Changing a Willingness to Make Love into a
Desire to Make Love

Letter #5
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Dear Dr. Harley,

I recently read an article in a women's magazine that I need to put myself "in the mood" each day in case my husband may want to make love. It mentioned "seeing things through a man's eyes". Kind of always thinking of everything in a sexual way: not just seeing a table to lay books or magazines on but to think of it as another place to have great sex. Not just sitting in a seat on the train in the subway, but thinking of it as yet another place to have great sex.

Not even just merely typing at this computer, but allowing myself to fantasize about maybe carrying on a sexy dialogue via e-mail or something.

I tried it one day and I found that it did help me to get "in the mood" easier. But the trouble is, how does one think that way around kids? When your 3 year old wants attention, for you to play with him or feed him. Or if you're stressed at your job, how do you keep focused on sex?

It makes sense that if you think of things in a certain way all the time, of course you're kind of "ready" when that subject is brought up. But since it's not part of you to always think this certain way, it's not innate, it seems like there would be so much energy spent on one thing, like it would be too much work. Can it really work?

If someone works at thinking about one thing all the time, wouldn't you eventually get tired of it? And isn't it easier to lose your focus on something if you're forced to think about it so much? I would think distractions are more welcomed.

My mind wanders more now since we have a 3-year old to take care of, but I don't feel like I could blame being a mother for my lack of libido. Yes, it's compromised even more so, but the initial problem is not because of the baby. Did I maybe, miss that stage where the hormones are raging and you've got to have it all the time? Can I get it back? I want it!!!

Last night was the perfect example: After having a nice family day at the Museum and then putting my little one to sleep at 9:00 pm, I should have been "ready" because I wasn't stressed or tired from a long day at the office. I followed my husband to the bedroom (he'd turned off the TV and all the lights at 9:30!) and I climbed into bed expecting that proverbial "tap on the shoulder". Instead, I think he waited (and probably prayed) that I'd initiate, and since I didn't he rolled over and went to sleep. I certainly did nothing to change that. But I wish I had! I wish I had it in me to climb on top of him and "demand" it! I understand his frustration of having to constantly bring sex up: he's tired of it and, quite frankly, so am I.

When will this subject ever NOT be such an issue!!??


Dear Mary,

You are making the solution to your problem much more difficult than it needs to be. Men tend to think about sex much of the time because of testosterone. The thinking about sex doesn't prepare them for sex, it's the testosterone that does it.

To be in the mood for sex, a woman does not need to think of her husband all day long. But she does need to be away from her children and with her husband long enough to connect emotionally with him. My experience is that two or three hours are usually enough, but the formula varies with each woman.

You say that your passion for your husband never was very high, but that may be due to what you did together, even when you were dating. We need to discover how your husband can trigger sexual arousal in you. You didn't have a child back then so the distraction of children can't be the whole story.

I'll go back to one of the earlier points I made with you where I noted that most women in love with their husbands are "willing" to make love, but do not "desire" to make love to their husbands. That's because testosterone gives men a jump-start, which gives them desire prior to the woman's interest in sex. In most male-female relationships, after an evening of conversation and affection, the man initiates the sex act by kissing her and touching her in ways and places that are already known to arouse her sexually. Because she is willing to make love due to the environment that the evening created, but does not yet desire sex because of her lack of testosterone, his kissing and touching her is crucial in "getting her in the mood." And where and how to touch is usually discovered through trial and error. Once a man knows how a woman likes to be kissed and touched to be sexually aroused, their sexual experience is off to a good start.

You are still thinking that it's your sole responsibility to get yourself in the mood to make love. I suggest that your husband has more to do with it than you do. He has the testosterone, you don't. So he should take the initiative every time for the foreseeable future, and "tap you on the shoulder." Waiting for you to take the initiative assumes you have already solved your problem and you already have a sexual desire. Quite frankly, even after you experience desire, he may still need to take the initiative, particularly if he wants to make love two or three times a week.

For the next few months you and he will need to engage in considerable trial and error before you figure it out. I suggest that you focus on sexual arousal at least three times a week when you go to bed. Try to figure out what your husband can do to make you feel aroused quickly and easily. His taking the initiative may be a very important first step in getting you through that stage.

Best wishes

Mary's next letter to Dr. Harley (6 of 8)
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