I think it is important for husbands and wives to understand sexual response and desire. If you don’t understand how you are made, it can really wreck your sex life. If you do get it, it helps you both play to your strengths.
My friend Jay Dee over at Uncovering Intimacy did a great job talking about responsive desire versus spontaneous desire. This is a huge concept to understand. I think that what happens is one person spontaneously desires sex with their spouse. The other spouse is seemingly never spontaneous in their desire for sex. Therefore, we deem them to “never be in the mood”.
Understand You Have Different Sexual Responses
Instead of a responder understanding that they have a different sexual response, both they and their spouse think that they have a low sex drive. In reality, they are more responsive in nature. A spontaneous sex drive is one that desires sex regardless of what’s going on around them. The one that has a responsive sex drive doesn’t desire sex until something sexual is happening.
What it’s Like to Be a Sexual Responder
It could take a sexual responder a solid 20 minutes into sex before they really feel arousal or desire. So, because of the lack of sexual response, the spontaneous desire spouse thinks the responder spouse doesn’t really want to be there.
The sexual responder spouse feels confused because they can’t understand why they aren’t having fun and really enjoying sex. So, the responder tends to shut things down before they’ve even given themselves a chance to be aroused and satisfied.
The Problem Between The Two Different Responses
Typically, what ends up happening, is that the spontaneous desire spouse feels rejected because their spouse doesn’t come after them the way they do. And the responder spouse feels like something is wrong with them.
It’s a lot easier to just say, “I’m not in the mood”, then it is to figure out what’s actually going on. They put it all on their hormones, being tired, stressed, etc. and no one realizes what’s actually going on- and that is, they just respond to sex differently.
What The Responder Needs to Enjoy Sex
The sexual responder has to take on a mindset that they are going to put sex on their calendar and initiate it regardless of how they are feeling. I am a responder. I put sex on my calendar and make it happen that way. If it’s not on my calendar, it’s not going to spontaneously happen on my end.
If I’m approached by Austin for spontaneous sex, I’m going to have a much more difficult time switching my brain to arousal. For a long time, I would just say, “can we reschedule for tomorrow?”. Obviously, that made him feel rejected.
For The Responder, Having Sex is Like Going to The Gym
I don’t think you are being selfish to desire a better intimate life with your spouse. God created us to desire intimacy. It’s easy for a responder to become complacent about sex since they aren’t aroused spontaneously as often- if ever.
I think that for the sexual responder, sex is like going to the gym. They want the results of going to the gym. In fact, they even like it when they get there and get going. But, it takes a lot of energy to just get off the couch and do it. It’s a mental battle they have to fight because they know the end result is going to be great.
Why Having Sex at Bedtime is Hard For the Responder
For the person that doesn’t get aroused until 15 minutes into lovemaking, it’s just a lot of work. It’s a lot of physical exertion for anything to feel good. It takes even more effort to climax. And honestly, you have to have the stamina for it.
So having sex at the end of a long day of running around being a grown-up is tough. The way to make it not tough, and something to look forward to, is to change your mindset altogether. When you see sex as a mini date or getaway with your spouse, it’s a lot easier to see intimacy as an escape, rather than one more thing you have to do before you go to bed.
For The Pursuer, Sex is Like Eating Cake
For someone who is already sexually aroused before they start having sex, feels confused to think that sex is a lot of work. For them, it’s more like eating cake. They’ve been dreaming of that cake all day. They pass by it and can’t wait to be allowed to have it.
They could be dog tired by the time they can have a chance to eat that cake, and it wouldn’t matter at all. Eating cake is effortless. Having sex is effortless to someone that is sexually aroused and ready to go.
So, which are you? The pursuer or the responder? How should you interact with your spouse on this basis?