Dr. Val Farmer
Rural Mental Health & Family Relationships

Male Readers Respond On Sex And Affection

March 3, 2003

I received the following two responses from male readers reacting to my column on sex and affection in marriage.

"I just read your article, ‘Less can be more when it comes to sex.’ It appears to me this was a ‘Beat on the Guys’ article. Lots of advice for men but none for women. Your article leads a person to believe that sexual problems in a marriage are because of that bad man. I don't think so!

"I would hope to see a Part II to this article devoted to advice for women on what guys like. I'd like to think that marriage is a two way street where both people give in, not just the men."

Part two comes in the form a letter from another reader who also took exception to the advice. Here are excerpts from his letter.

"Your article about sex reminded me of my wife and her avoidance tactics. Initially I agreed with of what I read but after much thought, I had to disagree with the main focus of the article.

"First of all, this woman who you write about is probably typical of many, during the dating process and prior to marriage, she couldn't get enough, morning, noon or night and suddenly after repeating vows (to have and to hold), everything changes. This is a pretty common occurrence in my non professional visits with other men. It becomes, to have when I feel like it and to hold off when I feel like it.

"In the article, the wife is withholding intimacy in order to protect herself. Protect herself from what? It makes us seem like perverted rapists.

"In the paragraph on timing and awareness, she could probably consider her timing and awareness a little as well¼. After fighting off his advances she thinks he may feel a little rejected, well I suppose he would. Anytime I tried discussing sex with my wife, the response was, ‘All you are interested in is sex,’ and that was the end of discussion.

"Men are not as shallow as we are portrayed, a discussion on how to have a dynamic, vital, mutually satisfying sexual life together ('til death do us part) is more than just about getting laid. I don't recall that my wife ever responded much to words, hugs, tender touches, cards, gifts, expressions of endearment, romantic surprises or countless courtesies, I usually just wound up with a stronger feeling of rejection.

"Ask her what she wants in the way of affection? Sorry, can't discuss intimacy, might result in having sex.

"What happens before the bedroom door closes is what counts? Sounds pretty regimented to me. What happened to couches and other places of interest, or times such as morning or afternoon.

"I haven't groped for a long time. When I touch my wife, anywhere, it is with concern about how she may feel about it, whether it's an erogenous area or other.

"Predictable lovemaking? Sounds like calendars and appointments. We had that when first married, it became a chore for both of us. Spontaneous with communication would have been better, I think.

"Rarely has my wife taken the initiative. Sexual foreplay is not affection. I disagree with that statement. I have tremendous feelings of affection towards my wife during foreplay and I also provide plenty of afterplay, as much attention is given to that as foreplay.

"Non-sexual affection is okay between a brother and sister, but in a marriage, all affection is sexual in nature.

"I do not think that what you have written in your article will help any marriage; it was very negative.

"¼I believe that women are exposed from the beginning to a lot of misinformation and negativism regarding sexual activity, schools, churches, family and entertainment media etc. I am not suggesting promiscuity here but I do believe that woman have a right to look forward to and enjoy sexual activity with their mate. They shouldn't have to protect themselves or fight off their mate.

"Your article does not help. It paints a lousy picture of men and generates a negative attitude in women towards a normal healthy intimate relationship with a man. Honest communication between a woman and a man would go a long ways towards promoting happy marriages.

"When I make love to my wife, that is exactly what I am doing, I am making love to her in an affectionate, considerate and loving way in the hope that she is enjoying it as well as I am.

"There is obviously a lot more to this particular story but this is enough; maybe I just needed to vent a little. I will show your article to my wife and I will try to raise a discussion on the subjects brought up but she still clams up on the subject of intimacy.

"Forgive the criticism, but there is always another side to a story and I have heard enough of that side, not much is said nor is much consideration given to a man’s side of this issue."

There are two sides to every story. Sexual fulfillment in marriage is an important emotional and physical need for both genders. As this reader points out, avoidance, control, and lack of honest communications harms relationships. The earthy, sensual aspect of sex needs to be negotiated just as does affection. Affection and sex do blend together.