Mothers of small kids, whether they work or not, often feel that their sense of self is consumed by the roles of cook, chauffeur, cleaner, and toddler entertainer. When sex is added to the list of things that others demand from us, we start to resent it. We start to feel like a rabbit in a cage—a rabbit that is being pursued by an oversexed male rabbit. Run rabbit, run!
And when a husband’s idea of foreplay is to use openers like “Hey, it’s been a while . . .” or to say nothing and just give us the Ten O’Clock Shoulder Tap, we want to run even faster. (Cue the “Jaws” theme.)
Men feel close and connected to their wives after they have sex, but for women, the connection has to precede the act. When a husband doesn’t engage in any form of intimacy, such as talking or cuddling, and simply expects to have sex, it makes a girl feel like an animal. Married sex can end up feeling like a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am affair.
“You know what I feel like when I get that intrusive hand on my thigh with not a word, not a hug, not a single acknowledgment that I am anything other than convenient? When he does that, it does not feel like a quiet act of intimacy, which I know is what he thinks it is. What it feels like is that he’s plugging me into an electric marquee sign that blinks, ‘Bad Wife. Bad Wife. Bad Wife,’ over and over again. That hand tells me that he feels neglected. But when he approaches sex that way, I feel neglected, too.”
—Ellen, married 9 years, 2 kids
Women Want to Be Seduced
When a man and woman start dating, and even after they are married, they put their best foot forward for each other. The woman makes a concerted effort to look great and listens rapturously to everything the man says. The man is extremely attentive, listens carefully, calls regularly, takes care when planning dates to make sure she will enjoy herself. But once the kids appear, he claims the Bait and Switch occurs in the bedroom, while she claims the Reverse Bait and Switch happens in the romance department.
We women know we don’t put out as much as we used to—but men, you don’t put in as much as you once did either. There was a time when you wouldn’t have dreamed of making a move without taking your wife out for dinner and making her laugh first. When you think that a shoulder tap is all that it takes to get sex, we feel like a 7-Eleven, open for business at your convenience.
We want to be wooed. We want to be pursued. That desire to feel attractive doesn’t go away just because we’ve finally reeled in a man. We need you to show us you love us before you make a move—that you are looking for more than a warm body with a pulse. We just want a little romance, not a paw on the shoulder. Stop the Tap, and start your rap.
* Illustrations by Larry Martin