Psychologist Dr. Brandy Engler, author of the new book, The Men On My Couch: True Stories of Sex, Love, and Psychotherapy, has found that guys' bedroom behavior can be very revealing of where they're at emotionally. Here are five common patterns. By Holly Corbett, REDBOOK.
Sex is a window into his emotional state
"Many women assume that men have biological needs that just have to be satisfied and that's what makes up their entire motivation for sex," says Dr. Engler. "Yet men are often taught it's more accepted to express themselves sexually rather than emotionally, and so they project all kinds of things about themselves in the bedroom without even knowing it." For example, if your guy is feeling powerless in your relationship - maybe after losing his job and no longer being the breadwinner - he might start to act more aggressive between the sheets. If you notice a change in how forceful he is, initiate a conversation outside the bedroom to better understand whether he is feeling helpless in any aspect of his life or your relationship. "Sexually men act out, and women tend to 'act in' by losing libido," says Dr. Engler. Nix that by talking things out.
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Ask and you shall receive
"A lot of women don't know that many men feel like they can't let go and be completely themselves because they're trying to please their wives so much," says Dr. Engler. "There can be a lot of anxiety surrounding sex, with men stressing about pleasing the woman, while many women are conflicted about their right to ask for and receive pleasure," Do you notice that you tend to be more passive in the bedroom and let him do all the work? Don't make him responsible for your satisfaction. Try to get out of your own head and concentrate purely on feeling and enjoying all the sensations happening, without worrying what you or your husband is doing. This will subtly let him know he's not being judged, which helps him relax, too, so he can enjoy himself - and you - more.
Wanting more sex than usual may be his way of reaching out
Sure, guys' push for sex may be more emotional than physical. And guys who start demanding sex every single night may not be doing it out of sheer horniness, but because they feel anxious about your connection and need reassurance that you still love them. Make him feel desired by sending texts about how badly you want him when you're apart. Or do something special to surprise him, like making his favorite dinner on a regular, old Tuesday night.
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He hasn't stopped wanting sex because of your baby weight
Though a long-married man commonly blames his low sex drive on the fact that his wife put on 15 pounds, the underlying reason most likely has to do with some disappointment he feels in the relationship. "He objectifies her by honing in on her body parts, but there's actually a lot of anger behind that," says Dr. Engler. If guys express their emotions through sex, it may be more natural for him to sexualize the issue than to dig deeper to find out the real source of his disappointment. In fact, your few extra pounds likely isn't killing his sex drive. Instead, it's that he feels like the kids get all of your attention and that you have no energy left for him. Your husband will be there long after the kids are grown, so don't wait to invest time in your relationship. Drop the children off at their grandparents so the two of you can spend a few hours reconnecting one-on-one. Having shared experiences sans kids, and setting aside alone time will make him feel like you're invested in him - and will rekindle his libido.
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His cheating isn't about not loving you
You may think that just because your guy worships the ground you walk on that he won't wander, but the statistics show that is just not the case. "A man doesn't cheat because there's something wrong with the woman, but because of his own internal needs, such as seeking gratification that he's sexy or good enough," says Dr. Engler. "A common complaint I hear from men is that they don't feel appreciated." Ensure your relationship doesn't become plagued with flirty Facebook messages to exes, or suggestive texts to a crush by making sure your husband feels prized, as straying may be more rooted in his own desires to be recognized. Leave sticky notes on the bathroom mirror thanking him for mundane stuff such as dropping off the dry cleaning, or make it a point to tell him something about him that you're grateful for every night before you go to sleep.