There was a recent thread discussing the problems that arise when someone with a high sex drive is married to someone with a low sex drive. It obviously can cause a whole lot of tension in the marriage, and lead to all sorts of bad emotions on both sides that can be very hurtful and harmful.
Some of the responses in that thread mentioned the book “The Five Love Languages”, a book my wife and I have both read and think contains a lot good, common sense wisdom.
According to the author, we each offer love, and perceive love being offered to us, in primarily one of five different ways, or “languages”. Often times spouses are screaming at each other “I LOVE YOU!!!”, but the other spouse doesn’t understand, because it’s being screamed in a “language” they don’t speak. If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it.
The author identifies five primary love languages. We “speak” at least one, but sometimes two or even three. Rarely all five. They are:
- Acts of service
- Physical touch
- Words of affirmation
- Quality time spent together
One of the problems is that each of these has its own “dialect.” Someone who’s primary love language is gifts may have particular types of gifts in mind: food, jewelry, clothing, etc. Someone who “speaks” quality time may want to spend that time hiking, or cuddling, or playing a game together.
So the challenge is to learn not only to speak and understand the other person’s primary love language, but the particular “dialect” they speak. When we do this, then we have the ability to tell our spouse we love them in a way they understand, and will feel. It’s useless to try to get someone who speaks “physical touch” to hear that you love them by giving them gifts.
Or is it?
Those with high sex drives may (probably?) speak “physical touch”. I don’t think it’s a given that they do, but I think it’s probably true that if it’s not their primary love language, then it’s their secondary one. Perhaps sex is a “dialect” of the physical touch language.
Anyone who is bilingual understands that it can take a long time to learn to speak a second language fluently. And even when you do, they frequently still dream in their mother tongue, or will fall back into it in times of stress.
So, how can a spouse who speaks one of the other love languages say “I LOVE YOU!!!” to the spouse who speaks “physical touch”, or its dialect, “sex”, and vice-versa, in a way that feels natural to them?
I think the answer lies in finding the intersection of the two languages. For example, if a husband’s natural love language is “gifts” and his wife’s is “physical touch”, I’ll bet she would be thrilled if he came to bed one night wearing nothing but a red bow around his waist. The idea is that he can begin to see himself, and his body, as a gift to his wife. He is telling her “I LOVE YOU!!” in a language they both understand.
Here’s another example. If the husband is the one with the higher sex drive, and the wife speaks “quality time”, she can try to view making love with her husband as quality time spent doing what he likes to do. He, for his part, can offer to spend time with her doing what she likes to do.
I was hoping married couples, where one spouse speaks “physical touch/sex” and the other speaks a different love language, could discuss some possible intersections, as in my examples above, to help other couples dealing with this difference.
If possible, I’d like this thread to remain focused primarily on couples with differing sex drives, even though the same issue applies to other combinations of love languages.
And if you haven’t read the book, get it and read it. It just might make a huge difference in your happiness.