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Married Sex is AWESOME.


When we decided to finally dip our toe into the waters of sex talk here at APW, I was adamant about one thing: while I was more than willing to talk about The Hard Stuff when it came to sex, I also wanted the conversation to be A) Sex positive, and B) Married sex positive. Because the cultural narrative around married sex is terrible, and even the blogging narrative around married sex is dubious, if you ask me. Because yup, when you get two people in a long term relationship, you tend to have different sex drives by definition. But there are lots of ways to be intimate, and well, just do it. So today, we have an (amazing) anonymous post about the excellence of married sex, and advice on ways to keep your sex life a priority, including some excellent NSFW links (whee!).

Married Sex is AWESOME. | A Practical Wedding

Have you ever heard the “Bean Jar” theory of married/long-term, committed sex?

Before you get married, go out and buy a big glass jar and a big bag of beans.

On your wedding night, during your honeymoon, and every time you have sex thereafter, put one of the beans in the jar.

Keep doing this until you’ve been married for one year.

Now, in your second year of marriage and in every subsequent year: each time that you and your spouse have sex, you are to remove one bean from the jar.

The jar will never be empty in your lifetime.

Aside from the dubious mathematics and outdated exclusion of sex-out-of-wedlock, it was “theories” like this that scared the h*ll out of me before I got married. They still do, to some extent. Sexual attraction, after all, was a large reason behind why I started dating my partner in the first place. I’d heard stories (true life ones) about people who felt like their marriage had progressed to “just friends” or was more akin to that of siblings or business partners than lovers. That really alarmed me. Is it possible to sustain the spark of sexual chemistry over years, over decades?

I’m here to tell you that… I don’t know.

What I do know: my partner and I have been together for six years and we’re still doing our best to empty that jar—and having a good time doing it. In other words, we have sex once a day on average. Granted, we are still in our late twenties and we do not have kids, so perhaps that will change with age and time. But for six years and counting ::whispers:: we’ve had a rockin’ sex life, and for once in my life, I’m going to (anonymously!) own it.

I suppose my reticence might seem puzzling. But I’ve never, ever mentioned this to anyone—and not simply because I’m a private person. The average amount of sex married couples are having, as reported recently in the New York Times, is estimated around 58 encounters per year (though it’s closer to 111 times a year for couples under 30, while another 15% of married couples have likely not had sex for 6 months to 1 year). Who wants to hear about the couples who are quadrupling or… sextupling (really, is there no other word?) those numbers? So forgive me if this is a sensitive issue. I’m not trying to boast about my prowess, I swear. It’s just that… married sex gets an awfully bad rap. And that saddens me. Maybe it’s deserved, given the statistics. But it seems like there is no one — no one — out there saying: long-term, committed, monogamous sex ROCKS! In our culture, each of those adjectives is viewed as the ultimate buzz-kill.

I’m not sure why I’m telling you this now. I have no aspirations of writing a “15 Ways to Please Your Lover” C*smo article. If you and/or your partner are unhappy with the amount of sex you’re having, well, there can be as many possible solutions as there are reasons why, but I’m hardly qualified to diagnose. It can be psychological, it can be physiological (I’m looking at you, hormonal birth control). Figuring that out can be quite a challenge (unfortunately, doctors and researchers are still very clueless about sexual arousal and pleasure, particularly when it comes to women). But, if sex is important to your relationship, I think it is definitely worth the time, effort, and money.

If you’re both happy with the amount of sex you’re having — even if that’s once a year — fantastic! Don’t feel pressured to change to meet someone else’s idea of “enough.”

I’ve tried to figure out why our sex life is still such an untroubled source of fun. I’ve come up with a few reasons, but it’s hardly exhaustive. Maybe this list will be helpful; more likely, I’m just working it out for myself. It mostly boils down to being “GGG” or “Good, Giving, & Game,” a Dan Savage acronym.

  1. Similar sex drive. This is huge, and to some degree, out of your control. Sexual incompatibility can be extraordinarily difficult to resolve in a long-term, monogamous relationship. But I’m also not sure how you can know that in advance, or how you can foresee if that will change (after childbirth, during menopause, after an injury, etc.). I was a virgin when we met, so it was especially unknown for me. That said, if you’re not waiting for your wedding night, consider this facet of your relationship carefully before making a lifetime commitment. Sex drive disparity generally gets worse, not better, as time passes. For some people, libido differences might be reason to end a relationship—and that’s perfectly valid. Not an easy decision, but valid.
  2. Both partners committed to making sex a priority in the marriage. This is related to the above, but it also depends on how you both view sex within marriage. For us, a healthy, satisfying sex life is a cornerstone of our relationship. I’m not a fan of scheduling sex (seems to take away some of the fun of seduction), but it might be better than never getting around to it.
  3. Making time for it—mentally and physically. Maybe this means turning off the TV and TiVo-ing that show you watch before crashing to sleep. This might mean waking up a little earlier on weekends (I’m not going to even pretend like I know how this works when you have small children; that’s exponentially more difficult and beyond my scope of experience). This also means making time to consciously think about sex. For many people (think: teenage boys) this would sound laughable. But for others, especially those of us with stressful lives, sexual thoughts can easily get buried beneath other concerns. When you have five minutes to spare at work, try recalling an especially memorable encounter. Read a bit of erotica, instead of a novel, before you fall asleep (there is quality work out there; it doesn’t have to be a Fabio-romance novel, unless that’s what does it for ya). Read Sex-Positive blogs during your commute (I like Em & Lo). Put on sexy music (whatever that means to you: booty-shakin’ hip-hop, R&B, sultry jazz) while you and your partner make dinner. Start a Sexytimes Playlist on your iPod of tunes that get you in the mood (and maybe try dancing to them with your partner). Check out NSFW Tumblrs (Sex Is Not The Enemy is a great place to start). Engage in activities that put you in a sexy frame of mind. A candle-lit bubble bath is the clichéd suggestion… but sometimes, it works. Maybe it’s donning short-shorts, or combat boots, or lacey panties, fixing something with power tools, strutting around naked in your house, seductively licking a lollipop, doing yoga, or wearing glasses. I don’t know. But spend some time figuring out what puts you in touch with your sexual self.
  4. Cut yourself (and your partner) some slack. Everybody has off days (or weeks or months). Don’t compare frequency to other couples; focus on what works for your relationship. Real-life sex can be awkward or unintentionally funny, like when you accidentally fall over while removing your pants or bump heads when you kiss. People make odd noises and faces. Don’t expect it to look or feel like a Hollywood sex scene every time. It also does not need to last an hour (or even five minutes) to be Good Sex. You don’t have to move through every position in the Kama Sutra (although trying new positions is a great way to shake things up). It’s okay if one or both of you doesn’t achieve orgasm every time. Expand your conception of what sex is, and don’t wait until conditions are “perfect” to engage.
  5. Speaking of which: give it a go, even when you aren’t in the mood. I am NOT suggesting that you should resentfully lie back and hum “Rule, Britannia!” but for many people, the mood arrives once you start kissing and touching, not always before. Try saying yes more than you say no. Consistently rejecting your partner is not a great way to foster intimacy; if you’ve ever been on the rejected end, it does a number on your self-esteem and sense of sexual-desirableness, making you feel that much more vulnerable the next time. Also: initiate! Make sure it’s not just one partner who always gets things going. On the other hand, make sure your partner knows when you really need it to be off the table. When you want to cuddle with no underlying pressure.
  6. Making the bedroom sex-friendly—and conversely, not limiting sexual activity to the bedroom. What works for us: clean, high-thread-count sheets; no family photos (ruins the mood for me); soft, flattering lighting (i.e. lamps vs. overhead bulb); keeping clutter to a minimum; having supplies easily accessible; no television or video games or laptops allowed. I know this last is often contested, but we’ve found it makes a big difference when we don’t have technology distracting us (we all know the internet can be a huge time-suck).
  7. Discuss sex—explicitly—with your partner. Often. Preferably over a glass of wine or a plate of chocolate chip cookies or in some other relaxed environment, not immediately before he/she strips off their underwear or in the middle of a fight. Remember that there are other forms of intimacy and that these can satisfy, in place of sex… but also don’t underestimate how fundamental an active sex life might be for either you or your partner. Keep an open mind, try new things with enthusiasm.

Again, I have no idea if we’ll carry on this way. However, if things slow down, it won’t change our commitment to the relationship; sex is important to us, but it’s not the only reason we’ve pledged to go through life together.

So why am I writing? I guess because I want people to know that a married/committed sex life does not have to follow the dominant cultural narrative. A lot of that is based on lore from eras when women weren’t even expected to find “conjugal duties” enjoyable, let alone pursue them outside of marriage. A time when homosexual men and women were supposed to suppress their urges and settle down with an appropriate mate of the opposite sex, even if the idea was sexually repellent. A time when a man keeping at least one mistress was assumed and hardly newsworthy. Times have changed; let’s change the narrative! Or at least widen it to include those of us who enjoy long-term monogamous sex, despite the occasional challenges.

Photo: SF/Bay Area APW sponsor Emily Takes Photos

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  • http://smittenimmigrant@wordpress.com Pluis

    Awesome post!

    I’ve always been the higher sex drive partner in my relationships and it is unfathomable how much better I feel about that now that I am engaged to someone who does not guilt trip me over it. With any and all previous partners my wanting sex lead to fights and accusations.

    Touch and intimacy (which goes far beyond sex) is an incredibly important aspect of a relationship for me, and I had no idea how important it was until I met someone whose drive to cuddle is as high as mine. Being offered head rubs and naked snuggling and comforting statements makes it so much easier to deal with the occasional rejection.

    Thanks for discussing this, I hope it helps a bit to remove the stigma of sexlessness from married life. I plan to help kill that stereotype too :)

  • http://www.queerskiesahead.com BirdRoughsIt

    I love this post! Great suggestions… thanks for sharing!

  • anon

    Wow, thanks for this. It brought tears to my eyes. We are kind of newlyweds (got married last September though we were living together since February 2010), I am the girl, and well as weird as it sounds I have a stronger libido than my husband. I am the one starting it most of the time and I do not mind, except , lately I do, cause it unconsciously feels like he does not want me. We have talked about it, and like you say, for him, the mood comes once we’re “at it” . I have explained how I feel, he tries, but most of the time he is just exhausted from work, me too, but I would not mind watching less tv or spending less time on the internet to be with him. Anyway, we still have to work this out, or maybe I just have to accept this is how we are, and that I am going to have to start it. And yeah I have tried lacy underwear, gently talking to him about it. Wow I sound like a stalker now. Asked him to “seduce” me, but -i guess it is a personality thing, he is very calm and shy, I am the extroverted crazy one. Guess we just have to find the balance…

    • http://smittenimmigrant.wordpress.com Pluis

      It really isn’t strange to have a higher sex drive than your partner – I know plenty of women who do. So you’re not alone.

      For many people, there isn’t only a difference in sex drive, but also a difference in timing of that drive. Some people prefer morning sex, others are more horny late at night.. Maybe asking him at which times he is most often spontaneously horny could help a little.

      Also, what I myself often forget – if I don’t give him a chance, he can’t ever initiate. By which I mean: my sex drive is higher, so I’ll initiate more often, meaning that his hornyness never has time to ‘build up’ to a level where he’ll initiate. It’s a difficult sentiment to communicate because “I’d love it when you initiate next time, so I’m not going to until you do”can sound incredibly harsh and even manipulative, even when you don’t mean it like that.

      For me it really helps to get cuddles and verbal affirmations from him when he does not feel up for sex. Maybe that helps for you too.

      I’m sure you guys can work through this together. Good luck!

      • anon

        Thanks :),

    • http://jolynn.wordpress.com Jo

      It’s tough to be the girl who is always saying NO, but I think social conditioning and whatnot make it even harder to have a male partner with a lower sex drive. We’re supposed to just walk in the room and they want it, chasing us with tongues hanging out. If they don’t, we take it to reflect on our beauty, sexuality, etc. It’s hard for us, and for them.
      The one really NICE advantage to the male having a lower sex drive is that they tend to be much easier to “inspire” once into it. :)

    • anon

      I just want to tell you that you are not alone – I’m going through the exact same thing. We have been married for 1 1/2 yrs and my sex drive is OFF THE CHARTS. His, on the other hand, is pretty much non-existent. We have sex about once every 6 weeks, and when we do, it’s routine and kind of boring. (yes, this is partly my fault, I know, but I’m tired of trying…blah, blah, blah…I could write a novel on this.)

      So – there are other women who are going through the exact same thing, but because of society “norms”, when the husband is the one who doesn’t want it, it is RARELY spoke about.

      • Lee

        Sometimes I feel like this too. We have a pretty good sex drive balance, but sometimes I initiate and get shot down (nicely) and it stops me from trying again later. It really hurts my feelings even when he’s nice about it. I need to figure out a way to express this without being like “You must have sex with me or I’ll hate you” because that obviously isn’t good. ;) What makes it a little harder is that when he is in the mood I never say no because I’m usually in the mood, or would like to have sex. So I feel like there’s a disparity that also annoys me. But I feel uncomfortable talking about this stuff because we both get a little defensive. It (and asking for specific things) are the only things not making me feel like we’ve got a strong sex positive connection. In other parts of it we’re great.

        • jl

          i agree 100%!

    • Shannon

      Yeah, you’re definitely not alone! My sex drive is definitely stronger than my sweetie’s… but we’ve found ways to work around that difference, and most of the time we both feel great!

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com Jo

    I’d probably write more if I was going anon, but that’s never been my style…

    I cannot second the matched libidos more. Sometimes they match in frequency, but the times may be off–for us, that’s where the work comes in, the communication. If at all possible, the less into-it person goes for it.

    And communication, communication, communication. Talking about sex honestly, often, and making the effort to be a little sexy about it too.

    We may not have sex as often as you (I’m in total awe, high five!) but we both have the best sex life we’ve ever had and it keeps getting better. Once we got past the comparing numbers to other people, and realized that just like people get hangry (hunger angry), they also sometimes just need to have sex so as not to be crabby, it’s been awesome.

    Yay for sex positive!

    • http://webecomeus.wordpress.com Caitlin

      Ha- hangry. I’m using this word starting today. Mostly to describe my husband. :)

    • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

      Ha! Hangry!

      My husband cites this as the number one reason why we need more sex: my stress levels are OFF. THE. CHARTS. His favorite “pick up” line? “I see you’re stressed. I have a cure for that. WINK.”

      • Vmed

        “I see you’re stressed. I have a cure for that. WINK.”

        Great, great line

    • http://eclpse.livejournal.com Kimberly

      That’s important to note . . . that whatever your starting point when you enter into the marriage — or whatever the starting point was when you entered the LTR — the sex keeps getting better. It may not increase in frequency but maybe it increases in quality, or the duration may not become longer but it becomes more comfortable, or it may not become more spontaneous but it becomes more creative, or WHATEVER. As long as it’s getting better or more intimate for you and your partner(s), that’s good stuff.

      • meg

        Correct. And good point. Frequency does not equal quality.

  • http://webecomeus.wordpress.com Caitlin

    I especially like the tips. #3 and #6 are the ones that I’ve found most helpful thus far… It seems like when we stop letting sex be a priority, it gets buried under all the other stresses and to-do’s in our life. But we do have “sexy lights” (a string of christmas lights, really) that one or the other of us will turn on in the bedroom, so we can ask for it without asking for it. ;)

    Excellent post, anon!

    • http://www.fancynotion.blogspot.com/ Kerry

      Caitlin – I love that sexy light idea!

      I’ve heard others like it, such as having a dish in the bedroom into which one partner will drop a red marble when they want to get it on – the other partner is reponsible for making sure this happens within 24 hours. I’m very bad at talking about or asking for sex – I cry over every touchy or big discussion- (and yes sex is a big discussion to me) and there’s nothing sexier than a drippy, crying wife, right? So maybe we should try your idea out!

      Plus I love me some off-season twinkle lights.

      • http://webecomeus.wordpress.com Caitlin

        We talked about the marble thing at our bookclub– I’d never heard anything like that before! I guess it’s similar to the lights… although we think of it as more of a suggestion. It ties into tip #5 though, too– sometimes sex just isn’t in the forefront of one partner’s mind that day, and the lights are a nice subtle reminder. It’s definitely a little less intimidating than asking for it straight out. :)

        • http://silver-sandalled.blogspot.com Maggie

          Haha, yes – and then when I came home from our meetup, I saw an interview w/that author.

          A subtle signal both partners can use seems much more palatable vs. leaving the woman to respond to the man’s request (like the 40 marble book lady). We’ve had different code words (silly ones) that just kinda developed over time… makes it easier to initiate for some reason. But I’m liking the idea of sexy lights!

        • Kinzie Kangaroo

          We talked about the bead/marble lady at the Chicago book club too! Crazy. I didn’t like, though, that her idea is that it is a gendered suggestion — the man leaves a bead for his woman who must fulfill her duty within 24 hours. That made me uncomfortable. But I do like the idea of sexy lights! Woohoo!

          • meg

            Also, can anyone imagine themselves yelling, “REALLY? A red bead? AGAIN?”

            Yeahhhh. That could end poorly.

          • http://webecomeus.wordpress.com Caitlin

            Yes. I can also imagine sneaking the bead back into the jar when he wasn’t looking…

        • http://onegirloneguytwocats.wordpress.com/ Heather

          Definitely an interesting idea because while my husband and I are usually pretty obvious about when we’re in the mood, sometimes one or the other will just think the other isn’t in the mood and not initiate when it really wasn’t the case. I like the idea of “sexy lights” so that way there’s no question and the other person is always free to say no if they aren’t in the mood.

    • http://jolynn.wordpress.com Jo

      Sexy lights is GENIUS.

      We have “done with work, let’s hangout” flags that have worked to help us deal with the living together/working together bit.

    • http://justneedthisspace.wordpress.com ddayporter

      more love for the sexy lights! might have to steal that idea.. :)

    • Sarah

      Love the sexy lights! We occasionally engage in BDSM in our relationship and use “yellow” (for slow down) and “red” (for stop) as safewords. We’ve recently added “green” as code for “I would be down for some kinky sexytimes, please feel free to respond accordingly if you’re interested”, which makes things a bit easier for us both.

  • Louise

    I wholeheartedly second the entire post… and if I may add to it – I find that sex virtually always improves the relationship with my husband. Whether it’s great and we’re both in the mood, or whether we’re struggling a bit and either of us has to make an effort to get in the mood and/or the sex is not that great, it always makes me feel closer to my husband. And I also believe married sex is better than un-married sex (this comes from someone who was living with the boyfriend for 4 years), for some reason. Maybe its the feeling that you have time together, so it doesn’t always have to be perfect or great?

    Anyways- thanks for the excellent post!

    • Erin

      I totally agree with this. Sometimes, when I notice I’m being crabby toward my husband, or running the nitpicking narrative in my head, I tell myself that it’s time to get it on. Even if I don’t start out in the mood, I always feel like my priorities and attitude in our relationship get a re-set. It’s much better for our marriage to make the effort to be closer intimately than for me to give in to my (baseless) crabbiness :) Oh, and naked time is way more fun than silly arguments.

      • http://toe-socks.tumblr.com Chiara

        I’ve never really thought of sex as a way to calm down my naggy side. I hate it when I nag, it makes me feel icky and it doesn’t usually accomplish much. Maybe next time I’m feeling particularly naggy, I should channel that energy towards initiating. It would probably be a much more productive use of my energy ;).

      • Julia W

        I really notice when we’ve gone longer than usual w/o, that I am much grumpier with my husband in general. To help prevent this we have agreed not to wait more than X days in between. We both know when it’s time. It sounds unsexy but helps a lot to clear up expectations and prevent rejection and hurt.

        On this subject I found the the sermon series “Peasant Princess” on the Song of Solomon from Mars Hill Church to be really helpful. (for the other Christian ladies)
        http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/the-peasant-princess/preview

        • http://hopewanders.wordpress.com hopewanders

          Hey Julia, if I can respectfully disagree, just so its out there….some of Driscolls thoughts and ideas on women, sex, and gender have also been pretty destructive to many people I know(myself included). Mostly because it claims to be THE way Christians (particularly Christian women) should behave, not really suggestions but more of commands, if that makes sense. Not really a conversation for this thread, but I just wanted to maybe emphasize that unless one agrees with his views on gender (men being heads of households, womens’ role is to stay home and have children, women aren’t allowed to speak/teach in a church, etc etc) then it might not be a good resource to use. Just my 2 cents.

          • Julia W

            Yes. He is pretty conservative and some of what he says would conflict with the points made on this site, but it was helpful for me and I wanted to share a different (my) view. In my experience sex is not discussed that much in church except to say “Don’t do it.” if you aren’t married. So, in my opinion, this is a place you can hear a conservative, biblically informed, view on the subject.

  • http://bluesuedeidos.com Beth

    Great post, and I think these are all great tips to keep in mind. My fiance and I have taken a sex break during the last bit of our engagement, and I am SO looking forward to some married sex.

    I wonder if the notion of bad or lack of married sex becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy because you hear so much about it. I wonder if we pump the interwebs and universe full of good married sex talk if we can change that.

    • http://hitchdied.com Robin HitchDied

      I’ve heard a lot of people abstain from sex just before they get married. I am terrifically impressed with these people, because sex is my greatest stress relief.

      • http://bluesuedeidos.com Beth

        It’s been waaaay harder than we ever imagined, but it has definitely made me far more excited about wedding night sex than I would have been two months ago.

      • http://www.cindyandjulia.blogspot.com Cindy

        I’m with you Robin. We used sex as pre-wedding stress relief and did it more often in the weeks and days leading up to the wedding!

    • meg

      I TOTALLY think that if we pump the internet full of married-sex-positive talk it will help. It was interesting, when we asked for posts on sex, everyone with sex problems wanted to talk, and no one with happy sex lives did. And while I’m all for talking about problems, I think it might be more important to talk about the good stuff.

      So I think we all need to ball up (ha!) and write some sex positive posts.

  • tay

    hmmm this is really interesting. i feel so conflicted about sex right now – are we having enough? am i not putting the right signals out? does he not want it?
    i was a virgin when we got married 6 weeks ago (!!!!) and we haven’t had very much sex. i know that he is game when i make a move, but he rarely makes a move. (he had a lot of experience before he met me.)

    i think a big roadblock is that when i bring up “i think we should have more sex,” he says, “i would have married you even if i could have never had sex with you.” which is so sweet and makes me very thankful to spend the rest of my life with a man who is my best friend and won’t leave me if i get injured or something… but that kinda negates my whole “we’re married! let’s do it all the time!” argument.

    i don’t think there’s anything major going on under the surface… i know if i asked him, he would be very practical and say that our schedules haven’t matched up and to be fair we both have been kinda sick off and on throughout our marriage (i was suffering from a MAJOR allergy sneeze attack on our wedding night – our sex life did not get off on the right foot. sigh.) and then i hurt my back and then he was having stomach issues…. all kinds of weird things that kept us from getting it on…

    so…… thanks for this and for getting me thinking… and i have a feeling we’ll get it on tonight cause it’s been almost a week! a week! people who have been married for 6 weeks should be doing it more than once a week! i know, i know, i can’t compare myself to other people and i need to get the “shoulds” out of my head. this is just hard… it’s a weird place to be as a newlywed.

    • Anon

      “are we having enough? am i not putting the right signals out? does he not want it?”

      How do you feel – *aside* from the newlywed pressure, do you feel like having sex more frequently? If so, I would maybe start there… it can be really awkward to discuss sex, but it’s important not to expect the other person to read your mind (or for them to expect that of you!). These are great questions — and definitely ones you should ask your new husband!! :)

      “i would have married you even if i could have never had sex with you.”

      That is incredibly sweet, and definitely will help you feel secure, as things change over time. But does he know that sex is important to you? Or is he trying to communicate that maybe it’s not so important to him? Men are portrayed to be sex fiends in pop culture, but lots of guys don’t have libidos like that, and that’s OK.

      “(he had a lot of experience before he met me.)”

      Have you guys discussed this much? Again, awkward topic, but it might be subconsciously affecting how you’re both approaching sex right now…

      Being sick, being busy, having different schedules — absolutely can get in the way. It just happens to coincide w/your newlywed status, which, yeah, makes it a weird place to be in, since everyone expects you to be going at it like rabbits. I am not a sex therapist (I wish!), but putting extra pressure on yourselves to “preform” doesn’t seem like it’ll make things any easier.

      Bright side: you have your whole married lives to play around with this and find out what the other person likes!! It doesn’t need to be all “we must fix this immediately or we’re dooooomed.” :)

    • http://kimberlywasher.blogspot.com Kimberly Washer

      Tay, I was almost in the same boat as you a little over 2 years ago. I too was a virgin who married an “experienced” man. I had a vision in my head that we were going to do it like mad rabbits. I figured that since he knew how great it was that he would be all over me on the honeymoon. However, since I was “fresh” he was scared he would hurt me and I have since learned that I have a higher sex drive than him. In our pre-marital counseling we were told that men peak at a young age in their sex drive and women peak at a later age. It really upset me at first that all of those other girls got him at his peak, but thankfully I have mostly gotten over that. We are learning all the time what each other like and I honestly believe that it’s only going to get better. I wanted to do the marble/bean jar thing when we got married and prove our friends wrong who said we wouldn’t empty our jar, but we forgot. I have no idea if our jar would be empty, but I feel like we had more sex in our second year of marriage than we did our first year. It’s getting the groove of each other and knowing what you like. That is very sweet that your husband tells you he didn’t marry you for sex, but I know that since you held out for so long and had this view in your head of how it’s supposed to be, it’s hard. I’m here to tell you it will get better and hopefully this means that your ‘newlywedness’ will last longer than other couples :). Hang in there!!!

      • meg

        I woulda been WAY worse if you’d missed *your* peak. Think about it…

      • jl

        i had the ‘jealous that other girls got him in his peak’ feeling too which made me feel worse. he seemed so much raunchier before we got together so i felt like i was unattracive or that he liked looking at other womens naked bodies more than mine. i actually let it build up so much that it really disrupted my life and totally shot down all my self esteem. we are def a work in progress but you just have to know that hes with you for a reason not those other girls.

      • Scott

        can someone explain the marble/bead/bean jar? Two jars, one full of marbles and one empty? and you move one marble from jar one to jar two when you have sex? i figured it was something simple, is it that simple?

        thanks

    • http://toe-socks.tumblr.com Chiara

      Have you considered that maybe he wants you to take it slow because of the fact that you were a virgin when you got married and he has “more experience” than you?

      I know when my SO and I started getting intimate I felt like he wasn’t attracted to me in a sexual way because he spent so much energy trying not to get too carried away; he didn’t want to scare me or pressure me into doing anything I didn’t want to do.

      Whatever the situation, if you’re interested in being more intimate, you should talk about it. As the article’s author points out in #7, you should discuss how you each feel about it. Maybe all the illness and sore backs and allergies provide the perfect opportunity to do this!

  • Steph

    I’m so excited for married sex!!! Living separately (each with our parents) makes sex a very rare and precious event. Luckily, our sex drives are about the same, though I’m more likely to have hormones/stress flare up and spoil my libido. :(

  • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

    Anon, HIGH FIVE. Sex every day? You guys are like Married Sex Gods. Egads.

    We had super awesome, super frequent sex before getting married. Best I’ve ever had and vice versa. During one visit when we lived two hours apart, he actually had to CAP how many times a day we could go at it because we got sore. Granted, we only saw each other on the weekends during this time, but the pacing stayed pretty similar once we lived 10 minutes from one another. As soon as we moved in? DONE. GONE. This was BEFORE we got married. I think super paranoia set in because I have a daughter from a previous marriage and the sheer thought of her walking in on us is absolutely mortifying.

    Kids = difficult.

    And if I go without for long enough, my libido drops to like… nil. And over the last few months, I have not been feeling well. And then I gained several, several lbs once I got a “real” desk job, which has just made it worse. Now we’re trying for a baby and I still can’t muster up the oomph to go at it. AND he works nights, so our time is restricted to weekends. When I just want to sleep.

    Reading this made me realize I’m really just going to have to shuck the excuses and suck it up and act like a big girl (plus my daughter is going to her bio-dad’s for 6 weeks at the end of the month, just as my husband moves to working weekend days – prime time to work it). The only way it’ll get better is if I work at it – because Lord knows this poor man is chomping at the bit constantly.

    I’ll have to check out the links later – but I do LOVE Sex is Not the Enemy!

    Anyway. ALL THIS TO SAY. I found this unbelievably insightful, because I have been letting lame excuses interrupt for too long. I’ve been complaining about how we don’t feel as “connected” as we used to… and this hit me with a million “DUH” bricks.

    • Julia W

      I think you need a lock on your bedroom door. ;-)

      • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

        Man, you ain’t kidding! Fortunately, she is now almost 4 and getting better about entertaining herself. Though it helps that my husband taught her how to work the xbox Netflix account ;)

    • meg

      I love the message of “shuck the excuses and act like a big girl.” Somehow I think that message is missing from so much of the dialogue. You can sit around and talk about why you’re not having enough sex, or you can just go have sex (I’m excluding situations where there are more serious problems, obviously). Practice helps ;)

      • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

        I sent him a text earlier this AM, informing him we were going to play “Find Melissa’s Libido”. He wholeheartedly agreed it was an excellent quest and said he would practice as much as necessary ;)

  • http://hitchdied.com Robin HitchDied

    I am all about sex talk on wedding blogs, so thank you so much for this post. It has a great, reassuring message and some fab advice (as the higher-libido partner, I specifically cheer “give it a go,” because goodness knows my fiance can go from 0 to 60 after a little coaxing. Wait, make that -60 to 60.)

    Also, I am stuck in the wrong decade because I read “NSFW Tumblrs” as “NSFW tumblers,” and thought you were suggesting pornographic glassware. I’m lame.

    • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

      Pornographic glassware just made me do a spittake.

      I should not read this stuff at work.

  • http://www.mademoiselle-dentelle.fr Mademoiselle Dentelle

    We have been married for a year now but have lived together for 11 and have 3 children aged 2, 7 and 11. And there are definitely ups and downs.

    Right now, with 3 children, it’s just very difficult to find time together other than late at night when we are pooped. So what we’ve been doing that works fairly well is planning intimacy (instead of planning sex). We plan to have an evening together where once the kids are in bed, we go to the bedroom and leave out all distractions (computers, tv, etc…). And we just lay in bed and just cuddle and talk. If it leads to sex, that’s great. If it leads to one of us falling asleep, that’s ok too. Because frankly we need sleep just as bad as we need sex, these days ! :)

    Planning intimacy time has really helped. Cause spontaneous let’s-have-it-on-the-kitchen-table-sex is definitely not going to happen to us with a preteen and a toddler around.

    • Tina

      I really like that idea of planning intimacy time rather than sex time. It definitely takes off the pressure. You’re hanging out and you’ll see what happens. Great way to think about it.

  • http://dearwedding.wordpress.com/ Andee

    Please let’s change the narrative! Yes please let’s all collectively agree we can throw out the marriage=boring sex narrative, it’s terrifying sexually happy couples all over the place (myself included). Thanks for creating a new story for us!

    • meg

      We need more posts on this subject, y’all. Go practice a little and then write some!

  • http://lisswantsbabies.blogspot.com LaurenLoo

    This is something that my husband and I have struggled with a couple of times- once when he was going through a mild bout of depression and I was the one who felt unwanted and ignored, and now that we have a 2 month old he’s the one who feels unwanted and ignored. In the weeks immediately following our daughter’s birth, I was super-horny, but waited till the six week mark to make sure I was healed enough to have an IUD put in (no more surprise babies allowed!). Since then, I’ve been physically unable to have sex comfortably, and have basically rejected him daily. It makes me feel like crap, because we did, at one point in our relationship, have to limit ourselves to prevent soreness. I miss that. But on the other hand, there’s a baby who doesn’t nap reliably and can’t entertain herself yet, and I suspect that my pelvic joint is out of alignment and is causing me a lot of pain.

    One of the things that I’ve told my husband is that when he wants sex, he has to think about how he’s asking for it. Saying “Do you want to have sex?” while I’m holding a half-asleep baby that I’ve just managed to calm down, when he knows that sex is physically difficult for me right now, is not ever going to get me going. My answer to “Do you want to have sex?” is consistently “No.” But my response to him wanting me, when he phrases it in a way that tell me that he finds me sexy and attractive and would like to touch me in a sexual way (which may not include actual sex, since that HURTS right now)- my response to that might be different. It’s all about how we communicate with one another, as well as about making time to be together without the baby. That’s what grandparents are for, after all. *wink*

    I’d love to hear from some other moms, new or experienced, on how the post baby thing went for them. I can’t be the only APWer who had a honeymoon baby, or an unexpected baby, that messed with their sex life.

    • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

      COMMUNICATION IS SO KEY.

      He’s started saying awful cheesy, corny things to start initiating sex when I’m sleepy or don’t feel good, etc – I can only assume because he thinks it’ll make me laugh and push me in that direction. Instead, it makes me roll my eyes and say no.

      This post is probably the most helpful one I’ve read in the history of APW. (Well. Reclaiming Wife, anyway) I’m going to send the hubster a text and let him know we’ve got some spicing up to do.

    • http://silver-sandalled.blogspot.com Maggie

      I don’t have kids, so I’m no help, LOL. But I do know you’re NOT the only one dealing with this… several of my friends have had babies recently/in the past year or two, and the one who’s most open about her sex life sent me this link, when I asked her if things had changed “after.”

      http://thenaughtymommycolumn.blogspot.com/2005/12/lets-talk-about-sex.html

    • Anonymous

      No babies yet, but I am in my first trimester and I have been surprised at how much pregnancy has killed my libido. In addition to being more tired than I knew it possible to be, I’m just not feeling sexy at all (and I’m firmly in the Married Sex is Awesome camp here). We are still having sex, just much less frequently, and it’s frustrating to both of us (in different ways). I’m really hoping the second trimester is as good as everyone says and we can get back to a more normal (for us) sex life.

      • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

        First trimester is rough for just about everyone I know. You don’t feel well, there are tons of body changes, etc. My libido was shot to you-know-what when pregnant and I did not want him to touch me. (But we separated shortly after she was born, so who knows how much of that was mental/emotional & tied to that). Anyway. Anyone I know who had a rocking preggo sex life had it kick in during the second trimester. So don’t worry just yet :)

      • TNM

        Yup… same boat here. I don’t think it is even that my libido has lessened. I think it’s just that there are only about 4 hours each day that I’m actually awake and alert now. It’s hard to fit in sexytime when you’re *dying* to go to bed at 8 pm. (And not just in that “it might be nice to sleep” way – but rather “OMG, I’m falling asleep while chopping veggies in the kitchen… must get to bed right n-zzzzzzzzzzz” way!)

        • Class of 1980

          It is natural to need a TON of sleep in the first trimester. Most women are totally surprised by it.

          You would not believe the tricks some of them use to even nap on the job. I know one who used to lock her office door, lean on her elbow and let her hair fall over her face. She looked like she was reading, but she was napping.

          Nothing you can do to prevent the overwhelming sleepiness. You need it.

          • Manya

            Totally! I once woke up on my desk in a pool of DROOL (no kidding) only to find documents lined up for me to sign next to my face!

      • meg

        Can we all agree to give ourselves a pass when we’re pregnant/ nursing? Growing a human is a full time job, y’all. It’s understandable if your body doesn’t want extra things put inside it. Co-masturbation (for the partner), etc, can be a wonderful thing.

        • Class of 1980

          And on the up side, a lot of women go through an extra frisky time in their second trimester.

      • Megan

        First trimester is definitely sleepy time. Second trimester and beyond? Most mom’s I know (myself, included) had *omigod AWESOME* sex for the rest of the pregnancy. Best.orgasms.ever. Lots of extra blood flow down there.

        Creativity is key when your body starts changing. Don’t be surprised if it takes longer to uhm…get where your going… but it’s *so* worth the patience.

        • http://lilapuppy.blogspot.com meghan

          Yes, yes, yes.

    • http://eclpse.livejournal.com Kimberly

      I can’t speak to the sex-with-baby part of it, although you did bring up a good point in how a partner asks for sex. Again, I know that it’s a completely different situation than yours, but sometimes I just want to be blunt. We work different schedules, so it’s tough to make sure that we’re both getting our needs fulfilled . . . and sometimes, at the end of a day or whatever, I just want to skip all of the crap and am like, “HEY. Do you want to have sex.” Sometimes it’s a “well, when he puts his hand there and gives me that look, I know he wants it,” or “when she kisses the back of my neck and gives me a squeeze, then she definitely wants it,” but sometimes I’m just like, “Look. Do you want it? Are you up for it? Let’s do this.”

    • Anon

      This is not exactly on topic, but as a physical therapist, I want to recommend seeing a physical therapist- there are many who specialize in women’s health issues, and postpartum pain and pelvic pain are definitely treatable. Good luck!

    • Anon

      I have a 9.5 month old, and want to 2nd what Meg & the physical therapist said upthread: definitely give yourself some slack (you’re still learning about a new person & re-figuring your new role, your husband with his new role, etc. It’s a big, beautiful-and-complex effin’ deal!) and see a doctor or other medical type person who can/will address your pelvic injuries, pretty please! I can’t remember what it was called, but I remember reading someone who mentioned having a legit pelvic injury from childbirth, and *eventually* she found a good doctor and all was well. So it happens & not all doctors are aware of that.

      I will say that there was a point *around* 2 months where it finally seemed like we were getting into a decent routine, baby started smiling or laughing or something & getting more interactive, so mentally it got slightly less exhausting. So that could be right around the corner for you? We also had milestones around 6 months (sitting & playing independently for a few minutes) and maybe 9 months where things got easier. You’re in the thick of things now, though.

      As far as sex, I definitely had discomfort until maybe 8 or 10 weeks. For that, lube, alcohol for relaxing, going slow, more foreplay, and letting my husband know when things got uncomfortable (and stopping if needed) helped. I didn’t have any major injuries (3rd degree tearing with stitches), so I’m guessing that’s not in your favor. I think you’re right on that communication & understanding from your husband are key. It’s tough to re-find that balance of who does what; we’re still redefining that (and some days/moments the definition changes. Communication + flexibility are good, good friends). And like someone said way, way upthread, I learned after a couple months that we need to, um, be intimate about once a week; if we go much past that, I turn cranky and hateful and it’s no good for anyone. So for us (as you say) grandparent-babysitting is necessary (especially since we co-sleep with the baby, so obviously opportunity for sexual intimacy is limited). I wonder in your situation, if you can ask your husband to help out with specific things so you’re less worn out when the baby finally does fall asleep? And then you might have energy to be intimate with him in ways that don’t involve your poor pelvis, and then he’s not feeling as rejected? We’ve definitely had to make a point to remember ourselves as a couple, and take time to flirt (joke around, touch each other when we pass in the hallway or whatever) even if it’s not leading to anything right away.

      Anyway, hope some of my rambling is helpful and/or reassuring & good luck to you! I know the days can be SO long, but then the months go by in a blink!

  • http://www.fancynotion.blogspot.com/ Kerry

    I hate that it’s the word “marriage” gets the bad rap in relation to sex.

    Anyone who has been with their partner for a long time knows that it’s time and familiarity – not marriage – that progresses your sex life into something different than what it was those first 6 months. I use the word “progresses” here because there’s no need to feel badly about sex becoming more difficult or less frequent. Given enough time, everything changes! I find myself having to be really mindful of this, in order to not get hung up on the “why is it different?” but rather “am I more or less happy with how it is now, and what can I do about that?”

    And personally, I have to work VERY hard to not be influenced by sex in the media dictating what is normal about my own sex life. The way movies and TV show sex (when it’s good it has to be smokin’ and spontaneous, when it’s on hiatus that means that there are Big Problems in your relationship) always seems to creep into my mind. It’s a constant struggle for me to be cool with our own married-sex reality and not compare.

    Thanks for this post, author and Meg.

    • Midwest Lantern

      Awesome comment, thanks for writing this.

  • anon for this

    This is a touchy subject for both me and my fiance. We both agree that we love the sex we have together — it’s the best we’ve ever had, and we both have had many other partners.

    However, sex for us gets complicated because we each bring certain baggage into our relationship, and unfortunately, the baggage happens to be sex-related.

    He was previously married (and had two kids), and his ex cheated on him and basically emotionally abused him to the point where any sort of sexual rejection makes him think that he is not good enough, unattractive, etc. He has some emotional abuse issues and insecurity issues all tangled up with sex. He also has a higher sex drive than I do.

    I am a victim of multiple rapes and I have a hard time getting in the mood sometimes. If I’m not really into it, I may fly into full-blown panic attacks mid-sex (not very sexy, eh?). When I’m stressed or tired, I am not really in the mood (although he thinks of it as a stress-relief). I also have a hard time losing control enough to allow him to focus on only pleasing me… which in turn makes him think that he is not good enough, unattractive, etc.

    I get exhausted just thinking about it ;)

    We would not ever be able to live together intimately without communication. It really is key with us. He has worked on realizing that I am not anything like his ex, and he does please me, and I do find him attractive. I’ve had to focus on sex being with him and stay focused on HIM and not allow any other thoughts intrude. We have an open dialogue about sex and we talk about it almost daily, even if we aren’t doing it.

    We make sure we are extremely cuddly and smoochy. We make sure we nuzzle eachother and squish eachother and touch eachother. We always tell eachother how attracted we are to the other person, and how much we love eachother. And when his kids come almost every weekend? We turn the TV on or tell them to play quietly in their rooms (every kid needs chill time!) and we have time to cuddle-snuggle-sex if we want to. It works for us.

    It may not be the most frequent amount of sex, but it’s still the best sex we have ever had. I trust him, and he trusts me. We both communicate extremely well together. And most importantly, we love each other so much, more than we have ever really experienced. And that makes all of our work soooo worth it.

    • clampers

      You’re a survivor, not a victim!

      I too have been through some sexual abuse (child molestation and date rape). It absolutely affected my sex drive and my ability to “lose myself,” as you mentioned. There’s always the slight, underlying feeling of pressure…You are totally right when you say that communication is key. Without it, I think my dude would be very confused and we probably wouldn’t even be together now.

      Yay for supportive partners!

      • anon for this

        I found that for me, we had to discuss what had happened to me even before we had sex for the first time. I just couldn’t trust anyone to respect my boundaries before letting them know what they are.

        LOVE how supportive he has been. And congrats on finding another supportive dude!

        And you’re right, we are not victims, definitely survivors!!! And the more I talk about sex with him, the more I feel like our relationship could survive anything.

    • Not Sarah

      Thank you for this.

      I went through a bad relationship a few years ago where we would get into terrible arguments and then he would turn me on and then as soon as we stopped, I would burst out crying. It’s really hard to know what the line is on when to talk about an ex, especially when it’s to do with sex. And honestly, I’ve blocked out so many of the memories that I don’t remember what is going to spin me into a panic attack in the middle of sex or once we stop until it happens.

      If this isn’t too personal, how did you work at allowing yourself to lose control enough to actually enjoying him giving you attention? Did it just take a lot of trust and time and knowing that you both really love each other?

      • anon for this

        “It’s really hard to know what the line is on when to talk about an ex, especially when it’s to do with sex.”
        For me, I talk about all of it. My FH is my best friend, and in order for me to have less panic attacks and for him to not feel uncomfortable or undesired when I say “no” because I’m in a bad place, he needs to know everything that is going on. I don’t talk about how great sex was with any ex — I talk about how “this ex abused me and I am not comfortable now to engage in xxxxx activity because it might send me into a panic attack due to my previous experience with that ex.”
        My FH knows it all with me. We have to talk about everything. There’s just no way I couldn’t and still have a sex life.

        As for your specific questions:
        It’s a work in progress. I try to remember that it’s my FH and not someone else. Some days, I just cannot let him do certain things because I freak out.

        As for time? We started having sex about a month after we met, and we knew we were going to marry eachother at around our 5th date… it’s not necessarily the time. It IS all about the trust, which comes from open lines of communication. It does take a lot of love as well. And some work from him — knowing the extent of what I’ve been through and understanding that some days I am just not going to want him to do some stuff that I usually find enjoyable.

        What I can say is that the sex keeps getting better, as we have more trust with each other. We also know that not every time is going to be amazing. Sometimes it’s harder for me to enjoy sex because bad thoughts intrude. But I think I am progressing.

        Sorry if this doesn’t really specifically answer your question. The best advice I could ever give anyone who is trying to establish a sexual relationship with their significant other is to communicate openly and honestly, and to go at your own pace.

        Good luck!

        • Not Sarah

          Thanks! You’re right – that didn’t exactly answer my question, but I think it definitely helped.

          Part of my problem, I think, is that I just haven’t met the right guy since my ex, so I haven’t been able to build up enough of that trust that I don’t go into panic attacks anymore.

          I think I need to work at spending more time developing trust and communication before having sex. It’s hard though because I have a crazy sex drive and my body really doesn’t want to wait, but if I have sex with someone before I trust them, I can go into a panic attack.

  • Midwest Lantern

    I just want to compliment the post author for adding in her disclaimer that we not compare our numbers to hers. This post could easily have sounded like bragging, but instead, it was heartfelt and helpful.

  • clampers

    I’ve got this feeling that the number of APW readers gettin’ freaky tonight will skyrocket…

  • http://amidlifeofprivilege.blogspot.com LPC

    This is lovely. Not be a jerk, but I hope you find some people who tell the stories of great decades-long sex, in the case of children.

    Let me add one more note. When your partner is reluctant, never, never, use shame or other sorts of manipulate him or her to get more sex. It will not work, it will backfire. You have to own your needs, not make them a fault of the other.

    • meg

      Are you nominating yourself or someone you know? Because when you said “not to be a jerk” that’s totally what I heard ;)

      I know plenty of people that have had great decades-long sex lives with kids, but I’m not going to ask ANY of them.

      • Natalie

        Yeah, I’m pretty sure my parents fall into this category (40th anniversary this year!), but I don’t think I’ll be asking them to write a post for you about it any time soon. :-)

      • http://amidlifeofprivilege.blogspot.com LPC

        I was in no way saying it wasn’t possible, good sex over the years, with children. I’ve heard about it. I’m sure it exists. Nor in any way was I intimating that your effort to change the current cultural dialogue isn’t an admirable one. Only that a lot of happy talk, unexamined happy talk, will be used in relationships with bad power dynamics, for, well, bad.

        Which I am sure no one here wants.

    • Sharon

      I’d love to hear about this, too. I mean, my mom has done an ok job convincing me that with creativity, parents can still manage an active sex life, but still, the idea of all sex (and sleep) disappearing with the arrival of a child terrifies me completely.

      • meg

        Well, it may disappear for awhile, but it absolutely can and should come back. Again, not nominating anyone I know to write about this (Family? Yeah. You’re un-invited to write about this!) but if someone wants to nominate THEIR parents, game on.

  • Abby C.

    Yay! I think both my fiance and I had some fear surrounding the whole notion that married life = bad/no sex that we had to address earlier in our relationship. Now, though, we both do agree that the sex that we do have is wonderful, both pleasure-making and intimacy-building, and bringing that into married life will be great.

    We had some bumps in the road, though. In my last serious relationship before I met FH, I was the high desire partner and always felt like I was initiating because I wasn’t really desired enough. The dynamic switched when I met FH, as HE’s the higher desire partner in our relationship. Unfortunately, when I was blissed out on how great it was to have my “tanks always full” so to speak, he was feeling undesired because he was always the one initiating. It took some serious communication for both of us to understand what was going on.

    Fortunately, now, my motto is “Just Do It” more often. Just because I’m not necessarily feeling hangry (great word) doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it in the end – I do! I just go with the flow and I know we’ll have fun. It’s not always mind-blowingly great, but it’s always good and it does always build intimacy between us and help us feel connected. THAT should be the best part of what married sex is about.

  • petrel74

    I really do think it is great that APW is delving into the topic of married sex, and I applaud the poster for being willing to share her own experiences and for her helpful advice and insights.

    And, though this isn’t at all the poster’s fault and again I applaud her for speaking up at all, I found it somewhat hard to accept the “married sex is great” talk from someone who’s been with her partner for 6 years, has no kids, and was a virgin when they met. I really, really appreciate the positive vibe of this post; I do. But from what I’ve experienced and what my friends have experienced, it’s pretty normal at this stage of her relationship to feel like sex is great, but that things are likely to become more difficult (and unexpectedly so) in the next five years. My own first marriage hit a very surprising and very sustained sexual drought that we never would have seen coming in our first five years together. I think the complete unexpectedness was part of what made it so hard. For so long, we couldn’t believe how great it was between us and how often we did it. And then, as we got closer to a decade together, it really really slowed. For many reasons, including that one, the marriage ended. I suspect we are not alone in that scenario. I guess what I’m trying to say is that couples who have very fulfilling sex lives often have completely unexpected difficulties as they approach the decade mark together, especially (like the NYT article indicates) if they are in their 30s. I think it would be a really great supplement to this helpful and positive post if there were another reader out there who could share his/her experiences with making it beyond one of these difficult or slow times sexually. Is there anyone else out there willing to share?

    • meg

      While it’s totally valid to say that you hit a rough patch after 5 years, I think it’s crazy over-generalizing to say that is what happens for “lots” of people or “everyone.” Instead, I’d say that when someone tells a positive sex narrative, and that’s not what we want to hear, it’s easy to poke holes in it no matter what the details are. We’re somewhere between 5 and 10 years together, in our 30s, and still doing just fine (though our just fine looks different from Anon’s just fine).

      That said, I’ve known long married people where the sex slowed down/ wasn’t going well, and they went to therapy, got sex books, and got it back on track quiet happily. And, of course there are people who break up when that happens. All of that is true, but none of that is what we’re talking about *today.* We have lots of conversations here, but we have to accept each one for what it is, even if it doesn’t affect our experience.

      So, lets go ahead an accept that married sex is great from someone six years in. Why not? That’s an accomplishment if you ask me, six years of awesome sex. And her being a virgin when they met is none of our damn business.

    • Anon

      Anon poster here, and I absolutely agree with you – I would LOVE to hear from longer marrieds, those who have dealt with “slow times,” physical challenges, mis-matched libidos, etc. and found a way through them together (or perhaps found that the incompatibility was simply too big an obstacle). I welcome any and all sex talk and fully recognize that my experience is NOT anyone else’s. I just want to open the narrative to allow more than the standard “it was great, we got married, then it sucked.”

      “it’s pretty normal at this stage of her relationship to feel like sex is great, but that things are likely to become more difficult (and unexpectedly so) in the next five years”

      The thing is… people have been telling me “just wait, you’ll see” practically since day one. I was told the honeymoon period would only last 6 months. Then “okay, maybe 1 year.” Now people keep saying “wait until the 7 year itch!”

      I’m pessimistic by nature and tend to believe the negativity that I hear/read; I’ve always been waiting for the the other shoe to drop, for the fun to end. And we have had times (e.g. grad school) when things have been stressful and we’ve found other ways to satisfy our need for intimacy… but I’ve been waiting 6 years for things to get worse, because everyone told me they would. And perhaps that’s still ahead for us… but perhaps it’s also possible that the “you’ll sees” won’t match up to our experience. All I know is that living in fear of the “you’ll sees” is not helpful for me, personally. I’d rather celebrate the here-and-now, while being mindful that things may change. But I do appreciate the wisdom of people who’ve been married longer, divorced, or had the rug pulled out from under them in some way and wish they’d been more prepared for the hard stuff.

      (Also… we aren’t planning to have children, so I won’t be able to speak to/relate to that experience, but I’m in awe of those who are dealing with sex + marriage + kids and always enjoy hearing their perspective — life is long and confusing, sex is a part of life, and we’re all just doing the best we can :)).

      • meg

        We’re at the seven year itch (I’m sorry, I don’t count from our wedding date, because that would be just non-sensical), and thus far… no itch! (Knocks wood).

        Stop worrying, and ENJOY what you’ve got. Life is too short to wait on you’ll-sees.

    • Shannon

      Weeeellll, I can’t speak for myself, as I am only 35, and my partner and I have only been together for 5 years. BUT, I do happen to know that my parents, who are still happily married after about 45 years, have always had a healthy sex life. I’m not sure if they’ve had times when it slowed down (I think it’s slowed down quite a bit in recent years, especially since my dad’s small battle with prostate cancer), but I know they’ve always had it, and it’s been an important part of the happy times and relative stability of their marriage. That’s just one example, but I’m also pretty sure that my happily married grandparents (married for over 60 years until my grandfather died) had good sex for most of their marriage. My impression is that sex becomes pretty unimportant for some, or perhaps many (difficult to say without any stats on this) married couples in “old age,” whatever old age is…

      Rough patches are totally normal, from what I’ve read about married sex. I don’t have stats at hand just at the moment, but as the Anon poster has said in her article, there are TONS of positive ways to move out of a rough patch in your sex life. My partner and I have already gone through a couple of “rough patches” in our sex life, mostly due to stress. It’s been an immensely gratifying process to learn how to move through those times, and inevitably whatever we try to kick our sex life into a higher gear ends up both making our sex AWESOME, and also increasing our intimacy hugely. Maybe I’m new to the marriage thing, but isn’t that what it’s all about? Moving through change together, and finding positive ways to do so?

      • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

        After my grandparents died, a shocking amount of porn and toys were found. Which is highly disturbing on the one hand (grandma??) it’s pretty great that they were still getting it on in to their 70s.

      • http://sarahandspenser.blogspot.com Sarah

        LOVE hearing about adorable old people having happy and fulfilling sex lives.

        One of the sweetest marriage stories I’ve ever heard was told at a family friend’s funeral by her husband who talked about them having sex on a cruise through the Arctic Circle they went on in their mid 80s. He was remembering laying in bed with her after and talking to each other about how this is not how most people spend their 80s. They had a wonderful, happy marriage for 50+ years and according to everyone were madly in love the whole time. I don’t think I’ve ever cried more than hearing him cry his way through describing the happy times they had together. I often think that my fiancé and I will be amazingly blessed to have a marriage half as happy as they did.

  • Emily Elizabeth

    Awesome post, thank you so much for bringing up this topic. I do have problems with the sex drive lately (maybe it really is the hormone birth control) and feel guilty for saying no more than I say yes, and not initiating often. There are so many helpful suggestions in here, I will be taking them to heart.

    • Class of 1980

      Definitely investigate your birth control pills. Some of them absolutely do affect your sex drive negatively.

      • M

        My birth control pills DESTROYED my libido. I went from thinking about sex at “teenage boy” levels to a practically non-existent sex drive, and it caused other problems (depression and ladyparts pain, which definitely contributed to the dropping libido). This has certainly not helped my marriage.

        Even more than 2 years afterward, the after-effects of my birth control remain. I’m not saying this is the case for everyone, because it’s not, but if you’ve noticed a significant change since starting on birth control pills, it might be time to examine alternatives. Hormones can be a bad thing to mess with.

        • Anon for this

          Yes – especially if you started taking the pill as a teenager, for me (and many girlfriends) when you transition into your mid-to-late twenties and your libido drops, your BC pills can make that drop even steeper. Going off hormonal birth control tended to fix libido and psychological issues many people I knew never even attributed to the pill.

          • Class of 1980

            You can research this. Some birth control pills are documented to cause low libido.

            I’d research the various options to find out which ones have the bad rap. Unfortunately, most doctors don’t discuss this. You must be your own advocate.

      • Anon

        My husband and I have a complicated (if that’s the right word) sex life. Somehow over the past few years, my sex drive has become non-existent. However, my husband has a very high libido and would have sex every day if I was game. Instead, we’ve been married 6 months and have only had sex 4 or 5 times. (Of course, this has been a problem for a few years so nothing has really changed as a result of the marriage). I think part of the problem is that I say no so frequently so now I have a lot of guilt wrapped up in the idea of sex. I also worry that this is going to ruin our marriage or drive him to cheat on me (it’s not that I don’t trust him exactly. I just recognize that he needs to have sex more than once every few months). I stopped taking my birth control pills back in April with the hope that they might have been affecting my libido, but so far I don’t really feel any different.

        I’m not sure why I’m even writing all of this, but I guess I would love any advice that the APW Community could offer. I really really want to want to have sex if that makes sense. I just can’t figure out what is wrong with me. I’ve never seen a therapist, and I think that could help. Does anyone have any advice for finding a therapist and finding out what insurance might pay for?

        I think another issue is that I was brought up with the idea that sex is bad or something that should be kept secret. I have thoughts that I might want to experiment a bit, but then I have no idea how to go about actually doing it or talking about it because then my background kicks in and makes me feel like I shouldn’t be doing anything “different.”

        Okay, I think I’ve definitely started rambling now, and I’m not even sure this makes sense.

        • http://jolynn.wordpress.com Jo

          I’ve been where you are. Where the idea of sex is such a turn-off because you are in the turning down position, feel so guilty. Sometimes it even gets to the point where you don’t want to be around your partner for fear of sex coming up.

          I suggest giving yourself some challenges, without necessarily telling your partner if that’s too much pressure. Keep talking to your partner in general, keep talking about sex, but try a few different things. 1) Make a deal to have a sexual-without-actual-penetration night with your partner. 2) Decide that for a week, month, etc. every single time they ask, you’ll say yes. Make sure that both your and your partner are ok if orgasm doesn’t happen every time. Invest in a bullet vibe. Also avail yourself of coconut oil–the organic lube! 3) Find a therapist. Sometimes universities have cheaper therapy, like therapy training programs, but ask them to give you the trainer instead of the trainee. Or call your insurance and ask for who’s covered. When you call to setup your appointment, make sure that the therapist is sex-positive. 4) Listen to/read a LOT of Dan Savage. There’s a free podcast that is awesome, his columns are great, etc. 5) Just talk to your partner. Ask them if they’re into anything kinky, what their fantasy is. A bit ago I admitted I enjoyed some ‘lightly kinky’ things, and my partner looked at me fearfully, but when I detailed what they were, he laughed and said he loved them/was down to try, that he just thought of them as normal.

          Good luck!

        • Eureka

          I had the same thing happen the last time I went back on birth control pills (several years ago now). And, like you, stopping them didn’t make my libido bounce back to normal.

          One thing that others have mentioned and that really helped me was to decide to have more sex whether I was in the mood or not. I didn’t put any pressure on myself to have great sex, just sex. Also, it didn’t have to be completed sex. If after giving it a shot I still wasn’t in the mood, I’d call it quits (so I’m not advising you to “lie back and think of England”). And all the various kinds of “jobs” count, too. ;) (I hope it goes without saying that you should not be doing anything that’s painful – physically, emotionally, mentally. More like pushing yourself to go to the gym and get on the treadmill for 5/10 minutes and then see if you really still don’t feel like exercising. )

          For me, just putting sex back on the routine schedule really helped. First of all, I think it really helped my husband to see that I was committed to our sex life as an important part of our marriage. I know he always understood that something in my body had changed in ways I couldn’t control and didn’t like (and he is amazingly sweet and supportive and non-pressuring), but I also know that it must have been incredibly hard to suddenly have a partner who didn’t seem attracted to him anymore.

          Secondly, it was good to acknowledge that it’s okay if sex if sometimes “just” routine. I know this is a bad analogy, but if there are nights when I’m really tired and do a quick, half-assed job brushing my teeth or skip it altogether, I don’t feel like it’s the end of the world and blame myself for being a horrible, disgusting person/wife. Sex is something that your whole identity (and the identity of your marriage) can get wrapped up inside of – and when you’re having a problem with it, it can take on epic proportions. I needed to put at least part of my sex life back in that box of “routine things that sometimes go well and sometimes don’t but it’s not the end of the world and/or your marriage.”(This is not to say that we don’t still strive for amazing, mind-blowing, wake-the-neighbors sex. It’s just not a requirement every time.)

          I also think that having gone through a period of low libido, I had fallen out of the habit of listening for/being attuned to my body’s sexual cues, and was missing some. Just starting to have sex regularly again helped to rev things back up over time and made me more aware of the fact that there were still times when I thought about/felt like having sex. They weren’t necessarily the exact same urges I’d had in the past, but they were still there. This is probably also a good case for doing some of the exploring you mention. I know it can feel like a weird thing to bring up, but I’ve never met a man who wasn’t willing to try something you thought you might like. It sounds like you already have some ideas, I’d say have a glass or two of wine and blurt them out! Or maybe buy a sexy game or book or toy to get the conversation started.

          If you just can’t, I think you’re right that some therapy might really help with your feelings of guilt/shame around sex. (Which I’d guess most of us have to some degree or another at some point in our lives, so you are neither crazy nor alone!) My regular doctor was a great resource for finding a therapist. She was able to recommend someone who was covered by my insurance. So try asking your doctor or ob-gyn. Or some health insurance companies have a number you can call to speak with a nurse – s/he might be able to give you few names of people who are covered under your plan. Also, if you don’t have good mental health coverage, most practitioners offer a sliding scale for payment, so you’ll be charged according to what you can afford.

          And a very practical last note: if you aren’t ready to get pregnant, make sure you find another (probably non-hormonal but maybe just different hormones) method of birth control that you’re really comfortable with/confident in. Because nothing kills the mood faster than a nagging worry in the back of your mind about getting pregnant when you’re not ready to. Condoms, diaphragm, non-hormonal IUD, whatever makes the most sense for you.

          • Class of 1980

            I admire the way you’ve taken charge of the situation and I’m sure it goes a long way with your husband to know you care.

        • Anon for now

          Hey there,

          Just wanted to send out some sympathies. I’ve still got a few major emotional hang-ups when it comes to sex, most probably stemming from also being raised with the “sex is dirty and we should be ‘above’ that” attitude, so I feel where you’re coming from.

          I’ve never seen a therapist or anything and have no idea how one would even go about that, but my fiance and I make an effort to talk about it. And yeah, those conversations involve a lot of tears and me blubbering “I don’t knnooooowww,” but I’m hoping that we’ll crack through most of the issues eventually.

          One thing it helps to keep in mind is that he’s your husband, he loves you, and you’re both working toward the same goal here–to make sure both of you can be comfortable with your sex life. Avoiding the mental trap that it’s “me against him” and replacing that with “how can we help each other with this?” helps me feel a lot better, personally.

          Good luck!

        • meg

          Lady! Time to see a sex therapist already. A) You’ll get fun homework B) Why not work with a pro and C) I’ve heard that it really, really works. There is zero shame in asking for help when you need it.

          • Anon

            Thanks everyone for the advice. You’ve all definitely given me some things to think about and made me not feel quite so alone.

            Meg, do you have any recommendations for how to find a sex therapist? I definitely think it would help, but outside of Charlotte on Private Practice, I have no idea where to find one in real life!

        • Anon

          I wasn’t able to respond downthread, but here are a few links re: sex therapists:

          Here’s a directory of American Association of Sexuality Educators Counselors and Therapists (AASECT, the most prominent professional organization for sex therapists)
          http://www.aasect.org/directory.asp

          http://sexuality.about.com/od/sexualhealthqanda/f/findtherapist.htm

          This won’t be specifically helpful to your situation, but if you and your partner are curious about sex therapy and how it (might) work, I find watching episodes of “Sexual Healing” w/Dr. Laura Berman very interesting – it’s on Netflix Instant Watch, if you have that. :)

          http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Sexual_Healing/70172462?trkid=2361637#height1214

    • http://jolynn.wordpress.com Jo

      Hormones, stress, birth control changes, sleep loss–all of it wreaks havoc with the sex life, and women have a few extra factors. If you can find a doctor who supports you in that, talk to them. Unfortunately, not many of them listen so you might have to be forceful, advocate for yourself, and experiment since there’s not much research.

      • another anon

        I definitely agree with the advocating for yourself comment! I started taking some medications that entirely reformatted my libido and physiological reactions in intimate situations. Even now, months after being off of the medications I am still really struggling to find my sex drive. I’ve spoken with my doctor several times about my concerns and she kept telling me that it was 100% emotional and that I probably didn’t actually love my SO. I absolutely know this is not the case and had to spend several appointments trying to get her to her to HEAR me say that I think there is something else going on. She reluctantly and hurriedly listed off a few other things that affect women in the ways I was describing and said anti-histamines in the same breath with a handful of other things. Well, I basically live on Benadryl b/c I am allergic to everything in nature. I don’t know if I have a solution, but I at least have something new to try to get me back on track to the sex drive I want. But working with my doctor to get there was a real challenge. Don’t let a doctor bully you into a diagnosis you don’t believe in. Good luck and happy sexing!

        • Class of 1980

          Oh my. I know a woman who takes Benadryl every night to fall asleep. She had problems with sex for years.

    • meg

      Yeah. Efffff birth control pills. That’s what I’ve got to say on that subject. Seriously. Look into other options, even just the simple condom.

      • http://thissaturnreturns.blogspot.com Laura H.

        Double EFFFFF. Going off of them changed my life!

      • Not Sarah

        But what do you do then about the insanely painful period cramps that make you unable to work for 1-2 days?

        • Class of 1980

          Advil or Aleve. If they don’t work, a prescription.

        • http://sarahandspenser.blogspot.com Sarah

          Ditto. I have “it’s probably endometriosis because you have a family history but we don’t want to put you through the surgery to diagnose it because you’re going to have to have it again when you’re ready to get pregnant”. As a result, I have period cramps so bad that after 3 years of trying to find a pill that could control them, my doctor just had me stop taking the placebos and I haven’t had a period in 2 years. Not taking a hormonal pill every day has me stuck to a heating pad with prescription pain meds for 5-7 days a month, which is just not an option for me. The doc also has a theory that keeping me without cycles will lessen the endo damage that causes infertility. Fingers crossed, most endo resolves after a first pregnancy, which will be in 3 years for us if everything goes according to plan.

          And re: the previous response, Advil and Aleve don’t work for many of us who go on hormonal birth control to resolve painful cramps, otherwise we wouldn’t have gone on BC to begin with. And prescription pain meds on a regular basis can be pretty damaging to one’s ability to work and function.

      • Dawn

        I so wish that was an option for us (I had to change my bcp last year when it finally occurred to me that they, and not a relatively minor family issue, were causing me to turn into a crazy person and while the new prescription is much better on that front, I still don’t like the idea of pumping my body full of artificial hormones) but unfortunately condoms alone just do not provide the level of protection needed by two people who absolutely, positively, no I swear we really mean it, do not want kids. Ever. No matter how cute my nephew is. Like to a point where I really think that if we weren’t using double protection my boyfriend would probably have a panic attack every time we had sex. And I might have one too. Going off the pill is not an option until he gets a job with decent enough insurance to cover a vasectomy. Hopefully that will be in the next few years but until then, I deal with the annoying hormones.

        I just read an article this morning about a scientist in India who has developed a male birth control that is starting to be tested here. It is endlessly frustrating to me that birth control (with the exception of condoms) continues to be the responsibility of the woman and the woman’s body.

        • Anon

          We also do not want kids ever and have been frustrated by the non-hormonal options. I’ve thought about getting a copper IUD, or we may just spring for a vasectomy soon, even if it’s not covered by insurance.

          But just to reassure you, if you want to give it a try… ;) (and I know what you mean about double protection and boyfriends panicking) … we’ve been using ONLY condoms for 4 years (we now buy them in bulk from amazon!) and in that time, we’ve only had 3 “uh-oh” moments. Took Plan B *immediately* and no repercussions. Not ideal, but until we can schedule a more permanent option, it works pretty well for us (BC seriously makes me nutso and kills my sex drive).

        • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com/ Morgan

          Copper IUD. An afternoon of discomfort = 5 years of worry free sex. In Canada, it only cost $75, and my insurance covered 80% of that anyway.

      • Anon4Now

        Meg, I am totally coming to this opinion. When there was a mix-up with getting my prescription renewed, I was off the pill for a month, and was happily surprised by the fact that I really wanted sex every day. Even my non-sexual energy and happiness seemed to get better.

        But I have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and birth control pills seem to be the most reliable way of controlling the underlying hormone imbalance. My doctors have generally seemed to assume that I’ll be on the pill until I want to get pregnant. They’ve tried swapping me around a few different brands, but the idea of not taking it at all? Doesn’t really seem to be an option.

        But I’m seriously thinking of going to the doctor and being like “Look, I know you probably think this is crazy, but even though I don’t want to get pregnant yet, is there anything else I can take or do to control the PCOS symptoms without taking hormonal birth control?”

        But I’ve already lost one ovary to a giant cyst, so I’m scared to just go off the pill entirely. (With PCOS, your ovaries try to release an egg, but the hormones are out of whack so they don’t quite release it all the way, and a cyst forms where it was trying to be released. The pill keeps the ovaries from even trying to release an egg, so it stops the cysts.) Also my face and body break out like a teenage boy’s because yay, hormone imbalance.

        I for serious need to talk to an expert to see if I have ANY other options.

        • ANONFORPRIVACY

          Not a doc, but I have a friend with PCOS who has an IUD, though I’m not sure if it’s hormonal or not. She got pregnant while on birth control and using condoms the same month her doctor told her that there was only a very small chance she would be able to get pregnant without medical assistance. She and her SO decided to give up the baby for adoption, as she found out she was pregnant too late for an abortion, and afterwards got the IUD.

          Side note, this was the closest to an “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” story I’ve come across in real life so I feel the need to share it. She had 1-2 day periods, which her doctor kept telling her was normal on BCP, until she hit 6 months in, and only gained about 10 pounds before she found out at 6 months, all right around the holidays. She and her BF are both very smart, with-it people, and their experience has made me convinced this can happen to anyone.

      • Sar-aaah

        Hells yes. While my feminist side loves birth control for it providing me with the ability to control my own child-bearing in an uncertain world, getting off BC was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. Irregular periods? Who cares! Worse cramps? I can deal. Gaining a few pounds? Add on a few more with a pint of ice cream. Finally (finally) rising above a perpetual state of feeling as though I were walking the wrong way on a moving sidewalk in an airport? Finally, finally, finally not having to escape to the bathroom at social events to mutter “it’ll be ok” to myself, like a mantra? Way, way worth getting of the scary hormone-tinkering drug.

        But, yeah, everyone’s different :)

  • Confused

    Ehhh… I’m not really sure how to feel after reading this post. I am engaged and although it may seem trivial, I have seriously doubted whether I can go through with the marriage because of our differences in sex drives. My fiance and I have very different definitions of how much sex is “enough.” The last time we had sex was after a 3 month hiatus. Since then, it has been 3 weeks. Spare me the “come on to him” advice – he hates that – it makes him feel uncomfortable and pressured. The lack of physical interaction makes me feel unwanted and unconnected to him. Not to mention resentful and angry. Can I really spend the rest of my life in what may realistically be a sexless marriage?

    • Abby C.

      Oh, honey, I’m sorry. Having been in a relationship basically like that, and having that be one of the major factors in our breakup, I can relate. It’s tough.

      The only solution, though, is to talk, talk, TALK. Communicating about sex is really, really hard, but its the only way you’ll work through it.

      • Anonymous

        Yeah, I don’t think it’s a lost cause. Maybe the problem isn’t so much your differences in sex drive as a lack of intimacy and communication? Sex is important, but it’s not everything, and I don’t really buy the myth that we have to be totally in sync in this area. But we do have to be willing to work through the differences and come up with solutions that make everyone happy. (I’m doing it right now with my partner.)

        I think you just have to tell him: I’m unhappy with the way things are. This is a deal-breaker for me and we’ve got to figure out some way to fix it. Good luck.

        • Confused

          I’ve told him. He knows. I think he hopes that it won’t come to that. My greatest fear is that I decide that I can deal with it and then 5 years into the marriage I realize that it is indeed a deal breaker. It is complicated because there are a multitude of reasons that he has issues in this area – shame around past decisions, childhood abuse – it is a crazy, messy, clusterf@*k of a situation. Lucky me!

          • Shannon

            It seems like there are some pretty deep psychological issues for your partner. Maybe some sort of professional treatment (e.g. counseling) might help him work through those issues? I know that isn’t always the best solution for everyone, just a thought…

          • Class of 1980

            Okay, that is more information.

            Do you feel that the main reason for his lack of sex drive is all psychological?

            Or do you feel that part of it is that he just naturally has a low sex drive?

            Is it a combination of the two?

            Either way, I would not proceed with marriage until the issues are resolved or at least well on their way to being resolved.

      • Confused

        Thanks – talking about it is hard bc it is (obviously) a tough subject for him. I’m in a tough situation because I certainly dont want himto ever do something that he doesn’t want to do, but it feels completely unfair that the ball is so completely in his court. I feel like in order to respect his feelings, my hands are tied.

      • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com/ Morgan

        And start these talks NOW. Not after the wedding. Right now.

    • McPants

      Confused, it’s definitely *not* trivial to have differing sex drives, and don’t let anyone belittle your feelings by suggesting that it is. If it’s at the point where you’re worrying about going through with the marriage, there are some excellent counselors that can help you improve communication around sex and work out any sexual difficulties.

    • Class of 1980

      CONFUSED WROTE: “The lack of physical interaction makes me feel unwanted and unconnected to him. Not to mention resentful and angry. Can I really spend the rest of my life in what may realistically be a sexless marriage?”

      Is your natural sex drive going to disappear? Not for long.

      Is his very low sex drive going to change to a higher sex drive than he’s ever had? Not likely.

      Are you going to become less resentful and angry about the lack of connection? Not likely.

      THREE MONTHS of no sex and he’s actually okay with that? That’s not just having differing sex drives – that’s a chasm. Even getting him up to twice a month might feel like unbearable pressure to him.

      I’ve seen this movie before – see my post further down. Calling off the marriage is hard, but it’s infinitely easier on both of you than divorce proceedings later. Your nagging doubts are there for a reason.

    • Anonymous

      So sorry you are hurting and confused after reading this.

      I was married to someone who had a very different type of sex drive than I did, and didn’t like to do some things that I really liked to have done. He wasn’t that into kissing, for example, and felt threatened by any form of vibration (among other things…). I have a high sex drive and am GGG as hell.

      Quite honestly, I thought that this would improve, that I could entice him into trying stuff, etc….

      It didn’t. I didn’t. It got even worse after I had my baby and he couldn’t get over witnessing the whole birth scene.

      It wore on my self-esteem. I got sad, then resentful, then just plain old indifferent (so I thought). Six years into our marriage (which everybody thought was lovely, by the way), I had an affair with someone who is incredibly sexy, totally hot for me, and in sync with me sexually. I was vulnerable because I felt very alone in that way. I ended up leaving my husband, and realized, for me, being sexually in sync was non-negotiable. I also realized the power great sex has to bond you to someone and build your intimacy even if you are in phases where you aren’t communicating as well in other ways.

      Sex is important to me, and I didn’t realize just how much until I was in a really fulfilling sexual relationship for the first time.

      In any case, think hard about this. Read some Dan Savage. Talk about this really honestly with your fiance. It’s not a biggie to everybody, but if it is to you, then you owe it to your current and future self to confront this nagging doubt.

      I’m sending you a big hug as you move through this journey and loving thoughts, no matter what you end up deciding.

      • Class of 1980

        ANON WROTE: “Quite honestly, I thought that this would improve, that I could entice him into trying stuff, etc….

        … It didn’t. I didn’t. …

        It wore on my self-esteem. I got sad, then resentful, then just plain old indifferent (so I thought).

        Six years into our marriage (which everybody thought was lovely, by the way), I had an affair with someone who is incredibly sexy, totally hot for me, and in sync with me sexually. I was vulnerable because I felt very alone in that way.

        I ended up leaving my husband, and realized, for me, being sexually in sync was non-negotiable. I also realized the power great sex has to bond you to someone and build your intimacy even if you are in phases where you aren’t communicating as well in other ways.”

        ________________________________________

        Everyone contemplating marriage should read this about 10 times. The whole scenario you painted is an honest account of how these situations usually play out. I’ve seen it time and time again.

        Do not get married HOPING it’s going to get better. Ask yourself if you would marry them knowing it would never get better. Would you still marry them?

        The issue must be solved before walking down that aisle.

        Because at some point, someone else will likely come along who rocks your world and your weak marriage will not withstand it.

    • Anon

      So, your relationship sounds a little like mine, if I read between the lines.
      If you ask and he says no, so you wait and ask again and he says no, and you wait and ask again and he says no and seems annoyed, and on one hand you feel rejected but you understand that he has a lower sex drive and decide you can wait him out, but after what seems like a really long time you can’t wait anymore and you’re feeling too rejected and insecure to just ask the way you did before, so you ask in a way that’s really loaded and awkward, or try to trick him, or sob and beg for sex, which doesn’t work because none of those things are even remotely attractive, and just make him feel more pressured, which is actually why he’s saying no in the first place?
      That’s a pursuer-distancer dynamic. Which isn’t about sex drive differences at all. It’s about you feeling rejected and him feeling pressured. If that’s the case, I would suggest looking into couples therapy or sex therapy, and to make sure your partner knows it isn’t so you can fix him.

    • Anon for this one

      While there’s a very good chance he will put up some resistance due to embarrassment or a whole host of other reason, get him to a doctor. It sounds, from one of your follow up comments, like he also have some psychological issues that could use some working through, it might be good to eliminate the purely physiological ones first.

      I have a much higher sex drive than my boyfriend. After a past relationship where we typically had sex every day it was a shocker for me to be with a guy who was perfectly content having sex every couple of months. It wasn’t that he wasn’t physically attracted to me (and I’m lucky in that he’s incredibly physically affectionate which helps with the lack of actual sex), he just wasn’t ever in the mood. I finally started researching everything I could find on low libido in men and come to find out, apparently antihistamines and many allergy and asthma drugs can have a really negative effect on libido. Obviously stress does as well which was a huge problem for him (work stress, not stress related to sex though that probably played a role as well). Anyway, long story short, he got off a lot of the meds (thank you acupuncture!) and work happened to get a little less stressful and that had a profound affect on our sex life.

      I’m not going to lie. We still have sex less than I would like (though now that’s partly my ‘fault’ since I’ve gained some weight and am feeling less sexy and also have discovered that work stress also negatively affects my own libido) but it’s definitely a level I can live with. We’re never going to be the couple that has sex many times a week (when things are ‘normal’ for us, we have sex about once a week) and I’ve learned to be OK with that. But partly that’s possible because he really is very affectionate. If I was with someone who was not physically affectionate (my love language) AND we were only having sex once a week so that was my only real physical contact with him, I would not be able to handle it. That would be a deal breaker for me. And I think we need to stop feeling bad for that. Sex is important (for many people). No less important than other shared values or common interests or what have you. Somehow I think we’ve been taught that it’s somehow superficial to think that sex is a deal breaker but it’s not. For many of us, it is a critical component of a healthy relationship and while sexual issues are definitely something that can be very difficult to work through, that effort is worth it. But both people have to be committed on working on it. It’s not something that you can fix without his participation. And by fix I don’t mean fixing him. Because as someone above me said, that doesn’t work. I just mean fixing to mean dealing with the issues.

      Good luck.

      • http://jolynn.wordpress.com Jo

        Exactlying the last paragraph: we’re made to fill silly or slutty if we care about sex. It’s a biological urge. It’s important. Just like any other value.

    • meg

      Girlfriend – Please see a sex therapist, and maybe a couples therapist before you walk down the aisle. It seems to me that your gut is dead right. These are red flag concerns, and you need to talk to a professional. And take care of yourself, yes?

  • fran

    thank you for posting this, anonymous! it’s nice to hear some positive thoughts about married sex! i feel like all i hear is negative. congrats to you and your husband on having an awesome sex life!

  • Class of 1980

    Loved the post except for the part that says that it used to be assumed that married men had at least one mistress. I don’t know where that came from. Society as a whole never did.

    Aside from that, I do know couples who have never lost their groove, even though jobs and children. They were hot for each other from Day 1 and they also liked each other. They started out cooking on all four burners and still do.

    I know people who had a great sex life and temporarily lost it due to hormonal issues. Once the hormonal issues were solved (can take years), the sex life came back. Some people temporarily lose their sex life due to great stress.

    Sometimes there is a physical reason. Some men lose their sexual ability due to years of smoking. Yes. Go research it.

    I have heard of a few people who had great sex lives and one of them lost it after marriage … and they didn’t have any idea why. One woman told me her great sex drive disappeared BECAUSE she got married. It sounds like a psychological issue to me. Her husband felt cheated. I have no idea what that was all about.

    I do have one warning. The couples I know who struggled the most and have gotten divorced over the sex issue, are couples who had problems BEFORE the marriage. In every case, they went ahead and got married anyway.

    Some of them hoped the other person would change. They didn’t. Some of them thought they could handle never having the sex life they wanted. They couldn’t.

    I know one guy who divorced after 20 years of marriage and two kids. He said he always knew his wife wasn’t very sexual, but he liked everything else about her and that’s why he married her. She progressed from sexual ambivalence to sexual disinterest. She went from being barely willing to experiment to not being willing to experiment at all. She told him it was normal. She told him she loved him like a brother. He felt guilty getting a divorce because he said it’s not like she changed; she just kept moving more and more into the direction of what she already was. The physical and emotional rejection just became too much for him.

    I know another couple who are just entering their forties. They broke up when they were dating in their twenties because he got sick of her total disinterest in sex. Eventually, they got back together and got married in spite of the problem. Now they have two children. She always told me she just didn’t care about sex. She was still that way when they got married. I have always wondered if they are a ticking time bomb.

    If it’s already lackluster, DO NOT ASSUME it will get better with marriage. It’s very hard to change someone’s natural sex drive. Maybe even impossible. You can’t pressure someone into being what they are not. It’s a recipe for misery for both of you.

    • Class of 1980

      I should also add this …

      Sometimes one person (or both) is not really attracted to the other person, but keeps plugging along trying to make it work. Do not try this.

      You’d be surprised how many people do try. You can’t help who you’re attracted to. And you can’t help who you’re not attracted to.

      Going against your natural inclinations is building weakness into the relationship from the beginning.

    • Anon

      Although not the point of this awesome blog post, such rigid and strict monogamy is only fairly recent, within the last 100 years or so. But that was in a time where marriage was a business transaction and not a “love match”.

      • Class of 1980

        Depends on what country and culture you are speaking of.

        For instance, in my family background that originated from the United Kingdom, strict monogamy goes back further than a hundred years.

        A hundred years ago was only 1911.

    • Anon

      This is a total tangent, but just to explain my pseudo-social-history ;-) w/r/t married men having affairs… (don’t want to lead people astray or give misinformation!) You’re right – I can’t remember a time in US history when keeping a mistress was outwardly condoned. I meant more that it was assumed in the “we all know it’s going on but we’re not going to talk about it directly” way, not in the “society-sanctions-this” way.

      e.g. “[...] with a shiver of foreboding, he saw his marriage becoming what most of the other marriages about him were: a dull association of material and social interests held together by ignorance on the one side and hypocrisy on the other. Lawrence Lefferts ocurred to him as the husband who had most completely realised this enviable ideal. As became the high-priest of form, he had formed a wife so completely to his own convenience that, in the most conspicuous moments of his frequent love-affairs with other men’s wives, she went about smiling in unconsciousness [...]” (Age of Innocence, Chapter VI).

      Whereas it seems to me (or maybe it IS just me? LOL) that we are more genuinely shocked nowadays when a well-known man (or woman) is found out to be carrying on an extramarital affair, and it’s more likely to be seen as a “deal breaker” for the cheated-on spouse, vs. “well, it was bound to happen sooner or later.” If that makes any sense. :-)

      • Class of 1980

        I don’t really see any evidence that we are more shocked now.

        The Age of Innocence is about a particular set of wealthy and powerful people. I think it was easier back then for a person of wealth to get away with affairs because money provides a lot of freedom. There would have been more fallout for a middle-class person.

        Plus, marrying someone only for social position was a recipe for marital discontent in the first place.

        Whether a person resorts to an affair or not, that book was great at exploring the disconnect between a persons heart and their social aspirations. It is universal in that sense.

  • http://loveyourway.net lizzie

    i swear i just unloaded about this topic at the last book club meetup with the ladies. saying yes when you’re not in the mood is a huge one for me. my brain is always go-go-go and it’s hard to turn off my productivity mode…so the idea of taking an hour or two out of the day for the grind is just overwhelming objectively sometimes. so i say yes…and i give it 10 minutes or so…and then 99% of the time, it’s a go.

    we are once-a-dayers as well for five years and i think it has a lot to do with momentum. we’ve gone through slight periods where a week will go by or something like that…and it’s always hard to get back in the swing of things (is that a pun? everything sounds dirtier when you’re talking about the nasty). anyways. yes. yes to this post.

  • Michele

    What an excellent post! The way that people talk about sex seems to change dramatically once they get married, and in many ways I suppose it should (or should at least be expected). It’s always refreshing (and much appreciated) when people talk candidly about the realities (both good and bad) of their lives, whether it be their work life, their sex life, their new parent life or anything else.

    My husband and I generally have similar sexual appetite and while I certainly appreciate that and prefer it to the alternative, I DO occasionally wish that those appetites were a bit more insatiable than they are. The frequency of sex definitely HAS diminished in the time that we’ve been married (about 2 years) – not to ‘holy shit, it’s been 3 months!’ levels, but we’re certainly not boning as often as we did when we got together 6 years ago.

    I think one of our biggest challenges around sex is initiation – the two of us have wildly different styles, and if I’m being perfectly honest, his doesn’t always turn me on. It typically involves tickling me and/or grabbing my boobs, which I think is his way of sort of testing the waters to see how I respond, but it often feels so juvenile that my response is the exact opposite of what he wants.

    Last night he came into the living room and said ‘I wanna fuck,’ which might sound crude and ridiculous to some, but I thought it was sexy as hell and we proceeded to do just that and it was the hottest sex we’ve had in months. Ultimately, I’d prefer initiation that is more decisive and direct which is why his approach was pure panty-dropper last night.

  • LBD

    My partner are approaching 12 years of sexy-times, and our thirtieth birthdays. Our sex lives are still very healthy and happy, and in my opinion, the sex only gets better as we go on. We may not be having it as frequently as we did as first-on-our-own college kids with single rooms, but I’d say the quality has improved. I agree with much of what the author says, PARTICULARLY the give it a go, even when you’re not in the mood.

    We have had slow times and droughts, particularly when either or both of us have been going through depression or some big life change. I’m the one with the lesser libido. My sex drive is much more easily affected by my emotional state. But at some point I decided to start doing it anyway, even if at the time I didn’t think I felt like it. I’ve learned I get other things out of sex than just my own sexual gratification. I love my partner, and man I love that I can make him feel so good. I get a huge ego boost out of it. I also love the emotional and physical intimacy and trust that frequent sex gives me with my partner. There’s a certain feeling of out of whack I feel we get when we haven’t been having sex regularly. I find sex comforting, and familiar, and even if I’m not feeling all that sexually excited, the emotional attachment lovey part of my brain is certainly firing at full strength. I’m not saying this would work for everyone, but it’s what’s worked for me.

    It took a long time for me to accept that as much as I loved orgasms, they simply weren’t going to happen every time no matter what, and once I stopped feeling so pressured for each sexual encounter to be awesome amazing sexy times, it was much easier for me to relax and just do it, whatever happens happens.

    I guess, after 11 going on 12 years, I feel like there are different kinds of sex you have, and that’s okay. Sometimes you have the crazy passionate kind with all the hot and sweaty. And sometimes after a rough day, you have the kind that is just a comforting coming together, a “hey I’m still here, hold on to me tight” kind of sex. All okay.

    I AM however super fearful of the whole kids thing. I really really want to hear more about having sex after babies. Because I’ve heard some really scary things that scare the crap out of me. If having babies means a future of uncomfortable sex, then man, I really don’t want kids THAT bad. I am with others, I really want to hear more about that from people who’ve been through it. Also, the making time aspect.

    • LBD

      God, I just reread my post and it sounded kind of depressing. I was trying to talk more about the slow times, the times I’m not feeling the libido. We have hot sex that’s sexually satisfying to me more than not! My point is, I’m a prisoner to my own libido and tricksy body, and as much as I’d love to orgasm every time, and be totally 100% turned on each time, my body simply does not seem to be built that way, but there are other things I like about sex too!

      • Class of 1980

        Sounds like you are doing great actually.

        Personally, I never felt any obligation to have an orgasm. It’s just a scientific fact that women do not always have them from sex. That doesn’t mean they aren’t having a great time.

        But I had to learn to explain this beforehand lest the guy think he was a total failure. ;)

      • http://eclpse.livejournal.com Kimberly

        I didn’t find it depressing at all. :)

    • Anon

      “I guess, after 11 going on 12 years, I feel like there are different kinds of sex you have, and that’s okay. Sometimes you have the crazy passionate kind with all the hot and sweaty. And sometimes after a rough day, you have the kind that is just a comforting coming together, a “hey I’m still here, hold on to me tight” kind of sex. All okay.”

      I totally agree with this! And when I say we have sex often, well, that does not always mean penetrative sex. It does not mean it always = an earth-shaking orgasm for both partners. And it DEFINITELY does not always mean wild passionate Hollywood movie scene. There are so many varieties of intimacy, let alone sexual intimacy–they all have their time and place.

    • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

      I may not be the best candidate here, as I divorced shortly after my daughter was born (& I had a C Section)…. BUT TRUST ME. LIBIDO RETURNS.

      I even breastfed, and those are my.. um.. hot spots. In the beginning, when my body was newly churning out the milk, DO NOT TOUCH THEM. Afterward, believe me: I knew who was touching them & my body knew how to respond properly.

      Was it sore at first? Yes. Get lube. Lots of lube. We used a mix of videos & toys in the short weeks following the birth of my daughter, but again – we also split VERY shortly after.

      She was not quite a year old when I really began to enjoy sex again. I hadn’t had any in a while due to divorce & all that mess, but it was plenty awesome & I had zero problems enjoying it.

      Sex is incredibly emotional for me. The hormones surrounding new baby DO NOT last forever. I cared so deeply for my now husband that he was actually the only man to have ever gifted me a during-sex orgasm. EVER. Post baby.

    • Anon for this

      No, no! Don’t be scared about sex after babies! I (a 34 year old, married almost 2 years) have a 9.5 month old (who co-sleeps with us), and where there’s a will, there’s a way.

      For me, I had 3rd degree tears (not as terrible as it sounds) and we were instructed no sex for 6 weeks immediately post-delivery (which is the standard recommendation). We got the ok after 6 weeks, and there was maybe 2 weeks of discomfort? We just took things slow, used some lube, and communicated so that my husband knew to watch/listen for signs of discomfort, and I let him know which sounds were discomfort and which were, um, not.

      After that, I started paying extra attention to what I needed to maintain good mental health & realized once a week is my minimal amount of sex/intimate time needed to keep me from being cranky and hateful. So we make good use of babysitters. We also start the baby off in the crib when she’ll tolerate it, and often that buys us enough time (and typically for more than a quickie, although we have been interrupted by her waking up, so we never know. And yeah, being interrupted su-ucks!!). We’ve also talked about sneaking off to the guest room while she has our bed. So creativity and being sneaky may increase.

      The making time aspect has been huge for us. We’ve made a point to carve out alone-time, and to flirt/joke/touch as we go through our normal days, even when it’s not leading to sex right away. We are definitely not just our kid’s parents; we’re everything we always were, plus some extra things now. For me, that role change (to being a stay at home full time mom) has been challenging, but I’ve countered with a lot of self-reflection about what I need in order to be successful, and made a point of communicating more with my husband (and he with me). And to be honest, I think this stuff–the me knowing my needs better, making communication and us-the-couple a priority, seeing each other in these new profound roles– has helped to make the sex better quality, even if it has become less frequent (which, to be honest, it has for us, for right now).

      I actually *just* remembered that this was my Number One Fear while pregnant–that having kids necessarily puts a rift between couples, and so our marriage was doomed (especially having a baby so soon!) Like everything else on APW, just because that’s the cultural narrative (upon which every terrible sitcom is based, at the very least), doesn’t mean that’s the way it goes, end of story. No, no, no, no, no! You can make it what you want to make it, but it does take some work.

  • Shannon

    Okay, I’ve already replied to a couple of other comments, so I promise this is my last… Just wanted to say HOORAY for this post! Ever since Meg mentioned wanting more posts about sex, I’ve been trying to figure out how to express my thoughts about married sex. All I could come up with was a sort of drooling version of “Oh man, it’s just sooo great.” Anon, you put my drool into words – thank you! I used to worry that we weren’t having “enough” sex, or at least certainly not as much as “other couples like us.” Now I realize that it doesn’t matter how often we have it (and besides, it’s pretty often in the grand scheme of things…), because when we have it, it’s so frickin’ awesome! We are often marveling at how the quality of our sex just keeps going up as each year passes. There’s also a definite correlation between quality of sex and quality of intimacy. If we feel like either intimacy or sex needs some improvement, we use one to improve the other, if that makes sense… It’s worked really well for us, and served to strengthen our sex life, and our relationship in general.

    So anyway, YES, MARRIED SEX IS AWESOME! I keep saying this about various posts, but I think this is my favourite APW post…

  • http://theatreprojects.blogspot.com Jessamarie

    Hooray this post! Though we’re not married yet, we do live together and have been together for over seven years now and we’re still in the almost every day camp.
    One of the things I have learned is that he needs the stress relief of sex before dealing with a problem while I want to solve the problem first before I feel I can relax and get in the mood. We struggled for a bit with him trying to initiate sex when I was stressed and me trying to talk things through and find a solution first when he was stressed, once we realized that our tactics needed to switch we’ve both been able to deal with stress and enjoy sex even more.
    And AMEN to couples who have kept things going well into marriage, though sometimes I know more than I would like to, I have always been aware that my parents (married over 30 years now) have had an active sex life and been remained incredibly attracted to each other.

  • Anon

    I feel like I hear it a lot, in every comprehensive “sex advice” column ever, that you should say “yes” even if you don’t feel like it because you’ll get into it. And sometimes that’s true.

    But am I alone in having that “yes” be totally destructive to your natural sex drive? In having bad sex have an immediate and negative effect on my sex drive?

    If we do it and it’s really good – I’m ready again that same day. I absolutely feel that momentum that several others have mentioned. But if I say yes when I wasn’t feeling it and it’s not good – I really really don’t want it again and have a hard time initiating or saying yes again for a while afterwards. If I keep doing it when it’s not very good for a number of times – my sex drive disappears and my anger at my partner sky rockets. It’s not really fair because I know he tries and god knows it’s not on purpose but I can’t help associating him with the unpleasantess and blaming him for not being able me make me feel good. Every time he suggests it after a string of negative experiences I have to fight myself and the fear that it’s going to be unpleasant and exhausting again.

    • LBD

      I’m no expert, but I can say that there was a time that I went through something like this with my partner. Mostly, I’d get pissed that he didn’t seem to remember from encounter to encounter the things I told him I liked, and you’d think after a few years he’d remember! I’d get frustrated with feeling like I always had to remind him, and that would turn me off of wanting to have sex for a few days. I think part of it is, that when we were younger and new to each other, it took hardly anything, and it was something we had to adjust to. And I wasn’t just frustrated with him, I was frustrated with my own body for being so darn finicky.

      I dunno. I guess I just decided that my sexual satisfaction wasn’t my partner’s responsibility as much as it was mine. He’s going to get off no matter what, let’s be honest. If reminding him about the things that feel good for me each time I wanted to orgasm was what it takes, well, I decided that was worth it to me. I think I’ve decided that maybe his brain just shuts off during sex, so he doesn’t really remember very well what worked next time (he remembers some, but not as well as I’d like). I don’t know. I think my body is a mystery to him, even now, many years later, and unless I tell him what feels good, he’s not certain what he’s doing is right. It’s not that he doesn’t care, I think he’s just self-conscious and nervous about pleasing me. Me telling him what feels good both turns him on and makes him feel more confident about moving forward. It’s still a bit of a temporary buzzkill, but only temporary, which is soon forgotten by the positive results.

      So I guess all I can say is that you have to communicate. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but it’s true. Of course, don’t tell him it wasn’t that great immediately after a not-so-great time. But when it’s good tell him, let him know what you liked! And while it’s going on, give him some gentle pointers as to what’s feeling good, what’s not. I think of it as “redirection.” Not saying, “that’s bad,” but I really like it when you X, do it some more, or a little more this way. My boy responds well to positive reinforcement. I guess my experience is, good sex takes some work as your relationship matures.

      I guess for me, the only way I could give a little on my expectations, and enjoy all the kinds of sex we had, was trying to think about what I was getting out of each encounter that was positive. Even if it was just, “My boy is stressed, and sex helps him sleep, and I feel good about helping him sleep.” Or, “It feels really nice to feel his skin against mine.” After awhile, I was able to let go, and see each time as a new time.

      Also among my lady friends, it seems it was important for us to talk and realize that well darn it, sometimes you go through periods where the sex is just not as awesome, and that’s common and normal. But you’ll never get to the times when the sex is good if you’re not having it at all, and generally, eventually, the cycle does flip that way for most of us.

      As said, I’m no expert, and every relationship is different, so take this all with a grain of salt (and so forth and so on).

      • Anon

        I really appreciate the comment and the spirit in which it was written. But though my comment might have implied otherwise we actually have a very good marital sex life. But part of getting to having it be consistently good was figuring out that I should never ever ever go through with something that wasn’t feeling good. And that goes contrary to a lot of what I hear. And I realize might not be true for everyone, but it’s true for me. I’ve tried to shut up the constant stream of criticisms and directions that I tend to yell in bed – and it almost torpedoed our sex life and could have torpedoed the whole relationship when it was just starting. Martyring myself just doesn’t suit me and I am literally incapable of editing what I say and feeling the good stuff in bed. Seems to work okay for him :). (I yell good stuff too to be fair.)

        “I guess I just decided that my sexual satisfaction wasn’t my partner’s responsibility as much as it was mine.”

        I agree with this – which is why it’s my responsibility to say stop, no, if something doesn’t feel good. I’m just not selfless enough to be doing things that don’t feel good so that I can feel good about making him feel good – it associates him with taking advantage of me in my head.

        “But you’ll never get to the times when the sex is good if you’re not having it at all, and generally, eventually, the cycle does flip that way for most of us.”

        And this is the key statement with which I disagree. IMO you’ll never get to the good times if your body is being conditioned to turn off around your SO, if your instinct is to curl up and hide. Sometimes, for some women, having a week or two where you can simmer a bit and get revved up and then get it on because of your own initiative and because you’re really feeling it is the exact thing you need to flip that cycle. That might not work if you never get turned on absent sex but for women like me who have an average to high libido some time to get in touch with it is a great thing.

    • TNM

      “But am I alone in having that “yes” be totally destructive to your natural sex drive?”

      You are not alone. I think that pretending “yes,” when you really want out is very destructive to your sex drive, and in a bad case, can basically cause you to disassociate from your own sexuality. I agree that a little skepticism may be warranted with respect to the “say yes, and magically you’ll be into it” line of thinking.

      That said, I think the trick to the advice is knowing yourself. There is a big difference between assenting to sex when you are just kinda on-the-fence or preoccupied – versus assenting when honestly you aren’t into it or are tired/sick/stressed, etc. I think if you are going to try to make your default position “yes,” you have to have confidence both that you can distinguish between these two different situations and that you will not “pressure yourself” into blurring the lines here.

    • http://sarahandspenser.blogspot.com Sarah

      I’d like to comment about the nuances of the “say yes and you’ll be into it argument” by adding that yes doesn’t have to be necessarily to sex (seems obvious, but I didn’t get it for several years). Saying yes can be saying yes to making out or mutual masturbation or oral sex and seeing where that goes. I’m the type where if I feel any sort of sexual pressure/obligation my sex drive completely shuts down, so for us setting limits to the yes is key to anything happening at al. I often, but not always, find that once we’re sexually engaged together things just flow, but for me having that limit to the initial yes in place is very important.

  • Anony!

    Not going to lie, this post made me feel a little self-conscious. When my husband and I started dating, we had sex. A LOT. He was a virgin when he met me, and I’d only had one partner up to that point, in which it was terrible/awkward sex and ugh, yeah. Then I met my husband and we just had an absolute blast with it.

    Fast forward to now. We’re married, and we’ve definitely been having more sex since being married, but right before that while we were engaged, it kind of died out. It’s still nothing like it was the first few years of us dating. I had a hard time struggling with this, not understanding why things changed, then it dawned on me through tears and many hours of discussions: I hate my body.

    When I first started dating him I actually felt sexy and seductive and I loved sex. I loved pleasing him, I love driving him nuts, I felt amazing about myself. Then I gained a lot of weight and felt so poorly about my self-image that there was no way I could feel sexy or seductive. He always tells me how hot or sexy I look when we’re intimate, or how beautiful I am… But it’s been such a struggle to actually feel that way about myself.

    Through having a lot of talks and being more open and less awkward about sex (it happens when you’re rusty!), we’ve started to be more adventurous and I’ve started to feel sexier again. I’ve got a long way to go, and we’re not at a point that we’re having sex every night, but we are improving, bit by bit. I have faith that I will feel sexy again, that I will look in the mirror and love my body and love that my husband loves my body.

    However, I do really enjoy this post and the tips have definitely made me feel like we are on the right track to gaining back an amazing sex life that we had before. It will take time and effort, but every relationship takes effort and you have to nurture many aspects of it, including sex.

    Thank you for writing this, and giving me hope that I will get back to the point that I’d like to be at with my husband when it comes to sex.

    • http://www.rorygordon.tumblr.com argo9418

      I’m sure you’re partner is right and you ARE beautiful, but exercise will totally get your endorphins up, even if you’re not on an ultimate mission to loose weight, which will probably put you in da mood more often!

      • Anony!

        I probably should have mentioned this in my comment but totally forgot to! In an effort to feel better about myself, I’ve been living a much healthier lifestyle as of late and this has done so much for me and has really begun to improve my self-image. So losing a bit of weight has really just generally made me feel better about myself.

        Thanks for this suggestion! It’s good to know that exercise can help with the endorphins. I love the feeling I get from working out as it is, so it’s just another solid reason to fit in a walk or some weight training in my day. ;)

    • Class of 1980

      ANONY WROTE: “He always tells me how hot or sexy I look when we’re intimate, or how beautiful I am…”

      BELIEVE HIM. Because for him, it’s true. And he’s the only man that matters.

      Do not hold yourself back from a man who thinks you are beautiful even now. Don’t waste that gift.

      • Anony!

        You know what? You’re absolutely right. I’m going to start to remind myself of this, seriously. Combined with the fact that I’m actually being pro-active about having a positive self-image again and I truly feel like I could be on my way to having a wonderful sex life again. Thank you so much for the comment. This is why I love this place so much. :)

        • Class of 1980

          :)

    • Another Anon for Now

      Oh girl I HEAR you. You’re singing my song loud and clear. Except I haven’t gotten to back to the “feeling sexy and having sex” part. The Great Self Loathing (it’s a proper noun) is not exactly a great conducive to sexy times. I will shamefully admit that my SO of 5 years and I haven’t had sex for 3 months and counting, and the only reason why we even did three months ago is because I mauled him in my sleep. Yes, in my sleep. I’ve heard of sleep talking and sleep walking, but sleep sexing? Le sigh.

      In any event, I tip my fascinator to you Anonymous Writer who has amazing married sex. Would that one day The Great Self Loathing and I part ways and I instead follow your example.

  • http://www.rorygordon.tumblr.com argo9418

    Also, can I just say I think the value of flying solo even in a committed relationship is seriously underestimated? It takes the pressure off to have mind blowing sex when you feel comfortable enough to shut the door and say “Nobody bother me for fifteen minutes.” I mean I’m jussayin.

  • bsw

    I really loved this post (even as a single gal)! Since I’m young and uncommitted, I don’t consciously pay attention to the negative narrative associated with married sex (though, even as someone in a totally irrelevant population, I’m bombarded with it), but I DO REALLY notice the narrative of perfect, sexy, Hollywood sex that puts A LOT of pressure on young women. More people talking about just lettin’ it all hang out and having a good time in bed (and making the bedroom “sex friendly”) is a great reminder that sex is about fun and feeling good! Thanks!

  • Anne

    Wow. What an awesome post. And an equally thought-provoking discussion going on in the comments. Thanks for that.

  • Kayla

    Just after reading this story on APW, I came across a different story on married sex from the perspective of a swinger. Kudos to the couple for being open and honest about what they want and finding a way to make it happen without hurting each other, but it frustrates me that they had to include “we hear stories about sex becoming boring in marriage all the time” as part of their reasoning. Thanks APW for promoting a sex-positive message!
    (Other story is here, if you’re interested: http://www.mamamia.com.au/weblog/2011/06/i-dont-believe-in-monogamy-nor-does-my-wife-a-swinger-tells.html)

  • Rebecca

    Great post and awesome comments – just wanted to say thanks for the heads-up to all the women who’ve pointed out hormone-based birth control as a mood-killer. I can already tell you that next Monday-Wednesday I’m gonna be raring to go, the next 25 days ambivalent (tho probably able to be convinced) – not cool when your husband only lives with you Friday-Monday and works out of town all week. I’d wondered if I could blame the pill I’m on for a while now, and this has given me the push to do some proper research.

    APW awesomeness strikes again!

  • http://thissaturnreturns.blogspot.com Laura H.

    So many awesome, brave women commenting today! I am overwhelmed and delighted by your honesty. Such great writing!

  • Anony!

    I’m far from feeling perfect or sexy, but I’m definitely making strides to get back to that place of sexiness, if you will. I think the biggest thing that has helped is sitting down and just talking about it, even though I know admitting my self-image issues causes lots of tears. Putting it out in the open, and talking about that along with us trying new things really has helped a great deal.

    We’re not having sex more than once a week but it is better than the 4 month stretch we have definitely gone into many times. What is weird to me is how much I actually enjoy sex, whether it be in the shower or in the bed, and it makes me feel so much closer to him.. Yet I have such a problem with getting into the mood and feeling sexy… Once I’m turned on though it’s really enjoyable..

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that as much as it sucks, I’m glad to know I’m not alone in this. Hang in there, it will get better, you just have to be proactive in figuring out how to change that self-loath (whether it be trying to be healthier, exercise, eating better, or talking to someone), so you can have a healthy sex life. :) It’s not easy but we can do it!

  • Eped

    Late to the game here, but had to comment on what a wonderful post this is, as well as the ensuing commentary it generated. And I’m especially excited to see how many ladies mention THEY are the ones with the higher sex drive. My friends and I have always been perplexed by the cliche of the constantly horny man begging for it. It’s an unfair stereotype for EVERYONE. Thank you for opening up the dialogue about this topic APW!!

  • http://peachyringsaredead.blogspot.com Ceej

    I highly recommend reading Blogging Dangerously (http://www.bloggingdangerously.com/). It is GENIUS, and written by a woman who’s been with her husband for about 10 years and has 4 kids. And they still have sex. Enough that she writes a whole blog about it. Right? Yes. Hello, role model for life.

  • http://nickandnoragettingmarried.wordpress.com Annie

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. Sometimes I feel so strange because my sex life isn’t like a Cosmo article. Sometimes it’s hard to arrange sex in a long-term relationship in which both parties work/are in school/have to do the dishes. (I’m a morning person, so early bedtimes make sex a lot better for me. Otherwise I stress about how late it is.) I think all your tips are spot on. Fantastic post.

  • http://sarahandspenser.blogspot.com Sarah

    I love this post and all the wonderful dialogue behind it. Sex is a frequent topic of discussion in our relationship, as I have a low libido due to medically necessary birth control coupled with vulvodynia, which makes penetrative vaginal sex often off the menu. Over the years, we’ve figured out what works to keep us both sexually satisfied and happy, but not without a lot of honest discussions and sex toys.

    I also have a few not-yet-married-but-in-a-8+-year-relationship tips. Everyone, but especially women, should read this blogger’s (http://enagoski.wordpress.com/) posts about responsive desire. To sum it up in a far simplistically, she argues that women’s sexual desire tends to be more responsive than spontaneous and that many women would find they have a higher sex drive than they believe if they started doing sexy things like making out and following them with sex when interested than flat out saying no. The consent issues here are a bit tricky, and she addresses them fairly well. Also, in general, she rocks as a resource about the science of sexuality. Full disclosure, she is a sexuality educator, aka a Ph.D. in sexuality, at my alma mater, but I would probably think she’s fab regardless. Second, something we’ve found wonderful for both our sex life and general relationship happiness has been to listen to Dan Savage’s podcast anytime we’re on long road trips together, which happens once a year or so. The questions often lead us to having discussions about how we would handle situations in our relationship and talking about sex all day often leads to awesome, on the road hotel sex.

  • Tessa

    This is really great, sex drive is such a complicated issue! My s.o. does tend to have a higher sex drive than me, but only by a little ;) What works for us is that we always, always talk about it to make sure we are on the same page. We also prioritize sex and intimate touching, and go out of our way to make our environments sexier, whether or not we actually have sex, just so it’s more welcome in our relationship. I virtually never say no, even if I don’t feel like it, because I can guarantee all you women out there that even if you’re not really into it before, you definitely will be once you get going! The author was totally spot-on about that, I can attest to it. I loved the author’s advice, and I think that if monogamous couples follow it, it will really open up their sex lives to new levels.
    I would also add to be willing to be adventurous, because what you discover may surprise you!

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  • Devil

    Hey Guys I am in need of serious help here .
    I am married for three and half years now to a girl i know from schhol time and dated her for three years before marraige . we would have sex before marraige but she would restrict it to oral sex and we would not go all the way ,Now after my marraige even that kind of sex is not happening .My wife is just not interested in sex . she is perfect in everything else but when it comes to sex she has no interest in it. She can go without it for months . and when we have sex its horrible as i feel she is just doing it for me. her reactions the way she is while we have sex is so frustating it makes me feel she is forcing her self to have sex. she is fine not having sex with me and staying but i am not. i need it everyday . She never intiates it from her side its only me that would intiate it and then also she would not give in everytime and have it twice a month or so.
    Lately i met a old school friend of mine and we began talking and keeping in touch.
    She told me that she had the longest crush on me for thirteen years and she was to scared to tell me ever. one thing lead to another and we sarted dating. she wants to meet me everyday after work and we have sex everyday . we have it three times a day atleast two to three times a week and the rest days atleast once . our sexual drive is the same . we both feel we both our the best sexually for eachother and we have awesome sex together . we feel we have the best sex with eachother. our thoughts on how to go to bed everyday and how we would live with eachother after we start living with eachother are same . our sex life is now full of passion love and amazing chemistry . i feel the way i connect with her physically i wont be able to ever connect with my wife .she is keen on getting married with me or else she wants to get over me and move on .
    now the problem wht shpuld i do shall i stay in my marraige and try working this thing out when somewhere in the back of my mind i know it will never be as good as wht i have with her.
    or shall get out of marraige and be with her.
    when i start thinking of ending the marraige i start feeling guilty and selfish.
    i really wanna know is it ok to end a marraige if you are not sexually happy in it.
    or would i be able to live a compromised life .
    and how should i work on this and for how long should i work on this before ending my marraige.

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