Some couples put together individual lists (called sexual menus) of what they would like to do and how often, then compare notes with each other. Each person could rate the items on their list red, yellow, green according to their desire and willingness to do them. They can also rate frequency and time of day the same way, then compile a list of things each person has given the green light to.
AVI KLEIN, LCSW
Couples should think about the difference between being turned on already vs the willingness to be turned on. A different libidos marriage, or a lower libido partner who is not yet ready to be intimate but willing to arrive at that place creates more flexibility in the relationship. Similarly, I encourage higher libido partners to expand their ideas about what it means to be “intimate” – does it have to be a sex act? What about hugging, holding hands in bed and talking, being emotionally vulnerable. Finding ways to feel connected that aren’t just around sex reduces the tension that arises in couples where this has been a source of frustration.
JAN WEINER, PH.D.
In order to keep the sexual element of your relationship healthy and prevent the formation of negative emotions, (ie frustrations, resentment, guilt, contempt) when you have differences in sex drive, here are some things you can do on how to cope with sexual frustration:
- Compromise with your partner about the frequency of sex. When couples face different sex drives in ple, if one partner likes to have sex once a month, and the other wants sex a few times week, negotiate an average frequency (i.e. 1x/week or 4 times a month).
- Schedule sex. Even though scheduling sex may seem counterintuitive; a sex schedule reassures the high drive partner that sex will occur. It also provides the lower drive partner reassurance that sex will only happen during the designated times. This tends to relieve the stress/tension of both partners.
- Make time for nonsexual encounters- cuddling, kissing, holding hands will increase couples’ intimacy overall. Couples tend to be happier when they make time to spend together and perform these physical acts.
IAN KERNER, PHD, LMFT
It’s not a matter of drive, but of willingness. There are two types of desire: spontaneous and responsive. Spontaneous desire is the type we feel when we fall in love and are infatuated with someone; spontaneous desire is what we see in the movies: two people exchange a heated glance across a room and then next they’re falling into each other’s arms, unable to even make to the bedroom. But in long-term relationships, spontaneous desire often transitions to a responsive desire for one or both partners. Responsive desire means just that: desire responds to something that comes before it. This is a radical notion, because for most of us if we don’t feel desire then we’re not going to have sex. But if desire doesn’t come first in a responsive desire model, then you might never have sex. You might end up being the sort of person who says, “I want to want sex, but I just don’t want it.” This is why it’s not a matter of drive, but of willingness. If two people in a relationship have discrepant libidos, then it’s not a matter of showing up with desire, but rather of accepting that desire is not spontaneous but responsive. In a responsive desire model, what comes before desire is arousal (in the form of physical touch, psychological stimulation, and emotional connection) and what couples need most is the willingness to show up and generate some arousal together, in the hope and understanding that it will lead to the emergence of desire. We’re taught to first feel desire and then let ourselves get aroused, but actually, we need to reverse this and first generate the arousal that will lead to desire. If you and your partner are experiencing a libido gap, then bridge that gap with your willingness”