Dear Dr. Jenni, I’m always the one initiating sex with my wife, and it’s getting old being told no, since she never wants to do it as often as I do. I’ve tried different approaches, but what advice would you give to get her in the mood more often? Or should I just play it cool and wait for her to initiate?
Your question is a common one that all long-term relationships experience.
Your level of sexual desire is like your fingerprint, unique to you. And since we all have distinctive fingerprints, we all have different levels of desire. The issue becomes more noticeable and frustrating when those levels of desire are vastly different.
First of all, don’t just play it cool and wait for her to initiate. Did you know that she ran out of hair conditioner the other day? What if she never put it on the grocery list and just hoped you would notice that the bottle in the shower was empty and needed to be replaced next time you went shopping? The odds of this are low. She needs to tell you that hair conditioner is important to her for maintaining healthy hair. Likewise, you need to tell her that sex is important to you — that it’s your way of feeling loved, connected and close to her. Tell her you understand that you have differences in desire, but that you feel hurt when you are constantly rejected. Ask if there is something you can do to better warm her up or romance her.
Once you have broached the subject openly, owning how you feel without attacking her, then gear up to win her heart. Once you have her heart, the body often follows. The secret is to keep the commitment and the courtship! How did you seduce her back in the early days? Did you take her on dates? Did you bring her flowers? Did you tell her how stunning and sexy she looks when she steps out of the shower? Did you carve out an afternoon to go hiking with just you and her?
Basically, you want to ensure that you are romancing her on a regular basis. Then, make sure you delineate time for your relationship with weekly intimacy dates. You can suggest activities that you enjoy, to include sexual endeavors, and ask her to throw out ideas as well. Whether you go out to happy hour, dance your feet off in Denver, or stay home and have champagne, make sure you keep intimacy dates part of your marriage for the rest of your life. And again, remind her of the importance of sex for feeling intimate and close to her, but also honor where she is as well.
Dear Dr. Jenni, My husband and I always have sex in the same position — him on top. He is very traditional and doesn’t want to experiment. How do I convince him to try some different things?
—Bored in Boulder
Your husband doesn’t know what he’s missing! There are more sex positions than there are days of the year. Experimenting and exploring can be an avenue into deepening intimacy with one another. However, it sounds like your husband may struggle to relinquish control. Or perhaps he’s harboring guilt and shame around sex, and strains to see you as both his pure wife and his sexy vixen.
Conversation is key. Discuss what feels scary about a different position. Give him permission to see you as both wife and vixen. Once he feels more comfortable talking about some of his fears, slowly ease into changing your behaviors. You can suggest a new position to try each week, even if you only entertain it for a few minutes. Honor his boundaries, but also be honest with your desire to explore. And remind him that keeping the flame alive in long-term relationships may require introducing that which is new and forbidden.
Questions Send questions for Jenni Skyler to drjenni@ theintimacyinstitute.org.]
Send questions for Jenni Skyler, PhD, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Skyler is a sex therapist and board-certified sexologist who runs The Intimacy Institute in Boulder, www.theintimacyinstitute.org.