Sexy vs. Unsexy Conversational Style of Husbands

Consider why a wife needs girl friends to talk to, to go out shopping, to go to lunch, call each other on the phone, send birthday cards and give gifts, keep each other in the loop about happenings, etc. Husbands and boyfriends have to acquire similar conversational skills if they want to be their wife's friend, and even best friend.

A woman affiliates with women friends more when their husband or boyfriend hasn't learned how to act like a friend. She tries to talk to him, hoping he can be a friend, but he resists and acts like he doesn't want to learn how to talk to her like a friend. Being friends is different from being just lovers and roommates. To be able to talk like friends two people have be mentally intimate at the cognitive level (C), and to be best friends, at the affective level (A) as well. To be best friends with his wife, a husband has to remember her topics and keep track of all the details of her involvement with some issue, person, or activity. This is cognitive intimacy (C).

In addition, the husband has to care more about making her feel good about herself, than caring about the topic or his solution or opinion or analysis. So he needs to perform the speech acts that make her feel interesting, approved of, accepted, even admired. This is affective intimacy (A). A husband can be best friends with his wife if he is willing to learn how to talk to her in that way. But to remain best friends on a long term basis, or even forever, the husband has to maintain this style of talking to her in everything and all times. You can see from this that a wife whose husband is her best friend will derive more from this relationship with him than with any other person -- girlfriend, family member, old friend, good friend, high school friend, team buddy, etc. The husband-wife conjunction as best friends and soul mate lovers is the highest mental state that human beings can achieve in eternity and heaven.

Best friends never yell at each other, never get mad at each other, never lie to each other, don't like to keep secrets from each other, always try to promote the other, always show admiration for one another, like being together and having fun, and support each other in whatever they do never showing disapproval or rejection. Women can achieve some of these things with a girlfriend or family member, but only with her husband can she achieve this fully involving all of herself and body.

Why does the man resist this process of increased mental intimacy with the woman with whom he is being physically intimate? One reason is that it takes mental effort to progress on the path of intimacy and in order to put up that effort the man has to feel enough of a reward to go through with it. This is a selfish and foolish reason. An enlightened man thinks about being with this woman in eternity forever as best friends and soul mates. This is an immense reward, greater than all the others he can amass. He knows this rationally. Through this rational knowledge he can gain intentionality and motivation to work towards achieving progressively deeper states of intimacy with his wife. Heavenly life in conjugial union as a conjoint self -- this is the greatest reward there can be. The man has to think this as the true reality from creation.

When a man and a woman are in a permanent love relationship, sexual union is at the centre of their relationship, like the hub of a wheel holding the spokes in place. Through the spokes, the central component or hub, comes into contact with every part of the surface of the wheel. Sexual union or sexual love between husband and wife is the hub or central component of all other activities of the couple. Each spoke represents some area of interaction like going shopping, playing games, raising the children, keeping house together, dealing with the extended family, finances, etc. Each activity or area of concern is connected to the hub, which is their sexual love. There is a popular saying that a marriage goes on the rocks in bed. In other words, when sexual love dies, the hub or center of the relationship can no longer hold the marriage together.
Women have been impressed with the idea that if a man loves her she is supposed to want to have sex with him. And if she does not feel like it, or does not want to, or cannot bring herself to do, then she must be a bad woman. This is the male dominance perspective. It lacks affective intimacy. It feels to the woman that she is being turned into a sex slave or a slut or a prostitute. She has lost her freedom as a human being of dignity.

As we will see in the following discussions the cause of the wife's aversion to sexual love is the husband's resistance to affective intimacy with her as a context for the sex. To declare his love to her and his lifelong loyalty to the marriage, is a good thing, but it is not affective intimacy. If the wife realized this clearly she would not feel depressed because she will not attribute her sexual aversion for him as being her fault.

Take for instance the man's conversational style with her. When husbands continue to put up resistance to affective intimacy, they generally don't get to find out that women intuitively evaluate the man's conversation as either unsexy or sexy.

A woman responds with warming inner feelings to her husband or boyfriend when he uses a sexy conversational style with her, but she feels an inner turn off or aversion to him when he uses the unsexy style of interacting with her at the verbal level. The level of his verbal interactions with her with is a direct indication of the level he is interacting with her mentally, whether intimate or not. She feels the warming feelings throughout her chest and hands, since his sexy talk streams out from his sexy thoughts.

Men think that having sexy thoughts refers to talking about sex or making sexual references in his conversation with her. This is not at all what's being described here as a sexy conversational style.

Rather, a sexy conversational style for the husband or boyfriend refers to whether his thoughts are focused on self, the topic, or the wife. Only when he is focused on the wife as the center are his words and thoughts sexy and personal.

What are the contrastive characteristics of sexy vs. unsexy conversational interactions by the husband or boyfriend?

Focus on self is the least sexy style for a man. When the husband is activated by the male dominance phase in his mind he doesn't care if the wife finds him sexy or not. It's more important to him that he control his wife so that he can have sex with her when he wants, in the way he wants, and the wife is a secondary consideration to him, or none at all. He is full of himself. His focus is on himself. She is expected to cooperate or be obedient.

So he gives himself permission to constantly interrupt the wife when she is talking. He expects her to allow him to interrupt her and not try to finish what she wanted to say. He acts like he is not interested in having her say what she wants to say. He acts like he is annoyed when she says what she wants to say, instead of carefully editing herself, and saying only what he would approve. Through these kinds of daily interactions, the wife's sexual feelings for him are injured, and even eliminated. Instead of sexual attraction and responsiveness, she feels aversion and anger. She cannot just forget how awful he makes her feel when he talks to her in a threatening, impatient, or denigrating tone. And he does this whenever he gives himself permission to do so. His declarations of love sound ironic and hollow to her if he allows himself to treat her bad when he feels like it, when he feels it is justified.

One of the symptoms of this killing of the sexual love of the wife for the husband is that husbands in the male dominance phase mentality frequently make jokes or complain about the fact that their wife is not giving them enough sex, or that the wife is not as hot and passionate towards him as she was when they started going out together, or before the second child arrived. The letters from men that Dr. Laura selected in her book often do this kind of complaining, or bad-mouthing, of their wife, and Dr. Laura supports them in this attitude, giving advice to women that they should give their men all the sex the men want, as long as the men have a regular job and aren't having extra marital affairs. However, this kind of advice is unsexy to women. It feels to them like sexual blackmail to which they have to submit, or else they are considered bad wives by their husband and by mental health professionals like Dr. Laura and Dr. Phil who give marital counseling within the traditional male dominance perspective on marriage.

Besides constantly interrupting, which shows the absence of the man's focus on the wife of girlfriend, the man will persist in changing the wife's conversational focus in various ways. To the wife, this change of topic focus is felt as unsexy, irritating, frustrating, lonely. She feels alone. There is no cognitive intimacy (C), and yet this is what she wants and needs from a good friend. The man who calls himself her devoted husband, and to whom she is talking, is not acting like a friend but like a stranger. She needs for him to be familiar with the topic focus she wants to maintain in the conversational interaction with him. This is something personal about her that he needs to learn and respect.

For instance, suppose the woman, as she gets home, is expressing her conflictual and disturbing feelings and thoughts about her boss and the day's events at work. Or else, he comes home and she is expressing her thoughts and feelings about what happened with the kids. The man can handle this conversation in an intimate, personal and sexy style or in an impersonal, hurtful, unsexy style.

He must stop interrupting her or giving advice to solve her problems.

Both of these speech acts are disjunctive, unsexy, unfriendly.

He needs to understand how the woman he is interacting with actually responds. He needs to consider her actual feelings. He can notice this if he watches her face when he interrupts her or starts solving "her problems." Even if he operates from the male dominance phase, rather than the equity phase, he still is going to interrupt her and change her topic focus from where she wants to go, to where he thinks the topic should go. He retains a focus on the topic from his own perspective, but he does not focus on her and what she wants, and needs. When she talks to her girlfriend she experiences the intimacy, but it is not a sexy intimacy, like it could be with the husband or boyfriend.

So conversational intimacy with a husband or boyfriend can be a more satisfying fulfilling experience to a woman than even talking to her best girlfriend or her mother and sister.

The husband needs to learn how to give his wife the feeling that he is interested in maintaining her topic focus.

He has to show her by his speech acts that he wants to hear what she wants to say to him.

He has to want this more than he wants to say something himself "for the sake of the topic or the task" or "for her own sake." He has to sacrifice and give up his focus on himself (what he thinks should be said). He has to give up his focus on the topic or task (how her problems can be solved). He needs to make himself want to give her the feeling that he wants to hear what she wants to say. He needs to give up the idea that he has the right to make comments on what she brings up, since this is his focus on the topic or task -- male dominance phase.

In the sexy conversational interaction style, the husband needs to learn how to give his wife the feeling, over and over again, that he wants to hear what she wants to say. Without hurrying her and acting like he wants the process to be over already, or to go at a faster pace than it is going.

But he also needs to do this by being very reactive, rather than subdued and silent or passive.

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Author's Bio: 

Dr. Leon James is Professor of Psychology at the University of Hawaii. His home page is at: