THE LIBIDO SERIES: Can High Drive Spouses Be Content with Their Sex Lives?

by | Sep 8, 2020 | Libido | 77 comments

Be content with your sex life if you're the higher libido spouse

If you want sex more often than your spouse, are you doomed to have a disappointing sex life?

It’s September, and in Ontario, where I live, the kids are back to school today (I know they’ve been back for a month where some of you all live, and in Australia & NZ, I think this is the middle of the year? )

I took yesterday off for Labour Day because I needed a vacation! We’re in the middle of edits for our new book The Great Sex Rescue, plus we’re filming and writing our brand new Orgasm Course which is launching next month (Yay!). So I’ve been TIRED.

But today I want to start a new series for the month of September on navigating libido differences.

I’d like to start by asking this question: Is lack of contentment hurting your sex life?

If you are having sex weekly if not more, is it possible to be content, even if you want sex more often?

I’ve been in several interesting discussions in the comments and on Facebook in the last month which have made me think about this question. In two of the cases, the scenario is that the husband wants sex a lot, and they have sex about 2-3 times a week, and she enjoys it (and frequently orgasms). But he isn’t satisfied and wants it more, and so she feels inadequate. And in another case, sex is just as frequent, but she isn’t enjoying it (and the husband is just as unhappy).

But this isn’t a gendered issue. I’ve had other commenters where it’s the other way around–she wants sex more often than he does, and she feels rejected, and puts her disappointment on him.

Now, I do think regular, frequent sex is a huge part of a healthy marriage.

I am all for frequent sex. I am all for fun sex! I’ve written 31 Days to Great Sex to help you both find passion and find an equilibrium that works for both of you. I’ve created a Boost Your Libido course to help women embrace their sexuality and want sex more. I am all in favour of that, and we’ll be talking more about that this month.

But that being said, what really matters here is relationship.

  • Does sex bring you closer together?
  • Does it help you feel more intimate?

Let me tell you about two of these conversations I’ve had, because they offer us some warnings.

What happens when one spouse continuously criticizes the other for not wanting sex often enough?

In one conversation, I was talking with a gentleman in his 60s who had been married for over 40 years. They have sex once every six weeks now, and she sees it as a duty. She does tend to orgasm, and he says that he longs to do more to bring her sexual pleasure, and he’d gladly sacrifice his own for her, but she’s not interested. This is how he feels intimate, but she rejects it.

In the beginning of their marriage, though, she was “all over him”, and they were having sex 2-3 times a week. And, again, she did reach orgasm. But he could never understand why she didn’t want it more frequently. So he’d say, “we should do this more often!” or “why can’t we do this all the time? It’s so wonderful; why don’t you want it more?”

Another woman told a similar story a few weeks ago, when we were talking about what to do if sexual favors were actually physically uncomfortable:

I feel that I’m treading a fine line of our sex life being ‘satisfying enough’ for my husband. He’s the higher drive spouse and even though we have sex 2-3 times a week, he would prefer more. Also he would prefer us to be more varied and spontaneous than I feel able to be. So… I do often feel that I should provide an alternative if I am too tired/not feeling well enough to have intercourse, if it’s been a couple of days since our last time of making love.

I do orgasm (through clitoral stimulation) almost every time. I think with the frequency, we rarely leave it long enough for me to notice if I myself actually desire sex …. So it’s hard to note my own natural libido or desire, and stop it from feeling like a duty.

Another woman left a longer comment a few months ago, that we’re using for our Orgasm Course. She was explaining all the different problems she had trying to make sex feel good for her. But part of her comment resonated today for our discussion, too:

When we first got married, it was overwhelming because I did enjoy having sex, but it always felt like there were “comments” or borderline complaints. The biggest complaints were he would tell me he wished the sex had been longer and he wished we would have it more often, and I felt like my comments were always opposite. I felt like it was plenty long (I don’t have the time or energy for 2+ hours of sex) and we were having sex at least every other day at first. With the complaints of how often, came a pressure that made me less interested.

Let’s think about these different scenarios: In all cases, the couples (at least initially) were having sex several times a week. In two of the three, the women were reaching orgasm.

But in all three cases, the husbands were critical and expressed disappointment, even when sex was relatively frequent.

They were having sex 2-3 times a week, but the wives were told, “we don’t do this often enough. Why don’t you want it more often? This isn’t enough.” (And again, I’ve heard this scenario with the opposite dynamic, where SHE wants sex more often. So it’s not a gendered thing. It’s just the recent conversations have been with men with the higher sex drive).

In the first case, with the 40 year marriage, we see the result. Even though she used to like sex (and even though she can still reach orgasm), she’s given up. They now have sex every six weeks, out of duty on her part.

And I can’t help but wonder, “what would have happened if the husband had expressed love, acceptance and contentment with their sex life, rather than disappointment?”

I don’t even know that he meant to express disappointment, but by always talking to her about how it could be so much better, she felt like she was inadequate. She was never enough. No matter what she did, it would never be enough.

And so what should have brought them together ended up creating a rift between them.

Does your wife not want sex? You may also enjoy:

Again, I am not addressing marriages where sex is relatively infrequent.

We’ll look at that more later in the month.

But are we looking at sex from a consumer mindset, rather than a relationship/intimacy mindset?

The first gentleman I was talking with said that he longed to feel intimacy with his wife, and he longed to “know” her better, but she kept getting annoyed with him.

So let me back up a bit here. Yes, sex is a deep knowing, as I talked about in detail in The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex. God meant for it to be a deeply intimate experience where we do know each other better, and we become truly vulnerable.

But that doesn’t mean that sex is a substitute for knowing. Sex is only about knowing when sex is focused on the other person, not on sex itself.

And if sex is focused on the other person, then what the other person is experiencing and feeling should matter as well, or else it’s not a real “knowing”.

God made sex to be AWESOME!

It’s supposed to be great physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Feel like something’s missing?

Our consumer culture says we can’t be happy until we get what we want.

If you ever took Psychology 101, you’ll likely be familiar with the concept of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. He said that our needs are on a pyramid, with basic ones like food, water, safety and shelter first, and then higher ones, like social acceptance, belonging, etc. higher up. And you can’t satisfy the highest ones until the lower ones are met. No one cares about the promotion at work or whether their friendships are life-giving if they’re running from a bear.

Here’s why I think this is relevant to our discussion: We’re really the first generation to live in a world where those bottom needs–food, water, safety, and shelter–are all met for us. There are certainly exceptions, as any abuse survivor will tell you, or as any marginalized person will tell you. But, in general, in the Western World, compared with other cultures across history, we have far more than anyone else ever has. We don’t worry whether we’re going to starve or whether war will displace us. And that means that our lives, instead of being oriented around what we need, can be oriented around what we want.

That’s why we have this consumer mindset. We’re told that we’re to look for what we want, and that getting what we want will make us happy. And we’re told that to settle for less is, indeed, “settling”. We will never be happy if we settle.

This consumer mindset, especially in marriage, is not compatible with Christ-filled relationships.

“The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve.” (Matthew 20:28)

Our life should be about love, and love requires acceptance of the other person, not always trying to change them. Love requires contentment. Love is not selfish; love is kind. And contentment comes from God:


I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:11-13

So let me ask: Are you practising contentment in your marriage?

What we heard, over and over again in our Bare Marriage survey of 20,000 women, is that many, many women feel that no matter what they do, it will never be enough. They can never satisfy their husbands’ desires (and even lusts).

And we also found that when women feel as if sex is a duty, and something that she must do so that he isn’t upset with her, her sexual satisfaction goes way down. Over time, that wears on her. It’s not surprising that, decades into marriage, frequency disappears, too.

How could your marriage change if, instead of focusing on what you’re not getting in your sex life, you rejoiced in what you were getting?

We hear so much about how to be sexually fulfilled, but it’s the wrong emphasis. Sexuality is about relationship.

Are you allowing sex to drive a wedge between you, or are you using sex to draw you more intimately into each other?

I know that if sex is very infrequent, more may need to be done (and more on that later this month). But I think if couples practised contentment and rejoicing in each other, then often the frequency part and even the spicing things up part could take care of itself.

When one spouse hears criticism and disappointment about sex constantly, though, how do you think that person will grow to view sex?

Look, I know some people would love sex everyday, and can’t figure out why their spouse doesn’t feel the same urgency.

But believe me–if you’re having sex twice a week or more, you’re having sex more than the average couple. You’re doing really well! And if you’re having sex once a week, you’re really only slightly below average. Your spouse not  wanting to have sex everyday is not a rejection of you. It just means that there are other considerations as well, and part of loving your spouse is honouring what else is going on in his or her life.

I’m not saying we should aim for average. But I am saying that practising contentment may be a discipline that is worth learning, both for your own well-being, and for the long-term well-being of your sex life. Focus on your spouse, not just on sex. Focus on how to love your spouse, not just on what you want out of sex. When people feel acceptance and love, they’re able to blossom. But when they only feel criticism and disappointment, it drives them away.

What do you think? Have you ever been turned off of sex because it seems like your spouse can never be satisfied? Or do you fear that you have created this dynamic yourself? Let’s talk in the comments!

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. X

    When you cover the one with lack of frequency, also cover zero frequency due to medical issues.

  2. Lisa

    Yes! When we first married, I BEGGED my husband to slow things down, give me some time to figure out what feels good. He told me he was afraid he couldn’t keep an erection that long (he was in his early 30s), and that if we didn’t keep going I would change my mind and the sexual encounter would end. I tried to explain the latter was a self-fulfilling prophecy – if he didn’t slow down the sex WOULD end. Not even six months of therapy could fix this. Eight years later, it’s not uncommon for us to go 6 months to a year or more without sex. There’s absolutely zero attempt to make it feel good for me, even lube to avoid it feeling painful is met with complaint (because we have to stop to apply it). Thinking back, the complaints started on our honeymoon. I remember our 5th day of marriage – bloodied sheets and me being so sore, and him whining the next day because I was still sore and “it’s our honeymoon.” (Side note – he doesn’t complain anymore, I think that stopped when I was pregnant with baby #2 and threw up during sex).
    I love my husband dearly, and would love to have an active, mutually satisfying sex life. But I feel I’m married to two men, and the man that comes to bed with me is not the loving, generous, protective man I live with outside the bedroom. The same man who will deliver daily shoulder massages while watching TV cannot fathom the benefits of a massage when the lights go out.
    So, yeah, I think our sex life might be drastically different if my husband had 1) made any effort to make it feel good for me, and 2) not complained about our sex life so often at the beginning of marriage.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Lisa, that’s awful! And this is exactly what I’m talking about. We’re actually talking about this phenomenon of the “two different men” in our new book The Great Sex Rescue (out in March). In our survey, we found that so many men are wonderful OUTSIDE the bedroom, but inside they feel they have a right to take and be selfish, because so many Christian resources have taught them that sex is all about intercourse and their climax, and it’s not really for women. We’re looking at quote after quote from Christian books (like Love & Respect) which basically say this. So a guy can think he’s being a good guy even if he ignores his wife’s needs in the bedroom, because he’s been taught they’re not real, whereas his needs are insatiable and must be tended to.
      We just need to get back to loving each other and communicating with each other and serving each other.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        And also, we have so little concept of consent in Christian circles. Your husband pressuring you for sex when you’re literally bleeding or vomiting shows that we are not teaching men properly that women are allowed to say no, and they must honor that. I’m sorry that you went through this. I really am.

      • LM

        Over 27 years of marriage, our sex life has evolved. As newlyweds we learned together and practiced often. We learned together to get over our self-imposed hang ups when childbirth disabled my ability to orgasm during piv sex, and discovered ways to get me to orgasm again. Then I took medication for PPD for two years that made it next to impossible for me to orgasm. Lots of tears were shed from frustration.
        We settled into 2-3 times a week and we were happy with it for decades. He struggled with medication side effects, and taking up to an hour to orgasm; which we found was due to nerve issues in his spine. When peri menopause hit me, I was as needy as an 18 year old boy. My 51 year old husband stepped up to my need for daily sex. That slowed down and now he’s in a midlife libido surge.
        My point is sex in marriage doesn’t stay the same. You’ll have health issues, hormone surges, etc.. You may even have times where you are repulsed by the idea of sex. When two people love each other, they focus on growing their relationship. If you don’t want sex regularly, talk to your doctor to be sure it’s not medical. If you have a medical issue that makes sex difficult or painful, be creative. Try new positions, pleasure each other in new ways, or try “marital aids.” I have a painful joint disease, but we get creative with positions when I need to.

        • LM

          My comment was not meant as a reply to Lisa. My apologies.

  3. AJ

    The flip side is also true. Lower drive spouses should learn to be content with having more sex than they ideally want. They are using the same “consumer mindset” to get what they want (less or no sex) without regard for how the higher drive spouse feels about the situation. We are all sinful selfish human beings who tend to look out for our own interest. It is the responsibility of each spouse to try to sexually please the other spouse and communicate with each other about what you like. It is the responsibility of each individual to allow themselves to be pleased. This means allowing yourself to become aroused when your spouse obviously wants sex but you don’t and it means prioritizing your time so you can “be available” for sex. It also means being emotionally connected to your spouse to know, even though I want sex right now, it’s just not the right time because my spouse is not in the right place to enjoy it. I’ll wait till he/ she is ready. Spouses should realize that sex is really the ONLY part of a relationship that make marriage so different from other relationships.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      AJ, I would largely agree, which is why I have written so much to help women boost their libido!
      But I still believe that contentment is something that is largely missing from many relationships, and needs to be practised. I have heard story after story from lower drive spouses who simply gave up on sex because no matter what they did, there was criticism and a communication that “you are not enough.”
      If higher drive spouses want a good sex life, then they also need to learn to make sex something that is good for their spouses. Criticism will not do that.
      There is a time to talk about boosting libido, and I will do that in other posts in this series, and I have done it a lot. But this message is one I have never given before, and I think it needs to stand on its own today, because it’s very important. If you are getting sex 2-3 times a week, you’re having sex more than average. Please, learn to be content. It is possible. If you don’t, you may inadvertently create a virtually sexless marriage within a few years.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Or, to ask another question, how many couples who are now in virtually sexless marriages, or marriages where sex is super infrequent, once had sex 2-3 times a week? But how did the higher drive spouse react to this frequency? Was it with contentment, or was it with criticism? And if it was with criticism, perhaps there is some repentance that needs to be done and repair that needs to be done in the relationship?

        • AJ

          I can speak from the perspective of being a husband who has a higher drive than my wife. After 20-years of marriage I can say our sex life is the best it’s ever been and I’m am very satisfied. In all of our married life my wife has never refused sex when I wanted it, but for many years I was still discontent. This is because I could tell she was not really into it on most occasions. For many years we had sex 2-3 times per week and she orgasmed probably one time per week. She always insisted our sex life be PIV only with man on top almost always. Our encounters lasted 10-15 minutes and that was it. I became increasingly dis satisfied because I believed sex should be more. I wanted more “naked time” with my wife. I wanted more foreplay and the chance to please her. She always tried to hurry things along. Accept on rare occasion she didn’t like me to touch her in her vaginal area because she said it tickled and was not arousing in any way. I knew I could make sex better for her if she would only let me. We had a big blow up fight over sex one day a few years ago and this was the beginning of a big change. We spent the next several months talking about sex like never before. She had many presuppositions about how sex should be. Over a period of several months, we were able to work through everything. The big breakthrough came when my wife was able to change her mind and attitude about sex. She realized sex is really good and I can help make it awesome for her!! She now REALLY enjoys receiving oral sex and I could not be more thrilled to give it to her anytime she wants. She went from having an orgasm once per week to having many orgasms every time we have sex. We now have unbelievably good sex 4-7 times per week instead of bad sex 2-3 times per week. I couldn’t be happier. So as a higher drive spouse I can attest to the fact that having sex more often really is more satisfying, but only if its good sex. It not as much the frequency that matters as much as the quality. Quality for us my wife allowing me to fully “know” and please her.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            AJ, this is really interesting, and what our surveys showed as well. Many, many women are hampered during sex by mistaken beliefs that we’ve grown up hearing–beliefs like “if your husband is typical, he has a need you don’t have” (from Love & Respect, saying that husbands need sex and you don’t). Or that women are obligated to give their husbands sex (that’s highly correlated with low libido). Or that sex is about a husband’s needs.
            Addressing these things can help women find real sexual freedom, which is what we’re trying to do in The Great Sex Rescue–we’ll be exposing all those false beliefs, where they came from, and how to reframe what we’ve been taught so that we can truly embrace our sexuality.
            But I can also tell you that when women believe the obligation sex message, and then combined with that husbands make women feel inadequate, it often makes things worse.
            If, on the other hand, you can focus on the conversation on what sex is supposed to be, and what bad messages we’ve believed, we can often have that breakthrough. But it generally doesn’t come from criticizing, but instead from genuinely caring for the other person, as you obviously did your wife. Expressing constant disappointment when those messages haven’t been expunged is almost guaranteed to make things worse.

        • sunny-dee

          I’m in a unique position, I think, but we never had sex that frequently. Peak frequency was 2-3 times a month, then it dropped to once every 6 weeks, and then I decided to stop trying except for fertility treatments. Now, the last time we had sex was 18 months ago and since I can’t have more children (I had a postpartum hemorrhage with my daughter and doctor said another pregnancy could kill me), I figure we won’t ever have sex again.

      • AJ

        Lower drive spouses need to realize that having sex “x” number of times per week does not equate to a good sex life. Quality is more important than quantity. Quality means allowing yourself to enjoy sex and really being into it. Also, experiencing orgasm during sex DOES NOT mean sex was satisfying or good (this true for man and woman). In most marriages where there is great frustration between higher/lower drive spouses I believe one would find the lower drive spouse usually has an attitude of, “well it’s been 4 days so let’s hurry up and get this over with” or “I’ll just lie here let me know when you’re done”. No wonder sex is bad if a person allows their attitude to be so negative of course they are not going to be ” in the mood”. Also, I think it’s WRONG to compare how often you have sex to others. Who cares about what the average number of times per week is. Comparing your sex life to data that may or may not be correct will only lead to discontentment. Telling a higher drive spouse ” we have sex more often than average” does nothing positive. It’s like telling a person who’s hungry because they only get 2-meals a day “well the average person in this world only gets 1.7 meals per day so you should be happy”. It doesn’t matter, the hungry person is still hungry.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          AJ–I have made many of the exact same points you are making before. In fact, I’ve made them frequently.
          But today I want to tell the other side of the story, which is ALSO valid. What I am saying is that constant criticism rather than contentment makes someone not want to do a particular thing. IF someone is always criticized when they do X, why would they want to do X?
          And especially if you consider that most women take YEARS to be able to reliably orgasm during intercourse (something I am trying to rectify in our upcoming orgasm course), experiencing criticism when they are just trying to figure things out is extremely demoralizing.
          Contentment is a Christian practice. Criticism is not. Perhaps if we all focused more on contentment, many of these problems could be avoided.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            And also–why do you think so many women have that duty attitude? Because what is being conveyed to them is, “you have to do this more for me to be happy.” The reason they are acting like it’s a duty is often because that is exactly how their spouses are treating it.
            We found that the obligation sex message–that you have to have sex when your husband wants it–is highly correlated with low libido, lack of orgasm, and sexual pain.
            If you want a good sex life, it needs to be based on love and contentment, not criticism.

        • Jane Eyre

          AJ, you are presuming that husbands are willing and capable of pleasing their wives. I can tell you from personal experience that is not true.

          • AJ

            Jane Eyre, you are correct. I am assuming husbands want to do everything within their ability to love, care for and please their wives. It’s hard for me to fathom anything else. However, I know there are some really bad men out there.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Yep. I also think that there are a lot of women like your wife was, who honestly feel strange about sex and have a hard time being the center of attention or receiving sexual pleasure. It is a very difficult thing to navigate, and we’ve just gotten some really bad teaching on it all around that teaches that women are selfish if we want anything and that sex is primarily for men. It’s a big mess for far too many couples.

  4. E

    This hits home for me and it’s a huge struggle.
    I am the higher drive spouse and married almost 20 years. About 9 years ago I discovered I was the higher drive when my husband had a lot of stress. It was about once a month. When work things calmed down it went back to how it used to be (twice a week) and I could rest and enjoy it and not obsess with sex all the time. I would have still liked more, but was content.
    Sometimes though we still go through periods where weeks go by with nothing. And I don’t mean rejection because he has never really liked me initiating so i have to wait around and wonder when it’s going to happen. Though after many conversations he is more receptive now to my initiating than hebused to be, but the memory of rejection is so fresh it’s hard to be brave enough.
    When I have brought it all up he usually clams up and says nothing and I cry my eyes out. He has said later that it makes him feel like less of a man and he is sorry he fails me. He comments sometimes about me being mad at him, but I can’t seem to make him understand it’s how I feel loved and when he doesn’t want sex I feel ugly and unworthy and unloved. I guess when i talk to him about it it comes across as anger and not complete devastation.
    FYI we have a great relationship, he takes me into complete consideration and sex is lovely and amazing every time. It has been hard sometimes because I worry nowbhe doesn’t really want to, just out of obligation.
    So I just don’t know what to do. So tired of crying myself to sleep sometimes.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, I’m so sorry, E! And it really does sound like this is a different situation–when sex becomes very, very infrequent. That is hard to live with, and it is something that certainly can and should be addressed, especially you needing him to pursue you but also to respond to you.
      I will address this one soon, because this is different!

      • AspenP

        I understand E! My husband is constantly stressed and depressed and is not interested for weeks or months at a time. It’s so hard. I’m the higher drive spouse too. Talking about it—even gently—has made it worse where then he starts stressing out over sex too or now trying to consider my needs or my pleasure. Even then, sex is rare. I’m sorry you’re in the same boat! It’s tough.

      • Angela Laverdi

        Yasssss. please cover this topic. It is so hard when the woman is supposed to be chased around for sex and she’s NOT getting that and needs it.

        • Doug Hoyle

          I thought that was an interesting remark. It actually dovetails into this subject in a way. As men, if we pursue too much, or too hard, we risk pushing our wives away, but as you point out, if we aren’t pursuing at all, for whatever reason, then we are neglectful. I have to admit that there is a balance there that I have often not been able to find, and on some occasions, I have quit looking for it. I fear that I might be in the latter category right now.
          It isn’t that I am deliberately neglectful. On the other hand, there is a sometimes a very narrow line between being content, and giving up. We are in a season where I have been able to find some contentment. That doesn’t come easy for me in any area, but it takes a lot of deliberate thought to get there in our sex life. It isn’t that it is bad now, but there were 20 years where it was largely non-existent. I was never content in those times, but I wasn’t very good at managing my feelings in a way to bring about positive change, so ultimately, I largely gave up. That led to a number of decisions that I regret, including an affair.
          We have moved past all of that and more, which is something of a miracle in itself. Sheila’s recent post on God restoring a marriage was one that really spoke to me, because he really did in our case.
          On the other hand, those bad years taught some lessons that are hard to unlearn. Not every no is actually rejection, but it has taken several years for that to sink into my heart, so even now, I am reluctant to initiate, or even bring sex up. It happens when it happens, and for the most part, I am content. The negative side came up in a recent conversation with a mentor. When I am struggling to find contentment, I don’t pursue my wife. We have a lot of both sexual and non sexual touch, and there doesn’t seem to be any real tension there. On the other hand, if a word or a touch seems to fall on an unreceptive heart, I will seldom expose myself to any real disappointment.
          We went thru a period of real revival, as far as our sex life went, and made time 3 or 4 times a week, and then life sort of interfered, and it withered to what felt like the bad old days. When life started easing up again, our sex life did not return to what it was. 3 or 4 times a month seems pretty typical now. In that bad old days season, I had to really be deliberate about not falling into old thought patterns, and really practicing contentment/surrender, as opposed to just giving up. They might sound like the same thing, but they are worlds apart. There was a cost incurred tho, in that I am very reluctant to give expectations any room to grow into disappointments, and that translates into my willingness, or more accurately, my unwillingness to pursue.

      • Anne

        I completely relate to E. I am the female with the higher sex drive. My husband and I have only been married less than a year and it’s already down to once a month. He has no interest. He just says he doesn’t think about it and he’s not like that. But when we were dating, he was all over me. We didn’t have sex, but he was always trying to get my clothes off and grope me and so on. Then, as soon as we got married and had sex a few times, it was like he completely lost interest. He says he doesn’t know why. I feel totally rejected and unattractive. I workout regularly Andrew am fit and he says he’s attracted to me sexually but then… nothing. It’s so difficult to work up the courage to be the one to initiate when you feel unwanted to begin with. I feel like it was such a bait and switch. I’m trying to feel content but I struggle with this on a regular basis and can’t talk to anyone about it. I’m praying about it but I feel so isolated.

        Side note: Sheila, I do appreciate your response to E, but I am curious why you were so hard on AJ above. Why is it ok for a woman to feel sexually frustrated and you have compassion for her but for men you are lecturing them about being content? Sorry if that comes across harshly. I don’t mean to be rude. It was just such a big contrast. Maybe I notice because I identify with men on this subject and how they feel when the other person just doesn’t seem to care about this need you have. Maybe that’s why I noticed it.

      • L

        Thank you for sharing E, I can tell you how relieved I am to come across your comment, because this is exactly how I feel. Except I am not brave enough to talk to him about that even once, because I feel like it won’t do any good to the relationship (we won’t be doing more sex because I’m worried the discontentment will make him feel low, and even if he agrees he might be doing it out of duty).

        The thing is, he always enjoys sex every time we’re doing it. To me, he is really good in bed. And he doesn’t have any medical condition related to sex. But we only do it once a week, on the weekend and I would be the one who give the hints. I never felt pursued at all. So if I don’t give hints, I’m not sure if he is going to ask for sex. I’ve tried giving him hints during weekdays before we sleep, but he always diverts the conversation and starts talking about something else. I feel so sad all the time when I think about it, so I try to suppress my feeling and focus on being more content. But I’m not even sure what to do.

        • L

          And we’ve only been married for 10 months.

      • L

        And to add more, I just don’t want to discourage him because I truly love him. I know he is not stressed at all, he is working from home and always so happy. I just don’t know why he doesn’t pursue me for sex. He also avoids kissing occasionally because he’s worried it will lead to him being aroused, it’s like he always avoid sex when he is able to have sex..

  5. Active Mom

    This is a hard one. I am the higher drive spouse and my husband has never been interested in sex. Even when we were younger I was the toy he would get the urge to play with maybe once a month and then he wanted to put me back on the shelf until he was interested again. I hear what you are saying about contentment but the problem can be low drive spouses can use that to cling to uninterested duty sex every 6 weeks. I also feel for people whose spouses were not okay with 4-5 times a week or when it didn’t feel good. It’s just a fine line. I have been on both sides, sex never felt good because it was all about him AND it was also infrequent because it was all about him. I just think that it’s potentially unhealthy to tell spouses who are dealing with a gatekeeper to be content. I also acknowledge that there can be reasons for the gatekeeping. Contentment for a season while the uninterested spouse works on why they may avoid sex absolutely. Contentment to have hard conversations while the unreasonable spouse (4-5 times a week) and maybe stoping sex when comments are made about it not being enough etc absolutely. In other situations I don’t know. It seems a pass for those who don’t want to do what God requires of us in marriage. If you don’t want to have sex with your spouse reasonably often you should not be married,

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Active Mom, I totally understand what you’re saying–which is why I said that I was talking about marriages where sex is at least once a week, if not more. When it’s infrequent, that really is a different thing and does need to be addressed.
      There’s never a one-size-fits-all!
      And I’m sorry that you’re so frustrated and lonely. It is tough.
      I’m talking about contentment when sex is relatively frequent, that’s all. I’m not talking about contentment when it’s really not and there are big sexual issues in the marriage. Those seriously do need to be addressed.

      • AJ

        All statistics aside, is once per week really frequent? What if you only spoke with your spouse once per week? Would this be considered frequent communication?

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Once a week is only slightly below average. Again, I think more frequent is better, but I also have to ask: is the attitude that we are showing helping or hurting intimacy?
          As for communication, I actually don’t like that comparison. To talk is much, much easier than to make love. Considering how much many women need to prepare for sex, and rev themselves up for it, and how much energy is involved, they really aren’t to be compared. I think it’s an unfair comparison that is often hurled at women.
          There are plenty of times it’s healthy in a marriage to stop having sex for a while, when there are issues to sort out. There is never a time to stop talking.

          • AJ

            You are only thinking from a woman’s perspective. Many men would agree that making love can be much easier than talking.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            AJ, I think that’s actually a problem, and I’ll address it in this week’s podcast.

          • Anonymous this time

            I agree with AJ 100%. Making love is so much easier than talking.
            “As for communication, I actually don’t like that comparison. “ No of course you wouldn’t. It is much more of a male point of view and you are a woman.
            “To talk is much, much easier than to make love.“. Oh no no no. For me making love is much easier. Its hard for me to talk about these things because for me conversation plays to my wife’s strengths…..not mine.
            “Considering how much many women need to prepare for sex, and rev themselves up for it, and how much energy is involved, they really aren’t to be compared.“ Switch that whole thing around for a minute. Let us rewrite it like this: “ Considering how much many men need to prepare for conversation, and rev themselves up for it, and how much energy is involved, they really aren’t to be compared. I think its an unfair comparison that is often hurled at men.” There we go. Sounds right.
            Remember that sex is a conversation. A different type perhaps, but it is through deep verbal conversation, and through deep physical conversation that true knowing of your spouse is achieved. Women tend to (yes I know there are exceptions) focus only on the verbal. Men tend to focus on the physical. Both need to reach out beyond their comfort zone for it all to work. I have been in a sexless marriage for many years. Its just not her thing. Not how she wants to spend her time. And I have to admit I have been tempted to say “get all your words out today, because starting tomorrow I will not be talking to you for 10 years”. Wouldn’t that be fair? Yes, but I am rather certain that she wouldn’t get it.

        • Anon

          Sex may be ‘easier’ than conversation for men, but I wonder how many men have experienced physical pain from talking?
          It’s so easy to say ‘sex may be hard for her but conversation is hard for me’, but you really can’t compare the two.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I am addressing that in today’s podcast, too!

          • Anonymous this time

            Anon, I have never experienced physical pain from talking, but i have from listening. When my wife wants to talk, which is frequent, she really doesn’t want me to talk she just wants me to listen. So i have to sit there and listen. Most of what she has to say, is chit chat stuff about her day and job. Really minor stuff really. But she will quiz me about it later so i have to focus as hard as i can to remember every little detail of what was said. It’s exhausting. Its given me headaches. And if I don’t remember all of it i get accused of not listening. I am in no way trying to minimize the pain some women feel during sex. Not at all. But my wife doesn’t want to spend her time on sex, just as I don’t want to spend my time talking. Making that connection of men seeing talking the way women see sex has helped me to empathize with why my wife doesn’t want sex and has helped me grow in my contentment. Which was the point of this post after all.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Actually, what you’re describing is not real emotional connection, either, and I totally agree that this isn’t healthy!
            Real emotional connection is when you both share at an emotional level. It isn’t just about “chit chat” (although chatting is important). It’s really connecting.
            It sounds like the problem here is not with talking, but with connecting. There’s none of that going on, which is why it’s emotionally exhausting.
            Have you ever tried the “high low” exercise? I’ve talked about it before, but everyday you share the one time that you felt most in the groove, most in sync with God, most felt the Holy Spirit working through you, and then the time you felt the most defeated and discouraged.
            That way you’re sharing your emotions. That’s a healthy way to communicate, and it is important. But I agree; just having to listen to someone talk and talk, and then be reprimanded if you didn’t remember everything, is exhausting and isn’t healthy. Is there any way that you can steer conversation in your marriage towards real stuff? She may yearn for it, too, but not know how to get there.

      • Active Mom

        That makes sense. I guess the question would be how do we define frequent. That would be the one hurdle. I love everything you wrote and contentment is important and my heart breaks for those spouses who are told (usually women) to have sex when they are sick, when they are exhausted after caring for small children, or whenever, however he wants it. But, I know some spouses who are wrong because they would define frequent as once a month. Kudos for trying to tackle this topic.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I’d definitely say at least once a week, and we’ll be talking about that later this month. But I also think it depends on the season, on work schedules, on health, etc.
          And I think it depends on the quality of the relationship as well. It’s just tough.

          • Gary Manning

            Once a week is frequent? What if the higher drive spouse’s definition is every other day. The higher drive spouse should be content with whatever the gatekeeper decides.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that 2-3 times a week is more than average, and once a week is slightly less, and there does come a time when you need to decide whether you’re going to be critical and angry and push your spouse away, or whether you’re going to learn to be content.
            Again, as I said repeatedly in the post, I am not addressing this to people who have sex less than once a week.

  6. Ryn

    When we first got married my husband wanted sex all the time! That lasted about a month and he just lost interest in me and started rejecting me. I found out he had a porn addiction and we took the necessary steps to end it. It’s been a couple of years, but he still isn’t interested in sex often. Once every couple of weeks and will still reject me. I’ve tried doing your 31 day sex challenge with him, but he wasn’t interested. He’s not willing to do any work to change our sex life and it sucks. I feel so undesirable to him! I’ve talked to him again and again, but nothing changes. We are only in our 20s too!

    • Soup + Celery

      Hey, Ryn!
      I’m so sorry you’ve been betrayed like that. 🙁
      I’m not sure what you mean by “took the necessary steps” to end his addiction, but is it possible he is still using? Filters can be gotten around, new smart devices can be bought and used outside the home… Not trying to incite suspicion against your husband! But porn use is a major cause of low libido in men.
      Did he get an accountability partner? Go to therapy? 12 step group?
      I pray you haven’t forgotten to budget for your own therapy – as a betrayed spouse, taking care of your own mental health should be a top priority!
      Sometimes when a user quits porn, they can go through a “flatline” experience where their libido crashes for a time after going through withdrawal. It will come raging back eventually, but it can feel like it’s completely gone for a time. However, if your husband truly did quit years ago, the flatline period should be far behind him.
      Of course a low desire for sex could be related to many things other than porn (low testosterone, general health, mental health). That’s just what jumps to my mind, especially since your husband has had an addiction in the past.

  7. mtKatie

    This issue is very important to me. So I may go on about it for a bit.
    I have the lower drive in our relationship but it wasn’t always that way. When we were young and had very little responsibility we were very evenly matched in the libido department. (sometimes two or three times a day and for sure every day before kids) Life gets in the way, emotional issues get in the way, lots of things get in the way and can drive a libido lower and lower. (Now twice a week seems to be average for us, which is still sometimes a struggle for me to get into it, although I know he would like a return to almost every day, which I wish I had the energy for but it just isn’t there)
    Holding that against a spouse is not a healthy way to view/treat a relationship. It’s not a matter of “giving in” or “taking what you can get” it’s a matter of finding peace and happiness (contentment) together.
    Understand that a lower libido isn’t a lack of desire directed at the other person. It is literally a lower drive. It is not something that we are using to reject you with or to punish you with. It is usually something caused by everything else but you. (Emotional or physical hang ups (As in its all in our heads and yes we already know we should quit letting it be a thing but the dark voice in our heads is not so easily silenced just because you say it’s not a big deal doesn’t mean it’s not a big deal…) actual emotional or physical issues (pain/damage that can be either emotional or physical or both) worrying about kids/money/work/house/extended family/weather really I could go on for ages—worry is a really big one for me and a lot of other people too I think—) Sooo many things. It’s not all about you.
    I am already well aware that it’s not all about me. I don’t need the reminder. But maybe you needed it.
    So take the time to understand those kinds of things about your spouse. You never know what might be going on with them. (That even when asked they might not be comfortable talking about because they have no way to feel that you will actually take the time to understand and not just tell them they are worried about nothing etc.) That maybe by demanding and expecting sex, you aren’t treating them with the respect and understanding that just might help them feel like sex could possibly be something they want too. If they feel like they don’t have to then it gives them a chance to want to. (Keep in mind saying things like—I thought you said if I didn’t ask for it then you would want to give it to me—cause that’s called expecting it. Not really the point. The point is to have open and honest conversations that makes both spouses feel safe, understood, and like they are having the opportunity to be heard.) Take the time to think “maybe they have a point” this is such an important concept to me. (I got it from Sheila’s month on mental load and it has made the biggest difference in so many many ways!!)
    Maybe they have a point. Maybe I’m looking at this the wrong way. Maybe I should take a step back and ACTUALLY consider what they are saying, no egos, no defensive responses no wishlists/complaints/soap boxing of any kind. Just truly honestly considering the other person might be saying something real. That THEY MIGHT HAVE A POINT. (And yes this goes both ways. And yes this can help you with any type of relationship—even your in-laws)

    • Loving Husband

      OK, I’m the guy in his 60s that Sheila mentioned in this post. I admit I’ve been guilty of asking (expecting?) in the past. But right now I’m taking Sheila’s earlier advice and backing off for a while. I know she’s under a lot of pressure from her job right now, so I told her for the next month or so she should not worry about sex. I would not be expecting anything, so she could be free of the worry about that. She thanked me without any other comment. And you said, “If they feel like they don’t have to then it gives them a chance to want to.” I get that, so now I’m in a period of “hoping” but not “expecting” (there is a difference). How long do I wait for her to “want to” before I resume my pursuit? (I’ve read that women like to be pursued.) It’s been a little over two weeks so far.

      • unmowngrass

        How long do you wait? For my money, you wait until she comes to you. Because you can’t change a dynamic that you can’t measure.
        To give an unrelated example… My then-fiance and I spent a lot of time road tripping. But we had a problem in the car. He’d open the windows because he’d get too hot, and then I’d close the windows because I’d get too cold, so he’d put the air conditioning on because he’d get too hot, and then I’d switch the air conditioning off because I’d get too cold, so he’d open the windows because he’d get too hot… A few cycles of this and it became obvious we needed to talk about it. We did an experiment. He found the temperature he was comfortable at, and we checked the dashboard. 17*C. I was too cold in the car at that temperature. Then, one time only, we left off the air conditioning and kept the windows closed to see where my ideal temperature was, and he suffered through the uncomfortableness of driving whilst being too hot. When did I start saying “oy, it’s getting warm in here, let’s open the window”? 27*C. A full 10*C difference. Poles apart, we were never gonna match. But we wouldn’t have known that unless we’d measured it. So, knowing that we had no natural common ground the way we might have if I’d been fine at 22*C (still a bit too cool for me to be ‘warm enough’), we had to make some changes — I couldn’t just wear a vest top, for example, I needed to wear sleeves in the car. Whereas he needed to take his jacket OFF. Even for short journeys, which is a bit annoying, but it was necessary in order for us to come closer to common ground. But we had to measure it first.
        I think the same is true for other differences in relationships, including, yes, frequency of sex. You can’t change a dynamic you can’t measure. Wait for her to come to you. Not a little hint like her surprise you haven’t resumed initiating again, but for her to actually want to initiate with you. You can’t change what you can’t measure. And yes, you’ll probably get a more natural response if you don’t tell her what you’re doing, unfortunately. That can’t be helped. But I said don’t go at the first hint because it’s like when people walk together but their pace gets out of sync so one waits for the other, but then they go when the other person is still 4 or 5 steps away. Sure they might feel they’ve been waiting ages already and that the other person should be able to catch up from there, but the one behind already feels like the faster one is getting impatient with them and that just makes it worse…

        • Loving Husband

          Thanks for your reply. I’ll try waiting for her, but we may never make love again. She may offer a hand job for me, but she will never want sex for herself. (Even though she DOES enjoy it, and I give her multiple orgasms every time.)

  8. B

    Even with varied positions and activities, my ex wasn’t satisfied having sexual relations 20+ times/month. I thought I was broken and he led me to think it. I *was* broken, but it wasn’t my libido. It was my spirit. Even when we had 1-3 toddlers and I was responsible for everything except his job, even when I made sure my period didn’t cause him “neglect”, I was not enough. Turns out he has a sex addiction that started with porn and included prostitutes. I believe my gut knew I was no more than touchable porn for him and that’s what harmed my libido more than anything, though I’ve also read the books Sheila mentions and concur that they added to the damage.
    On the occasions whrn he decided he just wasn’t going to ask and I’d have to be the one to initiate, we rarely went longer than 4 days before I wanted sexual interaction. That’s still more than once a week, on average. More often, if my love bucket was filled and sex wasn’t the only form of “intimacy”.
    I am not suggesting that all or most higher-libido partners have porn issues. It was, however, the reality I lived for 20 years. We had more fights over sexual relations than every other subject combined.

  9. R

    What if our spouse doesn’t want sex at all? It’s been 2 years since we last had sex. My husband doesn’t want to talk about it, either. He is actually quite affectionate, but doesn’t want sex. I keep debating on whether I should push it or just learn to be content with affection but no physical intimacy.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s really a big problem, R. I’m so sorry. We’ll talk about that soon, too, because it does matter.

    • Anonymous

      So timely for me! Lately I’ve noticed I might be the higher drive spouse (30) married 3 years and he’s 34.
      So my gripe has been a few things. We’ve always had wonderful intimacy, with only a few times where we didn’t connect well and there were tears, but despite reading books like love and respect, he does a pretty good job of honoring my requests. Only sometimes especially lately I’ve wanted more than to orgasm once. And because he’s a guy and their orgasms tend to be linear, he doesn’t get that I’m very close to being able to have multiples and it feel very intense and after a few I’m more wanting PIV. Whereas the usual routine I’m more like oh this is nice but it’s not enough to really do much for me. It’s literally like 2 different kinds of stimulation, which you’d hope would equal 100% at the end but not how it works. Which that has given me a hang up (I’m guessing this is also partially due to the evangelical upbringing too) but I have this thought in the back of my mind like ok… am I broken? Is the fact that penises are meant to go into vaginas but that doesn’t feel as good as clitoral stimulation a part of the fall? I don’t think so and I’ve read the theology of the clitoris but ugh. Can’t help from feeling like I’m just not getting something in the theology dept and it impacts my level of satisfaction. So the contentment message was timely for me because it isn’t about my husband needing to work on things it’s me needing to keep things mutual and not all about me/focusing on intimacy and building that.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I’m glad this helped! And I do think that you can work towards more and varied things, too, but making it about something special or a treat rather than a criticism for everyday stuff can go so far.
        And you’re definitely not broken! You’re really not. Women orgasm in all kinds of ways, and there isn’t one right way.

  10. Anon

    When you talk about the frequency that is good to have, is this PIV sex or does it include times when you are sexual in other ways? We’re newly weds and so far, our drives seem to be very well matched – more or less all the time!!! – but we’re struggling with PIV due to health issues – a lot of days, my joint pain just won’t let me get into the right position for that to work.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think sex = sexual intimacy in a way that is mutual, pleasurable, and intimate. However you choose to do that is up to you! And sometimes health issues make penetrative intercourse difficult, and so you can do other things! There’s no “less than” in that.

      • Anon

        Thanks, that is so good to know. We knew before we married that it would be difficult due to health issues (and have been delighted as to how much we have been able to do!) but when we hear about the importance for regular sex, we do wonder if what we do most nights ‘counts’, so it’s great that it does!

    • LM

      Anon, I understand about joint pain. Fortunately, my RA was in remission in the early years of our marriage. Positioning is helpful to an extent, but if your hips or lower back are affected, those can be painful regardless. Have you talked to your doctor about betted treatment? I know that over the years, some of my treatments have been more effective than others. I’m exploring hip replacement, and hip pain has been the hardest on our sex life. Lying on my side or prone are easiest on my hips, but it took lots of trial and error and subbing to Christian sex positions weekly email to get new positions to try.
      Sometimes I take my anti inflammatory about 30 minutes before bed or soak in an Epsom salt bath to help ease my joints.
      Hugs to you.

      • Anon

        Thank you so much LM! It’s really encouraging just to hear from people who have had similar experiences and found something that worked for them. I was in the middle of seeing the doctor to get some better treatment but then Covid stopped all ‘non essential’ appointments, so no idea when the process will be able to restart.
        Hot baths and painkillers beforehand are really helping. Also, being incredibly precise in positioning – we had a breakthrough the other night when we discovered that shifting my position by one inch makes all the difference between unbearable and manageable! And we’re only trying PIV on nights when I can rest a lot the day after. It’s frustrating sometimes, but I’ve been blessed with a husband who puts no pressure or expectation on me and we’re gradually getting there (and having a lot of fun on the way!)

  11. Eliza

    It can be really hard to communicate anything about this in a way that doesn’t come across hurtfully, even if the higher-drive spouse doesn’t mean to.
    It’s taken me many years to get to this place, but I’ve come to see my ridiculously high libido as a gift to both of us . . . because if I were only interested in sex once in a while, we’d have to be incredibly lucky for me to be in the mood on the rare occasion he physically has the strength/low enough pain levels. Instead, he can be confident that when he is up for it, I’ll be eager to go, too.
    And for the rest of the time–which is nearly all of it (would *love* to be back up to once a week :-P)–I have thought about it and realized I would not, if I could choose, want a lower libido level. Even though I would experience less frustration, I would also feel less alive. As for most things in this life, anticipation is the largest part of the pleasure. So there’s no harm to me in getting to anticipate for longer.
    It took a while for me to come to that place, and even longer for me to find a way to communicate it, but it has made something that was a really sore point (no matter how hard I tried to not make an issue of it) into something that we can just laugh about and enjoy and flirt in anticipation of next time, however long that might be.

      • Elsie

        I appreciate your positive comment, Eliza. And Sheila, this post was helpful for me to think about staying positive with my husband.
        We have sex 1-2 times a month but my husband has a chronic illness that limits how often we can have sex. We would both like to increase to once a week and there are some issues we need to address, however, overall our sex life is enjoyable. I’m not usually too critical but I have been bringing up lack of frequency more often lately. This is a good reminder to make sure my husband knows what I appreciate about our sex life and not only what I want to change.
        We unfortunately haven’t found anything that works to increase our frequency- I’ve suggested doing other physical activities besides sex but my husband doesn’t seem to want to do that. Even when we schedule sex, my husband is often too tired to follow through. I’ve suggested trying sex in the morning but my husband doesn’t seem that open to that idea either. I think we just need to figure out a way that works for us.

    • B

      That’s beautiful and I aspire to be you. It does make me really happy that my husband can know I am literally up for it at the drop of a hat. I’m sure that must be a good feeling on his part. Hopefully he can appreciate it. At the same time I must not be bitter about never experiencing that!

  12. Boone

    For you ladies that are in the situation of your husband not paying you due attention in your romantic encounters I offer a story from my practice of law about ten years ago. This was not my idea and I didn’t even know that it was happening at the time.
    I was representing a husband in a divorce case. He was griping about being lucky to have sex every three months or so and that his wife insisted on being able to watch TV during the encounter. My guy was seriously frustrated and if the truth be told really didn’t want a divorce. He tried to talk to her and it just made things worse. She wouldn’t go to counseling and their pastor had pretty well jumped her case about the whole situation.
    Wife was represented by a lawyer over at the county seat. This lady is a dear friend and about ten or so years older than me. She wrote the book in family law in these parts and was considered to be one of the best in the business.
    The lawyer grabs me after court one day and tells me that the wife really doesn’t want the divorce. I say my guy doesn’t either. She asks what’s my guy’s gripe? I explain about the sex every three months and watching TV during. Lawyer tells me that my guy just isn’t any good at it. She tells me, “I got this.” I ask what she’s up to and she tells me that she’ll tell me next week if it works. I just need to make sure that my guy’s home along Friday night at 8:00. We’ll, I call him and explain what I know and he agrees. I really didn’t think too much more about it.
    Mon morning I came in from court and was handed a message to call this guy ASAP. I called and he told me to drop the divorce today. I asked him what happened and he said that he couldn’t tell me but I needed drop it right now.
    I called the lawyer and asked her,”what did you do?!!!” She told me that she asked her client what she was willing to do to save her marriage? The client replied, “Anything!!!” The lawyer told her that they were going shopping Friday in Knoxville and it was all on her. The client was to ask no questions and do as she was told. The lawyer took her to get her hair and make up done. I’m talking sultry evening make up. The bought a skimpy strapless black dress that showed plenty of cleaveage, thigh high black stockings with the seam up the back and black stiletto heels. The lawyer told her to forget everything the Baptists had told her. She was going over to see him and she was in charge. The client was to tell him in no uncertain terms that she was there for her pleasure and that he was going to like it. This was to be said with a liberal sprinkling of four letter words. She was to back him into the bedroom shove him down on the bed and come out of that dress, which she was wearing nothing under jump on him let him know who was boss and let him know he was done when she said he was done and not before.
    I was flabbergasted. I stammered for a minute while the lawyer laughed and remarked that this time was the first time that she’d ever seen me at a loss for words.
    Well, I dropped the divorce. They’re still married and he still says yes ma’am and no ma’am to her.
    Who knows? It could work again.

    • Angela Laverdi

      Yeah, I did similar dress up/makeup/hair with my ex when we were still,married at a point where I was desperate ( and had just lost 60 lbs) —– I got laughed at. So that dont always work darlin’. Sometimes the guy just sucks.

      • Angela Laverdi

        And it took me 8 years to wear any kind of lingerie after that.

      • Boone

        I’m so sorry that it didn’t work. Any man that doesn’t recognize and appreciate the effort put into that type of preparation is an idiot.
        I this case the outfit, hair, makeup and four letter words were for shock value and to disarm her husband. She wanted him to know that the sweet little Baptist Sunday school girl was gone and in her place was a certified wildcat. She let him know that there was a new sheriff in town and she was taking charge. The other lawyer told me that she told him that he was going to take care of business or she’d find somebody that was man enough to do the job. In the space of an hour she was promoted to CEO and he was busted to office boy.

        • Angela Laverdi

          Thats great for her, glad it worked. Just seems like a fairytale to me though. Wonder how long it lasted and if she had to continue being “the boss” or if he ever manned up and took charge.

          • E

            Nothing worse than having the guts to wear something like that and crickets/snoring.

  13. Lisa

    Much of what you wrote rings true for our 23 years of marriage. In the early years, I was never enough. Our sex was never enough, I didn’t initiate enough, I wasn’t playful enough, etc. If I managed to speak up about something we did being uncomfortable or even painful, he pouted or even got angry.
    Things are so much better now but he did have to learn that it wasn’t all about him and the idea he’d gotten that “being married meant getting all the sex you want.” I think that back in the 1990s, “purity culture” and “true love waits” gave boys/young men the promise that if they just waited, all their sexual fantasies would be furnished by their wives. They weren’t taught anything about growing together and compromise.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think you’re right about purity culture. We did try to “bribe” people into waiting for marriage, and it was really the wrong emphasis.

  14. Joy

    (Perhaps) unpopular opinion: we need more entirely platonic men-women friendships. Let me explain. I was reading some of the comments on this (especially on facebook) and I came across a point of view that is often shared by (mostly female) commentators on this blog: “boys will be boys” and if they don’t get daily sex at home, they’ll get it somewhere else (including, apparently, going after trafficked prostitutes). Of course, they have been exposed to this idea in church, and by the media. I find the whole idea incredibly sexist towards men, somehow treating them like they are animals incapable of the most basic forms of human empathy and self control. If I ever asked my husband about this, he would be primarily offended and also very heartbroken that I ever thought him so shallow, cruel and just…well, horrible.
    However, I think one of the reasons I find the whole concept so ridiculous is that I have (and have always had) a lot of male friends. I think sometimes people raised in single-sex circles tend to see the opposite gender as mysterious aliens, instead of just people with a different set of genitals. Some of my best friends are men. We talk about all sorts of things (maybe less so now we are all married and have babies, but we certainly discussed very private things when we were single and in our early twenties). I know how they feel about relationships and intimacy, because they have told me. I have seen them fall in love, get their hearts broken, find their wives and start families. The idea of any of them being so callous is risible. Of course sometimes my friends (male and female!) do stupid, insensitive things that hurt other people’s feelings, but frankly so do I.
    I don’t think these toxic ideas would be as widely shared if we encouraged young men and women to be friends. They are not ALL going to fall in love with each other (some of them will, obviously!), and some of them will forge life-long friendships that will teach them more about the opposite gender than any pre-marital course ever could. To me, being a wife is first and foremost being a friend. I don’t think the women who talk about their husbands as though they are sex-crazed maniacs who need constant satisfaction are friends with them. And I think that’s a shame!

    • Joy

      As an add on, I think this would help guys just as much. Seeing your wife as someone who will fulfil all your sexual fantasies and will have no needs of her own is, I believe, the behaviour of someone who does not spend a lot of time with women in general. Men who have female friends are, in my experience, far more likely to see women as whole people who have more going on than a duty to fulfil their sexual needs.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      This is brilliant, Joy. I totally agree.
      And I also agree that much of the discussion about men in Christian circles is actually sexist against men, and I wish more men would take offence and say something! No, men are not pathetic creatures who can’t control their lusts. Men are true followers of Christ who are indwelled by the Holy Spirit and possess the fruits of the Spirit, including self control. Women are not closer to Jesus than men are, and we should stop expecting that men are helpless against sin and temptation.
      And I totally agree about friendships, too. I’ve always had male friends, and we’ve always been close to a bunch of couples, and often I’m closer to the man than the woman. It does help you understand the genders better.

      • Angela Laverdi

        It all reminds me of the movie Stepford Wives….men just want robots instead of a real person to be with.

  15. Russell

    I know I’m quite late to be commenting here, but I love this article. I spent the first 10 years of my marriage trying very hard to be considerate of my wife’s lower drive, but underneath I was (and she knew I was) a seething mess of resentment over the fact that my “needs” weren’t being met. Now, 18 years in, I’m so mad that I was stupid enough to buy into that sense of entitlement and suffer so much needless frustration from it.

    In the spirit of “tips to boost your libido”, I think we also need some “tips to reduce your libido”:

    1) Don’t assume sexual availability. When animals perceive that sex is available, a system in our brainstem switches on and says “You need to make that happen right now!” This works for dogs (who do it once a year) and for spiders (who would cease to exist if the male didn’t have something to counteract his reluctance to have his head bitten off). But as humans we can and do tell ourselves that any encounter with our spouse might end in sex. So we’re running that system (which we call “lust”) all the time, and that’s bound to end in frustration.

    Joan of Arc defined herself as sexually unavailable, and her men, believing that, were shocked to feel no lust for her, even when they watched her undress for bed and lie down half-naked in the straw beside them. They didn’t have to “struggle” with lust or exercise self-control; they just had to accept what should be a self-evident fact: that she wasn’t there for their sexual gratification. It really is that easy to switch off!

    2) Think differently about libido. I had gotten the impression somehow that being sexually satiated was the only healthy human state and that if I went without, my level of sexual frustration would just keep growing until it drove me crazy. But now the way I perceive it is that after orgasm, my overall energy drops below normal for a day or two, and I feel tired, irritable, emotionally flat. To keep myself constantly in that wiped-out state just to avoid sexual frustration (or as self-medication for stress) would be to live life only half alive.

    3) Pursue non-sexual forms of intimacy. Once I stopped being in “lust” mode all the time, I was able to recognize a totally different sort of yearning, for simple physical touch and closeness. Lust feels very urgent and genitally/orgasmically focused; this is more a craving for hugging, snuggling, skin contact, etc. If you can feel that, lean into it! I’d still probably be up for sex multiple times a week if it were available, but I think it’s healthier for both of us that what we actually get is great sex once a month and quietly ecstatic snuggling nearly every day.

    An analogy: When humans eat a meal together, it’s something more than a cow eating grass. We’re using animal need for food to meet a uniquely human need for connection. Physical intimacy should be like that too — the fundamental need isn’t for orgasm, but for connection.


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