What If Both Spouses Are Responsive Instead of Spontaneous? 1

Many readers have told us that our post about Spontaneous and Responsive Sexuality has been eye-opening, but what if neither you nor your spouse is sexually spontaneous? What if you’re both responsive?

First, let’s remind ourselves of what spontaneous and responsive sexuality are.

Men typically (but not always) exhibit spontaneous desire. This polarity manifests as sexual desire that isn’t triggered by any obvious external factors. “Hey, I want to have sex!” Spontaneous desire motivates the initiation of sexual behavior. Spontaneous desire leads you to ask for a date, lean in for a kiss, test boundaries for touching, escalate a physical encounter, try new things, and risk rejection. These behaviors can be confusing for the recipient, because it may seem like the sexual behavior is coming out of nowhere — which it is. It’s spontaneous.

Women typically (but not always) exhibit responsive desire. This polarity manifests as sexual desire that grows after sexual behavior has started. “Oh, that feels good… I guess I am in the mood!” A person with responsive desire may seem to have a low libido because she doesn’t often initiate sex, and it can take some effort on her part to “get into the mood”. What’s especially interesting is that women often don’t even know when they’re aroused at first.

Women’s bodies often get aroused before their minds do. Crazy, huh? With responsive desire, sexual arousal will follow physical or mental sexual stimulation, and that stimulation usually comes from a husband who is trying to initiate sex.

There’s more at the link, so go read the whole post and then come back here.

Ok, ready to continue?

Remember than just because something is common doesn’t mean it’s “good”, and uncommon things aren’t necessarily “bad”. Most husbands are sexually spontaneous, and most wives are sexually responsive, but sometimes the situation is reversed (which is fine) and sometimes both spouses are spontaneous (which is probably amazing). And sometimes both spouses are sexually responsive — which can mean that sex rarely happens because no one initiates it, leaving both spouses frustrated.

Sexually responsive people get aroused during sex play, but if the sex play never starts then they won’t have anything to respond to. So the challenge for a couple who are both responsive is to get the party started. Neither spouse may feel “in the mood” at first, but once they get going they’ll both think, “Oh, that feels good… I guess I am in the mood!”

Now what we’ve described the situation, here are a few ideas for how a responsive couple can kick things off:

  • Be open to sex. Openness is critical for sexually responsive people, and doubly so when both spouses are responsive. Be open to sex even when you aren’t in the mood yet. Give yourself a chance to warm up. Let your body get aroused and your mind will follow. Similarly, be willing to work on your spouse’s body even when neither of you is aroused yet. It may feel awkward or silly to touch each other sexually when you aren’t aroused, but get used to it and be open to working towards arousal.
  • Put sex on the schedule. Scheduling sex gets a bad rap sometimes, but when you’re busy and sexually responsive it’s likely that sex won’t push its way into your lives on its own. Days and weeks can go by until you realize that you haven’t had sex in a while and your relationship is suffering because of it. You have to intentionally make time and energy for sex.
  • Create the Habit of Daily Sex. Even better than merely scheduling sex, create the expectation in your marriage that you’ll have sex every day. Instead of assuming that you won’t have sex unless you talk about having it, assume that you will have sex unless you talk about not having it. Try having sex every day for a month and you’ll be shocked at what a difference it makes in your marriage.
  • Use sex games to stimulate your minds. Arousal doesn’t have to start with physical touch! Pick a sex game to play and it will help arouse your mind and body. A structured game or activity can reduce the uncertainty or awkwardness of sexual engagement before arousal begins. Let the game itself “initiate” the sexual encounter, while you both respond to it.
  • Foreplay all day random generator. Similarly to sex games, let the foreplay-all-day generator tell you what to do. Sexually responsive people will respond to external sexual stimuli no matter the source, so intentionally introduce stimulation for you both to respond to. If you want to make it super-structured, set an alarm for every hour, reload the generator, and text your spouse whatever pops up. (Ahem.)

Do you have any other tips to share for stimulating sex when both spouses are responsive? Leave a comment and let us know!

Husbands Want Quantity, Wives Want Quality 2

Quality is better than quantity. That statement is beneficial in many ways. But what if quantity is the quality? Husbands often view sex through that lens. We get a lot of emails from readers asking about frequency. Men want their wives to have more sex. Women wonder why their husbands want to have sex so much, and often comment that they don’t enjoy it. Here are some thoughts on how to improve the quality and the quantity.

As a couple: Communication can fix a lot of problems. Sex can be awkward to talk about, but the more you communicate about your sex life the easier it is to talk about. How often do each of you need an orgasm to feel satisfied? In a week? A month? Pay attention and notice when you feel aroused. What time of day works best to have sex? What can you do to meet your spouse’s needs? Is there something you can do to make sex better? Remember, you are the only person that can meet your spouse’s sexual needs.

For husbands: If you want to have quantity, you need to increase the quality. Your wife is not going to want to have sex if you don’t bother getting her aroused, or making sure  that she is having all of the orgasms that she wants. Shift your focus from just having sex to making sure your wife is enjoying it. Around 70-80% of women need direct clitoral stimulation to orgasm. That means only 20-30% of women can orgasm through standard penis-in-vagina sex. We have wives tell us that after years of marriage they just experienced their first orgasm. If your wife is one of the majority, you have to be more creative to give her an orgasm. For many women it takes 20-45 minutes of clitoral stimulation to orgasm. Use your hand or a vibrator, and stay there. Men can be aroused in an instant, but arousal can be a lengthy process for a woman. Notice her throughout the day and be intentional in words, touch, etc. When you start to have sex, spend a while in foreplay. Sex can be painful for your wife if she is not aroused. Husband, you might be surprised by how much your wife wants to have sex when she’s having frequent orgasms!

For wives: Quantity has a quality all of its own. You might be surprised at how often your husband would want to have sex if you were available. Find out what your husband needs to feel satisfied. It’s ok to have sex and not have an orgasm, as long as you are sexually satisfied overall. Be available to your husband. Remember, you are the only person your spouse can have sex with. He will never grow tired of having sex. Pray for the right attitude towards meeting his sexual needs. Sex is not a burden, it is a gift. Sometimes it is a tricky gift to figure out! Find what makes you enjoy sex, then pursue doing that together. Your husband almost certainly wants to give you pleasure, but may not know how. If you have never had an orgasm, explore how to make that happen with your husband. An orgasm is the key to unlocking the pleasure of sex.

Remember that you are a team. You love each other. If both spouses in a marriage focus their energy on pleasing the other, your own needs will get met along the way.

Sex Q&A: Childbirth, High-Libido Wives, and Encouragement 3

We’re grateful for all the emails we receive from our readers! We’re very humbled to be asked for help and advice, and we’re blessed to receive so much encouragement. We think these emails may be encouraging to you, our readers, because they demonstrate that every marriage has sexual challenges, and that there’s hope for every couple to have an awesome and fulfilling sex life.

Husband “NL” asks about sex after childbirth:

I have a question about sex after childbirth. My wife had a baby 12 weeks ago and we tried to have sex after about 8 weeks . I used to give her massages sometimes to help get things in the mood.

This time she wanted me to give her one, so she was laying face down on the bed and I was on top of her rubbing her back , but she hadn’t showered since the morning, I tried to give her a massage but she also still has large hemorrhoids, that along with the fact she smelt slightly was just such a turn off for me I couldn’t do it.

I tried not to tell her why but steer things in a different direction and just kiss face to face . But she kept insisting on a massage, I finally told her that I couldn’t give her a massage cause she smelt.

Then she felt all rejected and is refusing to try and have sex again.

I wouldn’t expect her to give me a massage if I’d worked all day

I’m not really sure what to do?

Women have a lot of hormones and emotions after having a baby and that can continue for a while. For me, I felt so sensitive and cried easily. It’s not rational at all, just chemical. The good news is that it does get better! But for a while, be extra sensitive towards your wife and encourage her a lot. Tell her she is beautiful, how thankful you are for all of the work she did, how amazing it is that she was able to give birth to a child, what a great mom she is. You know she is tired but she is doing great. She needs to hear all of that frequently. Deep down she probably knows that she could have used a shower that day, but I’m sure she still felt embarrassed. I don’t know if she is still upset at this point, but at least tell her that you are sorry and don’t try to preface it or justify with why. Just follow it up with encouragement. I’m not sure if you have had sex yet, but having sex after delivering a baby is really scary the first time or two. When you get to that point, go slow, and reassure her that you will go slow, and that any time if she is uncomfortable you will stop. It meant so much to me that I could trust El Fury with that. Also, I would encourage you to find your wife’s love language (physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, gift giving, quality time) and go above and beyond to show her love in that way. I hope this helps! Enjoy this time and your new baby!

Wife “HL” asks about initiating sex:

I have found your site to be refreshing for our marriage. Growing up in a Christian home, sex always seemed “bad”. It was something that was never talked about and complete off limits until marriage.

I think this has definitely shaped how my sex life is today. My husband and I have been married for just about 9 years. Sex has not ever been something that I initiated. We have had long stretches of no intimacy and with three kids under 5- it is still very difficult for me to prioritize intimacy.

I enjoy sex – it’s just the “getting there” that is difficult.

My question is how do I initiate sex now that I haven’t in so long? How do I introduce some of the games that you talk about-without feeling embarrassed? How would I go about purchasing a toy, without it being odd because that hasn’t been me in the past?

I am sure a lot of my issues come form low confidence and self esteem. But where is the best place to begin?

Hope that all makes sense! Thanks for listening and I look forward to your reply.

These are great questions. At one time we had three kids under the age of five, so I can completely understand how you feel! For “getting there” you almost have to take it day by day and be opportunistic if you can. If you feel good in the morning, have sex in the morning. If your husband is home in the afternoon and the kids are napping, have sex then. I tried to be mindful of my urges, and when those occurred we tried to have sex right then.

For the initiation aspect, start with communication. I think you could sit down with your husband and tell him, “I have been thinking about our sex life and want to try some new things. I want to hear your ideas too, but here is what I’m thinking. What do you think about introducing some games? How would you feel if I initiated sex and do you have any ideas about how I could do that? Do you have any thoughts about our sex life and what you would like to add or improve?” I think if you involve him in the planning then it won’t seem so out of the blue. The more you talk about sex the easier it gets to talk about. It can feel awkward at first talking about it, but it’s such an important part of your marriage to communicate about. Maybe start with that and then work up to the toys, etc. When you decide to get a toy, ask him to pick one out with you. Or you could tell him about our blog and ask if he would like to sit down and read it together. The more that you make it about what you do together, the easier it will be. I think that your husband will be thrilled that you are wanting to improve your sex life!

Wife “KO” writes:

Hey SC, Thank you so much for this site! I love that it’s open dialogue about different aspects of sex within Christian marriage. Onto the question!

I’m a happily married woman to an amazing God-fearing man. We’ve been married for a decade and as we age, have kids etc. my husband’s libido has decreased as he’s also a few years older than me.

I’ve found articles on your website in re: men having a higher sex drive but I haven’t been able to find the opposite yet. Is there any you can point me to? I know communication is key, but I’d love to hear some perspective of other women in my situation – the woman having a higher libido, or the woman wanting to try more adventurous things in the bedroom etc and their journey in encouraging their husbands to be receptive?

You are right, we don’t have many posts targeting couples where the wife has a higher libido than the husband. You are also right that communication is important. Sometimes it’s easy to communicate broadly, “I’d like to do more of xyz”, however I think it is more beneficial to try to specifically define your goals with your spouse.

First, each of you pay attention to yourselves over the next week or two or even month. Pay attention to when you feel those drives, and how often. Also to when you are feeling the most sexually satisfied and what led to that? Or the reverse, when are you feeling frustrated, and what let to that? Then, sit down with a calendar. I feel most sexually satisfied when I have around three orgasms a week, give or take depending on where I am in my cycle. El Fury feels best when we have sex every day. When is the best time for the two of you to have sex? For us, we pretty much have sex every morning, which fits El Fury’s needs really well because he can have an orgasm much faster than I can. If I want to have an orgasm we of course do that, but if the kids are pounding on our door we skip the morning and commit to that afternoon or evening when we know we can set aside a longer chunk of time

Second, for adding more adventure, that is something that can sound scary or even like a lot of work to a spouse that isn’t comfortable. Start with once a month. Set aside a night once a month (put it on the calendar) that you are committing to playing a sexy game, or doing a longer foreplay, etc. For me, if it’s on the calendar, I am mentally prepared and am less tempted to trade that time for something more relaxing. See if once a month works for your husband and adjust from there. Be sure to communicate to him that it would mean a lot to you if he was willing to try this, and get feedback on what he is comfortable with and also what he might like to try. I hope that helps and that you two have lots of fun exploring some new things!

Finally, many of the sex games and role-playing ideas we share on this site put the husband in the more active or dominant role — but there’s no reason it needs to be done this way. If you, the wife, are the higher-libido partner then it might work well for you to take the more active/dominant role in a game.

Next, here are two encouraging emails that really touched our hearts.

Husband “ID” writes:

Hey guys – I didn’t necessarily have a question for the both of you, however I wanted to take a minute to share my wife and I’s sincere gratitude to the both of you. Your website has been an amazing resource for us both. I do not believe our love life was suffering but since we have discovered this treasure trove, our intimacy has gone to levels we have never experienced before. Thank you so very much for the courage of your wife and you. This can be a very much a taboo subject in our society and in the Christian culture. It is not always easy to talk about. You both do very well is effectively and creatively passing your knowledge on to others. Thank you again and may God bless you!

Wife “RE” writes:

Hi, my husband and I read and love your blog – only just found your fb page. We don’t post online just for privacy reasons but wanted to thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, wisdom and encouragement. Because of the content you might not get much feedback so we wanted to give you a huge thank you for doing what you’re doing so that you don’t stop. Sowing into marriages in the area of sexual intimacy is SO important. I regularly speak to Christian women’s group about sexual intimacy and recommend your site if any women ask for more information. We live in Perth, Western Australia and have a really great marriage (20 years) and 5 kids. Love your blog. Thank you both so much. ♥️

Thanks for all the emails! We frequently pray for you, our readers, and we love hearing from you. May God bless your marriage with amazing sex.

Please use the contact pages for Sexy Corte and El Fury to send us your questions. We will never reveal your name or any other identifying information. You can ask questions anonymously, or use a free anonymous email server like Mailinator.

For Female Arousal, Excitement Is Better than Relaxation 4

Dr. Cindy M. Meston from the University of Texas at Austin explains that the key to female sexual arousal is excitement, not relaxation.

“For years we were told, ‘Have a bubble bath, calm down, listen to relaxing music, do deep breathing exercises, chill out before sex,'” she says.

“But my research shows the opposite, that you actually want to get women in an active state.

“So, you can run around the block with your partner and get them to chase you around the block, or watch a scary movie together, ride a roller-coaster together, even a good comedy act. If you really get laughing, you’re going to have a sympathetic activation response.”

Meston is talking about the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for subconscious muscle contractions that get us ready for the flight or fight mode, like heart rate and blood pressure. She has found that if this system is activated before sex it will help women respond more intensely and more quickly.

Paul Byerly at The XY Code has a great story about excitement:

I recall a time when Lori thought I had fallen off a cliff (I had not). We went home and had really good sex. Now I know the reason for that was the adrenaline running through her system. Likewise, this is why teenage boys used to like to take a girl to a scary movie; their chances of something sexual in the back seat of the car were much better after such a movie.

We write a lot about games, activities, and novelty on our blog because they create excitement! Wives tend to be sexually responsive and usually don’t even realize when they’re becoming aroused!

Men’s subjective ratings of arousal were in agreement with their body’s level of sexual arousal about 66 percent of the time, while women’s were in line only about 26 percent of the time.

“The general pattern that I have seen in my laboratory is that women experience a genital response but do not report feeling sexually aroused,” Chivers told LiveScience.

Husbands and wives should both ponder that statistic for a while: a woman’s body often gets aroused before her mind does, and she won’t even notice.

Do you want to kick up the intensity of your sex life? Here are a few ideas from previous posts:

How do you get your sympathetic nervous system revved up? Leave a comment and let us know!

Spontaneous and Responsive Sexuality 5

Are you ever confused by your own sexual arousal? By what turns you on and when? Or… maybe you’re confused by your spouse. Why doesn’t she ever initiate sex? Why is he always so turned on? The “he” and “she” there are stereotypical — sometimes it goes the other way — but scientists have identified two different pathways to arousal that map onto these common perceptions. The two polarities are called “spontaneous desire” and “responsive desire”, and they lead to very different behavior that can confuse you and your spouse if you don’t recognize what’s happening.

Men typically (but not always) exhibit spontaneous desire. This polarity manifests as sexual desire that isn’t triggered by any obvious external factors. “Hey, I want to have sex!” Spontaneous desire motivates the initiation of sexual behavior. Spontaneous desire leads you to ask for a date, lean in for a kiss, test boundaries for touching, escalate a physical encounter, try new things, and risk rejection. These behaviors can be confusing for the recipient, because it may seem like the sexual behavior is coming out of nowhere — which it is. It’s spontaneous. The recipient of these behaviors may ask themselves things like:

  • “Why is he touching me now?”
  • Why does he want to do that?
  • “Why is he so persistent?”
  • “Again?”
  • “Does he think about anything besides sex?”

Women typically (but not always) exhibit responsive desire. This polarity manifests as sexual desire that grows after sexual behavior has started. “Oh, that feels good… I guess I am in the mood!” A person with responsive desire may seem to have a low libido because she doesn’t often initiate sex, and it can take some effort on her part to “get into the mood”. What’s especially interesting is that women often don’t even know when they’re aroused at first.

Men’s subjective ratings of arousal were in agreement with their body’s level of sexual arousal about 66 percent of the time, while women’s were in line only about 26 percent of the time.

“The general pattern that I have seen in my laboratory is that women experience a genital response but do not report feeling sexually aroused,” Chivers told LiveScience.

Women’s bodies often get aroused before their minds do. Crazy, huh? With responsive desire, sexual arousal will follow physical or mental sexual stimulation, and that stimulation usually comes from a husband who is trying to initiate sex. Without understanding this process, a husband may think things like:

  • “Why doesn’t she ever initiate sex?”
  • “I’ll wait for her to initiate this time.”
  • “Why do I have to try so hard to turn her on?”
  • “Isn’t she attracted to me? Doesn’t she want me?”
  • “Why doesn’t she suggest something new?”

Of course, there are no absolutes in life. Some men are more responsive, and some women are more spontaneous. What’s more, a person’s desire polarity may vary over time — especially for women, as their hormones change throughout their menstrual cycles.

Now that you know about spontaneous and responsive desire, what action can you take?

If you and your spouse are both spontaneous… well, you’re probably having sex all the time. Congrats!

If you are spontaneous and your spouse is responsive:

  • Don’t judge your responsive spouse for not being spontaneous.
  • Learn how to elicit sexual response from your spouse and recognize when she is getting turned on.
  • Be enthusiastic and persistent with initiation; don’t get frustrated that you initiate most of the time.

If you are responsive and your spouse is spontaneous:

  • Don’t judge your spontaneous spouse for not being responsive.
  • When your spontaneous spouse initiates sex, don’t immediately see it as an annoyance or distraction! Give your mind a body a chance to respond.
  • Learn to recognize your own arousal when your mind and body respond to your spouse’s initiation. It may not be obvious.

If you and your spouse are both responsive, you’re going to need to be extra intentional. Try one of our sex games or the random foreplay generator to initiate sex when you’ve got time, even if neither of you is particularly in the mood. Once you get started, you can both respond to the heat generated by the game!

Do you have any experiences to share? Any advice? Leave a comment!

Better Sleep Leads to Better Sex, Which Leads to Better Sleep 6

This post is also available as a podcast: Podcast #015: You Should Sleep Naked, Even in Winter

Do you want to have more and better sex? Get plenty of sleep.

According to a large new study, women over age 50 who get fewer than seven hours of sleep are less likely to report being sexually active than their peers who sleep more, a problem that increases with age.

Sleep disorders can also interfere with sex. Research suggests that men with obstructive sleep apnea, a condition marked by snoring and breathing difficulties, have decreased levels of sexual activity, possibly because they produce lower amounts of testosterone. Sleep apnea can also increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, which may be related to sexual dysfunction.

But the reverse appears to be true, too: Another recent study that looked at sleep and sex in college students found that for those in romantic relationships, every extra hour they slept corresponded to higher sexual desire, greater vaginal lubrication and a 14% increase in the chances of getting frisky the next day. That’s probably because a good night’s sleep leaves us feeling refreshed, relaxed and energetic — all important for feeling sexy.

Sleep is an important component of staying healthy, along with exercise, managing your weight, and maintaining good hygiene. For (the many) husbands who write to us asking for advice on strengthening their wives’ libidos, helping her get more sleep seems like a great first step.

And… do you want more and better sleep? Have plenty of sex!

The reasons are largely chemical in nature. After orgasm, our bodies release significant amounts of the “cuddle hormone” oxytocin, which lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol, resulting in deep relaxation.

Sex also has gender-specific benefits. “For women, estrogen levels increase after sex, which can enhance a woman’s REM cycle for a deeper sleep. In men, the hormone prolactin is secreted after orgasm and has been tied to sleepiness,” explained licensed psychologist Rachel Needle, co-director of the Modern Sex Therapy Institutes.

Yeah, yeah — there’s just too much to do. But you need to make time for your health and for your spouse. Go to bed early tonight together!

Flibanserin, "Female Viagra", Improves Libido for Some Women 7

We get a lot of emails from husbands and wives who are distressed by the wife’s low interest in sex. Libido is affected by a whole host of factors — relationship, communication, family situation, stress, time management, hormones, and more — so medication shouldn’t be your first resort. But while you’re working on all those other areas in your marriage, it’s probably worth your time to talk to the wife’s doctor about any health problems that may be contributing to her disinterest or dissatisfaction with sex. This can be an embarrassing topic to bring up, but your sex life is worth an awkward conversation!

Along with the other tools available to your marriage, it appears that the drug flibanserin is effective at improving female libido.

Flibanserin is used for hypoactive sexual desire disorder among women. Those receiving flibanserin report a 0.5 increase compared to placebo in the number of times they had “satisfying sexual events”. In those on flibanserin it rose from 2.8 to 4.5 times a month while women receiving placebo reported also an increase of “satisfying sexual events” from 2.7 to 3.7 times a month. The onset of the flibanserin effect was seen from the first timepoint measured after 4 weeks of treatment and maintained throughout the treatment period.

Let me translate:

  • Baseline low libido women: 2.7 satisfying sexual events per month
  • Baseline low libido women taking placebo (sugar pill with no medical effect): 3.7 satisfying sexual events per month
  • Baseline low libido women taking flibanserin: 4.5 satisfying sexual events per month

As is often the case, placebos alone show significant improvement over the baseline. This means that you can do almost anything to improve your sex life as long as you believe it will work! The human mind is a powerful thing.

However, the results also indicate that flibanserin is significantly better than a placebo, so it’s worth asking your doctor if it’s a good option for you.

Have any of you tried flibanserin? Did it help you? Leave a comment.

Get Some Sun, Have Better Sex 8

Here’s a fascinating study about using light therapy to increase the libido of men with low sex drives. Don’t worry, it’s not some hippy thing!

Exposure to bright light – similar to daylight – boosts levels of the male hormone testosterone and can triple sexual satisfaction, the research found.

“Before treatment, both groups averaged a sexual satisfaction score of around two out of 10, but after treatment the group exposed to the bright light was scoring sexual satisfaction scores of around 6.3 – a more than three-fold increase on the scale we used. In contrast, the control group only showed an average score of around 2.7 after treatment.”

While average blood levels of testosterone in the “control” group remained at around 2.3 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml) before and after the study, those of the men receiving active light treatment rose from 2.1 ng/ml to 3.6 ng/ml.

“The increased levels of testosterone explain the greater reported sexual satisfaction,” said Prof Fagiolini. “In the northern hemisphere, the body’s testosterone production naturally declines from November through April, and then rises steadily through the spring and summer with a peak in October. You see the effect of this in reproductive rates, with the month of June showing the highest rate of conception. The use of the light box really mimics what nature does.”

The article doesn’t mention it, but testosterone is also essential for women’s libido. (Though, of course, at lower levels of the hormone than men require.)

And best of all, you don’t need a fancy “light box”! Just go outside and bare some skin to that giant ball of fire in the sky that God helpfully provided — for free! The study quoted above indicates that as little as 30 minutes per day in the sun will have an effect, so go get some exercise.