When Yours and Your Partner's Sex Drives Don't Match

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • Marie and Bryan had been married for five years. Marie was happy, and always had been with "Saturday night sex." She enjoyed her sex life with Bryan and looked forward to Saturday night but didn't see any need to have sex more often, once a week was plenty. Bryan on the other hand would have been happy with more. In the beginning of their relationship, they made love several times per week. He knew Marie wasn't a "sex fiend" and was okay with that. Or at least he thought he was okay with it, but as time went on Marie's desire for sex became less and less. Each time he made advances, he ended up feeling let down and lately, had stopped asking for sex but that wasn't working for him either as it made him more and more dissatisfied with his marriage.

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    Marie felt she just didn't need sex that much and didn't see this as a reflection of her love for Bryan, he had known from the beginning that sex wasn't that important to her and he loved her anyway. In many ways they were opposites, but that is what drew them to each other. She was quiet and shy, he was outgoing; at parties she relied on him to break the ice, meet new people and once he got the conversation going, she was fine and joined in. She was organized and neat, he was not but that also worked well for them; she paid the bills and made sure they had extra money to do the things they enjoyed, he came up with the ideas. She wasn't sure why Bryan was making such a big deal about how many times they had sex each week, wasn't it about how much they enjoyed it when it did happen?

    While this story sounds like an example of a woman's low sex drive, it isn't. (If you want info on that, see: Can Testosterone Help Low Sexual Desire in Women? ). There is no right or wrong answer to how many times you want to make love to your partner on a weekly basis. This story is really about how different sex drives can cause an otherwise great relationship to sour. Sex is important in a marriage; it helps couples connect to one other, both physically and emotionally. When you have sex on a regular basis, you feel closer to your partner and have a sense of togetherness. But sexual desire is different in each person and although we would like to believe that sex should be a spontaneous act of love and that our desire is the driving force behind marital bliss, we often have to make compromises in the bedroom as in other parts of our relationship.

    The following are five ways to help you and your partner find common ground and improve your love life:

    Talking about sex, though, is tough, even for married couples. Your may believe that talking about sex takes away from the enjoyment, makes it too ordinary and makes it less passionate. Or you may simply be uncomfortable talking about sex, the subject could have been taboo in your home growing up and now you can't get the words out without feeling embarrassed.  But by choosing to not talk about such an important part of your relationship, you are choosing to ignore yours and your partner's needs. If you want your relationship to last, you will need to find a way to open up and discuss things, even when they are uncomfortable.


  • If you and your partner are feeling resentment; one because he wants sex more often and the other because she feels pressured to have sex, even when she isn't in the mood, it's time to find a time when you are both calm and relaxed and talk about your love life. Remember, marriages are about compromise and negotiation, so find a plan that works for both of you. If he wants to make love 4 or 5 times per week and you are really good at once a week, compromise on 2 or 3 times per week. That means you are going to have to find ways to get in the mood or have sex even when you aren't in the mood, just as he is going to have to accept not having sex on nights when he is definitely in the mood. Remember - compromise.

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    Spend time talking about what you both want - in bed and out. Although it is possible your sexual desires are simply different, it is also possible you aren't getting your needs met and that is why it isn't important to you. If you don't speak up and talk about what you need, you aren't going to get it - after all your partner can't read you mind, even if you have been together for 50 years. Work on identifying your needs - sexually, physically, emotionally - and then communicating those needs to your partner. Ask him to tell you what his needs are and be prepared to listen.

    Talk about how you express your love to one another. Are you saying "I love you" in different ways but he isn't getting the message? For example, some women will think, "I cooked his favorite meal tonight, doesn't he know that I did it because I love him?" or a man will finish a home improvement project and think that his wife understands that he did it because he loves her. We often don't understand what our partner is saying because, to them, the action says it all and words aren't needed. In the first example, the husband may have thought, "Oh no, my favorite dinner, I wonder what she wants to buy now." Instead of assuming your mate knows what you mean, make sure he or she does. Letting someone know they are loved is important and the best way to do this might be to simply say it.

    Have sex even when you don't want to. There is a saying, "If you don't use it you will lose it" and that goes for sex too. When you get used to saying good night and rolling over, sooner or later, you come to expect that is what will happen. Instead, force yourself to have sex sometimes, even if you aren't in the mood. You might be surprised that your sex drive increases when the frequency of sex increases. Besides, sometimes we do things we don't want to do, just because our partner wants to. If your partner wants to go for chinese food but you want pizza, one of you will give in and do what the other wants, out of love. Do the same thing for your sex life. After all, that's much more important than what you are having for dinner tonight.

    If, no matter what you try, you still have no desire for sex, talk with your doctor to find out if there is a physical or hormonal reason for your lack of desire.

Published On: September 06, 2011