The sex-starved marriage: When your libidos don't match
Many couples find themselves tangled in a troubling web when their sex drives are different, and it can wreck havoc on a marriage. Michele Weiner Davis, author of The Sex-Starved Marriage: Boosting Your Marriage Libido - A Couple's Guide, shares some advice to put your marriage and your sex life on the right track!
From a frustrated husband
Please, please help me. I am going through hell!! I am 28 years old, married with a three-year-old daughter. For the past three years, my wife has avoided being sexual with me. It has slowly gone from having sex maybe twice a week to now, if I'm lucky, once a month. And even then, it's not really having sex. It's more like her saying, "Hurry up and get in here, and let's do this before our child wakes up." There is no foreplay. She doesn't even kiss me. I'm the one who always is initiating any sort of affection.
So I struggle every day with what I should do because I can't keep living like this. I'm miserable. I have talked to my wife about how I feel numerous times, and nothing I say seems to change anything. Is there anything else I can do besides getting a divorce? Is there something you could write to her so she hears from another person about the importance of a good sexual relationship in a marriage?
Does any of this sound familiar? Are these things you've thought or said to yourself? Or have you heard words like these uttered from your spouse in an attempt to get you to change? Either way, you need to know that you are not alone. It is estimated that one out of every three couples struggle with problems associated with low sexual desire. One study found that 20 percent of married couples have sex fewer than ten times a year! Complaints about low desire are the number 1 problem brought to sex therapists.
And if you've been thinking that low sexual desire is only "a woman's thing," think again. Many sex experts believe that low sexual desire in men is America's best-kept secret. Just read what women have to say about what really goes on behind closed doors:
I am so tired of reading articles in women's magazines and watching talk shows that perpetuate the myth that men are always more interested in sex than women. This is a bunch of hooey! There are many, many women who would love to have a spouse who wants to have sex, touch, or kiss. I've spoken to many women who have this same problem. . . . Their husbands simply aren't interested. I cannot believe my circle of friends is so different from the average. None of their husbands are "getting it on the side"... they simply are not interested. In my case, my husband of 26 years has never been as interested as I in sex, and during the last 5 years our sex life has been nonexistent. This lack of sex is more than just a lack of physical attention. It goes deep into a woman's heart. I think in a normal marriage, a couple can fight about anything, but then they can make love and soothe the bad feelings... sort of like a rebirth... a forgiving ritual. But when you are deprived of even that, bitterness and resentment and desperation accumulate. I have a husband who is a good guy, great father, good provider, but I have no lover. I'm angry about the wasted years, the years I could have been loving, but spent agonizing about why I was being deprived. It's so much more than sex. It's feeling wanted, and sexy and desired by the man that you are committed to for life.
As you can see, women have no corner on the low libido market. Maybe you're asking yourself, "If low sexual desire in men is commonplace, why are they so closed-mouthed about it?" That's a good question. When a woman lacks sexual desire, although it may be troubling to her, she's not likely to start questioning the core of her femininity. After all, she's almost supposed to have "headaches."
Men, on the other hand, are thought to have only three things on their minds: sex, sex and more sex. To be disinterested in sex is to feel less than a man. Just thinking about low libido, let alone talking about it, strikes terror in men because it threatens the very foundation on which their feelings of self-worth are based. No wonder they're tight-lipped. But make no mistake about it: there are millions of people, women and men, who just don't feel turned on.
On the next page: Desire discrepancy, Making a breakthrough