Thursday, August 5, 2010

"The Sex Starved Marriage" - What Can the High Desire Spouse Do?

In a sex starved marriage, (see post of 7/22/10), the high desire (HD) spouse is most likely to be the more frustrated of the couple. The low desire (LD) spouse has determined the frequency of sex and often uses guilt to control the HD's behavior--for an example of this, consider the following statements:

"It's just sex. "
"Why is sex so important to you?"
"If you really loved me, sex wouldn't matter."
"Quality is better than quantity."
"You're just wanting to have sex for sex's sake not because you want to be close to me."

These statements often catch the HD spouse off guard and no matter what the response, it becomes a losing argument. HD spouse will give up, feeling rejected and shamed.

The intensity of these feelings cannot be tolerated as time goes on. As a result,the HD spouse will initiate sexual encounters less and less often yet feel more and more frustrated. The LD spouse has "won" but at the expense of the needs of the HD spouse and ultimately the health of the marriage.

What can the HD spouse do?

At a neutral time, when sex is not in the offing, (at the park, in a public place, at a restaurant), the HD spouse can calmly, lovingly communicate the importance of this aspect of the marriage to his partner (see "I statements"- 5/26/10). At least the LD spouse will have the opportunity to understand his very real feelings and, it is hoped, do something about them.

Finding non sexual ways to connect an HD spouse to his LD spouse, (although he may find it more difficult because of his feelings of rejection and undesirability), may help the LD spouse be more willing and open. Because the LD spouse's primary love language is not sexual intimacy, discover just what actions help the spouse feel love--i.e., gifts, time, service, talking, etc., and give it in abundance.

Compromise is probably the most important. Once each partner understands the needs of the other, a compromise can be reached which promotes the feeling of a "win-win" situation. This in turn promotes the opportunity for even more closeness and intimacy at what can be very deep levels in all aspects of the relationship. A cycle of respect, closeness and bonding has begun.

If you find yourself at either end of the sex starved marriage--know that it can be remedied successfully and the attention given, well worth the effort.

*Note: "He" and "his" was used for simplicity's sake and not because all HD spouse are male!


  1. I have read this book and one other by Michele Weiner-Davis called The Sex-Stared Wife.
    Both are amazingly well written and have been such a help to me. This author also offers telephone coaching, which I have taken advantage of... my coach really understood what was happening with me and my husband - gave me insights that I hadn't realized before, some terrific suggestions that helped us get our marriage and our sex-life back on track.... so far, so good! I found lots of good info at


  2. Thanks, Louise---yes, by the title of the book--you can see that this is just not a male problem as the media would have us believe. The stereotype of the always "hungry" husband does not help normalize the state of the many wives who go around feeling unfulfilled. Michele Weiner-Davis's many books on marriage and especially this topic are excellent.
    I'm glad that your sex life has improved due to your effort and commitment. Thanks for your comments!