Part Six on Sexual Desire: Low Sexual Desire-High Sexual Desire: The Balancing Act

Part Six on Sexual Desire: Low Sexual Desire-High Sexual Desire: The Balancing Act

In this series of blogs on sexual desire, I’ve looked at the two extremes: A spouse who says they are not sexual at all and could care less if he or she ever is again (here and here) and a spouse who is so preoccupied with sex as to not have anything else on his mind…ever (porn here and swinging here and here). Thankfully, these two extremes are the exception. Today we’ll examine the normal pattern.

The normal pattern of sexual desire is one partner wants sexual contact more and one wants it less.

There you go. Normal.

Normal means that one of you will have some concern that the two of you are not sexual enough and one of you will be concerned that we’re too concerned about sex and we need to think about other things.

I have these clients who chide me and say, no, this isn’t normal.This disparity hurts too much to be normal.They tell me there must be someone out there who would be closer to where they are.I call this a “veiled threat,” meaning that if you don’t kick it up, I’m out of here and I’ll find someone that will WANT to be sexual with me.There must be someone out there.

This is a sure-fire way to make your spouse feel insecure and insecurity does NOT make the heart grow fonder. Insecure people protect themselves from the source of the threat. Sexuality thrives in the security of the certainty and predictability and dependability of marriage. This is why cohabiting couples struggle with sexuality. Cohabiting couples struggle with security issues because they don’t know if they’re coming or going. Married people have already figured that out. So don’t go calling your commitment into question. It’s sacred ground. Protect it: No threats to divorce over any issue. Period. We’re a done deal.

If you are making threats to divorce because you don’t “get” enough sex, if you are thinking this way, you need to chill. You could very well divorce, marry someone that wants sex all the time and after the newness wears off you start to think she doesn’t love you for anything else and what kind of deal is that, I’m just a sex object, and now you are the low desire partner! HA! Watch out. Sexual desire tends to ebb and flow over time. Wouldn’t that just be a kicker if you wanted to ebb and she wanted to flow? A little lesson in irony? Be careful what you wish for.

Or you marry your second wife (or husband) because she keeps ripping your clothes off and the sex is so hot and then two years latter she’s wearing sweats and pretending to be asleep so she doesn’t have to deal you’re your advances and you’re right back to where you were in your first marriage, only this time you are less patient, less understanding, less tolerant, less agreeable and more irritable, more frustrated, and more demanding because your divorce froze your maturity in time.These characteristics are not too becoming to a spouse wanting to be sexual, so the more angry you get about not being sexual the more unattractive you are as a sexual partner and you train your spouse to avoid you like the plague.Of course, you’ll blame her.

Maybe learning to cooperate would be good.Maybe learning a little patience and tenderness and the art of pursuing would be good.Demands and threats don’t make much of an aphrodisiac.

If you are the low desire partner, you need to be careful, too. Some are tempted to think that sexuality is this total burden and it would just be nice to not ever have to worry about it and by that they mean, never do it. We could just be married and not be sexual. That’d be fine. The only problem with this approach is that you won’t find a partner that will be willing to cooperate with that:

Wanted: A marital partner who is one in name only. We’ll put on a great show for all our relies and friends. No one will know that we’re never sexual. You and I will be great roommates and we’ll love each other. We’ll just not desire each other, long for each other, pine for each other. We’ll nod to each other in the hallway. Might as well not tease or flirt with each other either. What’s the point? Nodding. Yeah, I like nodding. Are the two of you ever sexual? No, but we nod.

Now there’s a relationship waiting to implode.

So…we can’t be sexual all the time and we can’t be not sexual all the time.

So…someone’s not going to get his or her way all the time.Hmm.Who’s it gonna be?

If you really try, both of you can be hurt and mad about it all the time! That’s not a plan.

The tension between the one that wants it more and the one that wants is less is normal. In marriage, we work together for the common good and we give and take and we sacrifice and and and we receive and we cut each other slack and we forgive and compromise and we, yes, we, us, our, yours and mine, we ebb and flow. And sometimes we’re sexual like rabbits and sometimes we chill and over time it feels ever so much like we’re in this together and that nobody’s “winning” because it’s NOT a competition.

If both of us are not sacrificing, something’s out of kilter here.

Some couples work this out in such a way that there is hurt whether they are sexual or not.Even if they are sexual there is something wrong about it; and if they aren’t sexual they need to be.This would, by definition, make you a sour puss, which, if you haven’t figured out, is NOT much of a turn on.Who wants to make love to the grade school principle with his grimace and furrowed brow and pursed lips and folded arms standing in judgment at the end of the hall?Yeah, that’ll get the blood flowing.

And who’d want to make love to someone standing there pounding his fists in frustration, making demands and guilt-tripping you into this or that? Isn’t sexuality supposed to be, like, you know…mutual?

But on the other hand, who can survive indifference? Who can survive being a burden? What’s it like to see your spouse, who, whenever you touch her, sighs a sigh of disgust? Who pushes you away or turns her head when you try to kiss her, or rolls her back to you, night after night after night after night afternightafternightafter. How many times can you be rejected and rejected and rejected and rejected until you just shut down, just give up, just withdraw into indifference yourself?

If you are indifferent to your spouse about sex and he pursues and pursues and pursues and you are indifferent, indifferent, indifferent, and all of a sudden he becomes indifferent, be very afraid. Be very, very afraid. If you are the husband who’s rejected your wife’s advances time and time again and she finally quits initiating? You need to be frickin’, monumentally afraid.

Hey, a little sacrificing here.Both.You and me.I give a little.You give a little.It’s no biggie.Nobody’s keeping score.


Here’s a better plan. Both of us figure out how neither of us has to be hurt around sexuality. We find an equilibrium. The one who wants it all the time realizes that we can’t be sexual all the time and doesn’t have to be hurt about it if we are not sexual all the time. The one who wants it less realizes that we can’t go through married life and not be sexual and isn’t upset if we are and finds a way to be involved in the process when we are.

We’d get rid of both demanding and indifference.

We replace it with love and tenderness and compassion and we throw in a little flirting, some soft kissing now and again, maybe even spontaneously here and there and we surreptitiously pat the other’s butt once in a while and we don’t dress like the motel housekeeper or the Sam’s Club shopper and we look each other in the eye when we’re making love and we hold hands in the car and we laugh a little and have a private language and private jokes and we teach each other what feels good and we let the other know that there is longing and when love awakens we awake.

That’d be a better way.

Part Six on Sexual Desire: Low Sexual Desire-High Sexual Desire: The Balancing Act

Part Five On Sexual Desire; Part Two on Swinging: Swinging is NOT Swinging: The Tragic Side Or ‘Til Lust Us Do Part

This blog is part of a longer series of blogs on sexual desire (Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four) and Part Two on swingers and swinging. In the previous blog on swinging I suggested that swinging smacks of child sexual abuse for adults and that the spouse who talks the other spouse into doing swinging is the perpetrator, the one who gets talked into it is the victim. This is new language to describe swinging behavior, but you need this background to follow today’s comments.

Swingers don’t make very good marital therapy candidates. The one who wants to do it, the one who tries to talk the other into it, the one who advocates for it, chides about it, prods the other, grooms the other spouse, this person’s mind is so far removed from the protection and safety and sanctity and respect and dignity of marriage that the suggestion from a therapist like me that opening up the boundary of protection in marriage and driving a semi-truck of evil and selfishness and chaos and trouble through it isn’t a good idea, this client is only going to get mad: Frickin’, fundamentalist, legalistic, narrow-minded, unenlightened therapist. And I’m sorry, but I’m going to have a hard time helping you be a better couple while one of you advocates for swinging and one is devastated. You can’t use me to explain to your spouse that “Open Marriage” is just fine. And if you both tell me that you love swinging, but you have these other problems and we don’t want help with the swinging, the swinging is just fine, I’m not going to believe it. You’ll get irritated very quickly with my skepticism. This is one of those times I’d really have a hard time referring you out. We’ll probably just have to shake hands and say I’m sorry.

That’s not to say ALL perpetrator spouses in swinging couples are always unrepentant. Sometimes they are very sorry because the temptation that they’d feasted on in pornography for years – the doctor is doing it with the nurse, the nurse is doing it with the patient, the patient is doing it with the housekeeper, then they all do it together and everyone is so happy, happy, happy- turns out to be a nightmare instead and the perpetrator spouse wises up and realizes this ain’t the road to happiness after all.Crap.We gotta stop doin’ this.What am I gonna do with this stupid semi-truck?But then we end up with this sad irony.The victim spouse came into swinging kicking and screaming and protesting and against her will. In order to overcome the victim spouse’s objections, the perpetrator spouse had to convince and argue, sometimes for years, that the marriage boundary is only in their hearts and sexuality is only an amoral act.It does not matter who this act is done with.It only matters that you are having fun.We’ll protect the boundary of our marriage in our hearts by only truly loving each other, but we’ll use our bodies to express our latent sexual desire and enter nirvana through this secret gate.Comeonitllbefun.Don’t be such a prude.You never want to have any fun.

The victim spouse intuitively knows it’s wrong and evil and degenerate and out-there and freaky and wants nothing to do with it, but the perpetrator spouse is so convincing and such a salesman, goading and pounding it in and showing the victim porn and on and on and on and so the victim spouse finally relents.She’s been converted to the view that sex means nothing between them.It’s just an act.If sex means nothing between her and her swinging partner, then it means nothing between her and her husband.She can’t play mental games like this.Her sex with her husband hasn’t meant anything for some time now, because he’s told her it just an act:Dogs copulating in the field while staring off into space.That’s not what he said, but she wasn’t prepared to play the mental games he was suggesting she play.Sex either means something or it means nothing.It can’t mean something with her husband and nothing with everyone else.She’d dreamed as a child that sex was special.She even wore white at her wedding and got all dolled up to show it was worth the wait and that there is something unique about the wedding bed and all her friends and her mother cried when she walked down the isle.That was all a ruse?Now he’s telling her all her ideals were a sham. Over and over.Sweetie, you gotta loosen up.You are so uptight.Lose those inhibitions.They are binding you.Her dream.What happened to her dream?You mean it’s not making love and looking into each other’s eyes and heart and soul?Not connection in love?Not tenderness, mutuality, longings fulfilled, oneness?Nothing special about it all?Nothing worth protecting at all?Damsel in distress?Forget that.The prince will join the giant and let’s get the other soldiers in here, too, and any other damsels we can rustle up and we’ll all ravish the damsel.Group rape is fun.Why are you crying?Stop it.Just loosen up, already.

Well, after you’ve been preached at, hounded and scolded and manipulated and groomed by the perpetrator for so long, pretty soon it’s all going to take hold and the victim is no longer a victim, but a willing participant—sort of. Yeah. Now this is where it gets really weird.

The only way any sane victim can be victimized and not go crazy is to find a mental game to play. They have to leave the extreme hurtfulness of the situation.Victims of child sexual abuse talk about leaving their bodies.I’ve had clients tell me it was like they were on the ceiling looking down on their perpetrator violating their bodies.It’s sounds a little psychotic, but I think this type of coping is a God-given way to keep sexually abused children from going literally crazy.It’s hard enough witnessing your dignity stolen from a distance.

Another way they cope with it is to think of something else altogether, while the act is being forced upon them. Strippers and prostitutes do this in order to stay sane and stay at a distance from what they are doing. Don’t get me wrong. It still hurts like the dickens. You can only escape in your mind so far. This is why so many of them are on drugs or alcohol. They are only acting like they are enjoying it. That big smile you see on the stripper’s face? It’s part of the act to get you to give her your money. What they are thinking instead is that this guy or these men are pervs and I’m doing this because I hate them and I’m exploiting them (it’s really the other way around, remember?). Just because you “pay” a prostitute or a stripper, doesn’t mean you aren’t abusing her. She’s been abused all along by her daddy or Uncle Bob and those pervs unwittingly trained her years ago how to survive and not go crazy. The only way that she could go through Uncle Bob’s shenanigans is to hate his guts while he did his totally perv and unspeakable thing. Or they are paying their bills in their heads or reciting a poem or a favorite song, anything other than I am enjoying this and I’m really sexual and wow this is awesome. Those interviews with porn stars and strippers and prostitutes you see on TV where they say that they are just sexual and it’s just an act and they are actually self-actualized in their sexuality and she shouldn’t be discriminated against and women are sexual beings and she’s just exploring her sexuality and it’s a good job and look at all this money? Don’t believe any of it for a second. It’s all part of the act. She’s quoting Uncle Bob! She’s really just a broken little girl acting out a script she’s been brainwashed to do. She’s anything, but happy. It’s only a matter of time before she totally breaks. She’s aging before her eyes.

How do adults cope with sexual abuse by their spouses in the form of swinging, swapping, and same-sex experimentation? Swinging opens the door to every perversion. It’s just sex, remember? It doesn’t matter with whom. Gender don’t matter squat, either. The plumbing works. It’s meant to be utilized, right?

Every right thinking victim knows intuitively that it’s not just sex. It’s supposed to be special. It’s supposed to be about love and connection and tenderness. So in order to keep from going crazy, they fall in love with their partners. Male or female. It makes no difference. Pandora’s box has been opened. The marriage vow has been deflowered and debased and debunked. There must be some love here somewhere.

And then a swinging victim asks herself why would I want to be married any more to my perpetrator? Sex didn’t mean anything to my husband, right? Just an act and all that? But it meant something when she did it with this swinger guy or gal. Finally meant something, just like she thought it should. She’s been looking for love all along and she finally found it when she swung with this guy or gal. Imagine that. He was nice. He was gentle. She looked me in the eye and soothed me while I cried. Sort of a built in revenge deal against her perpetrator. It’s a cruel world.

If her perpetrator has groomed her this far and this well, she doesn’t make a very good marriage therapy client, either. Sadly, no. I gotta get out of this marriage to be protected. I gotta be safe somewhere. He just throws me to the wolves. My husband is a crazy sex perv and all he thinks about it himself. Getmeoutofhere!

Before leaving this subject, I must write about how some couples end up in this semi-truck load of evil seemingly unwittingly.I don’t really think that, because the naïve are still responsible for being in positions to be duped.They took the bait.Don’t take the bait.Don’t be in a position or situation where the bait even looks attractive.Be far, far away.These people are not your friends.It’s time to leave, Honey.

Sometimes you will meet a really outgoing and friendly couple.But you notice after a while, that they are just way-way too forward about sexuality.They talk about it with both of you there.They talk to you about it when your spouse isn’t there.It’s great fun.They brag about their sexual exploits.They make crude jokes.They look at each other in this knowing sort of way.They invite you to watch porn with them…as couples.They openly flirt with you.They talk about their sexual activities in front of you.They invite you over to their hot tub.Things happen.One of you enjoys it.The other is appalled.Maybe you are both appalled.But now we’re both in therapy because one of us thinks the other should have put a stop to it before it got this far.Or that one of you was too enthusiastic and if that’s what you want Okay fine, but my marriage means more to me than that.Yikes!

Okay.Look.There are perpetrator couples out there looking for innocent victim couples to exploit.Avoid friends like this like the plague.They are grooming you just like two child molesters might work in tandem.Team perpetrating.Run away.Run away.The only person you should be talking about your sex life with is with your spouse or your pastor or your therapist.

If any couple or single starts talking to you about sexuality in any provocative way, you need to get out of there and never go back.


Forget polite.

Your soul and the protection of your spouse and your marriage and your integrity and your commitment are worth more than a hot tub and a semi-truck full of trouble.

Part Six on Sexual Desire: Low Sexual Desire-High Sexual Desire: The Balancing Act

Part Three On Sexual Desire: I’m Just A Sexual Person

The last couple of blogs I’ve discussed wives who are proud of the fact that they don’t want sex (here and here) can’t be dissuaded or influenced, and accuse their husbands of being sex fiends if their husbands are the least bit miffed at not having any say in the matter. I try not to pick on genders in this blog, because, so often, as soon as you make a statement about a one gender, there’s a person of the opposite sex that feels the same way. Now maybe there are husbands out there who take the same position, where they could care less if they are ever sexual with their wives again for the rest of their lives, maybe there is. I just haven’t met them. Guys don’t wear a lack of sexual desire as a badge of pride. The one’s I’ve met are sad about it. I’m thinking the women who have no sexual desire and are haughty about it, even feeling superior, could use a little humility, because maybe there could be some progress in the right direction if they had a little humility, but so far I’ve not figured out how to be successful with someone who’s right all the time. There’s no therapy for indifference, either.

Since I made a generalization about some women in these last two blogs, in fairness, I’m going to make some generalizations about some men today.I apologize ahead of time for taking these pot shots, because I haven’t met every person in the world and I’m sure, out there somewhere, there’s a woman who feels just like the guys I’m going to talk about today.

There are a few guys, thankfully, not too many, who are totally self-absorbed when it comes to sex.It’s like they are bound and determined to stay 14 forever.They interpret everything through sexual lenses and if they are not doing it, they are thinking about it and if they are thinking about it they are wanting it and if they aren’t getting it they are upset about it and mad about it and put out about it and they make sure their wives are privy and up to date on the state of their displeasure on not being sexual at this moment or the moment before or any unsexually stimulated moments in the future and they’ve even figured out how to be hurt in the future right now because by now they’ve figured out that their wives aren’t going to be sexual with them near the amount that these guys need, want, and demand and so even though their wives haven’t turned them down in the future yet, these guys are already resentful about it.

Now thinking about sex 24/7 is pretty normal for a 14-year old, but if you are 45 and still doing this, I would suggest that you get a life. There are 168 hours in a week. Let’s say, that, maybe, you are sexually involved with your wife an hour or two a week. Let’s add a few hours of cuddling and canoodling. That leaves 162 hours to do and think and plan and hope and ponder and desire and learn and reason about something else. I hope you’ve figured this out. The LORD gave you more sexual energy than you can possibly ever channel toward your wife and His intent was that you’d take that excess sexual, creative energy and use it for the greater good to be a blessing to the rest of humanity. If, instead, you take all that left over sexual energy and channel it toward your navel and further south, you will be taking this wonderful gift God has given you and flushing it into the sewer.

How do some guys become so adolescence locked into this sexual zone and can’t think about anything else? Again, I’m sure there are exceptions, and, other than God, no one will ever know for sure, but the guys I’ve met who sound like this, talk like this, convey that they think like this, are honing their thinking and expanding their horizons and channeling their creativity and inventiveness and talents and abilities into porn and squandering their lives in the sewer. If you spend your life in a cesspool, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that everything you touch, every person you influence, every thought you have stinks. I’d say stink to high heaven, but I don’t think God will let those thought up that far and for sure God won’t let it stink up in heaven. For sure.

Some guys (Please, Wives: Not all men do this!!!!) take their left over sexual energy and instead of channeling it toward creativity, inventiveness, problem solving, family times, work, hobbies, and fun, they invest (waste their life away) in pornography. Increasingly, more and more women are doing this. In any case, it’s a plague on our houses and on ALL of your loved ones, and particularly your soul, if you allow this poison to seep into the private recesses of your integrity and let it rob you of your dignity. It will make your wife feel you are having an affair with inanimate objects.  Eeeuuuw!  If you do this, the following math formula applies to you:

Porn = Selfish prick training.

Or what others might view as a perv.

A perv.

I really hope you can find something else to think about, because your manliness can only handle so much stimulation before it finally just loses it and then you’ll be sitting there with no tools and a brain that can’t shift into any other gear.Won’t that be a kicker?Did I mix metaphors?Hello!Are you listening?

I mean this literally. I’ve met men in their twenties, that otherwise are perfectly healthy, but because they’ve masturbated to their own navel for so long and so often they have no sexual energy for their wives AT ALL and they are sitting there with erectile dysfunction!! You are kidding right? You’re just more sexual? Right. Look at you. You’ve created your own idol out of your own hands and it’s powerless. It’d be funny if it weren’t pathetic.

Porn is selfishness training.

Porn locks your maturity up and throws away the key.It stunts your growth.This isn’t some myth like you used to hear about caffeine when you were a kid.This is the real deal.You want to stay immature?You want to be easily angered?Fidget a lot?No patience?No ability to see things from your spouse’s point of view?No self-confidence?Constant chaos?Always in a hurry, because you just wasted all those hours with your mind swimming in putrid scum and now you are trying to pretend everything is fine as you talk to your boss or your client or even your little girl, but your mind is engulfed in it’s own oil spill the just mucks up every thought, every gesture with boobs and vaginas?So much for looking someone in the eye and being confident.How are you supposed to hold your head high when you mind is drenched in filth?You, putting on an act, like you care?You can’t care when your mind is racing with that stuff and you know it.Your creativity just disappears.Your resilience is gone.You are angry way too much, because instead of nurturing self-control and character you are developing the skill of getting what you want when you want it how you want it and you want it now. You want that?Just do porn.

Porn will make you bored with your wife.How is she supposed to compete with 20-year olds?Thousands of them?Why would she even want to?!  You’ll make demands on her that she try this or that.You always have to do something new.  You’ll want her to do perverted stuff she doesn’t want to do and rather than enhance your lovemaking will just make her feel dirty.  Your wife won’t seem that pretty to you.You’ll obsess on her weight, even though, in the larger scheme of things, you’ve gained way more than her in your years together.What’s fair about that?You aren’t interested in fair, right?You are interested in you.You don’t want to be close to her.You want to have sex. And if you don’t, you’ll be mad, or pout or withdraw or get downright nasty.You’ll be so self-absorbed you won’t realize that this isn’t a very good way to enhance your wife’s libido.You can only induce your wife into sex through guilt and pressure and whining for so long before you train her that sex means nothing and the last thing she’ll want to do is spend intimate moments with you:Because it isn’t intimacy!It’s “releasing sexual energy.”AHHHHH!Like, you are a dog?What’s that make your wife?

Here’s another formula: The more you channel your sexual energies to porn, the less interested your wife will be in being sexually intimate with you. So much for you being more sexual! HA! The more you do porn the less REAL sexual contact you have with a flesh and blood person who loves and cherishes you, or at least did cherish you. It’s hard to cherish a perv. If you aren’t careful you’ll train her to hate both sex AND YOU!!!

Porn freezes your sexual desire into 18-22-year old girl zone or earlier, if you let yourself be really creepy, when your sexual desire for your wife is SUPPOSED to mature along with you two as you age.You are SUPPOSED to channel your sexual energy to your wife, and anything left over is SUPPOSED to go into creative juices to be a blessing to the world.SUPPOSED.Can I say supposed?Can I make a moral statement?

But these guys are very, very stubborn, as all 14-year olds are. And they are very, very miffed and put out that their wives won’t put out.

Which leads us to the crux of the matter: Porn teaches you that sex is about you, for you and that you neeeeeeeeed IT. I need, I need, I need, I need (quoting What About Bob)

Part Two On Sexual Desire: I’m Just Not The Sexual Type

Part Two On Sexual Desire: I’m Just Not The Sexual Type

If your wife says “I’m just not the sexual type” to you, be afraid. Be very, very afraid. I haven’t heard husbands say it. At least I can’t remember. There are certain husbands who want sex less than their wives. But they usually don’t wear it as a badge of honor. If the husband is the low-sex drive partner, he’s usually sad about it. Confused about it. It doesn’t fit the cultural norm. True, he may not always be willing to work on it, but I can work with a guy whose a little humiliated. Humility can be a great motivator.

But how am I supposed to try and jumpstart a soul that is cold as ice and proud of it?That takes “I’m-not-the-sexual-type” as a definition of her personhood?As beyond the limit of her reach?

Let’s interpret the message behind the words.

If you say “I’m not just the sexual type” to your husband, what are you really saying? If you say this, be afraid. Be very, very afraid:

My soul is very, very, small and has no room for anyone else, especially you

I’m just the selfish type

Leave me alone

You bug me

You are a nuisance

You irritate me

Your needs are no concern of mine

I don’t want to be married either

I’m just not the married type

I cannot be dissuaded

Leave me alone, leave me alone, leave me alone

I have my agenda and it does not include you. You are not at the bottom of the list. You are not even ON the list. You cannot be promoted to be on the list. I don’t WANT you on the list.

The children are number one

I’m co-dependent on my kids and I am bound and determined to creep them out

Every man in the universe is a blood-sucking horny toad cuz all they want is sex

Sex is a burden too awful to bear

I don’t want to be close to you….ever

I don’t want you to think for a minute that you can influence me in any way…at all

My heart for you is in the deep freeze and the only way you can relate to me is to chill

If I were to allow you to influence me, that would mean I am a tad humble and that smells defeat

But you say, No, No, NO!!!I’m not saying these things.When I say I’m just not the sexual type that’s all I mean.I’m just not the sexual type.It doesn’t mean anything else.Just take me at my word.

Would you accept from your husband I’m just not the affectionate type? Or, I’m just not the type that communicates? I don’t think so. You wouldn’t roll over and play dead. You’d have an opinion. You’d seek to influence him, to goad him, chide him, kick him in the butt, even encourage him, try to figure him out, help him grow a tad, expand his horizons, enlarge his skill set, right? He can learn to communicate. He can learn, over time, that affection isn’t crowding and that it’s kind of nice. That would actually be a very cool thing were you to do that. Especially if you weren’t mean about it and took it on as a challenge, like this guy is a mystery and I have to figure him out. Good for you.

Maybe your husband is a clumsy ox, but why isn’t it Okay for him to try to influence you in the sexual arena?Why, if he tries to initiate sex, is he just some sex fiend?Why is it Okay for the goose to try to influence the gander, but not Okay for the gander to try to influence the goose?Shouldn’t marriage be, you know, like, give and take?

Now the curious thing about these women who say these things is that when I ask, so, ahh, when you are sexual, are you eventually able to enjoy it, they say sure! What? Sure? Most of them anyway. There’s an occasional exception, but most of them.

What’s that about?

What it means is that they might not THINK about sex much, but, if the conditions are right, they eventually can come to the point where sexuality is pretty fine, even enjoyable.

Drum roll please.This is where husbands start to lose it.They reason: If you can come to the point where sexuality is actually pretty fine, why would you not want to do it?It doesn’t make sense.

So here’s what some husbands do. Thankfully, not too many, but some.If your husband does this, be very, very afraid.And motivated.And come and see me.Hopefully, it’s not too late:Occasionally, ever so rarely, a husband in his twenties or thirties or forties will quit trying to initiate sex altogether.There’s three common causes:He’s doing porn, he’s having an affair, or he’s so hurt from being rejected so many times he’s just lost the will to try anymore.The first two we can deal with.Stop the porn.Stop the stupid affair.The last one?Not so easy.

You might at first be delighted about that he quits pursuing sex! Yeeeehaaa! I don’t have to worry about sex anymore. It was such a burden. No more pressure. No more begging. We can just relate and talk and…..

If he quits initiating sex, then it’s your turn. The mantle has been passed to you, to keep the embers burning, to light the fire, to stoke the flames, to throw another log on the fire. If you roll over and play dead, that’s not all that’s gonna die, Honey.  If he quits initiating sex and you don’t initiate sex, that means that you won’t be having sex.  What happens after that?

He files.

Really. I’m not kidding. Maybe a year later. Maybe two. But in that period of time, if you haven’t kicked sex into gear for the two of you and he’s given up totally and you are two blobs just laying there, we’re headed for trouble. He’s saying to himself , I cannot feel this rejected anymore. She won’t accept my influence. She doesn’t want my input in her life. I’m a nuisance to her. No sense driving her crazy. She’s made it perfectly clear she doesn’t want to be close to me. We’re not really married. This is just a fascade anyway. Might as well be honest about the whole thing. Divorce would be just both of us being honest. We aren’t really married. Married people have sex. Roommates stare at the walls. I can’t be roommates with somebody who’s broken my heart. End of story.

I don’t think they should give up so easy. But some of them do.

What about if a husband quits trying to initiate sex in the latter half of life in his fifties and beyond?It still could be porn or an affair, but if those have been ruled out, it could be he’s got some plumbing problems.These could be related to his health or stress in which case he’s going to need your active involvement.But it could also be due to your indifference.

That’s right.If you’ve rejected his advances for so long and you have conveyed time and time again that his desire to be sexual with you is an absolute burden and a bore and chore and drudgery and you’ve conveyed to him non-verbally and verbally, over and over again that you are just not the sexual type and you will not be influenced, his motor may very well run out of oil and the pistons freeze up.

Some of these guys have been rejected so long, they just can’t keep up the fight. They give up. This is a pretty difficult situation. The resentment and hurt and rejection runs too deep for some.I need a really long crowbar.The best (and only?) crowbar is if his wife will decide, finally, that she is the sexual type after all, and start conveying that sex is important and she starts initiating and teasing and flirting and touching and canoodling.

But be careful here. If you haven’t done this for forty years, don’t expect that he’s going to just all of a sudden jump for joy. He’s maybe got forty years of resentment to deal with and that ain’t easy.  He may justly wonder where you’ve been all those years?

Here’s a better way:

Realize that you are the sexual type from the get go.Realize that once you get going you are fine.Be an active part of the program.Don’t expect him to carry all the weight, any more than you’d want to have to carry all the weight around communication, housekeeping or parenting or bill paying.Sexuality is a two-way street.If we’re going to stay close for 50-60 years we’re going to have to be involved in ALL aspects of our marriage and that includes sexuality.

Here’s what will happen if you will do this: You will find you love your husband even more.You will find your heart growing bigger.You will find it easier to give.You will find it easier to forgive. You will find your husband lightening up, cheering up, being more fun to be around. You will find you love and like each other more.You will find you fight less and enjoy each others company more.You will find that sexuality is not only fun, but it is the regular reminder that you two are special, you are an item and you are worth the investment.

But you won’t get there if you constantly wear sweats and think sex is from the devil.

So here’s what I’d suggest, if you think (used to think) you are not the sexual type: Talk about sex with your husband. Figure out, the two of you, when you will be sexual this weekend, and then make sure it happens. For heaven sakes, you can talk about sex. Then, look up the definition of canoodling, and get some canoodling going on!!

Part One On Sexual Desire: The Second Saddest Thing Said About Marriage

Part One On Sexual Desire: The Second Saddest Thing Said About Marriage

This is a first in a series of blogs on Sexual Desire.

I could go the rest of my life and not be sexual. I just don’t need sex.

Clients Bound And Determined To Doom Their Marriages

The saddest thing I hear about marriage is when the couple comes to therapy and one partner says he or she is done, done, done with the marriage and they won’t be dissuaded. This person might have even agreed to go to marital therapy. I hope he doesn’t say to his future girlfriend that he “tried” marital therapy. I’m imagining these people telling their loved ones and friends that marital therapy was a waste of time. No doubt. It’s really not fair for them to say they’ve been to marital therapy. If they were honest the most they could say is they were in a marital therapist’s office once. They could say I had a comfy couch and that my wife did a nice job decorating. That’s it.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so sarcastic about this.It’s a pretty hot topic. I certainly needs to be talked about. After they divorce they won’t talk about it, that’s for sure.Other than a child dying, divorce is like the next most difficult thing to deal with emotionally in anyone’s life.It’s hard enough if the couple has had the divorce talk and the divorcing spouse says the whys and the wherefores. I had a client once who came home from work and everything was gone from the house except for his personal belongings and his golf clubs.He never saw his wife again.That’s just cruel.There’s no need to be so mean about it.Divorce by itself is mean enough. So if they can’t talk at all about it at home and they can in my office, I guess that’s a good thing.It’s just not marital therapy.I’m acting as a mediator.That’s fine.I don’t resent it.It’s just a sad thing to have to hear.The saddest thing I do in this field.I’m sure you’ve got your sad things you’ve got to do with your job: Fire somebody, lay somebody off, cut somebody’s salary, discipline a colleague, all just crappy things.

The second most saddest thing (I’m sure there’s something really bad from an English grammar standpoint in writing “the second most saddest thing” but I have no idea how to say it differently. For all you English types I apologize.You’ll just have to grin and bear it.) I’ve heard in my office is the quote at the top of the page. I know if that person can’t figure out a way to enjoy sexuality together with their spouse it’s just a matter of time before the foundation of this marriage is washed away.Sexuality is the life-blood of the marriage. If I can’t figure out a way to help them move into meaningful, mutual, marital sexuality, then I feel I have failed.

I have this sex research lab.It’s called my couch.No, I’m not researching sexual technique.Americans are unwisely and mistakenly obsessed with technique and variety and shaking it up.Everything else is just boring.Sexuality is NOT about technique.If you Googled the word “sex” and you got this article by me about sex you aren’t going to get turned on reading it. Sorry. You might get mad at me or chuckle once in a while, but you won’t start fantasizing. That’s just fine. Yeah, I’m sure there’s some people out there that could use a few hints here and there about sex, but for heaven’s sake, the biggest problem about sexuality is NOT technique.

One marital therapist has written that if you take a Polaroid picture of your sex life (I’m sure he was being metaphorical) you’ll get an idea of how the marriage is doing.I’m discovering this more and more in my research lab.Over and over again couples talk to me about their frustrating sexual lives and over and over again if I can help them figure that out they do awesome and over and over again if I can’t help them figure this out their relationship suffers. Dr. Gottman says he can predict with over 90% accuracy if a couple will divorce by how they treat each other in conflictual situations.He’s the marriage lab guy.He video tapes couple when they argue and talk and has broken marriage down into fine, small little particles.It’s a clever idea and very helpful and I use his material all the time in my office.

My sex research lab is not quite so fancy.No one way mirrors.No video cameras.No research assistants coding every turning up of the mouth and rolling of the eyes.No, just me and my pen and my Sam’s Club yellow notepad and me jotting down things for me to remember so I don’t forget who you are.You live with yourself for years and here’s this guy you’ve talked to for an hour and he’d better remember what you said and if he doesn’t you probably won’t respect him nor come back to him, so since I’m a rather dense guy I gotta write this stuff down:At least the first time or two to get the story right.

If Dr. Gottman thinks he can predict within 90% accuracy (actually I think he says 94%), I can predict within 100% accuracy.My prediction is that if you are NOT sexual with your spouse that you have a 100% chance of either getting a divorce or you will stay married but you will be two actors in a play pretending to be husband and wife and that after awhile the play will get tiring and the fake smile will calcify and your tender heart will curdle and then thicken into a putrid jell until it finally fossilizes.And then won’t you be fun?

There.I heard it again, variations on a theme.It’s not a beautiful symphony though.It’s a funeral dirge:

I could care less if I ever have sex again in my lifetime. I’m just not sexual.

I had to look up dirge on Google because I had no idea how to spell it.I spelled it “durge” at first.The Urban Dictionary said that’s when someone comes up behind you and pops your knees.I thought that was pretty funny and pretty right on, but that’s not what I was looking for.I typed in “durge definition” and finally hit pay dirt when “dirge” came up.And guess what the history of dirge is?It’s from the first word of the Office of the Dead in Latin for the Catholic Church and in time it became used to describe the chanting said or sung at a funeral.Check it out here: That’s perfect. Because if you have this idea that you can be married and NOT be sexual and that is OKAY by you then you are predicting the demise of your own marriage. Goodbye, my dear. Sayonara, baby. Auf Wiedersehen, Honey. 再见, Sweetie.

When I tell you this, you won’t believe that, of course. And if I told you that after you quoted the above marriage funeral dirge you would, of course, be mad and say, no, no, I love my spouse! I’m just not interested in sex. Well, look. I didn’t say you have to think about it. I certainly hope you don’t think about it all the time. There are many other things with which to occupy your time. So, no. You don’t have to think about sex all the time. But you do have to DO it once in awhile. And by “once in awhile” I don’t mean six times a year. That won’t cut it. You’d be wiser to shoot for 3-6 times a month as foundational. More if you are on vacation or the kids are off to grandma’s for a couple of weeks. If the latter, you’d better be locking the front door and turning the thermostat up. KnowwhadImean?

You say, well, we don’t get along well enough.We fight likes cats and dogs.We never talk.  Or spend any time together.  How can I be sexual with my spouse when we bicker?Are you fighting because you aren’t sexual or are you not sexual because you are fighting?Couples that aren’t sexual do two things: Withdraw from each other or fight like mad.Either way the violins are tuning up.  Chicken and the egg.  Oh, you’ve decided on the egg?  Standoff at the O.K. Corral.  Stubbornness.  You will not be dissuaded.  You have made up your mind.  You are right and that’s it.  I guess if you make up all the decisions, there’s no need for a spouse?

What are these people saying (yes, both male and female) that they could be content to never be sexual again? They are saying that they will NOT be influenced by their spouses. I refuse to let you have an impact in my life. I have a wall around my life and it doesn’t include you. I will not give to you. I will not sacrifice for you. I will not reach out to you. I will not open up to you. I will hold grudges. I will not forgive you for any wrong done. I will go through the motions of being married to the public at large, including our children, but you and I both know that this marriage is a façade, a ruse, a make-believe fantasy world where I am under the illusion that I can make the world in my own image and the world I create is me at the center and you have to whirl around my whims and if you get upset about it and complain about it or show any discomfort in any way that we are NOT sexual then I will accuse you of being a control freak!!!! And that will give me, yet again, another reason to turn you down!  See I have this figured out that I will win!!!!

You can bet your spouse will eventually figure this out, too. And you can have your wish: Never be sexual with anyone the rest of your life!!! Whoohoo!! Living by yourself! You and your cute little snow-white Maltese dog that looks so pure and angelic.

The tympani are tuning up. You can hear their subtle pounding in the background.

Part Six on Sexual Desire: Low Sexual Desire-High Sexual Desire: The Balancing Act

On Triangling: An Open Letter to My Niece, Cassi, and Her Husband, Cam, On the Birth of their Third Child, Son, Chase

Dear Cassi and Cam,

It was so fun to see your family two weekends ago.Thanks for letting me hold little Chase. He’s a sweetie.Holding him made up for the devastating loss of the U.S. to Ghana in the World Cup.

Cam and Cassi Piper’s third child, Chase, was born May 31, 2010. He spent some time in the NICU at Children’s Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, but everything turned out fine. He joins his brother and sister, Caden (3) and Rori (2)

When I told you about my Open Letter to Brandon and Philly on the birth of their second child, LydiaSue, and you asked me to write one to you on the birth of Chase, I had no idea what I would say different.Both you and Cam are in the same age range as Brandon and Philly and both of you are in career transitions and both of you are young parents and both of you are making wise choices.I would encourage you to look at that Open Letter, because I could say the same to the two of you.

So, what can I say about a young family with 3 kids?Hmm.We’ll see where this leads.

Is there that much difference between having 3 kids and having 2?I’m saddened that so many people fear having larger families.You already commented that the other two kids are helping out.And, you know, kids don’t need nursing and extended care for long, and then they grow up and become your best friends and confidants.What’s really fun is when they start giving you insight that blesses your life.

But there can be some hidden pitfalls to adding a new family member if we’re not careful.Here’s the math on relationships: The number of people squared is the number of relationships in the family, so every time you add a member to your family, the total family dynamic changes.So if you have a husband and wife there are 2 times 2 possible relationships (4 total): you, Cam, Cam and You, and You and Cam = 4.Add Caden and you have 9: Cam, Cam and You, You and Cam, Caden, Caden and you, you and Caden, Caden and Cam, Cam and Caden, you and Cam and Caden.I was explaining this to a mathematician client once and she told me, no, it was the number of relationships cubed and then she tried to explain it to me and she lost me.Anyway, it’s a bunch.So add Rori and we’re up to 16 and add Chase and we’re up to 25.

What this means in practical terms is that there are 25 opportunities for relationship breakdown!YIKES!Look at our family with 6 of us with our four kids growing up:36 opportunities for us to mess this whole thing up.Given how our family turned out I think you will have to admit there must be a God in Heaven and a Holy Spirit that protects and leads us because given all our wildly varying personalities there is no way in the universe that it would be possible for all of us to survive intact.The Wall Clan is proof of the existence and benevolence of God, I am sure.

With three kids you could easily see how this could implode.When we have 3 the temptation is to get into 2 verses 1.These triangles (what they are called in Family Studies) can be a mess.They can go by gender: Caden and Chase verses Rori; Age: The two oldest Caden and Rori verses the youngest, Chase or the two youngest Rori and Chase verses the oldest Caden or personality: The two most dominant verses the one more passive.I’m sure there are other scenarios, but you get the drift (interests, beliefs, etc.).Add parents in the mix and it can become the men and boys verses the women in the clan or dad and the oldest two verse the mom and the youngest.The gender pattern is common around dad and the boys’ sports and mom and the daughter’s dance class.The bonding in these activities is fine as long as it doesn’t go too far.If mom gets closer to the daughter or dad becomes closer with the boys than mom and dad are to each other we will have a mess on our hands.I’ll spare you the technical terms.Trust me.It’s chaos.This is where we get things like the daughter becoming rebellious because mom is fairly well creeping her out or mom has an affair because dad is overly involved with the boys and she’s so lonely.And on and on.

This triangling deal can be pretty devastating.But the curious thing is that triangles are the foundation of the universe and a blessing for us all (You won’t learn this in grad school.):The Father, Son and Holy Spirit.Three in One has stood the test of time.So…there are good triangles and bad triangles.Let’s major on the good triangles.

How do we have a family of good triangles instead of bad triangles?When I came across this concept in grad school, I read through the Gospels in light of it, asking, how did Jesus handle triangles?It was pretty amazing.

You have to know how they work in a hurtful way first.A person will try to get you on their side against someone else by telling you something bad about someone else (Herod and Pilot verse Jesus), so that it becomes two against one.We call this gossip outside the family, but if it’s in your own clan under your own house and you wash these people’s underwear and sheets it’s not called gossip.It’s a disaster.Mommy, mommy Caden hit me.That’s all cute and everything when they are four.It’s family terror when they are 14 and warfare when they are 25.

I’d encourage you to read the Gospels in light of this concept, but in a nutshell Jesus ignored negative triangles or used it as a teaching moment, or changed the subject altogether.He never got into a negative triangle once.A curious thing to me is that this concept was not even delineated in Family Studies until the 1950’s.It’s enough to make a believer out of you if you are not careful:The Miracle Wall Clan and Jesus and Triangling:The New Apologetic (That’s a secret Joke for Brandon).

The key to avoiding negative triangles in the family is for mom and dad to have a solid relationship that no child problems or agitation can thwart.Here’s a negative example:Sally comes and tells Mommy that Daddy scolded her.Mommy and Sally go to see Daddy and, in front of Sally, Mommy chews out Daddy.

If this happens in your family, welcome to Hell.

Here’s a better way to handle it:Sally tells Mommy that Daddy scolded her.Mommy says, “Really?” and asks about it.Then Mommy tells Sally that the two of them need to go talk to Daddy.Mommy has Sally tell Daddy what Sally told Mommy.This teaches Sally we’re not tolerating negative triangles in our family.What you say to me you need to be able to tell Daddy.Then Daddy gives his side of the story.Then, Mommy and Daddy dismiss Sally and Mommy and Daddy talk about the situation outside of Sally’s hearing, conveying to Sally that she CANNOT come between Mommy and Daddy.If Mommy and Daddy determine that Sally was out of line for trying to create a wedge between Mommy and Daddy, the two of them figure out how to handle it.If Mommy and Daddy agree that Daddy had inappropriately treated Sally, the apology will be arranged so that it does NOT convey to Sally that Sally and Mommy are against Daddy, but that Daddy had over reacted and he’s sorry and that Mommy and Daddy are one and Sally is looking in from the outside.

This example illustrates The First Rule To Avoid Negative Triangling in the family:

Don’t let your kids come between you and your spouse.Period.

When your kids attempt to come between you, ignore it, use it as a teachable moment, or change the subject altogether.

Parenting is a good example of positive triangling.The two parents are working together for the good of the family.Counseling is another example.I’m in the positive triangling business.If a therapist allows a client to get him on the client’s side verses the spouse, we’re done.We’ll lose the husband if he feels his wife and counselor are against him.We’ll lose the wife if she feels her husband and counselor are against her.

As parents, then, we want to create a positive triangle of blessing for our family.The easiest way for this to happen is for mommy and daddy to make sure that the two of them have enough alone time without the kids to bond, to care, to talk, to tease, to consult, to be friends and lovers.

The Second Rule to Avoid Negative Triangles in the families is this:

We (as husband and wife) will spend enough time alone to nurture our love and friendship to make sure we are closer to each other than either of us is with the children.

For some young families, this seems virtually impossible.If either parent starts to love the kids more than they do their spouse, we’re entering negative triangling territory and better watch out.Given that Cassi is home with the kids and Cam is working hard to make ends meet, you might be tempted to enter into the following very common and sad destructive triangling scenario:

He feels that his wife is overly involved with the kids and that she has no time for him.She starts to resent him because it feels to her he’s never home and when he is he’s preoccupied (exhausted and burdened most likely).She has all this bonding time with the kids.She uses the kids to meet her social needs.Over time, she triangles in with the kids verses daddy.Daddy becomes the scapegoat.He’s on the outside.He resents this and either gets angry or quietly seethes within. She can easily become harsh and bitter because she feels it’s unfair that she has to do nearly all of the housework, childcare and family management.She’s on his case to spend time with the family and to help around the house.Am I just a maid?If he’s not careful he can start resent his kids who took his wife away.She wants to spend time as a family.He wants to spend time alone with her.They fight about this (Duh?They have to do both!).Neither will give in so they quit fighting and end up in two camps. This husband is vulnerable to an affair or to just dump his wife outright.She doesn’t want me around.Why come home?She’s vulnerable to an affair because she desperately needs adult companionship and her husband seems unavailable.She can also be tempted to divorce her husband.It’s no fun being around him.I can survive with out him.He’s never home anyway.

In this example you can see that triangling doesn’t have to be between only 2 verses 1.It can be one group and an idea verses one (The Media and the President against BP.The Media and BP against the President.Curiously, it’s never any two camps verses the Media.Hmmm.).In the example above it’s mommy and the kids verses daddy.How people often solve these problems is to create a counter negative triangle:daddy and beer verses the mommy-kids clan or daddy and his work against the mommy-kids clan or daddy and his affairee verses the mommy-kids clan.The ultimate negative triangle in the family is when each gets their own lawyer verses the other spouse and the other spouse’s lawyer.If you really want to see negative triangles in motion, look at divorced families and then add a new stepfather or mother and/or stepbrothers and sisters.We’ll have negative triangles all over the place with enough friction to heat several city blocks.Divorced families and stepfamilies are rife with negative triangles because divorce reinforces negative triangling and it becomes a lifestyle for years (generations?) to come.

Blessed is the family that figures out how to NOT get into negative triangling.

With adult family members the principle to avoid negative triangling is this (The Third Rule To Avoid Negative Triangling):

Do not say anything to anyone in the family about anyone else in the family that you would not say to that person’s face.  If you make the mistake of saying something you shouldn’t have about another family member behind that family member’s back, tell that family member what you said (in humility) and apologize and make sure the person you initially told knows that you apologized.  This is will nip a potential negative triangle in the bud.

If someone in the family says something negative to you about another family member, refuse to be triangled (the 2 of you verses the other family member), and gently avoid getting sucked in by making a positive comment about the family member that was criticized and then gently change the subject.

The exception to this rule is that the husband and wife need to be able to have private conversations about the rest of the family (including extended family) that is no one else’s business.But don’t use this privilege to criticize your spouse’s family.For example, if a wife tries to triangle her husband with her against his blood family, she will be in for a fight.It would be wise for her to lay off putting down his family because blood is thicker than water and he will be tempted to side with them against her.

The basic principle here (And the Fourth Rule To Avoid Negative Triangling) is:

I can critique my own family in the privacy of our relationship, but I won’t criticize your family.

This is why the Christian faith is so powerful.God sends his Son to a lost world to positively triangle us in against death, sin, the flesh and the Devil and his Cohorts.Woohoo!As the Father has sent the Son, so the Son sends us.We are called (positively triangeled with God) to be a blessing to others.If we can’t be a blessing in our immediate family, it’s all a gong and a noisy cymbal.

Love, (trying to be) Your Positively Triangled Uncle,