Article Summary:Coping with difference in sex drive between men and women.
Q: My husband and I have very different sex drives. For him, everyday would be great, and twice a day would be greater. For me, once a week, but to accommodate him, I'd have sex twice a week. I don't think I'm abnormal, but he asks, "What's wrong with you?" I say it's normal for a couple to have sex once or twice a week. He says he doesn't care about 'normal', it's not enough for him. He has a point, but everyday and even every other day is too much for me. We've been married almost 20 years and have both built up a lot of resentment towards each other. He, because of the sex, and me, for a whole lot of other marital problems. I never did have a high sex drive, even before we were married. Neither of us know how to solve this problem, but it's a big one.
A: Dear K,
I am very glad that you are asking for feedback about your sexual relationship with your husband because the patterns in your marriage are so common that others reading your letter and my response might benefit greatly.
First of all, know that testosterone, one of the hormones responsible for sex drive,is 20-40% more prevalent in men than women. Though it is not always the case, it is very common for men to desire sex more often than their wives. This gender difference often creates problems in marriages, particularly when people blame each other for being different. Men think their wives are passionless and women think their husbands are sex maniacs.
When men and women have substantially different sex drives, something interesting happens. Most women need to feel close to their partners emotionally to desire sex. Women need to spend time with their partners, to communicate on a deep level and feel like they're team mates in regards to housework and kids and so on. All this has to be in place for most women to really desire their men.
Men, on the other hand, generally need to feel close to their partners physically before they invest a great deal of energy into their relationships. So she's waiting for him to be more intimate emotionally and he's waiting for her to be more tuned into him physically and the resentment that results in this waiting game is so huge, it's beyond belief.
That being said, it's really important for both of you to become more understanding of each other. This means you both need to try to imagine what it would be like to live in each others shoes for a while. He probably walks around feeling that if you loved him more, you would be more sensitive to his needs. He undoubtedly feels hurt and rejected and might even question his sex appeal.
You probably feel that if he loved more, he would be satisfied having sex once or twice a week. He would also be more responsive to the other issues concerning you in your marriage that you alluded to in your message. You also probably walk around feeling bad that he never seems satisfied, that no matter what you do, he's always unhappy. This isn't a pleasant feeling when you love your partner.
Since I don't have his ear, I'll direct my advice towards you. Here are some ways to make him feel better about your sexual relationship:
1. Flirt with him
Do you remember the early part of your relationhip? Even though you were never highly sexed, didn't you flirt more in the beginning, pat him on the butt, tell him he looks great, and so on. This makes a difference.
2. Put other things aside and make time.
Sometimes, women place too much priority on everything else they have to do and make their sexual relationships last on their lists. Examine if this is true for you. If so, other things can wait. Your marriage can be better than ever if you reprioritze your time.
3. Even if you're not in the mood, do it anyway...sometimes
So many women have told me that they can jumpstart their sex drive by just getting started. Once they're into it...they're into it.
4. Consider just pleasing him
If you're really not in the mood for sex, your husband may be satisfied if you do something nice for him once in a while.
5. Discover new ways to rev up your interest.
Let's face it, girl, after so many years of marriage, you might need something new to renew your interest. Cast your inhibitions to the wind and experiment with anything that might intrigue you.
Okay, I can almost hear you saying, "Why do I have to do all the work?" Kathy, just remember that the way to a man's heart is not through his stomach. The more responsive you are to his needs, the more responsive he'll be to you.
I want you to know that I really understand how difficult this has been for you during your 20 years of marriage and I'm proud of you for hanging in there. It says alot about your strength and character (and his too).
Try being a little more receptive to your man and let me know what happens.
Michele Weiner-Davis is an internationally renowned relationship expert, best-selling author, psychotherapist, and marriage educator specializing in a down-to-earth, solution-oriented approach that helps people change their lives and improve important relationships. Michele has been active in spearheading the now popular movement urging couples to make their marriages work and keep their families together. In addition to her private practice, she is the author of six books, the Director of The Divorce Busting Center in Woodstock, Ilinois and a highly acclaimed teacher and trainer, known for her clear, informative, energetic and entertaining seminars for couples and mental health professionals. She consistently ranks among top presenters at national conferences. For more information, visit www.divorce busting.com.