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.
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.