The worst time to spice up your sex life

Jay Dee

The worst time to spice up your sex life

Mar 14, 2018

I’ve written a lot about different ways to spice up your sex life.  Those of you who have been reading a while know I tend to prefer conversations that spark understanding and long-term growth over short-term gimmicks.  However, I have been known to write posts

Does your spouse feel like sex is a duty, chore or obligation? Now may not be the best time to try and spice up your sex life. You may just be adding additional tasks that they feel required to complete to keep you happy.I’ve written a lot about different ways to spice up your sex life.  Those of you who have been reading a while know I tend to prefer conversations that spark understanding and long-term growth over short-term gimmicks.  However, I have been known to write posts on some fun little things you can try to break a rut and have created some resources to help you make things more interesting, or encourage you to explore your boundaries.

However, there are some cases when spicing up your sex life can actually be detrimental rather than fun.  Sometimes these people email me, or I talk to them as coaching clients.  I can think of a half-dozen people off the top of my head who will think this post is written specifically for them.  It’s not, because I’ve already talked to you about it. This is for the people I haven’t gotten a chance to speak to.

Typically what happens in these cases is the high drive spouse contacts me because they want more variety in their sex life. Or because there is a specific activity that they want to add to their sex life and either their spouse is reluctant or they’re afraid their spouse will reject the idea.  The basic question is usually something along the lines of “How do I get my spouse to do this?”

It can be activities like oral or anal sex, or positions like doggy style or woman on top.  And before you think it’s always the guy, I’d say about 1/3rd of the time, it’s the wife asking.

For these spouses, sex is a chore, not a joy

After some questions back and forth, in the cases I’m addressing today, I discover that there are some larger issues that need to be dealt with first.  Specifically, in terms of this post, the low drive spouse thinking that sex is a duty they have to perform for their husband or wife.

And this happens fairly often.  It can be for a variety of reasons:

  • Bad teachings about sex and morality, that sex is sinful, or at least shouldn’t be enjoyed too much.
  • Bad teachings about arousal and desire, such as believing that you shouldn’t have sex if you aren’t in the mood, or that you should wait until you are spontaneously in the mood for sex (more info here).
  • Believing that sex is only about pleasure or physical enjoyment and so can be deprioritized
  • Sex just isn’t enjoyable.  Usually this is due to pain, not a lack of skill.

Whatever the reason, these spouses approach sex with the understanding that it’s important for their spouse, or maybe even realize it’s important for the relationship, but there’s just no desire to actually engage.  Now, some low drive spouses will always feel that sex is work, but it’s not just work.  It’s a pleasurable activity for both that’s enjoyed, they just don’t feel a drive themselves to engage.  That’s not what I’m talking about here.  It’s those spouses who see sex almost solely as work that may yield some pleasure and good results, but not something they’d do if given a choice.  Sort of like going to the gym for most people.

Usually, it’s not because they don’t like sex

Every couple I’ve talked to, the low-drive spouse enjoys sex, has orgasms (sometimes multiples), seems to have fun, in the moment.  However, when everything is done, and they’re back in an unaroused state, they seem to recall sex as being a lot of work.

I remember my wife saying “why don’t we do this more often?” on more than one occasion during our sexless years, on the rare occurrences we had sex.  I was always pretty incredulous about that statement, because I was willing whenever she was.

For some of these spouses, when you initiate sex, they see it as a request to do work for your enjoyment.  Because they have low sex drives that aren’t feeling a specific need, their brain downplays their own desire and focuses more on the work they will have to put into it.  They remember that their spouse will enjoy it, but often forget that they too enjoy it.  This is confusing to high-drive spouses, and I’ve more than a few husbands wonder how their wives don’t want sex all the time if they’re capable of having the multiple massive orgasms they see them have.

For more high-drive spouses, their brains are always in that state of remembering how good sex is, not only physically, but emotionally, and even spiritually.  But for many low-drive spouses, there seems to be a mental block that causes that memory to fade, be distorted, or otherwise watered down.

Why adding another activity can be problematic

If your spouse is struggling just to desire to have sex, don't hit them with a bunch of "I wish you would do this in bed" requests. You'll just make getting in the mood even harder.Now, given that that is the case, adding another activity becomes a problem.  The high drive spouse will see it as an opportunity to gain more enjoyment, and more intimacy.  They’re looking for a new method of sharing pleasure and connection.  They may even know, from a few sporadic attempts, that it really turns on their spouse.  The problem is, to a low-drive spouse in an unaroused state who approaches sex as a duty, that’s not what they see.  They see yet another task to be accomplished for their spouse’s pleasure.

And so, what is intended as a way to deepen the relationship is received as a selfish request to someone who already feels they are putting so.much work into their sex life just to be available.

Of course, often neither spouse can see the other’s perspective because it’s just so alien to their own.

I’ve exasperated my wife on multiple occasions by making her talk about this with me so I could understand.  After 6 years of blogging about sex I finally think I understand it enough to at least tackle this post.  Doesn’t mean I completely understand it though.

The point is, neither spouse is right or wrong.  They each have valid perspectives.  The high-drive spouse isn’t wrong for wanting to explore their sexual life together.  The low-drive spouse isn’t wrong for feeling that sex is work, because, for them, it is.

So, what can we do?

Just to be clear: just because the feeling is valid doesn’t mean there isn’t work to be done.  Our society is starting to tell us things like choosing not to want sex when you’re married is a valid choice, that your spouse can either masturbate, find a lover or get a divorce and find a spouse whose … appetites match theirs.  As Christians, we know (I hope) that none of these are really good options.

Unfortunately, in Christianity, often the advice is simply that the higher drive spouse “tone it down”, or they suggest that perhaps the “sex” part of the marriage is now over and they should focus on other types of intimacy.  I’m hoping my readers know that’s about equally as bad advice.  Sadly, it’s one that some low-drive spouses latch on to, because it means there’s no work to be done on their end.  Though I think most of them know that that’s not a good approach.  I mean, do you really want your spouse to lose a desire to be intimate with you?

In most cases, at least in my experiences with couples, both spouses know that there’s an issue with the “sex is work” mindset.  My wife, as the low-drive spouse says that she “wants to want to”.  That is, she desires to have desire.  And I hear the same from a lot of low-drive spouses.  Particularly since most of them remember a time in their life when they did have desire.  They know it’s there, somewhere, or at least that they’re capable of it.  They just can’t access it yet.  There are too many inhibitors, be they kids, stress, hormones, mindset, or what-have-you.

When you shouldn’t try to spice up your sex life

So, in these cases when sex feels like a duty or obligation, you probably shouldn’t be focusing on spicing up your sex life. My advice to these couples is not to worry about asking for new things, but rather focus on just making sex itself not a chore.  Otherwise, you’re just adding yet another required task on the to-do list that is your sex life for your low-drive spouse who is already trying hard to meet their needs of their high-drive spouse.

P.S. I do want to mention there is a subset of spouses like this that, when aroused, are up for new things, and will be fine with them and in some rare cases can actually make sex more appealing for them.  However, it’s a bit risky, because there’s another group that while aroused will be fine with experimenting, but then when unaroused again will feel you took advantage of them.  I don’t know how you tell which your spouse is without trying, which could potentially damage your relationship.  Because even if you ask, them, sometimes what they think their response will be and their actual response don’t match up.  So, all I’ll say is tread lightly.

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20 thoughts on “The worst time to spice up your sex life”

  1. Andy says:

    I’d like to encourage all the low drive spouses that things can change. For 32 years of beautiful marriage, I’ve fitted the low drive category. Our physical relationship was pretty good – I enjoyed it once I’d ‘warmed up’ – but tbh I saw it as something my husband needed and I was happy to give, though in a fairly passive role. Now in my early 50’s I recognised the signs of even less libido approaching and decided I wasn’t going to accept it. With God’s help I determined that I would change the way I think about my sex drive and act as if I had the strong sex drive. I didn’t tell my husband because I didn’t want him to have greater expectations of me (and if any strong drive spouse is reading this please please don’t show this or hint this to your spouse). Anyway upshot is I now feel like the one with the strong sex drive! For the past 12 months our sex life has been revolutionized! My husband feels like a new man because he feels physically desired by me and I feel fantastic! High drive spouses please note, if my husband continuously nagged me for sex or made me feel less because of my low drive, I would never have come into this great space. It has come out of years of a deeply loving relationship in which we both feel very safe with each other. Anyway I wanted to share this to give hope for those just beginning this journey and also to say that our heavenly Father cares about what we care about so ask him to help you in this.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Thanks for sharing, Andy.

  2. Mike says:

    “My advice to these couples is not to worry about asking for new things, but rather focus on just making sex itself not a chore….. who is already trying hard to meet their needs of their high-drive spouse.”

    And what if they are NOT trying at all to meet the needs of their spouse?

    1. Jay Dee says:

      That’s an issue not addressed by this post. Unfortunately, I can’t address every scenario every time. There are just too many.

      I guess is why not? What does she say when you ask why she’s unwilling to meet your needs?

  3. JP says:

    This makes a ton of sense! However, you say “rather focus on just making sex itself not a chore”. But how can we do this if it’s a mindset of the lower drive spouse?

    1. Jay Dee says:

      It’s the mindset of some lower drive spouses. Not all. It would require finding out what’s causing them not to see it as something they enjoy.

  4. Faith says:

    I feel so discouraged. My husband and I have always had a great sex life. Within the past few years he seems very distant and not interested. We have been together for 15 years and have had a very great sex life. I have a high sex drive and he used to have a high sex drive as well. Not anymore. I’ve done all I could for him to look at me. I’ve used lingerie toys foreplay…..he just doesn’t seem interested anymore. I can’t go for months with out having sex. Should I worry? Should I move on?

    1. Jay Dee says:

      You didn’t mention actually talking about it. Have you tried to have a conversation about what’s going on?

      1. Faith Arellano says:

        I have discussed this with him. On more than a few different occasions. At first he seemed concerned and after about the 3rd or 4th discussion , it seemed to upset him and so now I say nothing anymore. He turns away even when I try to hug him or get close to him while we’re in bed. I just don’t know what I can do for him that I haven’t done already. It’s very discouraging.

  5. Steve says:

    So I really don’t understand what you are telling the high drive one. I don’t even like to have sex when there is no passion. When it’s like chore for the other. I have given up after 10 years and have no expectations any more. I would be surprised if I ever saw any passion. I see how this is not good for me. I feel like it’s all my blame and getting the feeling she would be a lot happier and better off if she had some one that didn’t want to do it either. She says she has no intentions of changing. So it is just my problem. I find it very hard to just turn it off. I have been trying for more than eight years.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      It’s hard to feel passionate for someone who has given up on you. I’m curious to know what the conversations about sex between you and your wife are like. It sounds like you have a battle mentality. Rather than tackling the issue as a team, it seems to be you vs. her.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’d say there might be another factor here that causes the high drive spouse to try to spice up sex life when the low drive spouse still sees sex as a chore. The high drive spouse is often looking for the ‘magic bullet’ to make the low drive spouse more interested in sex. For instance, the high drive husband might think if I can perform oral sex on my wife then she will enjoy sex more and want to have sex more frequently (the low drive wife doesn’t want him to give her oral sex). In my experience, there aren’t any ‘magic bullets’ e.g. sexual activities, sex toys, sex positions that will magically awaken a low drive spouse. Instead, it is often a head issue (bad teachings about sex, for instance) or maybe a heart issue (e.g. avoiding intimacy).

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Oh definitely. Didn’t really get into the “why’s” oh the high drive spouse looking to add activities, but that’s certainly one.

  7. JJ says:

    I’d like to share my own experience here in the hopes that others may be experiencing something similar in their own marriages and be willing to share in turn.

    My wife and I have been together for 25 years. We are very loving and affectionate but are bored to tears with our sex life (both of us). We have sex infrequently because of it (say 2-4 times a year or so). I’ve written in before about this and was asked whether porn or infidelity are contributing factors. I can say at least from my side that they aren’t and I’m quite certain they aren’t for my wife either.

    We have tried almost everything suggested in this and other blogs (including role play, bondage, toys, date nights etc). All such efforts do is elicit a feeling of forced silliness for us. They just don’t work. I would like to feel more excited about sex but I just don’t.

    Does anyone else experience something similar? If so, I’d love to hear it. Both of us are reconciled with the idea that maybe this is the way it will always be. There are worse things than living in a relatively boring (from a sex perspective) but loving and committed marriage. Not having frequent hot sex does free up time and energy for other pursuits like fitness, prayer, family, work and study after all. But I do feel like maybe we are missing out on something here.

    Thanks for listening.

    1. Chris R says:

      In my experience, where my wife and I have been together for about 20 years, simply having more sex helped to improve boredom with sex. Stated differently, I tended to think of vaginal intercourse as a bit on the vanilla and boring side but that improved simply with added frequency. I wanted a bit of adventure from our forays in the bedroom and it wasn’t occurring as much as I would have preferred for years. One day, I decided to make an effort to pursue my wife’s heart a bit more emotionally and she responded well and gave me more sex that I wanted. Great fit. Right? The additional plus was that her favorite act (what I had seen as rather bland vaginal intercourse) became much more enjoyable for me as we increased our frequency of having sex. So, we are having more sex, having more adventurous sex, and are enjoying all the kinds of sex we have more than before. I do believe they are connected to our closer emotional connection, but also with simply having more sex than before.

      Hope that helps.

  8. Anonymous says:

    JJ, I have some follow up/clarifying questions:

    How long does sex last when you have sex? Do you suffer from premature ejaculation?

    Does wife have orgasms when you do have sex?

    Do you discuss emotions and feeling outside of the bedroom? In other words, do you have deep conversations about life or spiritual matters?

    Do you have any sexual hangups? Oral sex, vaginal sex anal sex?

    Do you have sex with the lights on or mostly in the dark?

    Do you cuddle, talk, kiss and connect through physical touch outside of a sexual context?

    Do you and your wife discuss the lack of sex in your marriage? Do you discuss sex at all with her or sexual matters with her?

    Do you have anything else to add that you think would be relevant? I am just trying to get and overall feel for your relationship dynamics.

    1. JJ says:

      Thanks anonymous. I’ll do my best to answer your questions here.

      Sex lasts about 20-25 minutes or so when we do have it (longer if you include foreplay). We never have penis-in-vagina sex as she can’t seem to orgasm through intercourse so I make her orgasm orally and then she makes me orgasm manually. If I orgasm first I lose most of my enthusiasm and skill to finish her so I choose to finish her first as I am much more of a skillful and enthusiastic cunnilinguist when I have yet to orgasm. I can’t have penetrative sex with her after she orgasms because she can’t tolerate it (it is too painful for her). I don’t suffer from premature ejaculation but as you can see from above that isn’t really relevant.

      She has orgasms every time we have sex.

      We don’t have many deep discussions about life or spiritual matters. We never have.

      I have no sexual hangups but I can’t say for sure whether my wife does. Certain things don’t really appeal to me (like anal) but I don’t feel hung up about it.

      When we do have sex it is always during daylight. Never in the dark.

      We do connect physically outside of sex. We hug and touch (hold hands and sit close etc).

      We do talk abou sex quite a bit. The talk tends to be playful. We joke about it lots. We have had just one conversation about me wanting more frequency but more importantly, more intensity.

      1. Anonymous says:

        JJ, I feel like wife is the low drive spouse and you are the high drive spouse. it seems like wife is controlling what happens during sex (no PIV), also maybe sex positions as well as sexual activities, no oral sex for you. I would recommend different sex positions. There are also different sex positions for oral sex such as her straddling your face, etc. Talk to her about mixing things up a bit and doing things that are a little less routine. Also, it might not be a bad idea to do couples conversation questions to get the two of you talking a little bit more deeply to increase your bond. JayDee has a couple printable resources a 37 question set on sex questions with might be interesting and a sexploration list of different sexual things you can try with wife so you can get her take on some of these things.

      2. Jay Dee says:

        Hi JJ. Something seems off here.
        The never have PIV sex feels telling. I could see how being stuck to the same oral / manual would make sex boring. I mean, that’s fun stuff and all, but a lack of variety can make anything dull.

        I wonder if you had sex for however long you can tolerate it without orgasm, then switch to oral for her, and then finish with manual for you.

        I’m also curious why PIV hurts after she orgasms. Is it that her clit is too sensitive? If so, you could try other positions where it’s less of a factor.

        1. JJ says:

          Good suggestions both (Jay and Anonymous).

          Jay the post orgasm sensitivity question – it just seems like she shrinks after she orgasms. It’s not a clit thing because even from behind I can feel and see her flinch so it’s definitely not comfortable for her.

          Yes I could and have from time to time done things in the order you suggest. It is somewhat more interesting for me (us) but truth be told, like I mentioned in my original comment, changing things up (techniques, positions, toys etc) doesn’t really change the general ennui.

          Anon – thanks for the 37 question suggestion. I’ll check it out.

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