What To Do When You Have Mismatched Sex Drives

mismatched sex drives

Today’s post is from Bonny Logsdon Burns, who writes at OysterBed7.com. Follow Bonny there for more great resources on Christian Marriage, and thanks to Beth at Messy Marriages for loaning us this guest piece from Bonny! It is a GREAT take on the “my spouse and I have different sexual needs” topic. If nothing else, it’ll make anyone in a “mismatched sex drive” marriage feel understood. Enjoy!

Mismatched sex drives in marriage is a term used when one spouse desires to engage in the bedroom more often than the other spouse. Over time, if a couple doesn’t address this discrepancy, tension and conflict can overtake your relationship.

Recently, I enjoyed a walking Food Tour of downtown Knoxville with 6 other people. I was reminded that the slowest walker controls the pace of the entire group.

When it comes to sex, the spouse with the lower need for sex, determines how many stops the love bus makes. It’s important to understand this because it means, in a mismatched marriage, one spouse has more control over something that is really important to the other spouse.

If this is something that exists in your marriage, then here are some …

Things to consider in order to align your mismatched sex drives:

1.  It’s OK for your spouse to be different from you.

To be able to understand the difference, it’s important for husband and wife to think outside of their own inner world. Just because you may find sexual experiences to be more important or less important than your spouse, still consider their position with respect and love. Then, go one step further and take their feelings seriously.

2.  Talk about it!

Letting sexual discord sit and fester will only lead to gangrene! Here’s the kicker. You both have to set aside your preconceived notions and really hear what your spouse has to say. The higher drive spouse often feels rejected and the lower drive often feels pressure and anxiety.

Don’t you seek agreement in other areas of our marriage, like how much money to spend on a car, how to discipline your kids, and how your spare time is spent?

Seeking agreement in the sexual arena of your marriage often goes unaddressed because we don’t know how to converse about this delicate subject without high emotions. But, for a mismatched marriage it is one of the most important areas to address. Here’s how to start the conversation.

3.  Learn about your spouse.

If your spouse is the lower drive, read articles and listen to podcasts about lower drive spouses. If your spouse is the higher drive, read articles and listen to podcasts geared toward them. In doing this, you will find compassion.

4.  The lower drive spouse builds sexual interest in a different way than the higher drive spouse.

For many years, we’ve been taught that husband and wife should respond sexually in the same 4 steps: arousal (feeling physical desire), plateau (building sexual tension through foreplay/intercourse), orgasm, and resolution. However, the scientific community is finding that this doesn’t necessarily reflect the experience of all wives.

Some women need to be emotionally connected on a deep level to build their “sexual interest.” (I would venture to say that the lower drive spouse, whether the husband or wife, probably needs their emotional tank filled by the higher drive spouse.) To learn more about the female sexual response click here.

5.  Schedule some “alone time.”

We make appointments for our teeth, for our cars, and for our hair. Why not make an appointment with your sweetie for some sex? 

I hear so many objections to the thought of scheduling sexual intimacy. But, like the old saying goes, “If you always do what you always do, you’ll always get what you always get.” Sometimes, you have to take a leap into something foreign to find the answer.

Read Next on Thriving Marriages  2 Ways to Add Romance to Everyday Life

If you always do what you always do, you’ll always get what you always get.

Honestly, this concept transformed the sorrow in our marriage to laughter very quickly. Why? The simple acts of touching, hugging, and kissing release feel good chemicals into our brains and bodies.

Plus, remember #4 above? The lower drive spouse, typically the wife (not always!), becomes aroused AFTER beginning to engage in foreplay and other methods of arousal. As an added bonus, the moment of climax also floods the brain with great chemicals that help husband and wife bond.

Simple acts of touching, hugging, kissing release feel good chemicals in our brains and bodies.

Yes, it may feel stilted at first, but that doesn’t last very long if you have an open-heart. Here’s how to broach the topic of scheduling sexual intimacy: 5 Questions to Create a Sexual Encounter Schedule.

6. Create space for non-sexual touch.

In retrospect, during our years of mismatch, I craved non-sexual touch. For so long, every little brush was seen as an overture. I didn’t want any overtures, I just wanted a hug. He felt hurt at my avoidance.

So, we made an agreement that on certain days, when sex wasn’t on the table (because it was scheduled for the next day), all touch was non-sexual and would not lead to the bedroom. Knowing this took pressure off of me because he didn’t push the envelope. Knowing that day would be non-sexual, led me to be more flirty. It helped lighten the atmosphere of our marriage.

Final Thoughts

Sexual intimacy, in proportion to the rest of your marriage, is a very small part. However, it is a small part that has a huge impact.

As the low drive half of a formerly mismatched and miserable marriage, I can tell you that tending to this part of our relationship was one of the best things I ever did. When I took my higher drive spouse’s needs seriously, the tides of our discord changed into smooth, fun, and connected sailing.

We still ran into storms of conflict and arguments, but they were much easier to navigate. (And for the record, he began to give more attention to my needs, too. But, that’s a whole other post!)

Sometimes, sexual problems are just the symptom of much deeper issues between you and your spouse. If this is the case, this little article might not address the true problems. Please, seek professional Christian counseling.