I Convinced My Wife I'm More Attractive... With Music
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Sex & Relationships

I Used Music to Convince My Wife That I’m More Attractive

Researchers claim that women are seduced by songs, so I put it to the test in my marriage

Sheet music with lipstick mark
Paul Spella

Remember in 1989’s Say Anything when Lloyd Dobler (played by John Cusack) holds a boom box over his head and blares music to prove to his girlfriend, Diane Court (Ione Skye), that he loves her? Turns out, the song playing when they shot that iconic scene wasn’t Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” — it was Fishbone’s “Turn the Other Way.” Director Cameron Crowe struggled to find the perfect song for that moment. 

“It’s when you’re at the peak of loving a song, and the song is speaking to you so loudly," Crowe explained in a USA Today interview. “I thought, What if you take this song to the person that you’re thinking about and just listen to it with them?

I can relate. Or, rather, I could relate. 

When Say Anything came out, I was in my early 20s, and music was everything. I never stalked a girl at her home with a boom box, but songs were definitely my go-to aphrodisiac. I spent countless hours in high school and college compiling romantic mixtapes for girls, and I would obsess over finding exactly the right songs to express to them how I felt. I even deployed mixes to woo and win over my wife, Erin.

That was nearly two decades ago. Life is different today. I don’t need music to seduce my wife anymore. But if you’re anything like me, you’ve noticed that igniting passion in your marriage isn’t quite as easy as it was back in the day, when you were both operating under the aegis of eager hormones.

Could a better soundtrack help? Probably, according to researchers at the University of Vienna, who, in 2017, conducted a study in which they played music for female subjects and then showed them pictures of various men, asking if they’d date the person shown. 

Not only were women more willing to date men after hearing music, but they judged those guys to be better-looking.

To extrapolate a bit: Tunes torqued the loins.

Although I’m not in the habit of taking romantic cues from Austrian researchers, I could immediately see the connection. And if music could help compel women to hook up with (and possibly marry) a dude, could it also convince our longtime partners that we’re still worth a roll in the hay? 

Don’t limit music to the boudoir

Katherine Hertlein, a psychologist and professor in the Couple and Family Therapy Program at the University of Las Vegas, Nevada, who studies the impact of technology on relationships, suggested “adding a soundtrack to interactions that are not overly sexual.”

A few months ago, I plunked the kids in front of a video and tucked my iPhone into the corner of the kitchen. I had loaded a special Spotify playlist, poured a few glasses of Erin’s favorite wine and invited her to keep me company while I did meal prep. 

By the time the playlist got to James Brown, her shoulders had relaxed and her magnificent bum had started to sway. I was able to stop chopping veggies and spend a little time snogging. 

Something old, something new

Like most music nerds, I spend a lot of time on the hunt for songs. There’s a genuine thrill in introducing Erin to my new finds. But keeping an old spark alive is a balance between the power of novelty and the pull of memory. 

It’s why my most effective playlists always included “oldies,” such as Joe Henry’s “Mean Flower,” the first song we ever slow-danced to.

The last time I played that cut, we were in the living room, cleaning up the accumulated crud of three kids, and I could see the sly smile of reverie on Erin’s face. I held out my hand and drew her close. We swayed together, even as our youngest groaned loudly from a nearby doorway. 

Don’t sing along — listen

As much as crafting playlists for Erin has helped reignite our passion, so has learning to keep my yap shut and listen — to the music, to my own body and to hers. 

“It’s less about the type of music and more about the consequences listening to music has on the body,” Hertlein says. “As a tool to increase relaxation and reduce anxiety, it can be used to reduce anxiety when it comes to sexual interaction.”

At the end of last week, I informed Erin that I had a new playlist to share. I’d loaded a bunch of her favorite oldies (“This One’s Gonna Bruise” by Beth Orton, “Half Acre” by Hem) and some new discoveries (“Ohio” by King Princess) onto my phone and piped them into a wireless speaker. 

As the music began I lowered the lights in our bedroom and urged her to lie down, so I could rub her feet. I knew she was tired of listening to kid demands and complaints, and wary of feeling erotic pressure from me, her aging but horny husband. So instead, we just listened to the music. 

I resisted the urge to tell her all about each song and artist in question. We just listened, let the music wash over us and slowly found our rhythm.

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