While we’re on the topic of assumptions in marriage and not knowing what you don’t know, I thought it was high time we had this little conversation. This is specifically for husbands (as opposed to men in general, since I’m a firm believer in the value of keeping sex within the context of marriage). That said, I’m always open to some extra feedback from the wives; let me know if I’m not talking about as large a majority as I think I am. And kids – this is not for you. I’m gonna keep it fairly clean anyway, but do you really want to read this knowing full well that it’s about your parents?
Okay. You’ve all heard of the book Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus. It’s been a long time since I read it, but I seem to recall that it contained some good insight. Then came a book called Men are like Waffles; Women are like Spaghetti. That one made more sense to me – the concept being that for men, everything in life has its own little compartment and those compartments don’t overlap or get mixed up; for women, everything is connected and interlocked and tangled up. Let’s take those two models and apply them to the bedroom, add in one more little comparison (men are like microwaves and women are like crock pots) and you’ve got the basis for what I’m going to attempt to clarify for you today.
I’ll give you my own little analogy to get us started. Men are like snipers; women are like Walmart.
Snipers: unwavering, undistractable focus on one very specific task.
Walmart: A 24/7 chaotic stream of people needing things from every department.
Men, the things that occupy your wife’s day continue to occupy her mind well into the night. Let’s call these overlapping, ongoing thoughts The Lurkers. She can’t shut them off. They are always there. Her brain flips from one to the next in a constant slide show that she can’t unplug. It might go something like this:
Should I call my daughter’s teacher about that math test?…My foot still hurts from stepping on that Lego this morning…Don’t forget to add toothpaste to the grocery list…I need to tell my husband about that weird sound the car is making…My mother is driving me crazy…Rats! I forgot to get a birthday present for the party tomorrow…I wish I could be more of a help to my friend while she’s going through this rough time…My son will need his jersey clean on Thursday so I need to do a load of whites tomorrow…And if I do call the math teacher, I should tell her not to schedule a retest for Friday because of our dentist appointments…
Get the idea? It never stops. When she is making supper, The Lurkers are vying for her attention while she sautés the onions and strains the noodles. When she is driving the carpool, The Lurkers are vying for her attention while she is trying to remember how to get to some kid’s house and mediating the argument in the back seat. And yes, when she is participating in a very intimate moment, The Lurkers are vying for her attention while she is nuzzling your ear and rubbing your back.
She hates this. At other times in the day, there is pride in the multi-tasking aspect of being a woman. But at bedtime, she really wishes she could make it stop. She wants to turn off The Lurkers’ voices and solely turn you on instead (see what I did there? Tee hee). But The Lurkers do not go away. Ever.
Unfortunately, every time The Lurkers draw your wife’s attention away from the task at hand (sorry about that. Not sorry enough to reword it), it’s like taking the lid off the crock pot. A lot of heat is lost in a very short time and it takes a while to get back to where you were. Before you know it, the microwave has dinged and the crock pot has given up. This is frustrating for both of you.
Now that you know how her brain works, there are two points that make this knowledge more applicable to you.
First, if she seems distracted, don’t take it as an insult to your virility. It’s not your fault. But you can help. You could pause for a moment and say to her, “You seem distracted. Is everything okay?” Sometimes one or two of The Lurkers will sit down and shut up if your wife can talk through the issue with you. Or you could offer a counter-distraction with an “I love you” or other pertinent comment.
Second, there is only so much mental capacity for accommodating The Lurkers. The more important Lurkers drown out the less important ones. This is good news for you. You have the power to infiltrate The Lurkers and occupy more of that mental space.
Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Women don’t usually think about sex frequently throughout the day. In fact, – brace yourself! – sometimes a whole day has flown by and she hasn’t thought about sex at all. But if she is thinking about you during the day, then more thoughts about you take up space in The Lurkers’ running slide show, which will in turn help keep her focus on you during sex. And that means there will be a much better chance of getting the crock pot to the correct internal temperature by the time the microwave dings.
So how can you get her to be thinking about you during the day? Engage her affection outside a sexual context. Seriously, guys, there needs to be a distinction there. Sexual context will probably get lost in the mental shuffle of everyday stuff because she’s just not thinking about that right now. But affection, appreciation, genuine compliments – those grab her attention and get her thinking about you in the middle of everyday stuff and then you’re in the slide show by the time you reach for her. See the difference here? You tell her she’s hot because you’re already thinking about sex. But if you tell her she’s pretty, that will stick in her brain all day and then when it’s time for sex, she can think about you.
And when she’s thinking about you, you both win.