Tip #1: Work with (not against) the key physiological differences between you
One of the main reasons for hurt feelings and conflict is the simple disconnect of one partner wanting more sex than the other. And yet . . . it turns out that most of the time the issue isn’t that one person “wants more” but that the two partners have two different types of desire—and have no idea that a second type of desire even exists.
Most people think of desire as being what we see on TV: two people get an “I’m hungry for you” sort of feeling and pursue having sex. But that is just one type of desire, called initiating desire. The second primary type of desire is called receptive desire which is completely different, physiologically. The receptive desire person just doesn’t think about sex as often as an initiating desire person and doesn’t have the desire to pursue sex in quite the same way. In fact, the receptive desire person often decides to have sex and starts feeling that sense of desire a few minutes later!
Our culture has so overwhelmingly portrayed “desire” as being equivalent to “initiating desire,” that we look at the receptive spouse and think there’s something wrong: “My spouse doesn’t desire me.” “My spouse doesn’t have a high enough sex drive.” “Why do I always have to initiate?” When in fact usually there’s nothing wrong and the person simply has a different physiology.
Thus, to help build a great sex life, understand which of you has which type of desire and work with it rather than expecting it to be different and getting upset that it’s not. For example, realize that a receptive desire spouse often simply has to be approached differently, with overt flirting or anticipation time in advance so they start thinking about and looking forward to hitting the bedroom later. (If you want a bit more information, review the sex chapters in For Women Only and For Men Only, our prior books about understanding the inner lives of men and women. Because Dr. Sytsma has been our advisor on this topic for years, we have already included some exploration of these physiological differences, which are often gender-related.)