Tag Archives: low sex drive

Q&A with J: How Can My Groom Turn His Sex Drive Back On?

Today’s question comes from two different readers who contacted me with similar situations. Both are newlywed wives who haven’t had the sexual intimacy they expected to have after they tied the knot. Here’s the first one:

It has been one month since we got married and we still haven’t had sex. He told me last night that he was nervous almost to the point of tears because we have always been taught not to have sex before marriage, and now it’s all of a sudden okay. He said it’s like a Wall is there that he can’t get through. What should we do? How do i help him? He feels bad because i want to and he can’t, and i feel bad because i don’t want him to feel pressured. I just don’t know what to do.

And the second:

I recently got married and waited until marriage. My now husband wasn’t a virgin before but waited with me. The sex has been less frequent and passionate than I had expected and last night he revealed to me that because he had to ”turn it off” for the last 2 years to stay strong for me that he has a hard time turning it back on. I feel really sad about it and kind of mad too. I’m trying to not take it personally but I never thought I’d have to ask for sex or even be turned down in the first month of marriage. I’m trying to be patient and pray about it. Any suggestions on what to do?

Blog post title + photo of bride & groom sitting on bed

There are differences, in that one groom has never had sex, while the other had it previously but waited with his bride until they got married. But both gentlemen are having a terrible time awakening their libido after keeping their sexual feelings in check for so long.

It’s admirable that they waited, just as we are commanded to do, but sometimes our message about premarital purity encourages people to simply repress their sexual feelings. Repression here is “a process by which unacceptable desires or impulses are excluded from consciousness and left to operate in the unconscious” (Merriam-Webster). Our libidos aren’t really gone, but we stamp them down so hard, it’s difficult for them to get back up when the right time arrives. (See also When Your Groom Is Anxious about Sex).

But I don’t see where the Bible teaches repression of our sexuality. Rather, we can acknowledge our sexuality and exert self-control: “Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled” (Titus 2:6). Look at Jacob, who worked for seven years to marry Rachel. He kept his behavior in check, but he didn’t deny what he eventually desired, even saying to his father-in-law at the end of those long years: “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her” (Genesis 29:21). Can’t get much clearer than that.

Even 1 Corinthians 7:9 says to singles: “But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” In other words, control your sexual desires outside of marriage, and if you can’t do that, get hitched. It’s a nod that God made us as sexual beings, a fact we cannot and should not ignore.

God made us as sexual beings, a fact we cannot and should not ignore. Click To Tweet

Teaching repression of our sexuality can result in situations like these where it’s hard to turn your libido back on, even when you’re in the right framework for sexual intimacy (marriage).

But to the question: How can you awaken his libido after it’s lain dormant for a while? How can he get past that hump of repressing his sexuality?

Give yourselves grace.

It stinks not to get to make love on your wedding night. Many couples look forward to that experience. But plenty of couples actually don’t have sex right away, due to physical issues, time constraints, or even Aunt Flo visiting at the most inopportune time. But one of the perks of sex in marriage is you have a lifetime to get to know one another physically and experience all kinds of sexual pleasure and intimacy.

Let’s imagine that you make love once a week (it should be more, but go with me here), and you’re married for forty years (more than reasonable, given the average age of marriage and life span in the U.S.). At that rate, you’ll have sex 2,080 times. Two thousand eighty times. So even if you miss out some at the beginning, you’ve got plenty of time to figure this out and still have lots and lots of sex. Point being: Relax. Give yourselves some grace and time to work things out.

Talk about the baggage.

We all bring baggage into our marriages—some toting in a toiletries bag of issues and others dragging a massive trunk behind them. But make no mistake: We’ve all absorbed bad ideas about sexual intimacy. Erroneous messages surround us, both in the secular world and, sadly, the Church. All kinds of messages soak in, and we can find them hard to shake once married.

So talk about it with each other. Be honest about your expectations and concerns, and then listen to his. Let him know that whatever he says, you won’t judge it harshly. Once you’ve admitted what’s going on, challenge each of your internal beliefs and see which ones hold up to God’s Word. For example:

  • “Sex is dirty.” No, sex can be twisted and misused, but sex itself was created by God and “everything God created is good” (1 Timothy 4:4).
  • “Enjoying sex too much is ‘indulging the flesh.'” No, that’s not what “the flesh” means. Rather, Galatians 5:19-21 says, “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” Those are all sins, but sex with your wife is not a sin and thus not on the list.
  • “Men are supposed to have the higher libido.” No, you can’t find that in the Bible either. Read through Song of Songs, and you’ll see that sexual feelings abound in both husband and wife. Sometimes one more than the other, but it shifts from her to him, him to her.

Bringing your anxiety from the subconscious to the conscious level and then challenging those beliefs can help you work through the barriers preventing you from experiencing sexual intimacy.

Focus on romance and foreplay.

In three different places, Song of Songs says, “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” (2:7, 3:5, 8:4). That presumes that you can arouse or awaken love when it’s time—that is, in marriage.

Focus on that word arouse, and make that your goal for now. Not orgasm, not penetration, not even erection necessarily, but arousing the sensations that eventually lead to all of those things. I firmly believe that couples don’t spend enough time exploring one another’s bodies and discovering what arouses them. But the knowledge you gain through this process will be beneficial throughout your marriage.

Get a great book with ideas on what to do, so you can try out different activities. You know, like this one, which I highly recommend:

Click to buy or find out more!

Take the pressure off, and give yourselves, and especially him, permission to enjoy touch, exploration, and romance. Let your husband know that he doesn’t have to “perform”—that this can be an opportunity to get to know one another and experience pleasurable feelings.

Use self-talk and encouragement.

When dealing with high anxiety or fear, psychologists often prescribe systematic desensitization. You can find many resources on how to apply this procedure, but it’s gradually exposing yourself to the anxiety-inducing stimuli and introducing a relaxation response at each stage. This principle works with sexual anxiety as well.

Let’s say you’re going through the foreplay mentioned above, and your husband becomes tense. You two can pause, and he can remind himself that sex is a gift from God, meant to provide intimacy in his marriage. You can encourage him as well, helping him relax. You two could even stop to pray for God’s comfort and courage to continue. When the tension has released enough—it may not release completely—you can get back into your groove.

Using desensitization techniques, he can likely progress a little farther each time, until intercourse is possible…and enjoyable. Another way to think of this is baby steps. Nothing says you must leap into intercourse on your wedding night, but marriage is the time when you get to build all kind of intimacy, including physical intimacy. Be willing to build slow, feeling good about each stage of progress.

If problems persist, see a doctor and/or a counselor. There’s nothing wrong with this taking some time, but you do want to be moving in the right direction—toward God-honoring, mutually satisfying sexual intimacy in your marriage.

Q&A with J: “A Sexual Stimulant for Women?”

Today’s question is an interesting one, from a husband wanting to help his wife’s sexual desire:

So I hate to ask this as I can see [there] being conflicting opinions on the subject but, do they make a sexual stimulant for women? As well as you know they have been making them for years for the guys but I can’t find anything that looks reliable for the woman’s side of things. My wife and I have talked about this off and on for some time and she is willing to try almost anything to help her with her almost non existent drive in the bedroom.

I write about sex drive differences, but honestly there are resources more dedicated to low libido in wives than I am. Here are just three you could take a look at:

Image result for amazon.com unlock your libido

Bonny’s OysterBed7.

Given the question, I think Bonny’s site is a particularly good resource, because she addresses the science of sex and low libido. Bonny does a great job of giving emotional encouragement, practical tips, and covers studies that show which substances do work or don’t work in lifting your libido. She also has a great book titled Unlock Your Libido: 52-Week Sex Drive Transformation. She’s also one of my podcast partners, and she brings her science knowledge to our Sex Chat for Christian Wives.

Boost Your Libido course.

Sheila Gregoire of To Love, Honor, and Vacuum has a wonderful online course for low-libido wives that walks them through reasons they might not be “feeling it” and what to do about it. She doesn’t talk supplements so much as tips, but they are helpful and might indeed boost your wife’s libido. Click below to find out more.

Dr. Oz’s List.

Confession: I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Dr. Oz. I think some of his advice is really good, and some of it is, well, opportunistic. But I found this article on his website with natural substances he suggests could boost female libido. Do they work? I’m skeptical how much of this stuff you’d have to actually eat/take to get results enough to notice a difference. But then again, why wouldn’t you just try and see for yourself? Especially when the prescribed substances include innocuous things like pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and chocolate-covered strawberries.

In addition to these resources, I suggest your wife see a doctor and get tested for hormone levels as well as deficiencies that can cause fatigue and low response, like low thyroid and anemia. Tell the doctor what exactly is happening, so she’ll know what to look for. It’s certainly possible that her physiology makes it difficult for your wife to feel desire.

But also remember that many women don’t experience a sex drive the way it’s been primarily described — as a desire for sex followed by engagement. Instead, many wives have a libido that is responsive, in that the drive is there after engagement in affection, foreplay, and sexual activity begin. There’s nothing wrong with having a responsive drive; it’s the way many of us were created. What matters instead is whether she can get into the sexual experience at all.

As for an actual sex stimulant for women? Nope, I don’t really know of anything I’d recommend. There are some shysters who will sell you something that claims to fire up a woman’s libido, but they’re not a magic pill. Stay away from anything that sounds too good to be true, because it probably is.

Like or not, sexual desire can be a delicate dance for many women. So just be patient, investigative, and willing to try various thing to see what works. I wish you all the best!

Q&A with J: “I Can’t Really Seem to Get Into Sex”

Today’s question is from a wife who’s struggling with her pleasure in the marriage bed:

Hi, I’m hoping you can give me some advice. My husband and I have been happily married for 11 years…I love him more than ever…the problem is I can’t really seem to get into sex. I know it’s important and we usually have sex twice a week but I don’t seemed to get turned on through it. I do orgasm most of the time but I just want to desire sex…I want to really want sex!!! I want to have the wet “horny” feeling but only very occasionally does happen. We do have 4 kids aged from 3-9 years so I don’t know if that has anything to do with it. I’m kinda hoping one day this stage will pass and I’ll all of a sudden be back into sex? Anyway, any advice would be great!

Blog title + couple's feet in bed pointed away from each other

First off, yes, I think four children ages 3 to 9 years has something to do with it. Lots of wives report a decrease in their libido while their children are young, because that’s when we’re exhausted, distracted, and stressed. If you think that’s contributing, then check out my suggestions in When My Sex Life Sucked – Part 2.

But the libido and pleasure issues may run deeper, as they sometimes do for wives. I’ve talked recently about how in 15-30% of marriages wives are estimated to be the higher-drive spouse, but that still means that in 70-85% of marriages, he wants sex more than she does.

And many women have been sold the idea that they’re supposed to want sex like their husbands — with a burning need or intense desire to be experience sexual pleasure. They think the proper order of things is desire, arousal, sex, and then orgasm. But you know what? That’s not what the research shows. Rather, female sexual desire seems to kick in for many after the decision to engage and getting aroused.

Yet what concerns me is that you say, “we usually have sex twice a week but I don’t seemed to get turned on through it.” Yeah, your body should be more responsive to sexual sensations. That’s how God intended it to work.

So while I don’t want you to sweat not having that “horny” feeling before you start having sex, I do think you need to look into why you’re not enjoying the experience.

And for that, I’m actually going to turn you over to three trusted sources. Because while I’ve definitely addressed this topic (for instance, herehere, and here), these three ladies have gone above and beyond in reaching out to lower-desire wives. I believe they can help you get on track.

OysterBed7. Bonny Burns maintains the OysterBed7 blog where she says, “I blend science, scripture and stories of my own life to encourage and empower the low sex drive wife and her marriage. You write what you know and I know about low sex drive.”

Her honest, gentle approach is also biblically and practically based. While I suggest reading her blog, and listening to her on our joint podcast, Sex Chat for Christian Wives, she has a specific resource you might want to check out: Unlock Your Libido: 52-Week Sex Drive Transformation.

The Forgiven Wife. Chris Taylor defines the mission of her blog as: “to encourage Christian wives as they work to grow in their approach to sexual intimacy in their marriages. After 20 years of restricting the sex life in my marriage, I have learned to dance with desire and enjoy the full intimacy that comes with passionate and joyful sex with my husband.”

I know you’re not restricting sex in your marriage, but Chris delves into reasons why a wife would feel disengaged in the bedroom and unable to experience full pleasure, and then she addresses them with practical suggestions. You can also hear Chris on our podcast.

Boost Your Libido Course. Sheila Gregoire recently launched a new product, and I had the pleasure of checking it out fully. Her Boost Your Libido course not only deals with a wife’s sex drive, but her pleasure in the bedroom. This course has 10 modules with videos of Sheila explaining the main points in a wife-to-wife chat format, along with a fact sheet, worksheet, brainstorming exercise, and additional resources.

Sheila deals with such issues as “What Is Libido?”, “Making Hormones Your Friend,” and yes, “When It Doesn’t Feel Good.” I’ve really enjoyed Sheila’s blog and resources over the years, but I found this course in particular to be a great approach for working through the issues of low libido and enjoyment of sexual intimacy.

You can view the videos in the privacy of your home, or perhaps with a friend or two so that you can discuss and support one another. (However, you should each pay for your own course, for ethical reasons and to get the additional materials you need to make progress.) She suggests taking your time through the homework, but it’s not hard to complete. You can easily see the big picture and how progress will be made by working on these modules.

And you know what? It’s $39. I know that’s more than a book, but $39 is a pair of shoes, one piano lesson for your child, a meal for two at a sit-down restaurant, and just 1/15th of an iPhone. Seriously, a total bargain. For more info, click on the pic below.

Let me assure you that I rarely do affiliate links. While looking into advertising some on my blog, I’ve been so reluctant to do so because I’m not willing to just throw products at my audience that I don’t entirely believe in. If I outright suggest something, I’ve viewed the entire resource myself and believe it’s a good deal for my audience.

So, while I write some about low libido, I know that it’s not my niche like it is for these three women I’ve mentioned. And I trust them to give you good advice. I encourage you to check out their resources.

Does Your Sex Drive Take a Dive in the Holiday Season?

I’ve been sleeping too much lately.

Usually, it’s the other way around — not getting enough sleep. But after a rough start to last week with serious sleep deprivation, I decided to make it up with earlier bedtimes, later wake-up times, and a couple of naps. Surprisingly, I’ve had no problem soaking in every last moment of sweet sleep. I’m like a hibernating bear.

So when I woke up this morning and thought, Why am I sleeping so much? and Why would I totally pick sleep over sex right now? I reminded myself of what time of year it is.Does Your Sex Drive Take a Dive in the Holiday Season?

December brings together three challenges to your sex life. Especially us ladies. See if you recognize any of these.

Stress

The Christmas season is a joyful time in many ways. But remember that to-do list that’s always hard for you to get through? It’s grown by three feet.

You have presents to buy, wrap, and send. You have lights and decorations to put up. You have the Christmas pageant, choir performance, or candle lighting to prepare for. Your work wants you to participate in the charity drive, Secret Santa exchange, or off-site party. You need to send Christmas cards (for those of us who still do that). You must take the children or grandchildren to see Santa, the live nativity scene, and/or a tour of Christmas lights. You must get ready for the arrival of family or get ready to travel if you’re going somewhere else.

Whether you are naturally Suzy Snowflake or struggle against being the Grinch, you still have more to do this time of year. Good stress or bad stress, it’s still more stress.

And stress has been shown to negatively affect our sex drives. Prolonged increases in cortisol, the “stress hormone,” lower your libido. It’s harder to relax enough to become aroused and enjoy a sexual encounter. And with pressures all around us, we simply have less time.

Sex can feel like another to-do that’s down on the list between mail grandma’s pecan pie recipe to my husband’s cousin and make a stocking for the dog. It might happen, but if it doesn’t, you figure you’re still okay. Yet deep down, you know your marriage — and your marriage bed — are more important than that.

So take a few steps to help with the stress factor:

  • Cross off items on your list that you really don’t need to do. Be honest, and even ruthless. It’s good to say no to some opportunities so that you can say yes to your marriage. If you struggle with this, ask a trusted friend to take a look at your list and let her be the bearer of the “you’re not doing that this year” news.
  • Involve your husband in the to-dos, asking for help. Of course, he won’t do the task like you would — for example, he might buy cookies instead of baking them for your daughter’s school holiday party — but that’s okay. You can get more things done, and you’ll feel a sense of togetherness. Which will hopefully translate into a desire to get together in a more pleasurable way later.
  • Put sex on your list, near the top. We mostly accomplish what we plan for. If you prioritize sexual intimacy, you’ll likely get it done. Even block off time for this important nurturing of your marriage and intimacy.
  • Compartmentalize, like a dude. It may seem like I’m asking for the impossible, but hear me out: Guys have an uncanny ability to focus on the task right in front of them. What if we gals adopted a bit of that approach? Make an intentional effort to shove all your must-dos aside so that you can be fully present in the marriage bed. Remove from your bedroom the stacks of gifts to wrap, the holiday decorations to go through, and the small children asking when Santa is coming. Take the time you need to mentally prepare, maybe with a bubble bath or body massage to counteract the stress. When your mind wanders, meditate back to the thought that this is my intimate time with my husband.

Fatigue

A close compatriot of stress is fatigue. Your fatigue could be caused by juggling so many holiday-related tasks that you feel like the official Christmas Court Jester. When you finally get home and into bed, you burrow into the covers and hide from the world and the demands of the day.

Or perhaps you feel the need for more downtime to balance the busyness of the season. When not working that to-do list, you want to throw on your flannel pajamas, grab a cup of cocoa, and binge-watch the most recent series of Gilmore Girls. You’re too exhausted to get your lady parts excited about sex.

Maybe the weather is wearing you down. It’s darker earlier. And later. Basically, it’s dark a lot of the day. And it’s cold. (To those in the Tropics or Australia, I know this isn’t you, but…) And if you’re in an area like mine (Southeast Texas), it’s not that cold but it is gray and rainy.

Whatever the cause, you feel too fatigued to get aroused. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if your husband just wanted to snuggle on the couch and watch Gilmore Girls with you? (Don’t hold your breath.) But you have a niggling feeling that ignoring your sexual intimacy altogether would be short-changing your marriage.

Instead, be consistent with your sleep habits. Make yourself go to bed and get up at regular times, keeping your body’s clock on track. Interspersed with those holiday comfort foods, be sure to consume healthy foods — vegetables, fruits, nuts, water. Even if you love mulled wine, wassail, or eggnog, don’t overdo the alcohol because that will make you even more tired. Find ways to exercise and do some activities that simply give you a burst of joy, whether that’s going to an art museum or ice skating or watching A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Finally, look for better times in the day to make love. Nighttime might not work well for you this season, but could you get up a little early for some nookie? Plan a “lunch date” so you can have needed naked time alone? Get in some afternoon delight? Be creative and give your husband that time of day when you’re most perky.

Depression

This is a wonderful season for many, but a really hard season for some. Those who already struggle with depression may have additional challenges this time of year. And Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that most often occurs in the winter months.

Without sufficient exposure to sunlight, our serotonin levels can decrease. Serotonin is a body chemical responsible for mood balance, and its deficiency is one cause of depression. For those who suffer from SAD, one option is bright light therapy. But even making sure you get out of the house when the sun is out can help.

Also, it’s tougher to exercise in the winter months. Yes, there are winter sports, but many favorite activities are off-limits this time of year. And we probably walk less, avoiding getting out when the weather is cold or dreary.

We’re also more aware of personal losses during the holidays, whether it’s the relative who died this past year or the adult children who won’t be joining us this Christmas.

Some depression sufferers may need to ask their doctors for help or a temporary increase in their antidepressant medication. And if you have the “winter blues,” you may actually be experiencing depression, so get sunlight, get exercise, get help if you need it. Also, prioritize self-care. I don’t mean a marathon of holiday movies with a tin of Christmas cookies and a half-gallon of eggnog. Rather, find and do activities that give you a smile and a sense of accomplishment.

Our spouses shouldn’t be relegated to the bottom of our priority list. Rather, we should give our best gift to our beloved. And sexual intimacy is a beautiful gift we need to give this season. Figure out what’s making your sex drive dive this season and then find ways to bring your libido back.

How Libido Works: For Women, That Is

If you follow me here or on social media, you’ll quickly discover that I share a lot of what Sheila Wray Gregoire of To Love, Honor, and Vacuum writes. That’s because we have very similar views on sex in marriage, and her wisdom is well worth my readers’ time.

Not to mention that we’re friends. Which is one of major bonuses of doing what I do — getting to meet like-minded people who are smart, fun, and Christ-like.

It’s my pleasure to share her with you today! Sheila’s here to talk about how libido works — for women, that is. Because it’s not how many of us were taught that sex drive works. And now…Sheila.How Libido Works: For Women, That IsHave you ever noticed that movies and TV shows make women’s sex drives look just like men’s?

Here’s what happens, pretty much every time: the couple’s together, and they start to pant. So they fall into each other’s arms and they begin to kiss. Then the clothes come off. And then they end up in bed.

They pant, they kiss, they take off their clothes, and they end up in bed.

Pant. Kiss. Clothes. Bed.

Every time.

If this is what you see, over and over, you may begin to think that’s natural.

So there you are, at home with your husband, and you’re waiting to pant.

And nothing happens.

So you figure, “I guess I’m just not in the mood”, and you return to browsing Pinterest or you go and make another cup of tea.

But what if that whole portrayal of women’s and men’s sex drives is wrong?

Rosemary Abbott of the University of British Columbia did a study a while ago that found that while men tend to be aroused BEFORE they started to make love (that’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?), most women are not aroused UNTIL they start. They’re not panting at all!

Instead, they make the decision to make love, and then once they start, they relax enough and tell themselves, “I am going to have FUN tonight!” It’s only then that their bodies kick in.

For women, our sex drives are primarily in our heads. If our heads aren’t engaged, our bodies won’t follow.

But that also means that we have a great deal of power when it comes to our libidos! Instead of waiting to feel in the mood, we can tell ourselves positive things about sex: “I am going to enjoy this tonight.” “I am going to sleep so well after this!” Or even, “I am going to rock my husband’s world!”

Unfortunately, many of us don’t quite understand this. We figure that our bodies should kick in if he does the right thing, romances us the right way, or touches just the right place. So we start making love, but while we’re doing that we’re also composing shopping lists in our heads, trying to figure out if there’s enough milk in the fridge to get us through breakfast, and planning our errands route for tomorrow. So sex feels lousy. And it must be his fault, because he’s just not doing it right!

Now, there’s no doubt that husbands often need to learn what makes wives feel good (because many husbands don’t understand foreplay, for instance!). But it’s also true that one night he could do something that has you in raptures, and three nights later he’s doing exactly the same thing, move for move, and you’re lying there thinking, “Will you just get over with because I want to get to sleep!” It’s not about what he’s doing; it’s about what you’re thinking!

That’s why great sex isn’t about panting beforehand and it isn’t JUST about him doing the right thing. It’s also about us concentrating and putting our brains to work for us!

When you make love, ask yourself, “What feels good right now?” That makes your brain cut off that shopping list and concentrate instead on your body. And you just may find that it does feel good, after all!

God made women so that our response isn’t as automatic as men’s sexual response tends to be.

We have to make the decision that we want to make love. We even have to make the decision that we’re going to have a good time! But I think there’s a logic behind that. Because we need to make that decision, then both husbands and wives have an incentive to work on feeling intimate outside of the bedroom, too. We have to build goodwill towards each other to even want to make love in the first place. If our sexual response was always automatic, then our relationships could be quite shallow.

Instead, when things work well, we get the best of both worlds. We feel close to our husbands, and we feel great in the bedroom. But ultimately it’s up to us: will we decide to jump in and take the initiative, or will we sit back and wait for the panting to happen?

Personally, I’d suggest jumping in. Sex helps you sleep better. Sex helps you feel closer. Plus great sex feels amazing! It’s too great a gift to leave to chance. So decide to have fun tonight, and see what happens!

Sheila WC 100Sheila is the author of The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex and 31 Days to Great Sex. She blogs everyday at To Love, Honor and Vacuum.

Come on over and download her free ebook, 36 Ways to Bring Sexy Back to The Bedroom!

Thanks, Sheila! I love this wise advice.