A very common complaint among married couples, especially couples that have sexual intimacy problems, is that one spouse seems to want or enjoy sex more than their spouse does. This scenario is a difficult one to provide a one-size-fits-all answer to because there are two different perspectives, with a variety of possible reasons or causes of this gap, and a variety of ideas on how to tackle this situation! But guess what? I’m going to address all of it!
It’s important to speak from both perspectives so that no matter the side you are on, you can better understand what your spouse might be feeling. I hope that you will really think about both perspectives, instead of focusing on how much your spouse doesn’t understand where you are coming from. One of the best feelings in the world is being understood, so focus on that.
Possible Reasons Why a spouse loves sex more
- Physical touch is important to them. They feel loved through holding hands, hugs, kissing, cuddling, hugs, and ultimately sex. So naturally, they would want to be intimate with their spouse often.
- They need physical intimacy in order to feel emotional intimacy.
- It’s pleasurable to them and they want to experience that with their spouse.
- Sex is also a way to relieve stress, and we all need stress-relievers!
Possible reasons why a spouse doesn’t want, need OR enjoy SEX AS MUCH:
- Physical touch may not be as important to them. They feel more loved by you through other ways such as being given a surprise gift or having meaningful conversations together. If their primary and secondary love languages are not physical touch, it’s natural for them to not desire sex that often.
- They don’t feel emotionally connected enough to have sex. This spouse might need to talk about how each other’s days were first, or they need to see you do something nice for them like do the dishes, or put the kids to bed. There’s even a joke out there about how a wife can get turned on when they see their husband vacuuming! I DARE YOU TO TRY THIS.
- They have had a bad sexual history, such as being sexually abused and it stirs up uncomfortable emotions for them.
- They may not feel aroused yet and they need you to put forth an effort to help them.
- Maybe they don’t like it because they don’t get anything out of it; it’s not pleasurable for them.
Communicating and handling the situation
Many couples go years feeling this imbalance in sexual desire, and it builds resentment on both sides. That is why it’s important to COMMUNICATE your feelings. I can’t stress this enough. One of my new favorite sayings for marriage advice is, “When in doubt, communicate.” Talking is almost always better than avoiding it, and this applies to every aspect of marriage, including sex!
First and foremost, you have to find out and discuss WHY your spouse either wants sex more than you do, or doesn’t want sex as much as you do. My guess is that it’s one of the possible reasons listed above or a combination. In finding out what the reason is, I encourage you to be very open, understanding and loving to their explanations. It’s important to keep your thoughts from immediately going to negative extremes such as, “Great. We are never going to have sex again” or “Great. Now my spouse thinks I don’t love them.” Whatever the hurdle, it’s SO possible to have a great sex life from here on out, even if it may require some counseling.
When you do talk about it, speak your truth by using the ABC formula. You can generalize it if you consistently feel the same way about the issue, like: “I feel ____ when we try to have sex.” or “I feel _____ when we don’t have sex.” OR you can make it more specific like: “I feel _____ when you ______ the other night.
wHAT YOU CAN DO TO BETTER THE SITUATIOn
suggestions for The spouse who desires sex more often or enjoys it more often:
- Do something in your spouse’s love language to make them feel loved, and they are likely to accept your sexual advances later on.
- Find out what gets your spouse turned on the most and do that thing. A little massage beforehand tends to be a widely suggested idea.
- If your spouse has been feeling pressured that any physical touch has to lead to sex, establish a pattern of physical touches that don’t lead to sex so the pressure is alleviated. Let cuddling be enough one night. The next day, makeout before leaving for work. Maybe even be straight up with them: “I would love to cuddle/spoon with you while we fall asleep, and that’s it.” I think the transparency beforehand will automatically help your spouse relax and enjoy cuddling with you, even more, knowing that it doesn’t have to lead to something.
- If your spouse has experienced sexual traumas in the past, suggest going to a sex therapist together. A sex therapist can help your spouse let go or move passed this trauma, and also help you both navigate its influence in your sex life.
- Example: a wife who had been sexually abused by a family member growing up had a flashback of that trauma while her and her husband were having sex, and it was triggered just by the way his hand grabbed her hip. The sex therapist helped the wife figure out what her trigger was, helped her cope from the trauma, and helped the couple get back to a healthy sex life that felt safe.
- If your spouse is not enjoying sex, or they feel it is a one-sided pleasure, then focus on making it more pleasurable for them. I talk more about that in the article, “Selflessness: The Key to Great Physical and Emotional Intimacy.”
Suggestions for The spouse who DOESN’T WANT, NEED OR ENJOY sex as often:
- Just try it. Many researchers and professionals claim that the more you do it, the more desire you’ll have in doing it. They also suggest that even if you aren’t aroused whatsoever, start foreplay with your spouse and you’ll get into it and you’ll enjoy it with them. (That’s the whole point of foreplay – to get aroused!)
- Figure out what you need to do to prepare yourself for sex, and make that a priority in your day. For example, if you need to feel more relaxed to have sex, then finish up your to-do list earlier than normal and take a bath to relax and get in a mindset for sex.
- You need to be willing to initiate periodically, especially if you’ve constantly rejected your spouse. You have the right to turn it down, but your spouse doesn’t deserve that sad feeling of rejection night after night.
- Ultimately, I think you need to understand your sexual identity more fully if you’re in this situation. I’ve written a whole other article on what you can do to better understand your sexual identity, so as to strengthen the sexual intimacy with your spouse. In it, there are NINE more ideas for what you can do if you find yourself in this situation of not desiring or needing sex.
I have said it before, but this is a common situation couples find themselves in, whether it’s a constant state, or just life transitions that deplete your libido, haha. There are ways to have a stronger sexual intimacy with your spouse, and I believe that these suggestions can get you there. It just starts with having respect and a willingness to help your spouse and ends with a lot of patience. Because change doesn’t happen overnight!
Other blog posts on Sexual Intimacy you might find helpful: