In the last year of blogging about my struggles with sex in my relationship, the responses from readers have basically boiled down to two questions... "How can I get my partner to want more sex?" and "How did you turn into such a sexpot?" As you might expect, the first question generally comes from the person with higher desire in the relationship and the second question from the partner with lower desire.
The oversimplified answers to these questions are "You can't" and "I didn't", but the full answers are more complex and (thankfully) optimistic, so I'm going to use this blog to answer the first question and next month's blog to answer the second question. To all those who have been curious about my husband's perspective on our journey, this blog post is for you.
Because I'm not the partner who craves more sex in my relationship, let's start with an email from a reader who does:
I have so many things to discuss with you that I don't know where to start...
Let's start with the easy part: your blog is great, it is bold and brave and helpful for women and men (like me) that have difficulties understanding what is happening with their soulmates.
I am married with 2 kids and as I read your blog, I started to realize and understand certain things that my wife has been never able to express.
It seems since she became a mother, she has focused on motherhood and career and not on the woman inside her. I see she is not happy with our sex life, but she does not want to make the first step. And when I offer help, she rejects it (as a modern woman, she doesn't need help).
Is there something I can do? Even by doing nothing? But in that case, could you define the 'nothing'... is this being a peaceful presence and just waiting for things to happen on her side?
Thanks again for your blog. Looking forward to discussing.
My guess based on the number of similar emails I receive is that this man's experiences resonate with more than a few of you. And the pain is palpable, right? Here is my response:
It's common in long term relationships to wake up one day and realize "Hmmm, somewhere along the way, we lost the aliveness and physical connection that we once had." And of course, it's reasonable to want to rekindle the intimacy!
In terms of what you can do, it's difficult, I'll admit. My husband felt similar to you for years (okay, okay, decades) before I was finally willing to work on this aspect of our relationship. I attribute my readiness for the journey in large part to his persistence in wanting more for us, gently asking me to seek help, and then supporting me when I was ready to do the work.
Based on my personal experience and the experience of those I've coached, here's 3 things that you might want to consider as you chart the best way forward:
1) Connection comes before erotic connection. What can you do to increase your intimacy, outside of sex? For me, I feel connected to my partner when he asks me about my day and really sits and listens to me. I tried to explain to my husband for years what I meant by this and then one day he found this hilarious video and finally understood.
2) Feeling sexy fuels desire. The person with lower desire rarely gets an opportunity to spontaneously connect with their sexuality, because the person with higher desire always wants sex first. As an antidote to this dynamic, instead of asking for sex, remind her that she is sexy. Reminisce about what drew you to her... "Man, when you flash a smile like that, I get weak in the knees."
3) Understanding their fantasy is gold. Ask her "What are some of your hottest sexual memories?" When she shares, ask follow up questions to really understand what turns her on. Does she like to feel cared for or taken? Does she like romance or passion? If you can emulate the qualities that she finds erotic, she might have a hard time resisting your charms.
Even after practicing the above for a couple years, my husband and I still stumble. There are days where the rejection reignites old resentment and he needs to go to the gym to blow off steam. And there are days where I can't accept his compliments or share my feelings and I need to go on a long walk and vent to a girlfriend. But we are making progress, and I hope the same for you!
And if you think the higher desire partner is always the man... well, I've got plenty of emails to prove that that's not always the case. What does this look like in your relationship? I'd love to hear what challenges and successes you've experienced as the higher or lower desire partner in the comment section below.
If you are interested in exploring your sexuality, check out the books and websites listed at www.downtothere.com/resources.