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Sex Drives: His and Hers

By Michele Weiner-Davis

Hi Michele,

I'd like to ask your advice about sex. My husband and I have very different sex drives. For him, everyday would be great, and twice a day would be greater. For me, once a week, but to accommodate him, I'd have sex twice a week. I don't think I'm abnormal, but he asks, "What's wrong with you?" I say it's normal for a couple to have sex once or twice a week. He says he doesn't care about 'normal', it's not enough for him. He has a point, but everyday and even every other day is too much for me. We've been married almost 20 years and have both built up a lot of resentment towards each other. He, because of the sex, and me, for a whole lot of other marital problems. I never did have a high sex drive, even before we were married. Neither of us know how to solve this problem, but it's a big one.



Dear Kathy,

I am very glad that you are asking for feedback about your sexual relationship with your husband because the patterns in your marriage are so common that others reading your letter and my response might benefit greatly.

First of all, know that testosterone, one of the hormones responsible for sex drive, is 20-40% higher in men than women. Though it is not always the case, it is very common for men to desire sex more often than their wives. This gender difference often creates problems in marriages, particularly when people blame each other for being different. Men think their wives are passionless and women think their husbands are sex maniacs. (I write about this in Getting Through to the Man You Love). Blame is the thing that destroys marriages, not differences in libido.

When men and women have substantially different sex drives, something interesting happens. Most women need to feel close to their partners emotionally to desire sex. Women need to spend time with their partners, to communicate on a deep level and feel like they're team mates in regards to housework and kids and so on. All this has to be in place for most women to really desire their men.

Men, on the other hand, generally need to feel close to their partners physically before they invest a great deal of energy into their relationships. So she's waiting for him to be more intimate emotionally and he's waiting for her to be more tuned into him physically and the resentment that results in this waiting game is so huge, it's beyond belief.

That being said, it's really important for both of you to become more understanding of each other. This means you both need to try to imagine what it would be like to live in each others shoes for a while. He probably walks around feeling that if you loved him more, you would be more sensitive to his needs. He undoubtedly feels hurt and rejected and might even question his sex appeal.

You probably feel that if he loved you more, he would be satisfied having sex once or twice a week. He would also be more responsive to the other issues concerning you in your marriage that you alluded to in your message. You also probably walk around feeling bad that he never seems satisfied, that no matter what you do, he's always unhappy. This isn't a pleasant feeling when you love your partner.

Look, Kathy, one of you needs to be the big one here to break out of the vicious circle. Since you wrote to me, I'm counting on you. It could just as easily be your husband, but since I don't have his ear (eye), I'm going to direct my advice to you.

First of all, know that you're right about the average amount of sex most American couples have per week. Know also that that statistic isn't worth a dime because your husband isn't fazed by it. So he'll go on being resentful, angry and distant. The upshot is that you need to make him feel better about your sexual relationship. When you do, I promise you, he'll be more responsive to you. Thousands of women have told me this has been true in their lives.

There are lots of ways to accomplish this. Some may be more appealing to you than others, but don't rule anything out just yet.

1. Flirt with him.

Do you remember the early part of your relationship? Even though you were never highly sexed, didn't you flirt more in the beginning, pat him on the butt, tell him he looks great, and so on. This makes a difference.

2. Put other things aside and make time.

Sometimes, women place too much priority on everything else they have to do and make their sexual relationships last on their lists. Examine if this is true for you. If so, other things can wait. Your marriage can be better than ever if you reprioritize your time.

3. Even if you're not in the mood, do it anyway...sometimes.

So many women have told me that they can jumpstart their sex drive by just getting started. Once they're into it...they're into it.

4. Consider just pleasing him.

If you're really not in the mood for sex, your husband may be satisfied if you do something nice for him once in a while.

5. Discover new ways to rev up your interest.

Let's face it, girl, after so many years of marriage, you might need something new to renew your interest. Cast your inhibitions to the wind and experiment with anything that might intrigue you.

Okay, I can almost hear you saying, "Why do I have to do all the work?" Kathy, just remember that the way to a man's heart is not through his stomach. The more responsive you are to his needs, the more responsive he'll be to you.

I want you to know that I really understand how difficult this has been for you during your 20 years of marriage and I'm proud of you for hanging in there. It says a lot about your (and your husband's) strength and character.

Try being a little more receptive to your man and let me know what happens.

Take care,


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