As a sex therapist, I’ve seen countless couples come into the office with complaints about not having enough sex. I’ve found that it’s much more often the male partner who is unhappy with the frequency. To all the men that are reading this, I understand that this can be very frustrating. Sex is something that you value for different reasons; it can be a great way to feel close, to please your wife (or girlfriend/partner), and obviously to satisfy your own physical needs. When your wife doesn’t want to have sex, it can feel very rejecting. It can make you question your attractiveness, and can lead to a lot of anger and resentment. However, there is one important factor that you may not have thought or even knew about: what it is that gets your wife in the mood.
Men’s Desire v. Women’s Desire
For many men, it doesn’t take a lot for you to get into the mood to have sex. Your desire is spontaneous, meaning that it comes out of nowhere. It could simply be a thought that pops into your head, which creates that desire to have sex.
For many women (possibly your wife), however, their desire needs more nurturing. Your wife’s desire is responsive, meaning that it grows from external factors; this desire comes from you starting to do more house work, or being more patient with your kids, or going out to dinner on a date night. It’s not the behaviors themselves that nurture the desire in your wife, but what those behaviors represent.
For example, doing more house work. This is a cliche example, but very true. When she sees you doing more around the house, she senses that you’re taking her into consideration more. She feels closer to you because you’re doing something that will help her during her day.
The fact that the two of you have different ways of feeling desire isn’t a negative; it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with your relationship. This is extremely common, and can have a relatively simple solution: try to understand and explore what turns your wife on, what it is that grows her desire? Talking with your wife about her desire will give you the answer that her turn on’s might not be the same, and might be totally different from yours. Then explain how your desire works to her. But remember, this isn’t about convincing your wife to adopt your turn on’s; this is about understanding her desire, and making changes in how you approach her to nurture that desire.
How to Talk about Your Desire Differences
Examples for how to ask about her desire:
What did I do more/less of earlier in our relationship that turned you on?
What do I do now that turns you on?
Is there anything that really turns you off?
When I take care of the kids / get you a surprise gift / do the dishes / ask you how your day was, does that increase your desire?
Examples for how to talk about your own desire:
There are times where I just think of you and want to have sex.
When we’re just watching TV it doesn’t take much; I could just be resting my hand on your leg and I’ll get the urge to have sex.
My hunger for sex is simply pretty high. Maybe if we can just give each other a back rub, that would satisfy my physical needs.
Understanding her turn on’s won’t magically make the two of you have sex as much as you might want. But, it will give you a road map of what it is that you can do differently to nurture the desire in your wife. This not only can lead to more quality sex, but a greater closeness and satisfaction with each other.
About the Author
Ben King is a Marriage and Family Therapist Candidate at The Marriage and Family Clinic who focuses on working with couples experiencing sexual difficulties. In his spare time Ben loves to cook and is secretly aspiring to be the next Iron Chef.