Since I'm an older woman, young husbands and wives often talk to me as they try to understand their mates.

One gal, concerned about lovemaking said, "My husband wants me to be a race car, ready to go from zero to ninety in ten seconds flat. But I'm an old Dodge that needs to warm up a while." I encouraged her to gently tell her husband this and help him understand that a little tenderness goes a long way toward starting her engine and keeping it running at an energetic purr. Here are some of the other encouragements I've offered:

Men want their wives to desire them. In other words, he wants her to initiate more often. Notice that the operative phrase in the statement is "more often." Not every time, since that puts pressure on him to perform. But even giving him a gentle shoulder hug as he's reading the paper, and adding a quiet "I'm looking forward to going to bed with you tonight," is a wonderful beginning.

Intimacy for a woman starts long before bedtime. It doesn't start when she's brushing her teeth and thinking about crawling into bed. Usually by that point, she's just thinking about going to sleep. Her husband, however, can be intent upon reading the paper, paying bills or watching TV, and never give his wife a glance -- then suddenly be ready to go as soon as he steps into the bedroom. Women typically need more warm-up time. Even a brief hug in the kitchen as her husband helps clear the table will help her feel gentle toward her mate.

Circumstances are usually interconnected for women. Everything in the woman's life is wonderfully connected. That's the way we are made. We can pacify a toddler on our hip while we sort through the day's mail and suggest science project ideas to our third grader.

Men, I've been told, compartmentalize events, thinking about one thing at a time. By virtue of the way God designed them, they often truly don't see the connection between what happened earlier and what is not about to happen in bed. But most women know this little secret: How she's treated out of bed determines how responsive she will be in bed. More than one husband has been honestly bewildered that at bedtime his wife was still miffed over his criticism of the new dish she'd prepared for dinner. To him, it is a that-was-then-this-is-now situation, while the wife wants -- needs -- that previous event settled before she can go to the next one.

Try a little thoughtfulness. What seemingly little thing makes your spouse happy? Ladies, the old saying that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach is true. Oh, I'm not saying you have to become a gourmet cook, but a simple dinner on the table a few times a week beats lining up at the microwave and eating in front of the TV.

And, Guys, yes flowers are important -- especially when you bring them home for no reason at all. "I saw these and thought of you" will do wonders for a lackluster evening. And so will taking the children for a Saturday afternoon -- after helping with the chores -- just so "Mommy can have some time to herself." One man said if he had known taking the children for a couple of hours would do so much to restore his wife's sexual energy, he would have started taking them out long ago.

Don't withhold intimacy as punishment. Mature spouses are going to give their mates some slack and not nurse a grudge or, worse yet, withhold lovemaking just because not everything was done right that day.

It's important for both partners to be forgiving toward each other rather than childishly finding ways to make him or her pay for oversights, misunderstandings, and downright humanness. Keeping score of every little wrong is a good way to flame tension and dissatisfaction. Marriage already has enough challenges without adding that fuel to it.

What if we occasionally ran our day's activities -- and attitudes -- through the measure of 1 Corinthians 13, the famous "love chapter"? It's amazing how petty most of our grievances seem when compared to that standard. And those encouragements can be applied to all aspects of life -- even lovemaking.


Adapted from
Men Read Newspapers, Not Minds--and other things I wish I'd known when I first married by Sandra P. Aldrich. (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1996. Used by permission.) Author or co-author of 17 books, Sandra is an international speaker who handles serious issues with insight and humor. For booking information, she may be contacted at BoldWords@aol.com.