Overcoming Varying Sex Drives

Finding Your Sexual Happy Medium

Sex-pectations can vary throughout the duration of any relationship.  It’s only natural that as newlyweds, a high desire for one another and a busy sex schedule are a natural part of your everyday relationship. Careers change, kids are born, and additional life obligations increase, which all factored in, result in the act of sex having a different meaning in your relationship.  

In the beginning, sex is very physical.  There is deep attraction and a strong passion that drives the physical connection between a couple. It is exciting and new and something that, as newlyweds, you feel is a constant must! All of these things are perfectly normal.

Over time, sex becomes more about expressing love for your spouse and fueling their ‘love tank.’ As your marriage evolves, so does your career, your family, and your overall responsibilities.  Even if you both have a similar sex drive, it doesn’t mean that you will always be wanting it at the same time.  Sex can easily take a back seat to all the other items on your to-do list.  But if you’re keeping your relationship in perspective, your spouse should always be number one on that list…. To-Do! {wink, wink}

Overcoming Varying Sex Drives

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“You know that look that women get when they want to have sex? Me neither.” -Steve Martin

Many relationships consist of partners who have varying sex drives.  Early in the marriage, when there seems to be less distraction, this variance can be easily navigated, devoting far more time and effort into ensuring both partners are feeling happy and satisfied.  But add a couple of kids and some additional work projects, and finding that happy medium seems low on the list.  And for the spouse who needs sex as one of the tools for filling their ‘love tank’ this can cause issues in the marriage.

Do you feel like you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling with your spouse? Check out Diva Central for even MORE great ideas on getting it back!

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So what can you do?!

First, be open to discussion.  Like anything in marriage, COMMUNICATION is KEY!  Never shame the spouse who has a higher sex drive. Never guilt the spouse who has a lower sex drive.  Think about how it feels to be the opposing partner.

Higher-Drive Spouse: This person needs sex for two reasons.  Reason one is to feel loved by their spouse.  Physical touch is a form of their love language (for more information on love languages, read Gary Chapmans’s “The Five Love Languages”)  that allows them to feel loved by their spouse through the act of physical touch, many times being sex. Reason two is they use sex to express love to and for their spouse. If you are the spouse with the lower sex drive, instead of feeling frustrated by the request of sex by your spouse, consider it a compliment and a form of love.  It might also change your perspective on the act and increase your overall desire.

Another thing to consider is that when a higher-drive spouse is repeatedly told no, their self-esteem can take a hit.  Over time, the rejection can make them feel unwanted, or even unloved by their spouse. If they feel unloved, their likeliness of expressing love to their spouse in the ‘love language’ they need is less, causing an endless cycle that is not ideal for any marriage.  

Lower-Drive Spouse: This person may feel heartbroken or guilty about their lack of sexual desire.  They may also feel confused as to why their ways of expressing love are not enough to fuel the love tank of their spouse. 

Do any of these feelings ring true for you?!  If so, you’re not alone, and discussing your feelings with your spouse is the first step to finding a happy medium in the bedroom. 

The next thing to consider is what could be the underlying issues that are causing the variance in sexual desire.

Most commonly, the problems can be found in the person with the lower-drive. These problems are nothing to be alarmed about, but rather be made aware of. Some things to consider are:

  1. Medication: Many times a simple side effect of a medication can be a decrease in sex drive. Just knowing the possibility of that could increase your overall perception on sex and your sexual desires. Understanding that it might be something more than just your feelings towards your spouse will help you make a more conscious effort to work through the lack of desire for the love of your spouse. You might even be able to switch medications to remove that road block.
  2. Pregnancy: Pregnancy wreaks havoc on the female body.  All for the better good, we might add, but certainly, the act of carrying a baby is tiresome.  Many women lose interest in sex as their body begins to change.  They no longer feel sexy or confident in their own skin making it harder to engage in a sexual act.  As the baby gets bigger, this feeling can only increase making it much more cumbersome for the female to feel comfortable having sex.  In connection with this, post pregnancy brings a rapid change in hormones, a change in family dynamics and a new perception on body image.  All of these things can be challenging for a mom to accept and cope with while caring for a newborn.  If you are facing postpartum depression, NEVER hesitate to seek help.  Not only for yourself, but for your new baby and family! You are not alone.
  3. Pain: It is very possible that some women experience pain while having sex with their spouse.  If this is you, please do not feel ashamed or embarrassed – but seek medical attention. Speaking openly with both your spouse and gynecologist about this situation will make you feel better and increase your chances of finding a solution.  Sex is meant to be enjoyed. If you are feeling pain then that not only hurts you but it hurts your spouse.  He might feel that it is something he is doing that is causing you pain.  Your gynecologist can exam you and assist you in finding a solution.
  4. Expectations: One of the most obvious but least addressed reasons could be the difference in expectations by each spouse. One spouse might expect that sex is done multiple times a week whereas the other spouse is happy with a handful of times a month. Simply discussing your expectations with your spouse is an easy way to understand the wants of your spouse and gets you on track for finding a happy medium.
  5. The Build Up: Foreplay! And foreplay doesn’t always mean sexual foreplay, it can be emotional foreplay as well.  Our higher-drive partners are easily turned on and ready to go at a much quicker rate. But lower-drive partners need more in order to increase their desire for a sexual connection.  A marriage and sex professional, and close friend to the Divas, Laura Brotherson, explains that the worst thing a higher-drive spouse can do is place pressure on the the lower-drive spouse. For many lower-drive partners, the need to connect emotionally must happen before the physical connection can take place.  The higher-drive spouse needs to work on creating an emotional connection {feeding the love tank of the lower-drive spouse} in order to help them peak interest in a sexual connection. For more from Laura Brotherson, check out her audio recordings found in our Dating Divas Marriage Club and in The Diva Store for those who aren’t community members. You can also learn more on her site which offers amazing resources, here.

Finally, what are some ways that you can find your happy medium? As stated earlier, communication is the best place to start. If you both are honest with your wants, needs and expectations you can better understand where your partner is coming from and will be better able to find a happy medium. A fabulous resource is the Reclaim Your Marriage Program which creates a safe environment to bring up those sensitive issues (and other sensitive issues in your marriage!). Another great way to get the conversation started is with our Sexy Survey. This survey has 25 key questions that will open up the airwaves of what it is you are both looking for, sexually.  It might be hard to come forward with these questions yourself and using the Reclaim Your Marriage Program or the Sexy Survey as your guide makes it easy and comfortable to broach the topic. 

This conversation may include:

  • What you like in the bedroom (foreplay, games, or role play.) If you love bedroom games, be sure to check out the Game of Love.
  • Expectations for the number of times per week or month you’d like “to do the deed.”
  • What it takes to get you in the mood (flirting or a bubble bath).

Once you’ve openly discussed what it is you both want, set a goal.  Maybe it’s a certain number of times per week or month that you decide to be intimate.  If you have to, even select the days. Feel free to use our darling printable set that allows you to Schedule Sexy Time with your spouse. With busy schedules, it can actually take the pressure off the spouse with the lower-drive to know when sex will happen.  Then, on those days, create anticipation to the main event.  Send flirty texts, a date invite and/or pictures throughout the day that will get both of you excited for your evening.  

If pain or postpartum issues are part of your problem, with no shame, seek medical assistance. You are not alone and both of these conditions can be addressed. Our post about Marriage after Baby is another great resource when dealing with this new change.

For additional resources, consider reading any of the following books:

  1. The Sex Starved Wife: by Michele Weiner Davis
  2. Why Men Stop Having Sex: by Bob Berkowitz
  3. And We Were Not Ashamed: by Laura Brotherson

More couples than you realize consist of partners with varying sex drives. With open communication and the setting of attainable goals and expectations, you and your spouse CAN find happy medium in the bedroom!

About the Author: Paige

I am madly in love with three men (1 big and 2 little)! I am lucky enough to be married to my true complement. I spend my days doing any and everything 'boy!' I have a passion for fitness and love trying anything that makes my heart race.

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14 Responses to Overcoming Varying Sex Drives

  1. Paige, this is such a touchy subject and you wrote it beautifully! It’s struggle when there are varying sex drives in a marriage and you gave some AMAZING points in here. Great work girly!

  2. This is SO great, Paige! Such an important topic that I think is relevant for MOST marriages… not just some! We are all different and approach marriage from completely different backgrounds and with different expectations. I especially like the point you made about feeling less loved makes you less likely to EXPRESS love, causing an immediate downward spiral. So key!! Thanks for writing this!!

  3. So much good stuff here! This was a great reminder for me about filling up “love tanks” in the way the other spouse feels loved, especially with intimacy. Easy to forget!

  4. Such a GREAT article! This is soooooo common in marriages! I love that there are so many wonderful resources out there to help anyone struggling in this area.

  5. Such a great post, Paige! I’ve had more than a few conversation with different couples about this topic. I glad you’re shedding some light on it. Loved it!!

  6. This is great information! How can I use this info to help with other intimacy issues? My fiance doesn’t like to get intimate with our teenage daughters always being home. He says he can’t enjoy it much cause I can not be as vocal. I’ve made suggestions of dropping them off at the mail for a day. Finding a corn field (that’s a joke). Plus the usual things in life get in the way. Stress, work, responsibilities, and so on. Any advice would be great. I’m the very active sex drive person, so you know how I’m feeling..

    1. Oh man Michelle! So I think I am more like your fiancé and I get weird when our kids are nearby. So like, if we are on a family vacation or if friends and family are visiting. Or if one of our kids isn’t feeling well and I think there’s a chance they might wake up. I know it’s irrational and I just need to work through it. I think you are on the right track and I would totally recommend finding activities for them that they can do away from the house so you can schedule some alone time. I would also find some inexpensive weekend getaways. Even if it’s just for the night (or a few hours) {wink}. You can usually find some on Groupon for a great deal. I hope that helps!