Category Archives: Higher Drive Wives

How the Sexually Disinterested Spouse Feels

Earlier this week, I shared responses from higher-drive wives asked what they feel about the lack of frequency and/or quality of sex in their marriage. Today, I want to share their responses to a different question.

76 Responses

From a research standpoint, these answers aren’t as useful, because they involve conjecture. While we can express what we’re feeling, it’s more difficult to know what someone else is feeling — unless they tell you.

Even so, the responses are eye-opening and likely accurate. They represent what I’ve researched and heard from sexually disinterested spouses.

Take the vow

Once again, let’s make a promise that:

I will not use this post to feed my resentment or anger, but rather to grieve through my own situation and sympathize with others. Moreover, I will not use this post to challenge or berate my spouse.

I’m sharing all this, in hopes that we will recognize how a big gap in sex drive can take an emotional toll on both the higher drive spouse and the sexually disinterested spouse. Indeed, a mismatch in drives is the #1 sexual problem reported by couples.

A mismatch in drives is the #1 sexual problem reported by couples. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

That gap isn’t a problem if you can negotiate the differences, use the opportunity to display empathy and generosity toward one another, and pursue regular sexual intimacy for your marriage. It may be that one of you gets less than their ideal and the other participates more than their ideal, but couples who’ve worked through the mismatch report overall satisfaction with their sex life.

Where it becomes a problem is when the gap is enough that one feels deprived and the other feels pressured or inadequate, two words that show up in the 45 emotions my respondents named.

Without further ado…

Here’s the list

Question: What primary emotion do you believe your HUSBAND feels knowing that you want higher frequency/quality of sex than he is currently giving?

Accepting

Annoyed

Apathetic

Apologetic

Avoidant

Awkward

Broken

Burdened

Clueless

Disappointed

Discouraged

Emasculated

Empathetic (some)

Exhausted

Failure (like a failure)

Fearful

Frustrated

Guilty

Inadequate

Incompetent

Incredulous

Indifferent

Insecure

Insufficient

Irritated

Justified

Lacking self-confidence

Lost

Moody

Obligated

Oblivious

Overwhelmed

Pitiful

Pressured

Pushed away

Remorseful

Resentful

Resigned

Sad

Shamed

Sorry

Stressed

Tainted (by porn use)

Tested

Unsure

By and large, the most common statement from these higher drives wives was something like “he feels like less of a man.” The emotion named was emasculated. (See A Letter to the Low Drive Husband.)

That’s not what you’d hear about sexually disinterested wives, but the other emotions listed above apply — like burdened, obligated, resentful, and sad.

But aren’t sexually disinterested spouses obligated?

Sometimes a husband or wife (usually husband) writes me with the request that I demand their spouse have sex with them. Because after all, “they’re commanded to do so in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5.” I then point out that this passage is about mutuality not selfishness, that their situation is not easy on their spouse either (see emotions list!), and that you get a lot more lovin’ when you approach your spouse with love! Agape love specifically.

We need to put ourselves in the other’s shoes and imagine the situation from that angle.

  • What if having sex made you feel desirable and cherished, but your spouse refused to have it with you?
  • What if you received little pleasure from sex, but your spouse demanded it regularly?
  • What if you became moody and sad during sexual dry spells in your marriage?
  • What if your spouse seemed to only meet your emotional needs when they wanted sex?
  • What if you felt your spouse’s lack of desire indicated that you were “less than” —less than attractive, less than worthy, less than loved?
  • What if you didn’t want sex because of your bad past experiences, but you didn’t know how to tell your spouse?
  • What if…

I don’t know your marriage’s “what if,” but all too often we don’t know for our marriage. We haven’t asked how our spouse feels about the situation. Or we asked, got a shallow answer, and stopped pursuing more. Or we got an answer but didn’t like the answer or didn’t let sink in and elicit empathy.

What’s the solution?

Here’s where my SEO and book sales would go up if I said: YOU CAN SOLVE THE SEXUAL DESIRE GAP IN YOUR MARRIAGE WITH THESE 5 EASY STEPS! And then I outlined the steps and made them sound quick and doable like a Lose 10 Pounds in 10 Days commercial. Fortunately — or unfortunately for my pocketbook — I’m much more interested in telling you the truth.

The truth is that the solution depends on:

Your specific situation

Is the sexual disinterest due to relational problems? Medical issues? Past abuse? Something else? Is the HD spouse reasonable in their expectations? Pressuring for unwanted activities? Using porn? Something else?

The specifics of why there’s such a big gap matter. A proper diagnosis is needed for proper treatment.

Your and your spouse’s willingness

One spouse can have great influence and encouragement for a marriage to get on track. But eventually, you both have to be willing to work on your sexual intimacy.

You simply cannot make your spouse do something they don’t want to do. (If you do, that’s called abuse, by the way.) That said, you making changes could push things in the right direction.

Your understanding of God’s design

If you believe myths about sex, you’ll prescribe the wrong solutions and not get anywhere. Or your gains will be short-lived. (See our podcast episodes on Lies Women Believe: Part 1 and Part 2, Myths from Pop Culture.)

With the foundation of the Word of God and the truths about sex as God intended it, however, you can begin to see what a loving response would be to your particular situation. Moreover, you’ll know what you’re aiming for and the benefits of having that level of intimacy with your spouse.

Your resources

Access to necessary or useful resources can make a big difference. For instance, if a sexually disinterested spouse experienced childhood abuse, being able to see a trauma counselor could be the most important piece for building fresh intimacy. Likewise for porn recovery programs, Christian counseling or sex therapy, or a medical specialist to address physical issues.

Many couples don’t require that level of intervention. Rather, they need resources like mine, that help you understand God’s design, communicate more effectively, and experience greater pleasure in your marriage bed. Or they can use my resources to supplement those other interventions.

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For more great tips on how to have sizzling sex, check out this book for wives!

Take the first step

Regardless, the first step is talking to your spouse about the gap in sexual desire. For those who say they’ve talked about it a whole lot already, I suggest you clear the air and start over. That is, tell your spouse you know it’s been a point of contention and the topic makes both of you tense, but you want to start over and really understand their viewpoint better.

And then … do that. Ask questions and spend more time listening than talking. My book, Pillow Talk, can help with that, but you may need to introduce the conversation on your own before getting your spouse on board with going through my (fabulous) book. (You can download a sample here to see and share with your spouse what it’s like.)

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Now that I think about it, maybe your first step should be prayer, followed by opening up that conversation. As I write this, I’m saying a prayer for you — that you can address the big gap in desire in marriage, listen and show empathy, and figure out what the next step should be.

And I pray that that many more couples will begin to describe their sexual gap with emotions like optimistic, hopeful, contented, and loved.

As the sexually disinterested spouse, did you relate to any of this list of emotions? If you’re the higher drive spouse, did any of those emotions surprise you?

How the Sexually Rejected Spouse Feels

Not long ago, I posed a simple question in my higher drive wife group.

Over 100 Responses

The 111 answers I received reveal a lot about how a spouse regularly rejected in marriage feels.

Of course we’re not talking about the occasional no or not-now answers that are entirely reasonable within the course of a marriage! Rather, these are emotions experienced by spouses who see a pattern of sexual refusal or disinterest from their spouse.

Instead of writing a lot about their responses, I simply want to share the list of emotions, in hopes that:

  1. Frustrated, higher drive spouses will recognize they are not alone.
  2. Refusing or gatekeeping spouses (not just lower drive, which is normal) can see how emotional sex is for the HD spouse.

Related posts: Is Sex Disconnected from Love for Men?, Do You Personalize Sexual Rejection?

Take the Vow

One caveat, though: We higher drive spouses will now raise our hands and promise the following:

I will not use this post to feed my resentment or anger, but rather to grieve through my own situation and sympathize with others. Moreover, I will not use this post to challenge or berate my spouse for not giving me sex.

Later this week, I will share what those same HD wives believe their LD husbands feel about their situation. Because a big gap in sex drives affects both spouses emotionally. And it’s important to also consider the feelings our spouse is experiencing.

A big gap in sex drives affects both spouses emotionally. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet
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Here’s the List

Question: What primary emotion do you feel as a result of not getting the frequency and/or quality of sex you desire in your marriage?

Adrift

Alone

Angry

Anxious

Apathetic

Ashamed

Betrayed

Bitter

Brokenhearted

Bummed

Cold

Dead inside

Depressed

Desperate

Devastated

Disappointed

Disconnected

Embarrassed

Empty

Fearful

Frustrated

Glum

Grieved

Heartbroken

Helpless

Hopeless

Hurt

Inadequate

Irrelevant

Irritable

Isolated

Jealous (of others)

Lacking confidence

Lonely

Misunderstood

Naïve

Needy

Neglected

Numb

Overbearing

Oversensitive

Pushy

Replaced

Resentful

Resigned

Robbed

Sad

Self-deprecating

Self-doubtful

Selfish

Tearful

Trapped

Ugly

Unaccepted

Undesirable

Undesired

Unimportant

Unloved

Unwanted

Unworthy

Weird

Worried

Don’t Give Up

Those are heavy words to process. But I want to leave off with the encouragement that many couples who’ve been in this place found their way up and out. We hear success stories in that higher drive wife group too, as sexual intimacy in marriages begins to improve with love, intentionality, prayer, and perseverance. The road isn’t always easy, but it’s a path worth taking.

As the higher drive spouse, do you relate to any of these emotions? If you’ve been a reluctant sexual partner in your marriage, did any of these emotions surprise you?

Q&A with J: Should A Higher Drive Spouse Lower Their Expectations?

Today’s question comes from a lower-drive husband (yes, there are many of them!). The husband started his email saying that his wife could have sex almost daily, while he’s fine with once a week or so. They’ve settled on 2-3 times a week, but their mismatch in drives still seems to be a point of contention.

Here’s his question for me:

I’ve been reading through all your posts about high-drive wives, trying to seriously take to heart any advice you have for husbands like myself. I am committed to trying to make things work ….

Your recommendations seem to be that the husband such as myself needs to see her needs and step up my game, and that the wife shouldn’t be ashamed of her desires and needs. Yes, I do see you talk about both spouses trying to meet the other where they are, and find a happy medium where both are satisfied, but that usually appears to be more in the context of significantly differing libidos like 4 times a year versus wanting sex every day. In our case, yes there’s a difference in drive, but it’s not that drastic, and we still have regular, not infrequent sex.

So I guess my question is this—from your perspective, am I in the wrong, or do we need to talk about the possibility of my wife lowering her expectations in regard to frequency? I just feel stuck.

Let’s start here with an important principle: Sex should be mutual in marriage. It should be mutually prioritized, mutually agreed upon, mutually pleasurable, and mutually satisfying. That’s how God designed it, and if any one of those is an issue, the couple should address it.

(If you want specific text proof, head over to 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, which I’ve cited numerous times. And that passage is less about rights than mutuality, by the way. Also, all of Song of Songs.)

But in practice, most marriages have one spouse who wants sex more than the other. Here, it’s a wife, which is more common than many think with 15-30% of marriages having a HD (higher drive) wife. Whoever is higher or lower, though, there will inevitably be times when one spouse wants sex and the other not as much. How do you negotiate that?

Let’s look at some commonly recommended options.

Never Say No?

This advice has been given to wives for I don’t know how long. But usually some well-meaning older lady tells a young fiancee or wife that to keep her husband happy, she should never say no to sex. Meaning whenever the HD spouse wants it—in this case, the man—they get it.

That could mean sex once a week. It could mean sex every day. But whatever the HD spouse desires, that’s what sets the pace of sexual frequency for the marriage.

This approach at least denies the legitimate reasons to say no to sex sometimes. If you don’t feel well, if you need to care for the children at that moment, if you simply can’t see straight because of how tired you are, it should be perfectly fine to take a rain check. Also, “I’d really rather try this tomorrow when I’m more refreshed” is a perfectly reasonable answer.

Saying otherwise makes it seem like one missed chance will sink the whole sex life. But our sexual intimacy is made up of numerous moments within marriage, and sometimes intimacy is even increased by a spouse understanding the other’s current reluctance and passing on a sexual encounter.

So yeah, you should be able to say no sometimes. That’s not depriving your spouse; it’s saying “not now.” Your feelings and desires matter too.

Only when you’re “in the mood”?

On the other hand, plenty say you should never be asked to participate in sex unless and until you are “in the mood.” If you don’t feel like it, you have carte blanche to wave it away without a worry. It’s your right to say no, and say no you will.

Take that viewpoint out of the sex arena for a moment and ask when this is ever a good idea. Your wife wants conversation, but you refuse to talk to her unless you feel the need yourself to discuss something. Your husband wants to save money for a trip, but you spend like a Kardashian until you suddenly feel like shoving a few dollars into the kitty. You both want to move to a house, but you don’t agree where, so you stay in your crappy apartment until one of you feels inspired to surrender. Does that sound like a good marriage?

Look, we do owe something to each other by virtue of saying “I do,” and that includes trying to meet one another’s emotional needs. Since sex is important not primarily as a physical release but as an emotional connection, it should be pursued regularly and generously.

Moreover, we should understand that “sex drive” sounds like your engine is revving before you put it into gear, but that’s not how libido works for many. Some have what has been phrased a “responsive” libido, meaning that you don’t get into it until you’re into it. That is, you can become aroused and enjoy lovemaking, but your desire begins with a decision to engage. Your sexual interest looks like this:

Which means you aren’t going to be “in the mood” until that second stage when your body awakens to arousal and begins to enjoy the experience. Once you know this about your desire, you might be willing to engage more than you originally thought.

Right Down the Middle?

Hopefully, we’ve established that it’s okay to say no, but it’s also good to say yes sometimes when you don’t think you’re in the mood, because you might get in the mood. But this husband asks specifically about frequency, and that’s an overall view of how much sex you should be having in your marriage.

Let’s say she wants sex four times a week, and he wants sex twice a week. Well, the obvious answer is to have sex three times a week, right? It’s a number right down the middle, so everyone should be reasonably happy. That’s a good solution, if you ask me (which you did).

But what if she wants sex four times a week, and he wants it once every three months? That’s a difference of 17 times versus 1, and the middle ground would be 9, or sex every 10 days. Do we think she’s going to feel satisfied with that? Do we even think sex every 10 days is enough in marriage?

Both the Bible and research would say no. To receive the intimacy and health benefits of sex, a couple should be engaging at least once a week.

To receive the intimacy and health benefits of sex, a couple should be engaging at least once a week. #marriage @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Now in reality, if a spouse only wants sex once every three months, or even once a month, there’s an issue that needs to be addressed. That’s not typical or good for your marriage, and whatever obstacle is in the way of sexual desire or satisfaction needs to be tackled together.

But you can see how a strict middle-ground approach may not work for all couples either.

Who Gets to Decide?

Having covered some common advice on this topic, let’s get back to the question itself: “From your perspective, am I in the wrong, or do we need to talk about the possibility of my wife lowering her expectations in regard to frequency?” In this scenario, their difference is small, and they’re having regular sex, but she’s still pushing for more.

Should he come up to her expectations? Or should she lower them?

As the higher drive spouse in my marriage, I can honestly say that I’ve lowered my expectations. If I was completely in charge, we’d have sex more often than we do. But I’m not unsatisfied because we also have sex more than we would if my husband was entirely in charge.

Did we negotiate out a specific number of times? Nope. We just discussed what we each wanted, what saying yes or no means to us, and what challenges we had to engaging more frequently. It wasn’t a single conversation either, and I’m not going to pretend that each of those conversations was conflict-free. But we kept communicating, kept making love, kept working on our parts of the equation.

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Indeed, our frequency went up a few months ago, and I mentioned to my husband that his sex drive had apparently increased. His response? “It hasn’t gone up. I’ve just been initiating more because I know what it means to you.” Swoon, right?

What Does Love Do?

When it comes to negotiating sex drive differences, ask this question: What does love do?

When it comes to negotiating sex drive differences, ask this question: What does love do? @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

And not love as in “ooh, I feel heat in my nether regions when you come near!” I’m talking about agape love as described in the Bible:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

What does that look like in practice when it comes to mismatched drives? Well, the HD spouse isn’t self-seeking their own perfect number of times to have sex, easily angered by missed opportunities, or keeping record of all the times they didn’t get any. Instead, they’re patient, kind, protective, hopeful, persevering.

Likewise, the LD spouse isn’t self-seeking their own perfect number of times to have sex, easily angered by their spouse’s higher drive, or dishonoring of their beloved’s emotional need. Instead, they’re kind, joyful, trusting, and hopeful.

Honestly, a lot of advice I’ve given to HD and LD spouses pressuring for what they want in marriage could be summed up like this: HDs, back off. LDs, step up. And that’s really what I’d say to this couple. Yeah, she should lower her expectations a little, especially since he’s stepped up more. Though it’s probably a topic that will continue to be discussed and negotiated through various seasons of their life.

But ultimately, my answer is a question: What does love do? Once you define that, you can figure out how to address the mismatched drives in your marriage.

Extra Hot, Holy & Humorous

Once again, I’m sharing a few other places where you can find me sharing about God’s design for sex in marriage! I hope you’ll check these out.

Sex Chat for Christian Wives

On our latest podcast episode on Sex Chat for Christian Wives, we discussed female sexual health. Yep, that’s right—we gals need to take care of the lady bits, and we candidly talk about why and how.

Click below to listen and see show notes too!

To Love Honor and Vacuum

A little while back, Sheila Wray Gregoire contacted me and several other female marriage bloggers about putting together a collaborative post on what male teachers about sex need to know—as in things that often aren’t covered as well as they should be. I jumped at the chance to include my thoughts on higher drive wives.

Click below to read the post that appeared last week!

Rolling Stone

This one is not new, but I’ve been trying to catch up and clear out my email inbox and came across this link again. And you know what? Regardless of anything else that ever happens or doesn’t happen in my life, I can always say that I was quoted in Rolling Stone! Not on my thoughts on rock-and-roll, though I suppose one could refer to sex as rocking and rolling. 😉

May your weekend be extra hot, holy & humorous! Thanks for reading and subscribing.

High-Drive Wives Are Not Crockpots

Have you heard the saying that, when it comes to sexual intimacy, “Men are microwaves, women are crockpots”?

The message is that men heat up quickly, while women take longer to warm up and reach readiness. Now some have argued this is a poor analogy since it assumes the woman will heat up, which isn’t always true for low-drive wives.

But it also misses the high-drive wives by a mile. Thankfully, we have a new appliance that captures the high-drive wife perfectly!

Sketch of a crockpot with blog post title

In fact, I discovered this quite by accident. I recently established a closed Facebook community for higher-drive wives, and as I was going through requests (yes, I’m behind), a number of them were also part of a Facebook group called the Instant Pot®­ Community.

If you haven’t heard of an Instant Pot, first of all, where have you been? Secondly, it’s much like a slow cooker in shape and plug-in, but it performs several tasks—among them, warming, sautéing, slow cooking,  and pressure cooking. That’s it—the perfect metaphor for the high-drive wife!

She has higher sexual interest than her husband, but she still has sexual responses typical to a woman. It’s not that every single second she’s zapping with sexual energy. Rather, she goes through all of these.

Warming.

Sometimes the sexual interest of a high-drive (HD) wife is simply on warm. She’s not heated up and “ready to serve,” but rather she’s resting in that state of could be interested. For most higher-drive spouses, the sexual interest is rarely gone, but rather it hums in the background.

For most higher-drive spouses, the sexual interest is rarely gone, but rather it hums in the background. Click To Tweet

It’s warm, but not eager. Ready, but not antsy. There, but not prominent.

Slow Cooking.

Even if she started out warm, sometimes an HD wife still needs to be “slow-cooked” in the bedroom. That is, having higher sexual interest does not mean her body necessarily cooperates with where her mind and desire are.

Many wives have more reactive than proactive sexual responses. That is, when the sexual cycle was originally proposed, it considered the male experience:

Desire → arousal → plateau → orgasm → resolution

But for many women, things can be less straightforward. For instance, this isn’t an unusual experience for wives:

Desire → arousal → arousal → arousal → plateau → orgasm → plateau → orgasm → resolution

As you can imagine, it can take longer for the wife to get there than the husband. Even if she started out with more sexual desire than he had. It’s often a good idea for husbands to slow down the arousal phase, even if she’s generally excited about making love.

Steaming.

An HD wife knows what being “steamy” feels like. Sexual awareness hangs over her like late-summer humidity by a Louisiana swamp. Sights and sounds and smells of her husband can trigger desire and even arousal.

These moments might coincide with hormonal peaks in her cycle, but that’s not necessary. The warmth she typically feels has risen to full-on heat, and she can be ready to initiate or respond in the same 5-7 minutes it takes to steam broccoli.

Sautéing.

Sautéing takes about the same amount of time as steaming, but it places the food closer to the heat and adds a little oil. While I’m sure I could draw some analogy from the inclusion of oil (oh, the possibilities…), I’m going to bypass that one and stick with the heat.

But this is when HD wives are very likely to initiate. They feel heated up, eager to make love, and want to sizzle in the marriage bed. Eagerness and excitement underlies sexual interest, and arousal is right behind or even taking the lead.

Pressure Cooking.

Slow cooking pinto beans takes about five hours, while pressure cooking them takes about 25 minutes. How does pressure cooking work? It keeps water and steam consistently above a boiling point, substantially shortening cook times.

Likewise, HD wives can reach the pressure cooker point when it’s been a while between sexual encounters. The steam and heat have built up, and they long for a release. This isn’t to say that lovemaking is merely physical for them, but oftentimes the longer a higher-drive spouse goes without sexual contact, the more they experience a physical urge. There’s an intensity and urgency to their sexual desire.

Now I recognize you all can tear apart my analogies if you feel so inclined, but the main points I want to make in this post are:

  1. HD wives (of which they are many) often do not fit neatly into certain stereotypes about female sexual desire.
  2. HD wives often do fit into other stereotypes about female sexual response.
  3. HD wives have varied responses, just like those multicookers we call Instant Pots.®

Does that make HD wives complicated? I suppose. But then aren’t all women a bit complicated? If you didn’t want complication, hubbies reading this, you should have gotten a dog. Mind you, it won’t care for you when you’re sick, you’ll have to pick up its poop, and you definitely aren’t getting sexual intimacy, but Fido will be easier to figure out.

Frankly, most husbands think the puzzle of their wives is worth it. Especially when you both enjoy all kinds of intimacy in marriage.

For more on HD wives, check out the following posts:

I Am the Higher Drive Spouse (or Yes, Rejection Hurts)
Confessions of a Higher-Drive Spouse
A Letter to the Low Drive Husband
3 Things Higher-Drive Spouses Long For

For those wives who are lower drive, please don’t feel that HD wives have it easy. Every marriage has a lower drive and a higher drive spouse, and the couple has to work through that. And if you’re really struggling, please check out Sheila Gregoire’s Boost Your Libido course and/or Bonny Burns’s Unlock Your Libido book.

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