It might seem like a cliché, but the reality is that generally men have more interest in sex than women. In fact, 51% of men would like to have sex at least every day compared to only 7% of women. We hear about it everywhere; stand-up comedians and sitcoms make the most of it, it’s a favourite topic at mother’s groups, and you don’t need to hang around a bar or jobsite to get an idea that this is not only the topic of a million jokes but also a big problem.
When couples experience a mismatch in their levels of sexual desire, this can cause a wide variety of problems. These can range from the obvious such as dissatisfaction with their sex life, to more deeply felt concerns and fears about body image and self-esteem, the love their partner has for them, infidelity and the future of the relationship. Men can feel rejected, unwanted and as though their manhood has been challenged, while women can carry a lot of guilt, lose their sense of self and fear that their inability to match their partner’s level of desire will lead to the end of the relationship.
However, the good news is that this is a common experience that almost all couples have to navigate, and some couples have found ways to positively strengthen their bond even with this difficult issue. It turns out that when a desire mismatch exists, only half of all couples are distressed by this. What we can learn from these couples is that there are many solutions. They appear to get by with good communication, the willingness to meet each others needs, and by facing the problem head on rather than ignoring or avoiding it. The strength and flexibility to be like this with each other at those times when they feel guilt, rejection or sadness comes from a solid, secure foundation.
Couples therapists can help couples to repair the hurt that mismatched desire may have caused and find their way to long-lasting change so that this issue does not continue to cause problems. They do this by helping them to understand and trust each other in a new way, so that they naturally want to turn to their partner rather than away when times get tough. It might take some time and patience to find your way back to a satisfying sex life and fulfilling relationship, but the positive change this can make to your life is immeasurable.
If you would like to learn more about deepening and strengthening that fundamental bond with your partner, a good book to read is Hold Me Tight by Dr Sue Johnson. Otherwise, we have psychologists at Benchmark who have a passion for working with couples around these issues.
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