I get this question a lot, “How do I get my spouse to make sex a priority? It’s like they can take it or leave it and I feel unloved”. It hurts my heart when people write in and ask me this. Not because I think their spouse doesn’t love them, but that they feel this way by their husband or wife’s actions.
Are you in that situation? If so, here’s my encouragement to you with this.
Understand Your Own Emotions
I’ve found that oftentimes we don’t actually understand what the core problem is. When you really identify your own feelings on something, you can communicate better with your spouse.
What is the true desire of your heart? Is it just sex? Or is it much deeper than that? For most people that have a spontaneous sexual desire, they see sex as much more than just a physical need.
Sex is More Than a Physical Need
Not everyone understands that sex is more than a physical need. If all you are telling your spouse is that you need your physical needs met, it might be quite off-putting to them.
How many times have you been hungry and skipped a meal because you were just too busy? Maybe you get way less sleep than you need every night. We all put our physical needs to the side, whether it’s healthy or not.
If your spouse has spent the day hardly meeting their own physical needs, it likely won’t motivate them to take care of you. It would be easy for them to rationalize that they went without having their basic needs of food or sleep met.
What Makes Your Spouse Feel Connected
What sex actually does in a marriage, is it helps to build connection and intimacy. For some people, physical release needs to take place so that they feel connected. For others, they need to feel connected some other way prior to sex.
Ask your spouse very specifically what you do together that makes them feel close to you. Let them share their heart with you about the times they feel truly intimate. Then, you can share that you feel that way when you are having sex with them.
When your spouse understands that the need you have is much more than physical, but bonding, it can really change their perspective. It is very likely that they aren’t trying to make you feel unloved or disconnected from them, they just don’t know the impact of not having enough sex.
Understand Sexual Response
Another really important thing for you and your spouse to understand is that you may have a different sexual response than each other. There are two basic types of sexual response, spontaneous and responsive.
Someone that gets aroused and is ready for sex either mentally and physically or one or the other is someone that has a spontaneous desire. This means nothing had to happen for them to feel aroused.
On the flip side of that, the person with a responsive desire becomes aroused when something sexual is happening. Maybe it is when their spouse starts flirting with them, touching them, or something else that signifies sex to them.
I do want to mention here that not everyone feels turned on by the same things. You may think you are doing things to get your responsive desire spouse ready for sex that isn’t actually helping them. Find out what kind of things make them feel aroused sexually. Don’t assume you know.
Focus on Building Intimate Connection With Them
My mom always told me that if both people in the marriage would focus all of their attention on meeting the other person’s needs, then neither would go without having their needs met. I’m not saying you should focus on meeting their need for connection so that they will reciprocate- although that very well could happen.
Rather, I’m encouraging you to build a close, bonding relationship with your spouse as an act of worship to God. When you focus on helping them feel close to you, a lot of problems will resolve.
Figure Out How Your Spouse is Communicating Love
For a long time, I didn’t put any stock in the 5 Love Languages. Finally, I understood that Austin didn’t understand the way I was showing him love. More than that- he felt unloved because I wasn’t communicating to him in a way that he understood.
If your spouse is not having sex with you without a fight or regularly, you can get the impression that they don’t love you. I’m here to tell you that is untrue! Figure out how they communicate love. They are likely doing other things for you throughout the day to show you that they love you, but you don’t understand their intentions.
Since I wasn’t speaking to Austin in a love language that he understood, when he would tell me how I never did XYZ for him, I actually felt like I could never measure up. What it said to me was that it didn’t matter how much I did for him in a day, I didn’t do XYZ– so it wasn’t enough.
Truthfully, he wasn’t saying to me at all that I wasn’t doing enough for him in a day. What he was actually saying was that he feels loved when I do XYZ. He didn’t even equate the other things I was doing as me showing love.
Develop a Long Game Strategy
All too often, we want our problems fixed now. We think if we have one conversation with our spouse about our frustrations, that it should be all it takes to work things out. Wrongo! It is going to take tons of conversations, lots of time, years even, to get to a place where you work through your issues.
We are fed a lie by porn, movies, romance novels, and wherever else, that sex is easy. Uh…no again. Physical intimacy is hard. It is not easy to master. It will continue to change during different seasons of your life. Even if you get it down for a while, something will come along and wreck it. You’ll always have to re-negotiate sex in marriage. This is true of everything in relationships.
Focus on intimacy. Build a strong foundation for your marriage. It will pay off.
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