It’s the last Thursday of the month, so it’s time for our Start Your Engines podcast, directed towards men (and their wives, of course!)
And today we’re talking all about flirting.
So first, listen in!
When it comes to flirting with your wife, don’t think “groping”
We opened the podcast talking about the complaints I often get from women about how their husbands often “grope” them at inopportune times. And then we turned to how to flirt in a way that does invite her in!
We started with analyzing this comment (and many others about groping):
My husband and I talked about this VERY thing this last weekend. (We have been married several decades and have a great sex life, and recently became empty-nesters. We have enjoyed our recent found freedom of the empty-nest and we finally have time to discuss in detail issues like this. We both learned some new stuff this weekend. My husband has always thought I enjoyed the ‘game’ of rebuffing his grabbing play. He looked at is as just that…a flirtatious game. He grabs, I push his hand away, the game is on. I had no idea he viewed it that way. I was able to share with him that I really do NOT enjoy the grabbing and pushing away, and that it never turns me on. He was honestly surprised. (Talking really IS so important 🙂 ). As we discussed the issue further, I was able to explain to him that a rough grab forces me to pull away and refuse, where a soft touch or gentle caress is an invitation for me to draw near and lean in. I let him know that a soft touch, a gentle caress, a whispered kiss on my neck was MUCH more arousing to me than a grab or tug EVER could be. He was genuinely grateful that we had that conversation, since it never once occurred to him that I wasn’t enjoying the game of tug and pull :). And I had never really understood his thinking behind the continued grabbing, nor had I ever been able to put into words, until now, exactly why I felt the way I did about the two different types of touching. I am grateful he finds my body attractive. I LOVE his touch, but I honestly prefer a softer, more seductive touch. Now he knows and he is making changes.
Then we turned to some advice on flirting!
Here’s the breakdown of the podcast, with time stamps (why didn’t I do this before? This is such a great idea).
And here are some more resources that can help you with flirting well with your wife, that we mentioned in the podcast!
- 10 Sexy Questions to Ask Your Wife
- 10 Ways to Initiate Sex with Your Wife (without turning her off)
- 31 Days to Great Sex (there’s a LOT of tips here on how to flirt well with each other–and discover each other’s “turn ons”)
- Keith’s post about responsive libidos
I hope those help! And remember–so much of this can be helped if we just learned how to talk to one another about it. So here’s a quick exercise you can do together tonight:
YOUR HOMEWORK: What counts as flirting?
As a couple, talk about these questions:
- Are there times I’m obviously trying to get you turned on or in the mood, and I’m missing the mark?
- How much of a role does context play in flirting for you? Can you think of something I did that was just perfect–but at the wrong time?
- What kind of flirting is your favourite?
- Can you think of something in particular that I did to flirt that was exactly the right thing at the right time? What made it right?
Take turns answering, and try to ask clarification questions–“tell me more about that”, “why did it make you feel that way?” But don’t challenge your spouse or tell them that they’re wrong.
Just listen to understand!
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Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of Bare Marriage
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This might be a little bit off topic, but I think it is close enough to ask it in this post, as it definitely fits in to the “touch” discussion. I was particularly interested to hear the remarks of the woman who does not like to be touched from behind while in the kitchen. I guess you could say it is one of my “moves”. It isn’t a grope, but generally a hug that starts with my hands on her waist, to sort of let her know I am there, and then my arms around her. There are lots of times when my wife is not receptive to an overtly sexual touch, but that particular touch does not seem to bother her. I think context is important, and honestly, it would be pretty hard to talk me out of it. I try to make a point of hugging her thruout the day, but there are two times that I absolutely make a point of it. I often leave the house before she wakes up, but if she is up, I hug her before I leave. If she is still in bed, I just kiss her face on my way out. When I get back home, I make a point to hug her before I do anything else, and honestly, I am offended if she does not make that a priority. I don’t expect my wife to greet me at the door with brandy and my slippers, but I do expect her to pause what she is doing long enough for a quick hug. When she doesn’t it is actually quite hurtful. She has gotten a lot better about it in the past few years, but it hasn’t always been that way. It still stings quite a bit if she doesn’t do so.
I bring that up because I agree with you in this matter, but quite honestly, you leave out half of the equation. I know this podcast is directed towards husbands, but I also know that wives are your biggest followers. Husbands should absolutely be reminded to be loving to their wives, and mindful of their wishes, but wives should be reminded that there are two sides of every situation. How they send the message about not wishing to be touched is every bit as important as the message itself. To put it more plainly, if a rebuke feels more like rejection than correction, it wounds. In the same way that women sometimes respond out of their own wounds, men do as well. Some men feeling rejection will retreat to lick their wounds, others will press in harder out of their own insecurities or other issues.
I am not saying that wives should accept behavior that is hurtful, but should be careful in the messages they are sending, and make time for that touch as soon as possible.
Connor touched on something very important about 31:15 when he pointed to the message your flirting/ groping is sending. Are you, the flirt-er, focused on giving or taking? Is the flirtation about you or about the recipient? In the references to groping while she’s doing the dishes, for example, the message generally will come across as selfish. Even the hug from behind, when you walk in the door and she’s in the middle of a chore. (Or he, it can go both ways). Let her turn around and greet you properly, for crying out loud.
I thought he made that point really well, too. He’s truly a wonderful husband 🙂
I don’t know if that was directed at me or if it was a generic comment. Either way, it dovetails pretty precisely into my comment so I will address it.
As I mentioned, I greet my wife with a hug as soon as I get home. It may he after a days absence, or it may be that I have been away from home for 2 or 3 weeks. It is irrelevant. If she has her hands busy, and does not reciprocate, that is fine. I don’t ambush her like some prey. She knows I am there because if I don’t see her when I walk in, usually the dogs announce my presence. If it distressed my wife, then we would have to talk about it, but it seems to be fine with her. The point I was making, is it hasn’t always been this way. In the past, there would hardly be an acknowledgement that I was home, and that was quite hurtful. I have been very deliberate to turn that around and create a new pattern, and for the most part she has followed my lead there. As I said, I don’t expect her to drop what she is doing to greet me, but I am also unwilling to fall into old patterns that were harmful, so Intake the lead.
I will say this. If you are unwilling to pause what you are doing for a moment to greet your spouse, unless it is absolutely something you can not step away from for a moment, then your priorities are likely not what they should be.
Whether I am leaving home or arriving back, I will do so with both a physical and verbal sign of my affection. As I mentioned in my previous comment, it is very hurtful if it is not reciprocated. I handle it better than I have in the past, because we have built some pretty positive patterns. In the past, My she might have greeted me “Oh, you’re home” in a rather disdainful tone.
So yes, you can decide that a hug is too intrusive and stand on your right to be indignantly offended.
For the husbands out there, I would say to learn your wifes preferences in this area, and honor them.
For the wives, I would say that you should guard your husbands feelings as diligently as you guard your right to be offended or outraged. I know first hand, that sometimes we can not control our initial reaction to some things, so I understand that first reaction can be negative. I also know first hand that you don’t have to hang onto that first reaction, but quite often we choose to do so because we have the “right” to be offended.
I haven’t listened to the podcast, so am responding solely to your comment.
My husband and I had this situation, in reverse. It’s very much a family-of-origin situation in our case. My family is intentional to hug and greet when anyone comes home or leaves, his is a lot more casual about it. (Before marriage, I had a roommate for a short time who had fairly strong Aspergers. I assume it wasn’t intentional on her part, but she completely ignored me every time I walked into a room. Not even having my presence acknowledged felt very dehumanizing.) So I think I understand where you’re coming from.
When it comes to gaining a spouse’s attention, I think it’s a question of respect. Are you rudely interrupting, or respectfully requesting attention? My husband works from home. When he’s in the office, sitting focused at the computer with headphones on, and I want his attention, I don’t walk up and start spouting off, or walk up and start groping without giving him a chance to shift his attention. I walk in, stand within his view, and wait for him to stop typing, remove his headphones, and face me before I start talking. Or I walk up behind him and touch his arm or shoulder, then wait for him to stop typing, remove his headphones, and face me before I move in for a more intimate touch.
If I’m in the middle of a task or chore, I much prefer that my husband give some sort of verbal or non-verbal “excuse me,” rather than demand my immediate attention. It helps me feel more like a respected wife/partner, and less like the parent of a man-child. Giving an opportunity for someone to mentally shift from focusing on a task to focusing on a spouse will go a long way.
Getting back to your original scenario, our dynamic has also shifted over the years, where now BOTH of us are intentional to give a quick hug or “love you” or some such when arriving and departing. At the risk of putting words in his mouth, I think both of us are happier with the current dynamic.
That’s great! It sounds like a very healthy way of doing it. And I agree–it’s about respecting each other.
Doug, you’re right, and I would want my arrival to matter to my spouse too. Don’t let that be undermined.
However, one of my common sayings is, “we have to work with the brain we’ve got”. One of the things which this means in my case is that sometimes, concentration is not as easy to come by as I would like, or as it used to be. So if I haven’t been able to settle to anything all day (or for a few days), and then I finally am able to get engrossed for half an hour or an hour, for the sake of both productivity and also the mental clarity of getting to that meditative state for a while, I need to be able to ignore anything that tries to capture my attention away. Including the arriving home of a spouse if necessary. When I come out of that (and have tidied away whatever I was using), yes, finding my spouse would then be top priority, but I would want to be able to seize concentration when it comes without being afraid of the other person deliberately breaking it because they want attention.
But for both sides, the best tool here is actually the text message. When a spouse leaves work a short text to say, “worked really hard today, gonna raid the fridge when I get in” or “frustrating day, really tired” or “I feel like a growly bear so I’m gonna run errands by myself until it blows off, is there anything we need?” etc. And the spouse can reply with their day “had a good day, dinner is nearly ready” or “I got behind today so dinner will be another hour” or “things are really crazy with the kids and I need you to be ‘on’ and ready to jump in when you walk through the door” or “I’m in the middle of something, I’ll come and find you when it’s done”, etc, or even “been lonely and bored without you, can’t wait to spend some quality time when you get in” so both know what to expect and therefore that any disconnect in expectations which would lead to rows is eliminated. I think that would go a long way. We have the technology so we might as well use it.
I think a lot of men don’t realise that there is a difference between being desired and admired physically vs being objectified. And women in particular can be allll about the “I love you for what’s on the inside and the way you look is neither here nor there”, and want the same back, and when men want to be allowed to feel like the physical also matters, and want to be valued for their own physicallity, they think that that’s objectification. And as a woman who is all about the inside I can say I think it is, but that women talking about being objectified goes to way higher levels than that, like being groped on buses, etc
I had a long post written out and lost it before I could post it. Rather than start all over, I would say that a couple should figure out what works for them and stick to it. That requires communicating your desires, but also listening and trying to understand your spouses. I can’t say I know what it feels like to be objectified, but I spent a lot of years on the side that felt a whole lot like rejection. Actually, it didn’t just feel like it, it was rejection.
There is a lot of talk here about womens experiences and how they influence perceptions. Men deal with the same things. Some men are programed to interpret things as rejection. Broken home=rejection. Lack of nurture or harsh up-bringing= rejection. Previous love interests gone sour=rejection. If they are used to rejection, then they see things as rejection that may have a completely different motive. That is all I am saying. Motive and intent are extremely important, but so is how a particular action is perceived or interpreted. It goes both ways.
What about sexual innuendos and/or vocalized sexual references? It seems that men think this is sexy and adds some kind of romance, while I find it off-putting. I do not understand why my husband cannot understand this? Does anyone else have this problem?
That’s tough! I think it’s okay to say, “when you say X, you turn me off. I will ask you please to honor that for me, because I won’t have sex with you after you say X. I want to have a great sex life, but I need to feel as if I’m being considered as well and as if you’re treating me with dignity,” Or something like that. he may honestly not realize how much you don’t like it. And if he still doesn’t listen, then I’d consider counseling, because we should be respecting each other’s desires like that.
Just listened to this episode and I really liked what you had to say! I did have one thing I felt like I wanted to add that has helped my husband and me. I thought it might be worth considering for other couples who have a background in purity culture or where consent wasn’t a thing.
I grew up with purity teachings, a heavy focus on obeying and submitting to authority figures without question, and absolutely no concept of consent. We have been married for 11 years and always understood that getting married includes giving consent. But the whole flirting, sexy touching, groping thing just wasn’t working. There was so much misunderstanding and disappointment and confusion. We have been sorting through past bad teaching and I realized I had never really experienced agency over my own body growing up and had never been allowed to say “yes” or “no”. In light of that, my husband determined he would make an effort to have consent be more explicit in our relationship. It has really helped me feel safe, loved, and seen because he knows this is an area of wounding in me and he can give this gift to help me heal. Rather than just touching some intimate part of my body when he wants to (or wanting to but feeling like he can’t), he lets me know that he wants to touch it and I can give him the go-ahead or let him know that it wouldn’t feel good to me right now. We have found a lot of perks to this: I don’t pull away from his touch anymore, leaving him confused; he understands me better; he doesn’t play an internal guessing game anymore; I no longer have to wonder what a touch actually means; and it is *much* hotter and more romantic. (😉 This has invited sexy whispers and teasing and … Unlike what we did before.) I’m sure consent won’t need to be so explicit forever, it will fade as we learn each other and heal, but it has made a world of difference in this season.
That’s lovely, Julianna! We were going to talk about this in this week’s podcast, and I’ll make reference to waht you said!