Category Archives: Higher Drive Wives

Q&A with J: “What Can I Do About My Sexless Marriage?” Part 2

Welcome to my Thursday Q&A…on Saturday. Because Wednesday through Friday were Crazy Town in the Parker office, so I’m two days behind. Anyway, last week, I talked about addressing sexless marriage, or ones in which your libidos are highly mismatched. In that post, I suggested “if you want to make progress in a sexless marriage, you should make every effort to create a safe environment in which your refusing spouse can share and feel validated, loved, and supported.”

But let me go back and clarify something for those of you in the midst of a sexual drought in your marriage due to a refusing spouse: You’re in a terrible spot, and I ache for you. Likely you’ve tried everything you can think of to deal with the sexlessness in your marriage.

blog post title + man sitting on bed with head in hands

Some of the things refused spouses have tried:

  • Opening up conversations about sexual intimacy, only to be shut down by their mate
  • Trying to explain their level of desire, only to be accused of being obsessed with sex
  • Expressing their emotional pain, only to have their feelings dismissed by their mate
  • Working harder to meet their spouse’s emotional needs, only to have their own remain unappreciated or unacknowledged
  • Praying for God to take away their libido, only to struggle more with frustration and loneliness
  • Telling a marriage counselor about the sexlessness, only to have the issue tabled or being advised to deal with “more important things” first

It’s all very unfair. And I have no desire to add to the burden you already feel. Literally 100% of my ministry’s mission is to get marriages to embrace God’s design for sex in marriage — which includes frequent, meaningful encounters that satisfy both spouses.

However, here’s the difficulty I face in trying to help marriages like yours:

  1. Your spouse isn’t reading my blog. Refused spouses rarely read up on biblical sexual intimacy until after they’re convicted that something needs to change.
  2. Your spouse probably doesn’t understand the significance of sex. Yes, you’ve told them and they should get it, but what I’ve heard from spouse after spouse who eventually came around is they really, honestly didn’t understand what sex meant for their marriage.
  3. Your spouse is likely reacting from a place of fear or insecurity. It may have nothing to do with you, and it may not even make sense based on their previous willingness to engage, but after talking to formerly refusing spouses, I also believe this to be true. Many spouses put up barriers to engaging in sex or talking about their lack of libido out of self-protection.
  4. Your spouse isn’t likely to change unless and until you do. Whatever else Dr. Phil did or didn’t do, he gave us this gem of a phrase: “How’s that working for you?” Meaning that if what you’ve been doing hasn’t resulted in sufficient progress, it’s time to try something else.

So are you willing to try a different path and see if you can break through? I make no guarantees, but after looking at this issue from every which way I can think of, hearing others’ stories, praying for wisdom, studying the Bible, and culling through relevant research … I believe the place from which change can begin is a renewed bond of trust.

I believe the place from which change can begin is a renewed bond of trust. #marriage Click To Tweet

If your spouse trusts you, he/she is far more likely to listen to your concerns, express their own fears and insecurities, and be willing to work on sexual intimacy — because they trust that you have their best interests at heart.

Yet when the Bible talks about trust, it primarily focuses on our need to trust God. There are few Bible verses about trusting others, but several actually warn against trusting others:

  • It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans” (Psalm 118:8).
  • Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save” (Psalm 146:3).
  • Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?” (Isaiah 2:22).

Based on those verses, I have a lot of nerve suggesting spouses should trust each other. But while we’re often commanded to trust in God, the Bible doesn’t command us to trust but instead to be trustworthy. That is, it’s not “hey, go trust so-and-so” but rather “hey, be someone others can trust”:

  • The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy” (Proverbs 12:22).
  • Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2).
  • Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” (Luke 16:10).
  • “In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything” (1 Timothy 3:11).

You see, we’re not commanded to trust people willy-nilly. Rather, God thinks it’s reasonable for us to discern whether someone is worthy of our trust.

And I’m going say this one without reservation: If your spouse is refusing sex and unwilling to even discuss the situation, he/she doesn’t trust you.

If your spouse is refusing sex and unwilling to even discuss the situation, he/she doesn't trust you. Click To Tweet

I’m not saying you deserve that! I’m not saying it comes from what you’ve done! It likely doesn’t. But right now, their fear and insecurity are bigger than their trust and willingness to be vulnerable. You’re going to have to build even more trust … by demonstrating (repeatedly) that you’re trustworthy.

How do you convince your refusing spouse that you’re trustworthy?

How do you convince your refusing spouse that you're trustworthy? Click To Tweet

I recently listened to an audiobook titled The Code of Trust, in which a former FBI agent lays out five principles he used to get informants to trust him and share relevant information without payment and sometimes at personal risk. As I listened, I realized that so much of what he recommended coincides with how Jesus showed us to treat others. Here are his five principles, along with a biblical viewpoint of each.

1. Suspend Your Ego. Let go of your own agenda, your own desires, and remind yourself that it’s not about you. If anything, it’s about them. When people believe someone else is pursuing their good, they don’t have to protect and defend themselves so much. They can let down their guard and just communicate. This is tough, because we’re automatically egocentric. We experience everything through our own perception, but if we can let of our egos and really prioritize the other person, it can open up the path for trust.

The Bible says we should “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:5-8). Jesus said it this way to His apostles, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35). Later, the apostle Paul adds, “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others” (1 Corinthians 10:24).

2. Be Nonjudgmental. No one feels safe to express fears or insecurities when they expect criticism or contempt. Even if what your spouse feels seems utterly ridiculous to you, take it at face value and accept that it’s true for them. It’s not where you want to end up, but it makes sense from their context. Treat them with the same non-judgment you’d like to have for your feelings about sex.

Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1-2). That doesn’t mean that we don’t use discernment about what’s right and wrong, or we don’t set boundaries, because other scriptures cover that. But it does mean that we don’t approach others with a judgmental attitude.

3. Honor Reason. What the author means here is to stick to reason rather than reaction as you interact. We tend to let our emotions get caught up in an issue as personal as sexual intimacy, and from a place of hurt, it’s easy to lash out — even with something as subtle as body language. (The issue my family has identified for me is vocal tone.) But try not to let emotion rule, and instead focus on listening to your spouse and responding calmly to what they say.

James puts it this way: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:19-20). And from Proverbs 25:28: “Like a city breached, without walls, is one who lacks self-control” (NRSV).

4. Validate Others. You don’t have to agree with your spouse’s point to validate the person who makes it. Just try to see things from their perspective and figure out why they might have arrived at the conclusion they reached. From the point of putting yourself in their shoes, you can probably validate their thoughts and feelings. Once you recognize where they’re coming from, you can better figure out where to go from here.

There are so many examples of how Christ met people they were. You can read story after story in the Gospels where Jesus tailored his message to the audience he faced, and by validating the person in front of him, He broke through their barriers. See His interaction with the Samaritan Woman and Zacchaeus for examples. The apostle Paul approached people this way as well: “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:20-22).

5. Be Generous. Give more than you get. I’m not talking about all the stuff you’ve done to help or show love to your spouse (though that’s all well and good), but consider how your spouse could walk away from the conversation feeling they got something out of it, that you gave them something worthwhile. Depending on your circumstances, that could be anything from more time to talk while you listen to a specific promise to follow up with something they desire.

Proverbs 11:25 says: “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Jesus sets a more challenging standard in Luke 6:30-35: “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.” Of course your spouse isn’t your enemy, but when you’re at odds about your sex life, they can feel like an opponent. And surely your spouse deserves as well or better than an enemy anyway.

Intimacy Revealed ad, click to buy book

Now I don’t expect y’all to head off and start having incredibly effective conversations with your refusing spouse in which everything turns around in a moment. I wish that would happen, but since I choose to live in the Real World (when I’m not living in Crazy Town as referenced above), I don’t want to give false hope.

Rather this is what I’m suggesting: Spend the next week thinking about these principles. Do you agree or disagree with any of these being good for your marriage? Where have you fostered trust and where have you lost trust in your interactions around sexual intimacy? What would it take for your spouse to view you as entirely trustworthy?

If you want to know more about this Code of Trust, you can check out the book or listen to a podcast interview with the author aired on The Art of Manliness. And if you want to know more about trust generally, for heaven’s sake, pick up your Bible! Do your own study and see how Jesus fostered trust with people who came to believe in Him.

A Letter to the Low Drive Husband

I’m not sure how many low-drive husbands read my blog, but I know quite a few high-drive wives read it. Sometimes they comment or email me about the issues in their marriage, and I personally lament how few resources there are for couples in this scenario.

Today it’s on my heart to write not to the high-drive wife (though I have done that and will continue to do so), but to the low-drive husband because that’s also a tough position to be in.

Blog post title + woman's hands writing a letter

Dear Low-Drive Husband,

You live in a frustrating world. All around you, the message is that men want sex constantly, that their appetite for sex — particularly with the woman they love — is nearly unquenchable. It’s a message you grew up with, so much that it seems like masculinity itself is linked with a high sex drive.

And while you’ve got the equipment and it works, you’re just not that needy for sexual encounters with your wife. Sure, you like them. But on any given day, you’re not busting out of your pants zipper at the thought of sex, or even the thought of your sexy wife — as gorgeous as she is. And plenty of nights you long for sleep as much or more than you do sex.

Confessing this to other guys, however, might get your Man Card revoked. So you haven’t gone around asking how it’s going with others or seeking resources for your “issue.”

Even admitting it to your wife is difficult. Especially if your wife is high drive and wants sex more than you expected her to, or than you feel like. In fact, something about how much more she wants sex makes you feel like you don’t measure up.

As someone who has studied and written on married sexuality for almost seven years and hears from higher drives wives almost every week, let me see if I can explain a few things.

You’re all man.

Totally man. Completely, thoroughly M-A-N. A more passive sex drive doesn’t make you any less male. If you’ve got the package and you know how to use it, rest assured you’re good to go. God knows what He made, and he made you XY — man. In fact, this is a big factor in why your wife wants you so much. Because she’s very into you being different from her and how you fit together as male-female so perfectly.

Please don’t listen to the messages that equate masculinity with unbridled sex drive. They aren’t from God. Rather, principles of biblical manhood within marriage are controlling sinful appetites, providing for one’s family, and servant leadership.

Pay attention to these words from King David: “When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son. ‘I am about to go the way of all the earth,’ he said. ‘So be strong, act like a man,…’” His next words were not, “And show off your sexual prowess, thus getting lots of high-fives in the men’s locker room.” Rather, David finished his instructions this way: “and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses.”

Also, consider what the Apostle Paul said: ” As for you, Titus, promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching. Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience” (Titus 2:1-2,  NLT). These are pictures of biblical manhood.

You’re not alone.

You’re not the only one out there whose sex drive isn’t in high gear 24/7. You’re in the company of 15-30% of other husbands. Let me break that down for you. In terms of the U.S. population, that’s about 22 to 45 million men. If we’re talking world population, it’s 0.57 to 1.13 billion men. So while some may make you feel like a stranger in a strange land, you’re not.

While it seems risky, if not dangerous, to admit to another guy that you have a lagging sex drive, there are resources for you. Some have written about low-drive husbands, and you can also take many married sex articles, books, resources and just reverse things in your mind (if they say the wife is lower drive, but you are in your marriage, then pay more attention to the advice on that side).

That doesn’t always work, which is why I have a chapter in Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design about higher-drive wives and the men who love them. And I’m also working on a whole book about higher-drive wives, mainly aimed at women but there will still be information for you.

You need to take action.

Dude, your wife is hurting. I hear from higher-drive wives all the time who question their desirability, their marriage relationship, and even their husband’s love, because they feel like the weird one whose husband doesn’t want them sexually. Even more importantly, God intended for you and your wife to have regular sexual intimacy in marriage.

You have a biblical obligation to engage in the marriage bed: “The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs” (1 Corinthians 3:5). Now that doesn’t mean that you should schlep to the bedroom with duty, duty, duty playing through your head. The second part of that verse, and so many other places in the Bible, show us sexual intimacy in marriage is for both spouses and should be pleasurable and connection-building.

Rather, this is a call to action. If you’re not currently fulfilling your wife’s sexual needs, you need to work on why and what to do about it. How can you create a situation in which you both desire sexual intimacy? I don’t know what your issues are, but I’ll throw out a few possibilities:

  • Your body chemistry is off
  • You had/have a porn habit
  • You have sexual baggage
  • You were taught that sex = sin
  • You’re not attracted to your wife (see note below)
  • You have self-doubts
  • You’re super-stressed
  • You’re just a passive guy

This is a really long letter now, playing right into the stereotype of the talkative female (which I totally am). So I’m going to hold off on explaining each of those issues and some fixes until next week. But it’s my prayer that you will find something here to take steps in the right direction. You might need to see a doctor, seek help to deal with your porn problem, study more about what the Bible says about sex, etc.

And if your wife shared this blog post with you, maybe it’s time to take a walk together hand-in-hand or sit across the kitchen table and have an honest conversation about sex in your marriage.

Because she wants you — all of you. And I suspect, once you work out a few things, you want her a great deal too.

Note on “not attracted to your wife”: High-drive wives will likely read that as physical appearance, but men tell me it’s almost always things like feeling disrespected or ignored that makes her less appealing to him.  You, dear woman, are beautiful, but relationship issues can tense men to the point that they don’t feel as drawn to their wives. I’ll cover that more next week, but I really didn’t want to leave the wrong impression!

A Prayer for Higher-Drive Wives

Blog post title + female praying handsThose of you who read my blog often know that I have a tender spot for higher-drive wives. They aren’t the majority of wives, but rather represent 15-30% of marriages. However, that’s still millions of women! And unfortunately, a lot of marriage resources presume a higher-drive husband and a lower-drive wife, leaving couples that don’t align with this expectation feeling like abnormalities or even freaks.

Today, as part of my Saturday prayer series, I want to offer a prayer for higher-drive wives to bring their concerns before God. Lower-drive wives, I promise to write a prayer for you as well soon.

Dear Lord,

It’s hard to have a higher libido than my husband. At times, I feel like I’m not good enough or that something is wrong with me.

When I undress, he doesn’t pause and gaze the way I wish he would. When I initiate, he sometimes postpones or even dismisses my advances. While I long to be sexually intimate with him more frequently, he doesn’t feel this burning desire to be with me. And while it leaves me physically feeling empty at times, more often my heart is wounded.  I ache to have all the things You, Perfect Creator, designed sex in marriage to be — experiencing pleasure, deepening intimacy, and expressing covenant love.

Lord, lift me up into Your arms and comfort me. Give me Your eyes to see myself and my marriage as You see them. Help me to feel deep down that I am beautiful, worthy, desirable.

You, Lord, knit me together in my mother’s womb and created my inmost being, which includes a healthy sex drive. I will not denounce or discourage my higher libido, because You placed that in me and Your works are wonderful, including our sexuality (Psalm 139:13-14).

Likewise, help me to accept where my husband is with his sexuality. He is also Your creation. If there are obstacles keeping him from desiring and enjoying sex, please help me to support him in discovering and addressing those issues. Give me wise words and loving actions that unite us in facing our challenges together.

Take away the negative feelings I sometimes have toward him and replace them with Your view of this man, your son. Remind me of all the good in him and the love we share. Strengthen me to be his helper and partner, as you intended me to be (Genesis 2:18).

Soften my husband’s heart so that he can see my desire to support him, to grow closer, and to thrive in our marriage. Help him to overcome his own insecurities about having a lower drive and to pursue a better sex life for both of us and our marriage.

Help me to always communicate that my husband is all man to me — the man I love — and that his sex drive is only one part of him. But let him also see that sexual intimacy is a blessing You want us to have in our marriage, regularly and enthusiastically.

Awaken our physical love for one another and show us both how to drink not only to end our thirst, but to be intoxicated with love (Song of Songs 8:4, 5:1).

Lord, sometimes I don’t initiate well and my frustration can come through in my tone or my facial expressions. Calm my heart, give me Your joy and peace, and grant me the right words to invite him to our marriage bed (see Song of Songs 7:11-13). And in those moments, Father, I ask that you awaken his physical desire for sexual intimacy.

When sex doesn’t happen, keep me from storing up resentment in my heart. For I know that godly love keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). Instead, help me to trust, hope, and persevere in pursuing the best for my marriage (1 Corinthians 13:7).

Keep me from making comparisons and thus coveting what others have (Exodus 20:7). It’s hard when wives around me talk about their husbands desiring sex more often than they do, when my own husband doesn’t seem to have this strong desire. But You, my God, know the state of my marriage, the secrets of our hearts, the hope of our future. Calm my anxious thoughts and help me to respond in ways that aid marriages, including my own.

Surround me with the support I need — the right resources, the encouragement of others, the wisdom of mentors. Speak through them to me, so that I know what steps to take and remain on the right path.

Lord, above all, bring to mind how Your own son Jesus knew rejection, even from those closest to Him. Yet He always pursued Your truth and your glory, and never His own selfish aims or insecurities. My husband is not rejecting me as the Messiah was rejected, but his actions have brought me emotional pain. Let my response be Christ-like. Mold me into His image. 

When I waver in my resolve, in my positive outlook, wrap your arms around me tighter, dear Father.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Why High-Drive Spouses Get Frustrated Reading Comments

In my graduate counseling program, I took a class about diagnosing and treating various psychological disorders. When we reached the section on eating disorders, I distinctly recall the professor saying something like, “You cannot put bulimics and anorexics in the same support group. To the bulimics, the anorexics are successful weight-losers, so they end up feeling worse and more compelled to starve themselves.”

Now my actual experience in working with eating disorder clients is zero. So I cannot attest personally to that wisdom, but it made some sense to me that there are just some groups you don’t want to put together. It’s too tempting to make comparisons, feel worse about yourself and your situation, and draw conclusions that harm you more in the long run.

This is how I sometimes feel about high-drive wives and high-drive husbands reading each other’s comments on my blog.

Blog post title + woman sitting at laptop, screaming, and holding hands on other side of head

I can’t tell you how many times a higher-drive wife has said something like, “It’s so discouraging to read about all those husbands who are eager to have sex in their marriage when I can’t get my husband interested in me.” And the same from higher-drive husbands too.

Faced with comments from high-drive spouses of the other gender, when you’re struggling with your own low-drive spouse, it can be easy then to do one or more of the following:

  • Feel even worse about your circumstances
  • Believe your spouse doesn’t really love you
  • Push your spouse even harder to meet your sexual needs
  • Imagine there’s something seriously wrong with you or your spouse
  • Fantasize about being with someone whose libido matches yours
  • Throw up your hands and give up

Not a single one of those options is a positive development for your marriage, but I understand why you might go there. It’s tough to be struggling and see that others have it not only easier, but seemingly really easy.

What can you do when you read comments like those? How can you avoid having a swarm of negative emotions rise to the surface? Let’s talk about some options.

1. Recognize it’s just one area of life. Obviously, I believe it’s an important area of marriage, or I wouldn’t spend most of my time here writing about sexual intimacy. However, sex isn’t the only kind of marital intimacy. And marriage isn’t the only thing going on in your life either. I know couples with great marriages who’ve dealt with ongoing stress and emotional pain from caring for a disabled family member, grieving the loss of a child, facing financial hardship, and much more.

When you’re struggling in an area where someone else seems to be doing well, it can appear that everything is unicorns and rainbows in their world while you’re living through a personal apocalypse. That’s just not true. Everyone has problems, and you don’t always know what challenges someone else is facing in their life.

2. Be grateful for what you have. This is the flip side of encouraging you to not focus all the time on what you don’t have. Rather, seek out and positively reinforce the good happening in your life and your marriage. Very few things are all bad or all good; rather, we have helpings of both. Look for what’s working and celebrate that.

Indeed, by focusing on the good in your spouse and your relationship, you might encourage an atmosphere in which you can start dealing with your challenges in sexual intimacy. We all tend to be more successful working problems from a place of strength and encouragement. And if after searching and searching, you can’t find anything  in your marriage to be grateful for, then it’s time to go talk to a Christian counselor.

3. Pay more attention to the low-drive comments. If you’re a higher-drive wife wanting to get a husband on board with more sexual intimacy, what you need are ideas of how you can reach out to a lower-drive spouse. Focus in on what low-drive spouses say about why they don’t want sex as much. Could some of those issues be present in your marriage? How could you address them?

Recalling the testimonies I’ve heard, I can’t think of a single marriage bed that improved without one spouse making an effort to understand where the other one is coming from. What often happened is one spouse went first in becoming more sympathetic, and the other followed. Read the other side for low-drive spouses and start building your sympathy for what your own spouse is going through. Develop a better understanding of what’s happening so you can address the issues.

4. Stop reading comments. If you know that reading the comment section is going to sink your heart and make you feel worse about your marriage, why do you do it? You could do other things with your time, like read other informative blogs or marriage books or take a walk or go sit with your husband and watch a show.

I know you’re desperately looking for answers. I want so much to give you help and hope, but if you’re not getting it here in the comments section, or even in my posts, maybe you need to try something else. Blogs are one part of marriage ministry, but there are many other resources and maybe something else would work better for you. (Also see Should You Be Reading My Blog?)

One final note to high-drive husbands. I want to address something I’ve seen ongoing on my blog and Facebook page, when high-drive husbands say something like, “I can’t imagine a man not wanting sex as much or more than his wife” or “If your husband doesn’t want sex, something’s wrong with him.” I know you’re speaking from experience and trying to help, but it’s really not helping higher-drive wives and lower-drive husbands.

I rarely hear from low-drive husbands, because what guy is going to risk having his Man Card taken by confessing that he doesn’t have a high libido? Too many men are not getting help and addressing a mismatch of sex drives in their marriage because they are embarrassed to speak up.

The truth is that in the majority of marriages, the husband is indeed the higher-drive spouse, but a substantial minority of marriages, estimated at 15-30%, have higher-drive wives. That’s millions of men whose wives want more sex than they do. So please don’t treat it like it’s a rare disorder or a lack of masculinity, because it just isn’t. Thank you.

Remember that we all see our world from our own lens. Let’s get rid of the smudges of comparison on our lenses and look at our own marriages clearly, positively, and hopefully. As Theodore Roosevelt or Dwight Edwards (depends on who you ask) said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” In turn, I believe hope is a bringer of joy. Focus on hope.

And be sure to listen tomorrow to our next Sex Chat for Christian Wives podcast episode on Mismatched Sex Drives.

Q&A with J: Sexual Release Without Sinfulness

Our question for today comes from a wife who is currently separated from her husband, fighting for her marriage, and trying to deal with her restless sex drive. Here it is:

Our sex life has been amazing from day one. I have a very high libido and I just enjoy sex and trying new things, etc. However, we are currently separated due to him falling into an international affair. I am fighting hard for my marriage and I’m praying the Lord will grab his heart and turn him from his sin…

My question is this: I’m 31 years old with a high libido and I feel trapped in how to how to honor the Lord with my sexuality right now. How can I get a release without indulging in anything sinful? I believe masturbation is okay, especially in my situation, but it has become really hard to climax without having a scenario in my head. I believe erotica can erode a marriage, but are there certain types of erotica that can help people people in my situation?

Blog post title + woman under bed covers with arms raised

First off, I’m praying for your marriage too, and I invite my readers to do the same. Obviously, the best answer is for this marriage to be not only restored but brought to a place of thriving.

Yet whatever happens, you have to deal with this high libido that was awakened in marriage and now has no place to be satisfied. I feel for you. Your sex drive doesn’t just go away when your spouse is gone; it can be a hungry little beast when not properly fed.

You essentially have three ways to deal with a restless sex drive.

1. Release it.

That’s where your question heads to: “How can I get a release without indulging in anything sinful?” You say that masturbation is okay, and I’ve laid out my own position on this blog before. A summary of my perspective would be that masturbation that brings you and your spouse closer together is okay and masturbation that draws sexual energy away from your spouse is not okay.

Long physical separation from your spouse could be one of those times when it’s beneficial to “take the edge off” so that you can remain focused on your husband and your intimacy with him and not be tempted by another’s man attention, get cranky with your husband because it’s been way too long, etc. But imagining a scenario in your mind that doesn’t involve your husband takes sexual energy away from him; it’s inherently detrimental to your relationship.

If you’re imagining anything other than your hubby in your mind, you’re in sinful territory. And that’s what erotica encourages you to do. Jesus said, “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28, NLT). Of course that also applies to a woman looking, or imagining, a man with lust.

Ideally, if you’re masturbating to be able to withstand a long physical separation from your spouse, you’re doing so with their knowledge, support, and even presence (yes, some married couples Skype and simultaneously pleasure themselves). In your case, however, that’s not possible. So you need to be careful about how you engage in this physical release.

Look at your motives, your heart and your mind, and what will best keep your sexual energy on your marriage. Prayerfully ask those questions and listen for God’s answers.

2. Channel it.

You don’t have to use sexual energy sexually. That pent-up feeling can be channeled toward other activities. For instance, physical exercise can help diffuse that tension. It’s another way to be active, experience body chemical highs, and end up with that level of fatigue you sometimes feel at the end of sex.

I’m sure you’re also missing that physical touch that comes with sexual connection. You can refocus your desire for sexual affection to other forms of affection and other relationships. Spend more time with family. Volunteer in your church’s nursery. Head to a convalescent home and hold hands with an old woman, who might also have some wise life advice to share while you’re there.

Check out these and other ideas on what to do with your sexual energy when you’re not attached in this post.

3. Ignore it.

You’re probably thinking, I can’t! It’s impossible to ignore. But hear me out. In psychology, there’s a principle called extinction. In behavioral therapy, we know that linking a stimulus and a consequence causes people to expect the latter when the former shows up. The classic experiment is Pavlov’s dogs who heard a bell before being fed and thereafter drooled for food whenever they heard the bell ring. But if you de-couple that stimulus and consequence (bell → food), eventually the conditioned response (drooling) goes away. That’s extinction.

Right now, your hungry little beast — aka, your sex drive — wants to be fed. But it doesn’t literally need to be fed. You don’t have to have sex for your heart to keep beating. So it’s possible to use a bit of extinction in dealing with your drive.

I don’t believe your libido will completely go away, because our sexuality is an integral, God-given part of our humanity. But if you constantly shove juicy morsels at that beast, it will keep coming and coming, demanding to be fed. If you ignore it, eventually your drive will diminish. Enough to be more manageable.

Lest you think I’m being completely unrealistic, my husband and I did not have sex for about four months when expecting our second child. I was right in that high-libido part of my pregnancy when my doctor announced that health risks precluded intercourse. I did a lot of ignoring my drive, and so did my husband. Over time, it got less demanding. So I believe it can be done.

(By the way, for those who are in a marriage where you should be having sex and one of you has been practicing extinction, this might help to explain why it’s hard to get going again. But you should, for the sake of your marriage.)

Which of the three options should you choose? Each of them — releasing your sex drive, channeling it, ignoring it — could be beneficial depending on the motives, circumstances, and goals. But ask serious questions about what would honor God and your marriage when deciding what to do.

Once again, I’m praying that your marriage will be saved.