Hi, my name is Janna Denton-Howes and I am a sex and intimacy coach for married women. I was asked an excellent question just the other day and I want to respond to it because I think a lot of women are experiencing the same question. So here’s what it was. “Why is a low sexual desire in women a women’s job to fix? This is made to be a woman’s problem. It’s unfair because men don’t have to address it. There is nothing that they need to do. And furthermore, I’m resentful that amongst all the other things, housework and groceries and kids and all of the things, this is one more thing that I have to think about. Why isn’t there a class called how to seduce your wife? Do I have to do everything including seduce myself?”
It can seem a bit skewed
This is such a good question. I think the reason why it seems a little bit skewed just from all this stuff, all the videos, all the blog posts, all the social media stuff I put out there is because I’ve chosen to speak to one person, which is the woman. And that’s just from a practical standpoint. It would be incredibly hard for me to just always be switching back and forth between men and women. Especially because the words that men use that I could relate to them with and the way I would communicate would be different than what I would use to speak to women.
So we’re just looking at some logistical standpoint. I have chosen to speak to women and so I am just speaking to women. I will often say to women in the wanting it more program when we get on live group calls, I’m like, “Look, I’m telling you this, but if I was talking to your husband, I would probably be saying something different.” Or I would also be telling him to do all the things.
It can be easy to feel resentful. I did!
I also really believe that women are often a spark of change in relationships. And I felt resentful about this for so many years. I would ask my husband to read a book or listen to this podcast. We didn’t really have podcasts back then when I was doing this or go to counselors with me or go fix your own stuff and then come back. And I would feel increasingly resentful because he wouldn’t read the book. He wouldn’t be as enthusiastic as I was about the counseling or coaching. He wouldn’t attend the workshops with me for example. So I have just come to the conclusion that a good team is a diverse team and that men and women often bring different things to relationships.
And I don’t think this is a cop-out for men at all.
I think it’s just an opportunity for women to really shine in their area of expertise, which is emotional and relationship stuff. And is that biological or is that something that our culture has created? We don’t know. Right? I mean research shows that boys are encouraged to touch less and have fewer emotional expressions from the age of four on. So I know we’re changing that, but there’s a lot of cultural stuff to go on.
So really the whole premise of this question is a cultural premise because we have this narrative going on that, men need sex, and women provide sex for men. If a woman is not enjoying or looking forward to sex, there’s something wrong with her that she must fix.
She must keep her husband satisfied so he won’t abandon her.
He’ll still do his chores and his duties and he’ll still bring home the bacon, which leads a woman to feel like she’s a defective partner, that there’s something wrong with her that she needs to fix in order to keep her man around. You may think this is an archaic plot line, but it’s not because I hear it all the time when women come into my world and I work with them in the Wanting It More program. Do I wish it was different? Do I wish that women weren’t coming to me out of guilt and out of feeling defective and feeling like they’re broken and they need to fix themselves? That they have got to do this to keep their husbands happy and if not, then disaster will strike?
Of course, I wish it was different, but it’s just not right now in the state of our society and our culture. I don’t care because they come into my world and I help them create boundaries.
It can be different
I help them create or design sexual experiences that they’re genuinely going to look forward to. To have a voice. To empower them. A lot of women come into the program and say, “Wow, this is so different than what I was expecting.” So that’s the plot, that’s the storyline that our culture is kind of feeding to us again and again and again, and we want to rebel against that storyline. We all do. I wanted to rebel against it, whether it’s consciously or unconsciously we’re always doing this.
Okay, so what if we could look at it from a different angle? What if we could look at it from women need sex, women benefit from sex, and women are nourished from sex. If a woman is not enjoying or looking forward to her wanting sex then something is off with her environment, something’s off with her thoughts. Something’s off with her life and now she’s going to fix it, but not fix it for somebody else to provide a need or be the good wife out of obligation. No, she’s going to fix it for herself and she’s not going to think I’m defective, she’s going to think something’s off here.
Something’s off when I’m not enjoying something that can bring me so much joy and satisfaction.
I know that sex isn’t about providing needs for one another. That’s reducing it to something that is just so basic and so sad because sex is so much more than that. But I have to do that just to keep it really clear here. I believe sex when in balance and when it’s healthy, is pretty light. It’s pretty fun and relaxed. It’s an opportunity for a couple to kind of shut the world out, to climb in bed together or wherever you may want to have your sexual experience and feel like the intimate friends that you are.
The friends that are so special and you can just cuddle down and enjoy and be curious and just really feel nourished from the experience. You can experience joy and experience freedom to kind of let loose for a little bit. If that’s not the kind of sex you’re having, then I’m going to tell you about a class that you really need to come to at the end of this. But we have to have that conversation just to look at this from the right angle.
Let’s change the context
So let’s look at a question that this woman shared in this context. Do I have to do everything including seduce myself? Or you could put something in there that you genuinely enjoy. Like I love Jazzercise, I love rollerblading. So do I have to do everything including Jazzercise? Do I have to do everything including going for a Rollerblade? Do I have to do everything including yoga? I mean, insert anything. Now it doesn’t make sense anymore because it’s not something that you’re providing, it’s something that you’re actually taking from. It’s actually of a massive benefit in your own life.
The same thing as I’m resentful for being given the mental load of improving our sex life, or I’m resentful I’d be given the mental load of being creative and doing my art, my painting, or the mental load of relaxing in the hammock with a good book. So I really encourage you to make that mental shift from this old archaic story of ‘sex is about providing this thing for men to keep them around’ to ‘sex is really good for me. It’s nourishing for me and I would never want to miss out.’
So what’s going on in my environment, in my relationship, in my thoughts, in the way I’m using my voice, in setting boundaries? What’s going on here? And that, if you’ve been in my community or in my world for any length of time, you know it’s my jam. That is what I’m about.
Sex isn’t an exchange
So really why would you want to have sex? What would you be missing out on? Because sex is not an exchange. It’s not a gift. It’s not a reward. If he does the dishes, then he might get a little something, something tonight. That’s not what sex is meant for. It’s not a gift. Regardless of what you see time and time again in the media. If you look in memes and social media or sex scenes or any sitcom, you’ll see this really problematic thread running through it that it’s this exchange. You do something for me and I’ll give you a blow job. Well, it’s just creating really unhealthy dynamics.
So a couple more things is that we are told desire is external.
My husband needs to seduce me, he needs to do some work. He needs to groom or cut his beard or take out the ear hair or he needs to dress nicely or he needs to bring me flowers home or he needs to smell good or he needs to put the kids to bed or he needs to use his body and language to somehow be the guy who gives me all the tingly feelings. But actually, desire is not external like we’ve been told, it’s not about the hot moves and the big penis and all the things, it’s actually internal.
Desire is cultivated from within. And it comes from a place of following our intuition, radically trusting ourselves with what’s good and what’s not good in our lives. It comes from prioritizing our everyday pleasures, not just sexual pleasure, but every pleasure. What we wear, what we look at, what we smell, what we delight in. It comes from connecting with our bodies. Connecting, being kind, loving, being patient, compassionate, and understanding.
You seduce yourself
I don’t think anyone actually can seduce you, I think you seduce yourself, for lack of a better phrase. That is a little cheesy, but it’s true. Okay. But men do have responsibilities here. I’m not saying the wife has to somehow do it all herself. No, because marriage is about teamwork. It’s about coming together and you each have different strengths. I do believe the woman is a spark of change often in relationship stuff. That’s a generalization. Gender generalizations are always generalizations, but that is something I really encourage women to not feel resentful around but actually feel quite honored to have this ability.
Now, a team is about two people and there are diverse strengths there as well. So when women come into the Wanting It More program, my husband and I have created a full program for their husbands if they choose to do so. If they want to, if they’re willing, if they’re the type that can sit through videos about relationships.
A sneak peek into the Husband program
Ironically, my husband never was and here he is creating a whole program for men with me. Here are a few things that we ask them to do.
Number one, listen and respect their wives.
They have to listen very hard and get through all the cultural baggage, all of the stuff they’ve been told, about women’s desire. They have to respect, listen, and stop when she says stop. In short, husbands have to mellow their sexuality and make space for hers. If they’ve been in this really kind of gropey, grabby wanting me, that’s not going to work. They have to calm down and allow her the opportunity to explore her own sexuality on her own terms in a safe way.
Secondly, they have to take care of their own happiness.
Often that’s balance is messed up in relationships. We’re expecting our spouse to make us happy to some degree. Like anyone can ever make us happy. It never works. And so men, when they get in relationships, often put all their eggs in one basket and say, “This is where I’m going to get my happiness from. And not only just my relationship with my wife but the sexual relationship with my wife.” Often orgasm is prominently featured in this need for happiness. So we encourage them to take charge of their own happiness in a variety of different ways and eliminate all pressure.
We give them a whole sheet of things, like an interview to interview their wives. What makes you feel uncomfortable? Do I say anything that makes you feel uncomfortable? What do you love? Hate? What has your experience been like? Let me listen and respect going back to step one.
Quit porn. Pornography is incredibly common and incredibly destructive to sexual relationships. It messes with your brain and it messes with your attachment cues, all sorts of stuff that we discussed in the program.
And the last one is that we’re all in a process of maturing.
We’re all emotionally maturing right now and that’s going to be an ongoing process for the rest of our lives. But it is a responsibility that each partner has. And often that looks like the form of not being defensive or criticizing or blaming when your partner brings up something or makes a request. So many great ways we can take this. And I’m so grateful that I got this excellent question because I think I’ve gotten this question in many different forms, but I’ve felt like it’s a hard one to answer because it’s nuanced and I’m very much a feminist.
I’m very much a feminist, but I’m also someone who is very interested in how diverse teams work together. How complementary teams can work. And when you look at fairness, when you look at equality, really we’re looking at equity, which is everyone gets what they need to feel safe and comfortable.
I hope that was helpful.
If anything in this video piques your curiosity and you’d like to learn more about how I teach married women to want and enjoy sex more, I would love for you to come to my free live class.
The class is called, The Real Reason Behind a Lack of Desire and the Six Step Solution to Reconnecting Again. I teach them live and I stick around to answer all of your questions. So if you have any more questions about this one in particular, I encourage you to come to that. And then if you’re curious about the Wanting It More Program, we start another live round the end of May and I would love to have you join that. If you come to the free class you’ll get all the info there. Again, I hope that was helpful. I am available for question answering, so please if you have another one, I’d love to know.
Talk to you guys later.