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“Flirting with my honey can be so much fun! It’s been really helpful to me in cultivating my own sexual feelings towards him. I used to hate it when he’d try to flirt with me or be sexual toward me in any way outside the bedroom. But all that has thankfully changed. It has become a frequent joke for me to say, ‘Hey babe, you wanna get lucky?!’ I especially love to say this to him when there is no chance of follow through…just to torment him…like on the way to church or right after we’ve already been intimate.

At first my husband would look at me with this surprised–almost unbelieving–look that said, ‘Are you kidding me? Are you really serious? Now don’t kid me!’ In time his response developed into a simple, ‘Yeah. Sure, I wanna get lucky.’ He got even wiser when he began to say, ‘I already am!’ This playfulness has made our relationship so much fun. It helps me keep my intimate fires flickering throughout the day.”

A Missing Mindset in Marriage

This story is one of my favorites from a client who had discovered the fun in being flirty with her husband. A missing ingredient in many couples’ lovemaking repertoire is a dash of fun and flirty playfulness. It’s almost a mindset you’re wanting to develop in your marriage–to naturally think in fun and flirty ways.

When sex (or the relationship) gets too serious, it loses a lot of the joy and passion it can otherwise have. When there isn’t much playfulness or humor either outside or inside the bedroom, it can negatively affect the whole marriage…including the sex.

Some couples have nearly forgotten how to flirt. By definition, flirting or teasing is playfully tempting your spouse or communicating interest and attraction, but without a direct intention to follow through. From a wife it might sound something like, “Do you wanna mess around!?” with no intention to do so, or a suggestive, “How did I get such a hot honey?!” Writing flirty notes on his mirror with lipstick or giving him any kind of suggestive look or touch can add a bit of playful fuel to the intimate fires.

Sometimes it easier to remember how to flirt and be playful when we imagine our husband as our boyfriend. Women may want to think back to the days of being his girlfriend and rekindle some of those thoughts and feelings. Thinking like a girlfriend is a great way to keep the fun and flirty in your relationship.

I can hear many husbands saying, “I am sexually playful with my wife outside the bedroom and she hates it.” The key words are “sexually playful.” It’s easy for men to tease and be playful with their wives sexually, but they tend to struggle with being playful with no strings attached. Women find it difficult to receive playfulness that seems like it always has an ulterior—sexual—motive. What women really need, especially in the beginning, is overall playfulness in the relationship.

Understanding Her State of Readiness for Playfulness

Many women have complained to me over the years about their husbands touching them or kissing them too passionately in the kitchen. It often feels inappropriate to them. That may be especially true if it’s happening in front of children, who may not be old enough to understand or appropriately process experiences of a sexual nature.

To wives, any unwelcome sexual teasing or suggestiveness tends to feel similar as affection that always leads to sex. This one-directional playfulness tends to have a negative effect on women because it reinforces the idea that everything is about sex to a husband, or that that’s all their husbands really love about them.

A wife wants to be loved and wanted for her whole self, not just her sexuality. It can also send a message that the husband doesn’t really understand her or care that she is wired differently–more emotion-based than sexually.

When there are strings attached to even playful touch in the marriage, and wives have not yet developed or embraced their sexuality (or their playfulness), they tend to be turned off by any kind of teasing touch instead of being warmed up by it.

Start with Non-Sexual Playfulness 

Men and women are wired differently in and out of the bedroom. Since men tend to have easier access to feelings of sexual desire, it’s more natural for them to be playful sexually. Women, however, are still a few steps away from feelings of desire, so it feels out of place–and can even feel violating at times–instead of playful.

Men, if you aren’t getting a positive response to your playfulness, here are some suggestions. Be more attentive to your wife’s response to your teasing and playfulness. If you aren’t getting a warm response, then tone it way down. Maybe just stick to non-sexual playfulness, until you can build her trust in you and the relationship that everything you do isn’t about leading her to sex.

For men, non-sexual teasing and playfulness requires that their thoughts be non-sexual. That means there is no thought or expectation that it will lead to anything sexual. You need to think through how you come across to your wife. Neutral thoughts about your loving playfulness must be in place long before you even speak.

If you are thinking, “I sure hope we finally get to have sex tonight,” while tickling her or playfully telling her not to rip your clothes off that night because you’re too tired, then the playfulness will likely bomb. Instead, if you were to tease her in ways where you couldn’t follow through anyway, you are more likely to get teasing points. For example, you might kiddingly tell her that it’s too bad she’s not going to be able to “get lucky” because you’re heading out of town, or because you are sick with the flu. If you genuinely are headed out of town or actually have the flu, then it will work much better.

Keep in mind that it’s all about what you are genuinely thinking and feeling when you are interacting with her. Your thoughts and feelings behind your words and actions are felt more keenly than the words or actions themselves. Your teasing needs to be expectation-free in order for it to be most successful.

Another option is to discuss the idea of adding playfulness to your relationship, but let her take the lead in doing so until she feels ready or safe to make it mutual. Letting her take the lead will help you refrain from putting unproductive pressure on her.

Make Fun and Flirty a Priority

Adding more fun and flirtiness into your marriage can be done in so many ways. It is particularly important to develop this mindset if teasing and playfulness are some of the missing ingredients in making your marriage and intimate relationship all it can be.

Teasing and playfulness is ultimately designed to help improve the friendship and emotional connection between husband and wife. This, in turn, helps make it easier for women to “decide” to go there sexually. If teasing, playfulness and fun have not been a focus of your marriage, I encourage you to make it a priority and a personal area of expertise.

Self-Evaluation – “TEASING” 

To give yourself a guide as to how you are doing in this dimension, how would you currently rate yourself, and your spouse overall in the area of “Teasing”? — Being fun and playful with my spouse is an important way to keep the spark alive in our relationship. I enjoy and am often teasing, flirting and spontaneous with my spouse. I have or am developing a playful mindset that is making our marriage more fun than ever before.

RATING (0 – disagree to 10 – agree):
You ______ Your Spouse ______

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For help with improving this aspect of marital intimacy and the other 12 “T’s” read Knowing HER Intimately: 12 Keys for Creating a Sextraordinary Marriage by Laura M. Brotherson. This article was excerpted from Chapter 10 — “TEASING” of Laura’s NEW book — Knowing HER Intimately: 12 Keys for Creating a Sextraordinary Marriage. Get your copy here for a fabulously discounted price…especially for Meridian readers!

Other articles in this series:

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BIO — Laura M. Brotherson, LMFT, CST, CFLE

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and Certified Sex Therapist (CST), Laura M. Brotherson, is the author of the best-selling book, And They Were Not Ashamed: Strengthening Marriage through Sexual Fulfillment, and her latest book Knowing HER Intimately: 12 Keys for Creating a Sextraordinary Marriage