As someone who pays attention to news and information about higher desire wives, I’ve noticed an increasing number of confessions and articles from wives who long for sex more than their husbands. But I rarely see features from husbands sharing their experience of being the lower desire spouse. Why don’t men admit when their sexual interest falls short of their wives’?
Let’s talk about some likely reasons why husband doesn’t confess his lower drive publicly.
He feels like a freak.
Higher drive wives (HDWs) have told me again and again that they feel like the odd one out—an anomaly. Given the messages they absorbed, from both secular and Christian sources, they presumed the natural state of things involved a rarin’-to-go husband and a lesser interested wife. Indeed, the conversations among women and men continue to support that scenario, as some husbands brag about all the sex they want and wives complain about all the sex their husbands want.
Why wouldn’t the husband feel like an anomaly as well? Surprised to discover he’s not as interested as she is. Questioning whether something’s wrong with him. Wondering if he’s the only one. After all, he’s heard all those messages too.
My first message to higher desire wives is always: You are not alone. And let me say the same to lower desire husbands (LDHs)! Not only are you not alone, you are 20–25% of husbands.
Does that seem high to you? It did to me too. But when I went digging into the research on this question, I very quickly discovered that 15% was a solid baseline, meaning LDH/HDW happened in at least 15% of marriages. However, the best studies I’ve seen place the likely range in that 20–25%, and some show up to 30%. This is also consistent with reports I’ve heard from marriage counselors and sex therapists.
Lower desire husbands are not freaks. They just have a different dynamic in their marriage. So if that’s you, remember that a bunch of those guys saying, “Oh yeah, I can’t wait to get my wife home!” are embellishing at best. Probably because they don’t want to feel like a freak either and don’t realize how frequent LDH/HDW occurs.
He feels like a failure.
Men don’t like to do things they aren’t good at.
You might say, “That describes women too!” and I agree that describes many women. But it seems especially true for men that they feel judged on their ability to accomplish things. This perspective begins way back in childhood, as noted by linguist Deborah Tannen:
For most women, the language of conversation is primarily a language of rapport: a way of establishing connections and negotiating relationships … For most men, talk is primarily a means to preserve independence and negotiate and maintain status in a hierarchical social order.Deborah Tannen, You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation
Boys try to one-up each other, showing that they’re capable and confident, even if they secretly don’t feel as capable and confident as they sound. But they want to feel like they’ve got this. They know what they’re doing and can do it well.
So what happens for that kind of man when he enters marriage and feels that he doesn’t satisfy his wife sexually? She wants sex more than he does and/or more than he feels he can perform. In some cases, that sexual desire gap makes a husband shut down even more. If he can’t be good at something, why bother?
Mind you, HDWs don’t feel this way. Sure, they’re disappointed by rejection and lack of physical intimacy, but they don’t see their husbands as sex failures. In fact, they’d give their guy an A+ for effort. That is, if a husband works with his wife to figure out how to address the interest gap and prioritize lovemaking that meets both of their desires, a wife is usually pretty happy.
You only really fail when you don’t try. Working through the gap may involve confusion, setbacks, and negative feelings along the way, but success follows trial-and-error, learning, and remembering that you’re on each other’s team. And intimacy with your wife is worth the effort!
He fears the feedback.
What will his friends think? Actually, a lower desire husband probably knows what other men would think about his wife wanting sex more than he does. I’ve received pushback from certain men ever since I wrote my first higher desire wife post over 10 years ago. I have to believe LDHs see and hear all this stuff too.
These aren’t exact quotes, but I can definitely summarize the kind of things said:
- “If he doesn’t want sex more than she does, there’s something wrong with him.”
- “I don’t believe that many guys like this exist. I’ve never heard about it!”
- “Why would any red-blooded man not want to have sex with his wife?”
- “Maybe he’s gay.”
- “I can’t even understand that.”
Given such responses, can you see why a husband wouldn’t want to volunteer his lower sex drive? He risks losing the respect of his peers, and some men would even take away his “man-card.” My own husband noted that for many “one sign of male virility is the strength of his sexual desire.” But masculinity is not defined by being more sexually driven than your wife!
To all of you who have said discouraging things about lower desire husbands, please, please stop. You likely didn’t mean to hurt others, but statements like these keep LDHs from acknowledging, discussing, and resolving the sexual interest gap.
And to you lower desire husbands, you know what gets my respect and the respect of many others? Speaking up in spite of the risk and showing that real men can and do have lower sexual interest their wives. That requires courage. You may find the feedback isn’t as big a deal as you expected. Plus, there’s strength in numbers. Another husband may step forward, relieved to find someone else who gets it.
He doesn’t know the fix.
My husband and I also have a different dynamic in our marriage when it comes to asking for road directions: He will ask right away, and I will drive an hour out of my way trying to figure it out myself. I recognize this is not a good approach, but I relate to you men who don’t want to admit you’re lost and believe you really can get there on your own! Also, plenty of y’all would rather watch 30 hours of YouTube videos on how to repair something than call someone else to do it, and you listen to nearly from every complaint the people in your life with the hope that you can provide the right answer to fix the problem.
But what if the problem is that you don’t want sex as much as she does? Do you know the fix? Do you know where to look for the fix? Is the fix even something you want to do?
Instead of admitting you don’t know what to do, you’d rather ignore the problem, hoping it will go away, or wander around with the silent prayer that you’ll figure it out eventually.
But what if the fix isn’t that difficult? What if I could tell you what’s going on and how to deal with it? Okay, I can’t exactly diagnose your situation, but I’ve learned a LOT about navigating the sexual interest gap, and there are answers. Some are rather simple, and others require more effort. They range from talking through issue with your wife, to figuring out what sparks your arousal, to improving your health, to quitting porn, and beyond. (I’ll cover more of that in a later post.)
But if you don’t admit you’re lost and seek directions, you may well end up with your marriage in a place where you don’t want to be. You don’t need to know the fix right now, just that there are fixes—or rather ways to pursue satisfying sexual intimacy in your marriage.
Giving you a list of ideas to follow-up on requires another post, which I will write later. BUT in the meantime, I do have a resource to recommend. It’s really for your wife, but since this live event for higher desire wives will be fully recorded to be watched (or rewatched) later, you may want to encourage your beloved bride to sign up! What she learns, she can share with you, and you can talk out the issues together.
Also, this should convince you that you’re far from the only one. And that couples can navigate this challenge together! (Believe me, I’m pulling for you.) Click the banner below to learn more!
RELATED POST: A Letter to the Low Drive Husband