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Turn Up the Heat by Dr. Kevin Leman

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Communicate for a Better Love Life

By Dr. Kevin Leman
Author of Turn Up the Heat

CBN.comDid you know that on average, women use three and a half times as many words as men? So guess what that means? When we husbands are at the end of our workday, we’ve already used up our word count . . . and having a relationship with the remote control sounds awfully good. It doesn’t ask us questions or get mad at us if we don’t have a task done or don’t answer a question a certain way.

That’s why, when you wives talk to us about anything, it’s not that we don’t hear you or that we don’t want to hear you. It’s often that we’re not equipped to answer you at that very moment. It may just take us a while to process. And you’re so verbal that you’re already three paragraphs down the track before we engage.

So it’s no wonder that what we hear midprocess is a big, irritated sigh, and then, “Are you listening to me?” Yes, sure we were . . . kind of . . . but we’re also unwinding from work.

Interestingly, scientific studies prove that a woman tends to be more relational and better at communication than her male counterpart. She actually has more connecting fibers than a man does between the verbal side and the emotional side of her brain. That means a woman’s feelings and thoughts zip along quickly, as if they’re on an expressway, but a man’s tend to poke along slowly, as if he’s dragging his feet on a dirt road. Eventually his thoughts will catch up with the woman’s, but it may be miles down the road.

The miles in between are where you women tend to get exasperated. After all, you’re so good at expressing your feelings and jumping from topic to topic, who can blame you for rolling your eyes when all you get out of your guy is “the grunt”?

Because a woman’s flow of words is so much more than a man’s, we also (to be frank) sometimes tune you out when we get overwhelmed. We guys want the facts, not every blow by blow (unless, of course, it’s about how to put the latest car engine together or problem solving on how to load Battlefield 2142).

Men and women, as I’ve said, are different. Perhaps it will help to know that a woman’s top needs are:

     1. Affection (translation: hugs, kisses, hand-holding, back rub — not sex)
     2. Honest, open communication
     3. Commitment to family

Ah, no wonder wives get so annoyed when we husbands can’t follow the verbal train down the track. It’s hard
for us guys to talk — we’re not used to it. When one of us exchanges a grunt with another man, we’ve had a
whole conversation. But does that mean we can’t do it? No, we just need a good teacher. And you women are
the best at what you do.

But did you know that most couples spend 1 percent of their sexual relationship talking about it and 99 percent making love? They’re missing out! I believe the ideal split should be 90 percent talking about sex and 10 percent engaging in a sensual, intimate activity. For why, read on.

Q: My wife hasn’t been in the mood for sex a lot lately, and I can’t figure out what’s going on. I feel really rejected. But I’m too embarrassed to ask her straight out what’s going on.

A: Although couples do it, many seem to have a hard time talking about it. As crazy as that sounds when you put those words down in black and white, you know what I mean, because you’re living it. But you and your wife need to talk about it.

For starters, say to your wife, “Honey, I’ve noticed that you don’t seem to be in the mood for sex lately.

Now, I could be wrong, but I’ve just sensed that you’re not as interested as you used to be. Is there anything you want to talk about?” Such an approach diffuses accusation and anger.

You can’t assume immediately that the problem is you. Your wife could be stressed, be overwhelmed at work or with your children and their activities, be going through a depression, or have changing hormones. There’s also the possibility she’s upset with you and feels like she can’t say anything. Whatever the reason, isn’t now the time to find out so you can address the situation before it grows into a bigger one?

Now’s the to be the husband your wife needs you to be and step out of your own embarrassment in order to talk to your bride.

Q: We used to talk all the time. We used to have sex several times a week. Now we have three kids — 9, 12, and 14. We never talk — at least just the two of us — and sex is certainly not happening either. I really miss both. Any ideas about how to get them back?

A: If you miss talking and sex, go after them! Better yet, combine them. Having time for you as a couple is far more important than running your kids to multiple activities. You can improve your sex life if you start by improving your communication.

Make sitting down and talking together for a few minutes — just the two of you — your priority every night. And by that, I don’t mean talking at each other. I mean talking to each other. You both must agree that while one of you is talking, the other one won’t interrupt. For example, you talk, and your husband gives you his full attention (as he would if he were trying to woo you during the dating process). Then, after you’ve stopped talking, he says what he heard you say.

He may be right. He may be wrong. If he didn’t get it right, then you clarify when he’s done talking:

“That’s not exactly what I meant. What I meant was . . .”

The key is one person talking at a time while the other is fully engaged, listening.

By the way, one of the best places to talk is in the bathtub, with no barriers between the two of you. Now, if you’re built like me — like a bullfrog on the side of a pond — or maybe you have a few bucks in your pocket, and you can have a Jacuzzi, all the better. You can relax in comfort while you talk. There’s something about warm bathwater that just takes the edge off a discussion. And it can lead to other things too. . . .

There’s no reason why you two can’t take some time away by yourself, especially when your children are old enough to help themselves to the refrigerator. Your best bet is to get a lock installed on your bedroom and bathroom doors. Neither of you is going to be in the mood for sex if you’re afraid your adolescent or teenager will walk in on you in your full glory at any time.

The point is to find a place where you can talk eyeball to eyeball, without interference and in a respectful way. If you do that, you might learn what many couples never learn — to communicate respectfully and lovingly.

Good communication is one of the keys to paving the road to good sex in marriage. You can’t really have one — for long, at least — without the other. But combine them, and you two will find yourselves behind that newly installed lock on your bedroom door more often than you’d ever dreamed.

Q: We are a career-oriented couple, and we’ve always been happy with our lives that way. But lately, I’ve been feeling empty. I miss my wife, and I miss the playfulness of our sex life since her promotion has sent her jetting around the country. I respect her and don’t want to hold her back from her accomplishments, but I’m lonely. How can I tell her that without giving her a guilt trip (which she doesn’t deserve)?

A: Think of your working-outside-the-home and traveling wife as analogous to a stay-at-home mom with three little ones. But instead, the people your wife deals with are VPs, office managers, and other salespeople at the firms she works with. Just as those little ankle biters can strip the energy from a stay-at-home mom, the incredible pressure of a high-paced career (for both men and women) can have that same effect on energy, libido, and general demeanor.

So why not have some planned spontaneity during the times your wife is home? Take her to dinner and then to a resort or a nice hotel for the night (pack her a bag so she doesn’t have to; she does enough of that already). Or, since she’s gone so much, set up her own spa at home. Candles, bath oils, fresh towels warm from the dryer — all are wonderful mood setters that make a woman say, He really loves me.

Since you have enough time to be lonely, you have enough time to plan some things. Schedule a massage for her that takes some stress from her busy life. Then pay for the massage in advance so she can just relax.

Today’s world is busy, and many couples are in dual-track careers. Leslie and Brian, one couple I know, both travel. She’s in Hong Kong two weeks each month; he’s in London one week each month. But they finagled their schedules so that he’s gone one of the same weeks she is. During their two weeks together, they major on couple time and do fun things together four nights a week, just by themselves. The other nights are social times when they see friends.

Let me assure you that your wife already has guilt by the boatload for what she can’t get done. She doesn’t need an extra dose from you. So how you approach her will make all the difference in the world.

Maybe start with something like this: “Wonderful lady, I love you with all my heart, and there’s something I want to tell you. I’m not telling you this to make you feel guilty, so if any guilt wells up, let’s get rid of it. But sometimes I feel like a lost little boy. With me rushing one direction, you rushing another, and both of our challenging jobs, I miss the times we sit together and talk and make love. Those times seem to be less and less frequent, and I don’t like that. I want to see it change. How do you feel about it?”

By using such words, you’re zeroing in on the situation, assuring her of your love for her, and suggesting that the two of you work toward some kind of compromise that’s doable for both of you.

There are many options. If she has a great job and loves it, and your job isn’t so great or you don’t feel as passionate about it, perhaps you could consider changing jobs or staying home. There are lots of stay-at-home hubbies and dads these days.

In the long run, what’s more important? Things or people? Career or marriage?

Sad to say, I can answer that question for most of America: career is #1. And look at the divorce rate.

If you want to stay married and be happy in that marriage, you’ll do everything you can to work on communicating your heart to your spouse and sharing your lives.

Continue reading >>

Used by permission of Revell, adivision of Baker Publishing Group, copyright © 2009. All rights to this material are reserved. Materials are not to be distributed to other web locations for retrieval, published in other media, or mirrored at other sites without written permission from Baker Publishing Group.

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