Q & A Friday: Why does my husband lack sex-drive?

I get lots of questions sent to me from many amazing people around Canada – and even from around the world. Everything from general advice about marriage and life choices to leadership, church planting and theology. Today begins a new segment on this blog, which is that I am going to answer one of these questions every Friday.

To kick it off, a question from my hometown of Toronto:

Why does my husband lack sex-drive?

Thanks for writing the Radical Sex book. I would like to hear your thoughts on my case of ‘reversed’ desires. My desire for sexual intimacy is much stronger than my husband’s. He considers sex is to be an expression of love and that there are many ways to express this love. My desire for sex is more like a man’s and his like a woman’s. In terms of frequency, at best, he desires sex only once a quarter. I’ve raised this issue with my counsellors and had multiple talks with my husband. I’ve grown to be more patient and be more understanding most definitely. Not having that intimacy is extremely difficult and indeed, temptation is a daily struggle.

Thank you for your honest question. First, you are not alone. There are many couples who have ‘reversed’ desires when it comes to sex. There is a spectrum among both men and women. I know many men who desire sex every day and many who are fine to have sex once a week or once every two weeks. For them their sexual desire is more tied to circumstances of life, emotional connection, level of busyness, stress, etc., So it is not completely ‘abnormal’ in that sense. And if you and your husband were aligned in regard to sexual drive than it wouldn’t be a problem, but you happen to be a woman who desires sex more than your husband, and are experiencing temptation and dis-satisfaction because of it, so there is intentional work to be done.

Secondly, I want to affirm your husbands conviction that there are many ways to express love, and sex is just one of those. In many of my marriage counselling sessions I talk to couples about the Love Languages (quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, and gifts). Notice ‘physical touch’ is one among many ways we give and receive love. So, for him, he may not be motivated to connect sexually unless these other forms of love are being experienced first. His emotional connection to you is directly wired to his desire for physical connection, so if the way he feels loved and connected to you are not happening (lots of quality time with you for instance), his sexual drive won’t fire up very often. Make sure you study your husband and love and respect him the way he needs you to, not the way you, or others, may feel love. Sexual desire is part of eco-system of emotions and affections, and if one part is not firing on all cylinders, the others will be effected. So, ask your husband what ways he feels loved, and make sure to work on those.

I met with a couple recently and the husband was in the same boat as yours and when we got into it he confessed that he wasn’t motivated to have sex with his wife because of a number of seemingly disconnected, orbiting factors (the fact that she just sat on her phone all evening not talking to him in her old ragged pyjamas she’s had since she was thirteen). He couldn’t connect to her physically because there was an emotional disconnect. The two things were connected, which she never had thought of.

Lastly, I would counsel your husband in the same way Paul exhorts the Corinthians when he tells them that there may be short times when they don’t have sex with their spouse for whatever reason, but that that time shouldn’t last very long (1 Cor. 7) precisely because of what you have shared here. If sexual desire is not being satisfied, people are more tempted to stray, look at pornography, and fantasize about others, etc. Be honest with your husband and let him know you are very attracted to him, show him respect by loving him the way he feels loved, and let him know about your fear of being tempted if you guys do not get to a healthier place sexually.

Don’t lose hope though!

I have seen marriages get on track from this and much more complicated challenges. Keep resting on Jesus and pouring into your marriage and it can be better on the other side of this!

Of Porn and Prostitutes – an excerpt from Radical Sex

3,000 people have downloaded the Radical Sex book since its release at the end of December 2015. Here is in excerpt from Chapter 3 – Of Porn and Prostitutes.


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In their book Superfreakonomics, Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, Steven D. Levitt, and journalist Stephen J. Dubner examine prostitution and point out the dramatic change sex has gone through in the last century alone. Prostitution has always existed based on a simple fact of economics, men have always wanted more sex than they could get for free. In more traditional cultures in order to have sex at all, unmarried men would have to pay for it. It is estimated that at least 20 percent of American men born between 1933 and 1942 had their first sexual intercourse with a prostitute.[1] As a result this was an economically booming time to be in the prostitution business. In fact, in the 1910’s, they estimate that 1 of every 50 American women in their twenties was a prostitute![2] Yes, I know. Crazy right? Go check the footnote. I didn’t believe it either. Now, what does this have to do with anything?

Well, how is business today? The prostitutes “wage premium” today pales in comparison to the one enjoyed by even the low-rent prostitutes from a hundred years ago because “demand has fallen dramatically.” Not the demand for sex. That is still robust. But prostitution, like any industry, is vulnerable to competition.” Who poses competition for a prostitute? Simple; “any women who is willing to have sex with a man for free.”[3] And of course, it is precisely this market that has taken off in the last century. “It is no secret,” Dubner and Levitt say, that sexual mores have “changed substantially in recent decades. [As] the phrase ‘casual sex’ didn’t exist a century ago (to say nothing of ‘friends with benefits’)….The shift in sexual mores has given [us] a much greater supply of unpaid sex.”[4]

This approach to life, wherein we offer our bodies and ourselves on the alter of impatient pleasure, casual sex, and sex-as-entertainment, has a staggering effect on our culture as a whole, but most prominently on male culture. In their book, The Demise of Guys, Philip Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan, address the impact:

This is the first time in U.S. history that our sons are having less education than their fathers. When confronted with an abundance of women, men become promiscuous and unwilling to commit to a monogamous relationship. Today’s well-educated, empowered, successful women don’t want lame, slacker husbands, and most men don’t want to feel inferior to their wives. Will this push us into becoming more of an individual, rather than a family-based, society?  “Men are as good as their women require them to be,” said one 27-year-old guy we interviewed. This statement made us wonder about how easy access to sex affects men’s motivation to achieve other life goals. Given the choice between masturbating over online pornography and going out on a date with a real girl – that is to say, a girl who doesn’t look like a porn star and isn’t wearing lingerie – more and more young men [say] that they prefer online porn.[5]

All of this has created a culture in which sexual exchanges, whether real or virtual, are viewed more flippantly than any other point in Western history. How has all of this affected us? Zimardo and Duncan hint at a few important cultural trajectories (for example, causing us to become more of an individualized rather than a family-based society and the lack of motivation in men to have real relationships), and there is a long list of other negative impacts of which sociologists warn as well…

Get the Radical Sex ebook free HERE!


 

[1] Steven D. Levitt, and Stephen J. Dubner, Superfreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance (Toronto: Harper Collins Publishers LTD, 2009), 23.

[2] Ibid. 30.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Philip Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan, The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It (New York: Ted Conferences, 2012) <http://www.contentreserve.com/TitleInfo.asp?ID={E7E5D67C-E030-4902-AA9C-43122E53BB79}&Format=50>.

The Female Brain – a sneak peak at Radical Sex

This is a sneak peak from my e-book Radical Sex which releases later this month. It is a small selection from chapter 2, entitled Married Sex & Orgasms.

unnamedThe Female Brain

…for many men, the context of life is irrelevant when it comes to sexual desire. We can be driving in a car with kids screaming and yelling at each other and simultaneously be in the mood for sex. For women, however, context matters. Just ask a mother in that same scenario with kids screaming in the back seat if she’s in the mood. Likely not. This is because sexual pleasure for a woman is tied very closely with her emotional life.

In her fascinating book, The Female Brain, Dr. Louann Brizendine, says that, “Female sexual turn-on begins, ironically, with a brain turn-off. The impulses can rush to the pleasure centers only if the amygdala—the fear and anxiety center of the brain—has been deactivated. Any worry—about work, the kids, schedules, dinner—can interrupt the march toward pleasure.”[1] This is one of the most profound differences between men and women. Women often live with fear or anxiety about a variety of things in life, and if these things are active it is hard for their pleasure centers to begin firing.

A husband, therefore, has to work on relieving fear and anxiety in his wife’s life to better connect with her sexually. He must take the kids out, cook dinner, and make sure the bills are getting paid.

Shut her brain off, and she gets turned on.

Connected to this is why, contrary to popular opinion, married couples statistically don’t have worse sex than singles, but better. Much better. Why?…

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[1] Louann Brizendine. The Female Brain (New York: Morgan Road Books, 2006.), 77.