Q&A with J: Top 5 Questions Readers Ask about Sex

Lately I’ve been giving interviews on Christian radio stations and podcasts about my recent release, Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design. One of the questions that has come up is about the most common questions I’ve received since writing about sex. I thought it would be interesting to let y’all know the top two queries I receive from husbands and wives each and then the top one I receive from all spouses.

This is by no means data I’ve collected and analyzed; rather, it’s my general feeling — though I think an accurate one — that the following five are the most prevalent queries I receive.

Top 5 Questions Readers Ask about SexHusbands

1. Why doesn’t she understand how important sexual intimacy is to me?

This one basically has three possible answers. She doesn’t get it because:

  • She doesn’t feel that way so she has a hard time imagining the sexual-emotional link you feel;
  • You haven’t explained it to her in terms she can understand; and/or
  • She’s been told most of her life that sex is a purely physical act.

Of course, within each of those categories are a myriad of possibilities. For instance, she might not feel the same way because of hormonal issues, pain or discomfort during sex, past sexual abuse, etc. So the specifics on what to do depend on your situation. Which is why I strongly suggest trying to get to the core of the issue and addressing the underlying problem.

That said, my second reason here is something you can control. So listen up, guys: Do not talk about your desire for sex in terms of physical needs or release. Don’t tell her you have “blue balls.” And certainly don’t threaten that if she doesn’t give you sex, it makes you more ripe for frequent masturbation, porn, or an affair. I completely understand that the longer you go without, the more physical and intense the need for sex feels. But your wife needs to know it’s about intimacy with her, not just a physical release. Whatever you can say to help her understand that you want her not just sex will go much farther toward getting you both.

2. Why doesn’t she believe me when I tell her she’s beautiful?

Another one with three possible answers:

  • She’s inundated with constant messaging that her beauty isn’t good enough;
  • She looks in the mirror and doesn’t see herself the way you see her; and/or
  • She doesn’t like how she looks because she knows she could do better.

Trust me on this one, hubbies: You don’t know how much pressure there is in our society for a woman to be beautiful. I absolutely believe men have their own challenges, areas in which society pressures men in unrealistic and even destructive ways. But if you look at advertising geared toward women, the model/celebrity industry, and how often we’re told that you guys are all visual, you’ll begin to understand how many messages are thrown at us gals every day to be more and more beautiful.

This tension can be exacerbated by my third point above, when a wife knows she could do better with the body she has. It can be a vicious cycle for a woman to watch her body lose some of its shape over time…and then you give up and wallow in a pint (or gallon) of Ben & Jerry’s, and then you’re disgusted with yourself all over again. Or you’ve looked and looked and looked and cannot figure out when in your busy work/house/mom schedule you can exercise.

Your reassurance, guys, can really help. It might feel like you’re fighting a losing battle when you tell your wife she’s beautiful to you and she dismisses your comments. But keep going and let her know that you are not a liar, but the man who adores her more than life itself. And you have really good taste, right?

You’re not responsible for her learning to feel beautiful. (Which is why I talk about this subject often on my blog primarily for wives.) But you can be supportive and encouraging.

Wives

3. How can I feel good about having sex?

My answers to this one are:

  • Adopt a godly perspective of sex;
  • Deal with the baggage from your past;
  • Learn more about your body, his body, and sexual pleasure; and/or
  • Become a more savvy lover.

If you want help with these, wives, I’ll direct you to Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design which has biblical and practical answers for all of these. Also, I’ve written about dealing with baggage from your past here and here.

And keep reading my blog and others (like Intimacy in Marriage; Awaken Love Class; To Love Honor and Vacuum; The Forgiven Wife and Bonny’s Oyster Bed, which are both for low-drive wives), which address these subjects. Most importantly, seek out what God has to say about sexuality in His Word.

4. Why doesn’t my husband want me?

More and more, I hear from higher-drive wives who struggle with husbands who don’t want sex as much as they’d expected. The wife would like to increase frequency, excitement, and intimacy. And the husband is the one dragging his feet to the marriage bed, if he gets there at all.

For this one, I’m just going to list all of my posts for high-drive wives:

She Wants, He Doesn’t Want
Wives Want Sex: Link Up
He Doesn’t Wanna, But I Do! Help for Higher Drive Wives
He Doesn’t Wanna, But I Do! Be the Brownie
One More & I’ll Go Insane!
I Am the Higher Drive Spouse (or Yes, Rejection Hurts)
Can Sex-Driven Wives Be Godly Wives? for Christian Wife University
Two Words Your Higher-Desire Spouse Needs You to Hear
Does Your Husband’s Rejection Make You Doubt Yourself?
Confessions of a Higher-Drive Spouse
3 Things Higher-Drive Spouses Long For
Q&A for J: How Can I Help My Husband Be More Adventurous In Bed?
Q&A with J: “I Feel Rejected All the Time”
Q&A with J: Why Doesn’t He Want Sex?
Q&A with J: When It Comes to Sex, My Husband Says I’m “Too Much”

And let me add that in my own marriage, we’ve been matched in our sex drives, then he was the higher-drive and I was the no-drive low-drive spouse, and now I’m the higher-drive spouse. So I’ve experienced all sides of this. I understand the feelings of a spouse who doesn’t want to engage sexually and the disappointment of your spouse not being eager or even willing to engage. I have compassion for your situation, and I believe there are answers.

In fact, one of my goals for 2017 is to write a book specifically for high-drive wives. If that’s something you’d like to see, please pray for me and that endeavor. If it’s God will that I write that book, it will come together.

All Spouses

5. How can make my spouse _________?

This is likely the number one question I get: How can I make my spouse _______? You can fill in that blank with anything from “have more sex” to “try new things” to “fulfill my sexual fantasy.” And I also get the periodic How can I make my spouse leave me alone sexually?

The answer to this question is simple: You can’t. You cannot make your spouse do anything. God gave him/her free will, and you need to honor that. Demanding or forcing sexual activity on your spouse, or trying to make him/her think exactly like you do, isn’t what God had in mind when He designed sex. You can’t have sexual intimacy without respecting the intimacy part of the equation. And there’s nothing intimate about “Gimme sex, woman, or else!”

You can, however, influence your spouse in many, many ways. Which almost always starts with changing yourself. If you change what you do, then his responses will likely change. If you stop playing your role in a dysfunctional dynamic, you will have changed the system, requiring him or her to adapt.

Because we’re creatures of habit, you might find that when you change what you do, you won’t see immediate results. Indeed, you’ll probably get push-back. But stick with doing the right thing, and you might find the dynamics changing after a while. As Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

And remember that God will bless you for doing the right thing. The blessing may not come in the way you expect, but I’m living proof that He works in our lives when we let Him. I believe that principle wholeheartedly.

So that’s it: The Top Five. And some general answers for each. I’ll be back next week with a specific question from a reader and my response. If you want to send me a question, head up to that Contact tab above and click Contact J. Then fill out the form, and I will receive your email. I am unlikely to respond right away, but I do read all messages and get to as many questions as I can.

55 thoughts on “Q&A with J: Top 5 Questions Readers Ask about Sex

  1. Cindy Gullo

    I am very much looking forward to your book on higher drive wives. Love your current book. I was reading it on my train commute home from work the other night (on my Kindle) and noticed the person sitting next to me sneaking peeks. I looked at the page I was reading. Chapter 3 “Getting Ready for Sex”. Big as life, right there for my train seat partner to see. I laughed about that all night.

    Reply
  2. sunny-dee

    Re: number 2, husbands lose credibility if they’ve done other things that damage their wives’ self-esteem.
    * Criticize her appearance or clothing (ESPECIALLY in front of other people).
    * Consistently refuse sex.
    * Consistently be emotionally distant, snappish, or moody.

    It’s really hard to believe the “you’re beautiful” comments when they’re diluted by negative comments about the same thing.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Yep, you’re right. They can definitely damage their credibility.

      Perhaps you can tell that I’m usually more straightforward when I talk to the guys, and I try to stress how hard it is to deal with our appearance challenges and how husbands need to be part of the solution.

      Reply
  3. B

    These are great questions. Of course as soon as I read number one I was like “oh my – of course! This is all these blogs ever talk about – and I am the one wife who…” But eventually I came to question four. And I have to admit, even though you’ve said it, I still feel like I’m the only one and so I was kinda shocked that there are other higher drive wives out there just like me, wondering the same kind of things. I mean, one or two women, sure – but enough to make it one of your FAQs? Wow. I’m honestly shocked.

    As far as question two, do husbands actually ask that? Wow. I don’t get disgusted with myself for eating, but I do get disgusted sometimes when I work out regularly and never look like the beautiful women. (I can’t even wear a swimsuit anymore.) I can work out consistently but I will never be able to shrink my height or widen my butt. Trust me, I’ve tried. And while my husband calls me beautiful, he usually says “pretty” – and let’s face it – he’s a nice guy and yeah, I have a mirror. There are times I honestly think we can NOT be looking at the same thing. Plus, I have seen him notice women (and really admire them) who look nothing like me many, many, many times. Which shouts “you are not my type. You will never be as beautiful as the petite women I am attracted to.” But I digress, that is not the point of my comment.

    Yes! Write the book! Please! I have been struggling with this for years. I’m sure you know there are very few resources for higher drive wives. So often, so very often, we feel isolated. I’m not sure about the other higher drive wives, but as you know, I often feel repulsive, unworthy of love, and far inferior to the majority of wives who are loved, desired, and pursued by their husbands. Write away! I’ll buy the first copy!!! 😊

    Reply
  4. H

    PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE write that book! I ditto B’s comments. It does help a tiny bit to know there are other higher-drive wives out there and that I am not completely alone. There is so very little support out there for us. I have been dealing with this issue since our honeymoon 11+ years ago and I am feeling so defeated again right now. It’s been one whole year since my husband and I have had sex and I am beyond heart broken and am desperately searching for answers. His rejection has even invaded my dreams at night as I am having nightmares almost nightly now that he is with other women or just GONE from my life.

    This is my life, too:
    “So often, so very often, we feel isolated. I’m not sure about the other higher drive wives, but as you know, I often feel repulsive, unworthy of love, and far inferior to the majority of wives who are loved, desired, and pursued by their husbands. Write away! I’ll buy the first copy!!! 😊”

    I will be second in line!!! Thank you!

    Reply
  5. Anonymous

    Your first question is so true in my circle of friends, especially at my church. Even after 35+ years of marriage, my wife still has great difficulty understanding the male sex drive. If I hear “sex is my idol” one more time, I will scream! She is happy with sex once every 3-6 weeks…

    Reply
    1. a. nony

      “the male sex drive.”

      As you can see from this thread, it’s hardly universal for men to have higher drives than women. I reckon it’d be more helpful to marriages if spouses simply discussed and dealt with their OWN sex drives, both seeking to be loving and selfless, rather than talking about “how men are” vs. “how women are.” In my view, it sets things up as a competition, with all the strife and frustration that are so often attendant on competition.

      Reply
      1. B

        Interesting and insightful. I usually feel inferior to most women, because I have a higher sex drive than my husband and many things – many, many things I’ve read make it seem as if ALL men who love and desire their wives have a much higher sex drive whereas normal women are like “not tonight honey.” At least on occasion. I tend to jump at every chance my husband offers me. Pathetic, I know. However, I like your point of view. Maybe I should try looking at things from this angle.

        Reply
        1. a. nony

          Honestly, it may be helpful for you to look at statistics, sis. Some estimates show that it’s upwards of 30% of wives who are the higher-drive partner in their relationship. I’ve seen one study that showed it was 40%. You are so far from alone that it’s ridiculous!! 🙂

          And why would it be pathetic to eagerly enjoy intimacy with your husband when he’s keen? Gee! I wish you’d quit using insults to describe your behavior and personality and desires! You seem like a lovely person. Bet you wouldn’t call a friend “pathetic”. Wish you’d show the same love for yourself. 🙂

          Reply
  6. Ashley

    I’m going to throw this out there since you’re considering a book for higher drive wives. I don’t have a high sex drive. I don’t feel like I “need” it more than once a week. I would even be content with going longer, but I know our marriage needs that special connection. But in our marriage, I would be considered the higher drive spouce, because my husband seems to need sex even less. I’ve talked to him about scheduling twice a week, not because my drive is so high, but because we need it. I’d love it if you could write about wives who are somewhat forced into the role of being the higher drive one, and the main initiator, even though that normally wouldn’t be natural for them.

    Reply
    1. a. nony

      I’d love this too! I’m not higher drive than my husband, necessarily, but I’m the more frequent initiator by MILES.

      Reply
  7. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    One of the reasons a man might not be interested in sex is that he’s found something much more compelling – self-discipline. It’s an inner competition that says, “If I can use my will to banish desire, I’ll be that much better a man.”

    It’s a false goal, of course; it leads nowhere but a sort of iron loneliness, and it’s virtually impossible to go back.

    Reply
    1. a. nony

      “leads nowhere but a sort of iron loneliness”

      Well, AND the fact that it’s actually NOT self-disciplined for a married man to refuse sex with his wife.

      Reply
  8. e2

    Your first two questions highlight the different ways men and women use words. Generally, we men use words to impart information, women use them to express emotion. Now, every woman I have known has said that the most important thing in a relationship is honesty. So, I consider it a good thing to honestly tell my wife that I’m aroused and suggest that we make love, just as I might honestly tell her that I am hungry and suggest that we share a meal. In the case of the food, my wife sees my hunger as a legitimate biological need and my suggestion to eat a welcome opportunity to be together. In the case of sex, my wife sees my arousal as an annoyance and my desire to make love as selfish. You suggest that I emphasize that I want to make love *to her*. Yet, when I say “let’s have lunch” she connects the dots that I’m suggesting we do it together. I just naturally assume she can connect the same dots when I suggest, “let’s have sex.”

    But, I get your point. It’s just that expressing my emotional honesty doesn’t come naturally, and I sense my wife knows that. I don’t often use words like “intimacy,” and I believe that when I say “I want more intimacy,” my wife feels as if I’m just saying that because it’s what I think she wants to hear, just as B believes her husband is just being nice when he says she’s beautiful. So, in a strange way, by accepting your advice on question 1, we set ourselves up for the problem of question 2.

    I think women know when we’re saying what we’ve been coached to say, and they don’t often receive it well, even if we truly mean it. It would be so nice if I could be honest as i see honesty and have it well received as honesty.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      There’s honesty…and there’s considering your audience. For instance, imagine talking about sports to a non-spectator versus a die-hard fan, and I’d presume that your language choices would change. Likewise, in this instance you’re not talking to a man, so consider how your words will be received by your wife. Certainly tell the truth, but think about how you express that truth.

      Reply
      1. e2

        I absolutely agree with you. But, I confess to a little frustration that the gift wrapping around my words is often more important than the message I’m trying to convey. You say don’t talk about “blue balls” or being tempted to look elsewhere. Trust me, I can fully understand why that would not be helpful for a woman to hear and I have never spoken things like that to my wife. And, yet, I’ve read both of those messages in marriage blogs written by women for women. it seems that other women can say things to my wife that I can’t and, to me, that seems to be contrary to the notion of true intimacy. Shouldn’t I, more than anyone, be able to say anything to the one person I claim to be one with? But, I can’t and again, I understand why that’s the case. And, so I need to be careful how I speak to my wife, and I sense that my wife knows I’m being careful and I fear that she believes, like B, that I’m only saying what she wants to hear and not being honest.

        As a funny aside, my initiation to the feminine idea of honesty came in high school, as my girlfriend and I were shopping for my prom tux. After picking one out, I asked her, “Do you like it?” “Yeah, it’s fine,” she replied. I then plunked down the $60.00 (this was over 40 years ago), and we left. On the drive home, she was unusually quiet. I asked, “what’s wrong?”
        She replied, “I hate that tux.”
        “But, you said it was fine,” I protested.
        “I hate it.”
        “Why didn’t you tell me that before I paid for it?”
        “I knew you liked it and didn’t want to hurt your feelings.”
        “Yeah, but what about NOW?”

        Needless to say, we had some repair work to do before prom, and I learned some very valuable lessons in feminine notions of honesty. I’ve learned that women are far more honest AFTER a decision has been made than BEFORE it is made, when honesty is actually useful. And, I learned that the absolute worst think a woman can say about a thing is that it is “fine.”

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          So the best explanation I’ve heard of this is: Shouldn’t you able to let yourself go and be completely you with the person you love? Yes, but you should shower, put on deodorant, comb your hair, and brush your teeth. Be you, but consider the other person in how you present you. That’s what I’m saying about words also.

          Reply
          1. e2

            Again I agree with you. That said, I’m not sure your analogy works for me as the real me does shower, put on deodorant, etc. In fact, I wouldn’t want a wife who just did those things for my benefit, which to me raises a larger philosophical question that I’ve often thought about.

            Would I prefer a low drive spouse who makes love to me for my benefit, because she knows I need it, or would I prefer a high drive spouse who makes love to me because she’s often horny? In the case of the former, I would feel as if I were imposing myself on my wife (which I often do feel). In the case of the latter, I would wonder how important I was to the event (which I imagine many low drive spouses feel).

          1. e2

            Sorry to disappoint, but over sixty years of experience with women have confirmed my lessons. There are entire comedy routines centered around the feminine use of the word “fine.”

          2. J Post author

            But I’ve had a different experience. So what do you say to those whose experience contradicts yours?

          3. e2

            A fair question J. I concede that the women in my life have all had similar personalities and I have lived a very sheltered life. It was wrong of me to project my experiences on women in general. Reading your blog has reminded me that gender generalizations are dangerous. The comments on your recent post on kissing confirm that many, many men (including me) love to kiss even if it doesn’t lead to orgasmic sex.

          4. a. nony

            Yes, I too have had different experiences. And I think the Scriptures don’t back you up about “feminine notions of honesty” either. Gee, I never realized I was a liar just because God created me to be a woman. You learn something new every day.

            e2, if you want to have a conversation about how women have been trained and socialized to conceal their true opinions because when they’re straightforward and honest, they’re called “bossy,” “pushy,” “shrill,” “butch,” and “b*****y,” I’m happy to have that conversation. That social training harms women and men alike. But if you genuinely believe that women are somehow innately less honest than men, I think you’re going to have to take it up with their Creator, who chose them as the crown of his creation, who characterized Wisdom itself as a woman, and who filled his word with examples of brave, honest, godly women.

    2. Anonymous2

      @e2
      I truly appreciate your analogy to sharing lunch and sex together.
      The problem I have as a female is that I don’t have as high of a sex drive as my husband.
      Sex drive to me means a physical urge to have sex.
      Which for me means I will often be having sex with him when he physically needs it and I don’t.
      Much like going to lunch with my husband when he’s ravenous and I’m not. I can enjoy his company and a light snack while he enjoys his meal. He would much rather me be starving also so I enjoy a full meal, but it doesn’t always work out that way.
      I’m trying to understand that sex is not only a physical urge for him but also an emotional need for him.
      In my mind, it’s his physical urge that drives his need for sex and the physical intimate act that feeds his emotions.
      I’m trying to erase my mindset that sex is just a physical act that men need much more than women. It’s hard to change a lifetime of messages and social learning especially when my husband seems to need sex a lot more than I do. It kind of re enforces those messages. I’m also trying to understand how emotionally important sex is to my husband, but you’ve probably noticed that I still feel the physical urge comes first.

      Reply
  9. e2

    This is in response to A.Nony and Anonymous2.

    A.Nony — I fear my intent and heart have been misunderstood. Since I believe it is the speaker’s responsibility to clearly communicate, rather than the hearer’s responsibility to decipher the speaker’s words, I will accept the blame for any misunderstanding.

    The point of my prom tux story was not that women are less honest, only that they express their honesty differently, and perhaps less directly and clearly than I would like. (J seemed to recognize this masculine preference for directness when she wrote in her kissing post, “If you’re a guy reading this post, let me break it down for you the way men often like things said — no hints, no frills, to the point.”) While trying to chuckle at this perceived difference, I was not trying to criticize women.

    You have suggested that I take this up with God. I tend to agree that gender differences are God given. In this situation, I perceive the following God ordained truths (I hope you’ll agree with them).

    1. Truth can be painful.
    2. In general, women tend to be more empathetic toward the feelings of others than do men.

    Because of these two truths, it is not surprising that women might choose less direct language to express their feelings, especially if they perceive that direct, clear, honesty might be painful to the hearer. It should also not be surprising that the men to whom they are speaking may not fully grasp the more subtle, less direct language used. That is what my girlfriend was trying to do with the tux, hoping that I would pick up on her more subtle language and non-verbal cues. I didn’t, but after I rented the tux, she told me in the clearest terms possible that she didn’t like it. I’m not suggesting that she was more honest after I rented the tux, only that she was clearer and more direct. This pattern (subtle before a decision and direct and clear after it) has repeated itself many times over the decades of my life with more than just my high school girlfriend. Again, I’m not criticizing, just noticing a difference which has seemed to be gender related.

    This difference in communication style is reflected in J’s advice concerning the first male question in her blog post. Her post recognizes that sex meets men’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs. These three needs are well explained by Juli Slattery in a series of articles written for Focus on the Family. On a physical level, she explains that, just as a nursing mother needs to regularly expel milk, a man needs to regularly expel semen, otherwise discomfort can occur, in the breasts for the mother and in the testicles for the man (“blue balls”). She also explains that sex is directly related to a man’s feelings of closeness and intimacy (emotional need), and that regular sex helps a man avoid temptation to commit sexual sins (spiritual need). All three needs are legitimate, but J has seemed to advise men to talk to their wives only about the emotional aspect of sex. She said not to talk about blue balls (physical need) or temptation (spiritual need). Now, as I have said throughout my comments, I fully understand why J has given this advice, and I have generally followed it throughout my life. However, I also maintain that, in a relationship of intimacy, oneness and honesty, spouses should be able to freely discuss their needs, whether they be physical, emotional, or spiritual. If I can tell my wife that the absence of food makes my stomach hurt, I should also be able to tell her that the absence of sex makes my testicles hurt and makes pornography that much more tempting.

    Anonymous2, I may be misreading your post, but I sense that you seem to be separating the physical urge for sex from a man’s emotional need (which helps explain why J has given the advice she has with respect to the first male question). I don’t think they can be separated. When a man wants sex, yes he has a physical urge, but he also wants to feel close and intimate with his wife. Bonnie over at Bonnie’s Oyster Bed has a blog post explaining the role of oxytocin in both men and women http://www.oysterbed7.com/why-sex/ Oxytocin is the hormone that makes us feel close and emotionally connected. Generally speaking, you ladies have ten times more oxytocin in your bodies and it is released by a wide range of activities. We men generally tend to release oxytocin only through sex. So, an intimate conversation releases oxytocin in you, but not so much in your husband. For him to get that same feeling of closeness, he generally needs sex. So, when your husband wants sex, his urge is both physical and emotional. The two can’t be so easily separated.

    This will be my final comment on this blog. God bless y’all.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      e2,

      I think the impression left by your original comment was that women were somewhat deceptive in saying “fine” when they really meant otherwise. My sense is that personality plays a greater role than gender in this kind of conciliatory behavior; that is, conflict-avoiders are more likely to try to suppress their negative feelings, until maybe they come out in other ways. Perhaps more women are conflict-avoiders, but I’ve heard of plenty of husbands who also use “fine” as a way to skirt uncomfortable conversations. Not that “fine” necessarily means something really is wrong. Let’s not make assumptions about our spouses, because sometimes “fine” actually means “fine.”

      Also, I have to speak up in one regard where I believe you mischaracterized what I said: “J has seemed to advise men to talk to their wives only about the emotional aspect of sex.” No, I didn’t. I’ve advised men to not talk solely about the physical side of sex, but to express what it does for them emotionally and relationally. My hubby certainly talks about the physical part of sex, and I don’t mind it at all — but we’ve had plenty of conversations about the spiritual/emotional side of our sexual intimacy, so I’m totally secure in that. Mind you, many Christian wives were trained to believe that sex is a merely physical act, often just for men, and talking only about the physical “need” for sex can add to that erroneous view. Thus, it’s wise to help your wife understand why sex is meaningful.

      And I hope you don’t mean this is your final comment on my blog, but rather just this blog post. Blessings!

      Reply
      1. e2

        J,

        Thank you for clarifying your advice for me. When you wrote in your original post, “Do not talk about your desire for sex in terms of physical needs or release” I took that advice literally, perhaps too much so, and I thought you were telling us men to not talk about the physical part of sex. I’m glad to see that you would allow such discussion, properly balanced by discussion of our emotional needs.

        I know that, for myself, speaking emotionally doesn’t come naturally, in part, because it is very difficult for me to identify my emotions and put them into words. It wasn’t until I read Bonnie’s post on oxytocin that the emotional light bulb went off in my own heart and I thought, “Yeah, that’s it.” Unfortunately, it’s so much easier for me to simply say, “Sex feels good,” without necessarily knowing *how* or *why* it feels good, and when I say, “Sex feels good,” it’s all too easy for my wife to hear only physical pleasure instead of emotional pleasure as well. So, it is good for me to be reminded to (a) search my own heart to understand my own emotions and (b) learn how to express them in ways that my wife hears my heart.

        (I guess that wasn’t my final comment. I just wanted to let you know I appreciated your clarification.)

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          Example: “Sex feels good” vs “Having sex with you feels good.” I think more wives would respond to the second one. Can you see the difference? That’s what I’m saying.

          Reply
          1. e2

            I see the difference but when you are committed to only having sex with one person, to me the “with you” is implied. But agaiin, I do appreciate the nuance.

          2. J Post author

            Last thought on this: That straightforward comment to guys directed referred to wives who’ve internalized the idea that sex is a merely physical act. Admittedly, that’s a lot of wives. I think many men struggle to understand, but not only are women told many times over by that men only want one thing (sex), they have all the magazines out there giving us sex tips that are absolutely physical, the pressure of hard-bodied, air-brushed models in sultry poses suggesting that’s what sex is about, and oftentimes the experience of having certain men ogle and approach and treat them like sexual playthings. Men, of course, have their own pressures — but this feeling that men just want to do “it” with our bodies is understandably prevalent among women.

            In my now-healthy marriage bed, my husband could say something as straightforward as “I need sex,” and I would hear the implied with you. But many wives would not respond well to that; husbands should to be sensitive and respond accordingly. It’s really only a bit more effort, the same kind he likely put in to woo her into marrying him in the first place.

          3. e2

            I fully understand. I get tired of the “physical only” sex that is portrayed even in chick flicks. I recall in “The Jersey Girl” when Liv Tyler throws herself at Ben Affleck and he balks. She responds, “Don’t you think I’m cute.” as if “cute” were the only criteria necessary for sexual desire.

            If I were to add on the “with you” to my expression of sexual desire, I think my wife would immediately respond with “as opposed to who else?” I don’t think she would hear it as an expression of emotional connection as much as an expression of exclusivity which, after 30 years, is a given in our marriage.

    2. B

      @e2,

      I’m with J. I hope you didn’t mean this was your last comment on the entire blog. I glean so much from your comments. My husband will not express himself the way you do, and while you’re not exactly alike, you give me insight into what he may be thinking. Your perspective is a blessing to me.

      Reply
    3. Anonymous2

      @e2
      First, I most certainly hope this isn’t your final comment on this blog. I have always looked forward to your comments because your insight and wisdom have often caused me to ponder my belief system…including your comments above. Which is a GOOD thing. Please don’t leave, you are a breath of fresh air.

      Second, I believe you may have misread my post, in a way.
      As J has stated before, many women are raised, and truly come to view, sex as a physical act mostly needed by men. The old, “all men want is sex.” I was raised with those beliefs and over the years have been exposed to several incidences that strongly confirmed that belief in my mind. These are hard core beliefs which are difficult to erode especially when societies sexual messages keep adding to them!

      Anyway, I have started coming to this and other blogs trying desperately to find ways to break down these erroneous beliefs and try to view sexual intimacy with my husband with a healthier attitude. I am working on it. I’m not there yet. But, I have totally appreciated your views and convictions which I have needed to hear. I am only to the point where I believe that, yes, my husband does have an emotional need for the closeness (oxytocin) that sex provides him. I’m still in my infancy at trying to get past the thought/belief that it’s a physical drive that pushes him toward sex first, then he feels connected and loving after. One day I hope to get past that. Please keep pressing your truths.

      I love your question about ‘what would you prefer a low drive spouse, or a high drive spouse?’
      I’m going to chew on that for a while. Now, to add to that question, what exactly is sex drive and should we take our spouses sex drive personally?

      Reply
      1. e2

        @Anonymous2

        You asked, “Now, to add to that question, what exactly is sex drive and should we take our spouses sex drive personally?”

        Great question. In Feldhahn’s “For Men Only,” there’s a chapter entitled, “When it comes to Sex, Her No doesn’t Mean You.” In other words, we men shouldn’t take it personally when our wives lose interest in sex. The heart of the chapter was good, trying to sooth bruised male egos. But, as I read the chapter, I couldn’t help thinking “if her ‘no’ doesn’t mean me, then neither does her ‘yes’.” It seemed logical to me that, if I wanted to feel as if I were part of the reason she desires sex, then I would also have to accept that maybe I’m part of the reason she didn’t want sex. I really didn’t like that chapter of the book as it seemed to separate her sexual desire from me more than I wanted. I was willing to accept ‘blame” for her “no” as long as I could also claim “credit” for her “yes.”

        And, yet, as I’ve watched my wife’s libido take a dive, I realize it has little to do with anything about me, and she has reassured me of that many times. So, I begin to wonder if Tina Turner had a point when she asked, “What’s love got to do with it?”

        Reply
        1. Anonymous2

          @e2

          Once again, you’ve scrambled by brain.

          You say, “if I wanted to feel as if I were part of the reason she desires sex, then I would also have to accept that maybe I’m part of the reason she didn’t want sex.”

          My response:

          My husband is the ONLY reason I ever desire sex, but there are a myriad of reasons why I might not be interested in sex (at any given moment) that have nothing to do with him.

          I was reading a different blog the other day and some men were explaining how they would desire nothing more than their wives to be sexually ravenous for them. They would love their wives to crave them sexually.

          This is a foreign concept to me, personally. I have always enjoyed my sexual relationship with my husband but I have never felt sexually ravenous. I have very low sexual energy. Sexual desire doesn’t flow from my pores. My love for my husband did not automatically turn me into a hot, horny, sexual creature.

          Sadly, it doesn’t take much to derail my interest/energy for sex. Menopause has made things even harder. I’m probably a huge disappointment to my husband in that regard.

          I sometimes wonder:
          Is my husbands desire for me to need him sexually as strong as my desire for my husband to love me as a person without his need to be sexual with me?

          Reply
          1. e2

            Sorry for scrambling your brain, and thank you so much for the “yes/no” explanation. It makes so much sense, I feel stupid for not having figured it out myself.

            As to your last question, yes, I believe your husband’s need for you to desire him sexually is as strong as your own desire to be loved without sexual connotations. Let me give you my take on this. While I speak as a man, I’ve learned not to make broad sweeping gender generalizations, so this may not apply to your husband.

            As a man, I need sex to feel loved (it goes back to the oxytocin thing) and I generally associate sexual desire with romantic love. The more my wife desires me sexually, the more loved I feel. While I can appreciate your desire to be loved “as a person” apart from sex, I find it very difficult to separate my “personhood” from my sexuality.

            Also, and I hope I don’t scramble your brain further, the Bible defines a marriage in sexual terms. Genesis 2 says that the husband shall cleave to his wife “and the two will become one flesh.” That phrase, “one flesh” is Bible-speak for sex. I think we sometimes try to romanticize it by talking about “two hearts beating as one” and “soulmates.” But, if you look at 1 Cor. 6, Paul uses the same phrase “one flesh” to refer to a man joining together with a prostitute. A sexual union with a prostitute carries with it no romantic or emotional involvement; it is purely physical. And, yet, Paul describes it with the same biblical metaphor used for sex within marriage, “one flesh.” So, while marriage is more than “just” sex, it’s definitional essence is as a sexual union.

            When you think about it, it makes some sense. Think of everything you and your husband do together. Biblically, he can love you as a person without being married. He can take long walks with you without being married. He can buy you flowers and say “I love you,” without being married. You can have joint bank accounts without being married. You can even raise children together under the same roof without being married. In fact, like the Amish courting ritual, you can lie in bed together, fully clothed, without being married. But, according to the Bible, you can’t have sex without being married; the *only* act Biblically reserved for marriage is sex.

            So, when my wife tells me she could easily go the rest of her life without ever having sex, the message I hear is that she’s no longer interested in the one thing that defines us as married. Yes, she wants to be my best friend, my business partner, perhaps even my soulmate, but we can have all that without being married. On the other hand, when she sincerely and passionately wants me sexually, she’s screaming to me in the clearest possible terms that she is and wants to continue to be my *wife*.

  10. Pingback: Q&A with J: Why Doesn’t My Older Husband Want Sex? | Hot, Holy & Humorous

  11. G

    Let’s make a deal — higher drive wives, get together and have lunch with my wife. I will in turn get a few guys together and have lunch with your husbands. Maybe after a few of these meetings we can get things turned around.

    Reply
    1. B

      @G, if only that would work! I’m a higher drive wife (by leaps and bounds) and I would have lunch with your wives if only any of you men could get through to my husband. But I warn you, he doesn’t like to talk about it!

      I tried talking to him today, respectfully, and it started out well. I expressed the fact that I wished we could be together more than once a week, perhaps twice a week would be a fair compromise? At first he was open, but he quickly got angry, and defensive, and reminded me how hot it is, and how tired he is, and how stressful things are, etc. And why don’t I ever take that into consideration? I do, I really do! But in the morning he’s in a hurry and focused on all that needs to get done on various jobs. After work he’s too hot. After dinner he’s too tired. So it’s always something. And in December it’ll be too cold. And the job stress NEVER goes away. I feel like my youth is fleeting (almost gone) and I’ll never know true love – intimacy – or desire that goes both ways.

      So yeah, I feel your pain. I wish he’d just be honest and tell me “you’re not my type, I find you repulsive, and I’ve fulfilled my weekly obligation so get off my back.” Instead of telling me I’m pretty and trying to snuggle (while I have to force my body not to respond to his touch because I know he doesn’t feel that way about me and it’s not going anywhere so snuggling is pure torment and I hate it) – instead of feeding me 100 excuses.

      Reply
      1. J Post author

        Maybe he is being honest, telling you that he’s super-stressed with all that stuff and it makes it hard for him to have the sex drive you, and he, want him to have.

        Reply
        1. B

          Maybe. Or maybe he wouldn’t be so “stressed” if he had more of an interest in me. Or, if he is genuinely that stressed, he should talk to someone to learn how to better deal with it and to learn that there are more important things in life than work, work, work.
          Somehow, I don’t think he’d have this problem if he genuinely loved me and/or found me more attractive. Especially since I took everyone’s advice, spoke up, went out on a limb, asked for more intimacy, and it all ended with him getting mad. If he cared, he wouldn’t get mad and try to walk away. He could not care less about me.
          Or, perhaps this is my lot in life. Perhaps I’m not meant to, and don’t deserve to, have a fulfilling sex life. We can’t always get what we want, right? And I do have so many blessings, I really should focus on the positive and just give up on the sex.

          Reply
          1. J Post author

            Have you heard of “confirmation bias”? Wikipedia (which did a good job in this case) defines it as “the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities.” I think that’s what’s happening over and over, B.

            I don’t know exactly what your husband’s issues are, but I think you’re always defining them back to yourself. When it is entirely possible that this is more about him than you — whether it’s stress or whatever. And if he got mad, you might have inadvertently touched a sore spot in him, which could also be more about him than you. Without talking to your husband, I don’t know, but there are alternatives to the conclusions you too often draw.

      2. e2

        B,

        Again, your marriage sounds so similar to my own (with the genders reversed). My wife and I are on a frequency of about once a week to 10 days, which wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the fact that, on the other six to nine days, she has no need for physical touch. Now, like your husband, my wife knows I’m not fully satisfied with the way things are, and, she feels horrible about it. She feels guilty and like a failure as a wife, which in turn makes me feel horrible for making her feel that way. I imagine your husband may feel similar to my wife. You have said that he’s not like other men, who seem to *really* want sex. My guess is that he knows he’s not like the majority of men and it probably bothers him. He probably wonders what’s wrong with himself. I imagine that may be one reason he gets angry when you want to talk about it. He may feel like a sexual failure. I know for myself, feeling like a failure is the worst feeling ever, and feeling like a sexual failure is the worst of the worst. Given his stress levels and fatigue, it’s not as easy for him to turn on the switch and become the horndog that you both want him to be.

        I also understand why you might want him to just declare that he’s not attracted to you. At least those words would be consistent with your interpretation of his behavior, but like J, I honestly believe you are misinterpreting his behavior. I truly think his fatigue and stress have done a job on his libido and you are both suffering for it.

        I’ve decided to start being grateful for any physical contact my wife gives me. Rather than focusing on the 6-9 days when she’s not touching me, I will learn to be thankful for the one day when she is and tell her how good it feels when we make love and how much I appreciate it. I’ve told her that kissing is how I feel her love. I’ve told her that sex is the way I connect to her emotionally. And, yes, J, I’ve told her that we men were designed to need regular sexual release (and she has accepted that explanation without feeling as if it’s just a physical act for me) She knows how I feel, so I will not pressure her any further. I touch her as often as I can to let her know I’m still interested. And, I’m trying to be more appreciative of the ways she expresses her love, even if it’s not sexually.

        Reply
        1. B

          @e2, those are all great ideas. But there’s one big difference. YOU are normal. Your marriage fits with what “should” be. It is normal for a man to desire his wife more. For me to be unable to arouse or attract him (unless he’s in the mood to give me sympathy sex) – that’s what is so painful. It’s like all the other woman have something I don’t have. Something that causes their husbands to desire them far more often. Love?

          I get a little more down each day. I can’t fake happiness when I feel so lonely.

          Reply
          1. e2

            Wait a minute. I don’t think you mean that a marriage where a husband wants sex 3-4 times a week and the wife wants it once every 7-10 days is what “should be.” It may be more commonplace (in 3 out of 4 marriages) but it is NOT what “should be.” And, don’t diminish the pain a man feels when his wife doesn’t want to make love. The fact that it’s more commonplace doesn’t make it any less painful.

            And, despite my personal normalcy, my point was that my wife doesn’t feel normal. She feels bad that her desire is so diminished and she feels bad for my pain. I suspect that, deep down inside, your husband feels the same way, which is why it is so hard for him to discuss it with you without getting upset.

            I wish you could let go of the myth that sexual desire is only about physical attraction, and that since his desire is diminished, he’s not attracted to you. Attraction is only one component of sexual desire. There are many, many more factors involved and I think you’re refusing to consider them. I’m learning that one of the most attractive things I can do for my wife is accept her as she is, low libido and all, and to be thankful for the good sex that I do get. After all, many people commenting on this blog would kill to have sex once a week. Comparatively speaking, you and I may be the fortunate ones.

  12. Anonymous2

    @B
    I would love to see you replace the word ‘normal’ with the word ‘typical’
    Typically does not mean normal nor does it mean abnormal….it means usually but not always.

    Sex drive is not created by love alone.
    There are several components that need to work together to create a ‘sex drive’
    Testosterone is one component that men ‘typically’ possess more of ,therefore they ‘typically’ want sex more often. Typically but not always. No two persons sex drives are alike.

    Both my father and my brother have very low sex drives. Just a physical fact for them.
    They still both love their wives immensely.

    My husband has been a ‘once a weeker’ for a long time.
    It’s his normal….fact, end of story.

    Remember, just because one believes something to be true, doesn’t mean it is true.

    Blessings

    Reply
  13. B

    @e2, I apologize if I sounded like I was diminishing your pain. That was not my intent. I will take the blame for speaking thoughtlessly, but I didn’t intend to act like your pain doesn’t matter.

    I think I’m just going to give up on the whole thing. I’m actually getting tired of myself. I’m sure everyone here is tired of me complaining.

    Your wife sounds like she loves you a lot and I am genuinely happy for you. It is sweet that she at least cares about your pain. I never looked at it that way. I would never guess that the lower drive spouse would feel badly, certainly not in my case, I just assumed the lower drive spouse had all the control and liked it that way. You say that your wife feels badly about her low desire and about your pain, and she is sweet for caring so much. I can assure you my husband doesn’t feel badly, he just gets angry, angry, angry, angry, angry. There is no love, no sadness, no sympathy. Just sometimes silence and most the time, anger. Anger is not love, it’s power.

    We had what I thought was a positive discussion today. We even played around a bit (which he actually started – then again, we are right at his once a week mark) and he actually got to have a good time, if you catch my drift. But it was an inopportune time to go further, and he promised we would pick up where we left off later. Know where he is now? Asleep.

    So you can see why when he tells me all these words, words, words – I have a very hard time believing.

    Reply
    1. e2

      Oh, B, when I am angry with my wife, it is nearly always because I am in pain. Anger and silence are my ways of expressing my pain. .I discovered this with my children. When one of them was in emotional pain, they would cry and I would want to comfort. When the other was in the same emotional pain, they would lash out in anger, and I would respond accordingly. It wasn’t until I realized that their different responses were caused by the same pain that I was able to deal with them in the same loving way. As you describe your husband in your comments, I see pain, pain in knowing that he’s not satisfying you, pain in feeling like less of a man sexually, and pain in not knowing how to boost his own desire.

      Reply

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