My Husband Has A Low Sex Drive, And I’m (Mostly) OK With It
We all know the trope: the horny husband approaches the bed, eager for the sex that he is not getting frequently enough. The wife sighs and says, “Not tonight, dear, I have a headache.” Though this scene is now the stuff of parody (to judge by brilliant takes on it in movies like Date Night and This Is 40), the mentality that fostered it is still the same: men are sex-crazed animals walking around all day with perma-boners, and we long-suffering women must learn to deal with it, either by “indulging” their impulses or by denying them again and again. Whether or not this perception about the different sex drives of men and women is based in biological reality (and studies suggest that it’s not), it’s a perception that shapes our reactions to male and female sexual behaviors.
No one knows this better than I do, because I have a husband with a very low sex drive. Don’t get me wrong: when we do have sex, it’s phenomenal. But it doesn’t happen often, and when it does, I’m the one who initiates it. It’s not that he doesn’t like sex with me; when we’re in the moment he’s totally into it. He’s passionate and driven, hungry even. And he still finds me sexy, but he just (according to him) “doesn’t think about it.” He doesn’t always say “yes” when I initiate, either. Sometimes he’s too tired or he has a bad headache, and, just as I would expect him to respect me if I were to refuse him, I respect his decision as well.
Though I occasionally wish that I was getting that sweet lovin’ more often, I certainly wouldn’t say that there is anything wrong with my relationship. But when I mentioned dear husband’s low sex drive on an internet thread, the reactions absolutely stunned me (although I guess they shouldn’t have, because internet). Commenters told me that my husband must be cheating on me (he’s not) or watching porn and masturbating (he’s not – as hard as it for some people to believe, he doesn’t masturbate EVER). One person even said that “he’s not a real man” because he’s not constantly in the mood for sex.
My husband and I have been together for 13 years. He was different when I met him. He had been a troubled youth who got into all sorts of unsavory activities, and by the time we got together he was a heavy smoker and drinker who had problems with anger and aggression (not against me, thankfully, but against the world). He was in the Marines, which was the perfect career for his more destructive impulses. And we had sex. A LOT. I couldn’t walk for most of the first year we were dating.
One honorable discharge (for medical reasons) and several years of struggling with alcohol addiction later, he calmed down. While the frequency of our sex diminished, our love deepened in every other way. He is loving and affectionate. We hug and kiss and touch and whisper sweet nothings constantly. We’re intimate physically and emotionally. He’s a wonderful father, a hard worker, a great friend who’s supportive and generous and funnier than anyone I’ve ever met, and he’s not only sexy as hell but also freaking AMAZING in bed when I manage to catch him in the right mood. And he’s not a “real man?” In my opinion, he’s more a “real man” now than he was when we were banging on the regular.
Truthfully, when he first started to show signs of a lower sex drive – when he stopped initiating sex constantly and began refusing my advances on occasion – it hurt my feelings. Having been raised in this society with its gender stereotypes, I wondered if there was something wrong with him for not wanting sex more than I did or something wrong with me for a) wanting sex all the time and b) not inspiring the same constant desire in him. Then I realized that if our roles were reversed – if he were the wife and I were the husband – no one would consider it strange. My feelings of guilt and resentment were purely the product of a wicked double standard. And since then, our relationship has been better than ever, and I often wonder: is it really a big deal if I have to use the shower head every once in a while?
But apparently this is a difficult thing for some people to grasp. These same people, in response to an internet post by a pregnant woman about how her significant other is constantly pressuring her for sex and getting angry when she denies him (yes, I have seen this, and more than once), will say things like “Oh, honey, men are just like that,” or “If you don’t keep him happy, he’ll leave/cheat/get addicted to porn.” Let’s ignore for the moment the fact that the likelihood of someone saying the same thing to a man about a woman is extremely low. Even if it were true that “men are just like that” – and by no stretch of the imagination do I think that they are – I must say that I’m happy that my man definitely isn’t.