Sex Drive: Cruise Control or Fifth Gear — So, What’ll It Be?

By E.J. Gordon

One of my friends was getting married. She was in her late 30’s, and she had watched every single friend she had pair up and walk down the aisle. Finally she met her happily ever after man, and I went to the city to join her bachelorette party. While it was was far tamer than those I’d attended in my 20’s, it ended in the same late-night fashion … sitting around a bar, boozed up and boundary-less, talking about sex. While none of us knew one another well, we all knew the bride, who talked about how much sex she was having with her almost husband. The rest of us, most of whom had been married for about a decade, reminisced about our intense beginnings — B.C. (Before Children).

I started to make a comment about how even though I don’t have the pressing urgency anymore to jump my husband like I did when I’d met him, I still wanted to have sex with him, and when we didn’t do it often enough, I missed the intimacy. So I said, “You know, it’s been a few days since the last time we’ve had sex …”

Immediately one of the other women who’d been married for a while whipped her head around and said incredulously, “A FEW DAYS???”

I said, “Yeah, why? How long do you guys go?”

She said, “Well, more than ‘a few days’,” and then laughed, hinting that it was often much longer.

I started to go on my diatribe about the importance of sex in marriage, and one of the women interrupted me: “EJ,” she began. “Slow down. I don’t think it’s fair to use the frequency of sex as an accurate barometer of a relationship’s health. The important thing is that both partners are happy with the amount of sex they’re having. If both people are happy with once a month, then once a month is good. If both people want it often, then often is good.”

Certainly, if there are men who only want it once a month from their partners, and their partners are fine with the same, then yes, obviously that’s a satisfied combination. And I know a few couples in their 30’s and 40’s with two or three kids, who are both happily doing it every other night.

It’s a beautiful thing to be on the same page. And to reiterate my friend’s point, THAT is what matters.

But the most often heard story is that the husband wants it ALL of the time … that he would like to be awakened with sex every morning, that he would like to go to bed with it every night, and that the wife decides just how often he’ll get it. There are many comments thrown out at our Saturday night dinners, such as, “If you don’t lay off the booze, you’ll be puttin’ yourself to bed tonight, if ya know what I mean…”

 Many times women use sex as a bargaining tool. I’ve heard of a woman negotiating 10 oral sessions for one designer bag. It seems a bit sordid, but if they’re both getting something out of it, and neither is complaining, it can work.

But in general, if a man’s sex drive is way higher than his wife’s, there are things that couples CAN do to fix this:

1. Men: TELL YOUR WIFE YOU’RE NOT SATISFIED. For many men, talking about their feelings is not their favorite pastime, but talking is currency with women. Don’t do it right when she turns you down; find a time to sit down with her and tell her you’d like her to make love to you more often. ASK what you can do to help her get there. You’ll find that she might be more willing if she has less on her plate.

2. Women: If you are not generally in the mood, but when you DO have sex, you’re happy you did it, REMIND yourselves of that. It’s like exercise: Sometimes you’d rather just sit and watch TV with a bag of chips, but later you’re way happier that you went for that run (and you’ll sleep better).

3. Compromise. Maybe you don’t want to be touched, but can you help him in another way?

4. Some women complain that they can’t stand being constantly ‘harassed’ for sex. Have a standing day or days a week that you WILL agree to it, and he’ll bother you less … maybe Sunday morning while the kids are at Sunday school and a mid-week nooner on lunch break. If he knows that he’s for sure getting sex those times, maybe he’ll pester you less.

5. Women, try this experiment: Say yes every single time he suggests it. See if after a few times, the thrill of the chase is gone, and maybe he won’t be asking as much.

And then there’s the other side of the coin …

Because having the woman in the partnership be more sexually driven than the man is not as typical, this can be more sensitive. When a woman is turned down, instead of feeling annoyed like many men do, she may jump to feeling inadequate.

She may think her man doesn’t think she is pretty or thin enough or young enough. She may wonder if her partner is sleeping with someone else or gay, because in our culture men are portrayed as always wanting sex, so in her head, it must mean there’s something wrong. I know women who’ve worked very hard at accepting that he’s just overworked and overstressed and tired all of the time, and it’s not about her at all. But that’s a tough place to get to.

For couples in this situation where the woman’s drive is way higher than the man’s, there are ways to address it:

1. Again, TALK. I remember going through a stretch when I felt that my husband didn’t want to have sex enough with me, and I finally asked him about it, and he was floored. He had been assuming that because I wasn’t initiating or giving obvious clues, that I didn’t want to do it. Now we’ve gotten to the point where we just say, “Are we having sex tonight?” and the other one just says, “I can rally,” or “I’m wiped, let’s do it tomorrow,” or “I’m in!”

2. Sometimes if a woman is always touching, groping, pushing for sex, it just takes the fun of the chase out of it. Try backing off and waiting for him to come to you …  see if it helps his drive.

3. Ask him to discuss with his doctor if he could have some medical stuff affecting his drive  — medications he’s on, the low T we hear about in commercials, depression.

4. Ask him if there is anything you could be doing differently to help him get going.

Men, understand that if you are turning her down, her first reaction is going to be that you don’t want HER. Do whatever you can to convince her that this is not true.

And if it is the case that one partner is just not wanting the other, that it’s not about drive, but it’s about the person, then there are some much bigger conversations to be had (hopefully, in couples therapy) and some decisions and agreements need to be made. One being: Are we going to stay married? And two being: If yes, is sex going to be taken out of the marriage equation? And if so, how will that work? Are we going to open our marriage? Are we going to have a don’t ask/don’t tell policy? Are we going to expect each other to be abstinent forever? Do we get a special reprieve on our birthdays?

But if both partners do love each other, do want each other, and it truly is just a matter of drive, it CAN be fixed. You just have to agree to work on fixing it. And you might want to start by finding out if your partner is truly satisfied with the frequency of sex in your relationship, because if you’re really only doing it once a month …  I can’t imagine he is.

Lisa Barr, Editor of GIRLilla Warfare: E.J. Gordon is a freelance writer, a regular contributor to GIRLillaWarfare,  and “Sexpert”. Have any questions or topics that you would like her to address? Remember: No subject is taboo, and Anonymity is accepted. Contact E.J. at: EJGordon529@gmail.com.
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