One of my favorite tropes that repeats throughout film, television and social media is that of the husband who, after years of marriage, still looks at his wife as though he’s never seen boobs before. Take Hal, from Malcolm in the Middle, for example: He sneaks peeks of Lois in the shower, watches her when she gets dressed for work and makes a consistent effort to admire the body of a person he’s had ample opportunity to grow accustomed to.
But while the trope centers primarily on husbands, wives aren’t necessarily different. As evidenced by a recent Reddit thread on the topic, women who’ve been with their partners for years often have the same adoration for their other half’s body, it’s just expressed in different ways.
In January, redditor Fun-Syllabub6892 took to r/Marriage to ask women whether they still get turned on by seeing their husbands naked. “I know men and women are different, and men are [more] visual etc., but do women like seeing their husband’s package when they’re naked, or is it whatever unless you’re already turned on and he’s already excited?” they asked.
Per Fun-Syllabub6892’s profile, they’re a 31-year-old male newlywed who waited till marriage to have sex. But while his question appeared to stem from a place of anxiety, the majority of responses were rather sweet. As most women wrote, it’s not necessarily seeing their husband’s dick that gets them going — it’s the other details of their partner’s body that they find sexy.
“It’s not ‘his package’ that turns me on,” reads the top comment from Nature_Soldier. “I find every little bit of him extremely attractive. Even if he’s just changing his shirt, you can be sure I’m watching him.” She followed up by saying that she tells her husband this often, and that he enjoys showing off and making “silly” poses.
Many others reiterated a similar theme. “A casual dick sighting doesn’t necessarily do it for me, but shirtless with jeans or sweats gets me going,” wrote one woman. Another said she enjoys when her husband puts on sweatpants or track pants, which she referred to as his “man lingerie.” Some cited specific details they find sexiest — a happy trail, his scent when he walks by after a shower or “sprinter’s thighs” that one wife “would not regret having [her] skull crushed between.”
All in all, the thread reads like a love poem of the finer traits and qualities that make up attraction, particularly between people who have been together a long time.
That said, plenty of women spoke about loving their husband’s dick, too. Some said they only become turned on when they see it erect, or that they enjoy seeing his bulge in clothes or underwear. Others said they just plain love their husband’s hog, naked or not.
But regardless of specifics, the question still points to the belief, as the original poster cited, that women aren’t as “visual” as men. There’s little scientific backing to this claim, however. A 2019 report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences compiled data from 61 studies in which men were shown erotic images while hooked up to neuro-imaging scanners, concluding that gender was the least predictive factor in which parts of the brain were activated from erotic imagery. Interestingly, the study did find that men often reported being more aroused by erotic imagery than women, even if their brain scans were similar. So it’s likely that this discrepancy is far more cultural than anything else — maybe men are socialized to be more aroused by visual stimuli, not biologically predetermined seek arousal with their eyes.
Still, while many of the responses on the Reddit thread were from wives who enjoy looking at their husbands nude, there were a few women who expressed guilt or regret over the fact that they didn’t feel aroused by partners’ bodies anymore. “Reading all these responses has made me incredibly depressed,” one woman wrote. “I was really hoping to get validation that I’m normal, but now I just feel like the worst wife ever. I love my husband very much, but I have the libido of a potato.” Dozens of women responded to her comment saying they feel the same. This dichotomy demonstrates some of the bind many women feel with their sexuality — on the one hand, there’s the cultural belief that women aren’t as horny as men; on the other, they’re made to feel bad if they aren’t as horny as other women.
Furthermore, it’s hard to imagine such a thread targeted toward men. It’s essentially taken for granted that men will be horny for little things like mundane domestic nudity. But if there were a thread discussing it, you’d probably see the same mix of responses — surely, there are men who don’t ogle their wives in the same way we see on TV, and they probably feel some insecurity around that, too.
In any case, the discussion among women on r/Marriage explores not just the fact that women are horny, but that their horniness continues on well into the later years of marriage. And often, it’s not just what we outwardly perceive to be sexual that dictates arousal. Instead, it’s little things like chest hair or the way they fold their arms behind their head in bed. Or sometimes, it really is just the dick!
Either way, there’s something sweet about that almost-innocent desire for your partner’s body persisting long after the honeymoon phase is gone.