They say opposites attract, which in my experience, rings true in most relationships. Oftentimes we pick partners that, by their very nature, compliment who we are as individuals. Extroverts date introverts. Early risers date late nighters. Spenders date savers. And the loudest man in the room will most likely be accompanied by the more timid type. The fact that one partner’s shortcomings are compensated by the other’s strengths speaks to the balance that is restored when two become one.
However, that complimentary nature can be more a thorn in the side than a bonus when sex drive is the difference being examined. A very common theme tackled in couples therapy is what I like to call the battle of the libidos. One partner’s sex drive is through the roof while the other’s is barely above sea level. Inevitably, and understandably, this is bound to cause conflict in the relationship. In effort to help prepare you for this clash, below you find some guidance on how to reconcile your differences and get the most out of your time in the bedroom.
Commit to the fight
First thing’s first. You must recognize there’s a fight to be had and commit to pursuing it. The likelihood of any compromise being reached is trampled if you aren’t able to identify a difference exists between the sexual needs of you and your partner. Sex is a hot button topic for many couples, so if you haven’t already, read Let’s Talk About Sex so you’re fully prepared to broach the topic with your lover in a way that will be conducive to change and growth. Also, it’s important that your expectations be realistic. This isn’t a one and done ordeal. Rather, sexual functioning is an area of the relationship you should expect to address throughout the course of the union.
Identify your opponent
In case this isn’t obvious to you, recognize your opponent is not your spouse. Actually, the two of you are on the same team (hopefully) and the real adversary is anything standing in the way of your wedded bliss. This could be the enemy (we all face spiritual warfare on a daily basis, people), fear (fear of rejection can impede your willingness to express your needs to your partner), avoidance (newsflash: running from the problem does not make it disappear), passivity (placating your partner does nothing for the two of you in the long run), or anything else keeping you from connecting with one another. Regardless of the target, be sure you gear up for battle together; sex really isn’t the appropriate forum for autonomy.
Protect your vulnerable spots
Any good fighter knows to be aware of and in defense of their vulnerable areas. The same applies to you. A relationship in which sexual appetites differ is particularly vulnerable and in need of protection. Why? Because when your libido is significantly higher, you are less likely to be satiated sexually and therefore less likely to meet the nonsexual needs of your partner, leaving them also unsatisfied. Having healthy boundaries is a key way to safeguard your relationship from friends and coworkers who might take advantage of an opportunity to meet those unmet needs. I encourage you to talk to your spouse about relationships with the opposite sex and outline clear parameters of what is appropriate and inappropriate for the two of you.
Keep a winning mindset
Being in opposition with your partner when it comes to sex can be frustrating, overwhelming, and disappointing. Don’t allow negativity to encroach on your attempts to improve the relationship. Stay positive and be intentional about uplifting one another and validating the efforts and progress made. If you expect success in the love making department, you’re more likely to achieve it. Also, keeping a winning mindset means not sucking all the fun out of it by inundating the bedroom with rules and regulations. We’re not here to keep score but to do our best to make sure everyone ends the day with a smile on their face.
Seek expert guidance
One aspect that sets winners apart from the crowd is their willingness to seek and accept help from the pros. Not that every disparity in the relationship calls for a trip to the therapist’s couch, but know the difference between a situation the two of you can handle effectively and one in which you need some outside guidance and support. Even therapists need therapists. Oftentimes there’s just too much emotional investment to allow for objectivity when you’re facing a difficult dilemma in your relationship. Seeking help should be seen as a sign of strength and resiliency rather than a weakness.
Hone your skillset
When it comes to making sure everyone is happy in the boudoir, it’s important to assess and hone your skillset. Just like a fighter, you must invest the time, effort, and energy to come out on top; you likely won’t just land there out of pure luck. This means implementing healthy communication strategies to ascertain the preferences of your partner so you can give more of what they’re looking for. Sex is an arena that requires preparation in the mind, body, and spirit for most. Do your part in beefing up your skills in each of these departments.
Steer clear of sparring
So if you’re planning to confront a difficult topic in your relationship (sex) then you should expect and prepare for conflict. This does not in any way, shape, or form mean you need to throw down with your partner. As I stated earlier, the two of you are on the same team, so treat each other as such. If you go about attempting to improve the sexual connection in a way that disparages and harms one another, the outcome will surely be more disconnection, not less. If you feel things escalating, take a break from the topic. Check out Fighting Fair and come back together ready to try a different approach.
Prepare to get hit
Unfortunately when you go about addressing a hot button topic like sexual functioning in a relationship you’re bound to ruffle a few feathers. That being said, both of you should expect to hear some feedback that might not feel the greatest. If your partner’s delivery is the issue, explain that. But if the criticism stings a little, that probably means you’re feeling some conviction. Take time to reflect on your partner’s remarks and be willing to do some soul searching to determine the validity of the statement. Keep in mind that the goal of the conversation is to improve the sexual connection and satisfaction for both of you; this should help alleviate the temporary discomfort of the feedback. Think of it like temporary pain for long-term gain.
Take one for the team
When you’re engaged in a battle of the libidos, there will be times that you just have to take one for the team. That might mean that you meet your partner’s sexual needs even if you’re not really in the mood. Now meeting their needs doesn’t really count if you do it with dread and a bad attitude so if you’re going to give in, do it with enthusiasm. Trust me, it will be much appreciated and hopefully reciprocated. Likewise, if you’re the one who’s always ready to get it on, then taking one for the team means accepting your partner’s inability to meet your sexual needs for the night. The goal here is to gain some understanding of your partner’s perspective and respect each other’s position with the goal of compromise in mind.
Celebrate your victory
Don’t get so focused on the battle that you forget to celebrate the big and small victories in your relationship. Increased connection, communication, and satisfaction should be positively reinforced by verbalizing and validating such progress. A great way to positively reinforce the growth is to be intentional about meeting the nonsexual needs of your partner. Familiarize yourself with the Five Love Languages, ask your partner how they prefer to receive love, and commit to demonstrating love in that way daily.
If first you don’t succeed
Here’s the thing about going to battle. You have to expect that there will be times you will fail. Inevitably, you will both fall short. You will both fail to meet each other’s needs and expectations. Regardless of whether it is intentional or not, you will hurt each other. But don’t let those shortcomings, those bumps in the road, deter you from staying the course. If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying. Your efforts will pay off. If you love each other, if you’re both willing to give it your best, it will return a dividend in the end. Trust me.
My last takeaway for you is to remain teachable. Now and fifty years from now. One of the downfalls to growing old together is that as time goes by, you both get more stuck in your ways and less willing to compromise and change for one another. If you agree to continue learning and growing together, it will ultimately lead to a much happier, healthier marriage. Remaining teachable leaves you open to creating a legacy worthy of inspiration and admiration for all you surround yourselves with.
Alright, my friend. We started this journey together because of the prevalence of differing libidos in relationships. It’s unlikely that you and your partner will have the exact same sexual needs and level of desire. Having that discrepancy is okay and totally capable of being successfully navigated. But if you’re going to face the battle of the libidos, do so with eyes wide open and a heart willing to learn and grow together with your lover. Best of luck in the bedroom and beyond. As always, if you’re in need of some support along the way, help is but a click away.