My last post contained 11 tips to help boost sexual desire. If you are someone whose sexual desire needs no boosting, that doesn’t mean that you get to sit back and wait for your spouse to change. In fact, you are equally responsible for changing your attitude and how you handle this issue in your marriage. This post will offer you….. tips to approach your spouse in ways that will increase the likelihood that she or he will want to be close to you. Ready? Here goes.
1. Don’t take it personally
Differences in sexual desire among couples are very, very common. Although it is hard to have your advances rejected repeatedly without taking it personally, you need to remind yourself that you spouse’s lack of interest in sex just may not be about you, your attractiveness, or your qualities as a human being. It may simply be a matter of a hormone deficiency, other physiological problems, or feelings s/he has about himself/herself. Although you undoubtedly still want things to change, try to develop a little empathy for your spouse. Chances are, given the choice, s/he would prefer to feel turned on easily. It’s not exactly a picnic to feel disinterested in something your spouse thrives on! S/he probably feels inadequate and questions his/her own sexuality. I know this situation hurts you, but don’t underestimate how painful this is for your spouse either. Even if s/he acts defensively, s/he probably spends lots of time wondering why things aren’t easier between you. Try to be more understanding.
2. Break free from the Catch-22
If you are a man whose wife is less interested in sex than you, and my description of the gender differences (she wants you to be more communicative and attentive before she is interested in sex) rang true for you, it’s time to start paying attention to your friendship with your wife. Many women are wired this way. They can’t get turned on unless they feel close to you.
This means that you need to start doing the things that are important to her, like talking about personal issues, spending time together, doing things as a couple, pitching in more at home, being more available to her, and asking her about her day. These are the kinds of things that soften women’s hearts. And women adore it when men do small things for them. Bring her a cup of coffee in the morning. Leave her a note telling her you love her. Call her from work just to tell her that you are thinking of her. Bring home a single rose. Make her feel special. Be romantic. Women love it when men show their affection through random acts of kindness. They are much more likely to want to be close to you sexually when you do.
If you’re upset with your wife because she’s been cold and rejecting, the last thing you feel like doing is being kind and thoughtful. All I can say is that if you really want to improve your sex life and your wife needs to feel close to you emotionally as a prerequisite, doing the things that bring you closer to her is the only way you are going to get there. You can hold out because you’re angry, or you can break free from the Catch-22 and be loving. Experiment by being a friend and watch what happens. Friendship is a great aphrodisiac for most women!
If you are a woman and the more highly sexed partner, the same theory applies. So many men have told me that their wives are “bitchy” and naggy and it really turns them off. Men become passive-aggressive, agreeing to your demands but turning off to you emotionally and sexually. Why not approach things differently? Even though you might feel hurt or rejected or unsexy because your spouse has been so apathetic, don’t be critical. Be kind. Be complimentary. Catch your husband in the act of doing something right and tell him about it.
Look at your own behavior. Figure out what you might be doing that could make your spouse respond defensively. Ask yourself, “What has my husband been complaining about recently in regards to my behavior?” and start changing. Become more of the person he wants you to be and he might become more of the person you want him to be.
Without knowing you, I can say with some certainty that your “more of the same” behavior has been to pursue your spouse for sex. And since this has become such a heated, ongoing issue between the two of you, you’ve gotten into roles with each other. You pursue him or her for sex, and s/he declines your offer. The more you pursue, the more your spouse feels pressured and angry and pulls away. So, it’s time for you to try a new approach.
Back off for a while – No matter how attracted you might be to your spouse or how ready you might be to make love, for a certain period of time you should commit to not approaching him or her. Do not initiate sex for a while and see what happens. Don’t talk about your plan. Don’t threaten. Just back off and wait. Sometimes the lower-sexed person simply needs more time to allow his/her batteries to recharge. When the tug of war has ended, s/he might feel more amorous. It’s really worth a shot.
I know that backing off isn’t easy, especially if you’re feeling turned on. But if you haven’t tried back off yet, at least for several weeks at a time, you need to put this on your short list of things to try.
Stop talking about sex and focus on yourself for a change – You have been so focused on your relationship (at least the sexual part of it) that you have probably put your other needs aside. Rather than spend time arguing about what is or isn’t happening in your marriage, use the time to focus on yourself and find things to do that fulfill you. Go out with friends. Start a new hobby. Join a health club. Go to church. Once s/he sees you focusing on yourself rather than your sex life, s/he might want to be more involved in your life…in every way.
Do a 180 - Wouldn’t it just blow your spouse’ mind if you were to tell him/her that you have been doing some reading and that you now have a better understanding about his/her feelings about sex and that you’re sorry about all the fighting? Think about it. Your spouse has been making you feel like a sex maniac and you’ve been making him/her feel like a celibate.
You’re convinced that you’re right and s/he’s convinced that s/he’s right. And where has all of that gotten you? Right here, right? So, while I can’t guarantee that telling your spouse that you understand his/her feelings better will make him/her want to jump your bones, I can tell you that making your spouse “wrong” won’t. Showing compassion and understanding might be the turn on s/he’s been waiting for! Who knows?
4. Focus on what works
Have there been times in your marriage when your sex life was more passionate? Yes, I know, in the very beginning. Newness makes hormones run amuck. That is not the case any longer. So examine your marriage beyond the very beginning. Ask yourself, “What was different about the times when my spouse was more interested in sex?” See if any of the conditions are reproducible. Then do that.
5. Touch affectionately without thinking sex is imminent
Women often complain that their husbands never touch them unless they want sex. This turns them off. If, as the man, you are the more highly sexed partner, it will serve you well to remember this about your wife. She might want you to hug her, cuddle, hold hands, sit next to each other on the couch, or have you kiss her in ways that are affectionate but not sexual. Lots of women say that men are incapable of hugging without their hands sliding slowly down their butts. Since many women have a strong need for affection without sexual overtones, they get annoyed when each and every touch becomes a means of foreplay.
If this sounds familiar to you, then you might try being affectionate and stop there. Your wife will appreciate it and you. She might even wonder what in the world is going on. And that’s exactly what you want to do; break out of old unproductive patterns. When you start doing the things that touch her soul, she will be more inclined to do the things that touch your body.
Since your sex drives are so disparate, it’s unreasonable for you to expect your spouse to take care of each and every desire. You need to take responsibility for satisfying your own needs from time to time. In all likelihood, you are already doing this and you don’t need me to tell you to do it. However, you’ve probably been resentful about it. That’s not good and it’s also not fair. Although your spouse needs to do a better job in meeting you halfway, there will still be times when you are hot to trot and s/he isn’t. That’s normal and you need to accept it. As long as your spouse is making more of an effort to understand and care for your needs, you need to accept it. As long as your spouse is making more of an effort to understand and care for your needs, you need to accept your differences and take care of yourself occasionally without feeling resentment.
7. Accept a gift of love
Sometimes, as things improve and your spouse is trying to be more caring about your needs, s/he might decide to become intimate with you even though sex might not be a burning desire. Rather than feeling insulted or put off, you should accept this as a gift of love. In good relationships, people do things for their spouses all the time that may not be exactly what they feel like doing at the moment. That’s okay. In fact, that’s more than okay. That’s great. That’s real giving. Real giving is when you give to your partner what your partner wants and needs whether or not you understand it, like it , or agree with it. Allow your spouse to show his/her love by being sexual even if it wasn’t his/her favorite thing to do at the moment. Accept the gift and appreciate it. Good marriages are build on this kind of caring.
8. Respect your spouse’s sexual prerequisites
Here’s another really good suggestion from Dr. Pat Love. When a spouse with low sexual desire tells his/her spouse about the conditions that need to be in place in order for him/her to engage in or enjoy sex, the higher-sexed spouse often does not understand or accept the requests at face value. For example, if a wife tells her husband that she prefers making love at night rather than in the morning, the husband might think she is just making up excuses. (For most men, testosterone peaks between 7 to 8 A.M.; women’s testosterone levels peak in the evening.) If a husband tells his wife that he feels more turned-on after they take a shower or when the kids are asleep, she may think he is just putting things off so that sex never happens. But the truth is, these may not just be excuses. Although you may have a hard time believing or understanding this because you are ready to go at the drop of a hat, your spouse may really need things to be a certain way in order to feel relaxed, comfortable, and turned-on. As much as possible, you should try to honor these requests and not discredit your spouse when s/he is confiding in you about these preconditions. Take what your spouse is saying at face value. Create the kind of atmosphere that is most likely to be conducive to your spouse’s desiring sex.
9. If all else fails, be brutally honest
I’ve worked with countless couples where one spouse was so dissatisfied with their sexual relationship that eventually s/he decided to have an affair or leave the marriage. You might be thinking of these alternatives too. Affairs and divorce are lousy solutions Even if an affair satisfies you temporarily, it will only make things more difficult at home. Although an affair or separation sometimes serves as a wake up call to the other spouse, you can’t always count on this. Affairs and separations are bad for marriages.
However, as the more highly sexed person, you might be at the end of your rope. You might be fantasizing about someone else or about packing your bags and leaving. Before you decide to have an affair or leave, I implore you to make sure your spouse knows in no uncertain terms the seriousness of the situation. Make certain s/he understands what will happen if nothing changes. Don’t threaten in the heat of an argument. Don’t say nasty things. Don’t blame. Don’t criticize. Just tell your spouse calmly (or write a letter) that because of the differences in your sexual appetites, you are so unhappy that you are considering doing something you really don’t want to do. Spell out what you’ve been thinking about. Tell your spouse that this is not a threat, but that rather, you are so desperate, you don’t know what else to do. Ask your partner one more time to seek help. Then wait and see what happens.
As I wrote in my last post, each spouse needs to take personal responsibility for making things better in the relationship. When both of you make more of an effort to understand each other’s needs and feelings, you will undoubtedly feel closer and more connected emotionally and physically. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what healthy marriages are all about?
Michele Weiner Davis is the creator of the Divorce Busting Centers, learn more on how you can solve marriage problems and stop divorce. Follow me on Twitter @divorcebusting, add my Divorce Busting Facebook Page, and subscribe to the Divorce Busting YouTube Videos for more advice and upcoming marriage saving events.