[Notes from Yasir Qadhi’s Like A Garment series. ]
Intimacy cannot be enjoyed in a vacuum. Love and intimacy go hand-in-hand. Before we talk about sexuality, it’s necessary to understand male and female wants and desires. What do men and women want from relationships.
Realize love is a verb, an action-based verb. For love to exist, both must do loving things to one another.
Every man and woman wants to love and to be loved. To long for and to be longed for. This is ingrained in our psyche, Allah has put this in us.
So if we know what our spouse desires from us, we’ll know what we can do to make them feel loved.
What Women Want
Simply, women want to be loved.
But how should they be loved? This is the complicated part.
Love centers around 3 primary things:
- She wants to be appreciated for what she does for her husband. She doesn’t want to be taken for granted
- She wants to be shown that she’s significant. For e.g., quality time must be given. That’s why the stereotype of the husband forgetting the anniversary etc.
- Women want communication. Women want a very special best friend. Women build relationships through communication. For them a lack of communication means a lack of relationship. Women are generally talkative about their feelings, men tend to bottle up their feelings. A wife wants her husband to be her confidante, her best friend. This is a very fundamental need.
Women are generally insecure about two things in a relationship:
- 1. Love: Does he really love me or not? Men once they’re in a relationship don’t think about it much but women are constantly re-analyzing their relationships. She needs reassurance. Some psychologists say that since boys grow up knowing that their mothers will always love them, when they grow up they don’t realize that their wives need love-reinforcements. A wife’s love always needs to be earned and received.
- 2. Looks:
Does he still find me attractive? With the proliferation of sensual images everywhere these days, she’s always insecure that her husband might find other images/women more attractive. Apart from it being unIslamic, to stare at another woman or to ogle at another woman may be much more damaging to a relationship than men realize. Another foolish thing that men do is cracking jokes about a second or a third wife. The husband is basically saying ‘you’re not good enough for me’. Men by-and-large don’t need reassurances about their looks. He thinks if he’s earning for the family and taking care of them, that’s usually enough for him. However, the woman needs to be reassured physically and emotionally. Therefore use words of affirmation and need quality of time.
Reassuring your wife about your love
- Emotional reassurance: A woman needs to be reassured every day, every week, every month. This is shown through the languages of love. Women love to hear the words ‘I love you’, they never tire of hearing it when it’s said properly. ‘You look beautiful today’, ‘This dress looks stunning on you’, ‘the food was great’… compliments and appreciation, women want this on a daily basis. It may sound trivial but it goes a long way. A man measures his contributions by the efforts he takes, like taking care of the finances, mowing the lawn, etc. but for women these statements are more important than the chores he does.
These reassurances are like foreplay. This is what will make a woman love a man. Women need to hear these words to know that her husband still loves her and she will return the love.
2. Physical reassurance: That the woman is still attractive to him and will always be attractive to be him. She wants to be noticed when she dresses up. It’s the most painful thing for a woman when she dresses up and her husband ignores her.
Another way to do this is non-sexual touching: Holding her hand, stroking her hair, massaging her, a peck on the cheek, all of this also needs to be done on a daily/weekly basis. All of these give the signal: “I still desire you, I still yearn for you”.
What Men Want
Here are some facts that will surprise and may even disgust women. This is because women don’t realize what men may look for in a relationship:
Men are simple-minded. They don’t think too much of what it means to be in a relationship. They take relationships for granted. They think more about the services the woman can provide while for women it’s more about the resources and the emotional comfort that the husband can provide. If a husband is asked to describe his ideal wife it’s usually: she’s attractive, she’s cooks well, she keeps the house clean whereas a woman would say: I want him to be smart, I want him to make me laugh, I want him to be my friend. Her description is on the emotional side, while his is on the physical side. One of the primary services is indeed the sexual relationship.
Most male listeners of this class understand that the no. 1 reason why a young Muslim man who’s living a pious life wants to get married, is to fulfil his sexual urges in a halal manner. However when most sisters hear this, most of them are in denial. But they must realize that this IS true. Of course this doesn’t mean that a husband doesn’t want romance, or friendship, or doesn’t want to spend time together but this is the overarching factor.
Most women find this disgusting, or sickening. But rather than feeling disgusted, use this to your advantage. Realize the power you have over the man in this regard. So in order to have a fulfilling relationship, realize what you can give so you can get what you want.
“Marriage is the price that men have to pay to get sex, and sex is the price that women have to pay to get marriage” – Anonymous.
Once a woman realizes this, this actually empowers her. A man is actually a very simple creature to deal with. If a man is provided his basic needs, then he’ll be a happy and contented husband.
What are a man’s basic needs?
1. The act of sex. Probably his greatest need, especially for young Muslim men who want to get married.
2. The services that a wife provides, the ‘mothering’: cooking, cleaning
3. To be admired, to be loved, to have an emotional bond
4. Some solitary time: Time to be alone
Numbers 2, 3 and 4 don’t really require a woman so, to put it very bluntly, sex is the most powerful dependency of men on women. This is the most powerful need of a man from a woman. So a woman can control a man very easily if she understands this point.
Illustration #1: Look at the dating scene in the west, the man wines and dines the woman in the hopes of taking her to his apartment and maybe he’ll get caught in the emotions. The woman on the other hand dates a number of men in the hope that they will fall in love. So there’s a give and take that’s apparent here (but of course dating is haram).
In Islam, Allah ta’ala mandates through the institution of marriage that the man must fulfill his wife’s financial needs, take care of her, etc. and the woman must obey the man, in particular his sexual needs.
Illustration #2: Look at the types of movies and books that are catered to the women: romantic movies and novels, about relationships, falling in love, men sacrificing for the women. Very few men find these movies or books enjoyable.
Now look at the pornography industry, which demographic does this industry target? Men! Women by and large, do not want to watch this type of stuff. Similarly, the haram escort services are targeted at men.
Why are these examples being given? To understand basic human psychology. Women want love and romance, and men want the sexual act of intimacy.
Women must realize that this is empowering, not disgusting. 90% of books on relationships are geared towards women, it’s also why when there’s a problem in the marriage, the woman says to the man, let’s go get some help. Men usually need to be dragged or don’t want to go. At the end of the day, a man needs physical intimacy and in return, he will give the emotional comfort that a woman needs.
So it’s clear that marriage is give and take, when a man is satisfied physically, he will open up emotionally. When a woman is satisfied emotionally, she will open up physically.