have had the same problem in my marriage on occasion. It works both ways – me hearing something other than what my dear wife meant, and her not hearing what I meant. I know it is not just me, because I hear the same from other men and women.

I have made an effort to assume I misunderstood when I think Lori has said something weird, and to suspect she has misunderstood when she looks at me as if I just suggested nude skydiving into a volcano. I also do my very best to give her the benefit of the doubt when she says she did not mean what I heard. 

~ Paul – I’m XY, and sometimes I have no clue what she means!

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Ginger or Mary Ann?

“Ginger or Mary Ann?” 

Mary Ann, Gilligan, and Ginbger © Warner Bros. Television Distribution

Any man in the USofA who is in his 40’s or 50’s has heard that question many times in his life. We do not need an explanation; we understand we are being asked which of the ladies from Gilligan’s Island we would rather be with. Ginger was “the movie star” – a red headed Marilyn Monroe knock off, while Mary Ann was a “girl next door” farm girl from Kansas. 

Would you be surprised to know Mary Ann wins in every poll I can find? The best showing I can find for Ginger is a third, with 20% and lower being more common. If men are all about beauty, why do they choose the farm girl over the glamorous sex symbol? Psychologists both professional and amateur have given all manner of answers to that. I think the primary reason was expressed by every man in a group of half a dozen of my friends when this question came up recently: Ginger is high maintenance

I am going to let you in on a secret. Most men want a peaceful life far more than they want a smoking hot sexy woman. Not all men, but the vast majority – and the number who choose a peaceful life goes up as men get older (and wiser). Beyond that, most of us have learned that women who are “smoking hot” are usually high maintenance. There are exceptions, but it does seem to be the norm. In part, this is because being smoking hot is more than just natural beauty – it requires a huge amount of effort and caring a great deal about appearance. Being “smoking hot” is a high maintenance choice for a woman, and she usually passes that on.

All of this is to show that once men get past the testosterone poisoning of puberty they tend to see more than just a woman’s body. We notice “smoking hot women” because they catch our attention, but that does not mean we want those women. Once we figure out that women are package deals, we look at thing very differently. Things like personality, sense of humour, and intelligence become far more important than looks. 

~ Paul – I’m XY and I say Mary Ann.

By The Way: My son got married this past weekend. I wrote about it in Two Became One over on the Generous Husband.

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Why he wants her to climax every time

The full results of the survey are on the TMB website. I have numbers below, and men’s comments in a couple of sections (read these and you will hear the heart – and confusion – of the men) but I will start with some conclusions. 

The Big O © Paul H. Byerly

What it means about him

Most men feel it is very important for their wife to enjoy sex. When she does not they feel selfish, and even if they get past that they do not enjoy sex as much as when she does climax. Most men will try to get their wife to climax even when she has made it clear she does not want it (69% said they have done this). While part of this is pride, it is also rooted in not understanding how it is possible to enjoy sex without having an orgasm. To most men it is like saying you enjoyed a meal even though you did not put a single bite of food in your mouth.

Those men who have learned to be okay with her not climaxing every time say honest, open conversation helped them accept it. This involved not only “I don’t need to every time” but also explaining why she does not want or feel able to climax every time. An explanation of the enjoyment she gets from sex even when she does not have an orgasm was also important. Explaining that feeling pressured to climax makes it more difficult to get there will also be helpful.

Understand that most men enjoy sex a great deal – it is one of the very best things in life. It is natural to want to share good things with the woman you love. This is not selfish; it is the heart of love!

A few facts from the 415 women who took the survey

(Based on previous surveys we know most of these women are sex positive):

How often do you want to climax when they are sexual with their husband.

  • 22% want to climax every time.
  • 35% want to at least 90% of the time, but not every time.
  • 19% want orgasm 75% to 90% of the time.
  • 14% say 50% to 75% of the time.
  • 6% say 25% to 50%
  • 4% want to climax less than 25% of the time.

The desire to climax at least 75% of the time went up with age

  • 20’s – 71%
  • 30’s – 75%
  • 40’s – 79%
  • 50+ – 80%

Now for the 596 men. 

Has your wife ever told you she did not want to climax when you were having or about to have sex?

  • Thirty six percent have never had their wife say this (this includes 14% who say she wants to every time).
  • Two percent heard it in the past, but not now.
  • Thirty-two hear this from their wife, and another 29% hear it on rare occasions. 

How do you feel when she does not want to climax? (Multiple answers allowed)

  • 39% are fine with it. In the comments it is clear many of them had to learn this.
  • 27% feel like a failure.
  • 14% think she really wants to, but is worried she is asking too much of him.
  • 6% feel unloved.
  • The most common added answer in the comments was they feel disappointed. Others said they feel selfish or guilty.

What you think about her not wanting to climax every time?

  • 44% are fine with it.
  • 34% said they believe her, but cannot understand it.
  • 20% said “It’s her body, whatever she wants.”
  • 18% said their wife always wants to climax.
  • 11% said she would want to if she were not so uptight.
  • Only 3% said, “Whatever, makes it easier for me.”

Men’s Comments:


  • Maybe I’m doing something wrong.
  • Like I’m not satisfying her needs.
  • I feel I can’t satisfy her, so she’s not satisfied with me.
  • I feel she is not attracted to me or not enjoying sex.
  • I see it as a “nice” way to explain that I’m not likely to be good enough.
  • Feels like I forced her to have sex.
  • If I was more skilled she would want it more.
  • I still question my ability to please her.
  • I wonder why she does not want to make love with me, and if she just wants to get it over.
  • I feel like I failed in foreplay to bring her to the point where she can climax. I feel like I was selfish and shorted her on her sexual experience.
  • I feel disconnected, and dissatisfied.

Not as Enjoyable:

  • I become less aroused.
  • It’s not as fun, and I usually feel guilty, like I’m inconveniencing her.
  • I feel unwanted.
  • Makes me not want to have sex.
  • If sex is “just for me” I would tend to prefer she pleases me orally or manually instead… for some reason I don’t like full intercourse as much when we’re not trying to get her there as well.
  • It makes it feel like a release instead of making love.
  • Makes me feel like sex is a chore for her and she just wants to get it over with.
  • Feel like I am letting her down somehow and I feel like I am missing out on something as well. Odd but I feel deprived.
  • Disappointed. Like I’m using her as a masturbatory toy in a way.
  • Feel as if she sacrifices her own pleasure for mine and must have sex for my pleasure.

Why it Matters to Him:

  • Giving my wife an orgasm is more pleasing to me than my own.
  • I think she doesn’t realize how much pleasure I get from her orgasm.
  • My wife’s orgasms are important to me. I understand that it has to do with feelings of esteem and sexual potency. I also understand that men receive pleasure by giving pleasure. I am pleased when I believe my wife is pleased sexually.
  • I like it more after I please her. It’s the best foreplay for me.
  • I would rather that she climax almost every time because it would mean that she was having as much fun as I am.
  • Although I am trying to change the thought I have always felt that a climax indicated that the sex was good. When she doesn’t climax or doesn’t want to climax it makes me feel like a failure as a lover. I want her to climax so she can get as much enjoyment from sex as I do.
  • It’s usually the fact that she knows I want/need sex but she doesn’t so she basically says “just do it”, which I don’t want… I want love making. 
  • Because my wife has given up on even trying to have an orgasm, that tells me that sex is nothing more than a chore for her. I’ve told her that, but she says that providing an orgasm for me is satisfying to her. I appreciate that, but it hurts me to the core of my being that she does not selfishly desire sex for the pleasure it could bring to her. I so long for her to truly WANT sex instead of simply tolerate it because she knows I enjoy it.

Questioning Her or Upset With Her:

  • I think it sometimes is a matter of it taking too long in her mind. 
  • She must be in a hurry. 
  • Frustrated because I think this should be the normal outcome.
  • Her choosing not to orgasm, makes it OK for her not to work on having a great sex life.
  • I wish she would at least try.
  • I get a lot of “duty sex”. So it’s not surprising she doesn’t regularly orgasm. When she is aroused it doesn’t take too much.
  • She NEVER wants an orgasm, and REFUSES anything except PIV to even try.
  • Not every time, but should be usually… rather than rarely. Is it sexual laziness?
  • If she’d orgasm every time she’d want to have more sex.
  • My wife never has and is fearful of it. I wish she would overcome her fear and experience pleasure that God intended for us to share in.
  • She has spectacular orgasms most of the time w/o much effort so it is hard to understand why she wouldn’t want to.
  • She NEVER wants to, so I have grown numb.
  • I’m concerned that the sex is only out of wifely duty instead of wanting me.
  • She has had only one orgasm in her life (very early on in our relationship pre-marriage). She refuses to even try and has made comments that she is “broken” in that department. Her defeated attitude is very discouraging to me.
  • My wife thinks sex is dirty. She thinks I am a crazed animal. She believes as long as she lays there and lets me “do her” then I should be happy.


  • If she is okay with it I am okay with it.
  • It used to bother me, but she has since explained pretty well why she doesn’t sometimes.
  • She has told me outright that there are times she wants to bless me and concentrate on me because I am the higher drive spouse. I’m ok with that now.
  • The point of lovemaking is the satisfaction of both partners, and satisfaction is relative. It is a joint affair, and particular needs or wants can and often do change as lovemaking progresses. So if one partners satisfaction means that he or she does not orgasm in a particular encounter, I see no trouble with it, as long as both parties understand what that means and why.
  • She enjoys our time together, but doesn’t need to orgasm every 72 hours like I do.
  • I know that her desires are different to mine and I accept that. I don’t necessarily understand but I don’t have to. She also knows that if she asks I am always willing to get her over anyway she likes or she can get herself over during sex if she wants to.
  • Sometimes she has multiple orgasms and she says she is “way ahead of me” if we were keeping score, so its ok if she doesn’t every time. (her words, not mine)
  • I used to take it personally. I did not understand when she said she enjoyed being close without it. We are better now – since I stopped pressuring her, she’s freer to climax. Sometimes she even helps herself.
  • I wish I knew earlier that it was somewhat natural for her not to want to orgasm. I chased after it and she began to resent it. She still doesn’t believe that it’s generally ok with me and that I understand. Still, I think that it would be good if she considered it a little more (see I still don’t get it). Once a month is about what she can handle.


  • It was my ego that made me want her to climax every time. It made ME feel better for her to have one.
  • At our age, she always climaxes. When we were younger, she couldn’t make it sometimes, and I was OK with trying again some other night. These days, it is more likely me that cannot make it due to medications.
  • My goal is for her to orgasm every time.
  • I would do anything and spend any amount of time to bring your great pleasure. Sometimes she just isn’t there.
  • I feel selfish for continuing. But she wants to be giving towards me and wants me to climax.
  • She never wants to try and won’t let me stimulate her at all which makes me sad.
  • She says it’s still good for her, but I’d like to get her there.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I understand the pain so many of these men have expressed.

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Thick Skin

I ran across an interesting fact today: on average, a man’s skin is about 25% thicker than a woman’s skin.

Thick Skin © Toa55|

Recently I have gained a first-hand (pun intended) understanding of life with thinner skin. A virus I had caused me to get hives on my hands. Then a week later, the skin started to peel off. So, I was down a layer of skin, and what was now exposed was far more sensitive than usual. I have cut myself doing things that normally would not be a problem, I get splinters left and right when I handle firewood, and the water seems a lot hotter when I wash dishes. I will forever be more understanding of the reality of my wife having thinner skin than I have.

Another common difference between men and women is that the average adult man has 50% more muscle than the average woman. Odds are he is stronger than you are, especially with regards to upper body strength. 

You are probably aware of these differences, because you see him doing things you cannot, or easily doing things that would be a struggle for you. He may not be aware of your “limitations” in these areas, or he may chalk them up to “acting like a girl.” So share the facts with him and maybe he will give you a break. 

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