Who should initiate sex, husband, or wife?

Jay Dee

Who should initiate sex, husband, or wife?

Jan 19, 2015

I was asked this question recently over Twitter, so it’s not quite anonymous, but well, it was easier to stick with the same graphic.  Plus, I didn’t ask if the questioner wanted to be attributed, so I thought it best to keep it this way.

Anonymous QuestionI was asked this question recently over Twitter, so it’s not quite anonymous, but well, it was easier to stick with the same graphic.  Plus, I didn’t ask if the questioner wanted to be attributed, so I thought it best to keep it this way.  His question is:

Who should make the first move when it come to sex..the husband or the wife?

Some will say that it’s always the man’s role to initiate, either because he should be the dominant one, or because sex is “for the man”.  But, I’m afraid I’m going to disagree, and I’ll tell you why in a bit, but first, I want to answer the question.  Who should make the first move?  Whomever thinks sex should happen!  No, I did NOT say whomever wants sex.  I said, whomever thinks sex should happen.  Why the distinction?  Because sometimes you know you should have sex, even if you aren’t in the mood at the moment.

So, let’s run down some possibilities.

If you want sex, you should initiate

Pretty simple, right?  Well, some don’t find it so simple.  In fact, I talk to many spouses who say “I keep waiting for my spouse to initiate”, or “I’m waiting for my spouse to be in the mood”.  Some wait a long time for that to happen.  The worst is when you talk to both spouse, and they are each waiting for the other to make a move!  I’ll be honest, this has happened in my marriage as well, and you have to do a face-palm when you realize that the only reason you didn’t have sex that night was because you didn’t initiate!

Now, there are some exceptions to this, of course.  If your spouse is horribly ill, or you’re in the middle of Christmas dinner with your family…maybe wait a bit.  Or, if you are dealing with some sexual issues in your marriage, there are some cases when waiting for the other to initiate can be of value.  However, for the vast majority, you are your own worst enemy.  If you want sex, you should initiate.  Yep, you might get turned down more often…but you might get more sex too.

I’m not really a baseball fan, but I hear Babe Ruth is considered one of the best hitters out there.  I’ve also heard that his hit to miss ratio was terrible, he swung at everything.  But, he also had an impressive amount of home runs, I believe he held a record for a while.  He also said this:

Never let the fear of striking out get in your way. – Babe Ruth

How many of you are letting your fear of rejection get in your way?  I know I do.  I still sometimes do, even though I know better!

If you think your spouse needs sex, you should initiate

Sometimes it’s not you that wants sex, sometimes you recognize that your spouse could really use it, and for whatever reason, they aren’t initiating.  Or maybe you can just beat them to it.  After all, this is a marriage: your in it to serve, or at least you should be.  I’m very blessed to have a wife who thinks about my drive and suggests sex when she thinks I need it.

If you think your marriage needs sex, you should initiate

Sometimes neither of you are “in the mood”, but you know you need it.  Maybe you’ve had an argument, or it’s just been a while and you need to reconnect.  Sometimes you need to recognize what would be best for the marriage, and realize that you’ll probably get in the mood once you get started.  Sex has an amazing ability to heal, to comfort, to bond you together.  That’s why makeup sex exists.  Don’t think sex can be used for comfort?  Go read 2 Samuel 12.  Here’s verse 24 for those who can’t be bothered to read the story:

Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and made love to her. She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The LORD loved him

– 2 Samuel 12:24

As well, we need to be careful in our marriages that our times between sex don’t become to long.  It can happen that you have a busy week, and so you aren’t really in the mood for sex.  Then another week goes by.  Then another.  Now it’s been nearly a month, and you’re out of the practice of initiating.  Soon two months goes by.  Next you start noticing all the attractive people around you in your life.  It’s a dangerous scenario.  I think that’s why Paul wrote this:

Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

– 1 Corinthians 7:5

A marriage without frequent sex has a much higher possibility of infidelity.  It’s not guaranteed (just as it’s not guaranteed that a lot of sex is going to prevent an affair), but it increases your risk.

Shouldn’t the husband initiate?

This is old school mentality.  The idea that men must initiate, either because “sex is for men”, which is rediculous, or because they’re supposed to be dominant, and thus should initiate.  While, I agree that men should be dominant in the relationship, I don’t agree that dominant means initiating 100% of the time.

The Christian paradigm of headship and submission is not about a strong husband dominating a weak wife.  Rather, it is about a strong husband leading a strong wife, who is submissive.  Both leadership and submission should come from a place of strength, from understanding the role God has given you.

I think these people who think the husband should initiate every time believe that somehow, the wife initiating hurts the masculinity.  I think this stems from a false belief that sex is for the men and that the women are merely here to service us.  That a woman has no business actually desiring sex, and that if she does, it makes her more masculine, and thus the husband looks for feminine, or something like that.

But this is absurd.  God created both genders to desire their spouses.  A wife wanting sex is not abnormal, not masculine, not wrong.  It is perfectly healthy.  And if you believe that a wife desiring her husband makes him less of a man…well, I think you have your paradigm upside down.  Actually, you aren’t even in the right ballpark, what makes him a man is that God made him a man.  Period.  Just like what makes a woman a woman, is that God made her that way.  End of story.  Sometimes we forget those facts, and start measuring our gender value in terms of the world’s measuring stick.  This is failing to remember who who our Creator is.

So, should the husband initiate? Yes!  Should the wife?  Yes!  Why not!  Whichever sees a need in the marriage, should jump to fulfill it.

Your Turn

What do you think?  Who should initiate in the marriage?

Looking for help?

44 thoughts on “Who should initiate sex, husband, or wife?”

  1. LatterDay Marriage says:

    I agree with the ‘if you want it, ask for it’ idea in general, but at the same time there can be other wants that get in the way of that. There have been times where I wanted sex with my wife but what I wanted even more than that was for her to make the first move. I wanted that as affirmation that she desires me, enjoys making love with me, and isn’t just going along with my request because that is what she is supposed to do. Likewise a desire to avoid rejection will discourage somebody from initiating with a spouse when they expect rejection.

    Ideally each spouse makes a point of initiating part of the time so it never starts to feel one sided, and each does their best to accept as many invitations as they can so neither spouse gets discouraged.

    1. Anonymous says:

      I let my husband initiate because I am high libido & he is much lower, and initiating whenever want sex was too much pressure on him, which caused more issues with libido differences. He is aware of my needs and initiates more often than he would otherwise. It works for us.

    2. barry says:

      I initiate it most of the time but my wife rejects it and it get me very angry, complaining one thing or the other.
      I hate to be turned down and this can lead to infidelity in marriage please I need your advice thanks

      1. LatterDay Marriage says:

        Getting angry is counterproductive, it makes it look like all you are thinking about is your own pleasure and not considering her feelings. That will just make her feel like saying no the next time too, and when you get a yes all you may get is duty sex.

        Open up your heart to her, gently tell her how much you love her, how much you want to express that love by giving her pleasure and how it hurts to be rejected for no apparent reason and how it makes you feel unloved and unwanted. Perhaps in an email if that is easier for you. Ask her what it is that leads her to say no so much and what can be done to make that better. There are a number of good books written to help couples like you. You should both read some, perhaps read them together.

      2. Thomas says:

        I have the same issue and for many years. Women are very complex and I find that:
        1) They do NOT understand the need is more than physical
        2) how their sexual acceptance allows men to take on the world regardless of what it throws
        3) that loving them is our priority but we suffer greatly from this rejection to the point of questioning the future, and major purchases together.
        4) Once married, they feel a safety net via laws, whereby they can discount us to the level of provider and money supplier. It is a form of abuse I wish upon no man.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          Not all woman are like this, you must be very careful not to generalize. In fact, there are many marriages where it is reversed: the husband is rejecting the wife in the same manner.

          1. Fritzie says:

            Totally agree. Been initiating for the past 3 years but my Husband is giving me all kinds of excuses. Felt very humiliated, neglected, insulted & taken for granted…

  2. Spiritwalker142 says:

    The husband should initiate sex because sex is “for the man” and women shouldn’t enjoy sex. Whoever thinks like that needs to be Gibbs slapped. Sex is for the woman as much as it is for the man. Both spouses should approach it in this manner, in my opinion. Both spouses should initiate sex when they want it or need it. If you want/need sex ask, if your spouse says no you may have planted a seed for later in the day/evening. I can’t tell you how much I like it when my wife says “wanna get naked/take a shower?” Of course this is a bit easier for us because we don’t have kids. As to liking sex, if the wife doesn’t enjoy it maybe the husband is doing something wrong. There are no frigid women just clumsy men.

    1. Truthseeker says:

      I disagree with Spiritwalker in that there are women who are genuinely “frigid” by brain wiring. For example, my wife had undiagnosed autism when we married, and I could not understand why we never consummated our marriage until a fee days after a very disappointing “honeymoon.” Frequency of intercourse never rose much above once a month to six weeks, which classifies our marriage as essentially sexless. After a number if arguments, counseling, and several periods of marital separation, I was finally able to convince my wife to get a thorough psychological exam. The doctor had her tested for high-functioning Asperger’s Syndrome. She tested positive completely off the chart. Thus began several years of therapy (mostly ineffective, ad many Asperger females are essentially asexual, desiring only a platonic relationship. In out case, I have to ask for her permission to even hold hands or touch her arm. Sexual activity is almost always out of the question. The woman is beautiful, engaging, extremely intelligent, and very loyal to me. She just does not want to be touched physically under any circumstances. Any suggestions from Jay or anyone else?

      1. LatterDay Marriage says:

        My wife has Seasonal Affective Disorder. It used to be that from Dec to March she would feel too down to really be productive at anything and no libido either. We found that a heavy dose vitamin treatment did wonders for her (she takes Empower Plus from http://www.truehope.com) they say it should help with Aspergers too but it doesn’t work for everybody so it’s kind of a shot.

        1. Anonymous says:

          Vitamins, supplements, and drugs have no affect on autism, including Asperger’s. Since autism is a neurological disorder and is basically the way one’s brain is hardwired, there is no treatment or cure for Asperger’s. Health and nutrition companies who claim that their products affect or help autistic people are most likely fraudulent. Some behavior modification of Asperger’s is possible through counseling, but only to a very limited extent and only if the counselor is well trained in Asperger’s, and the Asperger’s person is motivated and agreeable. My spouse is neither. My question for DJ is, does any body of knowledge exist to help Christian couples in our situation? Thank you.

  3. Anonymous says:

    After 30+ years of initiating and being turned down most of the time, I agreed to let her initiate (since she has a low sex drive). She has told me that initiating makes her feel uncomfortable. Thus we now have a sexless marriage (and we are only in our mid 50’s) . However, I still love her very much and we enjoy our several grandchildren together. I pray that the next generation of Christians do not fall prey to the devil’s lies like it has happened in my generation. Thank you for promoting positive sex in Christian marriages!

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I think it’s time to go back to initiating…

    2. Thomas says:

      I am soon 47 and 27 years of the same. Women have been bamboozled by the devil’s lies regarding sex and we men have had to adjust to a very unnatural existence – as they have as well.

      BUT, I find it amazing that our wives know what to do and when if babies are on the mind! This rejection IS A DECISION. They are the refusers, we the refusees. They have a false premise of what life and romance ought to be, therefore men are victims of fairy tales and book character’s like Fabio.
      It would almost be funny if not so painful.

      Without Sex, so many aspects to a partnership are removed, including flirting, holding hands, romance, celebrations, conversations, etc. I know this is argued in the reverse BUT when you have been there and done all these things yet are still denied so regularly and so creatively, you are just asking for your heart to be slapped.
      I am sleeping in my kids room now. I can hardly look her in the eyes anymore. I could not even muster the words “Happy Anniversary” last year. We traveled that day with the kids, so it was easy to let it be forgotten. But she can spend countless hours learning about prophecy and biblical revelations.

      1. Jay Dee says:

        It’s a difficult place to be, but loving back, despite the rejection is also a decision…

    3. Charles says:

      Anonymous, you are in the same boat I’m in. 30 plus years of being shut out of the marriage bed is enough. You may have to do the same as I’m doing, which is to seek marriage counseling, with or without her.

  4. FarAboveRubies says:

    I’m not sure who initiates because it’s a yes almost every night. I guess it’s about 50/50. I put more effort into providing variety and it shows in his enthusiasm. We go wild when all the kids are out of the house. I walk around naked and it’s pretty obvious, that is a huge hint. He will then join me. Oh, by the way, we are both in our 50’s and our interludes continue to get better, as the years go by. I want to please my husband because he is so sweet to me. The more physical intimacy I give him, the sweeter he becomes toward me. The sweeter he is to me, the more I want to give my body to him. And so the story goes… Who started first, him being sweet to me, or me giving my body freely to him? It’s not about, “What’s in it for me?” It should be about, “How can I serve you?” I that’s my two cents worth.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      That’s how it should be!

    2. Thomas says:

      You are a great testimony and thank you for sharing. That is the magic, the more you offer and give, the more men reciprocate at EVERY level. He simply LOVES life when this is the home situation.

  5. me says:

    I used to think I initiated sex with DH, but soon discovered he stopped initiating all together, and turned me down. Turns out what I thought was initiating, he thought was me being a big tease and expecting him to do all the work. In a way, he was right. I would cuddle and flirt, but then wait for him to roll over and get things started. He wanted me to take the reigns as much as I wanted him to.

    So now we both initiate and that means initiator does most if the “work.”

    Men, maybe your wife IS initiating, but her clues are way too subtle and she is just as frustrated as you are.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      We’ve had this same conversation in our marriage.

    2. Ricky says:

      This sounds exactly like my situation my wife thought she was initiating but her idea and my idea of initiating we’re completely different. I am buried these feelings deep inside of slight resentment towards her not because I wasn’t getting laid enough and we were having great sex but because I didn’t feel like she needed me as much as I needed her and she had no clue that I felt that way and I had no clue she was doing something wrong. Once she found out she communicated to me that she only ever wants to please me in every way possible even if it means having sex when she doesn’t want to she really is a good woman and I think we do anything that I ask of her if it meant that it would make me happy. In return I need to think of her when I’m asking her to do such things.

    3. Anonymous says:

      When you talk about your plan it out and decide what you’re gonna do when you do your part according to the way it was set up a plan and it doesn’t happen so then who’s fault is it really

      1. Jay Dee says:

        Have you ever had a productive conversation that started with “I think this is your fault”?

  6. Alex says:

    Here’s the thing: I don’t want to have to initiate sex every time with my wife. I want her to initiate and the more the better. Now for what really happens. I initiate sex about 2/3 of the time. When my wife initiates, I’m not always in the mood but I always go along and we usually have a great time. Occasionally it’ll be a full-blown session she asks for and sometimes it’s just a “quickie.” BUT, a good percentage of the time when I initiate I also know she’s really in the mood and is sending me indicators of her desire to get it on. So, in the grand scheme of things, it’s pretty equitable in our house.

  7. Ricky says:

    Wow I literally just had this conversation with my wife last night. The thing that is helped our sex life and our marriage the most is communication. Like the first person that commented I wanted to initiate but what I wanted more was her to want me or to feel desired by her that she needs my body the same way that I need hers. I tried everything but when I was doing was having a goal at the end of my try and set of just loving her for who she is and I realize that I’ve made so many mistakes in our marriage. Should she initiate more? I think so but she will never turn down sex me if I ask for it and one thing that I finally learned by talking to her yesterday was that just because she’s not initiating doesn’t mean that she does not want to have sex the same way that I want to feel needed by her she wants the same thing for me and I had been going too far the other way by waiting for her to leave when she wants to be seduced by me. And the more I think about it what girl wouldn’t want to feel completely desired, craved, loved and complete by their husband. One thing that I learned from yesterday’s conversation and I have been learning as we continue to openly communicate more and more is that she can’t read my mind and unless you’re willing to open yourself up to her and tell her how you really feel or the other way around it’s a girl feel this way towards her husband that nothing is going to change unless you talk. My wife and I have always had great sex but we hit speed bumps along the way but I don’t think it’s necessarily spicing things up as much is communicating with the other spouse and let them know what your needs are.

  8. Keelie Reason says:

    I think that it should be both that initiate sex. If you have a low libido, it is very important that you figure out how to initiate sex for the sake of your marriage. Not just because you want to please your spouse, but we all have a need for sex. If you are not interested in sex, then it is possible you have a hormonal problem. Sometimes there are other factors that contribute to a low libido. If one partner is not being satisfied by the sexual experience, then that will make them feel less willing to say yes when the other asks. It will also make it so they do not ever initiate. If you aren’t willing to initiate in your marriage, then it is time you ask yourself why. Work with your spouse to figure it out.

    1. Melissa says:

      No one has a “need” for sex-people have a desire for it, but not a need. No, it isn’t usually a hormonal problem if a spouse doesn’t want sex-women generally do not want sex nearly as much as men do, so we don’t “need” to be fixed either.

      1. Raphael Tisserand says:

        Sexual desire comes from the brain’s limbic system, just like hunger and the fight or flight response does. So yes, it is a need.

  9. greville constantine says:

    Whenever me & my wife want sex, she initiates many times. She really turns me when she seductively tells me “I want to make love tonight”! That gets me in the mood immediately! It is no bother to us as to who initiates, as long as we have a wonderful sex moment for ourselves. However, I do admit that it feels pretty unfair to her that she has to initiate many times. I would love to initiate sex between us just as often. But you see, the way I want to initiate sex just doesn’t happen with me. I want to be able to make love to her when she is sleeping, maybe with some oral pleasure, wake her up from her sleep &we start to make passionate love. Another way is while the television is on & we start to make love while one of our favorite shows are on. But we are both very tired after work & I don’t want to disturb her when she sleeps & she doesn’t really like to be distracted during our lovemaking sessions. So I am hoping & praying that once we find better paying jobs with better hours where we can rest properly & reserve our energy for ourselves, then I can finally initiate lovemaking with her. Am I hoping for too much this way, or is there s way I can initiate sex with her more often nowadays??

    1. Ricky says:

      Are you kidding me? For one why not trying it before she falls asleep lol. I bet your results will increase 100% haha. Seriously though is there something about you initiating when she is emotionally and physically unavailable to you that turns you on or are you having a hard time finding the time until you know that you can or finding away until you know that it’s not really an option and it just springs on you? When you guys get home from work try seducing her. Maybe try some bondage. My life goes nuts over some bondage MAYBE yours will too. I wish I had your problem with a over initiating wife lol. I almost ALWAYS initiate. But I’m starting to get kind of creative with how I do it soda in the early stages I usually get turned on enough to where I make earned it and then she takes over. I have young kids though so it’s tough she’s musing still and is tired so I try to think of her before trying to initiate every day.

  10. Cynthia Grace says:

    We been married for 4 years. We both christians, we enjoyed a good sex life until our baby last year. Now we only have sex once a month. I initiate all the time. I am getting fed up and even started flirting with a particular man at my work. I have spoken to him countless times about the fulfilling each other sexual desires but he is very slow to change. The only way I can get sex is to actually literally pin him down and make sure he doesn’t run away anywhere. He is up for it only if I make all the effort. Usually he is just tired. He is a good guy, great dad and great husband but I feel so sexually unfulfilled that I beginning to think perhaps having an affair will be better than bothering him for sex. I don’t want to do this as I love Jesus and I love him. Please pray for me.

    1. unmowngrass says:

      I am praying for you dear Cynthia Grace. So very sorry it’s been a month with no replies! 🙁

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hello, I’ve been having the issue of not initiating sex with my husband. We’ve only been married for 8 months and he’s always been the one to initiate. But one day he decided to stop(4 months ago) and hasn’t initiated since. I’ve only initiated a couple of times, but always felt uncomfortable initiating. I’m not sure why, he feels that I’m not attracted to him because of his weight or never really liked his sex, but that is far from the truth. I do desire him and our sex was great…I just have difficulty initiating.Now he’s questioning my love for him. When I tell him I love him with all my heart…he says actions speak louder than words. And now if I try to initiate, he feels I’m not being sincere with it and rejects me. Now, I’ve never rejected him, I just hardly ever initiated. He was already very insecure with his weight and now he tells me I’m tearing him down as a man, he says I’m making him depressed again and is starting to shut his heart down to protect it from being hurt again. I LOVE this man and I don’t want to lose him, but I’m at a loss, ?

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Well, I think there are two things here:

      In no particular order, firstly he needs to get some therapy. You aren’t making him depressed, he’s making himself depressed, and he needs to learn to stop. As you said, he’s insecure, and his weight isn’t helping that. I doubt it’s the real issue, merely what he’s grabbed on to. His insecurity probably goes much deeper and it needs to be addressed. But, you can’t fix that in him. He has to do the work for that, and that would be much easier with someone qualified to help in with that, like a therapist or a counselor.

      However, in the mean time, you can do your part to help him until such time that he’s not so dependent. There’s no reason you can’t learn to initiate. I know it’s awkward, especially when you haven’t done it before, but try. And keep trying. If he pushes you away, initiate stronger. I think he’s having trouble believing you love him (his issue, not yours), and he’s pushing you away and rejecting you because he wants you to prove that you do. It’s not fair, and it’s not nice, but if you want to show him you love him, then you need to be more stubborn than he is 🙂

      Now, if you try that for the next few months, and no change, then I think you need to put your foot down and make him to go therapy, because if he’s not accepting your initiation and he’s deciding to still be depressed, then you’re just enabling him.

      Anyways, that’s my unqualified, non-therapist opinion. But, I recognize the mentality. I used to be that guy. Feel free to email me if you want to discuss.

      1. Anonymous says:

        Thank you so much JayDee…how do I email you?

  12. Paul says:

    I’ve been married nearly 20 years… generally my sex drive is higher than my wife’s, so early on I initated most of the time, but nowadays, I feel SHE should initiate because for me these says, QUALITY and DESIRE is much more fulfilling than QUANTITY and DUTY.

    Sure she can fulfill her “wifely duties”, but it gets old.
    Nothing beats a wife in desire.. nothing, everything, even the kisses are better.

    If I were to use a football analogy, like football, sex is a team sport – everyone should come to play and play hard, but there needs to be a quarterback who calls the plays. I have no problem taking direction, and at least I know I’m always ready, so I let her take charge.

    We have fewer disputes that way and I don’t have to desl with rejection or delays as much, because I took the pressure off

  13. kumar k says:

    I always show indications to my wife to have sex like reaching bed early with kids trying them to sleep. Never i get response making me to feel that i have been ignored. Earlier during the act also i was denied for some that i like making me to feel that i am getting avoided and not really desired by my wife. Some reasons, now i completely lost my interest and sleeping away. No issues with family and time as it goes. But we both lost very valuable thing of married life. I am not sure if its my mistake or my wife’s……I always try to interact but i dont get any response for the same.
    Pl help me

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Nothing you have described are indications to your wife that you want to have sex. Those are covert contracts. Sexual initiation doesn’t count if the other spouse doesn’t know that that’s what you’re doing.

      1. Anonymous says:

        Thanks that was great knowledge. Honestly speaking both of us are less talkative people. Myself, more of action oriented than speaking a sort of shyness may be.
        It sounds to me like ‘we should be more talkative’ each other.
        Is thats all. or anything that i should follow.
        Thanks Jay Dee.
        You have a wonderful happy new year 2O17

  14. Amy says:

    We haven’t had sex close to 40 years so who cares. I don’t sleep with my wife and don’t care. She does what ever with who ever and that’s the way our marriage has gone.

  15. MKG says:

    I feel bad for many of the men on here that are in sexless marriages. Women have come to weaponize sex, and when there is a child involved, the law will destroy a man financially if they were ever to divorce.
    Remember that during biblical times, men could have multiple wives and thus always be sexually fulfilled. Monogamy is the law of western society, but from a practical sense, I wonder if it polygamy would solve much of these sexual issues. Where in scripture is monogamy demanded?

    1. Jay Dee says:

      We have plenty of women here who also suffer in sexless marriages because their husbands deny them.

      As for the question of monogamy, I have a post discussing that here: When did God stop allowing multiple wives

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