Not Tonight, Honey
"Didn't we just do it last week?"
Mismatched desire is one of the most common complaints marriage counselors hear—but experts say that the excuse is pure baloney. "Two different people will never have exactly the same desire, drive, and timing," says Rick Warren, the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA, and author of the best-selling book The Purpose Driven Life . "Sometimes you have to make love for the benefit of the other person, even though you may not need it yourself at the moment."
"There's no such thing as the right level of desire. Normal is usually whatever the desired frequency is for that couple," adds Gerald R. Weeks, Ph.D., chairman of the marriage and family therapy department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. (In case you're curious about what other couples consider normal, here are stats from University of Chicago researchers: About 38 percent of married women have sex a few times a week; 47 percent a few times a month; and 15 percent a few times a year.)
What to say to yourself:
Remember your wedding day? When you said "I do," you said "I do" to sex too. "Even though you may not have promised to ‘love, honor, and have sex once a week,' when you made a commitment to your relationship, it was understood that sex would be part of the bargain," say Patricia Love and Steven Stosny, authors of How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It . And, yes, sometimes you have to be the instigator. When it comes to different levels of desire, "the ball is in the court of the person who wants it less," says Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., author of the forthcoming Prime: Advice and Adventures from a Sexologist on Life and Love in the Sensuous Years .
What to say to him:
"Can you help me get in the mood?" Let him pour two glasses of wine; then try rubbing his shoulders. If you're really not up for sex, figure out another way to be physically generous—like scratching his back, gently tickling his arms, or doing something else you know will give him pleasure. This way, even if you wind up not doing the deed, your husband will feel better because you responded with physical tenderness, instead of a flat-out no.