When You Can't Get Your Sex Life In Sync

by Brandi Jeter Riley
Originally Published: 
A man and a woman who can't get their sex life in sync sitting on a brown sofa
photo credit: Brandi Riley

My husband and I have been together for 8 years and married for 5. Since the very beginning, we’ve been fortunate to be completely compatible sexually. I’m not even going to lie — homeboy rocks my world. I have no doubt that he feels the same way about me.

That doesn’t mean that we’re immune to dry spells. You know, periods when it seems like our sex drives just can’t sync up. The first time we realized we had issues was around the beginning of our marriage. After a year of agreed upon celibacy before we walked down the aisle, I thought we’d be insatiable. He was. I wasn’t. It turned out that I had HSDD or hypoactive sexual desire disorder. Basically, I didn’t want to do it, at all. After talking to my doctor, and eliminating a few foods from my diet (some women take medication for HSDD), things were back on track in the bedroom.

In fact, not long after, I got pregnant.

Which leads me to another time we were out of sync — during my last pregnancy. For some reason, he and I couldn’t seem to get on the same page about when was a good time to have a good time. Because I was also suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, I barely had enough energy to work, let alone throw it on him, so he was trying to be considerate by not initiating. I wanted to have sex, but figured he didn’t want to because he wasn’t attracted to my changing body. Instead of talking about what each of us wanted, we were dancing around the issue trying to be polite, not knowing that we both wanted the same thing. Instead, neither one of us was getting anything.

After nearly three awkward months of not being intimate, I finally opened up about it to one my best friends. She gave me the most important marriage advice I’ve ever received. She said, “Y’all need to talk.”

And we did, openly and honestly about how we were feeling. Neither one of us held anything back as we discussed what we’d been missing for the last few months. It was interesting, too, the conversation we had. There was so much misunderstanding based on us not wanting to hurt each other’s feelings.

I told him I wasn’t feeling particularly attractive, so I didn’t feel comfortable initiating sex, but I would be down if he had tried. He said that he had tried initiating, but I wasn’t picking up on the signs. Come to find out, that sweet foot rub I thought I was getting because I was carrying his child was actually foreplay. I asked him to be more obvious and reassured him that I was, in fact, very interested. He asked me to do the same, and that has led to many instances of me texting him simply, “I want to have sex when you get home.”

All of our out-of-sync stretches haven’t always been related to changes I was going through, however. My husband was recently going through a transition of his own. A new role with increased responsibilities at his job led to a change in his demeanor. He was more tired than usual when he came home from work, and overall had less energy. I would try to let him relax and give him some time to decompress, and we saw ourselves falling into that no sex in a couple of weeks situation again. Now that we’ve been married for awhile, and we know each other even better than before, we can head off a dry spell before things get too out of hand.

The key for us to getting back in sync every single time has been communication. This man is my husband. There’s no need for me to be shy about what my needs are or to pretend that things are all good when they aren’t. I want him to be honest with me about whether or not his needs are being met. If they aren’t, I absolutely will do something about it. Instead of pretending that nothing is going wrong or hoping that my husband hasn’t noticed the lull, I bring it up to him. And (not) surprisingly he notices every single lull. He might be too much of a gentleman to bring it up, but he knows how many days it’s been since he’s had some good loving. And so do I. Shoot, I got needs, too!

In addition to talking about what we’re feeling and making sure we’re clear on what we want, we are both also committed to spending romantic time together. Sometimes that means having sex during the day when we don’t have the kids with us. We might have to make love somewhere in the house other than the bedroom. Other times it means that we forego foreplay and get straight to business. We’ve both learned to be okay with every encounter not being a marathon session, too.

I think back to years ago, when we were both mentally checking days off on a calendar of sexless nights. I wish we were more mature in our relationship to know that things didn’t have to be that way. There’s nothing to be ashamed about when our sex life gets off track. It doesn’t mean that our relationship is doomed if we aren’t always on the same page when it comes to being intimate. Sometimes it could be an underlying issue, like my health the first time we weren’t connecting. It could just be that our schedules aren’t matching up. Or that being parents to two children (one of whom is a toddler) is taking up all of our energy.

But still, we’ve decided that sex is important to our relationship, so we’ll do what we have to do to stay on top of each other — er, on top of it.

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