Are you the high desire or the low desire spouse when it comes to sex?
Have desire differences created problems in your marriage?
Sooner or later, most couples experience problems in this area. Desire problems are the most common sexual complaint for couples.
It’s natural to feel bad about having sexual desire problems, especially if you believe that sex is a natural function.
Most people believe that love automatically creates sexual desire in healthy people. At first glance, this makes a lot of sense.
But once you buy into the belief that sexual desire comes “naturally,” you’re in for a load of eventual problems. You’ll feel pressured to create something that just isn’t there. You’ll get defensive and despondent when problems surface in your sex life. You may even begin to feel defective or screwed up. In turn, it’s less likely that you’ll address these sexual desire problems and even less likely you’ll succeed if you do.
When you believe that sex is a natural function, it sucks to be the low desire spouse. You may see yourself as the one with the problem … plus it’s likely that your spouse (the high desire spouse) sees you that way too.
The other big problem with approaching sexual desire as a natural biological function is it actually helps create low sexual desire because it makes sexual desire impersonal. It’s hard to desire sex when it feels like your spouse just wants to relieve their physical needs.
Dr. David Schnarch proposes a completely different way to view desire differences.
There’s always a low desire spouse and there’s always a high desire spouse – and there’s one of each in every marriage.
There’s a low desire spouse and a high desire spouse on virtually every issue and decision in marriage. One of you wants to do something the other doesn’t, or wants to less than you. And even if you both want the same thing, one of you will want it more than the other.
Plus, no one is the low desire, or high desire on everything. Positions shift on different issues throughout the marriage.
Desire differences are going to happen. And the positions you take (low or high desire) are simply points on a continuum.
The most freeing point of this view is neither the high desire position nor the low desire position is right or wrong.
They’re simply differences.
Let’s say you want to have sex every day. You’d likely think that would make you the high desire spouse. But if you’re married to a person that wants sex two times per day, you’re the low desire spouse. Desire isn’t either high or low due to biological drive, past history, or even how much you like sex – it results from some standard of comparison. Usually this is your spouse.
If you buy into this idea it will help you stop the arguments over how much sexual desire is normal or healthy.
Let me state this a different way – I really like sex.
I also really like chocolate – but not every day.
When my wife and I have attempted to have sex every day for a certain number of days in a row, it becomes burdensome and impersonal. But does that mean the couples who have sex more often than us are better or healthier than us? Nope.
Same for those that are less frequent.
This is the comparison devil rearing its head again.
Differences are going to happen in marriage.
Especially when it comes to sexual desire.
Because this is how relationships are designed and operate.
There’s more going on than “happily ever after.”
When it comes to marriage, the relationship is driven by more than just feelings, plus it helps to realize that feelings aren’t always accurate.
I believe this idea can help you to stop taking things so personally in your relationship and begin to grow up and experience more than you imagine in your relationships.
Source: Schnarch, D. (2009) Intimacy and desire. Beaufort Books: New York
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