Ever feel like your sex drives never match up–like your libidos are just never in sync?
On Wednesdays this month we’re looking at practical help for improving your sex life, and today I thought I’d turn to libido issues. Libido is something that I’ve written a LOT about, because it does seem to be the #1 frustration in people’s sex lives. Someone always seems to want sex more than their spouse, and it puts a damper on everything.
But here a woman is writing that sometimes their libidos switch–sometimes she’s the one with a high sex drive, and sometimes he’s the one with the high sex drive. And it never seems to be at the same time! She writes:
I was thinking about how much my husband’s and my libidos have changed in the past couple years of our short married life. It seems like when his libido has been high, mine has been low/non-existent. And when mine has been high (like now in this stage of our lives), his has become super low. I was wondering if maybe sometime in the future Sheila would like to write about some ways couples can make their libidos more in sync… some more constructive and enlightened advice besides “communicate and compromise with your spouse”. I’m not saying spouses need to have the same level of libidos, but maybe offer some suggestions on how the two could make their libidos more comparable (if that’s even possible)? Just wanted to throw that idea out there as a possible future blog post suggestion. Thanks!
Great question! So let’s try to tackle some big picture issues first, and then we’ll look at some practical suggestions. In this post, too, I’m looking solely at libido (really your sex drive). Sometimes we don’t desire sex at all because we feel disrespected in the relationship, or our spouse is treating us badly. That’s terrible, and that needs to be addressed before you tackle any issues about sex.
Today, though, I’m going to assume that on the whole two people have a good marriage. They do treat each other well. They do love each other. They may have minor squabbles or issues that keep coming up, but, in general, they’re getting along. The sex drive discrepancy is the big issue.
I’m also not talking about people who NEVER desire sex because of issues of sexual shame or because sex doesn’t feel good. Those things, again, need to be dealt with first. I’m really addressing people who have wanted sex in the past, who do enjoy sex, but who find that too often their libidos just don’t sync up. So let’s look at that!
Libido is highly dependent on what’s going on in different phases of our lives
Take after the birth of a baby, for instance. In many cases, when a baby comes, a woman’s libido plummets because she’s so tired all the time, plus she has a little one who is consuming all of her attention. A man’s libido, on the other hand, often stays the same or even increases, because he now wants to feel as if his wife still cares for him that way, and as if their marriage still matters.
What about when there’s stress at work? When you’re going through a stressful period, libido often takes a dive. However, the converse is also true: if someone is coming out of a stressful period, libido often rises.
Some of us have jobs that are all-consuming. We think about the responsibilities and the tasks that we have to complete, or the problems that are in front of us, all the time. It’s hard to shut all of that off and allow sexual thoughts to take hold. But when that stress is over, often all the sexual tension that has been building up suddenly has an outlet, and libido may surge. But if you’re both going through stress at different times, that can affect your libido differences.
Hormones also play a huge role in libido
For women, hormone level changes throughout your menstrual cycle affect libido. One of my modules in my Boost Your Libido course helps you learn how to track your hormones and identify when your peak libido days are likely to be! We often feel far more sexually responsive at certain times of the month than others.
As you age, hormones further affect you. For many, menopause kills libido, but often that’s only temporary. Because hormone levels are always fluctuating, there can be times when libido suddenly surges as well.
Age also affects men’s hormone levels. Testosterone tends to drop as men age, which can cause libido to fall.
That being said, hormones alone do not dictate libido. They affect libido, to be sure, but even when hormone levels make arousal more difficult, or make spontaneous sexual thoughts a less common occurrence, libidos can still be revived. And that’s because of this one major principle:
Libido largely is about the time and emotional energy that we’re able to dedicate to the sexual side of our being
We were created to be sexual. It’s a drive to connect with another human being, but it’s also a drive to be passionate–to be out of control, to be out of your head, to just be able to feel and experience. That’s something that all of us need, and God created us to long to be “carried away” and to be less in our heads and more in our bodies at times. I think it’s to mirror how God wants to be passionate with us–how we’re supposed to let go and let God, and not try to control everything. I explain it more in my post on how sex can be hot and holy at the same time.
However, since sex requires being “out of our heads”, then we need to have time when we don’t have a million things going on in our heads, when we don’t have a million pressures on our time, when we are able to long to just feel, and not just to think.
That part of you is still there–that sex drive that you were born with. It’s just that sometimes it’s covered up with busy-ness and stress and worry. Ironically, often the best way to handle some of that busy-ness and stress is to have a great orgasm! But that can seem so impossible when you’re worried or stressed, because arousal seems impossible. Similarly, if your hormones are dampening your libido, then thinking about sex seems almost impossible. It’s like grocery shopping after a huge meal. Nothing looks that enticing.
This is what we need to understand: the things that are keeping you from having a libido will not magically go away on their own. You need to combat those feelings by replacing them with thoughts and feelings about being sexual.
Like this post so far? You should also check out:
Practical tips on boosting your libido by letting yourself feel sexual
How practically can you do this? I give a lot of tips in my Boost Your Libido course, including how to turn off the concerns of the day, how to have better body image, how to build emotional connection and vulnerability so that you awaken your sex drive, and more, but here are just a few practical ones that focus on your body:
Treat your body as if it’s sexual
It is okay to feel “sexy”, to feel as if your body is something that your husband desires. But it’s easier to do that if we actually take time to groom it! It’s hard to feel sexy if you’ve let your armpit hair grow or your leg hair grow. It’s a lot easier to feel sexy if you’re smooth, if you feel as if you look great naked. So keep grooming yourself, and admire how it looks afterwards! It’s okay to look in the mirror after a shower. Even if you’re not thinking, “I’m going to have sex tonight”, and even if it’s not necessarily about sex, get your body ready, and enjoy how your body looks.
Wear pretty underthings
Being pretty is a natural urge that women have, I think. And lace and a bit of colour can make us feel sexier, too! So get some nice bras and panty sets. Know that under your clothes you have a “secret” that’s just for you and your husband that looks amazing. Whatever you feel is sexy, buy some and wear them!
Carve out time to allow your body to feel physical
Even beyond feeling sexy, take time to do pilates or yoga classes, where you stretch a lot, or do a stretching routine at home. Practice sitting and walking and standing with proper alignment. Pay attention to your physical body, rather than ignoring it with all the other cares of the day.
Touch your husband and massage your husband
One of the best ways to boost your libido is through massage! When one or both of you is stressed, massage can also be a great stress-reliever. Massage helps you transition from the cares of the day to what may happen at night. And it also helps you focus on how your body is feeling. Massaging naked can also boost the libido! Even massage each other’s feet, hands, or shoulders while you watch a movie at night. Take time to touch and relax each other.
Enjoy being naked
Don’t worry–I’m not going to encourage any of you to be nudists or anything! But sometimes we need to awaken different parts of our bodies to feel sexual. If you know that your husband’s libido is raging, and you just don’t feel much of anything, try the tips above.
But then also take time in the evening to go have a bath, and while you’re lying there, close your eyes and just think about all the different parts of your body. Start at your fingers, and work your way up your arms, across your chest, and then down. It’s okay to imagine your husband touching those parts, or imagining what he may feel if he looked at various parts of your body. If you don’t have time for a bath, head somewhere with a mirror, get undressed, and get some lotion and rub some on your legs or torso or spritz some spray. Do it slowly and just allow yourself to feel. It really is okay. Honestly. It doesn’t mean you’re being bad. It’s just enjoying the fact that you were made to be a sexual being. Think of it as your “body wake up” time! And then, once you’ve done that, take some time and pick out something really pretty to put on. If you do this BEFORE you get into bed, you’ll often find that you’re far more eager for something else!
When you’re going through a particularly dry time, when you don’t feel much of anything sexual, try the bath exercise often. Lie there. Take some time and just FEEL. Remember that part of passion is learning to let go of rational thought and just experience life. Allow yourself to experience! You were created for that.
Even if you’re not thinking about sex at all–even if it’s the furthest thing from your mind–try it. Lie in the bath, take as much time as you need, and let yourself feel all the different parts of your body. Don’t get out of the bath until you’ve started to awaken something. You may surprise yourself!
All of this helps you boost your libido–but what about your husband?
What can you do to help him boost his libido if he’s going through a dry spell? A few quick thoughts:
Be his sounding board
Encourage him to talk to you about some of the things he’s stressed about. Don’t try to fix anything, just listen. Ask probing questions. Sometimes men aren’t sure what it is that they are thinking or what they’re bothered about specifically, but as you ask questions you can help him clarify in his mind what the issue is, so that he has an easier time dealing with it.
Do kind things for him
If he’s very stressed, be kind. Get him a snack. Thank him for the great job he does. Do some of his chores. Just show him that you’re not angry at him for being busy, but that you do want to help.
Be more sexually assertive
Sometimes guys don’t have a raging libido, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be interested in sex. It just doesn’t seem like an urgent need to them. If you’re a couple where he has tended to do the initiating, and then he goes through a dry spell, sex can stop because he’s not taking the lead. But if you take the lead, he may be able to be convinced!
Use some of my suggestions for how to initiate sex. Or you can be even more assertive. Say to him, “I know you’re stressed right now, but I believe that you need this, and I am going to give it to you.” And just start! For some men, that won’t be welcome. Others may put up a little bit of a protest, but if you persist, you can break down defences. You know your husband, so you’ll have to decide. But I’d just encourage you to not assume that it would be a no. For some men, seeing their wives eager for sex can turn a switch on, even if her just simply asking for sex doesn’t do it.
And, finally–you’ve got to communicate about your libidos and about what you want from sex!
She says she wants some advice other than “just communicate”, and I hope I’ve given you some of that. But ultimately–yep. You need to communicate! Talk about what you want from your marriage. Talk about how often you want to make love. In some cases, scheduling sex can work great. In others, doing “his” nights and “her” nights can work well.
And, of course, if you’re communicating better about other things in your marriage, if you’re having some fun together, doing some hobbies together, and spending time together, then all of the rest of this will also be much easier to deal with. If you’re going through a time of low libido, and you’d like to boost it, check out my Boost Your Libido course!