Tag Archives: higher drive wife

Q&A with J: What If Hubby Is Passive in the Bedroom?

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Please address the topic of a passive withdrawn husband.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.

Q&A with J- What If Hubby Is Passive in the Bedroom- with illustrated couple in bed

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.

Do You Personalize Sexual Rejection?

To those who get sexually rejected by your husband: Hearing no hurts.

I get it. Some of you hear a no now and again, and some of you hear it a lot. But either way, you experience a strong desire to be physically and emotionally connected to your beloved, you approach your spouse with high hopes, and you get brushed off — your longings left unfulfilled.

But something often happens next. You ask yourself why.Do You Personalize Rejection?

Why does your hubby not respond to your sexual advances? Why do other husbands seem to want their wives but your husband doesn’t? Why isn’t your beauty the kind that stops traffic, or at least makes your husband look up from his TV show? Why does he say he’s too tired or too busy or too fill-in-the-blank? Is that really the reason, or could it be something else?

Given how quickly our female minds jump from one thing to another, it could be mere moments before you settle in on what you’re sure must be the truth: He just doesn’t want you.

Not only this time, but generally speaking. You believe there’s something wrong with you or your relationship or your beauty or your worthiness or … And the list goes on. We personalize the rejection.

I’ve talked before about the many reasons why a lower-drive husband might not be as interested in sex as you (and sometimes he) would like him to be. They include such issues as low testosterone, depression, sexual baggage, porn habits — even from his past — that make it hard to respond properly to in-person arousal, and the heavy burden of stress. Just getting older can also decrease a man’s sense of urgency for sexual interaction; believe it or not, some older men might choose sleep over sex from time to time.

But when we personalize that rejection, we don’t see those factors. A wife ends up feeling like her husband isn’t saying no merely to sex, but to her. And not because of some issue within him, but because he’s rejecting her personally. When that’s probably not what’s going on.

Why do we do this? Maybe for one of the following reasons.

Women are relationship problem-solvers. Men are often seen as the problem-solvers — the ones who, when you explain a problem, skip right over sympathy or commiseration to “how can this be fixed?” That stereotype holds some truth, especially when the problem is well-defined.

However, when it comes to relationships, I think women are more likely to be problem-solvers. When we see something amiss, we jump in to assuage hurt feelings, correct misunderstandings, resolve differences, and mend the cracks. We don’t like cracks in our relational bonds, and we try to putty over those as fast as possible.

Being rejected sexually feels like a relationship crack. And if we can’t fix our husband, the immediate place we go to is fixing ourselves. Clearly — a wife thinks — I must be the problem, and if only I can fix that… Fixing ourselves is within our sphere of control.

So we try to do better, look better, be better. And, while I believe in becoming your best self, this can veer off into becoming someone who isn’t you. That is, you minimize your value, your desires, your beauty — trying to become someone you think your husband wants.

When most of the time, his lack of drive isn’t about that. And he already has who he wants — you.

Women are constant comparers. If I had a nickel for every time a woman in my midst compared herself to another woman’s homemaking, mothering, or appearance, I wouldn’t be writing this blog right now — I’d be sipping a paper-umbrella-decorated drink on the beach of my private island. Wives are constantly measuring how we’re doing by checking in on how other women are doing, and then drawing (often erroneous) conclusions.

So what happens when you hear how often other wives are getting “hit on” by their husbands? When the messages you’re getting are that “all husbands want is sex,” but that’s not your experience? When it feels like all other husbands are raring to go at the snap of a bra opening, and that’s not happening in your marital bedroom?

You look at those wives … you look at yourself … and you decide there’s something wrong with you. What else could be happening? Well, a lot of things actually. But it’s easy to ignore all the other reasons for a difference in sex drives and personalize that rejection. You can end up thinking if all those husbands are chasing after their wives, then your husband must simply be unhappy with the wife he chose.

But that’s rarely the issue. More often, it’s something going on inside him. And playing the comparison game isn’t helping your situation.

Men are bad communicators. Okay, not all of you guys. I promise I’m not trying to be mean here. But from the female perspective, you guys can be hard to figure out because you often don’t tell us what’s going on inside you!

Now I live a house of three men. Typical answers to “how are you feeling?” include hungry, tired, stressed. To me, those aren’t feelings. Feelings are discouraged, grieving, depressed, sullen, heartsick — and those all just describe sad. If you listen long enough, I can also give you full description of where I feel this sadness in my body, why I think it’s there, and metaphors or similes to describe what I’m feeling (“It’s like I’m tethered to the ground”). Look, I know some of that is because I’m a writer, but some of it is because I’m a woman. We express our thoughts and feelings!

Sure, plenty of marriages contradict this pattern, but it’s not uncommon for a guy to keep his feelings close to his chest, or even be unable to define or describe what’s happening inside him. So when he doesn’t have a high sex drive, what’s he supposed to say? He likely says as little as possible, because most guys don’t like to talk about their bad emotions.

So wives fill in the gaps, imagining what he’s really thinking. Even figuring the only reason he isn’t saying something is because it’s bad and about us. So yeah, it’s not just poor communication of some husbands, but also the overactive imagination of some wives.

But what if the explanation “I’m tired” or “I need to finish this job for work” really is the reason? What if you’ve complicated the whole thing because, as a woman, you wouldn’t have communicated it that way?

Honestly, ladies, men are fairly simple. If he says, “I think you’re sexy, but I’m not up for it tonight,” what he probably means is, “I think you’re sexy, but I’m not up for it tonight.” No, really. I didn’t believe it at first either, but further investigation has led me to conclude that men are not lying. They really can say in 15 words or less everything they’re actually thinking. And if they’re feeling more than that, they need time to process and figure out how to express it.

So if the rejection isn’t personal, how can you stop believing that a no to sex indicates some flaw in you?

Ask yourself some questions and really think about your answers. It’s easy to react with your default settings, but consider an alternative perspective.

  1. What if the reason he gives me really is the reason? To fix a problem, you have to diagnose it correctly. If you expend a lot of effort thinking the problem is you, you’re expending effort in the wrong area. Instead, you could be helping to resolve the actual issue.
  2. Would he behave this way if he was married to someone else? I’m not trying to get you to imagine him married to someone else, but this one helped me with other issues in my marriage that I once thought were personal. Instead, I realized he’d be doing what he was doing no matter who he lived with, so it clearly wasn’t personal.
  3. What if he’s frustrated too? One reason you don’t hear more from low-drive husbands is that they’re often frustrated that they aren’t like those other husbands they hear about too. They wonder what’s wrong with them, and might even feel bad for not being able to sexually satisfy their wives. A little compassion for a husband in this situation can help you both deal with the real issues at hand.
  4. How would I feel if he took personally those times when I did something he didn’t like that wasn’t about him? You can personalize almost anything in marriage, like believing that him leaving the toilet seat up is an intentional disregard for your health and safety. (It’s not.) Most of us can remember a time when we were just in a bad mood that had to do with work, kids, hormones, whatever … and he thought it was a slight against him. But it wasn’t. Remember how that irritated you more? Don’t do that to your man regarding his sex drive.
  5. What could I do to be more positive and encouraging of sexual intimacy in our marriage? Hint: Personalizing rejection isn’t positive or encouraging. Being a safe place to talk, addressing real issues in your marriage, and seeking help when you need it is positive and encouraging. Remind yourself that yes, he is tired, stressed, and/or dealing with physical issues. Choose to believe him when he says that he still finds you attractive and loves you. Look for more conducive times and ways to approach him with sexual advances.

This is one instance when “it’s not you, it’s me” is usually true. But in marriage, me becomes we. So instead of spending your time personalizing the rejection, try to identify the real issue and tackle it together. Many couples with mismatched sex drives have figured it out, but only by being one another’s support.

Q&A with J: Why Doesn’t My Older Husband Want Sex?

As often happens, today’s reader question was a little long in the email, so I’m doing some summarizing first. The wife has been married a few short years to her husband, who is about twenty years older than she. He has some health issues, but not enough to keep him from sexual activity. However, he’s not pursuing or engaging in regular sexual intimacy with her.

Now here’s more about the issue written in her own words:

  • In the mornings he lets me “take advantage” of what’s already there naturally. That provides a bit of the emotional connection that I need, but that does little for my sexual satisfaction.
  • Rarely does he initiate, and any other times I offer to “take care of things” for him, he only tells me he wishes he could, but doesn’t feel like he can. I’ve found that if I can find him relaxed enough during the day, and I just do it without any conversation, he is usually surprised at the pleasurable results, so I’m somewhat doubting that he CAN’T — just that he doesn’t seem to WANT to.
  • He doesn’t tell me as often that I’m pretty, but I don’t feel super UNpretty to him (put on a little weight because of health problems, but he at least ACTS like it doesn’t bother him).
  • Being rejected so many times because he “can’t” leaves both of us feeling increasingly awkward. I totally get that with his age and somewhat low testosterone that he can’t pull it together ALL the time. And it’s not like I’ve got a super high sex drive either. But I’m struggling here.
  • I try to take care of his needs at least once a week, or more… Meanwhile, I get to orgasm maybe 3 times a year, if I’m lucky (I know some others would be grateful for just that). I’m starting to feel undesirable, increasingly awkward in the sex department, and feeling like I’m letting HIM down, in addition to missing the flirting and “action” myself.
  • Some of the factors I’ve considered are that he’s bored…or that he actually isn’t attracted to me, or that I’m not flirty enough, or that I’m not speaking his love language enough…, or his testosterone levels are worse than realized, or…?

Q&A with J: Why Doesn't My Older Husband Want Sex?

I’ve definitely written several posts for higher-drive wives, and I’ll start by referring you to last week’s post in which I listed many of those. That could well be a place to start.

I also think it’s important to have a way to talk to your lower-drive spouse about your concerns. So check out my recent post for To Love Honor and Vacuum with 10 Tips for Talking to Your Husband About Your Sex Life and How to Talk about Sexual Problems with Your Spouse.

However, I specifically want to address the issue of him being an older guy. This man is in his 50s, and it’s true that testosterone levels and sex drive can wane as a man ages. Let’s look at some facts about older husbands and sexuality.

Testosterone. Levels of testosterone are implicated in much of the decrease in sex drive among older men. But before you send your hubby to the doctor for Low-T, recognize that there could be risks with taking additional testosterone; some scientists have suggested that testosterone could cause growth in prostate cancer cells (although others deny this, so I suppose the jury’s out). Some men do have low enough levels to require treatment, but most men simply go through the normal dropping off of testosterone. From about 30 years on, testosterone lowers about one percent per year.

I encourage older men to go ahead and get their T-levels checked (it’s a simple blood test) and make sure you’re still in the normal range. Consult with your doctor to see if you need to pursue treatment.

But for most men, lower T simply means having a bit less energy, lower libido, and decreased frequency of full erections. However, none of that is an impediment to making love. Rather, what worked a decade ago isn’t going to work the same now. A flash of naked wife may not be enough to get all the engines revving, as much as a husband might enjoy that view. Be prepared that your lovemaking repertoire may need to change a little as you age. That’s not a bad thing. Indeed some husbands report that they appreciate their sex drive not being as overwhelming as it was in their early 20s and their ability to last for longer periods of time during sexual encounters.

A man can help maintain testosterone levels by keeping a healthy weight, regularly exercising, and getting consistent sleep. Yeah, so basically the prescription is “clean living.”

Erections. Taking advantage of waking-up-and-saying-hello erection is a good idea. These “morning glories” are actually called nocturnal penile tumescence, or NPT, and occur a few times per night. Why they occur is an interesting question, but one reason posed is that it’s the way a penis exercises to make sure everything stays in functioning order.

The point here is that if your man continues to have spontaneous erections during sleep and early in the morning, it’s a sign that he doesn’t have physically induced erectile dysfunction. His penis works just fine and can get hard enough for sexual intercourse.

That does not mean, however, that nothing changes about erections in older age, because it does. Getting an erection from sexual stimulation typically takes longer and the erection itself may not be as firm. Where once a young buck looked at a darling doe and quickly saluted, now it’s more like a slow-rise howdy. What sometimes happens, though, is a husband concludes that his lack of fast response means he’s not up for sex. Au contraire! His man part just needs more time and attention.

Try to explain the mechanics to your husband, letting him know how normal it is for older men to need additional foreplay. And then hey, celebrate that you two get to have more foreplay! What’s not to like about this situation? While his young self couldn’t hold out so long, Mr. Mature can take his sweet time making love and give his penis what it needs to come to full attention.

On your part, make sure you master turning him on to the point of deep sexual desire. Figure out how to give him oral sex or a great hand job (both of which are covered with specific tips in Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design). Frankly, since it’s not quite as easy to get him there, more relies on your sex savvy. But you can certainly master the skill set needed to stoke his, and your, fire to the point of hot, flaming love.

Orgasm. Orgasm three times a year?! Oh yes, honey, that needs to change. I’m a little concerned about your statement: “I try to take care of his needs at least once a week, or more.” Okay, that’s great, but sexual satisfaction should be largely mutual. Does he know what your needs are? Have you communicated them clearly?

I’m not talking about pressuring him for more sex, which can make a guy already struggling in this area feel even more performance-challenged. I mean that you need to express that you’re open to sexual activity outside of intercourse and that you want him to send you to the moon in ecstasy — regularly. What I’m saying is that it’s perfectly fine for a good Christian wife to speak up about her sexual needs and desires. We’ve often be trained to think otherwise, but your sex drive is God-given. Embrace it and express it.

Most of your suggested reasons why he’s not that into sex and that he’s not satisfying you — “he’s bored…he actually isn’t attracted to me…I’m not flirty enough…I’m not speaking his love language…” — essentially blame you for what’s happening. And I don’t get that sense at all. You certainly can talk to him about your relationship and if he sees anything he’d like to improve. But much of this may lie in the simple process of him aging, and feeling frustrated.

As a woman who seems to be starting the Grand Season of Menopause, I can tell you that there are moments I’ve felt downright betrayed by my body. How dare it not cooperate with everything I used to be able to do? Why, oh, why is it turning lettuce leafs into pounds? What happened to cuddling with my husband in bed, which now feels like hugging a furnace? I love being my age, but speaking strictly about the physical changes, aging can be seriously annoying.

Your husband might avoid engaging in sex, and bringing you to orgasm, because the experience simply reminds him what he’s lost. Many men feel their masculinity is tied to sexual virility, and when that’s a struggle, the physical lowering of sex drive is accompanied by a loss of emotional energy. What I pray you can convince him is that (1) he’s still the hottie guy you love and married; (2) his performance is not about competing with his younger self, but about mutual pleasure and sexual intimacy; (3) your orgasms are worth pursuing, because that makes you feel desirable and satisfied; and (4) you can work together, explore, and adapt to have the sex life you both want and can enjoy.

I didn’t really give you a specific answer to your question with a three-point plan or something. But there is plenty to think about here, and I encourage you to talk openly and reassuringly to your husband about what’s going on. Be willing to speak up for your own needs in the marriage bed as well. And I wish you all the best!

Other sources: AARP – How Sex Changes for Men After 50; Web MD – Romance After 60

Q&A with J: When It Comes to Sex, My Husband Says I’m “Too Much”

Two weeks ago, I focused on some reasons why a husband might be saying no to sex in his marriage. In that post, I featured portions of three questions from higher-drive wives. Today, I want to cover one of those questions in more detail:

Please can you help me with learning how to cope with my husband who has been telling me “no” to sex? Can you tell me how I can understand why he acts uninterested and says he is tired? I know this is common now. Wives having the higher drive.

My husband said to me tonight no to sex because he is tired and that we just had sex last night. I am getting upset because we are in our early 30’s. I am 30 and just recently in the past 6 months have been more interested in sex. Six months ago, I initiated a whole conversation about making time for sex and increasing frequency. He seemed to try but now I see him saying no again and saying he is tired if I want it “too often.”

I can’t help but to feel unsexy, fat and undesirable even though I am somewhat back in shape I just had a baby turn one year old.  How can I get my husband to see my side of this? That I don’t like his attitude towards sex that he is not excited for it. Mainly he doesn’t seem to want to increase frequency. He says I am too much. It seems the tables have slowly turned and now I am the one who has to seduce him and initiate sex. I just want to feel wanted and loved.

Q&A with J: When It Comes to Sex, My Husband Says I'm "Too Much"

When a higher-drive spouse is dealing with a lower-drive spouse, perhaps the hardest step is simply getting that person to agree that the lack of sexual intimacy is a problem that must be addressed.

Most lower-drive spouses admit there’s a problem — but they often think that problem is you. If their higher-drive spouse would simply lower their expectations, douse their desire, and leave them alone, they think things would be much better. Therefore, many conversations about sex tend toward them either complaining about your “overdrive” or rebuffing the topic altogether.

But what you want is to somehow invite the lower-drive spouse to actually address the issue with you — to see that it’s a problem for your marriage. Start with that goal in mind: You’re aren’t trying to immediately raise their sex drive, but rather get you two on the same page of feeling that you have to work together on the problem.

I don’t have all the particulars of this situation, but here are a few tips that might help.

Talk about us, not me. Higher- or lower-drive, many spouses approach the issue by talking about how they are affected. “I’m not getting my sexual needs met.” “I don’t feel desirable.” “I can’t take this anymore!” Those are entirely legitimate feelings, but expressing those to your husband puts him in defensive mode. Especially if this is your go-to method of discussing sex in your marriage. You may have unwittingly contributed to this topic being an off-limits discussion, because your spouse emotionally shuts down the moment you bring it up, knowing they’ll be criticized.

You have to talk about us, in terms of the physical intimacy you want your marriage to have, the pleasure you want to experience together, the concerns you have about the obstacles he’s facing regarding sexual intimacy. In every way you can, address the issue of lack of frequency as a we problem in your marriage, and communicate that you are on his side.

Talk about goals, not grudges. Even though we’ve heard that love “keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5), many of us spouses have a difficult time turning off our long memory of being slighted by our mates. When contentious topics arise, we could easily tick off our spouse’s infractions one-by-one to build a case of why we’re right and he’s wrong.

You may have years of solid evidence that your hubby has been neglectful about sexual intimacy. I have enormous sympathy for your pain, and God knows your pain far more than I do. Yet He tells us, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32). Tough stuff, huh?

Replace your longing to vent about your understandable hurt and consider your end goal. Do you want him to feel bad for making you feel bad? Do you expect to somehow establish your right to marital intimacy? Do you hope to win him to your side through forceful persuasion? You absolutely have rights to marital intimacy (1 Corinthians 7:3-5); however, your goal is for your husband to desire marital intimacy as well.

So talk about your goals of more connection in your marriage, shared passion, and sexual intimacy that honors your Heavenly Father. Set the first goal of you two being united in mind: “Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11).

Talk about what you will do, not demand he will do. Grown-ups understand they can’t change others, but they can influence others. That means you can make decisions that positively influence in your husband in the right direction. Getting into your specific situation, let me suggest a few things:

Build your own self-confidence, without relying on his reassurance. Most husbands who don’t desire sex still believe their wives are beautiful; the lower libido isn’t about your appearance. While it’s important for husbands to help their wives feel beautiful, ultimately we wives must nurture our own sense of beauty. I’ve had a whole series on Feeling Beautiful with that in mind.

Feel free to let him know that you feel good about yourself, that you are taking care of your body, that you believe you’re a desirable woman. Confidence is sexy, and whining about our appearance . . . not so much.

Don’t believe the “too much” line. In fact, if he gives that line, I might well retort, “My sex drive may be higher than yours right now, but I think it’s healthy that I desire you so much.”

Hey, I lived with a cloud over my head for years because I enjoyed sex more than the church ladies I grew up around would have approved, and I wondered if maybe I was a bit much. No, ma’am! In Song of Songs, couples are urged to “be drunk with love” (5:1). Other translations say “intoxicated.” The point is that, when it comes to sex in marriage, God gives us full permission to aim for “too much.”

Set up a plan for sexual intimacy. Tell him you’d like to have sex a certain number of times a week/month. Aim lower than you want, but higher than you’re getting. Talk about how this could be accomplished. Would he prefer to initiate when he feels up to it? Would he rather set a certain day each week that you can count on? Would he like for you to initiate?

Then follow through. If he doesn’t initiate, don’t demand that he meet the standards you set. Instead, initiate yourself, and if he balks, remind him that you waited for his initiation but you’d like to go ahead. Sometimes when lower-drive spouses know it’s coming, that anticipation helps them to prepare better than spontaneous advances.

Talk to God and trusted others. Lay your burdens before God. He knows your aching heart, and He binds up the brokenhearted (Psalm 147:3). Consider getting Christian counseling to help you sort through what’s happening. It may help to have a counselor, pastor, or mentor listen to your feelings and give you wise advice on what you can do.

I appreciate you letting me be a “trusted other.” So I encourage you to also read some of my posts about higher-drive wives with various specific ideas on tackling this oh-too-common problem.

Let me assure that you can walk through this dry season and find lush, evergreen sexual intimacy in the future. I pray that future is very soon.

Q&A with J: “How Do I Get My Turn?”

Today’s question is from a young wife frustrated that not only is she not having orgasms, her husband doesn’t seem to understand her sexual needs and desires:

I’ve been married 2 and a half years now and have struggled to experience orgasm with my husband since our wedding night. . . . I realized after our honeymoon that the female orgasm was harder to come by than I thought it’d be, but I tried so hard to stay positive and to wait for it to happen. But to date, I’ve never climaxed with him. I don’t think I’ve ever even come close.

I bought us a vibrator about 6 months ago to make it easier and quicker for him to stimulate me and he’s only used it a handful of times, all at my request. I may have had small orgasms during using the vibrator, but I’m not totally sure. And I made it a point to tell him a couple of times that I really enjoy using the vibrator because it wakes things up down there and allows me to get the full sensation of everything he does after that. That’s why I feel like we should use it more than we do.

I’ve talked with him about my difficulty responding physically 4 or 5 times – I’ve tried to be very sensitive – “It’s not you, I just need a lot of extra stimulation.” “I really enjoy being intimate with you, but I really need help learning to be physically responsive.” Things change for a couple of encounters and then go back to the way things were.

How do I get him to be interested in going the extra mile for me? He’s a great guy, but I’m just so unsatisfied in the bedroom and I really long to be able to share what he’s having (it really looks like it feels great) and I want to be able to make him feel like a stellar lover. Why do men feel like their orgasm is the closer for sex?? I feel like he doesn’t even think that I have sexual needs. I go to bed all worked up sexually while he’s snoring next to me most nights we make love. I hate to sound selfish, but how do I get my turn?

Q&A with J: "How Do I Get My Turn?"

Let’s start with making sure things are working the way they should with your body. Since this wife did have an orgasm on the wedding night, we know it can happen, but some physical issues could still be obstacles. Just so you know what’s “normal,” your sexual response should include heightened sensitivity of your genitals, lubrication (although you may need to add some), and swelling of your inner vaginal lips to 2-3 times their usual size.

But if you’re low on estrogen, you may not lubricate properly. If you’re on oral contraception, it could interfere with your sexual response. And there are other potential issues that could be hindering your body’s full participation. Talk openly with your doctor about your concerns and ask for a full physical exam and, if needed, options for birth control.

Assuming everything’s on the up-and-up with your body’s responses, you two still have to learn how your body works. Unfortunately, watching Hollywood scenes, reading magazine articles, and even hearing all the sex hype from happy married couples can make it seem like revving up the sexy is a fairly straightforward endeavor with guaranteed pleasure. Not so.

You may have experienced orgasm early on in your marriage because everything was awakened then and your body overloaded, so to speak. (Though some couples report more of a pfffft experience their first time.) But one orgasm does not a sex life make. And you want to want have that excitement again and again.

That means you have to figure this thing out . . . together. Perhaps your husband didn’t expect to have to work so hard at getting his wife to climax. He may feel that if you’re not responding quickly, like the gals do on the movie screen or in porn (just about every guy by the time he’s married has either watched it willingly or been shown porn by others), it’s not worth the effort. He may conclude he’s a poor lover, and who wants to do something over and over that you’re bad at doing? Or that the problem lies with you, and what can he do about that?

The point is you two need to go back to ground zero and figure this thing out together. And sensitivity is great, and I’m all for that! But I think most men respond even better to fun. That is, sometimes we are so concerned with our hubby’s feelings and so we talk it out and try to make him feel better and…la la la. When maybe your guy is more of an action speaks louder than words sort. Go with me for a minute here and think about team sports: Guys get in a locker room together, get a short, rousing pep talk, then take the field — which tells you something about what gets a guy motivated.

Think about what you can do to pep up your guy and make him excited about exploring your territory. That could be everything from leading up to sex with suggestive texts, flirting, fondling, etc. to drawing a treasure map on your body that he has to follow to get to the booty (literally and figuratively). Consider what your particular husband would respond to, and see how you can paint this exploration time as something exciting and fulfilling for both of you.

A couple more notes (specifically for the hubbies reading this post): First, he needs to ease slowly into lovemaking. Even after 20+ years, sometimes I still have to remind my husband that hugging, kissing, and touching me are surefire ways to shift my brain and body into gear. You can help him get the point by simple things like asking for him to massage your body with lotion or oil or suggest a slow dance (naked?) before you make love. And secondly, for orgasm to happen, he’s got to learn what a clitoris is and what to do with it. All orgasms are caused by either direct or indirect contact with her clitoris. Hubbies would do well to treat their wife’s ever-so-sensitive part like their favorite instrument and master playing it well. Guys, stop playing Guitar Hero and Rock Band and instead learn to strum your wife’s goodies to her heart’s delight.

One of the ways many married couples stimulate the clitoris is with sex toys. You mention using a vibrator a handful of times, but your husband is resistant to the idea. I think you should ask whether the sex toys are helping.

On the whole, I have a mixed view of sex toys. On one hand, I believe they can help couples that need an extra boost or deal with sexual arousal and erection issues, so they can engage more fully in sexual intimacy in their marriage. On the other hand, I think our culture is becoming more reliant on batteries and kink than relationship and intimacy. Some people using sex toys are looking for shortcuts — and they found them. I’m pretty confident a vibrator can get most women to climax faster than their husband’s hand. To me, the question when deciding whether to use a sex toy must be whether it increases intimacy or detracts from it.

When one of you is not on board, it could be detracting from intimacy. I know that’s not entirely fair, because if he’s going to balk about using a vibrator, he should step up and figure out how to help you climax himself. But have an honest discussion with him about it, asking what he’d be willing to try and what makes him uncomfortable. Respect his feelings on this, and then ask for solutions you could both accept. Maybe he could commit to trying longer to get you aroused, or maybe you could peruse some online Christian intimacy retailers together and find something you’re both willing to try.

And finally, you are not selfish for wanting to experience the height of ecstasy with your husband in your marriage bed. And he needs to understand that too. Hubby may have grown up with the oh-so-mistaken notion that sex is primarily to meet the man’s needs. To which I say, Hogwash! And a very large number of wives agree with me.

God gave you more nerve endings in your genitals than he gets in his. Your clitoris has a singular purpose — to give you pleasure. Your body is capable of multiple orgasms, while he’s got the one full-blast option (until he passes a refractory period). So nobody tell me God isn’t interested in her having a fabulous time in the marriage bed!

If you’re like many wives, you may have tentatively suggested this or that, asked for something more, and hinted at your dissatisfaction. I suggest you look your husband in the eye and say something like, “I love you so much, and I want to have a fantastic orgasm in your arms. I will do everything I can on my part to make it happen, but I need you to get on board. What can we do to make this a mutual goal for our marriage?”

Some other posts that might help your situation are Preparing Yourself for Sex, Manual Play for Her, and Orgasm: If Only I Could O. Also, my book Sex Savvy: A Lovemaking Guide for Wives has a lot more tips on revving up your drive and savvy in the marital bedroom. That could be a good resource for your marriage.

know I didn’t cover everything I could say, and I’m sure my readers will have more to add. But maybe something in here will help you get moving in the right direction. In the meantime, I’m saying a prayer for your and your marriage. Because yeah, you deserve a turn.