The morning before my wedding, my mom passed down some advice (given to her by her mother-in-law) on how to keep things hot with my husband-to-be. “Be sure to wear an apron while you are cooking dinner. Just an apron, nothing else.” My own mother reinforced what every romantic comedy had already taught me– all you have to do get a man’s attention is show a little skin. I’ve also learned that I should initiate sex as often as possible and push myself to get in the mood and perform.
At the end of the day when my new husband was too tired and too stressed for sex, I was the one left feeling unattractive and rejected. Being ready, willing, and naked wasn’t doing the trick, and I started to believe that I was at the core of the issue. Maybe I wasn’t pleasing him sexually. Maybe I wasn’t attractive enough. No matter how often he assured me to the contrary, I would some back with “Well, if you’re attracted to me and enjoy having sex with me, why won’t you?”
In past relationships, I got a lot of validation and feelings of self-worth from being desired sexually. I was used to men trying to get into my pants and being pleased when they did. My husband wasn’t interested, so I didn’t know how to feel good about myself. And I started to not feel good about our relationship.
Every sex-centric conversation I had with a girlfriend led me to believe that there was something wrong with us. My friends were all beating their husbands and boyfriends off with sticks. The few times I did admit to his lack of desire, his sexuality was called into question or I was given instructions on how to up my sex game with lingerie, surprise blow jobs, dirty talk, adult movies, you name it. I cruised the Love and Sex book section of Amazon looking for answers. There are a ton of titles, but the bulk of focus on partner pleasing techniques. There’s no how-to on how to bed your husband.
I was reticent to add another issue to the pile of things to discuss with my therapist, but she when she asked me about my sex life, I didn’t hold back. I admitted that I felt like a total failure, that I was frustrated and was sure I was only woman in the world that wanted much more sex than I was getting. “Mismatched sex drives are very common and totally normal,” she told me. She might as well have waved a magic wand.
Taking what my therapist said to heart relieved a ton of pressure. I’ve stopped questioning my self-worth when an attempted make-out session turns into snuggling. I’m appreciating the times when our sex-drive is in sync. When it does happen, we have loving, intimate, toe-curling, earth-shattering sex. In hindsight, we never had a bad sex life; I was just let down by poor cultural, gender-based stereotypes.
The concept of a healthy sex life is something that is specific and distinct to each individual couple, and that one-size fits all model touted by popular media ought to be thrown out the window. I still haven’t found a book about what happens when the woman wants sex more often. Maybe I’ll have to be the one that writes it.