I wonder: since we’ve grown up believing so much that men want sex all the time, then when he doesn’t initiate sex, do women feel rejected?
I mean that even lower drive wives can feel rejected, even if they don’t want sex themselves, if their husbands don’t proposition them.
I want to talk today about the dynamic where he has a libido and does want sex…but it may not be everyday. He’s perfectly healthy, there’s no porn use, he just isn’t necessarily always trying to get sex.
Tomorrow on the podcast we’re featuring Rachel Joy Welcher, who wrote Talking Back to Purity Culture (which is a great book!). Rebecca and I had a great conversation with her that I know you’ll enjoy. But as I read her book over the weekend, I came across this part that stirred up some thoughts:
I thought sex would be my magical wifely power, able to comfort and cure anything that ailed my husband. Because I was told that he would want sex constantly, I experienced deep and unnecessary rejection when he wasn’t in the mood. Men had been painted as sex machines, not human beings who experience tiredness, sickness, and stress, just like everyone else. (p. 98)
Earlier she’s recounting a conversation she had with two men, Blake and John, who are good husbands with normal sex drives, but who chafed at the description of men as sex machines. Welcher writes:
“I went into my marriage with certain expectations,” Blake told us. “Things people were telling me, like men crave sex six times more than women do.”
“Where did you hear that?” I asked him.
“One of the megachurch pastors was on stage with his wife and they were breaking it down.” He continued, “A wife might think her husband is looking at pornography, when really, maybe he just had a long day, and if you sit still long enough, you’re going to fall asleep.”
We all laughed. I thought about times I’ve interpreted my husband’s tiredness as rejection and other woman who have shared similar experiences. It is a deep pain, pressed deeper still by the stereotype that men always want sex. Women wonder if there is something wrong with their body, their perfume, or their performance in bed. They wrack their brains trying to figure out what they are doing wrong. Shouldn’t their husband always want them? (p. 57-58)
When he doesn’t want sex everyday, she often interprets it as rejection, because she hears that men’s sexual appetites are insatiable, and he can’t feel close to her without sex.
As Blake and John continue to discuss this with Rachel, one makes the observation that it’s not so much that Christian men are obsessed with sex as it is that they are immersed in sex. Christian manhood is almost always defined as:
- Getting a job and providing
- Wanting sex a lot (and working at being good at it)
- Lifting lots of weights and being physically strong
Sex is so much of the male conversation that the church ends up reinforcing negative stereotypes. Just because some men struggle with lust doesn’t mean all do; just because some men struggle with porn doesn’t mean all do. But when we talk constantly about these struggles, it can give the impression that real men lust and struggle with porn and want sex all the time, and only “wimps” don’t (like we were talking about yesterday).
That ends up hurting men, who can feel “unmasculine” or “beta” if they actually treat women like whole people, and it hurts women who can feel rejected by a husband who isn’t sex obsessed.
Right now Keith and I are writing The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex, and I’d like to include some stories from this perspective in it, because I don’t think this is talked about enough.
So I thought I’d just ask a question today: have unrealistic expectations about sex and your husband’s sexual appetite ever left you feeling rejected, even when your husband is simply acting like a normal guy? What was that like for you? Did you ever talk about it? How have you worked that through?
I’d love to about it!
(And get ready for tomorrow’s podcast with Rachel, because it’s awesome!).
And if you do have difficulty because your husband doesn’t want sex and it’s a perpetual problem, here are some other posts that can help:
Let me know: Have unrealistic expectations about a husband’s “sex machine” libido ever left you feeling rejected? How did you work it out? Or if you’re a guy, has that stereotype hurt you? Let’s talk!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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