In the last post I wrote about the connection between attention and desire and explained that when a man pays attention to his wife, it builds desire in him. As human beings we want or desire what we give our time and thoughts to. It could be a shiny new car that you keep driving by the lot admiring or the big piece of chocolate cake that you continuously look at sitting on the counter! Then I explained how this applies in marriage—mostly from the man’s point of view—trying to get women to understand this connection between attention and desire in a man’s brain. If you haven’t read it yet, you may want to check out Attention = Desire Disorder (Part 1) first.
Now, I didn’t say that every time the guy gives his wife a little attention she needs to fulfill his immediate desire (as some readers assumed). Rather the intent was to explain why some men stop paying attention to their wives. If time after time a man gives attention, causing his desire for his wife to grow, and then she constantly stiff-arms him and pushes her husband away, the dude is going to stop with the attention. He will do it if for no other reason than to keep his arousal and desire in check and limit his own sexual frustration.
If you have read my book, Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, watched the DVD of the seminar or attended one in person, you have heard this. But for those who have not, here is some advice for men in the “attention = desire” department.
One important thing that men must understand is that they don’t need to have sex every time they feel the urge. Sadly, too many guys are like that. Whenever they feel the buzz of desire, they assume they must have sex and reach for their wife with such lovely and romantic sentiments as, “Hey, baby! Come here and help me out!” or “Ya wanna have sex?” Not the most conducive to romancing the girl!
What you men must realize is that when that desire stirs in you, it’s God’s way of reminding you: Be nice to the girl. Pay attention to your wife. Spend some time with her. By doing so, you drastically increase your chances of not being shut down later. So what if you don’t feel like spending time talking with her. Who cares if you don’t want to take her shopping? What difference does it make if you don’t like to go for walks with her? Seriously guys, you have to give to get. If you think that she is going to fulfill the desires of your heart—or loins as the case may be—when you give her little to no time and attention, you are simply delusional. Most women just aren’t wired that way. Find out what she likes, what you can do to fill her need for attention. Maybe it’s your time, your help, your conversation, your touch.
And, gentleman, may I also point out that not all touch needs to be of the sexual nature or the first step to “hitting a home run.” Sometime you can give your wife a hug and that’s it. Or try giving her just a kiss and then walk away. Do you ever simply hold her hand or put your arm around her? How about giving her a backrub and then let her go to sleep instead of trying to score! If every stinking time you touch her, the expectation is sex, it’s going to grow old real quick for your wife and she’s going to be hesitant to have you touch her at all.
At the end of the day, the fundamental problem for both men and women in this area is that as selfish, egocentric humans, we want what we want and don’t care all that much about giving the other person the things that he or she needs. Men want sex and don’t see why they have to jump through the hoops of putting any effort into giving their wives attention. Women want their husbands to pay attention to them, but don’t think that they should have to participate in sex to get it.
But what if God intentionally designed males and females differently in this area just to knock the selfishness out of us? What if it was the very purpose of this difference? It’s the perfect system to kill the self-centered nature in us, but most people don’t get it. They say, “I’ll only give my spouse what he/she wants after I get what I want.”
I guess you have a choice. You can sit there being mad and feeling bitter because “he won’t pay attention to me,” or “she won’t have sex with me,” or you can stop focusing on what you want and follow the words of Jesus when he said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” And don’t be surprised if once you stop worrying about what you want and actually start giving, you get back in return. Give and it shall be given to you… God’s economy is funny that way.