I’ve often said that the higher drive wife carries a lot of burdens that other permutations of libido do not.
It can be very difficult to be a husband married to a woman who doesn’t want sex, but at least that’s culturally expected.
As a woman, we grow up hearing how men are sex-obsessed and won’t be able to keep their hands off of us once we marry. If your husband ends up keeping his hands off of you quite easily, the rejection can be even more profound, because no one expects or understands it. In fact, your friends may say they envy you–“I wish my husband would leave me alone sometimes.”
We’re talking about sexual confidence in October and November, and I wanted to devote a post to feeling confident as a woman even if your husband doesn’t want sex very much.
Basically, sexual confidence is part of emotional health.
As I talked about in the very first post of the sexual confidence series, a lot of sexual confidence is accepting where you are right now, and not blaming yourself for things you can no longer change (or which were not your fault in the first place). It’s understanding that you don’t need to be perfect to enjoy yourself.
It is, really, emotional health.
And a large part of emotional health is understanding what is in your control and what is not, and not taking responsibility or blame for things that are not in your control, while owning the things that are in your control.
Here’s a reader question that recently came into the blog from a higher drive wife:
My husband enjoys sex but he doesn’t seem to want it as much as me, and I can sense that he is uncomfortable with branching out and trying new things. As a result, we have infrequent sex about once every 2 weeks that has become very predictable (as in, we pretty much do the same kind of foreplay that mostly includes a lot of kissing and only do missionary every time). This is problematic for many reasons, not least of which is that we are wanting to have a baby. Obviously we need to have sex for that to happen, but I feel like once or twice during my “fertile window” won’t cut it (keep in mind that I am the one usually pushing for even that much).
He has said to me that he feels like I “bother” him about having more sex, which makes it feel like an obligation, and we all know how un-sexy that is. He has also said that it makes him feel like he’s not good enough, which I think is probably the real issue, but I don’t know how to approach it.
My question is this: How do I advocate for my own need for sex without turning it into an obligation for him? How do I encourage him to try new things with me with foreplay and positions without pushing him?
I think there are some red flag issues here since he’s not even interested in sex when they want to conceive, and this does seem like an intimacy/control issue that does need to be talked about with a counselor.
But just using this topic as a jumping off point, and keeping in mind some of those elements of emotional health, let’s see how this plays out in the sex arena when you’re the one who wants sex and he doesn’t.
A sexually confident woman recognizes what she has to offer.
We’re taught that the point of being a woman is be desirable. We want someone else to find us desirable. That’s what being a woman is!
Indeed, if you look at ads aimed at women vs. ads aimed at men, in the ads aimed at men, the person is usually looking directly into the camera. In ads aimed at women, the woman is often looking off to the side (not always, but far more often than with men). Why is that? Because the point of the ad aimed at women is to help a woman imagine herself as that person. She’s not looking at you; you’re being her, being watched. Being assessed.
We think of feminity and worth as other people watching us and liking what they see.
That’s just a perfect storm for lots of confidence issues and problems (and is another reason I wish we’d redefine biblical womanhood so it’s not about being wanted).
Sexual confidence, though, is really very similar to confidence in general. It’s enjoying life with gusto. It’s being passionate about life in general. And you know that you are a special, exciting person.
This takes channeling some of your feelings of passion into other things. Volunteer at church. Take up a hobby you love. Start making TikTok videos to change the world! It doesn’t matter what it is. But find life in other areas of your life as well.
When the only place that you really feel alive is in sex, then you will always feel rejected or “less than” if he doesn’t want it as much. But when you turn yourself onto all of life, when you seek out God’s calling on you and get excited about the things that God gets excited about, then sexual rejection will less be a rejection of you but rather a rejection of passion.
A sexually confident woman recognizes the difference between a problem and a preference–and honors preferences.
I’ve talked about this before (and I talked about it in an Instagram Live I did on Friday about this reader question), but researchers have found that in general more sex = higher marital satisfaction. The impact of having more sex, though, starts to decline the more sex you have (the law of diminishing returns, for you economics lovers). And once you get to having sex everyday (or even multiple times a day), often marital satisfaction is negatively impacted.
But what researchers have found, and what we found too, is that the magic number seems to be once a week. When people have sex at least once a week, marriages tend to do pretty well. It’s not that they don’t do better with multiple times a week (they do), but the amount of marital satisfaction that is added by adding one extra sex session a week is significantly less than the jump to once a week.
So I like to think of once a week as my problem/preference delineation.
If you want to have sex four times a week, and he’s happy with once a week, that’s a preference issue, and you need to honor each other and compromise. If he wants to just do the missionary position and you want a whole lot of other things–again, that’s a preference, and you honor preferences.
If he’d rather have sex once every two weeks or once a month, though, that’s a problem and a signal that something else is going on that really does need to be dealt with–as it is with this couple.
We do need to honor preferences (and we should expect our spouse to honor our preferences too, and you can talk about this). But when things fall into the problem category AND it’s not a super busy time at work or you don’t have a newborn or you’re not in the middle of grief or something, then that is something that is likely best dealt with by seeing a medical professional or a licensed counselor (or ensuring no porn is involved).
One more thought about compromising: it can feel incredibly unfair and like you’re frustrated all the time to settle for once a week when you want more. But if he’s enjoying the once a week, then part of marriage is also learning how to honor your husband. I know that’s tough–but believe me, it’s the same advice that we give to men with the higher libidos too!
This balance is played out in the next two points:
A sexually confident woman recognizes that the sexual relationship encompasses far more than the bedroom, and puts emphasis on other parts of the relationship as well.
When you’re sexually frustrated, it’s easy to feel that as a profound rejection by your spouse, and to feel anger and resentment that will flood over into other parts of the relationship.
But a confident woman recognizes that her sex drive is a part of her, but is not her. She can still make choices how she will respond. And she puts emphasis on other parts of the relationship, even when it’s difficult. She tries to encourage her husband. She tries to spend time with him doing things that they both will enjoy. She tries to do low-stress things with him that will lower the tension level of the relationship and bring more laughter in. She knows that even if sex isn’t as frequent as she would like, she can still feel emotionally and spiritually connected with her husband in other ways, and she realizes that those are also important parts of her to nurture.
A sexually confident woman addresses things that need to be addressed, because she knows that sex is not a petty need but an important part of the relationship.
At the same time, when sex becomes very infrequent, she knows that this goes beyond a preference into a problem that is hurting both her and her husband. She knows that this does need to be addressed, because sex is an important part both of the relationship but also of who both of us are.
When men especially run away from sex (when there are not medical issues or porn issues or stress issues involved), there is often a fear of vulnerability. They may try to keep themselves walled off emotionally in some way, because vulnerability and passion are threatening. This is something that needs to be addressed for his own sake, not just because of her sexual frustration. It’s holding him back from enjoying all of life, and likely keeping him from real emotional growth.
When you see a man who rarely wants to do anything other than a very precise order of particular foreplay–one position, that could also be a clue that vulnerability is scary.
It’s okay to say, “this is a serious issue. There is something wrong that we need to deal with, and I would like to see us grow–not just in the bedroom.” And if he just won’t budge, then see a licensed counselor yourself so you can find your voice and learn to draw boundaries!
The biggest problem when you’re the higher drive person is how to advocate for more sex and intimacy in marriage.
You don’t want to do so in a shaming way that will push your spouse away.
It’s all too easy to do so out of anger and rejection–which will also push your spouse away.
That’s why a big part of sexual confidence is owning your own feelings around sex and not projecting them onto your spouse (“You’re making me so frustrated/you’re depriving me/ you’re making me miserable”). Instead, when you approach your spouse to talk about it, the purpose is to grow your relationship and to do what is best for your spouse. You are iron sharpening iron, not just someone who wants to get their desires met.
And that also means realizing that focusing on other parts of your relationship can grow you emotionally too! See this as a time of emotional growth for yourself, but also a chance for you to discern how to help your marriage grow too.
Not out of anger. Not out of resentment. Not out of frustration.
But out of love and a genuine desire to see the best for both of you!
The Great Sex Rescue
Changing the conversation about sex & marriage in the evangelical church.
What if you're NOT the problem with your sex life?
What if the things that you've been taught have messed things up--and what if there's a way to escape these messages?
Welcome to the Great Sex Rescue.
What do you think? Do you find the rejection and frustration just too difficult to deal with? How do you get your husband to talk about these issues? Let’s talk in the comments!
Other Posts in the Sexual Confidence Series:
- 3 Markers of Sexual Confidence (especially in women)
- 4 Markers of a Sexually Confident Man
- Knowing that Sex is for You Too
- How to Feel Confident when You're Married to a Porn User
- Did You Grow up Embarrassed to Be Female?
- 5 Keys to Sexual Confidence after Menopause
- 4 Keys to Sexual Confidence as the Higher Drive Wife
- Sexual Confidence Doesn't Mean You're Willing to Try Anything in Bed
- Do you need to get angry at what purity culture stole from you?
- Let's Talk Vulvas! Feeling confident about your genitals
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