Gender Bias in Intimacy

While almost everyone acknowledges that men and women are different, managing these differences is not so easy, especially in the area of intimacy.

A woman’s preferred way of achieving intimacy is deep personal conversation, talking and sharing feelings, that is, verbal language.  A man’s preferred way of achieving intimacy is physical bonding, touch and love making; in other words, body language.

For women, sex is seen as a celebration of unity already accomplished whereas for men, it is a means of accomplishing that unity. The opposite is true for verbal communication. A man will open up and share his feelings only when he already feels connected, whereas a woman sees talking as a way of creating that connection.

A typical pattern of married couples is that when sex is experienced as just an activity (read the post: here), the wife will eventually say “no” with more and more frequency and feel justified in doing so because she thinks that she is just saying “no” to an activity.  The husband however, experiences her “no” as a rejection of his person and of his desire to be close to her. He is denied access to his primary way of getting close and expressing love.

Similarly, most men use verbal language primarily to communicate information and data. When a wife talks excessively with out self-regulation, it’s common for a husband to reduce her need to connect with him verbally to an activity. He feels justified in saying “no” to her desire for verbal intimacy because he believes he only saying “no” to the activity of talking.  The wife however, experiences this as a rejection of her inner self – a painful rebuff that accumulates and hardens her heart.

The truth is, both verbal and body language are ways of communicating and both are essential to marriage. They are equally valid and valuable and need to be honoured in the relationship.

Sacred Body Language

When sex is approached as a way to communicate our desire to be one in marriage, it is an exciting and thrilling experience. With heightened awareness of the meaning and the message of each look or touch, we can be more fully present and can open ourselves to loving and being loved at a deeper level.

The messages of tenderness and responsiveness, self-donation and passion are all the more affirming when communicated with body language because we tend to believe the body more than mere words. Take this example: your spouse is withdrawn and non-communicative. You ask, “What’s the matter” to which he or she replies “Nothing”. But his/her whole body is screaming that something is up. You don’t believe the verbal language but you do trust the body language. Why? Because the body is more believable than the words we say.

When we approach sex as communication, our experience of love making is radically transformed. It is new and alive in the present moment and therefore deeply intimate and very exciting.  It is not about positions or physical sensations but rather about what we want to say to our spouse with all our heart.

The focus is other-centred and the message is deeply profound and bigger than just the two of us.

Take your marriage to new levels of joy

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About the Author:

Francine & Byron Pirola
Francine & Byron Pirola are the founders and principal authors of the SmartLoving series. They are passionate about living Catholic marriage to the full and helping couples reach their marital potential. They have been married since 1988 and have five children. Their articles may be reproduced for non commercial purposes with appropriate acknowledgement and back links.

One Comment

  1. Emily August 20, 2012 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    Its always good to pray for enthusiasm at the end of a hard day with the kids, before hubby gets home!

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