Two Words Your Higher-Desire Spouse Needs You to Hear

If you’re a higher-drive wife who read Monday’s post on The One Sex Tip I Give Husbands Over and Over, you were probably thinking: Slow down? Are you kidding me? If my husband moves any slower toward the bedroom, he’ll fall asleep halfway there!

While other wives are trying to figure out how to get their sexual mojo going, you’re on sexual overdrive and wondering why your husband won’t get in the race car with you. “Slow down” aren’t exactly the two words you most want him to hear.

For you — and for higher-drive hubbies out there — your spouse needs a different message: something to get them off the couch and into the bed, something to help them understand what you really want, something to launch a new era of satisfying sexual intimacy. So here are those two words for lower-drive spouses:

show up.

Once again, this isn’t the whole of the matter but a good starting place.

But “show up” isn’t only a matter of “Here I am.” Just as I did with Monday’s post, let me explain more specifically what I mean by these two words of advice.

Show up with your presence. Comedian and filmmaker Woody Allen once said, “Showing up is eighty percent of life.” He’s got a point. You have to show up to your job, show up to buy groceries, show up to study your Bible, etc. You can’t accomplish anything in life if you aren’t actually there.

God’s pretty clear that you’re supposed to show up to your marriage bed. Have you read 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 lately? “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer.”

You have a “marital duty” to your spouse, the same kind of duty as feeding your children or working your job or going to church. “Do not deprive” means don’t stay away from the marriage bed for too long.

With this admonition, many low-drive spouses imagine being at the beck-and-call of a sex-addicted spouse. Nope, I’m not saying that. But consider that job again: You can call in sick sometimes, right? But if you call in sick over and over and over, eventually you don’t have a job. If you “call in sick” with the marriage bed again and again, eventually you won’t have much of a marriage. You might feel a-okay about things, but for your higher-drive spouse, your continual refusals to be present in the marriage bed feel like refusals to show up to the relationship at all. Trust that sex has a deep emotional impact for your spouse, and start showing up.

Show up with your whole self. I won’t name names, but one of my family members is currently having difficulty understanding that sitting in a desk at school isn’t a sufficient amount of showing up to actually learn anything or earn good grades. (Ah, parenthood!) Sometimes being present isn’t really showing up. Sure, you’re physically there, but everything about your attitude, your expression, your focus indicates that you’d rather be elsewhere.

And that’s how some spouses have treated 1 Corinthians 7. “Hey, I showed up. What more does my mate want?” Actually, quite a bit more. You wouldn’t like enjoy your spouse showing up to a conversation or a date night with a sourpuss attitude and no engagement in the experience. Likewise, it ain’t enough to give minimum effort to your sexual intimacy. If your spouse only wanted a physical release, he/she could do that on their own. Your spouse wants you — fully present and engaged and enjoying the encounter. Moreover, God intended sex as a gift to both of you.

Decide to be present — heart, body, and soul. Decide to cast off distractions and concentrate on physical sensations and close body contact. Decide to prioritize this moment and give yourself fully to it. Show up with your whole self. And you might be surprised how much more you’ll enjoy sex.

Show up on your own. No one likes having to drag their loved one to an event. Sure, some spouses do it (see that poor guy slumped in a chair outside the store dressing room?), but it’s not really enjoyable for anyone. Much more loving is to offer to accompany your honey when you know an event’s important to them. So your hubby likes to fish? Offer to go out on the boat with him. So your wife loves to quilt? Offer to escort her through a quilting show. So your spouse likes to salsa dance? Offer to take lessons together. So your higher-desire spouse wants to have sex? Offer to show up.

Yes, I mean initiate. Maybe you don’t have an independent desire for sexual intimacy. That’s okay. You can remember back to that time when it felt really good — those physical sensations and the embracing of your bodies — and let that inspire you. Or imagine how pleasurable it could be if you spoke up about something you’d like to try in the bedroom. Then prepare yourself as best you can your sexual event by removing distractions and setting the scene and awakening your senses.

Step outside your comfort zone now and then and initiate. Your willingness to show up on your own will go a long way toward making your spouse feel loved.

Now higher-desire spouses, what do you have to add to my encouragement that lower-desire spouses show up? And lower-desire spouses, what would help you to show up to the marriage bed more consistently and more fully?

33 thoughts on “Two Words Your Higher-Desire Spouse Needs You to Hear

  1. Jay Dee - SexWithinMarriage.com

    We were just talking about a similar topic last night. My wife admitted she was having trouble staying focused during sex. She kept thinking about all sorts of things and constantly having to tell herself “hey! you’re having sex! pay attention!”

    As you said, that “Showing up with your whole self” is important, to “be fully present”.

    1. J Post author

      It really is hard for us wives to explain to our men sometimes. I honestly believe I’m better at this than many women, but I still have a few “did I turn off the oven?” moments creep into my brain at the most inopportune times. *sigh* Your wife’s right to just shove that thought aside and refocus! 🙂

  2. Steve

    This post is great…I wish there was any hope at all that my wife would read it (or believe and digest it in the unlikely event of her reading it.) This is the SINGLE BIGGEST issue in our marriage…though not to her. When we talk about it (seldom without both of us in frustrated tears) I can’t seem to get her to believe that’s more than just physical. I’ve even been so bold (read crazy) as to bring up the fact that the majority of the times we actually DO have sex she has at least one orgasm, though on really “special” days (where she’s on board from the beginning instead ‘doing me a favor’) she has several. Before I do. I’ve asked how I can be a better husband to her more times than I can recount. I’ve worked my tail off to speak to her in her love languages of quality time and acts of service. Yet the 8-plus-year pattern remains: I’m like a dog begging for scraps from the master’s table. What else can I do to deal with this? I’m really starting to struggle with this. We have begun to come together more than once a month, but it’s only been about 7 weeks with 3 interludes; so I’m afraid to count my chickens.

    Am I being selfish to want my wife to make love with me? Should I just give up and accept that sex is dying in my marriage and learn to live with that reality? I’m not sure I can do that…

    1. J Post author

      No, you’re not selfish to want to make love with your wife. No, you shouldn’t give up on sex in your marriage. But there may be a time when you have to realize that you can only do so much. You have great influence, but you can’t MAKE your spouse do anything. So this may be a major test of your character to give her grace.

      A few things: One, her refusal probably has little to do with her love for you. It’s often the case that the lower-drive spouse just doesn’t get it, or has some sexual hang-up from a previous time, or doesn’t feel physically good, or is dealing with depression, etc. Two, that still doesn’t solve your problem, and you shouldn’t give up trying to solve it. But you should reconsider how you’re approaching her, if for no other reason than what you’re doing now isn’t working. So it’s worthwhile to come up with a fresh idea. Three, try to listen to her perspective more than you present your own case. Ask questions about what her obstacles are, without trying to knock each one down immediately. Really hear what’s going on for her, and try to assure her that you want this to be an US thing. Four, keep loving her. It’s so tempting to walk away emotionally from someone who is, purposefully or unintentionally, hurting you emotionally. But God calls us to something higher. And I promise that I hear from couples fairly regularly who say that one refused, the other continued in love, and the first spouse eventually figured it out, and now they’re enjoying the best intimacy of their marriage. Finally, pray for you and your wife. You need God’s divine help to continue in love, to be patient with her, and to gently lead her into better intimacy, and she needs your prayers to understand how important this aspect of marriage is. I’ve come to hate that statement that “sex is the icing on the cake of marriage,” because it’s not optional like icing; it’s integral, like sugar or egg in the cake. I pray that she can somehow see how God wants to bless her and your marriage with healthy sexual intimacy.

      Hang in there, Steve. Blessings!

  3. Just me

    This is probably the single best post I’ve ever read on this topic. What you say makes SO much sense. As the lower-drive spouse in the relationship I finally “get” where my spouse is coming from. THANK YOU and I am now committed to “showing up”!

    1. J Post author

      Yay! Let me know how that goes! I pray that the overall intimacy in your marriage is nurtured through better sexual intimacy. 🙂

    2. The Man

      Awesome and congratulations. Ladies, for the most part, you will benefit immensely from “showing up” and being present. Your husbands (if they are like me) are much better at every part of the relationship when they feel the sexual connection is vibrant and important to you too.

  4. Lisa

    Steve, if you have kids that maybe the why. We had a good sex life before kids, once they showed up (4 in six years). I was touched out and edgy. Time alone for me was going to the grocery store alone, or clothes shopping for kids and the upcoming season. It was years before I remembered us. We also argued about stuff related to kids, so having sex, was not appealing when we were at each others throats. That forth child is nineteen now and we have sex about four times a week. there is always hope. When I feel like I’m not getting through to my husband I take it to God and wear him out with my whining and complaining.. He communicates much better to my husband than I do.

    1. J Post author

      Lisa, I’ve written about this too — how those first years of our kids’ lives were the worst years of our sex lives. I wish I could go back and do that over again, but I also learned from our experience and make sure to prioritize being together with my hubby, even when life’s demands seem constant.

      Thanks for sharing your insight!

      J

  5. chocolate

    I love the post. I try to be “show up”, but it is very difficult as I have low drive and we are intimate about once a day. So to “show up”/initiate is tough. I feel like we’ve just been intimate and then it’s time again. He desires so much more and is frustrated. I don’t know how to change… we talk about it a lot, read books together, but I feel hopeless at times and so does he – at opposite ends of the spectrum.

    I would LOVE suggestions.

    1. J Post author

      Okay, I’m about to say something that’s likely to be very unpopular: Sex once a day is a lot for a very low-drive spouse. That may feel like a lot of pressure.

      I suspect that to be an unpopular statement because the current thinking is that you should have sex as often as the higher-desire spouse wants. And, believe me, I concur with the frequent sex/better marriage connection. I’m here ALL THE TIME encouraging that! But I also hear what you’re saying, that it almost feels like no matter what you do, it isn’t enough. I’ve known that feeling in other areas of my life, and it’s not pleasant to feel like you can’t meet your hubby’s desires or expectations fully.

      So here are a few thoughts: (1) I LOVE that you have done what you can to be there sexually for him. That should continue as much as you can. (2) Is there any way to make it a more enjoyable and desirable experience for you? Any way that you can increase your anticipation drive and anticipation will help to spur you on in marital intimacy. Have you addressed any physical challenges (pain, hormones, mood, etc.)? Do you feel satisfied in other areas of your relationship, like fostering your friendship? What about taking time to prepare (bubble bath, massage, lubricant, etc.) so that you can ease into lovemaking? Are you communicating to him what you like (and don’t like) and what might turn you on more? Is he taking the time and effort to pleasure and satisfy you sexually? (3) Can you compromise a little and take a day off now and again? I’m not talking about depriving one another – 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 – but taking a little tension away so that you have time to desire him in turn. For instance, you could suggest taking two days off each week — with the caveat that you promise to initiate on one of those days. Of course, you must follow through, but that might be an option so that . . . you have a little break with time to build anticipation and look forward to sex, he gets a wife who’s willing and participating and initiating (usually a big turn-on to spouses who almost always initiate), and there’s a bit of a breather there — enough maybe to change the dynamic. Of course, you have to really SHOW UP if you do this. But it’s an idea. (4) Pray about your drive and your sexual relationship. Sex shouldn’t be a source of frustration and tension in marriage. God intends it as a gift. So pray about your attitude, his attitude, your drive, wisdom for ideas on how to approach the issues, etc. (5) And finally, keep seeking intimacy in all areas of your marriage. It isn’t always easy to iron out these differences in marriage, but doing so makes us more loving spouses and results in a better marriage. Even if you don’t desire sex as much as he does, continue to remember that it likely expresses a level of intimacy he feels with you that he simply doesn’t want to be without…because he chose you.

      Blessings!

  6. The Man

    Excellent points. It is hard to explain to a low desire spouse who can have her minimal needs met at the snap of her fingers how utterly hopeless it can feel to be in my shoes.

    Then, watching as she sells out 110% for her job. I put it like this, if you give your job whatever it takes and your marriage whatever little you can get away with, what do you expect to have?

    1. J Post author

      I’ve heard this a few times before — a wife who expends a lot of effort in other areas of her life (job, volunteerism, ministry, motherhood, etc.) but puts very little into sexual intimacy with your husband. It can leave the husband feeling rejected and second place.

      I think a lot of those spouses just don’t get it. For them, the drive isn’t high and sex feels optional and they simply can’t understand a different point of view. Hang in there and keep talking and continue praying and be loving. I pray that someone speaks into her life in a way that she can understand how important your marital intimacy is.

      Blessings!

      1. The Man

        It does feel like rejection in many ways. It is hard but I don’t know what else to do. It is tough to align our priorities and I am afraid of what we’ll be left with when we don’t have children in the home to bind us together anymore. Thanks for the response and the insights you share.

  7. Quiverfull

    For me as a husband, I never dreamed, and no one ever hinted to me prior to marriage that women have different sex drives than men. I honestly thought my my would enjoy sex and look forward to it as much as I did. What a laugh. I feel like I have been deceived. As for showing up, I’ve tried to give an analogy to my wife; if she really enjoyed playing tennis and asked me to play frequently and half the time I said I didn’t feel like it and the other half I just “showed up”, didn’t chase the ball, didn’t care if my shots went out of bounds, didn’t try to improve, I’m pretty sure my wife would get the hint, and either stop asking me to play tennis, stop playing herself, or find someone else to play with.

    1. J Post author

      Good analogy! However, I suspect from your comment that she wasn’t convinced?

      Try to approach this difference in drive as lovingly as you can. I pray that she will come around!

  8. Teresa R

    My husband wants me to “show up” in the bedroom. My problem is that both of us are overweight, so we cannot have intercourse. He’s great at oral sex, but I want the intimacy of intercourse. I’ve asked him to talk with his doctor about a diet, but he says doctors know nothing about diets and he wants to find a nutritionist. How do I encourage him to start losing weight?

    1. Sara

      Teresa, you mention that you are both overweight and I empathize with you. I am overweight and my husband is not at all. We do have intercourse, but I am definitely the higher need one. Instead of you focus being on how to get your husband to liar weight, how about going on walks or suggest some other activities together? That way you are both getting some exercise and being together at the same time.

      1. J Post author

        Hey, Teresa. I like Sara’s idea! It’s really hard to say to someone, “You need to lose weight.” Especially the one you love. Right?

        So make it about shared health and time together. Maybe you two should go see a nutritionist, take a healthy cooking class together, make delicious and weight-conscious meals together. Suggest taking walks or hiking or bike rides or ballroom dancing — whatever floats your boat.

        Also, I don’t know what the particular challenges with your weight and intercourse are, but you might want to bring this up with your doctor (gynecologist?). Perhaps there are some positions that would better allow intercourse, and your doctor might have suggestions in that regard. (Don’t sweat bringing up such a personal topic. Believe me — medical professionals have seen and heard just about everything, and they want to help.)

        Best wishes! I pray that you both be healthy and enjoy many years of marital bliss together!

    2. The Man

      I will preface by, I am not a nutritionist but I have devoted an enormous amount of time to deep study of the topic. Please seek out the subject on the internet, such as calculating daily calorie needs, how to eat for healthy weight loss. There are numerous sites out there that will be of tremendous help. You just have to take the first steps.

      I watched my mom die slowly and much too young from overeating and not caring for herself, so I pray that you both invest in your health and your relationship.

  9. Gabrielle

    I have the same mindset as ‘Just Me’ up there after reading this post. I really enjoy all of your posts, but this is the first one I’m commenting on. I’m 22, my husband is 26 and the difference between my libido and my husband’s is considerable. He initiates most of the time and puts forth the most effort. But your post has encouraged me to turn over a new leaf. I USED to believe that my husband’s sexual appetite was mostly about physical pleasure, but now I really believe it’s more than that. The sad thing is, he’s told me so himself, I just refused to accept it. Thank you, J, for helping to open my eyes to an issue I, MYSELF, was agitating. My husband will be very happy to hear the good news.

    1. J Post author

      I don’t think the secular world does men many favors in media, because the physical side of sex is so often portrayed as all men really want in TV, movies, books, etc. Like they’re just slightly domesticated animals who want to hump us any time we move. Sorry if that’s graphic, but honestly I get annoyed with that perspective.

      Why? Because I hear from higher-drive husbands over and over that it’s so much more. That they desire intense intimacy with their wives that — for them — comes through sexual encounters. Sure, they can be intimate in many other areas (and want to be!), but the sex? Yeah, the sex is like the IT thing that really makes their hearts sing.

      Blessing, Gabrielle, to your marriage! You are wise woman to make that realization.

      1. Gabrielle

        I agree. And I believe a lot of women fall into the trap of adopting the media’s perspective on relationships and intimacy. I can say for myself, I was inexperienced before my husband, so most of what I learned about relationships, intimacy and men was through TV or romance novels, which are inevitably secular, so I had a warped perception and expectation to begin with. There was a lot I had to learn and re-learn from my husband and through being with him. I believe that men & women communicate in different ways, hence the constant miscommunications between us, and that in part is what leads to flops in our intimate relationships. I’d said before, he tried to tell me more times than I can remember, that sex was more than just about the physical for him. But my warped perception told me something different. It makes complete sense when you say that sex is their favorite form of intimacy, because when you look at it, sex is the MOST INTIMATE way to communicate! In it’s intended state, it’s done with your spouse, the one person you love most and hold dearest to heart! [Ah ha! moment] I find it amazing that discovering other husbands on here who are in my own husband’s shoes are expressing the same sentiment and that ultimately is what opened my eyes to the issue. I pray for those husbands who are going through this issue with their wives. But I must say, I pray that God blesses you and your marriage for even providing the platform for us to even have these discussions. I can see that it’s benefiting so many marriages (including mine).

  10. Anon

    High drive wife here. Wish my husband could understand this post. The difference of “being there” vs. showing up with some excitement. All I ever heard about before marriage was be ready for him, make your self available, he will want it more than you. Ha, whatever. I am SO tired of just making do with once a week maybe. I was so ready to jump into this adventure with him, to start this part of our relationship since we waited ever for our first kiss to be at the alter. It was great for the first year, but after that he admitted he was feeling all this pressure to perform and “be the man” and it “just isn’t him” So, now I try so very hard to wait, to be patient, to talk to God when I am laying wide awake aching to connect with my husband while he sleeps peacefully beside me, We have talked, fought, agreed to help each other, but in the end he really just doesn’t get it or change.

    I am tired! Sorry, just needed to vent a little.

    1. Lucy

      Anon,

      I’m with you. I was ready for my husband to have the higher drive, but he doesn’t have a desire at all. We havent been intimate in almost four months andvwe’ve only been married for 15 months. This has been a great struggle because like you, we waited to kiss until our wedding day and I just assumed that we would enjoy each other after that. It has been a major and frustrating let down. Words do not describe how rejected I feel.

  11. candance

    First, I’m elated to read a Christian article about this subject that addresses the wife as the spouse that desires more sex. I have been married 11 years and this is the number one issue in our marriage. My husband is an excellent provider, wonderful father and is the type of God-fearing head of the household that I love and admire, however, he is not affectionate at all. When we met and decided that we were going to marry each other, he courted me the traditional way. We chose not to have intercourse, but we did have hot and heavy moments. He was thoughtful, wrote me haikus and love poems (which, as a write, I adored!) and he was super affectionate (hugs and kisses and holding were always things I could count on). After we said I Do and settled into our day to day lives, things changed to the point where we could go weeks without making love, where he will look at me all dressed up and not say a word about how I look, where I initiate thr physical contact. As you can imagine, I’ve run the gambit emotionall
    Wondering if I’m unattractive, if he thinks I’m fat, if he is seeing someone else, and he tells me he loves me with his entire being, that he’s attracted to me, that he has no desire to be with anyone but me. However, we still remain in this space of me waiting for closeness and intimacy and affection and lovemaking with my husband. And yes it hurts.

  12. candance

    Some other factors are in play. My husband lost his job in August and he’s in Seminary school seeking a Masters Degree. He is stressed and, most likely, slightly depressed which is why I try not to pressure him for sex. But there are times when I’m on the edge and need it. He believes sexual self gratification is selfish and I continue to ask what I should do when I’m frustrated with his sexual indifference. Do I pray about it? I used to, but will admit that I’ve stopped. somehow I believe this “dry bones” area of our marriage can be revived. I just don’t know how…but God does.

  13. Katherine

    I am so happy I came across your website. I really need this. I am a low-drive wife. We’ve been married over 20 years and we’re in our 50’s. Sex used to be great. I was always open and willing. But the last few years I just don’t have the drive. I think we’ve had sex maybe once a year for the past few years. Wow! That is horrible. My poor husband. He is so frustrated. He’s a good man, a good husband. I feel bad about not having sex but I just didn’t know how to change. I just really didn’t ‘get it’ that sex is so important for our relationship. I’ve even been in (Christian) counseling for it. I have a poor self-image of myself. I wonder how he can really desire me, my body, when I’m so overweight (he’s also overweight). I know I need to get past all of that negative self-talk.
    This post has opened my eyes to why it’s so important to have that intimacy in our marriage. I desire to have more desire for sex. Does that make sense? I truly want to want my husband sexually. I’ve been waiting for my desire to increase. But, now I’m thinking that if I begin showing up and initiating sex, that my desire will increase. I hope so. I’m going to print this post and re-read it regularly for encouragement, and pray that God will help me to honor Him in my marriage. Please pray for me that I will begin to show up. I love my husband and want more for our marriage.

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