KSL TV – Help for Higher-Desire Wives

In popular culture, we hear about how important physical touch and intimacy is for men and that women just don’t have the same drive. But what if this isn’t the case in your marriage? Laura M. Brotherson, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Sex Therapist sat down with KSL Television’s “Studio 5” host Brooke Walker to discuss the following four concepts of female sexuality specifically to provide help for higher-desire wives.


  1. 80/20 Rule for Sexual Desire in Marriage. 80% of men and 20% of women are the higher-desire spouse. It’s just another version of “normal” for women to be the higher-desire spouse. It can be challenging to be the higher-desire wife. It often feels like they are far outside the norm so they feel like something’s wrong with them or their marriage. It doesn’t matter what the “norm” is–what matters is that couples communicate and work together to identify how to best work with their specific sexual dynamic rather than worrying what it “should be” or what it’s “supposed” to be.
  2. Healthy Female Sexuality is Not Easily Developed. The concept of sexually healthy or sexually assertive women is not well established in our culture. Women haven’t been raised or taught to have a healthy affirming sexual mindset–even within marriage. A client recently said, “If a woman raised in our culture has a healthy sense of her sexuality she hasn’t been paying attention to what’s all around them!”
  3. Positive Characteristics of Higher-Desire Wives. We might call higher-desire wives — healthy-desire wives. Research affirms many positive things about higher-desire women:
    1. 1) more positive attitudes toward sexuality,
    2. 2) better sexual self-esteem,
    3. 3) better body image,
    4. 4) healthier sexuality in general. It’s like they’ve developed what we might think of as “psychological testosterone.”
  4. Higher-Desire Wives Feel Rejection. Physical intimacy and being desired is generally the primary way higher-desire wives feel loved. So it can be particularly painful when the husband isn’t as interested in sex–increasing the chances that she feels hurt, rejected and undesirable.

Help for the Higher-Desire Wife

  1. 1) Don’t take his lower-desire personally. There are many factors that affect his level of desire that are not about her desirability. The following factors play a significant role when husbands are the lower-desire spouse:
    1. 1) Stress,
    2. 2) Fatigue,
    3. 3) Marital conflicts,
    4. 4) Performance fears,
    5. 5) Depression,
    6. 6) Anger,
    7. 7) Shame, etc. These issues all need to be identified and addressed.
  2. 2) Make peace with your marriage’s sexual dynamic vs. feeling frustrated or ashamed. See it as an opportunity to grow and become more Christ-like by mastering the self.
  3. 3) Be respectful of his differing level of desire rather than making him feel worse or unmanly for being different than the stereotype. It’s especially difficult for men who are the lower-desire partner to even talk about it, but be wise in addressing it.
  4. 4) Back off a bit. Don’t tirelessly pursue and put pressure on him. It’ll just make things worse. When you mess with anyone’s agency you’ll just increase the chances of resistance, defensiveness, passive-aggressiveness, etc.
  5. 5) Discuss the factors that affect desire. Gently encourage some discussion about what he thinks might be affecting his desire. He may or may not know and he may or may not feel safe enough to be completely honest with you. (You might consider the help of a therapist if this is the case.) Also, listen to what makes him feel connected and work on those things. Specifically you can work to identify each other’s sexual accelerators and brakes. (See factors in “Help for the Higher-Desire Wife” #1.) Don’t assume things, talk respectfully with each other about your thoughts and feelings. Work together and grow together to come to a suitable situation.
  6. 6) Be more affectionate for its own sake—touch more often in loving ways and not just to have it lead to something else. Any lower-desire partner doesn’t want to feel like everything is about sex.
  7. 7) Clear out any frustration or resentment. Most women will have some accumulated frustration or resentment about the non-stereotypical desire dynamics in their marriages. It will be needful to do some process writing, for example, to write out everything you can think of that is causing a negative thought or feeling and get that out on paper then shred it to help it begin to dissolve.

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