One of the largest, and yet least talked about, struggles in marriage is the difference in sex drives. Often one spouse ends up doing the bulk of the initiating and pushing for a more varied and passionate sex life. Often, this ends up with a conversation that includes the question “why do I always have to initiate sex?”
And the answer for why it happens is simple: because that spouse is more interested in sex. But, that’s a reason, not an excuse. The truth is, that the spouse who is not initiating sex is cheating themselves as well as their spouse. Here’s why.
It’s good for the higher drive spouse
Now, this one should be obvious. If you desire sex more frequently, having your spouse initiate sex with you makes you feel desired. It makes you feel cared for. It makes you feel like more of a team regarding physical intimacy rather than one spouse constantly begging and nagging for sex. In short, it shows love.
The truth is, sex drive is really a bad term that I don’t like using. I use it because, frankly, it’s what people search for and recognize. The reality is that sex-drive is a combination of many systems involved in arousal, and reducing it to a simple “high and low drive” comparison is dangerous. And that brings me to the second point.
It’s good for the lower drive spouse
Initiating sex helps your mind and body switch gears. We are always more willing to do things that were our idea rather than one imposed on us, either forcefully, or through a sense of duty or obligation. And many lower drive spouses will feel like sex is a duty or obligation, that it’s work that must be done, even if they enjoy sex. Because the truth is, that for many of these spouses, getting in the mood takes genuine effort. At least to start. For many of them, once sex begins, it no longer feels like a chore. But it’s getting over that initiate hump, the switching gears that takes all the effort.
And the reason for this is simple. Often, what we call “low drive spouses” are not really “low drive” but rather “responsive drive”. Meaning, they will not automatically think of sex, or feel an urge to have sex on their own. It’s not until a sexual context arises that their arousal systems will wake up. And for some, this can mean they don’t wake up until 20 minutes into foreplay. For other “low drive” spouses, the negative triggers on their arousal system are so touchy, or their world is full of so much stress, that it can take a lot of positive triggers to their arousal system to override it.
However, if you decide to act on your own accord, that can short-circuit some of these mechanisms. Because, like with working out, while you may never feel the drive to “go for a walk” if you are focused on being fit and you make the decision to do it, it seems less imposing. You can even find that you enjoy the walk once you’re a few minutes into it. As well, if you get in the habit of going for walks on your own accord, you find you look forward to them far more than if someone is dragging you out the door for regular walks.
In the same way, if you make the decision to initiate sex, because:
- It’s good for your spouse – it makes them feel loved
- It’s good for you – it makes you switch gears easier
- It’s good for your marriage – it helps reconnect and builds intimacy
then while the first time might be difficult because:
- you’re out of the practice of initiating
- you’ve never initiated
- it just feels awkward
- it’s embarrassing
However, once you get over the hurdle, it gets easier the next time and each following time. In fact, you might actually find yourself enjoying it, because it’s something you decided to do, not something your spouse or “marital duty” is imposing on you. And I get that it’s not easy. In fact, it’s down right difficult for many. But, that’s doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Try it and see. Prove me wrong.
Here’s the catch
But, here’s the thing: as a high-drive spouse, you can’t tell your husband or wife “you should do this”, because that breaks the whole premise. They have to do it of their own free will, unencumbered by guilt or obligation. Otherwise, it just becomes another duty to be done. But, if you are a high drive spouse and you think your husband or wife might benefit from this, what you can do is send it to them and ask “what do you think of this”. It’s risky because that still might be construed as asking them to change, but on the other hand, for many, it’s doubtful their low drive spouse will ever see this otherwise.
Unless those of you who are reading this share it with your friends. Really, that’s the best case scenario. Because then it’s coming from a trusted source, without any obligation attached and it can actually make someone thing about it unencumbered. The problem is, in Christianity, most of us are terrified of sharing posts about sex, and so, sadly, that’s unlikely to happen often. I know a couple of my fearless Uncovering Intimacy Champions will share this, but the truth is, it’s less than 0.1% of people who read this that will. And so, we’re stuck in the same position:
Those low drive spouses who already know that sex is something that needs to be made a priority are already reading it, and so I’m preaching to the choir, as it were, and those that don’t will never see it, because it won’t get shared, and they’ll likely never search for it themselves. That leaves the somewhat risky option of sending it to your spouse and asking “what do you think about this?” Truth is, many won’t even do that because even that is too aggressive given the current status of their sexual relationship.
Wow, that’s a bit of a rant, isn’t it? I guess what I’m saying is: If you think this will help someone, please share it. You would be amazed how much a single post can change someone’s marriage. Someone’s life even. And there’s no guarantee that if someone reads it, they’ll change. But, it’s a first step at least. It gives them a chance, and, for many, that’s all they need.
So, let people know below if you shared this post with someone. Maybe it will encourage others to do the same. And if you’re a low drive spouse looking for more information on how “sex drives” work, check out this free resource.
P.S. This post was approved by my “lower drive” spouse.
37 Questions for spouses to ask each other about sex
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