Knowledge is power. But real knowledge about your spouse? Nuclear.
Being a man, my wife is a mystery to me like stars are to a child. Sometimes I feel like I'm gazing at her beauty from a distance; and while that's not so bad, a closer look wouldn't be too bad either.
Here's the gist: after kids, the sex diminished. I often found myself wondering things like: Why does she still say not tonight? Is she not attracted to me anymore? Why does she have to be so damn hot?
Still, I didn't want to rush to judgment, or assume something that wasn't necessarily true. I needed to think, give it some time, and then maybe talk it out. But what did I do? I simply decided she was the problem.
I'll skip ahead a few painful months and just say that didn't work. Next up, my tactics changed and I tried something I think men stopped doing in the twentieth century: I looked inward. What if I'm the problem, I thought.
Two things then occurred to me quickly. One, looking inward sucks. Two, maybe I should talk to my wife. So, here's what I learned after many talks with my bride.
1. Do things for her without expecting anything in return.
Imagine you just ran ten miles and at the finish line your best bro for life exclaims, "Hey, that was the worst run time you've ever had. Oh, and by the way, we can't hang out anymore." This represents the kind of physical and emotional roller coaster your wife is on, both while growing a human inside her body and even afterward when she's caring for it at four or five years old.
That means the next time she says not tonight, it's not because she doesn't love you. Want to help her out? Get dinner, put the kids to bed, give them showers, and talk to her about her day. And even better, do it without expecting anything in return.
2. Figure out what non-sexual things turn on — and off.
We live in the age of equality, but studies have shown that men and women are still very different psychologically. Guys can be turned on like a light switch; women, however, enjoy a narrative, a build-up.
Even if your wife doesn't fit this stereotype, it remains your job to know her front to back (not just physically). Find out what turns her on, what she likes and doesn't like. It might be weird to discover that she thinks doing the dishes is hot, but that's why you're different. And that's OK.
3. Keep communication 100 percent open.
Silence breeds tension, assumptions, and boredom. Talk as much as you possibly can. When I started asking my wife questions, I realized I had the equivalent of a high school education when it came to women.
Make it a habit of learning more about your wife everyday, even the small things. This will prevent a stale dynamic. By doing this, it will become apparent, in the best possible way, how deep her universe is. And while the mystery in your relationship will remain, it's actually changed, because now you're exploring instead of just standing back, wondering what's out there.
Start small. Ask questions when you or she get home, ask when you're in bed and learn to become interested. Also, don't forget that it takes two to tango. Eventually, use the opportunity to tell her more about what you like in the relationship, and don't. And whatever the two of you do, don't stop talking, even when it's hard.
4. Help her temporarily escape from motherhood.
If your lady is home with the kids, you need to get her out every now and then. And by every now and then, I mean like once a week. For example: She told me she likes girl time. I then told her she has to find a girlfriend to hang out with at least weekly, leaving just the kids to myself for the evening.
It's a great refresher, giving her the opportunity to feel like a woman rather than just Mom. Every once in awhile someone in the relationship knows what the other really needs. Find out what that is and make her get it.
5. Learn how to forgive and move on.
This last one I realized on my own. I shouldn't be surprised that few couples discuss forgiveness; it's hard to think about let alone practice. But don't let that be an excuse. You don't stop seeking success in your profession just because it's hard.
Kids added an unseen stress in our relationship, which meant increased fights. Don't stop working in your relationship. If you've hurt your wife in some way, let her know you're sorry. Don't let any more time pass. And if the tables are turned, just talk to her about it. Grudges suck with friends, but they're cantankerous in intimate relationships.
You'll notice this list didn't merely contain tips on sex itself — and that's kind of my point.
As guys we're often too black and white, missing the nuanced details of a relationship.
It's not just about the act of sex itself, but about all the small things that lead up to it. Know what makes her tick, and meet her desires even if they're different from yours.
It's no doubt that sex is best when two are closest. And if she's not in a place where she's ready yet, just keep doing these things because you love her anyway.