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Libido high, libido low: a Christian perspective on unequal desire in the bedroom


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It’s the blessed marriage where both partners have equal sexual expectations.  They both desire to engage in sexual intimacy at the same frequency.  However, I would venture to say that there are a higher number of marriages that have mismatched sexual frequency expectations or desire discrepancy.
This leads to one spouse being the lower drive and one spouse being the higher drive. But, why is this?

In a recent podcast, by Dr. Erick Janssen of the Kinsey Institute, he mentions that sexual desire is an emotion.  However, subtle or insignificant that may seem, it hit me over the head like a ton of Playboys.

It explains so much!  I realized that my higher drive spouse had physical reasons to need sexual intimacy.  But, it never dawned on me that this physical need could in fact be an emotional need.

Psychoneurobiologically speaking, emotions are one-part value judgments and one-part perceptions of how your body is changing.  Value judgments are determining whether your end goal is being achieved.  Body perceptions involve your brain gauging processes like neurochemicals being injected into the brain, hormone levels, blood pressure, breathing rate, etc.

There is a soul-essence in regards to our unique emotions, too.  As a Christian, I believe there’s a third part to the emotion of sexual desire; spirituality.  Sexual intimacy is the spiritual bonding of marriage.

Why is it important, as a lower drive spouse, to fully understand that sexual desire is an emotional need?  It makes the needs of the higher drive spouse more compelling.  If I expect him to take my needs seriously, even though he doesn’t understand them, I need to take his needs seriously, even though I don’t innately understand them.

For example, I need to talk about things, everything, things he thinks are trivial.  I like to know where he stands emotionally through discussion.  I like to talk.  He doesn’t need to talk.  But, since he knows how important it is to me, we talk.

What if he didn’t want to talk with me?  That would make me feel horrible, like I didn’t matter to him.  It dawned on me, if sexual desire is an emotion, that must be what he feels like when I don’t want to make love!

To work through the conflict of our desire discrepancy, we were able to combine our two favorite things, sex and conversation.  We talked about sex outside of the bedroom.  We worked up a compromise of what was appealing to both of us.  Life happens and things sometimes wax and wane, but we make an effort to keep our desire discrepancy more equal.

Bonny Logsdon Burns blogs about Christian sex and marriage for Wilmington Faith & Values.

Tracy Simmons
Tracy Simmons
Tracy Simmons is an award-winning journalist specializing in religion reporting and digital entrepreneurship. In her approximate 20 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti. Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas, Connecticut and Washington. She is the executive director of FāVS.News, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Washington. She also writes for The Spokesman-Review and national publications. She is a Scholarly Assistant Professor of Journalism at Washington State University.

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