Frustrated couple in bed

What do you call foreplay in a marriage? Begging.

This old joke reflects a common problem–one partner wants sex a lot more than the other does. About one-third of the couples seeking marital or relationship help do so because of a marked discrepancy in the desire level of each partner.

It is a fact of life that, on average, men have higher levels of desire than women, and they find themselves in the mood for sex more often than women. No man likes to be rejected, even if he is secure in his partner’s love and knows he is adored. No man likes to beg for sex.

Unfortunately, the problem can get worse if you suppress your sexual frustration. You run the risk of becoming hostile and resentful, usually letting those feelings out in ways that may have nothing to do with the real issue. You might stop initiating sex altogether rather than face the possibility of rejection. You might begin to shy away from all displays of affection. And, of course, you might be tempted to look elsewhere for sex.

I believe that a superpotent man should do everything in his power to fulfill his sexual needs. Naturally, every man’s ideal is to have his partner respond with enthusiasm each and every time he wants to have sex. In reality, coaxing, cajoling, and all forms of seduction might have to be employed, and even some subtle form of bribery (jewelers and florists can attest to that).

No one should be reduced to actual begging, although I have a surprisingly large number of patients who are not above pleading. When approached with a sense of humor, even that may be justified. Superpotent men are pragmatic: they do whatever it takes to get the job done.

The best approach is honest communication. You must break the silence barrier. Talk openly and candidly about your needs and about the discrepancies in your desire levels. Educate your partner. She might not realize how frustrated you feel. She might not understand how demeaning it is to be told no. She might not understand the importance of sex in your overall happiness. You can never know unless you talk to her–she might be perfectly willing to accommodate you and change her behavior so that you can express yourself sexually.

You must also be prepared to listen to her point of view, understand her needs, and negotiate an agreement that can make you both happy. You might have to make some changes yourself, like having sex at different times or initiating it in new ways.

If your efforts fail, then it may be time to see a counselor. If two people care enough about satisfying each other’s needs, they can usually overcome the complications that are caused by a difference in levels of desire.

Dudley Seth Danoff, MD, FACS, is president and founder of the Cedars-Sinai Tower Urology Medical Group in Los Angeles, a Diplomate of the American Board of Urology, a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and the author of two books on men’s health.