I wanted sex more than oxygen, and my first child had been ripped from my seizing body only eight weeks earlier. The emergency C-section incision had healed at lightning speed, but it couldn’t keep up with my lust for my husband.Condoms were waiting on the nightstand, candles lit, sexy lingerie bought and squeezed onto my post-birth body. And ... he wasn’t interested. My frustration mixed with self-doubt, and I wondered if I had failed him somehow. Or maybe it was the baby in the cradle next to us? I would try again tomorrow night.
But months and only a handful of half-hearted love sessions later, I was totally convinced: The man I’d married didn’t want me. Sure, he loved me (he told me so often enough), but why did he almost never want sex anymore?I thought I could try harder-- maybe touch him more throughout the day or initiate foreplay when we lay down for the night. I read articles in women’s magazines, looking for hints to boost our sex life. But each time I meant to try new techniques, he dozed off in his recliner or fell asleep before I crept into bed.Then one night, as I touched his hip bone and moved my fingers toward his member, he straight-up told me no, pushing my hand back. And I (miraculously) didn’t burst into tears. Nope, I tongue-lashed him, calling him names, telling him that I wanted and deserved it -- throwing a temper tantrum that would put most 2-year-olds to shame. Then I flopped back onto my pillow, fuming. Why was he rejecting me? Of course he would never cheat on me -- his moral compass pointed north, even if his sensuality was askew, so I quickly nixed that thought. I felt him touch my shoulder and I shoved it off. “Don’t touch me!” I seethed. He whirled back to his side of the bed.The following day, my anger continued in the form of the chilliest shoulder he had ever known. Every word spoken from my lips dripped with sarcasm. Every cupboard and door banged shut. And every mean thing I did, he reciprocated. This went on for almost a week, making our house feel like a war zone.Even as we fought, my husband’s handsome features and the thought of his body against mine made my stomach ping. When my anger began to wane, I started plotting another try at getting the intimacy I craved. That night, I laid my head on his chest and apologized for the week of misery. I let my finger trail down his chest, and told him how much I wanted him. He told me he loved me, but he was tired. I whined a bit, mentally chastising myself even as I said this cliché: “If you love me, why wouldn’t you want to make me happy?” He eased me off his chest, and growled, “Why do I have to prove my love with sex?”I rolled away again, this time curling into a ball. I allowed a few tears to fall, and stifled sobs in the most dramatic way possible.It worked like magic! He felt bad, and gave in. But the pleasure was tainted, and as soon as my husband finished, he fell asleep without so much as a kiss.Just a warning: This sort of scheme only works once. The next time I tried it, he glared at me: “You are better than this, Em.”I researched low libidos in men, hoping to blame his resistance on a simple medical excuse, but he had no indicators. I wondered how he could be the only man I had ever been in a relationship with whose priority list didn’t include having orgasms on a regular basis. This went on for nearly a year. In all that time, we talked to counselors and attended couples classes. While they kept our friendship intact, nothing in the sex department changed. Our evenings repeated like a Moulin Rouge groundhog day, me dancing and him leaving the bar. At one point, I thought, “how can I possibly keep doing this forever? I’ll be sexually frustrated until I die.” For the first time ever, I considered one thing that went completely against my beliefs: divorce.My girlfriends often complained about how all their husbands wanted was sex and sleep, and I sat quietly in the corner thinking how backward our roles were in these situations. I was the sex fiend and he the victim. Guilt welled up in me for the way I had manipulated, faked it, and forced him to give me what I wanted with no regard for his feelings. Really, how often do we (as women) want men to show their feelings, but never actually expect them to?Let me save you the embarrassment of tapping into the tear-fest that happened the night we made things right. He called me selfish and obsessed, and I called him a prude. He shocked the hell out of me when he told me that he also had considered divorce. That sobered up our argument. Both of us feel divorce is wrong, no matter the problem, and it put things in perspective.Then we made some hard commitments to each other -- things like being honest about what we need, both emotionally and physically, and being open to each other’s desires. I know that after 11 PM, it’s not going to happen; if I want some lovin’, I better get my work done and cajole him to bed before then. He knows I am most horny and energetic the week before my menstrual cycle, and now he enjoys taking advantage of that. Guidelines like these slowly evolved my eagerness into a flirtier, less pushy vibe with my husband, and the anticipation makes each time more special.Even now, five years later, we have rough moments. But finding a way to mate less and love more strengthened my marriage like nothing else could. It taught us both to be considerate, to cooperate, and most importantly, to listen. Now when I want sex more than anything, I tell him so. Sometimes he compromises, happy to make me happy. And if he isn’t feeling up to it, I wait it out, content to know that when he does, it will be epic.Have you ever had a stronger sex drive than one of your partners? How have you dealt with it?