I love my husband, but I just don’t want sex very often. I really need affection, though, but he thinks every bit of affection has to lead somewhere. Help! Thanks so much for your letter and your honesty. Let me start by saying that what you’re feeling is PERFECTLY NORMAL. In fact, probably most women go through that. But just because most women may encounter this doesn’t make it any less stressful! When you and your husband have different levels of sexual desire, the conflict can be very difficult.
Here are some things you can keep in mind to help you bridge the gap:
1. Is this mostly a physical issue? You mentioned feeling tired. Are there things you can do to ensure that you aren’t as tired when you go to bed? You can try retiring earlier, initiating sex at a time of day when you’re more awake, cutting back on outside activities or work commitments, if possible, or just trying to weed out unimportant things from your schedule. Remember that your marriage is probably the best investment you have right now. The more you can do to make it fun, fulfilling and intimate now, early in your time together, the more you will enjoy each other later.
2. Are you enjoying sexual intimacy? It often takes a couple even a decade to get acquainted enough with what each other likes that sex simply isn’t that pleasurable for women. The earth doesn’t move, so to speak. But be patient; likely with time you will enjoy intimacy more. Don’t give up! Find out what you do like and find ways to communicate this to your husband. You don’t have to say it out loud if you’re shy; even moving his hand somewhere can give him the message. Another exercise that can prove helpful in getting acquainted with each other’s bodies is to give yourselves an hour when all you do is touch each other. There’s no sex at all; that can come later if you want, but not for a full hour. As he touches you, you can let him know what feels best. And then you can do the same thing to him. Find out how he likes to be touched. Men tend to like to be touched much rougher than women do, and men may not realize that women need a softer touch than men do. So try some exercises where you’re just getting used to each other, without the pressure of actually making love.
3. This is going to sound difficult, and I know that women often have trouble with what I’m about to say. But for men, sexual intimacy really is a need, whereas cuddling is optional. For women, the opposite is the case. Women often have difficulty understanding that men really do need sex in a physical sense. If they do not get release, their bodies will do it for them in their sleep. They were created that way. That does not mean that you are required to satisfy his every desire! Of course not. But it does mean that women have to think about men in a different way. This is something that he actually needs. It sometimes feels weird making love when you don’t really want to. It’s as if you’re being fake, or even, in extremes, as if you’re being emotionally blackmailed into it, and that’s not a good situation at all. But if we can acknowledge that men do need sex at least somewhat regularly, then you can turn it into a game. Instead of asking yourself, over and over, “do I really want to tonight?”, you can say to yourself, “what can I do to give him a really good time?” Dare yourself to make him feel great. That puts the pressure off of your own sex drive. Quite often women’s sexual response doesn’t kick in until we’ve made that emotional commitment to make love, and if you make love out of obligation, that may never happen. If you make love to sweep him off of his feet, though, it can be a fun experience even if you’re not doing it for your own enjoyment. And he’ll like the fact that you want to make him happy. As you get more used to this, too, you’ll probably find yourself enjoying it more.
4. Remember, too, that men tend to be more cuddly after they make love. If you need affection, you have two choices. You can wait for him to give it to you (which may take a long time), or you can make love and likely get it right away. It feels wrong, because women may not understand why he doesn’t need cuddling, too. But that’s the nature of marriage. The more you give, the more you get. If you wait to get, you’ll likely never receive what you’re waiting for. Finally, hang in there. I know this seems like a huge mountain to climb, when you just don’t see how your sex drive can increase, and sex, which you once thought would be so fun, now seems like a burden. But for most couples, this is only a stage. Remember that investing in your marriage pays incredible dividends down the road. So let him know what you like, get the rest you need, and dare yourself to make him feel great. You’ll likely find that once you do that, you get that love, affirmation, and cuddling you so desire, and your husband will feel like the luckiest man on earth.
Copyright © 2006 Sheila Wray Gregoire, used with permission. Visit Shiela at sheilawraygregoire.com