You asked for it – you got it. To all of you women who are the higher desire partner – here you go. This podcast will go over emotional, physical and psychological reasons why your spouse may not have the same level of desire you do. We will discuss some underlying reasons that may be the culprit. Some conditions may need to be addressed or you may just need to fill the gap between you with some conversation and understanding. Whatever the reasons might be or whatever the distance of the gap between you, there are answers. There are solutions.
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Most of the time, on this podcast, I am addressing the lower-desire partner or wife. This is who most of my clients are, which is why I mostly talk to her. But, I have been getting a lot of requests to address the higher-desire wife because this isn’t talked about near as much. So, I am happy to do that here today on the podcast.
Often times, the higher desire wife feels very lonely in her feelings. In my experience, about 40% of women are higher desire, which is actually quite a bit. But we don’t talk about it as much because it isn’t the majority. But 40% is still pretty significant. But you need to realize that the stereotypes are not always true. And you’re not broken for having higher desire and he’s not broken for having lower desire. You are both perfectly normal.
So let’s talk about higher desire versus lower desire. In every marriage and in everything you do (not just sex) there is a higher and lower desire partner. Even if the discrepancy is 1%, it still exists. Someone wants a baby more than the other. Someone wants to buy a specific house or car or appliance more than the other. Someone wants to eat at a specific restaurant more than the other. Desire discrepancies exist in everything, not just sex.
But usually where we see the most problems with it, is when it comes to sex. Much like the higher-desire man who is excited to finally be married and have a wife to have sex with is often disappointed in her lack of desire, the higher desire wife often feels gypped. She’s been socialized her whole life to believe that men are these sexual animals and that her husband will be wanting her and sex all the time, and she finds that isn’t the case.
Physical causes for low libido in men
Let’s first talk about low libido and men and the possible causes.
- Low Testosterone – the physiological drive of men. Normal testosterone levels will vary, however if levels fall below 300 nanograms per deciliter, it is consider low. Typical is 300-1070, with the average being 679 nanogram per deciliter. When testosterone levels decrease, the desire for sex also decreases. Testosterone does decrease as a normal part of aging though. If you think that low T might be an issue for your spouse, see if he will get checked. It’s often an easy fix with either a pill or injections and can turn things around pretty quickly.
- Depression – people with depression experience a reduced or complete lack of interest in activities they once found pleasurable, including sex. Low libido is also often a side effects of many antidepressants like Cymbalta, Prozac, and Zoloft. However there are medications, like Wellbutrin, which don’t reduce libido, so if depression or medication might be an issue, talk to your doctor.
- Chronic Illness – with many chronic health conditions, such as chronic pain, sex is likely low on the list of priorities. Diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, chronic lung, heart, kidney, or liver failure can all cause lower libido. A qualified sex therapist can often help you work through both aspects.
- Sleep Problems – if he suffers from sleep apnea, he is more likely to have reduced levels of testosterone.
- Stress – as we’ve discussed in previous podcast episodes, stress increases cortisol, which turns off all non-essential systems, like the sex drive. So if your partner has a lot of stress from relationships, work, financial worries, a new baby, or a host of other things, things can definitely contribute to low libido.
Other causes for low desire
- Low Self-Esteem – just like women, men also suffer from low self-esteem, which can affect their sex drive. If they are feeling unattractive or undesirable, it will likely put a damper on sexual encounters or they may want to avoid sex altogether. Low self-esteem can also cause anxiety about sexual performance, which can lead to issues with erectile dysfunction.
- People-pleasing – often times, as humans, we don’t want to put people out. This can very much happen in the bedroom as well. If your spouse is this way, if he sees that you are tired, busy, watching a show, on your phone, he may not want to interrupt you. So he doesn’t. He doesn’t ask. And it appears as though he isn’t interested in sex, when really he is, he just doesn’t know how to or want to ask for it.
- Fear of rejection – Was the situation reversed at first? Was he high desire and you were low desire? Did you reject him a lot? Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t. But his fear of rejection (whether it happened in the past or it didn’t) could be very real. He doesn’t want to feel rejected, unwanted, or undesired, so he doesn’t ask. And again…it’s not that he’s low desire. He just appears to be because he lets his fear get in the way.
So, why do we need to understand low desire in men? Because if you are the higher desire wife (or even if just appears that you are), your husband might be suffering in some way that is contributing to their lack of desire. Often times we assume that they just aren’t attracted to us…because what man doesn’t want sex, right? But, there might be an underlying cause. But it’s also not a good idea to assume that your spouse needs fixing so that you can feel better about yourself and your sex life. Maybe there is an underlying cause or maybe he just doesn’t think about sex in the same way you do. Sex is like 20% physical and 80% mental…and just like we work so much on the mental side for women here on this podcast, sometimes the men need it just as much. We will talk more about this in a minute.
Why do you want sex?
So often times, as the higher desire wife, we start making up stories in our head about why our husband doesn’t want sex.
- Maybe he’s not attracted to me
- He doesn’t love me
- I’m too fat
- He doesn’t like sex
- He prefers TV/Sports/Video games over me
But what if it’s none of those? What if he just doesn’t want sex right now? When one partner wants sex and the other one doesn’t it can feel very powerless. You can’t force your partner to want to be with you. Most of us don’t really want that anyway. We want a partner who wants to be there and is fully engaged, not one doing it out of duty or obligation. Pay attention to your partner’s cues when you do initiate. Is he totally on board and ready to go? He may not actually be low-desire. He may just be a people please, have low self-esteem, or be afraid of rejection. If he really doesn’t seem interested, then that may be more of a physical cause.
So what happens when your partner doesn’t want sex and you do? What then? Well…you have decide how you want to show up in that situation and what you want to do about it. Often times I like to ask my clients what their motivation for sex is. What are they wanting from sex? What are they wanting to feel? And is it possible to get what they are wanting in a different way?
- Are you wanting just the physical release? Is masturbation an option in your marriage? Sure, you’d love to make love to your spouse in order to have that release, but if that’s what you are looking for, depending on the sexual agreements in your marriage, there are ways to take care of that.
- Are you wanting connection? How can you connect in another way? Can you cuddle? Can you make out? Can you go for a walk together and talk?
- Are you wanting validation? When we want validation from our spouse, it is most often because we are not giving it to ourself. If this is your motivation for wanting sex, I would look at how you can fulfill that need for validation in other healthy ways.
- Are you wanting intimacy? To know and be known? Can you talk to your spouse? Have really open and honest communication? And while you aren’t getting sexual intimacy, can you be intimate with him or others in other ways? Intimacy isn’t just about sex.
- Are you wanting to feel loved? Look for other ways that your partner shows you he loves you. Maybe physical touch isn’t his primary way of showing his love but he’s more of a quality time or service kind of guy. Recognizing and appreciating what he IS willing to give is important.
- Are you wanting to feel desired? What other ways does your partner let you know he desires you in his life? He may not have the desire for sex, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t desire you. Maybe communicating to him some things that he can do that make it easier for you to have thoughts that make you feel desired.
Because remember…all of these are feelings. And feelings come from the way that WE are thinking…not from what our partner is saying or doing. You can feel connection, validation, intimacy, love, and desire just by the way that you choose to think. You create those feelings for yourself. Sometimes it’s just a lot easier to think the thoughts that create those feelings where our husbands do what we want, right?
A Facebook friend of mine put it this way, and I really liked her analogy. Think about wanting sex like wanting food. Some people like to snack and graze…getting little bits here and there. Others are like bear getting ready for hibernation. One big meal and they are good to go for quite a while. We in essence have a sexual metabolism, and each one of us is different. Our metabolism for food isn’t a reflection of spouse and their ability to cook. It’s a reflection of what your own body needs. Sex is the same. Our drives aren’t about our spouse. We just have individual wants and needs.
Your partner isn’t broken
It is really important to not try and make your partner feel guilty or broken for lower desire. They are not broken and neither are you. It just is what it is. Often times, by saying things to try and make our partner feel that way (whether we are doing it consciously or not) it actually exacerbates things. If we can learn to not take their lower desire so personally, build them up, find ways to satisfy our own needs, then often times they do become more interested in sex. When we act broken by their lack of desire, we often come across and needy, which is not attractive. But learning to take care of our own needs is actually a very attractive quality. Often the solution to feeling more desired is for us to work on ourselves and become more desirable. The less we need our partner to make us feel wanted, sometimes the more they want us. Funny right?
Fixing The Gap
Now, if the desire gap is huge, there really might be something going on medically (like we discussed before). But if it’s a small gap, it might just warrant some conversations and compromises. You might want to discuss how to fulfill those needs in other ways and come to an agreement. There might need to be some discussion on how to turn you down gently.
I’m a big proponent for scheduling sex. I know a lot of people balk at this. They think they want things to be more spontaneous…but I always say “how’s that working for you?” Scheduling is a great way for the high desire partner to know when it’s coming next. It decreases the anxiety that they feel. It’s also great for the lower desire partner. They don’t have to be on-edge wondering if their partner is going to want it tonight. They can gear themselves up mentally for it. It is usually a win-win. THIS TOTALLY WORKS!!!
To help get you started, I’ve created a worksheet to help you set up a sex protocol or schedule. Download it below!