Love Affair

Men always want sex. That's the message you hear from your friends, from talk-show experts, from TV sitcoms. Except when they don't. What if you find that you're the one craving a deeper sexual connection, but he simply doesn't want sex very often - or ever? How can you rescue your sex life? Read on for couple-tested solutions for bringing intimacy and heat back into your relationship in this exclusive excerpt from the new book by REDBOOK Love Network expert Michele Weiner Davis.

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Sex Starter: Use the seesaw effect

It's a fact: The more you do a certain task or act a certain way, the less your husband will do it, and vice versa. This seesaw effect applies to all areas of relationships. For example, if your husband handles every aspect of finances in your family, chances are that you rarely think about money. If you are the emotional one in your relationship, it's likely that your husband keeps his feelings to himself. We tend to counterbalance one another. It's just human nature.


Let's take this seesaw analogy a step further. In many relationships, couples start out on equal footing when it comes to sexual desire. Then one person becomes tired, overwhelmed, preoccupied, or busy. This new behavior prompts his or her partner to double up efforts to keep their sex life on track. When those efforts are met with rejection, all of a sudden sex becomes the center of the universe for the sex-starved partner. And the more the sex-starved partner shines a light on sex, the less sex the lower-desire spouse wants.


If you're the only one putting energy into rekindling your sex life, your husband has come to expect that. He knows you'll take the lead. If you want him to be more involved sexually, you need to experiment with stepping back and letting him notice you're not pursuing him. This technique helps you break out of your rut by giving him a chance to pursue you without feeling pressured.


For years, Annie and her husband, Bill, behaved in a predictable pattern. Annie would approach Bill for sex, he would decline, she would get angry, and then a couple of days later, he would approach her. The problem was, Annie felt that he was initiating sex only out of a sense of obligation — and that when they did make love, his heart really wasn't in it. Yet because Annie believed that the "I approach him, he rejects me, I get angry, he approaches me, we have sex" pattern was the only way they would end up being sexual, she continued to do what she'd always done, even though the sex was never truly satisfying.


After learning about the seesaw effect, Annie decided to try something new. As usual, she initiated sex with Bill, and he turned her down. As she predicted, two days passed. Then one night as he sat next to her on the couch, he began to rub her thighs. Instead of responding sexually, she told him she was not in the mood. Thinking she was joking, Bill continued to touch her. Eventually Annie asked him to stop and said, "Look, I'm really not into this right now. I don't know why, but maybe some other time." Bill stopped, stunned. He asked her if everything was okay, and she said, "Yes, absolutely. I'm just not feeling too sexual right now."


The next day, Bill sent Annie an e-mail with sexual undertones — something he had done early in their marriage but not for many years. Annie was tempted to respond in kind, but held back. After turning down a few more of Bill's sexual advances, Annie finally "gave in," and they made love. The wait really boosted Bill's enthusiasm for sex. "He seemed much more into it," Annie said. Rather than simply going through the motions, she felt connected and very turned on because of his increased passion. Annie wasn't quite sure why her holding back made a difference to Bill, but it did. It wasn't easy for her; she worried that if she resisted him, he would become even more low-key sexually, but just the opposite happened.


Like Annie, you too might worry that a new approach could backfire. It's scary to break free of old patterns, but you really have nothing to lose and everything to gain. So put your fears aside and give yourself permission to be creative. And know this: By working to create more love, connection, sexuality, sensuality, and affection, you've shown yourself to be a woman who fights for what's important in life and love.


Behind Closed Doors

REDBOOK and Michele Weiner Davis teamed up to ask women about their husbands' sexual desire. Here's what we learned:

  • 60 percent of the more than 1,000 women we surveyed said that they were as interested in sex as their husbands — or more so.
  • How often you have sex is determined by how often the lower-desire partner wants it — whether that's the man or the woman.
  • Although 95 percent of higher-desire women are either somewhat bothered by the desire gap or consider it to be a serious problem, 56 percent believe that their husbands aren't bothered by it at all.
  • According to their wives, men's low sexual desire is caused by erectile dysfunction only 11 percent of the time. The most common causes are personal.

Adapted from The Sex-Starved Wife. Copyright 2008 by Michele Weiner Davis. Published by Simon and Schuster. For more information, go to



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Reprinted with Permission of Hearst Communications, Inc. Originally Published: The Sex-Starved Wife

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Comments on "The sex-starved wife"

Jesse March 28, 2010 | 1:09 PM

The ONLY movie my uncle has ever talked about in his life is Coolhand Luke. His favorite quote: "What we have here is a failure to communicate." or how about that song? "Communication is the problem to the answer." I have spinal damage. I can walk and my "equipment" functions, but it makes it difficult to "function" reliably. What my wife and I have to do is, first, RELAX. Stressing over it will rob you of the emotional bonds when the time comes to enjoy intimacy. And don't expect male enhancement products to solve everything. In my case, and others like it, those won't work. Second, communicate. If you and your spouse aren't talkng before those occasions when he (or she) is able to function, then by the time you get each other in the mood, the ability will be on hold for another day. There's a song "Strokin." the question is asked "What time of day do you like to make love?" Whenever someone sings that song in karaoke we always say to each other "all day" with a laugh. Because we consider our conversation to be "making love." The physical act is just another aspect, but we're "making love" from the moment we wake up. communication again, stop playing games. Head games, dominance games, whatever, aren't good for you. If the physical lose of in your marriage is the straw that's breaking your back, then you haven't been spending enough time on the other aspects of your life.

S.K. November 13, 2009 | 7:50 PM

Basically this article is saying that the woman should play "head games" in order to have . I think all of this is horrible advice. If there is a problem, you should talk to your husband about it. Don't sit and worry that he may not want to hear it. That's what a relationship is all about, give & take. It's not all going to be roses all the time.

macel October 23, 2009 | 5:18 PM

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his into porn October 13, 2009 | 1:54 PM

the wife needs to change; be good friends with his mother, see only the good side in caracter of her brothers inlaw( or other men), clean youre house, no yelling even at youre kids, dont dress up like a porn lady-men learn from eachother if he sees other men married men checking you out he will think it ok look at porn, why porn is bad- it another topick. dont feel sorry for other women out loud-everyone makes their own bed. please cook and cook good food-men love to eat porn can't make the food as good as a wife, always greed other people with a big welcome smile- if youre husbans sees the everyone likes you even it you dont look like a porn star- he will like you the way you are, always buy something cheeper- if they see you spending less money on youre self-he will become less selfish and see that porn, beer, going out to the bar is too expensive and he cant aford it. also tell him that porn hair, nails, shoes, makeup is very expensive and that you rather spend that money on youre kids or support some one that is dyeing from hunger. Also if its youre first marriage then be friends with the people that are also in their first marriage.always be friends with someone that has less work then you so you look better-but only tell youre husband that, not youre friend-beacause you will loose a good friend .one more thing clean the bathroom every day and the place were he watches porn. this will make him think about you. he will realize that the porn girls only take his money and time. and kill him with kindness.

Don January 21, 2009 | 2:22 PM

"probably has nothing to do with how attractive you are" This is true for blind men but for the men who can see looks do matter.

kizzy January 10, 2009 | 1:28 AM

i am in a less marriage and its driving me crazy

Aljabur2009 October 30, 2008 | 3:58 PM

I want y

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