Sex Drive and The Five Love Languages

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:

  1. Acts of service
  2. Physical touch
  3. Gifts
  4. Words of affirmation
  5. 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.

Excellent start for a thread! I can’t really add much, since my husband refuses to participate in any marriage improvement, but I am interested to read what others are doing to try and balance out their sex drives in a marriage.

I’m somewhat familiar with this concept, but this statement I can’t help but disagree. I don’t think it is a “you have this and this or this” but rather a “you use this much of this and that much of that”. In other words, it’s not a matter of which you have, because I think people have and use all of them, but it is to differing degrees. I know for a fact that me and my fiancee both use all of them, but again, to varying degrees. We do seem to match each other on which are more prominent, but I feel that we use them fairly equal degrees depending on any particular situation.

For instance, during a time of celebration like birthdays or a holiday, we are more likely to express love with gifts, then followed by the other forms, such as a “Thank you so much! I love you!”, then maybe a quick kiss on the lips, an offering of “want me to throw the wrapping away for you” or “would you like me to get you anything”, and then at the end of the day, spend some time together talking one on one and enjoy each other’s company.

That is just an example though. I feel that in any situation, you will express any given one of these, followed by the others to varying degrees at different times. And on any given day, one could express an equal amount of these.

Sorry for the long winded speech.

I agree, but I don’t think the OP contradicts you - rather just using “this is your love language” as a shorthand for “this is your preferred method of communication.” It’s similar to the idea of “multiple intelligences” - it’s not that you are only capable of learning visually or kinesthetically, but concepts will “stick” more easily if you learn using a method that comes more naturally to you. Through effort, though, you can develop skills in the other areas that make learning that way easier.

I appreciate all five love languages, but definitely not all equally. Acts of service and quality time spent together are probably the most important to me - but I will graciously accept the others. :smiley: I have had to learn how to recognize them in my husband - he is definitely a physical touch and words of affirmation guy. We have had some marital issues and I think misunderstanding each other’s expression of love is a big factor in why. We have argued about whether or not it is even valid for a person to want to receive love a certain way, or if it’s entirely illogical (this is not, at all, a fun discussion to have - talk about demeaning to have someone tell you that the way you want to hear “I love you” is silly! :()

As someone who is about to get married - and was having serious doubts - this thread was like a godsend. I am the more “physical” one in the relationship and am very touchy etc . and was having serious doubts about whether Im doing the right thing as my fiance is not touchy at all and seems to have no desire to be close etc.

But I see from the thread that this seems to be a common problem for many couples.

Any advice would be appreicated!

My advice is to get two copies of the book “The Five Love Languages”, give one to your fiancé, and read the other one. Discuss it with him/her. Take the test to see which are your primary love languages. Discuss the questions. And then see if he/she responds.

The underlying questions (at least the ones that are relevant to this thread) are what makes you confident that your fiancé loves you? How do you let him know that you love him. Do each of you feel loved by the other? I’m using the word “feel” very cautiously, because feelings, especially romantic feelings, come and go and are generally not a good indicator of anything. What I really mean is your gut feeling. The one that is really a subconscious confidence, or lack thereof, that the other person loves you.

And while it’s true that romantic feelings come and go, it is very important to have that inner, gut confidence that you are loved. And that confidence comes from “hearing” your spouse say over and over again “I love you” in a language you don’t have to constantly interpret into your natural love language.

Couples who speak the same love language have an easier time of it than those who speak different love languages. My wife and I speak very different languages. I am almost exclusively physical touch. That is probably her least natural love language. Holding hands while walking through the mall makes me feel great. It does nothing for her. So, when she takes my hand for no reason, it really tells me she loves me. We’ve been married for over 20 years. But this love language thing has taken some hard conversations, hurt feelings, and a lot of work on both of our parts to get to the point where we feel, down in our bones, that even though we may not hear it in the way we would prefer, we are always telling each other and being told “I love you.” There have been plenty of times when I’ve felt unloved or taken for granted, since my wife knows I would never leave her. But with effort on both our parts we’ve gotten to the point where we have that inner confidence.

We still have to work on it. There are still hurt feelings from time to time, especially in times of stress. That’s why I posted this thread. I had an “aha!” moment while reading the other thread that if we can look for the intersection of our respective love languages we are likely to be more successful at consistently communicating our love to each other.

What do you do with a spouse who is language impaired???

Love language deaf-mute?


RealJuliane, I’ve read your posts on this thread and on the other one. I really feel bad for you. But one thing that wasn’t clear from your posts is whether or not you believe he loves you, despite the fact that you don’t feel it.

I don’t know if you’ve read the book “Strangers and Sojourners” by Michael O’Brien. It is a great novel. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It starts off a little weird, but if you get past that you’ll see it’s a great love story between a man and a woman who never seem to quite feel that special “connection”, even though they clearly love each other. At one point, the woman’s sister, who had converted to Catholicism, asks him “Can you forgive him for not loving you the way you want to be loved?” I almost broke down in tears at that point because I was feeling very much that way at that time. I realized that I have to bear this burden for the sake of my wife’s salvation. I don’t mean to imply that she was in a state of sin. What I mean is that we are all on a journey, and Our Lord put my wife and me on the same path to travel together. I love her, and while she may be imperfect, so am I. One of the burdens we bear together is that we don’t speak the same love language. At least not easily. The question is: Can I forgive her for not loving me the way I want to be loved?

But isn’t that the question we ask Our Lord? Can you forgive me, Lord, for not loving you the way you want to be loved? The answer, of course, is “Yes. And I do.”

So I will gladly bear the burden of not being loved the way I want to be loved, perhaps for years at a time, so that we may arrive at our destination together.

It seems like you may be in the same position, but perhaps “more”.

One last thing… It is clear from your posts that he isn’t speaking your love language. But do you know what his love language is, and are you speaking it? Is it really deaf-mute? Or do you just not know what his is, and how to get through to him that you love him? Because if you’re not telling him you love him in a way that he hears and understands, then it’s unlikely that he’s going to tell you he loves you in a way you hear and understand.

You don’t have to answer here, but just ask yourself the question. And if you’ve already answered, ask yourself again.

Thanks, TechMan. Actually I was thinking along those lines myself. :slight_smile: The situation obviously isn’t going to change the way it stands. In the end, I have to decide what I need to do (or not do, as the case may be) to come to terms with the way things really are, versus what I would like them to be. Right now, I am fully into insanity - doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. OK, so it’s true that my husband has some narcissistic traits. It’s true that he’s stubborn, and not interested in making me happy in general. It’s true that he can’t talk about sex (it’s not comfortable for me, but it’s much worse for him) or generate any romance as opposed to relating to me through sexual intimacy. (Of course when I say, “it’s true,” I mean that is my observation about him and our relationship - he sees things differently, I am sure!)

But, so what? :shrug: As you say, I have my failings as well. Neither of us is perfect. In some ways we get along very well and are complementary. In other ways, we drive each other nuts. Sex as the only intimacy drives me nuts. Not having sex often drives him nuts. Somehow, I have to reconcile myself to the reality that the only thing I can really change is my own attitude.

I think the thing that makes this the most difficult is that we can’t even really talk about it. I hope I’ve trained our sons that talking things out takes effort but that it’s worth it in the end, and the only hope of growing closer and getting through the problems.

This is good info to say the least.

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