People have different sex drives; it’s just a fact of life. Not everyone has an engine that’s revving to go all of the time. I found this out when I met my wife. I’d dated other women of course, but we were in college when hormones seem to abound and everyone is pretty much ready to hop into bed. It was after I met my wife and we had been together for a little while that I began to notice that our sex drives didn’t match up as much as I might have liked them to. At first it wasn’t a big deal. We were still making love several times a week and overall I was very happy. But over time it seemed that my wife’s sex drive kept decreasing while mine stayed high. It became a sticking point in our relationship and something that was one of those things that is always in the background. My wife felt incredible guilt about not feeling as “in the mood” as she should be which seemed to only compound the problem. Meanwhile I was both sexually frustrated and feeling guilty for seeming to put this pressure on my wife.
It was during one of these times where we were so off sync with our sexual drives that I began to analyze our sexual patterns and what worked and when. My wife works in education and I noticed that during certain times of the year she would totally be ambivalent about sex. These times always matched up with high stress times with her work. I also noticed that she was more affectionate and amorous during school breaks and holidays when there was no pressure coming from work. I had a bit of a light bulb clicking on moment then and investigated further. I also noted (I wrote all this down on a legal pad; I was serious about figuring it out!) that when the house was a mess or there was a lot to be done around the house that her drive decreased. So I set about trying to make subtle changes to help her during the stressful times to see if things changed.
I’ve always tried to help out around the house and do my fair share, but I started trying to do more and anticipate when things were going to come up. We’re having guests over next week, let me go ahead and wash the guest sheets so she’s not stressed about that later. Over time I saw a little shift in her demeanor and her sex drive increased, but we were still way off. And she still felt guilty. I tried to do more helping her with her job but it only made a small difference. I started to get frustrated again as well and things went from bad to worse.
Then one night we were having sex and something happened. I can’t actually remember what was said at first but I’m assuming it’s me because my wife got very upset. The intimate affair was over for the moment and we laid there in bed, next to each other. In times past one or both of us would have our feelings hurt and we’d refuse to talk about it, which would only make things worse. But not on this night. I decided to broach the unspeakable subject. I asked what was wrong with us and this began a very long conversation. My wife confirmed my feelings about how stress affects her sex drive. She mentioned that she had noticed me doing other things and was grateful but still felt pressure because she thought I was doing it solely to help get her in the mood. I explained that was part of my plan for sure but it wasn’t the only reason I was trying to help out more.
She also talked about her sex drive, something she rarely mentioned. I was almost always the initiator and I honestly wondered if my wife enjoyed sex, even though she had orgasms when we were intimate. She explained how most of the time she just hadn’t allowed herself to think about sex. Like a lot of people it stemmed from her childhood and her religious upbringing where sex was never talked about, or when it was it was only in hushed tones. Sex had been made to feel dirty and she had a hard time getting past that. She’d also found her partners to be somewhat forceful, not in a bad way, but expressing what they liked and wanted. Since she had all of this guilt tied up in thoughts about sex she never really thought about what she wanted from sex. So we talked about what she might want and have begun to explore in that way.
We also talked about how I still had a higher sex drive than she probably ever would. We agreed on a compromise. On nights when she didn’t feel like having sex but I was going nuts she would either watch me masturbate or help give me a hand job. We began to refer to that as “medicinal sex” because it helped clear my mind and it didn’t feel like pressure on her to have to perform. But what is funny is that her sex drive has increased greatly in the past few months with her giving herself the freedom to think about what she wants from sex. And amazingly it’s pretty similar to what I want. Our frequency has increased, but our quality has as well, which is amazing. By giving herself this freedom she seems to be letting go and enjoying sex more than she has in the decade we’ve been together.
So my advice to those of you who have a different sex drive to your partner? Talk to them. Not after a horrible sexual experience or after they’ve said they have a headache tonight, but at a time when sex isn’t really on the table. Bring it up in a nonthreatening way and see what their thoughts are. Maybe they’re repressing something, maybe it’s something in your relationship, and maybe they just aren’t as into sex as you are. But by opening a dialog you are going to figure out what it is and hopefully find a solution that will work for both of you. It won’t be the easiest conversation you’ll ever have, but it can be one that can help you immensely. Good luck.