What Men and Women Want From Each Other

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[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:

  1. She wants to be appreciated for what she does for her husband. She doesn’t want to be taken for granted
  2. 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.
  3. 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’s Insecurities

Women are generally insecure about two things in a relationship:

      1. 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.
      1. 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

  1. 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.

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The Languages of Love from Yasir Qadhi’s “Like A Garment” series

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[Disclaimer: These are notes of Sheikh Yasir’s lecture series called “Like A Garment”. The course is now live at http://www.likeagarment.com and there are Q&A sessions too! All errors are mine.]

Languages of Love: Understand how love is expressed between couples. This is based on the book, ‘The 5 languages of love’ by Gary Chapman.

Introduction:

When a couple speaks in two different languages of love, it’s like they’re saying ‘I Love You’ to each other in two different languages, like Swahili and Chinese. Nothing gets communicated.

Learn to read your spouse’s language of love (LL) and learn your own LL. Every spouse must discuss what love languages they speak and what they want to hear.

The five languages of love:

1. Words

The words ‘I love you’ should be a standard part of every marriage. Narration of a (weak) hadith : The Prophet Muhammad was asked by Ai’sha RA: How much do you love me? The Prophet (pbuh) replied: I love you as much as a tight knot. From time to time, Ai’sha RA would joke with the Prophet (pbuh) and ask him: How is the knot doing now?  And the Prophet Muhammad (saws) would smile and say: “It is in its original state”.

At another time the Prophet Muhammad was asked by a man who he loved the most in all humanity. The companion wanted to hear his own name because the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) treated everyone so well that each thought he was the most loved. However, the Prophet said without a second’s hesitation, that he loved Ai’sha RA the most, in front of the entire gathering of men. The Prophet was not embarrassed or ashamed or found it effeminate to say so.

In the Sahih Bukhari hadtih of umm zarah (unsure of the correct spelling) we find Aisha RA telling the Prophet (pbuh)  about the legendary love of the  couple Abu Zara and Umm Zara that due to unavoidable circumstances resulted in a divorce eventually. The Prophet Muhammad said to Ai’sha RA: Ai’sha, my love for you is like the love of Abu Zara for Umm Zara, except that I will never divorce you.

Verbally express your feelings, develop internal jokes, have pet names for each other. The Prophet Muhammad used to call A’isha A’ish. Once when Ai’sha expressed her sadness at not having a kunya (Umm so-and-so), Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) began calling her ‘Umm Abdullah’

Verbally appreciate and encourage all the things, even the littlest things that your spouse does for you because the best motivator is positive reward. When you know that your spouse will show you love if you take a particular action, then you feel more motivated to do it.

Use ‘words of affirmation’: Compliment your spouse, never underestimate the power of compliments. Especially men to women, complimenting them must be a regular feature of your marriage because women are always second guessing their beauty. Don’t be put off by their denial or embarrassment.

Try to vary the positive words, variety is the spice of life.

Compliments go a long way, especially if done in front of other family members. For e.g., praise your husband in front of his mother.

2. Time

 Imagine how your loved one will feel if they get the impression that you want to spend all your time with everyone else except them.

A spouse who feels that her husband is always away from her, she will think that he doesn’t love her at all.

Spend time with your wife: this is QUALITY TIME, undivided attention.

That’s why the Shariah requires that a man with more than one wife must spend equal time with each of his wives. The Prophet Muhammad would visit each of his wives every day during the day and would spend the night with the wife whose turn it was.

The Prophet Muhammad would spend time talking to his wife late at night. Another time the Prophet Muhammad publicly announced during an army expedition that he wanted time with his wife Ai’sha alone. And then they raced each other when the Prophet Muhammad was almost 55 years old and Ai’sha RA was so young. Ai’sha beat him and continued to tease the Prophet Muhammad that she won. A few years later, Prophet Muhammad raced her again, won and told her this was the answer to his older loss.

Another hadith where the Abyssinians were performing at the masjid, and Ai’sha RA was watching over the Prophet’s shoulder with her chin on his shoulder and their cheeks resting against each other among all the other men at the masjid. She later confessed that the only reason she continued watching the performance for a long time was to stretch that moment as far as it could go.

If you can’t spend time when she wants to, make sure you schedule some time together.

Every couple should have at least 10-15 minutes EVERY DAY only for themselves, only to reconnect and share each other’s concerns.

Every week or two, there should be something more, like a dinner outside and a vacation or two every year.

Always listen fully, maintain full eye contact when your spouse shares his/her concerns with you.

3. Gifting 

Gifting shows the person that you care about that person, that you go out of your way to get something for them.

The Prophet Muhammad said, “Give gifts, you will have love”.

Continuously show you care, doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive.

Men love to receive expensive gifts, even if it’s once a year.

Women expect regular smaller gifts than a larger gift. This is because a woman likes to be reminded more often. For women, just the thought that their husband remembered them means a lot.

Women tend to react saying, ‘You shouldn’t have’. Men shouldn’t take this to heart, they don’t realize this is just a woman’s banter. Women must thank and appreciate their husbands for gifts, because otherwise men will be offended and leave off gift-giving.

4. Chores

Once in a while, semi-regularly, each spouse must help out the other one.

The Prophet Muhammad did his own chores, mended his own shoes and mended his own clothes.

A lot of husbands don’t realize that if you want your wife to be passionate and loving in the bedroom, then you need to be loving outside the bedroom, help her out around the house and see how the love blooms. It shows her that the husband is not taking you for granted.

Wives must realize that husbands are obligated to be responsible for you financially. This feeling of the husband wanting to take care of his wife this way is a natural way of expressing his love, which is often the most ignored language of love by women. By willingly giving up his wealth, the wife must realize he loves her.

Ironically, sometimes the husband works longer to take better care of his wife because he loves her, but the wife feels that he doesn’t love her because he doesn’t spend much time with her. Remember the hadith where the Prophet criticized women for being ungrateful to their husbands, and if you see one fault you say you’ve never done anything for me. So never take your husband for granted, don’t ignore all the time he’s spent working so hard for you.

5. Touch

A physical touch demonstrates warmth, friendship, openness, solidarity even between strangers, so it has a critical role between a couple.

Don’t expect romance if weeks go by before the couple touches each other.

There’s a hadith that says whenever the Prophet Muhammad visited his wives, the first thing he would do was to use a miswak.

Even during Ai’sha RA’s menses, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) would lean over and put his head in her lap and Ai’sha RA would caress and oil his hair. T

A psychologist has said that for healthy love between a couple they should touch each other at least twenty times in a day.

Understand the spouse’s body language. One of the biggest misunderstandings men have about women is that a woman must/can be sexually touched throughout the day, she may find it demeaning. Sexual touching has its time and place, and is eagerly reciprocated during the honeymoon phase, but what a woman craves the most is a loving, warm embrace.

The primary language of love for men is sex. Women need to understand the primary language of love for men, and the most important act of love for men is the physical act of sex. Women must realize that if they deprive their husbands of sex, then he will automatically feel “My wife does not love me”.

The woman may do everything, keep the house running like an oiled machine, do everything but if she doesn’t take care of his sexual needs and intimacy needs, all other languages of love will fail. She should allow him to express his way of loving if she wants your marriage to be successful. That’s why the Shari’ah puts so much emphasis on listening to your husband in this regard. Numerous psychologists have said this is the number one complaint of husbands across the world, across cultures.