Tag Archives: low sex drive

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.)

Ad for Pillow Talk: 40 Conversations About Sex for Married Couples

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?

Where Did Your Sexual Interest Go?

It’s a story I’ve heard plenty: Couple gets married, and after a short or long while, sexual interest for one or both spouses wanes.

What happened? Isn’t sex supposed to be wonderful and worth getting excited about? How can the shine wear off so quickly or so well?

As I’ve been perusing research articles I hung on to, with every intention of reading well before now, I came across an interesting study reported in the British Medical Journal. Conducted by the British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles team, 6,669 women and 4,839 men aged between 16 and 74 with at least one sexual partner in the past year reported their level of sexual interest and factors that affected their desire.

First off, a few caveats:

  • They’re British. You live where you live. Culture can affect our perspectives.
  • Some surveyed were married, some weren’t.
  • Some had a single partner, some didn’t.
  • The researchers spell behavior with a u, so what do they know? Just kidding!

Even so, the results align with a lot of what my readers and Facebook group participants have said, as well as other research in this area. Since it might hit you right where you’re struggling with sexual interest, let’s take a look at what the survey showed.

Most men and women are interested in sex.

Contrary to the oft-perpetuated line that husbands always want sex and wives don’t, this survey showed that a strong majority of both genders desire sex. Only 34% of women and 15% of men reported lacking interest in sex.

Now that does show that a higher percentage of women lack interest than men, but 15% of disinterested men is higher than many think and 66% of women (or 2/3) are on board with getting busy. It’s just not accurate to say that all men want sex all the time and women are the holdouts.

It's just not accurate to say that all men want sex all the time and women are the holdouts. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

These 4 factors lower interest for both men and women.

Researchers asked survey participants: “In the last year, have you experienced any of the following for a period of ≥3 months?” after which appeared a list of difficulties including “Lacked interest in having sex.” Among those who reported lack of interest, four factors were linked to this difficulty:

  • Poor mental and physical health
  • Having an STI in the last year
  • Ever experiencing sex against your will
  • Not feeling emotionally close to partner during sex

One can easily imagine why these factors would dampen a spouse’s desire to engage sexually.

For instance, when someone reports lack of drive, the first thing I typically recommend is visiting the doctor to make sure your physical health is not an impediment to sexual activity and enjoyment. Likewise, if you’re experiencing depression or stress, those can absolutely affect your desire.

Sexually transmitted infections can interfere with physical intimacy, not only in the usual way of making a couple take a break while things clear up. But STIs also increase worry and stress about flare-ups and giving the infection to your spouse.

Sexual assault is a heartbreaking experience, and its survivors can struggle with the trauma for years afterward. If you were molested, assaulted, or raped, please acknowledge the gravity of that event and seek trauma counseling. It’s important that you see someone trained and experienced in treating sexual trauma, so that they can provide quality assistance. If the rape occurred within your marriage, get help now.

As for emotional closeness, no one wants to be used. If you don’t feel that you’re valued beyond your body parts—even if it’s just during sex itself—then why would you want to keep going? As I’ve pointed out before, quite frankly you can get pleasure and sexual release on your own. But God designed sex to intimately connect husband and wife. (See What Are the Real Purposes of Sex?)

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These 3 factors lower interest only for women.

The study identified three factors linked to lack of interest in women only. And before you read on, I don’t like that the first one doesn’t impact sexual interest for men too. It honestly feeds into the “men are pigs” line that I’ve vehemently opposed for years! But results are results. And those three factors are:

  • Three or more partners in the past year
  • Children under 5 years old in the household
  • Not sharing the same sexual likes and dislikes as partner

So why does interest in sex lessen for women with multiple partners but not for men? The standard answer you might hear in the world is that men evolved to spread their seed to as many child-bearers as possible, while women evolved to attach themselves to a single man who would provide for her family. So multiple partners causes dissatisfaction for women but satisfaction for men. Or as I call that theory: blah blah blah.

Sorry, but I find that explanation uncompelling and inconsistent with God’s design for sex in marriage with a single man and a single woman. That’s what He created (see Genesis 1-2). But then what’s an alternative reason for this data?

I sense the issue is two-fold. First, women produce oxytocin during sex within the first sexual encounter with a man; however, men don’t get as big a wash of oxytocin unless/until they’re in a committed relationship. Look, even Sex and the City (a show I watched for like 10 minutes before I concluded it was preposterous) admits that while these women tried to “have sex like a man,” they couldn’t help but want more. Now, of course men want more too! But I’m just talking biology so far.

Second, men tend to compartmentalize better than women do. There’s a reason why Bill and Pam Farrell’s book title resonates with so many of us: Men are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti. Mark Gungor refers to these typical differences as men’s boxes and women’s ball of wire. But essentially men can have sex, drop that experience in a mental box, and move on in a way that women usually can’t.

Did God make it that way so men could have many sexual partners? Of course not. There are many benefits to having different yet complementary systems where one of you has a more pinpoint focus and the other takes in and processes more stimuli. Moreover, God clearly says, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Men are expected to leave and cleave!

Regardless, “three or more partners in the past year” should not be a situation in anyone’s marriage. If that factor is present, your problem is not a lack of interest in sex but not living according to God’s plan for your life.

As for the next factor, all of you moms nodded when you read “children under 5 years old in the household,” because while young kids can be absolutely delightful, they are also distracting, demanding, and exhausting. Those issues don’t tend affect men as much for various reasons—including the physical demands of pregnancy, childbirth recovery, and nursing; the percentage of moms who stay home with kids; division of labor within households; and women’s multi-tasking minds that make it hard to shut off the mom-ear and focus on lovemaking.

The third factor—not sharing the same sexual likes and dislikes as partner—is interesting. I have theories on that one, including:

Of course, it could be a combination of two or more of those. But from the comments and messages I’ve received, wives often feel obligated or pressured to do sexual activities they don’t want to do. Sometimes it’s the wives who need to learn more about God’s list of a-okays, and sometimes it’s the husbands who need to ask about and respect their wives’ wishes.

You can increase your sexual interest.

With few exceptions, your interest in sexual intimacy can increase by addressing or managing the factors mentioned here. Interestingly enough, while wives reported less interest in sex overall, they also reported being distressed about it. Plenty of spouses who don’t desire sex as much they used to, or as much as their partner does, want to want sex.

Plenty of spouses who don't desire sex as much they used to, or as much as their partner does, want to want sex. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

If you’re among those who has less interest in sex than you’d like, ask what your obstacles are. What needs your attention, and how can you take that first step?

If you’re married to someone whose interest has waned, or never been there, consider what your spouse’s obstacles are. How can you support them in addressing those issues?

And one last great finding I want to share: “Those who found it always easy to talk about sex with their partner were less likely to report lacking interest. This was true for men as well as women.” Yep, communication matters.

That’s why I wrote Pillow Talk, a book you should totally pick up and share with your spouse. It’s not just conversation starters, but so much more. It’s a discussion guide for you and your beloved to talk about the challenges to your sex life and the pursuit of deeper intimacy. (You can find a sample chapter here.)

Ad for Pillow Talk: 40 Conversations About Sex for Married Couples

Resources: BMJ – What factors are associated with reporting lacking interest in sex and how do these vary by gender? Findings from the third British national survey of sexual attitudes and lifestyles; downloadble PDF of study; The Hippocratic Post – Why we lose interest in sex

5 Ways to Unlock Your Libido with Bonny Burns

If you’ve listened to our (wonderful) podcast, Sex Chat for Christian Wives, you’ve heard my friend Bonny Burns giving fabulous tips to wives, especially those who struggle with lower sexual interest. Her blog, OysterBed7, is dedicated to helping these wives.

The following post was on my blog in 2015, but since it’s been a while, I thought it would a fabulous resource to bring out for my Saturday High Five series. Bonny covers five great ways to unlock your libido, or sexual interest.

I may not always have a zing running through my veins when my husband and I start to engage, but I always have a zing in my heart for connecting with him in a way that has ended up being meaningful for both of us!

Consistent, satisfying sexual intimacy is possible in spite of struggling with low physical sex drive.

After my husband and I had worked on our marriage and improved the frequency of our sexual relationship, I realized that I still had one challenge to address: my low libido.

I scoured ideas to help ramp up my physical sensation. There was a bit of success in the physical realm.

My biggest ah-ha moment was when I discovered low-libido wives can be high drive when desiring to emotionally and spiritually connect with their husband’s through sexual intimacy.

Low libido is not a permanent condition. If you are a low drive wife, there is much hope.

Here are five thoughts to help unlock your libido:

1. Embrace God’s view of sexual intimacy.

Bible verses I’d read about sinful sexual immorality leaked into my thoughts about marital sexuality. Sex within marriage isn’t dirty or wrong. Although slippery and messy at times, it’s perfectly God approved!

Satan likes to create a false notion that sex is all about the physical climax. Yes, orgasm is really really nice, but it is not the whole of sexual intimacy.

In my ice princess days, I only saw my husband’s pursuit of me as one-dimensional. All he wanted was a place for physical relief. God showed me that sexual intimacy is my husband’s most intimate conversation. Sexual intimacy seals an emotional and spiritual bond that was created by God for marriage.

Sexual intimacy seals an emotional and spiritual bond that was created by God for marriage. ~ Bonny Burns Click To Tweet

2. Pray

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6, NIV).

God truly cares for all areas of your life, especially your marital sexuality. Thriving sexual intimacy keeps many forms of temptation at bay for both of you.

God designed sex and it’s okay to pray about your marriage bed!

God designed sex and it’s okay to pray about your marriage bed! ~ Bonny Burns Click To Tweet

3. Expect God to show you things. 

I’m not discounting God’s abilities to perform miracles. However, I found that my low libido was a place where he was nurturing maturity. I couldn’t just wish for a little more oomph in the sexual craving department. I had to actively seek through prayer and action. I had to follow God’s lead when he showed me resources and tools. Expect God to show you things!

4. You are perfectly normal.

There’s nothing wrong with you if you are low drive! Yes, you may want to have a full physical work-up to check hormone levels and general health, but you are not tainted in some way or being punished for having a low drive.

Every marriage is different. Every season in marriage is different. Who knows? You may have an upcoming season of life where you and your spouse desire equally or you may even be the higher-drive spouse. 

Don’t compare your experience with anything you read or see (TV or movies). How lovemaking unfolds between you and your husband is going to be unique and normal for the two of you. Great moments in lovemaking can be quiet, calm or klutzy. The klutzy spells usually become priceless inside jokes with your husband. 

Check out Sex Chat for Christian Wives, Episode 25: Sex Is Funny.

5. Give yourself permission to be a sensual woman.

Open your heart to see that sexual intimacy is an asset to your marriage and to you personally, not just your husband.

Give yourself permission to BELIEVE your husband when he says you’re beautiful, in form and face.

Give yourself permission to let go of worries and just be in the moment, concentrating on the physical sensations of your husband’s touch.

Open your heart to the possibility of seeing yourself warm with desire as the Shulamite wife in the Song of Solomon. “….It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame” (Song of Solomon 8:6). Okay, a blazing fire might seem optimistic, but just open yourself up to a firm maybe.

Give yourself permission to be a sensual woman. It’s okay to look inside yourself and contemplate your physical, emotional and spiritual sensations. It’s okay to want to fire up the old cravings of first romance. It’s okay to have sexual feelings!

This doesn’t mean all of a sudden you’re installing a pole in your bedroom. This just means you are willing to have faith in God’s design. He designed marriage to include sexual intimacy. It’s how he made marriage different and more bonded than any other relationship on earth.

Final thoughts

You may think all problems in your marriage need to be fixed before you can even consider bolstering your sexual activities.

I used to think this way, too. However, that logic is wrong. You really can work on re-connecting through sexual intimacy as you work on other problems. I even think it helps the healing process. I’m here to attest that this is true.

Not all wives are the low-drive spouse. I think much of what is written here can be applied to the low-drive spouse, no matter which gender. Marriages I refer to here are generally good-willed. If there is any kind of abuse, please seek guidance through a Christian marriage counselor.

Would you like to read more ideas on how to Unlock Your Libido?

Although not a Bible study, Unlock Your Libido: 52-Week Sex Drive Transformation is an ebook based on scripture, a bit of science, and my own journey. It’s a simple method that may have profound results.

♥   ♥   ♥

Bonny Burns encourages the low-libido wife through a Christian lens at the oysterbed7.com blog. She writes gently and with a nurturing heart because sexual intimacy can be a raw topic for some. She knows all about this struggle from personal experience.

Bonny and her husband, Dave, raised three sons and have been married for more than three decades. When friends say they can’t imagine the two of them arguing, she snorts. Because, they’ve had some doozies and they were usually about sex. Her marriage story evolved and yours can too. Low libido and hard marriages do not have to be a permanent condition.

Q&A with J: How Can My Groom Turn His Sex Drive Back On?

Today’s question comes from two different readers who contacted me with similar situations. Both are newlywed wives who haven’t had the sexual intimacy they expected to have after they tied the knot. Here’s the first one:

It has been one month since we got married and we still haven’t had sex. He told me last night that he was nervous almost to the point of tears because we have always been taught not to have sex before marriage, and now it’s all of a sudden okay. He said it’s like a Wall is there that he can’t get through. What should we do? How do i help him? He feels bad because i want to and he can’t, and i feel bad because i don’t want him to feel pressured. I just don’t know what to do.

And the second:

I recently got married and waited until marriage. My now husband wasn’t a virgin before but waited with me. The sex has been less frequent and passionate than I had expected and last night he revealed to me that because he had to ”turn it off” for the last 2 years to stay strong for me that he has a hard time turning it back on. I feel really sad about it and kind of mad too. I’m trying to not take it personally but I never thought I’d have to ask for sex or even be turned down in the first month of marriage. I’m trying to be patient and pray about it. Any suggestions on what to do?

Blog post title + photo of bride & groom sitting on bed

There are differences, in that one groom has never had sex, while the other had it previously but waited with his bride until they got married. But both gentlemen are having a terrible time awakening their libido after keeping their sexual feelings in check for so long.

It’s admirable that they waited, just as we are commanded to do, but sometimes our message about premarital purity encourages people to simply repress their sexual feelings. Repression here is “a process by which unacceptable desires or impulses are excluded from consciousness and left to operate in the unconscious” (Merriam-Webster). Our libidos aren’t really gone, but we stamp them down so hard, it’s difficult for them to get back up when the right time arrives. (See also When Your Groom Is Anxious about Sex).

But I don’t see where the Bible teaches repression of our sexuality. Rather, we can acknowledge our sexuality and exert self-control: “Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled” (Titus 2:6). Look at Jacob, who worked for seven years to marry Rachel. He kept his behavior in check, but he didn’t deny what he eventually desired, even saying to his father-in-law at the end of those long years: “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her” (Genesis 29:21). Can’t get much clearer than that.

Even 1 Corinthians 7:9 says to singles: “But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” In other words, control your sexual desires outside of marriage, and if you can’t do that, get hitched. It’s a nod that God made us as sexual beings, a fact we cannot and should not ignore.

God made us as sexual beings, a fact we cannot and should not ignore. Click To Tweet

Teaching repression of our sexuality can result in situations like these where it’s hard to turn your libido back on, even when you’re in the right framework for sexual intimacy (marriage).

But to the question: How can you awaken his libido after it’s lain dormant for a while? How can he get past that hump of repressing his sexuality?

Give yourselves grace.

It stinks not to get to make love on your wedding night. Many couples look forward to that experience. But plenty of couples actually don’t have sex right away, due to physical issues, time constraints, or even Aunt Flo visiting at the most inopportune time. But one of the perks of sex in marriage is you have a lifetime to get to know one another physically and experience all kinds of sexual pleasure and intimacy.

Let’s imagine that you make love once a week (it should be more, but go with me here), and you’re married for forty years (more than reasonable, given the average age of marriage and life span in the U.S.). At that rate, you’ll have sex 2,080 times. Two thousand eighty times. So even if you miss out some at the beginning, you’ve got plenty of time to figure this out and still have lots and lots of sex. Point being: Relax. Give yourselves some grace and time to work things out.

Talk about the baggage.

We all bring baggage into our marriages—some toting in a toiletries bag of issues and others dragging a massive trunk behind them. But make no mistake: We’ve all absorbed bad ideas about sexual intimacy. Erroneous messages surround us, both in the secular world and, sadly, the Church. All kinds of messages soak in, and we can find them hard to shake once married.

So talk about it with each other. Be honest about your expectations and concerns, and then listen to his. Let him know that whatever he says, you won’t judge it harshly. Once you’ve admitted what’s going on, challenge each of your internal beliefs and see which ones hold up to God’s Word. For example:

  • “Sex is dirty.” No, sex can be twisted and misused, but sex itself was created by God and “everything God created is good” (1 Timothy 4:4).
  • “Enjoying sex too much is ‘indulging the flesh.'” No, that’s not what “the flesh” means. Rather, Galatians 5:19-21 says, “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” Those are all sins, but sex with your wife is not a sin and thus not on the list.
  • “Men are supposed to have the higher libido.” No, you can’t find that in the Bible either. Read through Song of Songs, and you’ll see that sexual feelings abound in both husband and wife. Sometimes one more than the other, but it shifts from her to him, him to her.

Bringing your anxiety from the subconscious to the conscious level and then challenging those beliefs can help you work through the barriers preventing you from experiencing sexual intimacy.

Focus on romance and foreplay.

In three different places, Song of Songs says, “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” (2:7, 3:5, 8:4). That presumes that you can arouse or awaken love when it’s time—that is, in marriage.

Focus on that word arouse, and make that your goal for now. Not orgasm, not penetration, not even erection necessarily, but arousing the sensations that eventually lead to all of those things. I firmly believe that couples don’t spend enough time exploring one another’s bodies and discovering what arouses them. But the knowledge you gain through this process will be beneficial throughout your marriage.

Get a great book with ideas on what to do, so you can try out different activities. You know, like this one, which I highly recommend:

Click to buy or find out more!

Take the pressure off, and give yourselves, and especially him, permission to enjoy touch, exploration, and romance. Let your husband know that he doesn’t have to “perform”—that this can be an opportunity to get to know one another and experience pleasurable feelings.

Use self-talk and encouragement.

When dealing with high anxiety or fear, psychologists often prescribe systematic desensitization. You can find many resources on how to apply this procedure, but it’s gradually exposing yourself to the anxiety-inducing stimuli and introducing a relaxation response at each stage. This principle works with sexual anxiety as well.

Let’s say you’re going through the foreplay mentioned above, and your husband becomes tense. You two can pause, and he can remind himself that sex is a gift from God, meant to provide intimacy in his marriage. You can encourage him as well, helping him relax. You two could even stop to pray for God’s comfort and courage to continue. When the tension has released enough—it may not release completely—you can get back into your groove.

Using desensitization techniques, he can likely progress a little farther each time, until intercourse is possible…and enjoyable. Another way to think of this is baby steps. Nothing says you must leap into intercourse on your wedding night, but marriage is the time when you get to build all kind of intimacy, including physical intimacy. Be willing to build slow, feeling good about each stage of progress.

If problems persist, see a doctor and/or a counselor. There’s nothing wrong with this taking some time, but you do want to be moving in the right direction—toward God-honoring, mutually satisfying sexual intimacy in your marriage.

Q&A with J: “A Sexual Stimulant for Women?”

Today’s question is an interesting one, from a husband wanting to help his wife’s sexual desire:

So I hate to ask this as I can see [there] being conflicting opinions on the subject but, do they make a sexual stimulant for women? As well as you know they have been making them for years for the guys but I can’t find anything that looks reliable for the woman’s side of things. My wife and I have talked about this off and on for some time and she is willing to try almost anything to help her with her almost non existent drive in the bedroom.

I write about sex drive differences, but honestly there are resources more dedicated to low libido in wives than I am. Here are just three you could take a look at:

Image result for amazon.com unlock your libido

Bonny’s OysterBed7.

Given the question, I think Bonny’s site is a particularly good resource, because she addresses the science of sex and low libido. Bonny does a great job of giving emotional encouragement, practical tips, and covers studies that show which substances do work or don’t work in lifting your libido. She also has a great book titled Unlock Your Libido: 52-Week Sex Drive Transformation. She’s also one of my podcast partners, and she brings her science knowledge to our Sex Chat for Christian Wives.

Boost Your Libido course.

Sheila Gregoire of To Love, Honor, and Vacuum has a wonderful online course for low-libido wives that walks them through reasons they might not be “feeling it” and what to do about it. She doesn’t talk supplements so much as tips, but they are helpful and might indeed boost your wife’s libido. Click below to find out more.

Dr. Oz’s List.

Confession: I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Dr. Oz. I think some of his advice is really good, and some of it is, well, opportunistic. But I found this article on his website with natural substances he suggests could boost female libido. Do they work? I’m skeptical how much of this stuff you’d have to actually eat/take to get results enough to notice a difference. But then again, why wouldn’t you just try and see for yourself? Especially when the prescribed substances include innocuous things like pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and chocolate-covered strawberries.

In addition to these resources, I suggest your wife see a doctor and get tested for hormone levels as well as deficiencies that can cause fatigue and low response, like low thyroid and anemia. Tell the doctor what exactly is happening, so she’ll know what to look for. It’s certainly possible that her physiology makes it difficult for your wife to feel desire.

But also remember that many women don’t experience a sex drive the way it’s been primarily described — as a desire for sex followed by engagement. Instead, many wives have a libido that is responsive, in that the drive is there after engagement in affection, foreplay, and sexual activity begin. There’s nothing wrong with having a responsive drive; it’s the way many of us were created. What matters instead is whether she can get into the sexual experience at all.

As for an actual sex stimulant for women? Nope, I don’t really know of anything I’d recommend. There are some shysters who will sell you something that claims to fire up a woman’s libido, but they’re not a magic pill. Stay away from anything that sounds too good to be true, because it probably is.

Like or not, sexual desire can be a delicate dance for many women. So just be patient, investigative, and willing to try various thing to see what works. I wish you all the best!