Women often carry the burden of managing family life and the household. Falling behind in tasks can easily lead to depleted energy and fatigue. This can even begin to affect their sex drive and women’s sex lives, with sex becoming just one more task to add to the to-do list. A woman may then feel frustrated that her husband expects even more of her, after all she already offers.
Apart from frustration, women can also experience guilt or shame because they lack sexual desire. Questions can emerge from their own minds or their partners’ such as “Why don’t you want to have sex?” or “Is there something wrong?” In truth, there may not be anything wrong at all.
Of course, you need to determine if there’s a physical reason for this. If that’s not the root cause then you should analyze other reasons for a low sex drive. Please note: These challenges shouldn’t be ignored – it’s vital you address them. An honest approach to your low sex drive is a sign of good judgement.
“Healthy people don’t want sex when it’s not worth wanting,” says Dr. David Schnarch.
So let’s help clarify a few facts.
Reasons for a Low Sex Drive in Women
Ruth Morehouse, a clinical psychologist, provides us with various reasons why women will experience lower levels of sexual desire, especially as they age. In her husband’s book, Passionate Marriage these reasons form the foundation for what he shares, and he provides ideas for how to handle these situations.
1. The Effect of Stress on Sexual Desire
Many normal responsibilities women face can lead to a woman feeling estranged from her body:
- Infant care
Intercourse can feel like simply another physical act her tired body must perform. During motherhood, the decision not to have sex may be a way of regaining physical autonomy.
However, this approach means a woman feels she has sex for the sake of her husband, instead of it being enjoyed by both. This mindset is a natural occurrence if one of the two (the husband) has a more intense sex drive than the other. (Note that the opposite can also be true.)
The individual with a higher sex drive is bound to initiate sex more often, which can lead to the other party feeling pressured to oblige. Your challenge is to find ways of minimizing the pressure and replacing it with romance and mutual desire such as:
- Ask that your spouse not initiate for a short while, giving you some space and freedom
- Schedule sex and know that this doesn’t mean it won’t be romantic anymore. This arrangement works because the one with a higher drive feels reassured that intercourse will take place, but there’s less pressure on the other party. The wife will have time for mental and emotional preparation, such as de-stressing and investing in herself. This can actually lead to a stronger sexual desire.
2. Marriage as a Low Priority
You may say your marriage takes priority but do you take practical steps to ensure it? For this to happen you must change how you view sex. Move from it being an act of service (a task on a list), to a method of connecting and building intimacy.
Make a conscious decision to think of sex during your day and remember the physical benefits:
- Release of tension
- De-stressing which can help you past the mental block regarding sex
When acute stressors in life deprioritize marriage, it leads to intense challenges. You need to work through problems as they surface to minimize their negative impact. This applies to the relationship and the sexual aspect.
“Clearly, emotional issues have a direct physiological impact on sexual functioning. Generally, the more unresolved issues that intrude during sex, the further away you are from your sexual potential because these issues limit your sexual preferences and pleasure: you can relax, focus, and enhance the physical stimulation you’re receiving only when it fits your dynamics.” (86)
3. Dissatisfaction in the Sexual Relationship
Monotony and routine can easily lead to a lower level of desire. Over time, familiarity and a pattern may be perceived as rote and impersonal by some.
These outcomes can make a woman feel taken for granted and not cherished. She may not verbalize these thoughts or ask for a different approach because she doesn’t want her husband to feel inadequate.
A new relationship will be marked by intense connection and physical attraction. What happens when this fades? For some, intercourse can become disappointing after the initial stages that were marked with excitement.
It’s your responsibility to ensure intimacy and passion exist even after that initial honeymoon phase. Your sexual relationship should be built on a holistic relational approach; your foundation can’t be the physical aspect. In addition, your emotional connection must form—and must be cared for—part of sex.
“As you age, feelings and thoughts must replace biological drive and sensory awareness as the major determinants of your sexuality. Exploring your sexual potential isn’t just easier to do; it’s a necessity if you want to keep sex a vital part of your life as you get older.” (89)
In many marriages, after a few years, both have discovered what works for them to ensure satisfaction for both parties. However, don’t let it ever fall into a rut because treating someone as an item on a checklist will ruin your intimacy.
According to Schnarch, it’s vital to identify beauty in the other person, instead of in the sexual act.
“There’s no beauty in sex–the beauty is in people. You can’t save the beauty in sex, you have to put it in.” (75)
This is quite clear when you read Song of Solomon. The point isn’t to have sex; rather, your lover is the focus. It’s not about experiencing physical satisfaction, but rather you should enjoy that which comes from pursuing and enjoying your spouse.
4. Insecurities and Stagnancy in the Sexual Relationship
Have you realized how insecurity can play a role in your lives? This also applies to seasoned relationships. You need to take responsibility regarding your own satisfaction: you must improve your sex life yourself.
Know that simply going through the motions will keep you from being fully present and leads to stagnancy.
According to Morehouse, women with relationship insecurities, in general, may have dissatisfying sexual relationships. Furthermore, they’re not comfortable with requesting change. Their mindsets are: if it’s fine and acceptable, why change it?
But this could worsen the situation instead of saving it. You may be too embarrassed to ask a spouse to adjust a familiar routine, so you never want to create problems and therefore never express your opinion. This creates issues, it doesn’t prevent them.
Here’s the vicious cycle: You feel bored and unsatisfied which leads to lower sexual desire. You don’t express the problem so it continues and gets worse.
Another outcome is that you resent your spouse because he isn’t taking action to improve and change it.
So, what’s the answer?
- Own up to the truth that you want your sex life to be more satisfying
- Realize that this requires you to admit your lack of desire
- It also requires you to initiate change
Romans 7 shows how Paul the Apostle tells about the battle between:
- His indwelling sin
- His desire to be obedient to God’s commands
He was aware of God’s will but still sinned. Similarly, in your marriage knowledge and action may remain polarized. You may know you struggle with the current circumstances, but it doesn’t motivate you to bring about change yourself.
What’s your solution? It’s daunting but simpler than you think. Start up a conversation about your sex life and suggest doing something new. It can be approached as adding a new facet to a favorite hobby.
Even favorite activities need routine changes if you want to keep on enjoying them. If you don’t do this it will resemble an assembly line instead of being gratifying. Your sexual relationship is no different.
When to Seek Counseling
In Genesis 2:24 we see a high emphasis on the marriage covenant. This union supersedes your family of origin. Not prioritizing your marriage—letting it suffer under busy schedules—will make it difficult to become “one flesh” in all aspects.
Santa Monica Christian Counseling will provide you with a safe and mature environment for both you and your partner. You can work on intimate difficulties in order to develop a deeper bond and more understanding for each other.
“Why You Don’t Want To Have Sex” by Ruth Morehouse, Oprah Magazine, July-August 2010
“Passionate Marriage” by Dr. David Schnarch
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