How Often Do Men Need to Have Sex?

youngcouple shoulder shotSmallDear Shaunti,

You’re the researcher, so please tell me the real answer: How often do guys need to have sex?  I just don’t think about sex much; I guess it isn’t a need for me.  But my husband says he thinks about it all the time, and he gets crabby that I’m often too tired.  Even though I can go weeks or months and not miss it, since he can’t, I try to do the right thing.  But oddly, even though he says he’s “deprived”, when I tell him “okay” that just makes him mad.  He says he wants me to want it like he does.  I feel like I can’t win. But if I knew how often a man needs sex I could plan on that, and hopefully that would help.

— Not Feeling Frisky

Dear Not Feeling Frisky,

How would you feel if you told your husband, “I need to hear you say ‘I love you’,” and he heaved a big sigh and said, “Okay, I’ll try to say it.  But how often do you need to hear it?  Is once a week okay?  Whatever it is, tell me, and I’ll plan on that.”

My guess is, you’d be really hurt. You’d be thinking, He supposedly loves me, but he has to force himself to dredge up the willpower to show me love?  Maybe he doesn’t really love me like he says he does.

You wouldn’t be hurt because he didn’t say “I love you” enough times.  You’d be hurt because of what it implied.  Maybe it means he doesn’t care about you. Maybe, you might think, it means you really aren’t even all that lovable.

Sex works the exact same way for most men. In the research, there seems to be no one standard amount of sex that men “need” to have; it is what sex signals to them that is important. Your sexual actions signal: I desire you; You are desirable; I want to be with you in that way; You make me feel amazing; I want to show you how much I care about you; and on and on.

We women think of sex as being primarily a physical need for a man: but it isn’t.  One of a man’s deepest emotional needs is to feel that his wife desires him.  And if he sees that his wife desires him, it gives him a sense of well-being in all the other areas of his life.  But if she shows <big sigh> “Okay, fine, let’s get this over with,” then it is clear to him that she doesn’t desire him, he’s no good at trying to make her feel amazing, he must be completely undesirable… and that she doesn’t really care about him the way she says she does.

In the research with men and women, it was very clear that most women (although certainly not all) simply have a different type of desire than men. (Ladies, if you have the higher drive in your marriage, check out our special article series “When She Has the Stronger Sex Drive.”We need to be approached differently. Most women simply don’t think about sex as often as men do.

But let’s look at that “I love you” parallel for a moment.  The research was just as clear that men love their wives but simply don’t think about saying words of love as often as a woman might want, either.  Yet we rightly expect that men be purposeful about developing new habits of showing love.  We rightly expect them to learn how to do that, and do it enthusiastically (rather than under compulsion), because it is so emotionally important to us as women.

The same thing can be said of sex.  Now, yes, there are sometimes physical or emotional things that get in the way, and if that is true of you, please seek out professional help to address those issues.  But for many women, we just don’t realize how important it is to be purposeful about developing new habits of showing our husbands love in this way; of learning how to do it, and doing it enthusiastically because it is so emotionally important to our men.

Some women who just don’t think about sex and risk being too tired for it, have learned that one great solution is to schedule sex dates.  One woman I interviewed said that no matter what else was going on in their lives, and no matter what other times they might have sex, she and her husband always made time for intimacy on Sunday nights.  Although it didn’t fit the Hollywood ideal of tumbling into bed spontaneously, she discovered that in the real world, this was something that “got her thinking about it,” and she came to truly love that time together.  And so did her husband!

Although the average appears to be a few times a week, there is no one “right amount” of sex that men need. Instead, the one constant is his emotional need to feel that you desire him.  Find ways to show that, and you’ll probably see more love coming from him to you, too!

Do you want Shaunti to share these life-changing truths at your church or event? Inquire about Shaunti speaking, here.

Shaunti Feldhahn is the best-selling author of eye-opening, research-based books about men, women and relationships, including For Women Only, For Men Only, the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage, and her newest book, Through A Man’s Eyes. A Harvard-trained social researcher and popular speaker, her findings are regularly featured in media as diverse as The Today Show, Focus on the Family, and the New York Times. Visit www.shaunti.com for more.

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  • Brandon M.

    As a man, I can tell you that one way for a guy to tone down the cultural influences that encourage him to think about it too much is simply to observe less innuendo themed advertisements, less innuendo themed TV, less movies with innuendo as well, and spending less time around women in yoga pants and women who they are attracted to that are not their wives etc, BUT they fighting physiology is different… and this the other reason some men get crabby in my mind… they are unwilling to fight the “hunger.” Just as a person feels “hungry” in their stomach after skipping a meal… a guy may find himself stuck on this subject mentality because his physical urges are evident every few days or whatever. By we must ask God for a willpower and self control that only comes for Him (as mentioned in Galatians chapter 5 with the Fruit of the Spirit) to either stay pure if single, or if married like me, to not put pressure on your precious wife to try to fulfill a guy’s exaggerated and unquenchable appetite for sex. For she is a real woman in real life… not a fantasy… she shouldn’t have to bare the burden of an exaggerated appetite for such things that comes from a man’s possible adolescent porn addictions and the influence of literally decades of watching sexually themed movies, games, shows ads, etc etc. That’s my opinion.

  • MrShorty

    Brandon, I think I will agree with you — at least in theory. Maybe it just needs more development.

    I think the real challenge, and maybe what is at the heart of the question posed to Shaunti, is “what constitutes an “exaggerated appetite” for sex? Most sex therapists consider 10 or fewer sexual encounters per year to be a “sexless” marriage — so is once a month an “exaggerated appetite”?

    I see a few sex therapists who suggest to couples struggling with libido differences that they aim for once or twice a week — at least to start, then adjust frequency up/down from there. Would 4 times in one week be an “exaggerated appetite”?

    I read one therapist who suggested that many men would like sex once/day. Is twice/day and “exaggerated appetite”?

    And there are countless therapists and non-therapists who, like Shaunti does in her response here, try to sidestep the question of frequency all together, because each couple will want/need to determine what their optimal frequency is for themselves, and it is unwise of us to impose arbitrary “quotas” on any one couple’s sexual relationship.

    IMO, yes we need to “control” our sexual appetites so they are not unreasonable. The real challenge, and the part that I don’t think I understand, is what constitutes “reasonable” and what constitutes “exaggerated” libido?

  • Brandon M.

    Well, I appreciate your comments, but I must expound because “reasonable” and “applicable” frequencies are not the same. For example: Even if an authentic Christian man has a less exaggerated view of sexual intimacy as well as the God given gift of self control over his body, he may (in some cases) still need to tone down his urges for the sake of a godly wife who could possibly be in a different place emotionally. She may not be in the mood or even ready to be in the mood nearly as often for a season (and he may hope that this only for very short season). Even if a godly husband is reasonable in his requests and initiation of romance, it just may not totally fit with how his wife is wired… but that may change over time.

    Here is the point, as I see it: it is not about “frequency.” Rather, it’s about “expectations” and “demands.” You can not demand that a woman be as hormonal and ready for physical intimacy as some husbands are (i.e.- men who (unlike her) are sometimes influenced by above average surges of testosterone, possibly looking for relief from emotional tension via the healthy outlet of physical touch with his wife, and has been visually stimulated throughout the week. Forcing the burden of “unreasonable” and “exaggerated” or even just above average expectations is still not the same as two mature people growing together in love.

  • MrShorty

    Growing together in love is really what it is all about, isn’t it.

    Brandon said: “Even if an authentic Christian man has a less exaggerated view of sexual intimacy as well as the God given gift of self control over his body, he may (in some cases) still need to tone down his urges for the sake of a godly wife…”

    I think what is missing from this and many of the other responses to the original question is that, while this is true, I think the opposite is also true. Spouses (using a gender neutral term because it isn’t always the wife) with a lower need and desire for sex may need to use their God given gift of self control to “turn up the heat”.

    I don’t know if is really 100%, but almost all couples will deal with some desire discrepancy (desire discrepancy is the most common sexual complaint brought to sex therapists). IMO, the “question behind the question” in Shaunti’s original question is just another variation on how should a couple navigate their differences in libido. I don’t know that there are any answers that are universally true. Sure, sometimes the higher drive spouse needs to tone it down, but it is far from universally true. I believe that there are other times when the lower drive spouse needs to turn it up. In either case, there may be “incorrect” attitudes and ideas that need to be changed — whether fueled by porn and popular media, or by religious “sex as necessary evil to be minimized” teachings.

  • Brandon M.

    Well, the women’s ministry group “authentic intimacy” with Julie Slattery, sometimes talks about if a husband is reasonable godly man, than a wife may have to be intentional about learning how to understand his version of romance and care more above the things he does, even if it difficult at first.

  • Deborah West

    You are absolutely correct. Amen, brother.

  • http://agrownupmarriage.com Kentucky Colonel

    From: http://site.themarriagebed.com/biology/male/physiology-of-the-male-sex-drive

    “Two glands, called the seminal vesicles, produce the majority of the
    fluid which makes up semen. This fluid is stored in the seminal vesicles until an ejaculation is about to occur. Think of the seminal vesicles as two small bladders; and like the urinary bladder, they fill up. The fullness may or may not be noticeable as a slight pressure inside the body (not the testes), but the body signals the brain that release is needed. In a normal healthy man under 50, it takes 24 to 72 hours for the vesicles to fill up. While not getting release doesn’t result in damage to the body, it can cause a sense of discomfort and make the fellow ‘grumpy.’ This is one biological reason a man feels a regular need for release.”

    Though I like Ms. Feldhahn’s answer better.

  • Deborah West

    From a urologist here – there is no actual physical need for release, as in ejaculation. The body will simply absorb excess semen. The ‘discomfort’ is no more than compared to mild menstrual cramps. You are correct in the 24-72 hour time frame – but physical discomfort only sets in after approximately 5-7 days and will subside after 7-9 days. Remember – the brain is the largest sex organ. If you just don’t dwell on it, it goes away faster.

  • bccream

    I disagree, If I do not ejaculate I will have a spill at night, when I am not awake, when I am NOT consciously thinking about it and it is not a good feeling waking up wet pants in the middle of the nights. I am sure you would suggest me to sleep with pads on, lol.

  • Deborah West

    Yes, nocturnal emission is one of the ways the body works. As far as your comment about ‘not thinking about it’ – you actually may be dreaming about it. Unconsciously, you are thinking about it. Some males never have wet dreams. But with most all males, the first ne will occur within 10 days after abstiance, the next may be 10 days to 6 months after that. The time between usually gets longer and longer. After age 45, mostly likely nocturnal emissions occur once a year to never again. And thank you for your suggestion of wearing pads, LOL. I would have never thought to recommend that. Most men just get up and shower. Again, thanks. It was my ‘chuckle’ for the day.

  • bccream

    Let’s respect and believe the other side, best way to resolve the issues. I would not doubt once when if woman tells me how uncomfortable she feels during the menstruation but when it comes to men hyper sexual issues women tell men to not talk about it and figure out ways to control. How hypocritical is that ? Unless you are a man you can only imagine what it is like. So again let’s respect and trust the other side of the story not discredit because you do not experience the same. The final thought is please do not pretend to know MOST men.

  • Denniss Stone

    What abouts the farm anmals? I think they need some good fucks!

  • T. D.

    What ever floats your boat perv.

  • Denniss Stone

    i don’t hav a boat

    Dennis Stone
    dennisstoness@aol.com

  • T. D.

    Then I’ll shorten my comment…perv.
    FYI, that dos stand for pervert.

  • Denniss Stone

    sound like you want to suck a fart from my ass then

    Dennis Stone
    dennisstoness@aol.com

  • T. D.

    Nice comment. Sounds like you are…what…10 years old?
    Perverts come in all ages.

  • Denniss Stone

    no im older than 10, so you wants to suck a fart from my but holes

    Dennis Stone
    dennisstoness@aol.com

  • ElectricFire

    Actually, my fiancee is the one who needs it more in my relationship. I genuinely don’t think about it much, except to worry about it, while she is excited about the idea.

  • Chris Allen

    An off-the-cuff internet observation here: if you’re worrying about it, that can affect your libido. Follow the trail back to try to figure out *why* you worry, why you’re feeling anxiety. Find the source and try to work on it; I think that might help you get back to relaxing, having fun, and actually anticipating sex. :)

  • ElectricFire

    I know exactly why I worry about it: because I’ve never had it and I don’t want her to be unsatisfied on our wedding night.

  • NG

    Pray about it and ask if you two are truly compatible. It is normal and OK to be nervous about something so new and radically different, but it is a new experience for both of you.
    In the past, it was considered normal that the new couple learns thinhs together, it is our pornified age when one is supposed to be an expert already… Tell your fiancee honsetly how you feel about, it is not about performance but love.

  • T. D.

    Must be nice.

  • Cat

    What if the problem is menopausal and her husband doesn’t want to except that factor and turns against her for it? And he wasn’t that interested in the first place until one of his med’s side effects made him more frisky.

  • Cathy M

    May be a good idea for the letter writer to check in with her doctor.

  • Chris Allen

    For menopausal women, definitely see your doctor, but also look at Evening Primrose oil (oral supplement) as a possibility—it mimics female hormones and can alleve some of the symptoms menopausal women often experience: dryness, vaginal tissue thinning, pain in intercourse, less arousal, etc.

    However, let’s not forget one thing: men are emotional creatures too, just as women are, and sometimes if there’s some problem with communication, or one or both people have “baggage” they haven’t really dealt with, it *can* affect libido. For some reason, suppressed issues often surface in people around middle-age (about the time women are menopausal), and it can be either or both partners. Aside from physical potential issues, check for emotional/perception ones as well.

  • Susanna Krizo

    Not true. The idea that women want sex less is a cultural thing, tied to this whole Madonna/whore complex that doesn’t seem to leave us any time soon.
    (http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/06/turns-out-women-have-really-really-strong-sex-drives-can-men-handle-it/276598/)

    Maybe the problem is that the man doesn’t help around the house as much (as pointed out by Dr. Gottman whose research is one of the best resources into the psyche of married men and women http://www.gottman.com/) To be the only one cleaning the toilet is not an aphrodisiac, according to Dr. Gottman. So maybe the problem isn’t in the libido, but the housework?

  • Susanna Krizo

    And it’s so sad to see the church constantly pandering to these pseudo-scientific resources. We deserve better than this.

  • Joe Cool

    Yes, it must be the poor wife is suffering from some issue. It couldn’t just, you know, be her fault for being selfish or something more normal. #eyeroll

  • Susanna Krizo

    Why do say “more normal”? Are you trying to say that women are just naturally uninterested in sex?

  • Regular Joe

    If women wanted sex as much as men, there would be no such thing as prostitution. Yet even in today’s licentious society, there is still a large customer base of men willing to pay lots of money to women for sex, and not vice versa. Sure, some women have high libidos, sure, some men don’t. But on average, it should be obvious that men seek more sex than women. If you disagree, cite a single society where there have been mostly male prostitutes, and mostly female customers. Note where one can find the equivalent of the gay bath houses or illegal gay outdoor hook up places such as rest stops and public rest rooms that are frequented instead by lesbians.
    Please note, when discussing statistical phenomena, a few exceptions don’t disprove the rule.

  • Susanna Krizo

    Prostitution doesn’t exist in the jungles of Africa. Want to explain that? (maybe it has something to do with how our economies are created and governed)

  • falling321

    Prostitution exists everywhere, the form of payment is the only thing that varies! In those jungles, every hunting male knows which widow will give bed time in exchange for fresh meat. And the exchange is a accepted practice. Everyone understands that the widow and her children need to eat and men want to have sex. And in the jungles of Africa, with their strong male predominant society, rape is ‘understood’ and if the male sticks to widows and old women and does no injury their aggression is generally ignored. Almost all the women of other tribes are also acceptable targets for rape. After all, males have needs! Talk to anyone who has spent a great deal of time working in those jungles as a missionary and you will have a far better understanding of what goes on! There are people who have spent their whole life trying to change the rampant sexual abuse of women that occurs in those jungles!

  • Susanna Krizo

    So then you must also agree with the 19th century feminists who said that marriage is legalized prostitution. The woman gives sex, the man provides food. Everyone’s happy (or not).

  • CoffeeCrazed

    1) sex is the default in marriage. From a biblical standpoint, sex between husband and wife is assumed. When Jesus was asked about divorce, in Matt 19, he responded that a) marriage is between a man and woman and b) that asexuals/eunuchs were not part of that club. It did not matter how the eunuch came to be that way either.

    In deference to the asexuals, I suppose that if you find a like-minded individual, then have at it. But if anything changes, per the below, it is up to the lower drive partner to respond to that change. I have read one story about an asexual woman who deliberately married a quadriplegic so she could avoid sex. But she changed. One can’t fault the quadriplegic, but the story illustrates the pitfalls of asceding to that apparent state of being.

    2) straight forward reading of the bible in 1Cor7 indicates that the prescribed frequency is whenever one of the husband or wife wants to have sex. Because marriage is the sanctified union in which to have sex, Paul says, “get your needs met there to avoid the immorality of the world.”

    I have seen it written that when Paul directs to “come together” after fasting (the only reason for not engaging) that the original language indicates that this was to be every 2-3 days. I don’t know that this is true, but the first part of the passage indicates as much as is needed, so it is a moot point.

    Of course, a loving husband or wife will accommodate legitimate inability but those are pretty rare.

    3) I don’t recall where it is written but the spiritual state of one of the partners is no excuse for denying sex. In fact, if a spouse is a believer, they are asked to up the ante and love the unbelieving spouse even more to win them into the kingdom.

    Going to the sociological side.
    4) Men, do not believe that picking up responsibility from your wife to ease the burden will help. It does not. In general, spouses do pretty much the same amount of work when considered as a whole. Domestic chores are not the only work done in a household and further, typical male chores cannot be discounted. In traditional marriages, wives are no more overworked than husbands are.

    5) Further, be a man and do the hard, ‘dangerous’ work. Studies have shown that marriages where there is a traditional division of labour have 50% more sex. Mow the lawn, shovel the walk, fix the car.

    6) Women, do not discount your husband’s horniness as merely a physical urge. He wants YOU. That’s why he married YOU. That’s why he pledged to you for life. Apart from sex, there is nothing that might occur in marriage that is sinful outside of marriage. Nothing.

    And consider this. If you don’t consider sex IN marriage to be important, why would you be worried about sex outside of marriage being a grievous sin?

  • Shel

    Typical response . And I’m sure the wife shouldn’t work outside the home. And should submit to the husband . And always affirm him . It’s 2015. Stop assuming women are brainless robots .

  • CoffeeCrazed

    If you were my wife, I’d expect you to work outside the home. Preferably opposite shifts.

  • Shel

    I feel sorry for your wife . And if you’re claiming to be a religious person , you can stop now. Reading what you wrote shows that .

  • Rob

    Let me guess Shel….you’re growing older and you can’t get the man you thought you always ‘deserved’. So, you tell yourself career, yoga and wine with your girlfriends is enough. One day, you’ll hit the wall and won’t be near as desirable to any man. You’ll grow old with cats and be sorry that you ignored the natural biological need to marry a man, have his children and be a mother. Feminism has done this to women. They often don’t realize it until past their prime where the guys they think they deserve simply don’t want them anymore. Ahhhh the truth!

  • Shelly

    Just saw this reply , as I am far too busy to be an online troll . You couldn’t be farther from the truth . Actually I have been married 32 years, have five children and five grandchildren , a successful career, and do not care for yoga or wine . I just don’t agree with you . Watch how you judge people.you just might be wrong . Ahhh the truth !!!

  • MariR

    That’s called SELF ABNEGATION

  • Buckstopped

    Susanna, you were refuted. Don’t try to throw up a different argument. Stop being lazy if you want to debate.

  • Susanna Krizo

    Refuted? By whom? Lol. Nice try.

  • Walker

    You are correct. Most marriages are legalized prostitution. In fact most dating before marriage, when sex is involved, should be included as prostitution. Women usually receive something of value (meal, drinks, movie etc.) before sex is allowed.

  • Deborah West

    Regular Joe, Yes, men use prostitutes. Because men view sex as a sport and simply want to buy a ticket instead of making a commitment. Sex is NOT a sport, it’s a gift from God that belongs to marriage. Women do want to have sex, but they want to have it with someone worthy of it. I think most women see the whole picture. They see the personhood of the man, they don’t see the man as just a sex object. At least, that’s the way all my friends see it.

  • bccream

    Deb – Women do see men as objects, it’s a different form of objectification that hypocrite feminism constantly ignores. The men are viewed as ATM machines.

  • Deborah West

    I don’t believe it’s about being an ATM machine. It’s more the emotion of feeling safe and secure. But yes, there are ‘gold-diggers’ out there. Both men and women need to be discerning when looking for a mate. And please don’t go on that ‘hypocrite feminism’ tripe. Unless you also will allow for women to speak against that ‘hypocrite masculinism’ tripe. Equality is equality with NO single gender given any form of entitlement based on gender alone. Men absolutely should not dominate, and neither should women.

  • Jacob Paulson

    Prostitution is a market for men because of the consequences of sex, not the desires from either men or women. Casual sex for men has the risk of STI. Casual sex for women has the risks of STIs, pregnancy, being overpowered, etc.

    Perhaps desire does account for part of the difference, but I wouldn’t say that it is the main cause.

  • Annie2591

    While there were some good points made in this, the answer is also one-sided. The partner who doesn’t have sex on the brain 24/7 shouldn’t always be the one to compromise. A person with a sex addiction or extremely high libido can wreak havoc in a marriage with their constant demands. It may reach the point where they need counseling. These are sometimes partners who have over-stimulated themselves with porn, fantasies, etc, yet view themselves as the “normal one,” when they need to dial it down. I don’t like the comparison with sex to love. There are a thousand ways to show love and sex is only one of them.

  • Jordan

    While I agree with your overall point, I don’t think the person asking the question has a sex addict for a husband. She clearly stated that she can go weeks or months without desiring it. Wanting sex more than once every few weeks is completely normal.

    I, and other men I know, am totally fine with sex once or twice a week, but when my wife shows no interest it can be once a month or less. I start to feel bad trying to “come on” to my wife when I know she is not going to be interested and it can start to damage the relationship. At the same time, she feels bad for having no desire. Of course, counseling can be a big help here too.

    If one partner begins to want or demand sexual satisfaction daily or more than once a day, then yes, that would understandably seem excessive to many people.

  • Chris Allen

    And if it’s simply a case of “hydrostatic pressure” or “an insane itch you need scratched,” there’s always masturbation as well, to take the edge off. :) Interspersing sexual encounters with masturbation can help, if one partner has a strong appetite.

    On the other hand, it can also help the partner who’s feeling a lack of interest: masturbation is yet another way to help get your mind on sex, and to get those channels of energy and hormones and reactions going… and it’s sometimes easier to catch a few moments alone to masturbate during the day, than to plan a full blown encounter. It should not *replace* sex, but for the active partner it can help relieve the edge, and for the inactive partner it can help get those bodily and mental functions going more strongly.

  • Colette S

    Thank you for sharing that, because it is so damn true!

  • TheNutR

    Honestly…even if you’re not the in mood when things start out, in my experience you get in the mood pretty quick.

  • Chris Allen

    90% or more of sex is in the mind. Good technique helps, but the door-opener is a sexy approach and a sexy mind-set. Going by the limited info we have here, I’d suggest a few things:

    1. To the wife, start thinking more often about sexy things that can turn you on. If that means looking at a porn mag, reading a romance novel, watching porn, or just taking a few moments to fantasize about sexy stuff during the day, get the brain going on it. The more you think about it, the more you’re “priming the pump” basically, getting the sexual chemicals and hormones and reactions going in your body. In particular, think about aspects of your husband, and memories of him, that turn you on—and when you’re with him, TELL him those things turn you on!

    2. To the couple: I agree with planning some date nights, etc. Make them fun, or romantic, so that there’s a build up to the sex—not just “hop in the bed and let’s go.” Busy couples/parents do have to set aside time for sex and re-connecting, just like you have to set aside time to shower and get ready for work in the mornings.

    3. To the husband: are you doing things to arouse your wife before sex…. or are you just saying “I’m horny, let’s go”? Women have had their sexuality repressed for generations (some have never even felt an orgasm); so sometimes, it takes more build-up to get a woman going. As well, if your wife has ever experienced abuse or molestation or rape, those issues can be a factor (and need to be worked with honestly and with compassion). Work with your wife on planning “date nights,” and do your best to make them fun, romantic, connecting, and above all, sexy. Remember too that new locations, being away from home and/or kids, etc. can help—so can watching something steamy together, scented candles, music, etc.

    4. Finally, back to the woman: if you try these things and they just don’t seem to be working, see your doctor and have your hormone levels checked (and a physical exam wouldn’t hurt, either—you might have something like polyps, etc.). In particular, if you’re in menopause or post-menopausal, you may need medical help: hormone therapy, etc. If like me you don’t want to take pharmaceuticals, look into Evening Primrose oil—but do read up on it and cautions about it first, and discuss it with your doctor. Post-menopausal women sometimes experience not just dryness, but vaginal tissue thinning and/or a longer time to lubricate and/or for tissues to stretch, all of which can cause intercourse pain. Evening Primrose oil can help, because it supplies a natural faux hormone that can help bring these things back toward former levels.

    Again, consult your doctor before trying OTC or natural remedies, especially if you’re still of child-bearing age, are pregnant or nursing, etc.

  • Anna C. Haugen

    1) The woman who asked the question has said that she’s often “too tired.” This suggest chronic fatigue which could either be a sign that she needs less time doing whatever is tiring her out (work, kids) and more time doing things that refresh her. If the wife is tired and the husband isn’t, what’s going on there? Does she work more than he does, or at a more stressful job? Is she expected to both work and bear the burden of the housekeeping/childrearing? If so, perhaps the first step should be the couple sitting down and going through their lifestyle and figuring out how to re-arrange things so that she isn’t tired all the time. Maybe that means her husband taking more chores around the home, or helping the kids with their homework while she relaxes in the tub. As she has more energy, her sex drive might perk up, and problem solved!

    2) Let’s remember that within the genders there is a lot of variation in what
    people want. Men do not, on average, have stronger sex drives then
    women. (Sexual desire peaks at different ages, younger for men and
    older for women, but that’s not the same thing.) In some relationships,
    the husband has the stronger sex drive; in others, the woman does. But
    our culture views men as sex-crazed maniacs and “good” women as not
    thinking about sex much. How much of the sexual dynamics in this relationship reflects both partners falling into this unconsciously? Might be something to think about and explore.

    3) If she only feels like sex very occasionally, she might be asexual or demisexual. There are people who are perfectly healthy who don’t really experience sexual attraction–about 1% of the population, about evenly split between men and women. Everything works; we’re perfectly *capable* of having sex, but we don’t tend to get much out of it. (The joke is: give an asexual (“ace”) the choice between the hottest sex ever with anyone they want, or having a piece of cake instead. The ace chooses the cake, because why would you want sex?) Demisexuals are people who do experience sexual arousal, but only rarely. Again, everything works, but it’s just not important to them. If this sounds like you, I would check out the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), they’ve got a good discussion board where you can ask questions from people who have similar issues.

    4) On the other hand, the reason she’s disinterested in sex might have something to do with a traumatic experience in her past, as others have said. In that case, therapy might be able to help her deal with it.

    5) If it’s none of these things, it might be worth it for her to spend some time asking herself what gets her motor going. Note that depending on where/how/when she was raised, she might not have ever taken the time to explore that. Most of the sexual stuff in our culture is aimed at men and what men find sexy; a lot of women internalize that and then wonder why they’re not very interested in sex. Well, it’s because their desires work differently than the default male assumptions in everything from ads to movies to Cosmo articles. Figuring out what excites her might open up new avenues for intimacy.

    6) How good is her husband at sex? I know most guys think they’re sex gods, but all my girlfriends say otherwise. Does he know how to do foreplay? Has he paid enough attention to her to figure out what her erogenous zones are, and use them? Does he know what a clitoris is and how to stimulate it? Because if he doesn’t, that might be the problem. If he’s always satisfied and she rarely is, well, it’s not surprising he’d be a lot more into it than she is. This requires a delicate conversation, but these conversations can bear much fruit. (It helps if she knows her own body, what she likes and what she doesn’t, but even if she doesn’t already know, they can have fun exploring together. As long as it’s approached as something fun and both are willing to stop when something isn’t working well for either partner.)

  • Sara

    Thank you for this educated response. I get so tired of the gender essentialism and stereotypes on these kinds of posts.

  • Regular Joe

    First, Women DO, on average, have LESS sex drive than men. I’m sorry, this is not a cultural thing. Please, use common sense. In all cultures, in all history, who are the customers of prostitutes? Men. Who are the prostitutes paid for sex? Women or gay men. Look at Homosexuals of both sexes, a case that distills the issue, given that its not a compromise between the sexs. Gay men generally equal hyper promiscuity, and “married” gay men typically are not monogamous. Lesbian women have, within the lesbian community, a concept known as lesbian bed death, where all they ever do is snuggle.
    Second, the woman explicitly says she is happy to go months without sex. Not too tired but misses it, but could care less. This is not a case of a naughty man who doesn’t clean the toilet. Its a case of an frigid wife. Please, read what she said and don’t go to your standard script.

  • Deborah West

    “frigid’ wife??????? how about “addict” husband????? Please quit the name calling. EVERYONE’s sex drive is different. And nobody’s is wrong. Each of us are unique and an awesome human being created by GOD. To try and tell a woman she is wrong because she has a lower sex drive is saying the GOD is wrong. God created her that way and God is NEVER wrong.

  • Bill Grace

    I disagree, Deborah. God may rarely creates us certain way to stay that way all our lives. We are urged to pray, fast, and turn to scripture to seek God’s will. Not be complacent and shrug and say “well, God made me this way”. That seems almost lazy

    In this particular instance, why couldn’t a woman seek out ways to increase her sex drive if she new it would please her husband? Very much the same way a husband can be urged to be more expressive and emotional instead of clamming up and saying “God made this way”

  • Deborah West

    And by that same token, why couldn’t a man seek out ways to reduce his sex drive if he knew it would please his wife? My comment was to Regular Joe because of the name calling. That just wasn’t fair of him. My personal opinion is that each spouse should strive to please the other and that there is a lot of compromise in marriage. Neither spouse is wrong, but both need to work together and agree. And you are correct in that we need to seek guidance from scripture. But you will never find any number associated with sexual ‘frequency’ in scripture. This is to be worked out between the two spouses. And again, I think you’re right in that God does expect us to grow and mature. And part of maturity is knowing that one cannot have their ‘own’ way. We are to think of others (and other can mean ‘spouse’) as better. If BOTH spouses had goodwill and a generous heart, then all would right, right,lol???

  • Jacob Paulson

    In this example, the woman says “I can go weeks or months and not miss it.” This isn’t a sex addict husband. I just read your comment further down, and I agree that both need to compromise; however, “God made me this way, so it can’t be wrong” is a horrible argument for a fallen world. We are cursed and our bodies are not perfect. Even then, a lower sex drive could be something that isn’t genetic, but a result from conditioning. Perhaps the husband doesn’t make sex pleasing to her, so she doesn’t gain much from it.

    Anyway, I’m only commenting because I don’t think that because someone is a certain way (even from birth) means that they can act in that way. A large part of the gospel is about dying to yourself and living in Christ.

  • CoffeeCrazed

    I believe it is a cultural creation that women’s sex drives are suppressed. The bible never addresses specifically the satisfaction of a man’s sex drive. It does address a woman’s though. The Jewish traditional marriage contract, presumably derived from scripture, only addresses a husband’s responsibility to satisfy his wife, not vice versa.

  • Shel

    Wrong again. Jewish men place much more value on their wives (and their brains). Maybe you should focus on other parts of the bible than just two paragraphs. Plenty of lessons to be learned my friend

  • CoffeeCrazed

    And it appears that you simply have an axe to grind. This is an article about sex

  • Shel

    And you have a very pathetic view about it. Grow up . Realize that there’s more to a woman’s role than pleasing the man . Maybe you need to change your expectations .

  • Kimberly Griffin

    Everyone has a specific love language and everyone feels “loved” differently. My husband and I both scored equally in 2 languages. Mine is words of affirmation and physical touch. His are acts of service and physical touch. If every husband and wife would learn this about their partner, marriages would be so much fuller!!

  • Swain Morrissette

    @disqus_rIpuTbw6DK:disqus , I don’t believe women should be robots or that their sole purpose in life should be to please a man. Women are smart and totally capable of accomplishing awesome things…

    That said, I do believe that in a relationship, a man’s self worth, at least in his mind, is primarily based on his ability to please his woman and provide for his family. This is why penis size and other seemingly superficial topics are such a big deal – they’ve always been. I mean what other purposes do men really serve in life other than sperm donors and hunters/gatherers? These are the two things that we are supposed to be able to provide with ease. Without validation that we are doing them right, or at least some form of positive acknowledgment, it’s easy to fall into depression and/or to feel like you’re just not a man.

    My woman is always asking me to clean up, or to check on the kids in the middle of the night even though I know and have faith that they are okay and safe. She asks me to cuddle with her every night, and to tell her how beautiful she is in the morning. Not only does she want me to do these things, but she wants me to be enthusiastic about it. She wants me to make these things part of my day-to-day life, and she wants me to be happy whilst doing them.

    In that, is it really weird or strange that in return I want her to be enthusiastic and frequent with regard to sex?

    Side Note: I personally don’t think Bible quotes or religion has anything to do with this matter.

  • MariR

    GMC3MOM,
    Maybe all you and he have left is performing mutual masturbation on each other, either by hand and/or by using vibrators or vibrating back massagers (advantage is these cost less than some sex toy vibrators, work better, and can be bought at a drug store or online, including in states which outlaw sexual vibrators. And there are some hollow tubular-shaped sexual aids [the Fleshlight] for men that are made of silicone to look and feel like a woman’s birth canal. The wife could hold the device while her husband thrusts into it.). This gives a couple the sense of achieving sexual satisfaction together, as a couple. Although, you certainly can provide yourself with sexual relief if your spouse can’t or doesn’t wish to engage in the mutual activity.

  • Swain Morrissette

    @Shel, I don’t believe women should be robots or that their sole purpose in life should be to please a man. Women are smart and totally capable of accomplishing awesome things…

    That said, I do believe that in a relationship, a man’s self worth, at least in his mind, is primarily based on his ability to please his woman and provide for his family. This is why penis size and other seemingly superficial topics are such a big deal – they’ve always been. I mean what other purposes do men really serve in life other than sperm donors and hunters/gatherers? These are the two things that we are supposed to be able to provide with ease. Without validation that we are doing them right, or at least some form of positive acknowledgment, it’s easy to fall into depression and/or to feel like you’re just not a man.

    My woman is always asking me to clean up, or to check on the kids in the middle of the night even though I know and have faith that they are okay and safe. She asks me to cuddle with her every night, and to tell her how beautiful she is in the morning. Not only does she want me to do these things, but she wants me to be enthusiastic about it. She wants me to make these things part of my day-to-day life, and she wants me to be happy whilst doing them.

    In that, is it really weird or strange that in return I want her to be enthusiastic and frequent with regard to sex?

    Side Note: I personally don’t think Bible quotes or religion has anything to do with this matter.

  • CoffeeCrazed

    Shel, you simply don’t get it. Why on earth would I choose to be married, foregoing other possibilities, to not have sex when everything else that occurs between a married man and a woman can be conducted without getting married?

    This isn’t a discussion about gender roles and some bullcrap feminism. This is a discussion about what reasonable frequencies of sexual activity should occur in marriage, regardless of whether it is the husband or wife being satisfied.

    If you wanna talk about careers and domestic work, find a mommy blog.

  • bccream

    Coffee- You are in denial and not using the common sense that Shel mentioned. I totally agree, use common sense and look around, forget that look at the basic biology 99% of the female species DO NOT go on hunting mate, its the other way and always had been like that even before religion ever came into existence. I mean seriously are you that religiously blind that you do not see any world beyond that ?

  • CoffeeCrazed

    Shel has no common sense, only her own selfish wants and stupid logic. And sounds like you agree.

    I was stuck in a sexless marriage for over twenty years and that was the church’s responsibility. It’s funny how little you people know about the church. They support frigid people’s (particularly women’s) mentality.

    I will admit, that based on articles I have seen, Shaunti included, I thought Patheos was was some kind of christian-counter-cultural, hyper-liberal place. I was wrong, it is an atheist hyper-liberal place.

  • Shel

    I disagree completely

  • http://www.genamccown.com GMC3MOM

    The only problem I tend to find with articles like this, is they don’t help the person who does have a medical condition. They just say “hey, see a doctor”. But what if she is? What if she’s seen multiple doctors? What if she has tried everything to address it and nothing is working?

    Then what?

    How does she address her husband who doesn’t understand that this has NOTHING do with him? That she is not rejecting him, but rather her body is broken.. it isn’t working correctly?

    Speaking to women who have this issue, the overwhelming response is that when hubby isn’t in the mood, he can speak rationally on the subject and is understanding. BUT when he is “in the mood”, he doesn’t get it… and it creates tension in the marriage that ultimately blows up. It’s hard for them to not to see it as a purely physical thing if he can be rational about it any other time.

    How do we help these women? How do we help their husbands to truly understand that this is out of their control?

  • Carrie ORourke

    Direct and clear communication help, I suspect on both sides. A woman does not have to be in the mood when her husband is, but they can both work on getting her in the mood from that point on. Even if her body isn’t working correctly, and sometimes they do not, her heart can still be in it and her priority can be toward connection physically.

  • Sandra Watkins McGrandle

    Check out “To Love, Honor and Vacuum” (Sheila Gregoire’s blog) – she just did a very informational and caring series on vaginismus and has many other helpful past articles. I too have struggled with issues that make sex difficult and painful even though I truly love my husband and desire closeness with him. There is hope for us.

  • Shel

    There’s another organ you might want to encourage these women to focus on and use . THE BRAIN. their own!!! Women can actually accomplish things outside of the bed and the kitchen. And husbands can admire their wives achievements as well. Not all women are wired to need to be told that they are loved and are beautiful . Some of us know that already. And some of us don’t have to be told to have sex with their husbands because we do that already . And work outside of the home and raise several successful happy children . Imagine that. I do not understand this theory at all . Neither does my husband . We operate on the mutual love and respect method .

  • Tee Kay

    It’s great that you know this already. You realize this article was in response to a spouse who does not? The letter writer has misconstrued her husband’s desire as a physical need, but it is much more complex than that. Learning to love each other well requires us to change our thinking and take responsibility for our spouses’ desires (see 1 Corinthians 7:4). Thumbs up that you and your husband have found a way to mutually care for one another… There are in fact people who have not yet found this balance in their marriage.

  • Mary Jo Laupp

    One other thing that helped me is I scheduled “surprise nights.” Yes, when I was first turning my attitude around, we scheduled nights together. Part of my “too tired” issue was I had four kids in five years so was always chasing little ones around! As the kids got older, I was less tired at the end of the day and I remember vividly the first time I thought to myself. “You know what? Tonight isn’t supposed to be one of ‘those’ nights but I’m going to surprise him and come on to him!” Yes, he was surprised, and yes, we both enjoyed ourselves. With the exception of health issues, I have promised to always respond when he tries to start something and I find that it doesn’t take me long to get in the mood!

    Side note – we DID have to have a conversation about “start up time.” The joke has been made that a woman has to be in the right frame of mine and right mood to have sex. A man just has to be awake and in the room. We ran into an issue with hubby getting to the main event much sooner than I was ready for. I literally had to help “teach him” what I needed before sex could happen. To him, foreplay was nice but not really necessary. For me, it was critical. Once he understood that, it took the physical part of our relationship to a much more intimate place!

  • m11_9

    Not being receptive to sex with him = Him not speaking to you.

    Men need it, feed him.

  • Mamakon

    I know Shanti has written other articles on this topic but I’m always grieved and a little jealous reading of husbands that desire their wives. Ladies, just know that there are those of us that wish our husbands needed us, wanted us. I’m no beauty queen but try to dress attractively and maintain a nice appearance. Many would say I have an engaging personality and I read to stay up on current events. But it’s been well over a year. And I could count on one hand how many times the previous year. He tells me he loves me. Tells me I’m beautiful. Sex is just not a priority for him. And it hurts deeply. For me, it is a way to connect, a way for me to show a love that I can’t share with anyone else. I suspect that’s much the way men see sex.
    So ladies, try to appreciate and love your husband in a way that no other woman can or should.

  • cameronpaul

    No matter what is said about the “emotional” side, the truth is men (or at least the majority) are physically programed by nature to want and need sex on a regular basis. Monogamy is not natural for the male, it has been instilled in our culture by a moral standard in order to keep the family unit intact. Women are different from men (though some so-called feminists would have it otherwise) and need to understand the natural sexual impulses of the male but unfortunately this is not often the case and the result is so many “broken” marriages.

  • MariR

    Paul, quite a few women have substantial libidos, sometimes more than their husbands, boyfriends, etc.
    Taking cheap shots at feminists is both counterproductive and naive. You might try having a more open mind and learning more about what mainstream progressive feminism has to offer both men and women. You’ll be pleasantly surprised!

  • Matamoros

    A good article. Other examples could be used as well, but that is one most women should relate to.

  • The Deplorable Joe H.

    When I hit the age of 45, I kinda stopped feeling the need to have sex all the time.