I’m looking for a way my wife can learn the ways of seduction. We married at 19, had our first child at 23 and have been married for 27 years. When we were young she did not have to do anything special to keep my attention, but as I’ve aged I’ve grown to desire sexually confident women. In recent years I’ve been living and working in a developing country and had an affair with a much younger woman; it isn’t that the sex with her is dramatically better, but rather her confidence in her beauty and sexuality, and all of the little subtle seductive things which I long for. My wife is a good woman who is kind, thoughtful, and caring, but we have very different love languages and have grown apart over the years. I confessed the affair to her and we’re talking very openly about the situation; we both want things to work, but I need the things I mentioned, which do not come naturally to her. How can my wife learn such things so we can connect? Or am I just being a selfish ass?
Talents of any kind, from music to leadership to skill at a sport, start out as natural aptitudes and are then shaped by a person’s environment and education; such skills grow if encouraged and atrophy if discouraged, and if pursued diligently can be developed to a professional level. And yes, that includes the talent you’re calling “seduction” but which I would call “sensuality” or “lovemaking”. People in the modern West like to pretend that sexual interaction is like some kind of magical energy field which arises instantly, spontaneously & mutually when two people are “in love”; romantic stories and Hollywood movies pretend that all two people under the influence of the temporary neurochemical derangement we incorrectly label with the exalted word “love” need do is get naked together and POOF! Fireworks. The “abstinence only” form of sex miseducation even teaches this idiocy as fact, lying to young people that suppressing their natural sexual urges and denying all sexual expression for the better part of a decade (or more) will magically result in the best sex imaginable when the two of them clumsily grope each other in the dark without either of them having the faintest notion of what they’re doing. Don’t make the mistake of thinking I mean mere technical proficiency, though; there’s a school of thought diametrically opposed to the spontaneous-generation dogma which is equally absurd and ignorant. You might call it “Cosmo sex tricks” thinking: the idea that the human body is a machine not dissimilar to a power tool or electronic gadget, and that if one just turns the right knobs and sets the dials correctly, POOF! Fireworks. And I’m here to give you a big ol’ NOOOOOOOPE on that idea. The art of sensuality starts with a natural aptitude which is then shaped by environment, education and practice; lots and lots and LOTS of practice. It doesn’t magically appear after a lifetime of repression because a preacher says “I now pronounce you…”, and it can no more be learned from a book, magazine or video than “Learn Guitar in Ten Easy Lessons” will turn you into the next Jimi Hendrix. Given equal aptitude, a woman with a better formative environment and more practice will still excel over one with worse and less; given the same environment and amount of practice, a man with higher aptitude will still surpass one with lower. We can’t all be master chefs, basketball stars, or prima ballerinas.
But here’s the good news: We Don’t All Have To Be. Your wife doesn’t have to be Maggie McNeill; she just has to demonstrate love and affection as you need it. And though we only have your side of the story, your very first line is “WE married at 19…” We. She and you. I suspect that neither your natural aptitude for sensuality nor your early experience was very different from hers, or else neither of y’all would’ve done anything as foolish as getting married at 19 (no offense; remember, I got engaged at 20 and I’m supposed to be the wise one here). You say, “we have very different love languages”; I certainly believe that, but why is she the one who needs to learn a new language on the near side of 50? It seems to me that both of you could stand to acquire some new skills in that department. You both need to try to demonstrate love and sensuality in a way the other can respond to, and you both need to try to appreciate what the other is trying to demonstrate. It’s not going to be easy; nothing worthwhile ever is. But there are counselors and workshops and the like who may be able to assist you; you’re going to have to find them in your area, and you may have to try a few before you find the right one. You say y’all both want this to work, and after investing 27 years in each other that sounds like a good idea to me. There is no Royal Road to proficiency in anything, but a burden shared is a burden halved, right? If you work toward being her ideal lover as hard as she works toward being yours, y’all may be within hailing distance of each other sooner than you think.