Last Monday, I began to tackle the subject of He Doesn’t Wanna, But I Do! Help for Higher Drive Wives. This post was in response to several reader questions about what to do when the wife wants to get it on more than the hubby does. (Okay, okay, I hear all of you jealous husbands wondering what is wrong with these men.)
The reality is that about 1/4 of the time, the wife is the higher-desire spouse. In fact, it’s the secret that never gets discussed because:
1. What husband wants to admit he isn’t a normal, sex-craving man?
2. Wives who express their desire for more sex are often shut down by other wives with statements like, “I wish my husband would lay off” or even “You’re lucky.”
3. We tend to discuss all topics from the point of view of the “typical.” Don’t believe me? Read a parenting book. If only my kid was the “average,” my child would have slept through the night within weeks, stayed in time-out after three tries, and potty-trained at age two. But no person or marriage is “average” or “normal” in every way, and some marriages have a higher-desire wife.
But today, we are talking about it here. Last week, I covered Internal Factors that might affect a husband’s lack of interest in sex and gave some tips for bringing up the subject without starting a wildfire in your home.
A few of you said that he won’t listen no matter what. If that’s your situation, here’s my advice: Stop talking about it. “Wait!” you say, “How are we going to solve the problem if we can’t even address it?” I’m not saying to stop addressing it, I’m saying to stop addressing it with words. If the subject is so volatile in your house, you both need time to diffuse. Lay off for a while — 3-6 months maybe. In the meantime, communicate — but not with words.
For both those marriages where the husband will listen and the husband won’t, there are external factors that might increase your mate’s interest in sex. As I stated last time, I eat when I’m hungry (internal) and when someone places a brownie in front of me (external). By the way, you church potluck cooks are brutal with the brownies! Too many, too chocolaty, too delicious.
Anyway. While talking with your spouse can help reveal and address internal factors, you can also influence your husband externally. Let’s take a look at this approach.
Your words and actions can be external factors (like brownies) that make him more likely to want to have sex (eat). You want to be the kind of wife that would draw a husband closer. In essence, you want to Be the Brownie.
Note that I say be a particular kind of person, not just look sexy, throw yourself at your husband, etc. I’ve heard some suggest that the way to get an uninterested husband’s sexual attention is to don a lace teddy and stilettos, call him “Big Boy,” and offer to live out some sexual fantasy.
Hey, I’m not opposed to such things, but they are the toppings not the cake. You might get a guy to have sex with you by looking like a Cosmo cover, but that’s not marital intimacy. Ultimately, you want a sex life with substance and intimacy, so you have to invest in the relationship cake before you add a little icing.
Moreover, you can end up feeling worse if you decorate your bedroom like a love den, put on candles and music, show up in your sexiest get-up, and he ignores you or outright refuses you. You don’t want to end that night with him snoring and you dripping tears into your pillow as you wonder what’s wrong with you.
Let me help you out with that issue too: There’s almost certainly nothing wrong with you. Some of the couples I know who have amazing sex lives are people who would never get a call from a modeling agency or were poster people for the geek club in high school. It’s a fallacy to think that rock stars and Victoria’s Secret models are the ones with high sex drives and satisfaction. Maybe, maybe not. Most wives don’t need to look like Jessica Rabbit to get their hubbies hopping. The problem most likely lies within your husband.
But getting back to the subject at hand, how can you “Be the Brownie”?
Invest in the friendship. Sheila Gregoire has pointed this out well in her book The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex. You want to be the kind of wife your husband wants to be around generally and then you can move toward being together sexually. When the relationship is stressed, it is harder for most people to engage willingly and become vulnerable in the bedroom.
Do everything in your power (knowing that it doesn’t all rest with you) to be an appealing person to spend time with. Are you a nagging person? Do you disrespect him with your words or your body language? Is your home always a place of tension or mayhem? What negative issues might you need to address?
Have you forgotten how to play and laugh with one another? Do you make time for a date night — even if it’s hot cocoa and conversation on the couch after the kids have gone to bed? Do you ask about his job, his interests, his friendships, and then listen and support his answers? Do you find activities that you both enjoy to do together?
You spouse may be more willing to discuss the issues and/or engage with you physically if he feels accepted and valued emotionally in the relationship. Make sure you haven’t neglected this area. You want him to be your friend, right? Be his friend too.
Focus on affection. While friendship is an important aspect of marriage, sexless marriages often look like roommate arrangements with friends. I don’t know about you, but I have friends who would make easier roommates than my husband. Some of my girlfriends can cook like Paula Deen, aim at the toilet more successfully, would watch chick flicks with me, etc., and I’d never have to clean facial hair out of the sink again. But I didn’t get married simply for a roommate. I want the other goodies too.
But even if you aren’t getting the main event, you can get more than you would from a roomie. I don’t snuggle with my BFF, but I do with my husband. Physical affection is a precursor to more intimate physical affection. Hold hands, kiss (check out my post on kissing), hug, stroke him lovingly, etc. All without expectation of it leading to the bedroom.
The paradox is that ongoing physical affection without the expectation of sexual reward more often leads to sexual reward (see Must It Always Lead to Sex?). Moreover, an embrace lasting longer than 20 seconds can cause a release of Oxytocin — the body’s bonding chemical which is also released by men at sexual climax. So that affection may begin to awaken the physical arousal side of your husband and introduces loving touch in a low pressure context.
Engage in skin-to-skin contact. Beyond simple physical affection, try to engage in skin-to-skin contact. There is something about having your skin brush up against your spouse’s that can tap into inner arousal. Go to bed wearing as little as possible without being obvious that you want sex. For instance, keep the lace teddy in the drawer, but wear a cotton cami and undies to bed. Play footsie under the table at breakfast. Offer to put lotion or oil on his tired muscles or give him a massage. Ask for lotion or a massage yourself. Whatever gets you touching each other may help to reawaken his natural desire for physical intimacy.
Change your timing. Some people struggle with feeling stressed or tired by nightfall and having enough energy for lovemaking. You might try the morning since a man’s testosterone levels are highest at that time of day, and men typically awaken with a “maintenance erection.” I know a couple who has sex like clockwork every Saturday morning; that happens to be the best time for them to engage. My hubby and I have found that an afternoon or early evening are often better for us. See if you have better results at a different time of day.
Once again, you can do all the “right things” and still have an uninterested spouse. Your sex life does not all depend upon you; your spouse must make the decision to engage. But be assured that I hear stories quite often of married couples who had poor sex lives for years and then a turn-around occurred and they are livin’ it up in their bedroom now. Those couples are glad they didn’t give up.
Also, if you are in a sexless marriage, you may reach the point of needing to invite intervention from a godly mentor. Your spouse does indeed have a duty to you and to the marriage (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). You are supposed to be “one flesh” — emotionally and physically. Once again, I turn to Sheila Gregoire who did a fabulous post on this: When Your Spouse Withholds Sex.
Are there guarantees? No. Is there hope? Absolutely. God desires you both to have a healthy, fulfilling intimacy, and He can redeem any situation (see The Gospel in the Bedroom and My Personal Testimony).
I know I have included a LOT of links in this post. But I’m happy to provide other resources if they might help, so here are a few more:
From Julie Sibert of Intimacy in Marriage: Wives Who Want More Sex and Aren’t Getting It
From Sheila Gregoire of To Love, Honor, and Vacuum: When Your Spouse Isn’t Interested in Sex: Communicating Your Needs
From Paul Byerly of The Generous Husband: High Drive, Low Drive: A Harmful Dichotomy
My thoughts and prayers are with you in your marriages.