Different Sexual Appetites

Updated on February 19, 2015
S.T. asks from Huntington, NY
17 answers

My husband and I are having a difference of opinion. It's my opinion that nearly every husband & wife have different sexual appetities and in order to have a successful marriage there has to be compromise. My husband agrees in theory but somehow truly belives that most couples are more compatible than we are. I also think that most of the time (not all of the time certainly) husbands have a greater sexual appetite than their wives. Now I know a few women who want sex more than their husbands but most of my female friends feel the opposite.

I've said that even though I'm not in the mood nearly as often as he is, I still enjoy sex as a way to make my husband happy, to share intimacy and most of the time I really enjoy it even though I wasn't initially in the mood. My husband says this is "pity sex" and he doesn't want "pity sex". (This came up becuase we were away and he wanted to have sex in a new hotel room (???) and I was tired from the long trip and was looking forward to relaxing, reading or shopping or something un-physical. But I agreed this time. 99% of the time I hop in bed and go along with it - and I don't give off the attitude of "I don't want this but you do so OK". I almost NEVER say no- this was the first time in many months and eventually I said yes. We at a seeming impasse and he's very unhappy right now. I've told him to put on his big boy pants and grow up.

So, my questions: Do you and your spouse have different appetities - how different? What are your ages? Do you have sex with your spouse when you don't feel like it becuase you love your spouse? Or do you think that's just not right? PS we've been married 19 years, we have a kid in high school and another in college, we're not new at this - I just think my husband is in the midst of his midlife crisis (which I don't throw around. I asked his therapist about it - who said perhaps since he's had some issues with anxiety and sleeplessness and other things) And yes I am in the midst of menopause with hormonal changes but since ovarian cancer runs in my family I'm not taking hormone therapy.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

OK - clearly I didn't explain myself well. In the interest of keeping the question short I did not include many things. We have a great sex life - and yes I orgasm quite frequently. but my appetite is not as high as my husbands. So of the 2-3 times a week we are intimate I usually don't already feel in the mood because I had great sex two days ago and could wait easialy another week. (I'm in menopause, in my mid 50's and my husband is younger if that makes a didfference). BUT I get in the mood in the process. At least once a week I begin the process and get naked as we head to the bedroom. Once in the past 6-8 months did I say no - and then he talked me into it - that's where the "pity sex" came up.
YIKES people - in 19 years I've never told him I don't want to have sex with him. I don't tell him literally to put his big boy pants on. It's figurative people. I politley say something like - when we get home, or geez you're frisky or hey hon can we go shopping first and then roll around naked?
We've spend the last 7 years in trauma in our family, one terminatl illness and death after another, horrible disabling auto accidents, disability, VERY ill child who survived and is now thriving - we've been through alot together. Trust me I know how to be kind and caring and loving or we would not have survived. But now we are in the middle of my husband's depression and after 7 years of caring for everyone including him I'm psychologically spent. I am amazingling patient and loving with him - his psychiatrist thinks I'm amazing with him. So I once said no and he persuades me otherwise. that's what this is really about. Sorry I didnt explain it well.

Featured Answers



answers from Wausau on

This sex thing is just a symptom. You have other marriage issues that are not being addressed. You may not even be aware of them, and I suspect he's not being open about the true issues on his side. Until you two identify and deal with them, sex will be used as the whipping boy distraction.

More Answers


answers from Washington DC on

it's probably best to either decline, or participate enthusiastically, even if the enthusiasm IS a little forced at the beginning.
in my opinion it only comes off as pity sex if you're sighing and rolling your eyes, or drumming your fingers on his shoulder waiting for him to finish up already.
it's silly for anyone who's been together for any amount of time to think that both partners are always on the same page all the time.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Our appetites have changed with age. In our younger years, he wanted it more. And yes, I would suck it up and do it (although I never let him know that that's what I was doing. I always let him believe I was excited about it...because what purpose does it serve otherwise than to make him feel bad...?).
Now that we're older, I want it a lot more than he does. I have found that we have a balance in how we set the pace, however.

I think the mistake on your end is by letting him know that you're not excited about it. I can see how that would make him feel like it's pity sex, and that he's not desired. So my suggestion is to stop that. He doesn't need to know that you're not into it. Fake being excited about it - especially if you're going to get into it anyway - and help keep his self esteem high by making him feel desirable. That's the root of the issue you're describing.
Think about how you would feel in reverse.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I think if a wife makes the decision to NOT turn down sex, she needs to keep that to herself! That's the only way he'd call it "pity sex"!
So now...better to ask for a rain heck occasionally.
Yes, in 18 years of marriage I've seen frequency of and desire for sex wax and wane from both sides...usually due to outside streses: kids, jobs, etc.

Sometimes I participate when I don't feel like it, but I also feel free to decline, promise tomorrow....we are in our early 50's now.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Totally normal squabble to have even after 19 years of marriage. You two have been through ALOT together and will make it through this as well. It is sooooo healthy that you guys even discuss this and hash it out.

I have found that guys don't talk about this kind of stuff with their guy pals as often as women do with their gal pals. So guys tend to think they are alone in the struggle..and the only ones. Guys don't usually sit around skimming through questions or answering those questions on a "dadapedia" site.

Yes..my husband and I have different desires of frequency. Majority of men tend to want sex even amid emotional turmoil, stress, sadness, insecurity etc. It empowers them and makes them feel needed and desired.

During stressful or exhausting days, women tend to lean toward wanting to sleep, escape in a book or movie or sit in a quiet room with no one touching or talking to them while gulping down a desired drink of choice. Sure women want to feel desired, needed, loved and cherished but it does not have to end in sex.

There have been many a day that my husband could do the dishes for me then give me a massage, then kiss me lovingly and I would go to bed a happy and satisfied woman. But, I understand how important sexual intimacy is to our marriage so I don't often say "not tonight hun". I love our alone time together and he is very attentive so that I enjoy it just as much as he does. (c'mon...the gift of having multiple orgasms is such a huge plus to being a woman!!)

Men and women are sooo different in our chemical make up. I am soo grateful that my ob/gyn explained this to me after having our first child. She discussed sex after baby in very primitive terms. Men have an underlying innate desire to procreate the human race...women have an underlying innate desire to nurture the human race. This explains why my husband can go at any moment of the day while I usually run through the day's to-do list in my head.

You have hit a little bump whether it is mid life crisis for him or just being depressed. Having anxiety mixed with being constantly sleepy will definitely mess with his head and make him have illogical/irrational thoughts. You saying you are not that into having sex with him all the time translates to him that you are not attracted to him.

Tell him to stop saying pity sex..that is wrong. There are nights I don't feel like making dinner for my family but I do. It is not pity dinner...or pity attendance at the 100th dance recital. We do these things out of sheer love and concern for the other person's feelings. Not duty or pity...but LOVE!!

He knows deep down you adore him and love him...heck...you have stuck with each other through some of life's most tragic situations. Keep lovin' him and telling him you find him sexy. Spend time together having fun to lift his spirits.

Good luck and best wishes!!
( We are going on 19 years of marriage as well but have 3 younger kids in the home ages 15, 12 and 8. I am almost 40, my husband early 40's)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

ADD: The additional info is crucial. It's not you. It's him, and it's the situational stress in the family. His depression needs to be addressed and his therapist needs to help him with this one. It's not you.

ORIGINAL: My libido has ALWAYS been low. I'm good with 2 times a week. My husband would probably like things every day. We compromise. It's not "pity" sex if you are sharing intimacy.

If you're not in a va-va-voom mood but you are enjoying it once you get going, great. But if you are OBVIOUSLY giving off a "well, I'm just doing this because you want to" attitude - that's going to come across and that won't feel good for him. So make sure he's not picking up a vibe that's actually THERE.

Now, you might want to talk to your OB/GYN to make sure your hormones aren't changing.

And address the communication issue - communication=intimacy for a woman. He's throwing around the phrase "pity sex" and you're throwing around "mid-life crisis". That kind of minimizing feelings isn't helpful. It's probably not intentional, but it's not healthy. Talk, REALLY talk, when you're not in the middle of this issue.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I think when you ask personal questions like this, it's easy for people to misunderstand.

2-3 times a week during your 50's - that's not bad from what I understand :) Good for you.

I would say we've had appetites the same, and we've also both been more or less interested, depending on where we are in life. For years, we had all these little ones, and it was more "when do you have time" that united us.

My interest has gone downhill as I've gotten older. That doesn't mean I don't love my husband or find him attractive. I just don't feel the need as often. It's still great - I just am more tired than I used to be, and some days I pick sleep.

And yes, we all give and take in marriage - I think that's totally normal (and from what my friends say it's very typical).

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I haven't read the other responses, but based on your What Happened, I'm surprised and annoyed that others are giving you a hard time. Nothing in your post was unusual or unreasonable, and your attitude toward sex sounds perfectly healthy. I don't think you have to go take hormones or boost your libido, unless you want to for some reason

I think generally, most men have a higher sex drive. I think the fact that you do it even when you are not in the mood is great, and I think your husband's comment about 'pity sex' is ridiculous. He should be happy that his wife graciously goes along with it and gets in the mood, when he wants her to. I don't think you should have had to justify yourself to everyone on the board.

Our sex life isn't a good example of anything, so I won't comment on that. We've had our issues that we are slowly getting over.

LOL Suz: "sighing and rolling your eyes, or drumming your fingers on his shoulder waiting for him to finish up "

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

It is okay to say no. Of course if one says no all the time it will leave the other feeling unwanted, undesired, and unloved, but you clearly state that is not an issue in your relationship. I get what he is saying about not wanting pity sex, and if you gave in when you didn't want to it could seem like that was what is was, but he needs to understand that you are allowed to say no as well. If his drive is higher though then 2-3 times per week might not feel like much. For many years that was our norm (1-3 times per week), and that is what I would call "maintenance sex", it is enough to keep things running smoothly but may not be enough to make someone feel completely satisfied or like their spouse just can't get enough of them. But, I am also one of those seemingly rare woman who has a very high drive. I do find that the more time we make to connect sexually, even if one of us is tired or what not, the more connected we feel, and the more affectionate we tend to be even when it is not leading to sex. Sex is only one small part of a relationship, but if there is a disconnect it can feel like a huge problem. Is it possible he is feeling (even if he should have no reason to) that you are just giving him maintenance sex and that you may not really want it or be into it? There was a period in our relationship where I thought things seemed fine but he did not get the feeling I was as into sex as he was and he thought maybe I just did not want him as much as I used to. If he is already dealing with depression there is a good chance the problem is really with his perception of things rather then what is actually going on.

Added: I wanted to add something after events made me think of something last night. It was also possible in this one instant that he was just disappointed because he had expected it to be a yes that particular night because of the fancy location. When someone is expecting a yes for a specific reason (fancy place, maybe comments made earlier, whatever) and then the other person says no there can be a moment of surprise, and even sadness, and in that moment of disappointment it can sometimes be hard to hide our feelings. He may have gotten over his disappointment quickly but what he said in the heat of it was still out in the world.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

Personally, I think you're doing great.

I am one of those women who wants lots of sex, and have had several failed relationships in which the guys were the complacent, lazy type after honeymoon stage and expected me to do all the seducing. YAWN, I hate un-horny guys.

Anyway, I have NO PATIENCE for women who lack the gumption to AT LEAST shower up and put on a cute nightie and let a guy do his thing. It doesn't take that much energy or time if he's the one rearin' to go. I think it's very selfish to expect a partner to be regularly unsatisfied sexually when platonic relationships are what friends are for, not spouses.

But the fact that you DO cooperate willingly? What more can he ask? The happiest couples I know are sexually compatible with equal sex drives. I'm very envious of one couple I know like this, they've had 18+ years of frequent frollicking now! Think of the health benefits! They're young for their ages and slim and energetic...always thinking of fun things to do..so in love....MOST of my friends are like you, where the woman does her best to keep the man happy, but would be happier with less sex. This is less awesome than exhibit A, but still seems fine. I haven't heard the men complaining but who knows what goes on behind closed doors. And I know a few ladies with men with low sex drives. And that just SUCKS and the women are very unhappy about it. Same with couples where the women don't want sex and the men do. It's SO common and so sucky and they are very unhappy.

I think it's a bit much for your husband to demand your inner nature must change if your behavior is fair and square. I could see if you weren't participating in sex with him, or you were doing it grudgingly...but c'mon. What does he want from you? NEVER to EVER say no and be tired? Even I have had to say no once or twice in the past...

***just read you swh. This is your husband's problem. Sounds like you have to accept it and continue your good behavior. If he gets too mean or difficult about it, you'll need him to address it for himself and seek help, which sounds like you are aware of. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

if your husband has depression problems and this was just one incident, not sure what usable advice you will get here.
I retracted my answer because the story changed

But I feel for you because I'm nursing (which takes away my sexual appetite). And yes, I have sex with him when I don't feel like it for selfish and unselfish reasons. Yes because I love him, also because I don't want to be pressured to wean before baby and are ready. Also because I don't want him to feel any need to look outside of our relationship for sex.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I totally understand what you mean, I'm with you and and I agree with you. I don't talk too many details with my friends about their sex lives, but I have definitely heard plenty of women I know echo the sentiment that their husbands seem to want sex all the time and that the wives could easily go longer without it. There is a good (but dense) book called "Intimacy and Desire" that talks about how common mis-matched sexual needs are. It's really, really common. In almost every relationship, one partner's needs are higher than the other partner's needs.

I can assure you that my husband - who used to be an all day, every day, every which way kind of guy - would be pretty satisfied with what you describe.

So to answer your questions...yes different appetites (he is high desire, I am lower desire), I am late 30's, he is mid-40s, yes to engaging when not feeling like it (but enjoying it once we start).

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

As you go through menopause your sexual desire will go bonkers! Crazy panting after him one day then then the next week you'll want him to simply just go away! You won't want to be touched, you won't want to smell him, taste him, or be near him in any way. Then 2 hours later you'll be back to crazy desire for him.

Ain't hormones grand?

I suggest that women need more then men to be aroused. They need touching, kissing, snuggling, nibbles on the ear or neck, touching what it makes a difference. Men can be ready just because they took a breath...

He needs to remember that and help you to feel aroused and connected and wanted and desired and to feel desire.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

Everybody has their own sexual appetite. When you have been married as long as you have, you should know each other very well as know how to pleasure each other.

Perhaps you might need to do some more fantasy thoughts in your dreams of how you can make the experience more pleasurable for you. You should be very happy that your husband of 19 years still wants to romp around with you. Heck yeah I would break in a new bed in a new room just for the fun of it.

It might be a good time for you to have a chat or two with the therapist about how you feel about having sex with your hubby. It sure couldn't hurt anything.

Be glad you can have sex with your other half as there might come a time when you can'/don't then what will you do?

the other S.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I've read your post and the follow up that you wrote, but not any of the replies. I just want to say that I totally understand and appreciate your POV. You are not wrong to acknowledge that you have different needs and that maybe that's ok! It doesn't mean you don't love each other or aren't willing to show your love and desire, but you have a huge change going on in your body/life which is every bit of a challenge at times as the things he may be going through. It's a matter of respecting each others needs (including a need to not be so needed all the time, LOL) and 'negotiating' new expectations (and i dont mean a strict number of times per week). Re: hotel sex, I think that's pretty typical of most men. Heck, I love a good hotel room encounter, too. But if I'm super tired and my brain says 'it ain't happening right now' then that's ok. Later will be just fine, too! That's not being unreasonable. Good luck with things. Sounds like you've had a lot of coping to do lately. That alone is depleting and exhausting. Remember, women's sexual desire begins in the brain.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Actually, when I was done reading this post, I came away with a similar impression as Patricia: communication is really the issue here. It isn't that you aren't always in the mood, right? It's how you communicate that.

So, minimizing his feelings as a midlife crisis is, in my opinion, is a mistake you might want to rethink. Telling him to put on his big boy pants won't help him to see your perspective. It is telling him "deal with it"... and that doesn't encourage intimacy. Instead, that's pushes someone away.

I could tell you how we deal with those things in our home.... with love, adoration and humor. I can be wiped, say 'not tonight' and then make a joke like "don't you wish it was ten in the morning and we had some energy and a hotel room?" and give him a kiss because he's still saying "Baby, I'm into you and want you" and that is a wonderful compliment. Other nights-- hey, just because it's not my idea doesn't mean it's a good one. That said, the other way we feed our relationship is to be grateful and appreciative of what the other does for the family and who they are as a person. If a couple can make each other feel loved and appreciated MOST of the time, a "not tonight, dear" might not be taken so personally. Either a whole-hearted and willing Yes or a "how about tomorrow night? That would give me something to look forward to..." No one's ego is bruised and the momentarily-rejected party knows they are still desired.

ETA: Thanks for adding a that last bit of information. I want you to know, too, that I wasn't trying to say "you are the problem"... please don't come away with that. I just have been on both sides of this situation and know, firsthand, that "not now" can sting for the party who asked. Good luck on getting through this together~ with the issues you've mentioned I'd say that counseling is a good thing. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I read both your post and your SWH. Am I right in understanding that you don't tell him no when you don't want sex? That you just go along with it to make him happy?

If I understood that right, then I think that is where your problem lies, mom. If you truly don't tell him no, then I think you should. He is pretty spoiled if he gets it everytime he wants it. He's going on and on about "pity sex" because he's pushing the envelope more and more with you. He may have anxiety, but making YOU anxious is not a fair way for him to relieve his anxiety.

I'm sorry, but he needs to appreciate you more and that's not going to happen if he gets to have his cake and eat it too.

I really don't think this has so much to do with sexual appetites as it has to do with your husband's anxiety and how he chooses to deal with it. Why your husband's therapist hasn't thought of this, I don't know. He or she should...

That being said, I don't want to sound like I'm saying to "withhold" sex. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm saying that he needs to stop thinking that his sexual needs always trump yours.

I'd also tell him that you don't want to hear about "pity sex" anymore. Enough of that. I'd say it in front of the therapist. He's not the only person in this relationship and your needs and feelings count too.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions