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  • Writer's pictureStacy Taylor, LCSW

Not Tonight, I have a Headache

Jack and Jill have been married for l0 years.  They have two children and a happy marriage — except for one problem.

Jack has a higher libido than Jill.  She would be content with intimacy once a week, at the most.   But for Jack, that isn’t enough.

They go into couples therapy with Tara.  She suggests that they meet in the middle.  If Jack wants sex four times a week, and Jill once, why not compromise at twice a week?

The therapist also suggests that they do more to get Jill in the mood.  Jack can spend some time massaging her back, or they can watch a  racy movie together.

Now Tara’s advice is garden variety marriage counseling.   Almost all therapists would suggest the same things.

Then why do I have such a problem with it?  Here’s why.

First off, we’re not talking here about negotiating vacation plans, Europe versus Mexico.  And this isn’t about whether to watch a horror movie or a chick flix.

We’re talking about Jill’s body here -- and Jack's.   So let’s play this out.  

It’s Wednesday, the compromise day that both agreed to.  It’s D day, so to speak, the time for getting down.  

The kids are asleep.  The wine is being poured.  But what about if Jill doesn’t feel like it?

This is where I get hung up with regard to this treatment plan.  

If Jill isn’t into it, what is she supposed to do?  Just lie back there, and, as they say, grin and bear it?

Is she supposed to just space out and do her shopping list?  Or pretend she’s more excited than she is?

And what about Jack?  Sorry, but I don’t get the concept of wanting to have sex with someone if you know that she doesn’t want to have sex with you but simply scheduled you in.

Then there is the whole game of getting Jill in the mood, with sweet words and chocolate desserts and back rubs.  Doesn’t that feel a bit manipulative?

So if I don’t like the advice of Tara (and most therapists), what great ideas do I have?  I admit it isn’t easy.

But, to me, no means no.  If Jill doesn’t want to, if she’s too tired or stressed or blue or whatever, she should not be guilted or manipulated to do something with her body that she doesn’t want to. 

Maybe Jack just has to be content with having sex with his wife when she wants to.   The rest of the time he can look forward to it and appreciate the times that they are intimate. The couple can enjoy other activities together, for example, taking walks, going out for dinner, or nonsexual affection.

Jack may be disapointed that there isn’t greater sexual frequency.   But life can be disappointing;  and marriage requires sacrifices, at times, for the good of the relationship and the other.

Sex in marriage shouldn’t just be about fulfilling one's personal needs for pleasure;  nor should it be about power. It should be about love, about uniting with someone you love in an act of unequalled intimacy.  

If this is the case, then both partners need to be in the mood.

(Special Note: this blog assumes that there aren't underlying biological, psychological or interpersonal issues that are causing the libido imbalance. Obviously, if there are, those need to be explored in depth.)

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