On the issue of having different sex drives, the following is an article written by Michele Weiner Davis. It is 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
Michelle’s Answer Concerning Different Sex Drives
So, would you like to read Michele’s answer? We will make sure you do. But first we want to let you know that the advice Michele gives is not written from a “Christ-follower’s” perspective. Even so, we feel it is still very sound and very good. That is why we wanted to include this article.
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. It is 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. We truly 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.
We’re Told in the Bible:
“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 Todayschristianwoman.com web site to read:
• WHEN YOUR SEX DRIVES DON’T MATCH
“Good Reasons” to Say No?
Paul and Lori Byerly, from the web site, “The Marriage Bed” write the following that is true:
“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 they could be 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 is 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:
• SEXUAL STYLES THAT DON’T MATCH
Question Concerning Opposite Sex Drives
Pastor John Piper answers the question:
“How should a husband and wife manage having opposite sex drives?”
Below is an “edited transcript” that comes from an audio address Pastor Piper gave answering this question. (Or you can listen to the audio by clicking into the title below.):
• How should a husband and wife manage having opposite sex-drives?
Paul addresses this pretty directly in 1 Corinthians 7, in the first paragraph of that chapter. In it, he says to the Christian husband and wife, “Do not withhold from each other your conjugal rights.” This 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. Sometimes she says, “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. And don’t treat her that way. She’s a human. You want her all there. And 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.”
Sex Begins in the Kitchen
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 sexually-stimulating advertisements, there’s a problem. And then at 10:30 if you 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.
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) —will want to accommodate his stronger desires. 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. They would empathize and say, “What’s it like?” And then they would 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. It could be that 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. Therefore she was constantly pulling away. She 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 she was deeply wounded by her background and maybe other things.
Different Sex Drives and Other Reasons
So I know that physical and psychological things, not just different sex drives, do make things extremely difficult. It calls for a lot of patient loving care so that the person who has the condition feels understood and listened to. You’re not just saying, “Get yourself fixed, because that’s what my marriage is supposed to be.” Rather you should come alongside. And you would 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. 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.
This transcript comes from: John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: DesiringGod.org
We want to end this article by linking to another one. It is written by Sheila Wray Gregoire, and in it, you will find a lot of additional information that could help you with this problem.
Please! Whatever you do, work on this problem if it is one you and your spouse are contending with. Don’t just close your eyes. Keep searching for help and do what you can. Make this your mission. Don’t allow this issue to separate you —physically, or emotionally. You CAN work through this. Keep seeking, and knocking on every door you can. It’s biblical, and it’s important!
In conclusion, please read:
• A WORD TO SPOUSES WITH LOWER LIBIDO
If you have additional tips you can share to help others, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.
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Filed under: Sexual Issues
23 responses to “We Have Different Sex Drives”
There are many reasons for couples to have either a different sex drive or different desires, even after many years of marriage. You are both changing people, not stagnant, and sex is spiritual, physical, emotional, the whole nine yards. We Christians recognise that. It’s not simple or shallow, even if some think it is. If it’s only on a forum, anonymously, I will say anyway you are not alone.
I am a wife who has been wed a long time and I am beginning to believe that dealing with the sexual issue in the wrong way is as bad as not having any at all. I used to have a high sex drive and my outlook on sex was positive. Fast forward years and now my husband and I barely make love unless he persists in initiating or I just say very obviously that it’s time.
I find it hard to try with him anymore because I feel worn down, stressed out and if I look closer quite damaged too. The opposite of how an open, loving spouse should feel in this private issue. We have no leading-up-to-sex time where there is a cultivation of nice setting or things done to get each other ready, and I had a sad and terrible experience in regards to a pregnancy a few years ago which badly scared me, adding a legitimate fear of possibly conceiving again.
Instead of happiness, fun, excitement, sex now equals stress for me and the possibility of more responsibility that I cannot take on. If a woman doesn’t feel relaxed or at ease, how can she let go and give her all? What they say about faking it, is not true. It does not make you change into what you really wish just by will alone. Does that mean that she is any less of a woman with any less sexual desire underneath? No. Sex is meant to be a gift to each other for procreation and mutual enjoyment but it has now become problematic and an issue of resentment.
You know when he’s having a good time but you don’t get that yourself anymore. You want him to feel good, you are not a bad person, but you can’t join in like you know you should! Or if you are constantly sexually frustrated as a woman (it’s not always men!) perhaps your husband makes minimal effort other than to say that he is not the problem, that HE is there when you want it, unhelpfully leaving all the pressure on you!? How can one person take all that, and then be expected to admire, desire and perform? What if he has begun to turn you off?
You cannot separate emotions with something so obviously emotional and spiritual, but here’s a situation where the wife now equates this formerly precious act with hurt and negativity. It could be for many reasons, maybe she finds it hard to respect him, maybe he let her down in a huge way or he had an affair, or it’s all her, the result is the same. Her perspective has changed but the desire for sex actually has not changed, unless she is exhausted.
And if she DID get pregnant again, who would be doing the lion share, risking their body and possibly dying from complications as well? (Even a straightforward pregnancy takes its toll and so many men expect women to be workhorses, without real help or recovery time!) Emotionally, there becomes so much that the woman eventually thinks is not worth it, not for a short time of physical pleasure, but she is Christian so she still tries to please her husband even though she gets no pleasure herself. It becomes an awful cycle, and then unless he changes or she finds some secret inner strength to be the one who forces change in herself against the odds, there is a stalemate. Emphasis on stale!
The frustration, disappointment and pressure all pile up and she cannot tell anyone for fear of exposing that very private side of their lives and causing more pain. The husband, while hardly recognising his part in all of this mess, is quick to offer that SHE is the one getting in the way of progress, as if her approaching him would mean they both get what they want, untrue, but the hurt has eroded so much that she can ignore this for a time, until she begins to believe that he may have a point and she’s failing.
This is the hardest, most complicated and hurtful issue that I have ever had to face. Different sex drives, so called, may be a simple way to title an extremely complex and deeper issue, for both of those involved, not to mention anything of temptations etc and side issues that theoretically could occur due to both spouses being constantly frustrated. My heart goes out to anyone who is married, male or female, who is suffering in this area. May God be with you, and you are not alone. The desire to change, improve your life and not give up on your spouse, is a large step on the road to recovery.
Oh, the murky world of Christian sex advice. Makes me feel like I’m in a dark place, especially when I read the comments. No more!