Has your Wife Said She Doesn’t Need Sex? You may also be hearing “you’re needy”, “I don’t like being touched”, “All you ever think about is sex” and there’s a distinct lack of basic affection in your relationship. The good news is that here’s a well known reason behind this behaviour (it relates to your attachment style which I wrote about here.)
Now this article is bound to tick off idealists who believe “it shouldn’t be like that.”
Sorry. But for scads of married men it is like this.
The cold, hard truth is millions of “openly vulnerable husbands” (OVH) face cold, distant and disrespectful wives every day. Even in our “highly evolved” age, the year 2021 has brought more questions than answers to the modern marriage and the husbands I help.
Shouldn’t This Be a Two-Way Street?
The typical email complaint I get from husbands sounds like this:
My wife and I are really having trouble and her anger seems to be driving it. She has been calling me needy and hates me talking about my feelings and our relationship. She pulls away when I try to get closer to her and she has been super disconnected. She says she feels smothered by me and my feelings.
I thought we were supposed to show vulnerability to women. I thought we were supposed to be open with them and also accept their vulnerability. But she doesn’t share anything with me. Shouldn’t this be a two-way street?
Answer: No. It’s not a two-way street. Let go of what is “supposed to be” and choose to deal with what “is”. Your expectation that it should be a two-way street will only create more cold and more distance. Wouldn’t it be nice if being vulnerable with your wife was easy? Sure, it would. So would financial freedom, effortless sex and world peace and, like those, it’s a lot more complicated than you would like.
The Two-Way Street Myth about Vulnerability
Men and women are perfectly equal – but we’re not the same. If sameness is your desire, you will need to come back in another life and give it another shot.
“Sameness” is not going to evolve in your lifetime so “them’s the cards you’re dealt”.
You can choose to play or fold.
The two-way street vulnerability myth has a few misconceptions which can leave the OVH quite confused.
1. Men and women should and must display equal amounts of vulnerability in order to create true intimacy, love and sexual desire.
Expecting to achieve equal amounts of anything is a recipe for disaster. It’s easy to manage equity for domestic stuff like housework and bills.
But intimacy, love and desire are not subject to the rules of domestic equality. Trying to manipulate equal effort and equal vulnerability is a set up for conflict and disappointment. Pursuing her to join you at a level of vulnerability you desire will cause her to distance herself from you. (see my Pursuer/Distancer article)
2. All women want a man who is willing to show his sensitivity, fears and tears for her to feel closeness, trust and sexual attraction.
Even the research by vulnerability expert Brene Brown confirms the current social conditioning of women to be disappointed and disgusted (her words) by male vulnerability. Check out her famous video. Many wives perceive their husband’s fear and uncertainty as weakness and it can scare them, piss them off and turn them off. An informal poll of any 25 honest wives will confirm this. One woman explained it to me like this, “I don’t mind him being vulnerable as long as he has a handle on how he is going to fix the problem.”
3. It’s selfish, unfair, immature and unevolved for a woman to be turned off by an OVH. She should be the safest place to vent his emotions.
Judging what feels attractive to her is a waste of your time. It’s not a conscious choice for her. It’s simply a programmed reaction. It’s no more selfish, unfair, immature and un-evolved than your reaction to a woman you find extremely unappealing (insert your image here). You could try to rationalize with her that she should be the best, safest place for you to emotionally vomit anytime you feel like it. Or you could try to debate the science of attraction with her to find a resolution. Good luck with that.
Can you be Both Masculine and Vulnerable at the Same Time?
Of course. Men have equal rights and access to their fears, tears, uncertainty, insecurity and unbridled emotional expression. And exercising those rights does not make a man less “masculine”. Masculinity always contains the full range of human emotion. That’s not remotely debatable in my book.
My question is “Can a husband reasonably expect to sustain his masculine attractiveness to his wife if his emotional vulnerability is unchecked, uncontrolled and unregulated?”
In most cases, I believe the answer is no.
I know some will point out relationships where it works and is welcome and is warm and wonderful. Those may be the rare and truly evolved spiritual partnerships with fully realized mutuality in every respect.
But it takes two extremely conscious, intentional and willing partners to achieve that. Often these are second marriages. If this is you, don’t bother with the rest of this article. If this this isn’t you…keep reading.
Let’s talk more about how to look at your own vulnerability and why regulating it can be a powerful choice that you make for yourself.
Don’t Lower Your Expectations – Just Change Them
Okay, you’re still here.
Let me help you change your expectations.
This isn’t about giving up hope for the marriage you imagined. It’s about changing the nature of your hope.
Instead of hoping for things to be different, hope that you can change the way you think and feel about sharing your vulnerability.
It’s a matter of personal growth. It’s a choice to learn how to create a new environment for your partner.
This happened for me first with horses. Learning it with women came after my divorce. (I’ll tell you that story later sometime)
In my time training horses I learned an incredible life lesson. I started out sucking with horses because I wanted them to fit into my expectations for rational behavior. To me they were acting stupid, irrational and scared for no good reason. They also scared me a little. This why many people believe horses are generally stupid, irrational and scared animals.
But they’re not. (neither is your wife)
They’re just programmed differently which required me to learn, understand and honor their programming. Then I had to learn a different language which was totally non-verbal. Then I had to develop patience and perseverance like never before. Then I started getting really good.
Horses loved me. They trusted me and talked to me. I finally figured out the invisible communication required to “whisper” to horses. It became natural, easy and enjoyable for me. Nothing felt like a struggle anymore.
My lesson was that I was totally capable of changing my expectations, my perspective and my energy to achieve the results I wanted. I could regulate my actions according to the expectations I had of myself and still stay true to who I wanted to be.
Do I need to hit you with a 2×4 to make my point any clearer?
Okay, I will.
I’m suggesting you can change from hoping your wife will change to deciding that you want to learn how to adapt – for you. This change requires you to act with intention to manage your emotions and create an environment conducive to more comfort and connection in your relationship.
This is a transformation you can surely realize within your lifetime – more likely in about a six months or less.
Choosing to own your stuff impacts your whole life – especially your marriage. It gives you a sense of emotional strength and leadership maybe for the first time ever.
You no longer feel like you’re walking on emotional eggshells. And you feel new confidence in your role of leading your own emotional energy. Imagine the feeling when you see her positively responding and trusting you as you operate from your new perspective.
You can do this. It’s not hard. I help guys do this every single day.
But you have to want to. And if you don’t want to, I can predict your future for you if you’d like.
What Do You Do Now?
By now you can choose to believe me or not.
You can believe that women are negatively affected by your unregulated emotions or not.
You can believe that you are able to develop control over your expectations, perspective and emotions or not.
I’m offering this perspective for you to consider as a way out of the hot mess that may be pushing her further away.
You may be thinking I’ve forgotten the big question:
“Hey, what do I do when I need to emotionally vomit dammit?! Don’t I deserve to share my fears, tears, insecurities with anyone?”
Of course you do.
I’ve come to firmly believe the best place for this is with other men. Through my own personal development with men, the men I coach, my men’s Roundtable community, I have seen miracles happen.
These are initiated men who have chosen to accept the realities in front of them and take action to become stronger, clearer and more confident than any other time in their life. They are operating their life in accordance with their own rules – nobody else’s. They have chosen to accept the love and support of other men who not only can handle their fears, tears and insecurities – they want to.
Your wife and marriage provide you tremendous rewards, challenges and growth opportunities. You will drastically accelerate your learning, confidence and growth by bringing other men into that process.
I help men conquer the crap that is keeping them from feeling free and powerful in their lives and marriages.
How would you like to be gently whacked with The 2×4 of Clarity?
Our “2×4 of Clarity” initial Coaching Sessions are free. These calls are real coaching sessions, no sales pitch in sight – we do this because we love to help and support men in their growth (the secret is that it also fuels our growth).
Deep, effective coaching is our marketing strategy and that comes from our desire to simply serve you. Click HERE to apply for a free “2×4 of Clarity Coaching Session”.
And if you’re ready to dive into the community of men who are just like you, come and join the Men’s Roundtable. It’s a low cost, high impact, incredibly powerful group of initiated men all working on becoming clear, confident, courageous and making amazing shit happen in our lives and relationships.