It’s Monday! Which means it’s question-and-answer time. Today’s reader question comes from a wife happy with her marriage, but noting their sexual intimacy lacks passion.
My husband and I have been happily married for almost 5 years. We saved ourselves for each other and are so glad we did. But we’re both pretty reserved and are not very passionate. I consider myself the higher drive spouse, which was one of the biggest surprises when we got married. I don’t ask for sex but wait for when he wants it (we do take care of each other’s needs in the meantime though), and even then I feel that he’s only doing it for me and that sex is a burden (like I said, not a lot of “passion”). How can I get past that mindset, and relax and enjoy? How can I make it more fun for him when I’m feeling like I’m burdening him? He is a thoughtful, self-sacrificial husband…
A few things stand out in this query.
They’re both reserved. I know it can be frustrating for one spouse to be the initiator, and the other one is far less so. But as long as there’s some cooperation, you can at least get something started that way. But what if neither one of you feels comfortable taking the lead? How do you get things revvin’ when no one slides into the driver’s seat and starts the engine?
Some spouses are incredibly shy about sex. They might feel uncomfortable about their bodies or the act itself, or simply lack confidence. Speaking up and initiating sex is tough for them.
How can you overcome your timidity? Well, what gets you past being too reserved in any other area? As a social introvert myself, I suggest a few things:
- Initiate anyway. In crowded gatherings and conferences, I force myself out of the corner and make a point to talk to others. The rewards have been well worth the effort. Stepping outside your comfort zone to initiate sex, speaking up for what you like, and engaging wholeheartedly is bound to yield great dividends in your marriage.
- Practice makes comfort. I know it’s supposed to be practice makes perfect, but practicing something makes a habit and over time you feel more comfortable doing that thing. I still get butterflies stepping out of my comfort zone in a crowd, but it’s gotten way easier over time. Go ahead and practice a more confident you in the bedroom, and over time it will become a more comfortable approach.
- Vulnerability breeds intimacy. And vice versa. There’s a vulnerability to opening up and initiating something difficult with someone else. But when you’re accepted, you have greater intimacy with the person you revealed yourself to. That intimacy helps you feel more comfortable the next time in being vulnerable, and more vulnerability leads to more intimacy, and on and on.
She’s the higher drive spouse. Hello, all of you higher-drive wives! I’m waving at this questioner and so many wives out there who have felt similar surprise when they discovered that they were more interested in sexual intimacy than their husbands.
I don’t know why that is in this marriage, although there are many possibilities — ranging all the way from innocent shyness to secret porn use and solo masturbation. I do know that rejection can make you doubt yourself. But the message here I most want to get across is that being the higher-drive spouse does not make you or your marriage weird.
It’s perfectly normal and fine if you’re more driven to have sex than he is — as long as he is willing to engage and you can learn to take the lead more. Nothing in the Bible says that the husband must be the one to initiate. In fact, the wife in Song of Songs says: “Let my beloved come into his garden and taste its choice fruits” (4:16). “Garden” and “fruits” are symbolic. She’s sending out a very clear invitation to her husband to engage in sexual intimacy.
As the higher-drive wife, you are not alone. If there are underlying reasons for his disinterest, get to the bottom of those. But if it’s just that your libido is higher than his, so be it. Feel surprised, sure. But definitely don’t feel defective.
He conveys that meeting her sexual needs is burdensome. I don’t know if that’s intentional or not. Sometimes a spouse really does give off a vibe that they don’t want to be having sex, because they are less willing or less participatory. Other times we can read into the situation because our spouse isn’t responding how we expected. We might have wrong messages in our head about what a hubby’s reaction to his naked wife or sexual activity should be, and when we don’t get that exact response, we conclude he just isn’t that into it.
I think you two need to have a conversation about sexual intimacy away from the bedroom. You might need to discuss the expectations you had going into the marriage, how sex has lived up to those expectations (did it meet what you anticipated, or did it fall short?), and what you hope to experience in the future.
Find out why he doesn’t seem so into it. Because it could be a misunderstanding, it could be that it’s more effort than he anticipated, or it could be that he feels inadequate because his body is not more libido-driven or he doesn’t feel like a proficient lover. There are numerous reasons why you could be getting the message that it’s not “all that” for him. Open up the conversation and make it clear that you are on his side and want to work together for better sexual intimacy.
She wants sex to be more relaxing, enjoyable, and fun. The number one thing I’d suggest for making sex more relaxing, enjoyable, and fun . . . is to reframe your view of what “sex” is. It is not merely the dish served as the main course, and too often we treat it that way. So we have intercourse, and it’s not earth-shatteringly awesome and we wonder why it isn’t so much better. It feels good, sure, but where’s that bone-shivering, heart-swelling sexual experience we expected?
I’d be seriously annoyed if I went into a restaurant, and they simply shoved a plate into my lap and told me to eat up in the corner. I don’t care how good that entrée is, it isn’t a “dining experience.” Likewise, your sexual intimacy is made up of everything that brings you closer together outside the bedroom (like shared time together and affection), to the anticipation of the event (flirtation and initiation), to the building of tension (foreplay and other sexual activities), to the main event (sexual intercourse), to the peak (climax), to the afterglow (lingering in one another’s embrace).
If you want sex to be better for you, and for him, attend to the various parts of this experience. Get your mind in the right space for sexual intimacy, take time to prepare for the event, and spend lots of time touching, exploring, and arousing one another. That’s at least a good place to start.
I also wrote a recent post on helping your husband be more adventurous in bed. That might be a good one to read as well.
Where’s the passion? I believe the passion is inside you. It’s also inside your husband, but since I’m responding to you, the wife, and not him, I’m focusing on your part of the equation. Awaken your own love and let your passion be contagious.
Sometimes when one spouse unleashes their passion and shares it with their mate, it can have a chain reaction. There are no guarantees, but it’s better for one of you to take positive steps, rather than neither of you initiating change. God created you to be a passionate woman and a passionate wife, so lean into His design.
I was recently interviewed by Belah Rose of Delight Your Marriage. Those episodes just went up on her podcast and have more helpful information. I’d love for my readers to check them out: How to Enjoy Sex More and Awaken Love Within You.