Today we are sharing a guest blog post from J. Parker from Hot, Holy, and Humorous while Shaunti is in this season of cancer treatments. We’re thrilled to welcome J’s voice on the topic of higher desire wives.
When She Wants Sex More Than He Does
By J. Parker
She lies in bed next to her husband. He snores at her back, while she curls in on herself and cries. It’s been several days since they made love, and he doesn’t seem to miss her touch, her kiss, their sexual intimacy.
What is wrong with him? Shouldn’t he appreciate a wife who wants sex?
What is wrong with her? Is she that unappealing? Does he still love her?
Both in Christian and secular cultures, the message we’ve long heard is that men want frequent sex. A husband longs for more sexual encounters to both express and foster the intimacy he feels for his wife.
That’s often true. But sometimes, it’s the wife who longs for more sexual encounters to both express and foster the intimacy she feels for her husband.
Many wives read the scenario above and related to feelings of disappointment and self-doubt that can come with wanting sex more than he does.
You’re not alone.
That scenario above isn’t fictional. It’s my story, from years ago.
In addition to my hurt, I felt alone—as if I was the only wife dealing with sexual rejection. I didn’t know where to turn or even whether to admit our struggle. I worried others would secretly label me a nympho or question my husband’s masculinity.
I’ll never forget when my husband and I took a church-sponsored marriage course and were asked to rank marital benefits according to perceived need. One other wife also had Sexual Fulfillment in her top five. When class ended, we beelined toward each other like long-lost friends, smiles on our faces, and relieved me toos on our lips. Now, at least we were not alone.
As it turns out, higher desire wives comprise about 15-20% of marriages. A 2019 survey put it at 18%.
That means if you’re sitting among 50 couples, statistically speaking, nine have a higher desire wife—nearly one in five. If you’re one of those nine, you’ve got allies in the room. They may not speak up, but they’re there.
Most of us believed we were rare.
With 15-20% of marriages having a higher desire wife, why hasn’t this scenario been addressed more?
For a long time, most people truly believed such marriages were the odd exceptions. Everyone from relationships experts, to secular media, to Christian resources, to your well-meaning grandmother told you that men want sex more than women. Billy Crystal’s character (Harry) in When Harry Met Sally summed it up this way: “No man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.” When Meg Ryan (Sally) asked about an unattractive female friend, he revised that a man wants sex with her too.
It wasn’t that women didn’t like sex. Some might like it a lot. But everything in our culture suggested men pursue it more often, initiate the majority of encounters, and almost never turn down an invitation of sex.
Moreover, 80-85% of people had marriages with matching sexual interest or a higher desire husband, so they didn’t question such messages. When the topic of higher desire wives came up, they were characterized as a rare species only occasionally spotted: [in a hushed tone] “This particular female is an unusual specimen of the species—a wife who wants sex more than her husband.”
It shouldn’t surprise us, then, that few talked about the alternative. Thankfully, the tide is turning! More of us are speaking up, more marriage ministers are recognizing and addressing the variety of sex drive differences, and more couples are finding ways to navigate the unique challenges of a marriage with a higher desire wife.
Why doesn’t he want sex as much as she does?
“What’s wrong with him?” is the first question certain husbands and even wives ask whenever the topic of higher desire wives is raised. (Yet we wonder why lower drive husbands don’t speak up more.) The correct answer is maybe something, maybe nothing.
First off, sex drive is relative. Consider a husband married, widowed, then married again and having the same level of sexual interest, but in his first marriage, he has the higher sexual desire, and in his second marriage, she has the higher sexual desire. An imbalance one way or another doesn’t mean something is necessarily wrong. It’s just how these two individuals rank in terms of their relative interest in sex.
Second, while many are quick to assume low testosterone, men’s sexual desire is impacted by a variety of factors. Below is a downloadable list of reasons why a husband might be less interested than his wife.
As you look through the reasons, be sure to view your husband not as a problem to fix but rather a person to understand.
Indeed, lower drive husbands often already feel beleaguered. They wonder themselves what’s wrong with them. They feel they aren’t sexually enough for their wives. They worry admitting it aloud will get their “man card” revoked. They don’t know how to fix it and/or believe trying may lead to embarrassment, conflict, and even greater emotional pain. Showing compassion for his struggle as well can help you move forward together.
So how can a higher desire wife get more sex?
I know, I know. I’ve been there too, remember?
Let’s be clear that when higher desire wives want more sex in marriage, they’re not only seeking a physically pleasurable act but an emotional connection. Also, they don’t want their husbands to schlep themselves to the bedroom out of duty but rather to mutually desire and enjoy the experience.
But in moments of frustration or deep hurt, a higher desire wife might cry out, “Just tell me how to get him to have more sex with me!”
Find your value in God. When rejected by someone you love, you can begin to feel undesirable or unseen. But God knows your true worth and wants you to embrace that you are enough, you are beautiful, you are worthy. Your husband wanting sex less doesn’t take any of that away, and once you feel better about yourself, you’ll be in a better place to address the challenges you face.
Seek out the whys. Why does your husband want sex less? Is it a problem to be resolved, a condition to be discussed, or just a frequency gap to be negotiated? Why do you want sex more? What would having more sex say to your head and heart? Do what you can to learn about yourselves and one another, so you can lovingly work together to improve the sexual intimacy in your marriage.
Get help if needed. What kind of help depends on the whys, but your husband and/or you may need to visit a healthcare provider, a nutritionist, a marriage counselor, a trauma specialist, a Christian sex therapist, etc. Or you may need to read relevant books, take a course, or attend a marriage intensive. Answers can be found, so use the resources available to you.
Savor small successes. As much as we’d like problems to disappear like vapor and our dream sex life to appear like magic, that’s unlikely. Change takes time, intentionality, and perseverance. Take one step at a time, and savor each success along your journey. Success is a good motivator to keep going.
Embrace your sexuality. Wanting sex with your husband is a good thing. God wants husbands and wives to join together in one flesh, and He’s not particular about who initiates, who wants it more, or who gets the biggest afterglow. Embrace your desire as something that can benefit you, your husband, and your marriage.
My husband and I worked through our sexual desire differences. Nowadays, when I’m more eager than he is, my husband sees an opportunity to love and serve his wife with an act that he also enjoys. You have my heartfelt prayers that you can work through any sexual desire differences too.
J. Parker started Hot, Holy & Humorous as a blog with the goal of helping others understand God’s design for sex in marriage. Since then, she’s published over 950 blog posts, written five books, released 100+ podcast episodes with three other marriage bloggers, and launched online communities for both husbands (with a co-host) and for higher desire wives. But her goal remains the same: helping you embrace God’s blessings for your marriage bed.
J has a personal story of redemption in the area of sexuality, holds a master’s degree in counseling, and lives in Texas with her fabulous but oh-so logical husband, fondly nicknamed “Spock.”
More from Shaunti’s Blog:
Find Christ-focused wonder in the midst of everyday life no matter what your situation might be. Pick up a copy of Shaunti’s latest devotional, Find Joy, available in major bookstores.
Check out Shaunti’s latest book and Discussion Guide (co-authored with her husband, Jeff), Thriving in Love and Money. Because you need a better relationship, not just a better budget.
This article was first published at Patheos.