When I was in my early 20s, just before I got married, I remember listening to a shock rock radio DJ with a gravely voice talk about how when he was in his 20s, the number one thing he wanted to do was have sex. It was always at the top of his list. In fact, it was probably the top three things on his list, and as he spoke, I nodded. I completely understood this guy, because the top five things on my list were sex. It was undeniable. But then he went on to explain that now that he was in his late 30s, sex was closer to the middle of his priorities. I remember him saying that there are times when he’d rather watch a football game, or go out to eat with friends, or just take a nap, instead of have sex.
I remember being stopped at a light, listening to this guy talk, and laughing to myself because I didn’t believe him. In fact, part of my 20-something former self wondered if there was something wrong with this dude. I mean, honestly, he’s a man, I was a man (I still am), and for him to not want sex all the time was strange. At least that’s what I thought.
As I write this essay, I’m almost 36, and I’ve basically become that DJ. I’ve been married for 13 years, and my wife is a real beauty. She’s the mother of my three children. She is a wonderful mother, and to be honest, she’s my best friend. I’m more attracted to her now than I was when we met because I know her better know. But the fact is, I’m not always, 100%, down for sex like I was in my 20s.
I work full-time at a university, and part-time as a writer. I have three kids who have sports and school obligations, and need glasses of water at odd times in the night, and frankly, as much as it pains my early 20-something self to say it, there are times when I’d rather take a nap than have sex. There are times when I’d rather sit on the sofa, my wife in my arms while we watch Netflix, than have sex. There are times when I’d rather go for a bike ride alone so I can clear my head from all the stress of raising a family than have sex.
And you know what, that’s normal. It doesn’t make me less of a man. And for sure, without a doubt, doesn’t mean I don’t find my wife attractive anymore. It simply means that I’m getting older, my body is changing a little bit, and my priorities have changed.
I don’t want to be the one man in the room trying to speak for all men, but I know other men who feel the same. We are in serious love with our wives, we are dedicated fathers and husbands, but the fact is, sex just doesn’t mean what it did earlier in life. It’s not a white hot craving that cannot be quenched, constantly front and center in our priorities.
And you know what? In some ways, now that I’m experiencing this transition, I’m grateful. Nothing — and I mean nothing — can fog a man’s mind like sex. When I look back on the first several years of my marriage, sex is what my wife and I fought the most about. I wanted it all the time, and she wanted it some of the time, and that caused me to feel picked on, or cheated, or a number of irrational emotions that really didn’t need to be in our relationship.
The reality is, men experience libido loss. It’s normal. It doesn’t mean a lack of love for the person they are with. It doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with them. It’s just a thing.
And to be honest, I have seen a man’s over-active libido tear good families apart. In fact, sex (along with painkillers) was ultimately the demise of my parents’ marriage. My father went out looking for more, and ultimately blew through four marriages, only to die alone in a one-bedroom apartment. After being married to someone I truly love, sex isn’t better than the relationship we have, and my libido starting to fade slightly has honestly helped me stay focused on what really matters: my family.
And when I think about that, I’m grateful for this transition.