A couple of years ago, when I wrote the article "What 5 Men Had To Say About Married Sex", interestingly enough, none of the men mentioned something that I hear quite often from the clients that I deal with—that the wife is the one who wants sex more than the husband does. It's not like these wives are rarities either. There is a significant amount of evidence out in cyberspace and beyond that point to the fact that men automatically having higher libidos is oftentimes more of a stereotype; that it's the result of a lack of solid research and talking to women about sex more than anything else.
Case in point—I recently had a conversation with a husband and wife about their sex life. When I asked them what they currently found to be the most challenging, the husband said that he wanted more rest while the wife said that she desired more sex. "Don't get me wrong, the sex is great," the husband said. "But she can literally go 3-5 times a week. They aren't short sessions either." What did the wife say in response? Nothing. She simply winked.
If you've read even a couple of the articles that I've written on marriage, you know that I am a huge fan and supporter of intimacy—and yes, that includes sex. Lots of sex. And since a lack of intimacy, along with sexless marriages are two of the causes of divorce, I thought it was high time that we explore what a couple should do when the person who is sexually frustrated ain't the husband but—shocker of all shockers (and yes, I'm being sarcastic)—it's actually the wife.
Don’t Internalize the Issue
It's pretty common for folks to hang from chandeliers, a couple of times a day, when they first start having sex. But once some of the newness wears off, it's actually pretty rare (four percent of people, to be exact) for a couple to engage in copulation on a daily basis. This is why I wrote the article "Ask These Sex-Related Questions BEFORE You Marry Him" for single women; you never want to assume that the both of you are on the same page about sex based on the beginning phases of your relationship.
Why am I bringing all of this up? Because, if you once had a ton of sex with your hubby and it has dwindled off, there's a huge chance that you'll be tempted to wonder if something is wrong with you. You might wonder if he's not attracted to you anymore, if he's bored in the relationship (or with your sex life) or if there's something more that you should be doing (or doing differently). First of all, you've got to remember that no one put a gun to your man's head—he hand-selected you to be the woman that he has sex with for the rest of his days. So, if you want it more than he does, chances are, it has less to do with you specifically and more to do with a much bigger and multi-dimensional issue.
Also, Don’t Automatically Jump to Conclusions
Ugh. Contrary to what some people—both in the media and out—believe, I do not think that all men, including all Black men, cheat. Matter of fact, I personally know some husbands who have been faithful their entire marriage; a few of them have done so even though their wife was unfaithful at some point in their relationship. So no, it should not be an automatic assumption that if your partner doesn't want to have as much sex as you do (or even as much sex as he used to have) that he is having sex with someone else. While everyone is out here sharing their views on what they think toxic masculinity is, I personally feel that if we're out here saying that either a man has to constantly have sex on the brain or he's cheating—that comes from having a toxic perspective on manhood.
You're only going to add more stress to yourself and your relationship, while potentially emasculating your husband in the process, if you chalk up his lower libido to him having someone on the side.
If you honestly sense valid red flags, talk it over with him and/or a therapist. Just make sure to not automatically blame him for the movie that you've created in your mind. Our intuition is sometimes nothing more than actualized fear or paranoia. There is plenty of research out here to prove it (see "So, Experts Have Something To Say About Your Intuition's Accuracy").
If There Is an Obvious “Drop”, Reflect on When It Happened
You know something that's interesting? Out of all of the years that I've been doing this marriage life coaching thing, I have yet to counsel a couple who didn't have sex with one another before they said, "I do". In other words, each couple I've worked with had sex with one another before marriage. Call that a random coincidence if you'd like, but that's what came to my mind when I read the article "Straight couples who live together before marriage may be less sexually satisfied". There's no time or writing space today to get into all of the reasons why this could be the case, but I will say that if you are a wife who has a husband with a lower libido and you did have sex with him prior to marriage, take a moment to compare and contrast what intimacy was like when the two of you were dating vs. when you became a married couple. While, ideally, sex should become stronger after marriage, there are some husbands who find "single sex" to be more sensual and alluring and married sex to be more obligatory and routine. Hey, I'm not saying it's right, I'm just saying that is some husbands' (unspoken) truth.
That said, a drop in a man's libido could be tied into other things as well—stress on the job, age, the state of their health, a breakdown in the relationship, a challenge with scheduling intimacy…the list goes on and on. But in order for you to figure out if your man's lower libido is a temporary or potentially permanent thing, paying close attention to the timeline is a critical piece to the puzzle.
Encourage Him to See His Doctor
There's a wife that I know who's always had a higher libido than her husband. Quite frankly, it has been the thorn in the side of their relationship too because, what has kept her baffled is the fact that when he was single, he was all up in these streets (he really was). Now? He can go weeks without having sex. For a while, she thought it was because he had some shadiness going on. But when they both went to get a check-up, he found out that his blood pressure was affecting the quality of his erections. Did he know that things weren't on the, umm, up-and-up down there? Of course, he did. But he was afraid to tell his wife that; especially since he didn't know what was causing it. So, rather than share that his penis wasn't what it used to be, he would avoid engaging in sex altogether.
While I'm not saying that a man with a lower libido is always a health-related issue, sometimes, that is indeed the case. The only way that you and your man will know for sure is if you set an appointment to meet with a medical professional. Honestly, while you're at it, it couldn't hurt for your husband to see a reputable counselor for a session or two. If all checks out on the physical front, there is a chance that something psychologically could be transpiring; something that may be in the back of his mind rather than the forefront of it.
Naturally Boost His Testosterone
There is also a chance that your husband's testosterone levels are low. With age, it happens. Again, a quick trip to the doctor can confirm this, but if your man is someone who has to damn near be on his deathbed in order to see a physician, there are some natural ways that he can increase this particular hormone. He can exercise more often. He can eat more protein. He can take a Vitamin D and/or zinc supplement. The herb ashwagandha (it reduces stress) and ginger extract (it improves sperm quality) are both proven to spike testosterone in men. Something else that men with low testosterone need is lots of rest and less stress. You know what this means, right? Nagging him about having a low libido is not going to work in your favor, so try to avoid doing that at all costs.
Be Gentle with His Heart, Feelings and Pride
"Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it." When it comes to topics like this one, no truer words have been spoken. A lot of men think, in theory, that they want a woman who is always good to go. Then, once they get her, if they're not able to keep up, they feel intimidated; possibly even threatened. If after all of the things that I already mentioned prove to not be the root of the cause, you may need to accept that the two of you simply have a sexual incompatibility issue when it comes to your libidos. There's nothing "wrong" with that; it just means that you both need to learn to do what marriage is all about—compromise.
For him, he may need to be open to there being days when he makes sure "you're good" even if he's not totally in the mood to have a full-on sex session. For you, it's important to keep in mind that just because he might not want to get it on as much, he's probably still open to giving and receiving physical affection. In fact, him knowing that you want to be close to him, even if it doesn't always lead to sex, may be what makes him want to have sex more.
Bottom line, being in a marriage where you're the one who wants sex more isn't something that you have to simply—pardon the pun—lay down and take. Communicate. Get to the heart of the matter. Express your needs and, if you've got a good man, he'll find a way for them to be met…one way or another. A husband having a lower libido doesn't mean that something is wrong with him or that something is wrong with you. All it means is there's a challenge that the two of you need to figure out together. And, so long as mutual love and respect are present, you will.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
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9 Sex-Related Questions You & Your Partner Should Ask Each Other. Tonight.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Having Quitter's Regret? Here's How To Ask For Your Job Back
We all heard about the Great Resignation, where millions of professionals quit their job during the pandemic in order to find balance and pursue fulfillment. Well, today, among those who took the leap, 80% regret ever quitting in the first place. Sometimes we have to actually make a move before finding out it’s the wrong one, and that’s okay.
If you’re experiencing a bit of quitter’s remorse, here are a few tips on how to ask for your job back with your pride intact:
1. Be sure you’ve weighed the pros and cons of going back to a former employer.
Maybe the new job you quit the old one for just didn’t stand up to the interview hype, or you just miss your old gig and coworkers. Write down all the benefits and possible pitfalls of going back. Will you have to settle for less money? Did you leave the company on good terms? Is this something that will advance your career? Do you just need the money to pay your bills? (In that case, you might want to just consider applying for a whole new job elsewhere.) Before asking for that job back, be sure you’re aware of all outcomes of your decision.
I once considered going back to an old job after hitting a slump early in my self-employment journey. After talking with a few friends I still had in the industry, they highly recommended that I push through and find other ways to bring in money while boosting my client roster. Looking back, it was the best decision not to return to an old job because I would not have the flexibility or job satisfaction I have today as a digital nomad, nor would I be earning the money I am today.
2. Reframe the ask.
To ensure you’re not coming off desperate, be sure to start off by emailing your former employer or HR department, briefly detailing what you loved about the position or company, and expressing that, after some reflection, you’d be interested in reconnecting to be rehired.
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3. Request a meeting to discuss your options.
This is a good idea since you can better pitch yourself to get back into the fold with an in-person or phone conversation. It’s much more personal, and you can really let your former manager or HR rep know the details of why you want to come back and why you would be an asset to the company if you did. This is especially important if your position hasn’t already been filled, if you took major contacts or connections with you when you left, or to leverage better pay or benefits this time around.
4. Be authentic and honest.
Oftentimes, people respect honesty, especially company leaders, with integrity. I once resigned from a job, thinking I was going to pursue higher education full-time. I didn’t want to have to juggle my studies with holding down a job that I really loved and wanted to give my all to. After a bit of thought, I decided that missing out on the opportunity to really thrive in that role and continue the work I’d been doing just wasn’t worth quitting to go back to school full-time, so I was honest, and I got the job back. My manager was very encouraging and actually was happy I’d asked to rejoin the team. If you left the job due to what you thought would be a good life pivot or for reasons that are positive, just keep it real with your former manager and allow them the chance to offer understanding and grace.
5. If the position has been filled, apply for another one.
Many companies keep employee files in their systems for quite some time after someone resigns, and there may be other opportunities for you to get your foot back in the door. If you find that your position has already been filled, apply for another position with your former department or another department altogether, either through your former company’s HR portal or via a recruiter. Talk to your former colleagues or industry friends and find out about what’s available. They might even be able to give you a heads-up when a position is opening that’s perfect for your comeback.
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