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Low Sex Drive

Question:

My husband and I have only been married for about 5 months now. We have only had sex about 3 times in those 5 months. We can go two to three months without it. We don’t talk about it and neither of us ever really initiate it. The topic just doesn’t come up. We both seem happy with our relationship, but the more I read about what is "normal" the more I get scared that we’re not! What should I do to help me with this situation, or help us for that matter? I have heard that lack of sex can lead to divorce and that is the last thing I want! I love my husband dearly and want to make sure we are both happy and healthy. I just don’t feel like our sexual desires and also activity is normal or healthy. Please help!

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Answer:

The word ‘normal’ is frequently misunderstood. What it actually means is ‘average’. What people think it means is ‘recommended’ or ‘ideal’. All normal refers to is what is most characteristic of a group of thing. What is most characteristic is not always what is best.  This is particularly true when dealing with things that are matters of personal preference.

Think about music for a moment. The most popular music (the most average music as measured by what an average person is likely to be listening to at any given moment) is the ‘Top 40′ stuff played on the pop radio stations.  Some of that music is worth listening to, but pop music is by no means the best music in the world.  There are many different kinds of music styles out there, and only a very narrow sliver of it could ever have a chance of ranking on the Top 40 charts. Jazz music for instance is wonderful stuff, but you’ll never hear it on the radio (except on some public station or on satellite). I happen to like music that is sold under the genre labels ‘World’ and ‘Ambient’ but you will hardly ever hear anything from these styles played on the radio. The point is that we each have our own ideas about what sorts of music we like and much of it is not the popular stuff; is not ‘normal’ and that is perfectly okay. Musical taste (ideas about what music is best) is and should be a personal choice and not something dictated by a popular Top 40 radio station. The same is true of sex.

Sexual preferences are very personal. That includes not only what varieties of sexual activity we each like to participate in, but also how much sexual activity we like to have. People naturally vary in how much sexual ‘drive’ they have. Some people need sex every day. Others can go for very long periods of time without desiring it. People who must have sex every day and people who don’t care much if they have it once a month aren’t having the average amount of sex (and thus are not normal), but it doesn’t really matter because they are having the amount of sex they desire. Where I’m going is that if the amount of sexual activity you and your husband have is pleasing to both of you and you are balanced in your desire for sexual activity then there is little cause for alarm.

I do think it would be useful to share your concerns with your husband, either by just starting a conversation between the two of you, or possibly in the context of marriage therapy if the topic is too sensitive to address otherwise. It is important to know why each of you is desiring less than the average amount of sex. If that is just the way each of you are made and you each are happy enough with the status quo, then you should consider yourselves blessed to have found each other. Sexual compatibility is always a good thing. If there is a mismatch between your actual frequency of sexual contact and desire on either of your parts, however, then your apparent compatibility is illusory. In that case, you will be well advised to work out in as non-judgmental manner as possible why it is hard for the partner(s) who wants more sex to ask for it. Particularly if you come from households that are hung-up about sex, it may be hard to talk about it. There may be feelings surrounding sex that make it dirty and shameful instead of the wonderful sharing, caring, lustful experience it can and ought to be. What you are shooting for is a situation where both partners are able to express their desires and concerns with one another in an open and honest manner so that no hidden frustrations or embarrassments stay lurking about waiting around to grow into larger problems.

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