What's The One Thing Your Man Wants More Than Sex?

It’s hard to believe that anything could possibly tickle his fancy more than a frolic in the hay on a Sunday morning. Or on any day of the week for that matter.

After all, how many of us have taken advantage of his attachment to his dangly bits, to manipulate him for our own gains.

“Yes darling, of course we can entertain Mr Twinky, but it’s hard to relax when the lawn is looking so messy…”

Well, one of the biggest mistakes we superior females can make is to underestimate the complexity of our menfolk, as I was reminded of, all too painfully, only recently.

A precious hour lay between a potential moment of bedroom intimacy and the arrival of guests for lunch. So I gave Ralph my trademark doe-eyed look, put my arms around him and said “Why don’t you jump in the shower” while I set about lighting candles and incense and putting on his favourite meditation track, the appropriately named “Ahm So Hung.”

Less than 10 minutes later, there we were, well beyond the point of no return, when, horror of horrors, the decidedly unromantic strains of “Holiday by the Seaside” burst forth from my iPhone 6, accompanied by a carnival of flashing lights.

Now, you would think that after 31 years of such bedroom trysts, I would know that:

a) The phone is never allowed anywhere near the bed;

b) If it does manage to wheedle its way onto the bedside table, it is only in its switched off state and

c) If through a moment of premature Alzheimer’s, I leave it on, and someone rings, I know to push the trusty “Sorry I can’t take your call right now” button.

Well, not only had the premature Alzheimers kicked in but worse, I picked up the damn thing and answered it. Sensing too late my mistake, I still managed to whisper, “Sorry, Ralphie, I’ll be just a minute” and ran out the door.

Not surprisingly, five minutes later, the iPhone was still glued to my ear when Ralph came storming out of the bedroom.

“What the f, Janno?!”

I realised in that instant that our romantic encounter was now but a whisp of sandalwood scent in the annals of emissions impossible. Ralph was never one to mince his words and there followed a tirade that would have burned the ears of a hardened psychopath, ending with the one that stung the most:

“Don’t you realise, it’s not the sex that’s important, it’s the total effin’ lack of respect!!!

And there it was, a volcanic reminder of the one thing that is more important than sex to every man. RESPECT. I’d never really understood what Aretha Franklin was singing about all those years ago when she belted out R-E-S-P-E-C-T but now I got it. This wasn’t a feminist catch cry, it was in fact the unspoken gift that every man yearns for, the thing without which he feels less than nothing in the presence of the person who counts for him more than anyone.

In her excellent book, “From Mate to Soul Mate”, Arielle Ford discusses a study of over 1000 married men and the surprising truth it uncovered: the great majority would rather have their wives love them less, than be belittled by them, either privately or publicly.

John Gray, author of “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” explains that it is a basic male need to feel like the hero in the relationship. Whereas most women have a circle of friends they can use as a sounding board, men generally rely on their partner for moral support. When a women expresses her appreciation for her man, this is what causes him to bond with her and feel he can trust her.

Gray says: “Anytime you women say to us: “That’s a great idea” or “What you just said is brilliant, we just light up!”

As Arielle Ford explains, “Simply put, your man wants to hear about all the things he is doing “right” and all the ways he is making you happy. He feels very respected when you acknowledge him and when you do it in front of friends and family, you get lots of extra bonus points too.”

Ms. Ford’s recipe for a winning relationship with your mate is simple:

  1. Keep agreements – do what you promise to do.
  2. Listen to and acknowledge his communications.
  3. If you must offer constructive feedback, always do it in private.
  4. Celebrate him in public.

Which reminds me of the time when Ralph and I were standing around our office kitchen back in the days when we had our Sydney advertising agency, Oddfellows. A few of our female team members were oggling a magazine that featured a highly aroused young stud sporting an appendage that would have put a ready to launch exocet missile to shame.

I casually leaned over, took a cursory glance and sounding as underwhelmed as I could, said:


Ralph, standing next to me, laughed and couldn’t get the smile off his face for days. Primal perhaps, but in that moment I had made my man feel like a million dollars.

Which brings me back to yesterday, when I managed to do the exact opposite. The phone call, as it turned out, was from our real estate agent to say she finally had a buyer for our house. But for all Francophile Ralph cared, it could have been the President of France calling to say he’d been awarded la Legion d’Honneur.

These moments, I realise, are sent to us by the universe as a test. It is up to us, wise womenfolk, to rise up to our biggest selves; to not simply do what society or some trashy women’s magazine tells us to do but to follow our hearts. If we want to transform our partner from the mate we take for granted into our soulmate for life, it’s simple. Stay present, stay loving and put him and this precious relationship we share ahead of everything - even our iPhone 6.


Photo courtesy of Iconic Bride Photography