SEX Starved and Angry….Now What?
Dear Dr. Bill,
We have a huge problem in our marriage of 8 years and two wonderful kids. I am much more interested our physical relationship than my wife is and it’s making me crazy. I resent that everything with her gets higher priority than my needs and when I try to talk about it, she turns it around on me and says sex is all that matters to me and that I am only interested in her when it’s about sex. While that is not true, I can’t seem to ever get that point made with her. I feel really trapped. If I bring up the subject, it always ends badly and if I don’t, nothing ever happens. Either way it results in my needs not being met. She has a list of my problems which are to blame for our sexless (well almost) marriage. She says I am not emotionally available, work too much, and don’t help out nearly enough with the kids. Come on, I’m a guy! I’m not exactly sure what a metrosexual is, but it is certainly not me. Any suggestions for convincing my wife to change her priorities? Don’t I have some “biblical” right in all of this?
Dear Not a Metrosexual,
I agree you have a problem and you are not alone. Michelle Weiner Davis, in her book, The Sex Starved Marriage describes every marriage as having a high desire spouse and a low desire spouse. I am guessing that about 60% of the time, the high desire spouse is the guy. It surprises many how often the high desire spouse is the woman. If the difference in desire between both partners is significant, it creates a serious problem.
This is not a simple biological difference. The proof is that most marriages don’t start out with this problem. You may bitterly remember that it wasn’t always this way. What has happened? The answer is that marriage is a complex system. Think of it as an engine. A lot of things need to be working right for it to start during a cold Minnesota morning. Have one of a dozen things broken or out of balance, and it’s a no go. Cold, alone and going nowhere. Same as you in your marriage. When I counsel couples, I always ask the one who is bothered by something to look inside first. They usually hate that. But how are you contributing to the problem that bothers you so much? I can tell you from your letter. You are angry, resentful, blaming and almost certainly adding in a liberal dose of guilt and pressure. You are keeping score, probably punishing at times and selfishly putting your needs first. Image you have been dating a beautiful woman for the past six months. Now imagine you have been treating her exactly like you have treated your wife for the last six months. How’s that dating romance going now? Exactly.
You have had a very human reaction to your needs not being met. “My back is not being scratched, so why should I scratch hers”. Human yes, but a reaction which usually leads to a negative spiral in marriage. And while we’re being honest, I think you are on pretty thin biblical ice as well. I know about the verse which the high desire spouses always quote about not withholding our bodies from one another. For now, it will help you the most to focus on loving your wife as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25) and being patient and kind and not keeping records of wrongs (ICor 13). Your wife is also playing a role in this and I’ll address her part in a future column. For now, its time the engine of your marriage had its oil changed. Flush out the bitterness and begin dating your wife again. It is the right thing to do and it will make a difference.