Today’s question is from a wife who’s been married for a while, and they’re encountering an ongoing problem. Despite making sex a regular part of their marriage, they’re still struggling:
Please address the topic of a passive withdrawn husband. Mine never initiates, asks, nor jumps in to ravish, nor does he do foreplay, nor sexual talk, nor sounds. Our sex live has been unsatisfying for us both. He believes God has told him that His will is for married couples to have sex everyday. We have tried this for a while. He liked it, but I still never felt connected.
We both understand that often a women’s body will warm up sexually after her mind. That the couple starts foreplay, and then in a while, she will get turned on. Only thing, with him being so so passive, and not doing anything, nothing much happens. He often is too limp to proceed, or even though I’m not ready, I let him penetrate just so he can quickly climax and go to sleep. I have been very clear, that I am interested to make love, but I need him to make a direct move, pass…..not be like a 90 year old man shuffling down the hall with his walker.
Let me start with this tidbit: We’ve got this idea that 99.9% of men are ready, eager, and assertively pursuing sex in their marriages. It’s been conveyed directly, indirectly, and through both secular and religious messages. But it’s just not true.
Sometimes the passive, lower-drive, or even disinterested mate is the husband.Sometimes the passive, lower-drive, or even disinterested mate is the husband. Click To Tweet
It could be that something’s amiss, or it could be his biological makeup or personality. But I just want wives reading this, and those dealing with something similar, to understand that perhaps 15-25% of marriages have a higher-drive wife who longs for more frequent and intense sexual intimacy.
And now, the question when one spouse isn’t interested or active in the marriage bed is why. Why is this person not grabbing hold of this gift of sex in their marriage? It’s quite possible something has gone awry, so here are some possibilities for your husband:
- Low testosterone
- Childhood sexual abuse
- Shame about sex, based on poor teaching or past experiences
- Porn use (past or present), which interferes with the brain’s arousal mechanisms
- Depression/anxiety disorder
- Relationship conflict or discontent
- Prior inability to perform, affecting his confidence
- High stress, and the resulting body chemicals that block arousal
The only way to know what’s going on, and thus how to proceed, is to communicate about your sex life. All too often, though, what we do is start that conversation with a complaint about our own dissatisfaction with sex. Instead, I challenge you to open yourself up more, create a safe atmosphere for him to share, and dig deeper by asking questions and really listening.
If his body simply isn’t cooperating with libido or responsiveness … well, that’s a very different issue to deal with than if he’s secretly watching porn. Dealing with depression calls for a different answer than relationship stress. Once you find out what’s going on, you can better address the challenges.
All that said, it’s possible nothing’s particularly wrong. If your husband is passive in other areas of life, he might be passive in the bedroom too. I’ve talked to wives whose husbands were shy in flirting, asking them out, popping the question, and so on … and then, not surprisingly, those men are shy in the marriage bed. They are timid by personality, and expecting him to suddenly unleash an assertive lover is likely unrealistic.
But you can help him be more assertive in lovemaking in the moment.
Communicate what you like. Speak up for what you want. Or move his hand where you want it. Show him what you like and then encourage him with sounds and compliments for what feels good to you. Make your marriage bed a place of freedom to express what you desire.
Ask what he wants. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right? Besides, if you outright ask what he would like to try or do, you might discover something that arouses him more than what’s been going on. This attitude also demonstrates that you are interested in satisfying him sexually, which itself can be a turn-on.
Be the assertive one. Nothing says you can’t take charge and be the assertive one. Pull him closer toward you. Get on top and get things going. My book, Hot, Holy & Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design, also has ideas on what to do with your hands, your legs, and your hips to be more active in lovemaking.
Have intercourse less often. Did anyone ever think I’d write those words on my blog? I sure didn’t! But you’ve been married for a long time (info from the email, but not the question above), which means you’re bound to be older, and you’re still trying to have sex everyday. Some couples can do that, but if he’s struggling to get or maintain an erection, he may need a longer refractory period. You can certainly engage in other forms of sexual intimacy—like he could pleasure you—but maybe go two to three days in between intercourse.
Pursue other forms of intimacy. Finally, you might need to attend to other areas of intimacy in your marriage. Believe me, I’m all in favor of consistent, spicy sexual intimacy and believe sex is an important ingredient in a healthy marriage. That said, your husband believes it’s important to have sex every single day, but are you pursuing other intimacy-building activities with that regularity? Sex itself is not the be-all end-all for your marriage, but rather one component of intimacy.Sex itself is not the be-all end-all for your marriage, but rather one component of intimacy. Click To Tweet
You might need to invest more in times away from the bedroom to really feel that heat and excitement in the bedroom.
Pray for change. I say this all the time, but that’s because it’s such a good idea. And it’s not because I think you’ll pray to God that your husband will suddenly become assertive and voila! he’s a tiger the next time you tumble into bed. You know what really happens when you pray openly and humbly about marital issues? You change. And if you let God change you, He’ll bring you a better perspective, resources to help you, and patience as you work on the issues. In turn, that might well cause your husband to make changes too.
Given your own issues with arousal, I also think you could both learn more about how to get things going and what feels good. Thankfully, I wrote a whole book about that! Hot, Holy & Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design is essentially a how-to manual for wives with ideas for getting your body cooperating, revving, and stimulated in the marriage bed. What I haven’t covered here, you can find there.