My husband wants more sex but can't get me in the mood.
My husband and I have been together for 16 years, we’ve got two beautiful children and what, in many ways, seems a great life. But we’ve been stuck in the same argument about our sex life for years.
He’s always saying we should have more sex; it’s become his response to everything.
If I ask him why he’s grumpy, his invariable answer is we don’t make love enough — even though we do at least twice a month (but then he complains that I only do it grudgingly).
The truth is, I don’t feel inclined to act like a sex kitten when I live with a grouch, who puts no effort into seducing me. I need to be in the mood for sex, but he never tries to understand what puts me in that mood.
So you think your husband’s greedy and he thinks you’re grudging, eh?
Welcome to the world of countless thousands of British couples. This must be one of the most frequently cited marital arguments in the textbook. So much so, that I brought up the topic of your letter when out with friends over half term (well, we had to talk about something while the children ate their pizza).
There was hardly a man there who didn’t have some sympathy for your husband, and barely a woman who didn’t feel solidarity with you.The men claimed their bad tempers would melt away if their wives made love with the same sort of gusto they had when they first met, while the women said they might be more willing if their husbands courted them as they had in the early days. Nor did the men seem to realise how long days spent combining work with childcare brought their wives to their knees.
Both sides thought they had the true grievance and therein, of course, lies the problem.
For anything to shift in this particular dynamic you both need to acknowledge the other’s gripe as legitimate. Isn’t it possible for you to consider that your husband does feel dispirited by the fact you sometimes push him away when he wants to make love to you?
You don’t need to be a psychologist to know your average man with a reasonably lusty sex drive does tend to feel cantankerous if he’s frequently rejected.Indeed, unsatisfied desire makes grumps out of all of us — male or female. The sensation of unsated lust is a bit like a pressure cooker left on the hot plate to stew away, until it blows its top.
One man I know, who split from his partner over this very issue, says: ‘Everyone understands how some men get angry if they’re hungry, as their blood sugar levels are askew. I feel just like that when I haven’t had sex. No one suggests a hungry man should go without food, yet plenty of people seem to think a sex-starved man should just do without.’
The husband of a friend says: ‘You often hear women say: “Oh, he’s not interested in romance, he just wants sex” — but, for most men, I know wanting to have sex with your wife is your way of being romantic and saying “I love you”. Why do some women seem so unhappy that their other halves are still keen to make love to them? You’d think they’d be glad their husbands don’t want to run off with the secretary!’
The ladies’ side of the coin is equally valid. Most of the women I know who are in long-term relationships have jobs, children, and do more than their share of household duties. They often feel too exhausted by the end of the day to work up any enthusiasm for sex.They also find it harder than their men folk to switch from domestic mode into erotic mode. One friend says: ‘My husband can turn off the TV at the end of the night and then suddenly be in the mood for sex. I need more of a preamble: I like to have a glass of wine and some space for kissing, talking and holding each other before we go to the bedroom. We may have been together for 20 years, but I still find it seductive if he tells me I’m beautiful.’
Tellingly, most of the women I talked to felt that little gestures — compliments and caresses — were more important than flowers and meals out. One wife of 12 years said: ‘The most important thing for me is sustained eye contact, so that I really feel my husband’s looking at me, not just looking for sex — but it’s frustrating how hard he finds it to gaze into my eyes!’
Another thing that seemed to divide the sexes was the men’s expectation that they would feel revitalised by sex and women’s sense that it was just another chore. But, if closely queried, most of those women agreed good sex perked them up, too.
No one’s suggesting that you become a surrendered wife who offers sex on tap, whether you’re in the mood or not. But can’t you offer your husband a truce: more sexual enthusiasm from you in return for more emotional attentiveness from him? After all, there’s only one way to test the proposition that your husband’s temper would be better if he made love more frequently — and that’s in the bedroom.
If increased erotic activity doesn’t sweeten his mood, there’s one last weapon in your armoury: you can always go on sex strike.