Q&A: Negotiating Differing Drives

One of our readers wrote in requesting that we consider the following for an article:

“Success stories for negotiating with each other about sex so that any disparities between HD and somewhat lower desire can be successfully smoothed over.”

For clarity, first of all, I want to clarify that the lower drive spouse in this article pertains to a husband or wife who simply has a lower drive than their spouse, not one who is a refuser/controller. They are two very different things and for the purpose of this thread we are only dealing with high drive/low drive couples who are committed to passion, but trying to work out frequency. Please read our article on Living With a Refuser if you need information about that.

I have found in my reading that for as many couples who share a similar drive there are just as many who need to approach their sex life with a greater need to compromise on frequency. It is ideal in this situation that both the husband and wife have an attitude of generosity and consideration.

A husband or wife with a higher drive than their spouse will need to learn through conversation and observation what they need to do in order to speak love to their spouse. They need to be sure that they are clear on what their wife or husband’s love language is so that they can do their part to keep their “love tank” full. In short, it is likely that a husband or wife will respond to sexual initiation when you have already communicated that you love them throughout the day.

In addition to this, it is important to mutually commit to being intentional in initiating and responding. The low drive spouse needs to make an effort to “think sex” throughout the day and commit themselves to making an effort to get sex going every now and then, especially if the high drive spouse is feeling frustrated at being the one who does most of the initiating. The high drive spouse needs to remember that it is OK for their spouse to be wired differently and to allow them to have freedom in that, but it is not a license for them to be apathetic about their sex life.

A lot of couples with differing drives have found great success with varying degrees of a schedule. Some couples will schedule specific days that they will plan to have sex for certain and then other days when it is optional. Other couples prefer a schedule that is more relaxed and they agree that they will have sex any two weeknights, plus once on the weekend, for example. The greatest complaint with this is that “there is no spontaneity.” I think that is an unfair judgment towards this approach. I mean, certainly if it doesn’t work for you that’s fine, but I can tell you for certain that knowing ahead of time that you will have sex on a specific night can be very exciting as you anticipate the day coming. I am specifically thinking about how nice it is to anticipate an night away and plan a steamy encounter while you are away. The same can be said for anticipating sex on a certain night. It doesn’t need to be boring. Plan for it to be exciting if a schedule will allow you to compromise on frequency in a way that satisfies both of you.

For the spouse that has a physical need for more release after a compromise has been met, the couple might consider incorporating masturbation for the high drive spouse. As long as it doesn’t replace intimacy with ones spouse or used while lusting, this is a viable option for many people.

If anyone else has ideas on how couples with differing drives have found compromise, feel free to share them below.

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