Unequal Sex Drive in Marriage

Hey guys!

First post on here ever so I hope I don’t cross any lines but this shouldn’t be graphic at all. My husband and I have always had an unequal desire for sex… I always want WAY more than him. We’ve been married almost four years, he’s 25, and I’m 24. I do not think that he is the one at fault here and I don’t want anyone to say things like “get his testosterone checked” or “maybe he’s depressed”. He happens to have a lower sex drive than me and I don’t want to pressure him into having more sex than he’s comfortable with. I strongly believe my sex drive is unhealthy, not in the amount I desire, but in the way I desire it. We talked about it last night and he described it pretty well. He said something like, sex is not something I can just enjoy as a beautiful part of our marriage, it’s something I NEED, like food or sleep. If I don’t get enough of it, I am unhappy with our relationship and feel like something is missing. Even if I don’t express how I feel to him, he knows and can feel that I am unhappy. It’s not just the physical part for me, but I would say the majority is about the physical. My body tells me I need sex and then it’s all I can think about for the next few days until I finally get some or give in and masturbate.

Since this is a Catholic forum, I am really hoping we can be orthodox about the comments. I’m not on the pill, we don’t use condoms, and masturbation is something to strongly avoid as the Church as defined it as sin. I just became Catholic this Easter though (yay!) so I never viewed masturbation as sin before and was able to use that as a coping mechanism to kind of even out our sex drives. Now that I’m Catholic, I am trying to avoid sin and stop using masturbation to “curb my appetite” (my husband was never happy with me doing it before either but I did it anyways… I didn’t know what else to do and it didn’t FEEL like a sin).

This is a real point of tension between us and always has been. I know I must be partly viewing sex wrong and may possibly have a hormonal imbalance (also evident in my irregular cycles and acne that I’ve gotten since going off the pill a year ago), but any suggestions at all would be much appreciated.

What would be your ideal schedule and what would be his?

Um… I guess mine would be like 4 times a week and his would be about once a month. Since starting nfp and having 6 week long cycles, we have basically been having sex about 3 times ever six weeks (give or take). Partly due to us figuring out nfp but even during safe days, it’s just not as frequent as I would like.

I’d suggest the following compromise:

  1. Try to work yourselves up to once a week or 1.5 times a week and don’t feel bad about asking that much. Once a month is more normal for 60-somethings than it is for 20-somethings, so don’t feel bad about asking for more.

  2. Work on your attitude in between. You said:

“He said something like, sex is not something I can just enjoy as a beautiful part of our marriage, it’s something I NEED, like food or sleep. If I don’t get enough of it, I am unhappy with our relationship and feel like something is missing. Even if I don’t express how I feel to him, he knows and can feel that I am unhappy.”

It’s really important for the high-libido partner to not pout during dry spells, because it pushes the low-libido partner away and looks ungrateful and suggests that the high-libido partner ONLY cares about sex. That is counter-productive and damaging to the relationship.

Best wishes!

I might be overstepping here… If so, my apologies.

I gather that you’re newly Catholic and that you put sex on a par with food and water (something you need as opposed to desire). Is it possible that you’ve been taught, or learned, that sex=affection? I have struggled with this myself and it expressed itself in the very issue you’re writing about.

Does every snuggle on the sofa have to end in the bedroom? Only you can answer these questions. As for me; I was angry and hurt with my husband for ‘withholding sweeties’ (LOL! :slight_smile: ) until I learned to accept cuddles as affection; just as important as sex. In time; we balanced; he heated up and I cooled down. :slight_smile:

Don’t make the bedroom a battleground. Try to sweetly fall into line with him and ask him to do the same. As you grow together and time passes; you’ll meet in the middle.

Until the Big Drought after the babies start to arrive. :wink:

God bless. x

I hear ya, sister! I have a much higher sex drive than my husband has and I am also no longer using masturbation as a way to pic up the slack, so to speak. I, too, hear my body screaming for sex and get a bit grumpy and distant when I haven’t had sex in a few days or so. We’re both 38 and have been together for 14.5 years, married for 11.5 years.

I know it’s tempting to think there is just something wrong with you because something wrong with you means you can fix the problem. Truth is, there may be absolutely nothing wrong with you! I think wanting sex at least 4 times a week is very normal for men and women in your age group. When I was that age I was dating my husband and it was not unusual for us to have sex 7-10 times a week even with 3 young children and full time work. His desire cooled a bit with age and mine actually went through the roof when I was around 30-32 and hasn’t calmed.

We’ve had our fights about it. Me accusing him of not desiring me and/or not loving me and him accusing me of only wanting him around for sex, etc. We’re working on it by him agreeing to be more open to sex and me a) taking the edge off by keeping busy (workouts, volunteering, household projects) and b) making an effort to be more affectionate without wanting it to lead to sex and not being a royal pain when I am not getting the sex I want. So far it is helping. Prayer, rosary, and meditation couldn’t hurt, either!

P.S.
Not everyone responds to pregnancy and motherhood the same way. The Big Drought mentioned above may never happen. It could, but it doesn’t have to. There was never any drought for me. :shrug:

adds jealousy to list of sins for Confession… :wink:

My husband describes sex (with me - not just “gratification”) as a need. He’s not crude or abusive. He also gets out of sorts and feels disconnected from me when there is a lack of intimacy. It’s not just about getting your rocks off, it’s the deepest way two people can connect. Some people desire that deep connection more often than others. I think it’s normal and healthy to want/need regular sex in your marriage. After all, if you wanted yo live like a nun, you would have become one. As long as it’s sex with your spouse that you need - well, that’s great!

Four times a week seems typical for a couple in their 20s. Once a month is problematic. We’re currently in a slower period due to avoiding pregnancy. It’s hard on my husband, but at least we can do it a few times a month.

I won’t tell you your husband is depressed or needs bloodwork. But maybe he’s gay?

Pennybun,

  1. Your husband’s sex drive is well below what would be considered normal for a healthy male at his age. (this is just one medical site: Sex Drive: How Do Men and Women Compare? There are SEVERAL other reliable medical websites that will support my statement. So as much as you don’t want to hear this, your husband needs to see an endocrinologist.
    (someone suggested same-sex attraction… if this is the case, then he needs to come out with the truth and help you get an annulment if he wasn’t upfront about this to begin with)

Low sex-drive in men can indicate a variety of medical conditions from hypo/hyper-thyroid condition, kidney and liver (and not said to scare you - just to point out the seriousness) cancers or other systemic illness, exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace or even around the home. (I’m a Chemist, trust me, I am very much aware of this - thankfully, I work in a lab and an industry where these are not normally present!!!), medications (such as those used to treat high blood pressure), does he go to the “gym” all of the time and is too tired, general stress… I can go on and on about this; however, only a local physician can assess if this is behavioral or medical in nature.

  1. Many husbands would love to have intercourse with their wives 4 or more times a week… I’m in that club (one adult to another!) (^_^); however, as with you we’re using NFP so that does dampen the physical act. Where my wife and make up for the lack of physical intimacy is with the emotional support… does he do that, do you do that?

  2. You at 24 are in the most fertile years of your life, and biologically, you should have a very healthy sex drive. If you think what you are feeling is abnormal then please consult your OB/GYN. See if there is a need for a full endocrine panel. This is very expensive; however, it will rule out many possible medical conditions.

pennybun
We must ALWAYS rule out the medical before we concern ourselves with other aspects. My wife was going thru a horrible bout of depression… we went to go see the doctor, first thing he did was run a thyroid panel. Turns out she suffers from hypothyroidism. Once we got that under control, her libido came back like it was when we were first married, she’s not so draggy, etc… yes we prayed and so forth, it was our faith that kept us together and the medical community that helped us fix the underlying cause.

Xantippe: I guess that’s what we had been doing before starting NFP. We were at about once a week while I was on the pill. Maybe once I get this NFP thing down, we can go back to that and everything will work itself out. I have been experiencing multiple ovulation attempts per cycle causing me to have a LOT of unsafe days (we’re trying to postpone pregnancy) and only a few truly safe days. And you’re totally right that my attitude drives him away. It definitely affects him in a negative way and I think it causes him to not want to have sex with me even during safe days. I know a large part of the problem is my attitude but it is a very hard thing to change. I guess I was hoping for tips on HOW to change that. :slight_smile:

mrsjennymulhall: You pretty much hit the nail on the head. That’s exactly how I feel (sometimes) even though I know it’s wrong. He shows his affection through hugs and cuddles. He has had to basically stop kissing me on the mouth (minus peck-type kisses) altogether though because I can’t help but want sex if he does that. Most of the time I am able to talk myself into knowing he loves me even though he doesn’t want sex as much as I do, but sometimes (recently) it’s harder to believe it. I go through phases though… sometimes it’s easy to be sure of his love and other times sex = love, no sex = no love. I don’t know what the difference is (doesn’t seem to be correlated with pms or anything).

MJJean: I am pretty worried that my sex drive will go UP when I turn 30… my sisters who are almost 40 said theirs went through the roof when they turned 30. I shouldn’t worry about the future though, I know that doesn’t help anything… but it is scary for sure. Yeah, I know he tries to meet me in the middle but he tries LESS to meet me in the middle when I am acting like a little kid who didn’t get the candy in the candy store.

Avocadomom: Lol sorry… He’s not gay (I’m sure every wife says that, but I know his “deepest darkest secrets” and they are not gay secrets). I don’t doubt that the amount I want sex is normal at all… I just don’t think the forcefulness of how much I want it is normal. Maybe it is, and if it is… my issue still stands: my husband and I have different, but both normal, sex drives and we need to figure out a lasting solution to relieve the tension.

z_0101:
1.) Honestly, I guess I wouldn’t mind if he would go get checked out but he won’t. He doesn’t think anything is wrong with him after researching the possible causes. He doesn’t work out… at all. He doesn’t like his job but since this is a 4 year problem and not a “last few months, since he had the job” problem, general stress doesn’t seem to be the cause.
2.) He is wonderful at emotional support. He knows it is hard for me and tries his best to let me know he loves me even though he doesn’t show his love through sex. I think I’m there for him emotionally as well, but he is the only one that would know that. I am sure he is better at it than I am though. I get very selfish when I want sex and feel like he owes me something, rarely considering how my desire for sex affects him.
3.) I am actually starting the Creighton method of NFP next week in hopes of finding the best time to check my hormones. I know they are off due to the irregular and long cycles as well as the acne, but I’m wondering if it also has something to do with my intense desire for sex.
That is so great that they found the problem in your wife and were able to fix it. Hoping that happens with me (or him) as well. :slight_smile:

Thanks everyone!!!

Hi Pennybun, et al.

I’m going through a similar problem as you. My wife and I have different sex drives. Mine is very high, hers is very low. In about a month, we’ll be celebrating our first anniversary. It’s been a tough year in this regard, as her libido has been very low. It came a shock to both of us. We both thought we’d be unable to keep our hands off each other, but that’s just not what happened. She was on her period for our entire honeymoon (in Jamaica), and since then she just hasn’t been interested in sex. It’s been very difficult for me, and have also struggled with the sin of masturbation. Currently, I’d estimate we have sex about once every 3 months.

She’s been worried there’s something wrong with her, but hasn’t gone to the doctor about it yet. I’m 30, and she’s 23. I found out about 7 months ago that I have hypothyroidism, and in the past couple years I gained about 30 pounds. So, there are a few things rolling around in my head about what’s going on with her.

What makes things harder, in particular, is that any time I show sexual interest in her, she reacts like I’m trying to pressure her into sex. It’s gotten to the point that, though I love her, and think she’s beautiful and sexy, and have a desire to be intimate with her all the time, I don’t often show it to her. Masturbation has been a problem for me throughout my life, and it certainly hasn’t gotten better since getting married. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming my wife for this. I guess I’m just frustrated.

So, know that you’re not alone. I don’t really have any advice to share. It’s just nice to know you’re not alone in your struggles. Ah the plight of being human. :wink:

Hi MrSnaith,

I appreciate you sharing your struggles as well. I definitely feel your pain. You seem surprisingly positive about your situation and I really admire that. Once every three months would have me in a very unpleasant emotional state. Maybe it was just your post that came across positive and maybe you are struggling more than you’re letting on, but if you can keep that positive attitude along with faith in God, I feel like you guys will be fine. I don’t know how open you both are with each other but make sure she knows how much it upset you that you can’t be with her in that way and try to encourage her to see a doctor as well. There may be nothing wrong with her, but wouldn’t it be cool if there was, and it was treatable, and you got the sex life you’ve always wanted! Doesn’t hurt anything (but maybe your wallet) if you get her tested. :slight_smile: Good luck!

I hope it gets better.

Thanks!

I’m actually pretty positive about it, believe it or not. I’ve been approaching the situation in a number of different ways, all of which I think are valuable.

  1. I mentioned that I’ve had a problem with masturbation throughout my life. Well, I take my situation to be a form of penance given by God to teach me the true meaning of my sexuality as a beautiful expression of self-giving love, rather than as an object of self-gratification.

  2. I love my wife. I accept the situation as a manner of self-discipline. If I can learn to respect the boundaries of my wife in what is normally considered to be a marital right within our culture, then I should be good to go on other, equally difficult matters.

  3. My wife is a person, a subject, whom I should love not merely through emotions, but also in action, even when that action is self-control and respect for her integrity. I am trying to harness my sexual energies into expressions of love other than the sexual.

  4. I take this to be a cleansing period, whereby the bad habits of my past are burned out of me, and I begin to treat myself and men and women in general more as people than as objects for personal use.

Aaaaand… I gotta run. Sorry for cutting this short!

pennybun said:

"Honestly, I guess I wouldn’t mind if he would go get checked out but he won’t. He doesn’t think anything is wrong with him after researching the possible causes. He doesn’t work out… at all. He doesn’t like his job but since this is a 4 year problem and not a “last few months, since he had the job” problem, general stress doesn’t seem to be the cause. "

One of the wifely tasks you need to get used to is getting your husband to the doctor even when he doesn’t want to go to the doctor and caring about his health more than he does. Pick up the phone and make him an appointment for a physical and help him make a list of questions and concerns for the doctor.

All of the stuff you’ve mentioned is enough to depress anyone’s normal drives.

I’m confused. Especially by people telling you he needs to go to dr. Is it once a week or once a month? I agree once a month is low but I wonder if there was some hyperbole.

What would you do if he had the sex drive for 4x a week? If you are using nfp there would be up to 3 weeks ( or more) at a time to abstain.

If he had your sex drive there would be 2 horny people pouting for 17-20 days. . . :confused:

Yours doesn’t sound that high, and his is extraordinarily low for a young man. I know you said not to advise that he see a doctor, but that might actually be the solution. A lot of guys would be happy to have wives who wanted to have sex four times a week. I know with nfp that’s probably not possible, but I don’t think you should feel like you’re abnormal. Your drive sounds very normal for your age.

By all means compromise, but he may not just happen to have such a low drive. It might be caused by depression or stress or any number of other things, and it would a wise to eliminate a medical cause for his low libido, if there is one. At any rate, one of the reasons married men live longer is because their wives get them to go to the doctor. In this case it can’t hurt and it might help. :thumbsup:

MrSnaith, Wow. I am so impressed. I saved what you wrote so I can go back and look at it when I’m feeling weak. I could not agree more with everything you said. Thank you!

Xantippe, so… my wifely duty is to force my husband to do something he doesn’t want to do? He’s not a child. He makes choices that I cannot change just as I make choices he cannot change. Even if I could somehow threaten him into doing what I wanted, I wouldn’t because that’s not right or respectful to him as a person. We can encourage each other to do what we think is right, but it is in no way my DUTY to make him do the right thing. It’s not like a low sex drive will kill him, it won’t even kill our marriage. If either of those two things were true, he would have already been to the doctor. Maybe I have completely misunderstood what you are trying to say, so I am truly sorry if that is the case, but I simply think you’re wrong in this case.

GenerationHV, that is a really good way to look at it! Lol… better that only one of us be frustrated than both of us! I’ll try to keep that in mind as well. :slight_smile:

Once a month for a man in his 20s seems incredibly infrequent. There may be a proportion of men for whom the desire is that low despite no medical issue (ie. “normal”), but it is an incredibly small proportion. The odds are against this being entirely normal.

I think he should raise this with his doctor.

Once in 3 months!

May I ask what is your wife’s approach to sex on those occurrences (when it happens). Enthusiastic? Willing? Or resigned to it? I know I lose interest in sex if my wife is not “involved”.

I think the reason people are stressing the importance of getting him to the doctor is that if there is a medical condition underlying this the low libido is just a symptom. In that case you need to get him to the doctor not for the sake of getting more sex, but to make sure that your husband is, and remains, healthy. If he does have an underlying medical condition it will effect more than just his sex drive and who knows how much harm it will cause him if left untreated. The way I see it this isn’t about sex so much as about caring for your husband’s health and well-being.

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