You and your partner love each other and want to have sex. But what if you're on different pages when it comes to when and how often?
Libido. It's a fickle thing. If we believe everything we read, men do nothing but think about sex while women use headaches and hair-washing to get out of it. In reality, many factors can affect when both men and women want sex, but if your body's telling you yes while his says no, or vice versa, what can you do?
If your sex life is suffering from a lack of synchronicity, the first thing you need to do is address any underlying relationship issues, says Phoebe Hutchison, author of marriage survival guide Honeymooners Forever.
"If one partner is feeling resentful about something, sex is likely to suffer," Hutchison says. "Women especially tend to refuse sex if they're mad at their partner, because they often connect sex with emotions. It's different for men. Feelings are still important, but sex is more of a physical thing." Which is great if he's the one not in the mood. Just push the right buttons and you're likely to get lucky.
A hectic schedule can also affect sex drive. "During my research I heard the same story again and again — women are often too exhausted for sex," Hutchison says. "If your mind's busy with so many other things — kids, work, friends, family — you just can't think about sex."
The secret is to save half an hour a day for yourself. "This allows you to get in the mood. Something as simple as a shopping trip without the kids can help you feel more relaxed and open to sex," Hutchison says. And remember men get stressed too. "If a man is worried about work or finances, he can lose his sexual appetite completely," she says.
We often think only women worry about how they measure up, but men do too. "They like to feel masculine," Hutchison says. "They like to be king of the castle and satisfy their woman. So praise him." If he's doing something right, tell him. If he's doing something wrong, gently suggest changes or guide him with your hands.
If you do nothing but complain or lie there like a corpse, his confidence will suffer and likely affect his libido. "And give your partner plenty of attention," Hutchison says. "I asked a sex worker why she thought many of her clients were married men. She said they're all looking for attention they don't get at home."
Give and take
If the problem is simply hormones — perhaps yours are raging when his aren't — it's time to compromise. "My research showed men tend to prefer morning sex," Hutchison says. "So if you like it at night you might clash. You need to acknowledge your differences and accommodate each other, otherwise the rejection will turn into anger."
Try alternating mornings and evenings. The same goes if he wants sex every day while you're more of a once-a-week kind of girl. "Communication is vital," Hutchison says. "The one who wants it less needs to explain it's nothing personal, while the one who wants it more might be able to get satisfaction from masturbation."
Communication is the key as silence only results in misunderstandings. "And realise that, like everything in life, your sex life will have its ups and downs. We will all experience dry spells," Hutchison says.
Don't write sex off it's not happening for you right now. Talk things through and try things out. Moving from the bed to the sofa might spice things up, or a few games or toys could add a whole new dimension to lovemaking.
"Most importantly, be nice to your partner," Hutchison says. "And treat them like a lover, not a spouse, even if you're married or living together." Seeing them as a sexual being and not just someone who you split the bills with can only lead to good things in the sack.