We Have Different Sex Drives
The following is an article written by Michele Weiner Davis written in a question/answer format:
I’d like to ask your advice about sex. 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. Neither of us knows how to solve this problem, but it’s a big one. Signed, K
So, would you like to read Michele’s answer? We will make sure you do, but first we want to let you know that even though the advice Michele gives is not written from a “Christ-follower’s” perspective, we feel it is still very sound and very good. That is why we wanted to include this article on this web site.
Michele Weiner Davis deals with this issue and other similar issues in her book, The Sex-Starved Marriage: Boosting Your Marriage Libido: A Couple’s Guide, published by Simon & Schuster. Again, this is not a “Christian” book, so you need to read it accordingly but we have heard some very good things about the helpfulness of its content. We’ve read a lot of Michele’s material and have heard her speak several times and appreciate her frankness and have found what we’ve heard to have a lot of truth to it.
The scriptural basis we at Marriage Missions see for the advice Michele gave can be found in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 where it says:
“The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone, but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
Now, to read what Michele writes in response to the above question, please click onto her Divorce Busting web site to read:
Michele also has written an article on this subject for the former publication, Marriage Partnership Magazine. In this article, she was asked the following question:
Dear Michele: Please help me. I’m 28, married with a 3-year-old daughter. For the past three years, my wife has avoided being sexual with me. We’ve gone from having sex twice a week to now, if I’m lucky, once a month. I’m miserable and I can’t keep living like this.
For Michele’s answer to this question and others, please click onto the Kyria.com web site to read:
As Paul and Lori, who have put together a web site called “The Marriage Bed” write the following that is true in so many ways:
“Some people seem to have a never ending supply of ‘good reasons’ for saying no. None of the reasons seems unfair, but taken as a whole it’s obvious something is wrong. When a constant stream of reasons for not having sex continues for very long, there is some underlying reason for the lack of sex; the reasons given are merely convenient or concocted excuses that hide the real problem. The truth is that we make time and energy for the things which are most important to us, so when we are routinely too busy or too tired for something it suggests that the real issue if more about priorities than time.”
To read more that might help you in this area of your marriage, please go to their web site to read:
Dr Phil McGraw has some advice on this subject as well:
Pastor John Piper answers the question:
“How should a husband and wife manage having opposite sex drives?”
The “edited transcript” from an audio address he gave answering this question is as follows (or you can listen to the audio by clicking into the title below):
Paul addresses this pretty directly in 1 Corinthians 7, in the first paragraph of that chapter, when he says to the Christian husband and wife, “Do not withhold from each other your conjugal rights,” which means sexual intercourse. Do not withhold that.
“Does not the wife’s body belong to the husband? Does not the husband’s body belong to the wife?” Now those are radical and dangerous statements, to say to your wife, “Your body is mine.” What balances it is that she says the same thing, and sometimes “I don’t want your body on my body.”
So what that text says is, “Compete with each other about how to bring the other person joy, to maximize the other person’s gladness and satisfaction.” Now that does not solve the problems, but it gives you an orientation that is so wholesome and so helpful.
It doesn’t solve the problems because, if she says, “I’m too tired for sexual intercourse,” and he is communicating, “It would be really nice right now,” she should give and he should relent. That’s the way it should be. His heart should be, “I’m not going to make you do this, no matter how strong I feel,” and hers should be, “I’m here for you, no matter how tired I am.”
Now, how does that bring a solution? It’s a matter of degrees, I think, and who at that moment is maybe the most sanctified. Who is experiencing the grace to yield?
I just think that we should preach hard to husbands, “Serve her. Don’t manipulate or use her. Don’t turn her into a manikin for masturbation. Don’t treat her that way. She’s a human. You want her all there. You don’t want to use her. You want her there —there, enjoying you. That’s the point of this: mutual consummation, psychologically, spiritually, and now expressed physically.” And those are the best moments of all, when the physical event is the consummation of a spiritual, psychological whole event.
I think we should be preaching to men, “Don’t think of your wife as an instrument to be used for sexual satisfaction. Think of her as a whole person who has her own deep longings and desires. And you want to live in such a way as to draw her in.”
Foreplay begins with whether you’re washing the dishes or not. That’s foreplay. If you help her wash the dishes after supper, if you help her clean up, if you serve this woman —this is about sex, right? Because if she has made a nice supper, and you finish it and go plop yourself on the couch and watch TV for three hours, getting red-hot sexually because you’re watching 50 sexually-stimulating advertisements, and then at 10:30 say, “I’m ready!” she’s not going to be ready! That’s ridiculous.
So what I’m saying is that spouses manage their different sex drives by loving each other like they love themselves. They should not be demanding, but should each try to serve the other. And they meet somewhere in the middle in a way that both of them perceive the other wants the good of the other. Neither feels used by the other.
And the wife —I’m going to use her as the example, because it is more typical that the wife has less desire for sex than the husband (though that’s not universally true) —she will want to accommodate his stronger desires. And he will want to avoid giving the impression that she is only there for his sexual satisfaction. And they’ll find a way in the middle, as Christ gives them grace and humility.
Does it make a difference if one partner’s lack of sexual drive is from a medical condition?
Well, I’m sure it makes a difference. And I think that what the man or the woman would want to do is to come alongside the partner who has the medical condition and empathize and say, “What’s it like?” and then work at it.
I know a couple where sexual intercourse is painful for the woman. And it’s not clear that the reason is entirely physical or whether there are psychological components.
I know another situation that ended in divorce. I did the marriage, and I was just heart-broken. Nobody at Bethlehem knows who this is anymore. As soon as this couple got married it emerged that she thought sex was filthy. Her mother had drilled into her —and she had seen it in her parents’ relationship —that to have sex is to do a dirty thing. And therefore she was constantly pulling away and felt like his desires were unclean desires. And that never got fixed. They broke up. I couldn’t provide the help that they needed. She was deeply deeply wrong about that, and deeply wounded by her background and maybe other things.
So I know that physical and psychological things, not just different sexual drives, do make things extremely difficult. And I would say that it calls for a lot of patient loving care so that the person who has the condition feels understood and listened to, so that you’re not just saying, “Get yourself fixed, because that’s what my marriage is supposed to be.” Rather you should come alongside and do whatever medically or psychologically can be done in order to find a pattern that is workable.
There aren’t any ideal sexual experiences in the world, I don’t think. Every woman probably has a picture in her mind of what she would or wouldn’t like. And every man has a picture in his mind. And they’re never identical. Maybe once in a thousand you would say, “This marriage represents her receiving and giving exactly she wants, and him receiving and giving exactly what he wants. They’re always in total harmony all the time.” That just never happens virtually, which means that marriage is a test case for sanctification and for self-denial. And it works both ways.
The above transcript comes from: John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: DesiringGod.org
If you have additional tips you can share to help others in this area of marriage, or you want to share requests for prayer and/or ask others for advice, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.