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How do you tell your spouse you’re having too much sex?

Jay Dee

How do you tell your spouse you’re having too much sex?

Apr 15, 2016

I received this question last week through our anonymous Have A Question page: I am a 32 year old mom of three little ones, with a pretty good sex drive (2-6a week) but my husband has much higher than me. We have sex 5-7x a

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Anonymous QuestionI received this question last week through our anonymous Have A Question page:

I am a 32 year old mom of three little ones, with a pretty good sex drive (2-6a week) but my husband has much higher than me. We have sex 5-7x a week and it seems he would like more. I know he doesn’t mean to make me feel like I’m just a sex toy but sometimes I do. We do pretty much everything you talk about and he hasn’t watched porn in about 5 years. I wish he would be satisfied with a bit less but anytime I’ve hinted at this, he feels rejected.  Not what I want!  How do we get on the same page while also both being satisfied

There are times when it’s acceptable to say “we’re having too much sex, and I can’t take it”.  It can happen that too frequent sex can actually damage a relationship, or cause harm to one spouse.

Now, I’m not saying that too much sex damages a relationship.  Don’t anyone misquote me here.  But, there are times when your current relationship and/or life circumstance cannot handle it.  That it throws other things out of balance.

And this can happen in any aspect of the marriage.  If all you do is talk and nothing else, you may find a time when you need to tell  you spouse “I need to take a break from talking for a bit.” or “I can’t handle this much conversation”.  Again, this doesn’t mean a lot of conversation is bad.  It just may be out of balance.

With 3 young kids, daily sex can be out of balance.  It can mean you don’t get any time to connect other than physically.  It can mean you never get time to be an individual and do your own thing.  It can mean you feel only appreciated as a sex object.

And in times like that I think it’s perfectly acceptable to sit your spouse down and say “I can’t keep this up.  It’s damaging our relationship.”

We’ve had this conversation in our marriage in fact.  There was a time we were having daily (or near daily) sex.  But, it was unattainable.  It was amazing for our marriage, but it was ruining us physically.  We were exhausted, and living like zombies (albeit quite happy zombies).  But, still, even though we were both enjoying it, we needed to slow down.  We both hope to get back to that, but with 5 kids, including one that still wakes multiple times a night, frankly, our goal is twice at week these days.  And some weeks we miss even that.

So, how do you do it without hurting your spouse?  You don’t.  It’s going to hurt more than likely.  But, that doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to do.  And your spouse, hopefully, will recognize that.  It hurt when my wife said we need to slow down.  But, she was right.  And sometimes it still hurts a bit when I think back to those days and feel a sense of loss.  But, I know we both want to get back to that some day, when we can maintain a balance, and then I don’t feel so bad.  We’re doing the best we can with what we have.

My advice: be honest, and express what you are feeling and thinking. Tell him that you don’t want to hurt him.  Tell him that you’d love to keep this frequency up, but you can’t manage it at this time.  Tell him that if it continues that it will damage your relationship.  Then, let him decide what’s more important: sex, or your relationship.

And that’s where it becomes difficult.  My wife told me she can’t keep a daily frequency up knowing she had made a promise never to say “no” to sex.  So, it became my decision about whether I wanted to keep up daily sex, or if I wanted my wife to be healthy and sane.  Well, that wasn’t even a choice for me, I chose to keep my wife healthy.  After all, it wasn’t like she was saying “I don’t want sex ever again”.  And this isn’t a “headship and submission” thing, this is a just a “no spouse has veto power” thing.  The same would hold true if the genders were reversed.

So, explain the situation, in a loving and compassionate way, and then wait for him to make a decision.  To me, that’s the biblical way to handle this.

Now, if he doesn’t agree that you need to slow down, and you truly believe its damaging you (you personally, or your relationship, then you should involve a third party in accordance with Matthew 18:15-17.

I hope that helps.  Anyone else want to offer any thoughts?  Do so in the comments below.

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20 thoughts on “How do you tell your spouse you’re having too much sex?”

  1. MrShorty says:

    Interesting topic, JayDee.

    Sex therapists consistently say that the most common complaint they receive is some form of “desire discrepancy” “mismatched libido” kind of thing. It seems that discussion among marriage bloggers and others usually focuses on the “negotiate up” side of this discussion and neglects the “negotiate down” side. Focusing on one side or the other allows the discussion to be simpler, but it might hide the real difficulties that are part of negotiating married sexual relationships. The challenge of course is finding the “middle ground” where both spouses can be happy and satisfied with the relationship without settling for the “compromise” position where both are miserable. Not easy in many cases, and may require some serious self-reflection. The “high drive” spouse (trying to avoid gender stereotypes) may have to dig deep to truly understand how much is “not enough”. The “low drive” spouse may also have to dig pretty deep to truly understand how much is “too much”.

    In another direction: I often hear us claim as Christians that “100% of your sexual energy should be devoted to your spouse.” (copied from one of your posts on masturbation here https://www.uncoveringintimacy.com/why-do-married-men-masturbate/ Note that my intention is not to open the debate about masturbation). What are the implications of the OP regarding this assertion that we should focus 100% of our sexual energy on our spouse — when it is possible (perhaps even probable) that a low desire spouse may not be able to receive 100% of the high desire spouse’s sexual energy? Is this claim “truth”? If it is “truth”, is it one of those “heavenly ideals that God asks of us but that is not attainable in any practical sense in a fallen world” kind of truths? What does it suggest that a high desire spouse should do with the sexual energy that their spouse cannot receive?

    1. LatterDay Marriage says:

      I think the long term the objective should be that both are fully satisfied or as close to it as possible, not just leave it with both of the mostly sorta ok with how things are.

      That may require one spouse to learn to enjoy having sex even when they don’t feel a burning desire for it personally, or it can mean one spouse lowering expectations to match what their spouse is capable of giving. Who should change and by how much depends on the reasons, selfishness should be overcome, not catered to. Actual physical, mental, emotional limits should be respected.

      1. Anonymous says:

        True enough. I think the challenge lies in the introspection and self-knowledge part. I think it can be all too easy to confuse and conflate “actual physical, mental, and emotional limits” with “selfishness” and unwillingness to stretch ourselves outside of our comfort zones.
        And some of it might require patience and an element of “trial and error”. Stretch yourself into the “too much/too little” zone and see what happens. I expect there are situations where the only way to tell the difference might be to try and see.

  2. LatterDay Marriage says:

    It may be easier for the short term anyway to negotiate a specific schedule of what nights there is no sex. He then knows ahead of time and doesn’t feel rejected and she can put yourself into sex more on the on nights knowing you get a break.

    Another thing is that she could plan to make use of the days off for connecting in non-sexual ways, or provide him with some non-sexual affection. He has to have the maturity to respect the boundary though and not try to use those things as a means to get her to go ahead anyway.

  3. Lil Mama B says:

    Honey, get some coconut oil and use your hand a few times per week. If you do it right (you might need to have him show you) he should be quite content.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      That doesn’t work for some men. Not every husband can orgasm from a hand job or even oral sex.

      1. Tony Conrad says:

        I find that hard to believe but your the expert.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          Well…I can’t from either…so yeah, I’m going to stick to my assessment 🙂

          As far as I can tell, it’s somewhere in the 6-10% range of men who can’t orgasm from oral sex. Not sure about hand jobs.

      2. A says:

        Do you have any resources/posts on this topic??

        1. Jay Dee says:

          On how to give oral sex or a hand job to a guy? No, I’m afraid I don’t. I don’t think it would be proper for me to try to teach that, since I’ve never experienced an orgasm from either.

          I’d suggest the Delight Your Husband course from Belah Rose (a Christian podcaster). I’ve heard a lot of good things about it.

  4. jack says:

    First to latter-day marriage “there is no such thing as non-sexual affection to a man who could use more sex.” That does not say that he should have all he wants whenever! He should See the waiting as a plus for better sex later with more anticipation on the part of both! ? both put a little more into those times with maybe more than one orgasm for him or at least a longer build up he will unload better and be more satisfied. Especially if she connects well and is present and giving him her all. Sex Isn’t just about taking off pressure it’s also about how much is given as to how satisfied he will be. Are you both fully or is she to tired and is she doing some green drink for energy and health. That will also help balance hormones and give her more info in bed and make her more responsive. Mothers needs lots of energy and there needs to be some left so she can be a wife in bed! Also quickies work if they exotic and can add variety.

  5. Tony Conrad says:

    I think this can be a problem in a few marriages, but if one wants sex, the wife or the husband, then they have power over the body of the other don’t they? Personally I would have thought most husbands or wives would instinctively know if the other is performing with reluctance and have a good talk about it as to what could be changed.

  6. j says:

    My husband wants sex every night.On his days off he would like to have sex several times a day.I never become aroused and just go through the motions.I have tried talking to him about this but he thinks as long as he is getting what he wants every thing is okay.I have talked to my doctor about this and he didn’t have any answers.I have arrived at the point that if I never had sex again that would be fine.I do feel like a sex toy.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I think you have two good options:
      1) Go to someone who can help with the relationship (pastor or counselor).
      2) Make sex better so you actually enjoy it.

      1. j says:

        My husband won’t talk to anyone becase he says it’s not his problem and there is nothing wrong with him.I don’t know what to do to make the sex enjoyable because if I don’t become aroused how can I enjoy it?

        1. Tony Conrad says:

          I would never enjoy it if DW didn’t. Somehow this has to be discussed between you. Sex can be far from straightforward as everyone is different. Surely that is all part of knowing each other?

        2. MrShorty says:

          Your husband is at least partially correct — there is nothing wrong with him. Of course, the flip side of that is that there isn’t anything wrong with you, either. Sometimes it seems that we as Christians always want things like this (especially questions around sexuality) to be either “right” or “wrong”, “sin” or “not sin”. I am becoming more of the mind that there is more gray area in our sexuality. Some of the difficulty in these problems is avoiding the defensiveness, avoiding the black and white, and figure out how to negotiate something that does not necessarily have a right or a wrong answer.

          Whether or not it is “his problem” is up for debate, though I think part of the problem is that we tend to make it “his problem” or “her problem”, when what I think is often needed is to make it “our problem”. It is unfortunate he will not let a third party into this discussion, because a good therapist should be able to help with this kind of impasse. If he is like me, he has seen how our culture and society (in and out of the church) tends to demonize the stereotypical “male sexual desire” and may be hesitant to go to a counselor for fear that the counselor will take your side. I don’t know how to alleviate those concerns, but any way that you can help him feel less defensive and more open to real negotiation would seem helpful.

          1. Jordan says:

            I’d argue that there is absolutely something wrong with him. It’s not a physical problem, but an attitude of “I got mine so it’s all good” is definitely a problem.

  7. Butterflywings says:

    I can understand a spouse saying once a day is too much (during a busy time in a couple’s lives anyway), but what about when your spouse is claiming once a week is too much and it’s during a remarkably unbusy time in their life (working part time, doing very little to help with the kids who sleep all night and doing very little in housework or yardwork, and no health problems either, other than low libido)? What then?

    What do you do when your completely healthy and unbusy spouse claims you are damaging them asking for sex at least once a week?

    When is it acceptable for a spouse to ask to “slow down” and when isn’t it?

    Also, something I am desperate for an answer to that I would love to see a full post about (not just a comment reply) what if you have approached other people to try to apply Matthew 18 to your situation and no one will help?

    I ask this because I have begged so many people over and over for help (and I don’t mean about sex specifically, but about serious marriage problems). I firstly approached my mother in law as she is someone I saw as a mature and wise christian and someone my husband would actually listen to. At first, her response was just “he won’t listen so I’m not going to try”. I was hurt by that, and as more problems developed and became more serious, I tried each time a new serious problem arose (not sex ones because that would be weird to talk about to a mother in law), but each time she said the same. Eventually I found out it was more than that but before it got to that, I gave up and tried talking to our pastor and our women’s ministry leader.

    While they were both very adamant that what my husband was doing was wrong and sinful, neither would say that to him (only to me) and when asked for help to try and intervene, all they would do was say try marriage counselling (something we’ve been doing our entire marriage, and we’ve been through three professional counsellors in that time and he hasn’t listened to any of them even though he chose every single one of them). I tried pointing out we’ve seen marriage counsellors, and he hasn’t listened to them, that they won’t confront sin (especially the secular one who didn’t even realise some of my husband’s behaviours were sinful), but their job isn’t to confront sin – they are there to help couples find a common ground, not to confront one partner in mistreating the other. Especially now as we cannot afford any of the counsellors we have seen previously and no affordable ones are taking new clients, marriage counselling with a professional is simply not an option. I have begged our pastor over and over for help, and all he can say is if marriage counselling isn’t working, then the church will morally support me taking the kids and leaving my husband. Which is all well and good – except it’s practical support I need to leave and I don’t want to leave! I want to work things out with my husband, but with his closed mind and heart, without the intervention of others, he will never try to work things out.

    I have begged an elder from our church and his wife and also our bible study leader and the leader’s wife for help in intervening but after a few tiny attempts to just casually talk to him about things, my husband worked out where things would go (especially after the bible study leader did mention my husband’s computer gaming addiction casually suggesting he needed to cut back on his computer usage), and after that he stopped going to bible study (he had much earlier stopped attending church), and after a few attempts to talk to my husband casually, when he would make excuses not to talk and then stopped even answering his phone and simply didn’t call them back, all everyone would say to me is take the kids and leave until he pulls himself together and ask for help to leave from secular services (which simply aren’t accessible due to many years wait for things like government housing etc and welfare payments for single parents not even covering the rent on one bedroom units).

    And I have no other christians to turn to intervene. Marriage counsellors just say it’s not their place to confront sin. Pastors and elders and others in our church just say they aren’t marriage counsellors so go see a marriage counsellor, that they will only talk to him if he reaches out to them. And my husband’s parents (the only other people he would listen to) have said for some time now that he won’t listen so they won’t bother trying, and in the last few days, I have found out he has been lying to them about our marriage problems and the truth is that it’s not that they won’t confront him about his sinful behaviour in marriage, but that they don’t believe me about what he is doing. Something I wish they had been honest about from the start because I wouldn’t have opened up to them and I certainly wouldn’t have asked for their help.

    And there is no one else left. If no one in your church or other christians in your life will confront your spouse sinning against you in very big ways and just say it’s not their business to do so, what do you do? I don’t want to leave my husband because 1. I have nowhere to go and I can see now if I try to leave I will end up living out of my car within a few months, especially as my husband has made sure things like the credit card debts are in my name and I have no access to money (so no savings or anything) since I lost my job last year). I have been going to charities for food and medications for several months now – there is no way I can save up to leave him as I don’t have an income to save up and no way to access his income. and 2. I know if I leave, he won’t change his ways and the separation will end up permanent.

  8. Tony Conrad says:

    It is plain in scripture 1 Cor 7 that you have power over his body and you over his, so you have a scriptural basis for your wishes. How to get him to see that is another problem. I can’t suggest anything other than asking God how to approach it.

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