Dear Maggie,

How do you overcome vast differences in sexual appetite? My husband seems to want sex all the time and I just can’t keep up. I do enjoy it when I feel in the mood, but we are doing it so often that I now regularly just do the proverbial ‘lie back and think of England’! I’m starting to resent giving myself in this way and am going off sex as it feels an area of contention. He complains about my lack of interest and I criticise him for being only after one thing. I don’t want to be like this but don’t know how to break out of the vicious circle we are creating.

This is a very common problem as the probability of two people having exactly the same level of sex drive is extremely unlikely and this is therefore territory most couples have to learn to navigate. I believe God has designed us with different sexual appetites for a positive purpose and would encourage you to discern what this is for the two of you.

The starting point is for both of you to lay aside being critical of the other person and look for the contribution their sex drive has to make to yours.

For you: be thankful for your husband’s higher sex drive as he will bring initiative to keeping your love life active, without which you might drift into making love very infrequently which causes other problems. It keeps you both close to each other through the bonding that comes through making love regularly. However, don’t let this allow you to become lazy in taking the initiative to make love, as that will become a burden to him. When you are feeling in the mood, make sure you take the lead.

Also, be positive that he desires you. Take it as a compliment that he is so attracted to you! Think of how it would feel if the opposite was going on and he wasn’t interested in you sexually…

It is then important for you to know how to respond when you are not in the mood at the beginning. Don’t resign yourself to thinking of ‘England’! Long term, this is not going to be good for you. If you jump to thinking resentful thoughts you will never be able to get in the mood. However, if you can focus on the positives you can find yourself soon getting into a different state: think about what making love could give you and give him. Focus your imagination on things that make you feel sexy and intimate. Believe that you can get turned on and that this does not have to be a huge effort. So much of our sexual responses happen in the realm of our thoughts, so start here!

On other occasions you can compromise by bringing him to climax without penetration if you don’t want to go the whole way. But make this an intimate time, not a chore. And of course you must also be free to say no on occasions. Be careful to do this kindly and positively, as much as you can. Then look to you taking the initiative to have sex over the next day or two as much as is possible, so that he does not become rejected and disheartened.

Your husband should likewise look for what contribution your sex drive has to teach him more about healthy, happy sexual intimacy. Your sexual rhythm may incline more towards quality rather than quantity and in slowing him down he may find a richer experience sexually, if he can avoid being critical of you and look for the positives. Do share with him what you enjoy sexually and grow together in your understanding of each other’s pleasure routes. He should focus on enjoying and encouraging what is there in your sexual appetite and building on that.

He will also inevitably be pushed to practising self-control when he can see you do not want to make love. Although this is not easy, it is an important skill for us all to have and gives us a great strength against temptations that can come our way. Self- control is an essential quality scripture urges us to master for many good reasons. Proverbs 25:28 gives the telling metaphor: “Like a city whose walls are broken down, is a man who lacks self-control.” This is true in so many areas and is a key to maturity.

I pray that the above ideas will enable you to get back into treating your sex life as the wonderful gift that it is: to be treasured, nurtured and matured.