Today’s post is aimed at higher drive spouses—wives and husbands—who feel frustrated by the gap in sexual interest.
If you’re the lower drive spouse, you may appreciate this post and want to share it with your higher drive mate. If you’re the higher drive spouse, but you’re not frustrated, you may still like this tip. And if you’re equally matched, my advice here will also serve you during the busy seasons of your lives.
This is not for sexless marriages, which have greater challenges. (See instead this post for a rundown of my series on sexless marriages.)
But assuming a higher drive spouse and a willing but less interested mate, let’s get on with it.
How Often Do You Initiate?
What percentage of sex initiation attempts in your marriage come from you?
That’s the question I recently asked of my higher drive wife community, but I also answered it for myself—80%.
Yep. In my marriage, I’d guess 4 out of 5 times someone suggests a sexual encounter, that someone is me. One to 3 of those 4 times, I get a favorable answer. One to 3 of those times, I get a pass. But most of Spock’s passes come with rain checks, so I certainly don’t feel deprived.
In fact, by happenstance, I made a discovery about initiating that has made the current libido gap between my husband and me much less distressing. I flipped the switch from initiation to availability.
Initiation and Hope Deferred
Initiation simply means getting something started. That can happen in all kinds of ways—some obvious, some less so. But at some point, there’s a word, a look, an action that indicates one spouse wants to make love.
The bid for sexual attention is made, and the other spouse must decide whether to match that bid and go for it.
As the higher drive spouse, you may already start from the perspective of not initiating every single time you’d like to have sex. Or you may go ahead and give it a shot each time, figuring you definitely won’t get a yes if you don’t even ask.
Regardless, if you’re frustrated about the frequency of sex in your marriage, you likely initiate, get turned down, and then feel hurt. Because somewhere between the ask and the no is hope — hope that this time, your beloved will say yes! And as the Bible so aptly tells us, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12).
What if you could feel hope without being hurt when it doesn’t work out the way you want?
Availability and Desire Fulfilled
Hailing back to my 4 out of 5 times that I initiate sex in my marriage, 2 of those are straightforward initiation. I say what I want, he can say yes or “another time.”
But the other 2 times—half of the time, that is—I just make myself available. No strings, no expectations. Hope, yes. But without real initiation, I’m not caught up as much in the outcome. I haven’t really put out a bid.
It’s the difference, I suppose, between saying, “Hey, if you want to play a board game, I’m up for it,” and saying, “Let’s play a board game!” while you’re setting up game pieces on the kitchen table. If your potential partner says no, in which version have you invested more and will thus feel more hurt?
“I’m Available” Statements
If you go this route, you can’t be ambiguous. You have to be explicit that you are available for sex from X time to Y time. But don’t wait around. If your spouse doesn’t jump on the notion right away, go busy yourself with other stuff. You’ve made it clear, they know the deal, and they can take you up on it or not.
What does that explicit statement look like? Here are a few ideas:
- “I’m headed to bed. I’d love for you to come join me so we could have some intimate time before I fall asleep.”
- “If you want, I can give you a massage. If that sounds good to you, take off your clothes and lie down.”
- “Just so you know, I’m feeling particularly interested in sex tonight. If you’re up for it, let me know.”
- As you’re headed out for work or elsewhere: “It’s been a while, so sex today would be great. Text me if you’re interested.”
In all of these cases, you’re making it clear what you want, but you’re not setting an expectation that it will happen.
Paradoxically, some lower drive spouses are more willing to say yes to an if you wanna invitation than a let’s do it suggestion. It’s a softer startup and feels less insistent.
That’s what’s actually happened in my own marriage. Perhaps it was that my tone and facial expression were less tense, which made the prospect of sex even more appealing to my husband. I’m not sure. I just know that since flipping this switch, I’ve felt less tense, more accepted, and happier with our sex life.
Have you tried availability instead of direct initiation. If so, how has that gone? If not, could flipping this switch help?