Q&A with J: Waking Up to His (Forceful) Advances

Today’s question is from a newlywed wife who is struggling with how sexual intimacy has gone thus far in her marriage. Her husband has an extremely high drive, but it’s the way he makes his advances that seems to be the biggest issue at the moment. Read on.

We both waited until marriage to have sex — which made it for somewhat of a painful honeymoon, since my husband was under the assumption we’d have sex every day for 2 weeks. It wasn’t the best way to start out a marriage, given the frustrations and lack of understanding.

My husband is the super-high drive spouse whose love language is physical touch; whereas I am the low drive spouse who feels appreciated and loved through words of affirmation and quality time…

A majority of mornings I wake up to my husband trying to put his thing in between my legs and get in my vagina from behind. It hurts. A lot. And is such an unpleasant way to wake up, especially for someone who is not a morning person. I can’t count the number of times I’ve explained this to him. He just doesn’t seem to listen or care. I understand that men have high levels of testosterone levels in the morning and can wake up aroused, but shouldn’t a husband be respectful of his wife’s body? I don’t climb on top of him in the middle of the night while he is sleeping and start riding him when I want to have sex. Perhaps I should?

I am very mindful that denying my husband of sex can be extremely detrimental to our marriage. If I don’t engage in sex at his desire, it quickly leads to resentment, emotional distance and eventually hurtful words. There are plenty of times in the morning when he tries to come from behind and I’ll ask him if he could enter from the front because it’s less painful. But even that makes me cringe and do everything in my power to not cry and feel as though I’m being raped, as he thrusts full force in and out… all the while I’m trying to figure out how I am going to make it out the door in time to get to work.

A few months ago we sought counsel from our pre-marriage counselors. As well, I have looked into possibly seeking a MFT counselor with the way things are going. However, I would be grateful for any advice, wisdom or recommended resources that you’d be able to share to get over this hurdle!

Q&A with J: Waking Up to His (Forceful) Advances

I’ve been called a frank woman at times. I’m going to now live up to that reputation.

OF COURSE THIS IS NOT OKAY!!! Yes, he should respect your body. You are not his sex receptacle, you’re his wife! And you also get say in how your sexual intimacy looks and feels. This husband probably has no idea what he’s doing, but honestly I just want to smack him upside the head, jiggle something loose, and hope that sense enters his over-driven brain. Because noooo! Just no.

Okay, I got that out, so now I’m going to calmly go through the issues I see in this question.

Dealing with his high-drive. I’ve written before that, at the moment, I’m the higher-drive spouse in my marriage. I understand how intense and urgent sexual desire can feel, but it is not imperative that a spouse immediately fulfill that longing. Even if you compare it to something life-giving like food or water, we all know that we can skip a meal or stay thirsty for a bit without damage.

Higher-drive spouses absolutely need to be appreciated, validated, and sexually satisfied in their marriages. However, their drive doesn’t give them license to force or pressure their spouse into sexual activity. Sex as God designed should be a mutually engaging experience.

So that means that a lower-drive spouse may need to work a bit harder to make sexual intimacy a priority, prepare themselves mentally and physically for sex, and choose to engage and even let the pleasurable sensations follow that decision (and not vice versa). But a higher-drive husband has responsibilities as well — namely to treat his lower-drive mate with great care.

From a practical standpoint, I suggest you talk to your husband about frequency of sexual intimacy and how you want to participate more in the experience. Let him know that you want to prioritize sex, but you need input on what that looks like. Sometimes it helps to schedule sex, so that a higher-drive spouse can relax knowing it’s right around the corner and the lower-drive spouse can have a heads-up to prepare their mind and body.

Denying sex once isn’t “depriving” your spouse of sex. I am pleased this wife understands the importance of not shutting off her body to her husband: “I am very mindful that denying my husband of sex can be extremely detrimental to our marriage.” However, I do not buy the line of reasoning that says you can never say no to your spouse when it comes to the marriage bed.

I think many Christians have had 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 used like a cattle brand, searing its harshest interpretation into our brains. The passage says:

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Okay, so we can’t deprive each other. But what does that mean? If I miss a meal, am I literally deprived of food? I don’t think so. I just have to wait. Now if I can’t eat for days, we have a genuine problem. We have absolutely no biblical standing to refuse our spouses over and over the sexual intimacy God intended for them, and us, to have. (Also see Sheila Gregoire’s fabulous article on the meaning of this scripture.)

However, there can be good reasons to delay sexual intimacy, like recovering from a health issue or needing that time to take care of something more urgent (family care?). Notice that I said delay and not deprive. If you say no, which is one option to a spouse’s advances, then be willing to suggest another time. I’ve referred to that as rain check sex. Then, you’re not saying no; you’re saying not now.

It is just fine to say to your husband, “Not this morning,” when he tries to put “his thing” in between your legs and get in. That is not denial. It is requesting greater respect than he’s showing. Because your body is both yours and his, but his body is both his and yours. Right now, he’s acting like both bodies are his possession. And that doesn’t reflect what the Bible says about marriage and intimacy.

Sex is becoming (or has become) a bad experience for you. From your email, I glean that your husband is not giving your feelings and opinions sufficient weight. In fact, his actions are making something God intended to be beautiful and connecting into a harsh and divisive act. You have to speak up about this!

Sweetheart, God wants you to enjoy the sexual experience. He created sex for you too. And having a penis shoved into you with no warning and no lubrication flat out hurts. He may have had erroneous assumptions prior to marriage about sexual frequency, but he apparently also has erroneous assumptions about how your body and his body work together. If he doesn’t know, someone has to teach him — and that someone is you.

Away from the bedroom, talk to him about how your body works and what would help you get in the mood. Explain honestly that he is hurting your body and your heart. He likely doesn’t understand the full consequences of what he’s doing. Indeed, he may have received bad teaching that wives aren’t supposed to ever deprive their husbands but you can’t expect them to enjoy it as much and sex is clearly for the husband. Au contraire! If you read Song of Songs together, you’ll see how mutual the marriage bed can and should be.

Tell him you must have foreplay and lubrication before he can enter. Period. I don’t think that’s negotiable, because without it you’ll likely experience pain, soreness, even abrasions and a greater tendency for infections. Explain that you want to learn to enjoy intercourse with him and you both need time to explore what that looks like. Ask or show him what you would like.

For most husbands, once he experiences how he can use his hands and his body to turn you on, he will experience pleasure that will encourage him to continue that practice. Many husbands report that seeing their wives in ecstasy, especially an orgasm, makes them feel terrific. Your man can be incredibly potent in the bedroom by paying attention to your needs and fulfilling your sexual desires.

Seeing a counselor. If this isn’t resolved quickly, yes, you should see a counselor. Find a Christian counselor who will listen to your concerns. If your husband will go with you, that would be best. If he won’t, go alone and get ideas that will nurture your marriage and resolve the sexual intimacy problems.

Respecting yourself. You asked whether a husband should respect his wife’s body. Yes. But you should respect your own body as well. Embrace that you are more than a tool to meet a man’s sexual needs — you are rather the beautiful wife of your Christian husband who wants to engage in sexual intimacy that provides pleasure and deeper meaning to your relationship.

In moments you’re not sure about your choices, try to consider how God would view what’s happening. Would He approve of a spouse shutting down and refusing their spouse sex all the time? Of course not. But would He condone a husband thrusting himself into his unprepared and weeping wife? Of course not.

You absolutely have a responsibility to pursue sexual intimacy with your husband. But you needn’t ignore your worth before God to do it. Speak up and advocate for the long-term health your marriage. You two need to address this problem, because your sex life does not currently reflect all that God longs for you to have in your marriage.

God can redeem any situation, and your sexual intimacy is just waiting for His redemption.

52 thoughts on “Q&A with J: Waking Up to His (Forceful) Advances

  1. libl

    It could just be testosterone driven ignorance, but his behavior smells suspiciously of either past or current porn use, too. If not porn, there’s enough mainstream sex-filled media (Game of Thrones comes to mind) that is very forceful and violating on the woman. And I have heard men say that they honestly believe that it is how women secretly desire to be “taken care of” and all that “foreplay stuff” is just them being controlling and making the man “earn” sex.

    I agree that if sitting down and talking about it with him isn’t working, or even just showing him this post doesn’t work, then counseling is an absolute MUST, because while I hesitate to slap the label of “spousal rape” on this, it is frighteningly close.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I considered the hard/soft porn angle too. I don’t have any evidence, but it does smack of some very problematic views of sex.

      Reply
    2. Scandinavia

      I also believe he has problems with porn. (As a guy. )
      Seek help, read this letter out. Make him do more sports and so on. Bless

      Reply
    3. Evan

      I have to say that technically there can be NO SUCH THING as spousal rape. Consent was given by marrying. That being said, there is still no excuse to be so inconsiderate of another’s feelings to be causing pain, especially physical pain. I decided long before I found my wife that if a woman was no more valuable than to be physically abused, why on earth would you be married to her. I would be out the door forever before I would physically abuse my wife!

      Reply
      1. Evan

        and sex every day for two weeks on honeymoon? My dear, there should be sex at least three times a day for those two weeks!

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          3 times a day? That would actually pretty hard on a virgin, given that these are new muscles being put to use. Just saying that things can get sore. If the couple wants to go at it 3 times a day, sure, but you have a lifetime to make love!

          Reply
        2. A

          I was a virgin when I got married…my husband was not, and we were both very “eager.” However, it was EXTREMELY painful for me at first. I know this isn’t the case for everyone, but it was for me! Instead of my husband insisting we have sex everyday of our honeymoon (or three times a day!), he was incredibly slow, patient, and loving. It wasn’t at all the best sex of our marriage, but I gained so much respect for my husband. I was able to trust that he put taking care of me over his own desires.

          Reply
      2. J Post author

        OF COURSE there is such a thing as spousal rape. What about a wife who just gave birth and her husband decides he wants sex the next day after she’s ripped end-to-end? Do you think he’s entitled to that because she said yes to marriage? I’m thrilled that you would never treat your wife that way. However, not every husband takes this attitude, and some men flat out abuse their wives, even in the marital bedroom.

        Reply
      3. H

        A spouse can rape another spouse. This is a very unhealthy view and I pray that no victim of spousal rape ever reads this. Do you really think God approves of a spouse who is forcing themselves into their partner? That’s the literal definition of rape. Distgusting.

        Reply
  2. nylse

    They’re both so green it’s not funny; hence her email. She should probably read this letter to him.
    If he’s not this insensitive in other areas of life, she’s going to have to woman up and speak up. Show him how she wishes to be treated. But i like, denial is not deprival…and they probably both need to revisit 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 since it seems to be the cause of so much sexual misunderstanding. Last but not least he needs a physical hobby – rugby, soccer, running – something that’s high cardio and drains him!!!

    Reply
  3. Norah

    Ihe definitely needs to understand lubracation and foreplay. And that can happen in the morning. If he is behind you then kisses on the neck, massage on the waist, lovely sexy words in the ear with a nibble, breast play. Any of these. He needs to learn how to make love to his wife plain and simple. I can very well imagine how painful that can be with the sex your having. You can try thinking sexy thoughts through out the day and reading how to get get in touch with your drive. You got one just gotta learn how to drive it up. Tell him that compliaments makes you horny or wanting him. Tell him you liked to be touched with sexy sweet words that go with it. Love and praying.

    Reply
  4. Elizabeth

    What a hard email to read! In addition to what J wisely said, I feel like the wife may need to stand firm. No means NO. If she’s running out the door, or if it feels like rape, then she should totally feel comfortable saying “no” and sticking to it. Of course, it’s always best to try to make things work out for both parties. 🙂 But seriously, if it feels like rape? Makes her cry (in a bad way)? No way!

    Also consider that the husband may still be partially asleep and not really aware of what he’s doing. My husband has had times like that, and he always feels so bad afterwards. He has a chronic case of wandering hands when he’s asleep, and while I’m not opposed to that *in theory,* I am firmly opposed to being kept awake all night! I’ve found that I need to be VERY firm when he’s asleep. I mean, he’s asleep. So he’s not really based in reality. =P

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth

      I also meant to say that I used to hold my husband’s sleep-groping against him until I realized that he was asleep. I grind my teeth in my sleep, he has wandering hands. Fortunately he doesn’t hold my teeth grinding against me. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Jodi

    I too was married to a forceful man. It started out with charm and romance. Sweet words and touches. It all seemed so great in the beginning. I felt like he adored and worshiped me. I did not know this was NOT love. When the honeymoon stage of our marriage ended and REAL life started to happen the charm and romance turned into mental, verbal, emotional, and spiritual abuse. We went to numerous marriage counselors whim he was able to charm and place blame on me. When I stopped going to “marriage” counselors and started seeking self care and healing for myself I was able to recognize the abuse. We divorced and I’ve never felt more healthy. I have a healthy relationship. I have lots of sexual baggage that my partner has been very patient with. Even after 2 years in a new relationship and 3 away from my ex husband new “triggers” still reveal themselves. I want to encourage her to learn what God’s loving plan for marriage truly is before kids enter the picture. That will put a lot of stress on every part of the relationship and could escalate any abuse that may be happening.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I’m so sorry about your story. Unfortunately, some abusers are quite charming at first and can even pull the wool over others’ eyes, making it hard for a spouse to feel that they’ll be believed if they speak up. I think what this husband is doing is wrong, but I’m not yet ready to label him an abuser, because I do think some men have such poor understanding that they could act in terrible ways not knowing the damage they’re doing. If this doesn’t stop, though…

      And I agree that I would not bring kids in until this is sorted out. You’re right that marriage issues tend to escalate with the arrival of children.

      Reply
    2. AC

      Jodi,

      I SO appreciate what you said about learning about God’s plan for marriage before kids enter the picture. I can’t tell you how much my husband and I have been pressured by people (not our families, thank goodness) to have kids. But we have gone through some really hard stuff in our short marriage. Of course, we don’t tell these busybodies what a struggle we’ve had, because, after all, they ARE busybodies. But sometimes a couple can be in a place in their marriage that is not a healthy emotional place for children.

      Sorry, I guess I took a little rabbit trail from the original thought of this post, but I was so excited to see someone voicing this thought that I’ve had all along, but that you don’t hear often in Christian circles!

      Reply
  6. Eric

    From the comments of the newly-married wife you quote, J, it just not possible to assign blame. It does seem as though he’s acting more like a rambunctious, ignorant teen than a loving husband. A bit of a bully, maybe.

    OTOH, if sex hurts her vagina every time, whether they’ve agreed to make love or not, she may need to visit a gynecologist. This could be as simple as having a bottle of lubricant ready, and she insisting that he allow her to rub some on before he puts it in.

    However, his insistence on sex every morning, especially if they made love the evening before, says to me that they need to see a good Christian counselor, ASAP.

    A thought from personal experience: We’ve been married 52 years, and in 1963 there was precious little help out there. One book, I think, that was considered tame enough for godly Christian couples: SEX WITHOUT FEAR, published in the 1950s. A doctor’s prescription was needed to buy it–so we got the prescription.
    But my bride and I had some very positive things going for us. We both grew up in a Christian home; we each knew our parents loved one another, and loved their children; we both attended solid gospel-teaching churches; and we were both graduates of Christian colleges. Both virgins, I recall that we were both eager and excited about getting into bed, to the extent that we didn’t hang around the wedding reception very long! My bride had been given some very explicit (raunchy) advice by a female married friend, and that added to the fun. For the first three months, at least, we made love every night, plus Sunday afternoon.

    And neither of us ever complained of it hurting.

    Again, that couple needs counseling before they do serious emotional damage to each other.
    Eric

    Reply
  7. DC

    And now for the least Christian response: if I knew these people, I would break his jaw. He needs to get some help. If he doesn’t listen to HIS WIFE explaining what he does hurts (physically, emotionally, mentally) and she doesn’t want it, that’s marital rape. If he’s aware how his actions affect his wife and he doesn’t change…that’s the fast track to abuse status. Hopefully someone can get in there quickly and grab a hold of him before it escalates. My heart hurts so much for her because everything about her situation is terrifying and nothing like it’s supposed to be. He’s doing so much damage to their relationship and her sexuality for a groggy orgasm. Sounds like porn use since sex seems to be all about him.

    Reply
      1. J Post author

        The reason I chose not to use the word “rape” is I have the feeling this wife has not been clear. She has been trying to accommodate his wishes or speak up in what-sounds-like timid terms. I hope to encourage her to be more clear and let her husband know this is unacceptable, not intimate, and not how God designed sex.

        As I’ve said, if it continues past her clear nos, yes, I agree that’s rape.

        Reply
        1. AC

          Her being clear is a MUST. That can be hard when you’re newly married, but it’s so necessary. But if we’re going with the assumption she hasn’t been crystal clear with him yet, I do want to say this in her defense. My husband KNOWS when he is hurting me by penetrating too early, or when I’m too dry. I don’t have to say a word, although sometimes I do. When there is pain in the body it’s obvious unless a person chooses to hide it. So I said all this to say I think he knows very well he is hurting her, even if she hasn’t spoken to him as plainly as she should.

          Reply
  8. T

    She said she can’t count the number of times she has talked to him about this. He is physically hurting her and that must stop immediately. Whether he isn’t listening or doesn’t care she does not deserve to be treated this way by someone she committed her life to. I don’t buy that he is still asleep, maybe waking up aroused and acting on it before fully awake. But at some point he must wake up, I can’t imagine him getting forceful and sleeping through the whole thing. Sounds to me like a man who doesn’t understand love and intimacy.

    Reply
  9. Gaye @CalmHealthySexy

    My heart hurts for this young woman. I think that your advice is spot on, J. She really needs to be clear and firm about this and seek outside help if they can’t work it out soon. I hope that this is just ignorance and over-enthusiasm on his part, and not a pattern of discounting her thoughts and feelings.

    Reply
  10. Oksana

    It is the opposite in my marriage. I waited until I met the one, got married at 25 in 2013. He was not a virgin while I was. I didn’t realize I would love sex so much but I do. At this point I’m the higher sex drive than my husband. I’m 27, he is 38. If we could do it every day, I would be ecstatic. But we don’t. 😔 I hate always being the one doing advances, initiating. I want him to do that. Isn’t he the male, who should be wanting sex every day?! But he doesn’t. I’ve counted once when we went without sex for at least 2-3 weeks. And it don’t seem to bother him, which upset me. I don’t want to throw it in his face or be demeaning because then it will be a chore. But how can it be a chore when it is pleasure?! He would rather sleep than have sex.bi know he has a thyroid problem, where he can sleep all day and still be sleepy. Why hasn’t he treated it prior to our marriage and left me to reap this?! Maybe this is the reason I’m not pregnant. I checked and I’m a fertile female. And this is eating at me. I pray about this but it is hard.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I’m so sorry for your struggle. Your answer to this question — “Isn’t he the male, who should be wanting sex every day?!” — is not necessarily. An increasing percentage of men are not as sexually interested as their wives. Start with understanding that this is not uncommon and it’s not you, then express your concerns and look for solutions together. If you know he has a thyroid issue, he really needs to see a doctor and deal with that. Insist that he doing so for his health. Blessings!

      Reply
  11. S

    May I come at this from a slightly different angle? I do want to say at the beginning, if this young man is as inconsiderate as it seems, I do believe he needs an immediate kick in his selfish rear, and some serious marriage help. I also acknowledge that I don’t know the whole story, whether all the email was published or not, and possibly J knows more than is printed here – I realize that happens, too. However, as I read the young lady’s message, I wondered if we really got the whole story. When she said she “explained to him…”, comes after she said she was a morning person. So did she say she doesn’t like having sex in the morning (or gave that impression), or did she actually tell him that it Hurts and more foreplay is needed. I guess I can just think of times in my own marriage when I or my husband think we’re being really clear with our hinting, and it’s just not getting through to the other side! I’m not saying being inconsiderate is okay at all, so please don’t think I’m letting anyone off the hook here – just wanting to try to see both sides.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I think this is a great point, S. Sometimes we think we’ve communicated, but we haven’t been clear enough. We expect our spouses to fill in the gaps and draw the conclusions we would. This wife does need to be kind but frank and firm. Thanks for commenting!

      Reply
    2. Kay

      I was wondering the same thing. This guy can’t be THAT cruel, can he? I guess be can, but I wonder if she is being clear that she doesn’t just not like it, he is hurting her and feels as if she is being raped. My husband always stopped the instant I said “ow” to anything! He would be horrified if I ever felt that way. This husband needs to know that sex needs to be MUTUALLY enjoyable or she is going to hate sex (if she doesn’t already). Sex should build intimacy, not break it, and he is breaking it every time. She needs to call his behavior what it is: SINFUL. If he isn’t willing to work with her on this, then she needs to insist that HE goes to counseling, because he should not be getting pleasure from her pain. That is contrary to everything the gospel stands for.

      Reply
      1. AC

        You’re right, Kay, there could be a huge miscommunication here. You wondered if he could really be that cruel. The instant I read that I thought of porn. If this guy happens to be a porn user, or has been in the past, then his mind is very messed up when it comes to sexuality. Sadly, I know first hand the devastating effects porn can have on how a man treats sex.

        Reply
  12. Amy

    It’s hard to know the whole story, but going back and re-reading what you shared from this young woman’s email, this borders on sexual abuse. I know from personal experience.

    I do agree with the commenter above that perhaps she is not being direct enough in letting him know how it hurts her but if she has told him it hurts and she doesn’t care for it then he needs to stop.
    And for those who have made comments about her maybe needing to see a doctor if it hurts or try thinking sexy thoughts through the day, if a husband forces himself on his wife when she is not ready it is going to hurt!

    These two young people grew up with very different instruction I believe regarding sex in marriage. The young man seems to feel an entitlement to it and the woman erroneously was taught she can never say no.
    I pray they get the help needed or it will just lead to resentment and bitterness.

    Reply
  13. alchemist

    Maybe they can read a Christian sex book together? One that explains the mechanics and how different men and women are and foreplay and stuff? That might help them to talk about it clearly and in a less emotionally charged way. Like S said, she may think she’s communicating,, but he’s hearing something completely different. If they’re reading a book where it explains female arousal vs. male arousal in some detail, there should be less potential for misunderstanding.
    Hopefully when he sees the whole thing written down and his wife affirming that what he’s doing actually hurts her, he’ll get it.

    Maybe she should just go ahead and cry. Men seems to be sensitive to tears more than words sometimes.

    Reply
  14. Anonymous

    Wait, what? Mismatched sex drives? Porn use? These are all red herrings.

    This is domestic abuse. This woman had a “painful” honeymoon, and she wakes up to her husband trying to have sex with her– painfully– even though she has told him more times than she can count not to do that. Plus, he must see that she is obviously uncomfortable, since she says, “that makes me cringe and do everything in my power to not cry and feel as though I’m being raped, as he thrusts full force in and out.” The fact that he continues to have sex with her under these circumstances means that he is raping her. Full stop. And there’s a good indication that he’s verbally and emotionally abusive as well– “if I don’t engage in sex at his desire, it quickly leads to resentment, emotional distance and eventually hurtful words.” He is withholding intimacy and intimidating her in order to control her so he can keep using her for sex.

    This poor woman does not need to see a counselor if the situation does not resolve quickly. She needs to call a domestic violence hotline NOW. Even if my concerns are overblown, the worst thing that happens is that she describes what’s happening, they tell her that it’s not abuse, and she can go on to talk to him and seek counseling. But if he is abusing her, she is likely to be put in much more danger by trying to stand up to him.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I agree that there is such a thing as marital rape. I have repeatedly said that spouses should neither force nor demand sexual acts.

      In this scenario, I’m not clear that this husband fully understands what he’s doing. And I know some men receive such horrible teaching that they honestly believe they can push toward sex and won’t stop unless she speaks up clearly and says no. Which is exactly what I encourage this wife to do. Because I’m also not sure she’s made her feelings and experience crystal clear. If behavior like this continues — if a husband forces sex on his wife when she clearly says no — absolutely, it’s rape.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        Really? You think she’s being unclear?

        “A majority of mornings I wake up to my husband trying to put his thing in between my legs and get in my vagina from behind. It hurts. A lot. And is such an unpleasant way to wake up, especially for someone who is not a morning person. I can’t count the number of times I’ve explained this to him. He just doesn’t seem to listen or care. ”

        So she’s expressed, repeatedly, that this is unpleasant– painful, even– and that she does not want him to continue doing it. That sounds clear enough to me, and I have no reason to believe that the problem is communication on her end.

        “There are plenty of times in the morning when he tries to come from behind and I’ll ask him if he could enter from the front because it’s less painful. But even that makes me cringe and do everything in my power to not cry and feel as though I’m being raped, as he thrusts full force in and out[.]”

        This is really strong language– “that makes me cringe” and she has to “do everything in her power not to cry.” I find it extremely unlikely that she can hide her emotions so well that any reasonable person wouldn’t realize that he’s having sex with someone he’s hurting.

        So why do you think the problem lies with her, not him? Because if he keeps doing it, she must not have been clear enough? She’s clearly in a very bad place, and unless there’s a very good reason to believe otherwise, I think it’s important to support her by believing her.

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          I do NOT think the problem lies with her! I absolutely never said that. However, if she is trying to “explain,” I’ve made it very clear she doesn’t owe an explanation in this case, but rather a firm “NO, I am NOT doing that. And you will NOT do it to me.” Period. No squishy edges. No misunderstandings. I clearly said this is unacceptable, and she MUST speak up and let him know he CANNOT treat her this way.

          Telling someone how what actions they can take is not blaming them for what’s happening. I don’t have access to the husband in this question, so I’m responding to the wife. A counselor has the issue of only dealing with the person they see.

          Reply
    2. KarenR

      J, your advice and comments to this woman are very kind and thoughtful. I appreciate that you make a disctinction between delaying/denying sex and depriving sex. One is temporary and the other is more of a permanent stance.
      However, having been in an abusive marriage, I agree wholeheartedly with the insights that “Anonymous” has provided. There are SEVERAL red flags in her letter. He knows that she is in pain. She said in her letter “I can’t count the number of times I’ve explained this to him. He just doesn’t seem to listen or care.” I think those who are in generally healthy relationships with generally healthy men probably can’t relate to a man being so callous, and we think “Surely, he must not have heard her.” He heard her. He hears her, and yet “There are plenty of times in the morning when he tries to come from behind and I’ll ask him if he could enter from the front because it’s less painful. But even that makes me cringe and do everything in my power to not cry and feel as though I’m being raped, as he thrusts full force in and out…” Clearly, sex isn’t enjoyable for her and he moves full steam ahead. There is a blatant disregard for feelings emotionally and physically. I advise that she get to a counselor immediately. It will help her to see more clearly what is going on and how best to respond.

      Reply
  15. Keelie Reason

    When I read stories like this, I wish that people would have someone in their lives that they felt comfortable with talking to….someone that is right there with them and in their face. Handling these types of situations from a distance with people you do not know is very hard.

    Reply
  16. Anna

    My husband and I are newlyweds, and when it came to light that something he did regularly caused me pain and I hid it and didn’t speak up about it, he was hurt and begged me to never let something like that go unmentioned. He told me emphatically that nothing that caused me pain could be a turn on to him. He tells me over and over that nothing turns him on more than knowing I am turned on, that his biggest pleasure in intimacy is that he pleases me…..and his actions prove his words. He lays down his life for me-financially, time, conversation, sexually, IN EVERY WAY. He makes me desire him-embodying the advice, “Treat your wife well, and you will never be able to keep up with her sexually.”
    This man needs Jesus, and the discipleship of an older godly man! He should have absolutely no desire that is more important than his wife’s wellbeing. And it is very scary to think that from what she has said, he does.

    Reply
  17. KD

    I was really “green”, and allowed my honeymoon to be very painful, got a UTI and the whole time, my hubby didn’t know. When I finally told him, he was devastated and asked why I didn’t just SAY SOMETHING. He wanted sex to be pleasurable for me, too. It killed him that he had hurt me. (He was green, too.) That being said, *IF* this girl fully communicated to him it hurts and his reaction is to hurt her more? Um, no. He should care and work with her. He needs to man up. If he doesn’t care, something is seriously wrong with him and he needs a wake up call – from her. A powerful undeniable one.

    Reply
  18. robin2014

    Nowhere in her post does she state that she is even remotely happy in her marriage. Matter of fact her tone denotes exact opposite. I completely agree with Anonymous. If this guy does not get help ASAP, I predict this marriage will be over sooner than later. I have hard time believing that he is so naive or ignorant of her pain and feelings.. Nobody deserves to be treated like this, Christian or not!

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I believe that’s what I said — that she needs to speak up and let him know how she feels. I’m not convinced by her full email that she’s been clear in her communication. And if current happiness is the barometer for staying in a marriage, a lot of us would have been divorced a long time ago. Thankfully, I stuck it out and am happily married today.

      Yet I certainly think this needs to change, right away, and if it doesn’t, this marriage has big problems.

      Reply
  19. JuneBliss

    I can relate to a degree on this experience, however I’m the higher drive in the relationship.

    One piece of advice I wish I had known prior to my honeymoon was that birth control can effect your sexual experience. For me, it made sex very painful and in the beginning it killed my drive altogether.

    Frequently, expectations are not communicated in relationships and therefore one of the individuals usually ends up disappointed or hurt. When we went on our honeymoon I had an unspoken expectation that my new husband would be all over me and desire sex every day. I quickly found out that he has a significantly lower drive and twice a week was good enough… If that! But the point is that I didn’t voice my ideas about what I expected and ultimately I felt unloved, and he felt the same way because I was lacking in speaking his love language.

    We also waited until we were married to be with each other, so I believe that builds up an excitement and newfound freedom for the higher drive spouse. Her husband likely has no harmful intentions, and quite honestly, he probably thinks she enjoys it as much as he does! However, communication is key…. I think the saying is “silence is agreement.” Don’t be afraid to speak up (outside of the bedroom). Don’t wait until he makes advances to have a heart to heart talk with him about what you like/ what makes you feel loved.

    Taking active steps to better your relationship and intimacy early on in your marriage will be extremely beneficial.

    As for the birth control, I stopped taking it and was shocked at how sex changed drastically for me. Every woman is different however.

    You’ll hear “communication” is key so many times throughout your marriage, and while it seems exhausting and unrewarding at times, don’t ever stop. It takes awhile to understand what the other person is saying. Think about it, none of us become fluent in a new language within a month. It takes time, understanding and work. Never stop communicating.

    Reply
    1. Mike

      Communication is absolutely key here. As the much higher drive one, its hard for me to calm down when I go from 0 to 60 in all of about 3 seconds. For me and my spouse, her telling me she has a much lower drive than I do really made things much better between us. I felt like when she wasn’t as excited as I was that I was doing things wrong, so I wanted to make them right. As soon as she told me she didn’t have the same level of drive I did, things completely changed for me.

      He might be trying to have sex more regularly because when he sees a lack of excitement in you he feels like he’s failing, so he thinks he needs to give it another try, but then he sees failure (at least in his eyes), so the cycle continues over and over.

      This wife really should speak up before he even gets going. Using a car as a metaphor: Its easier to hold the brakes before the car gets going than it is to slow it down at 60 miles an hour. If she’s brutally honest with the man and explains things clearly, things should (at least in theory) change.

      Sex is a gift from God, its meant to be enjoyable for both people involved. If one person isn’t enjoying themself, the other partner needs to know.

      I really think christians today really need to have open conversations about sex before marriage in regards to expectations, what they think they will enjoy, what they think they won’t, etc. The church also needs to go more in-depth on this topic than just the simple “Don’t do it until you’re married” message that gets repeated over and over. As sad as this sounds, all of the instruction I received about how to treat my spouse in a God honoring way in my marriage (at least in this area) has been on the internet rather than in church. Why is it that the church is so afraid to talk about this gift that God has given us?

      Reply
  20. Healing SLOWLY

    I can completely relate with this wife. I was her nearly 30 years ago at the tender age of 21 when I married the supposed “love of my life”. I was raped on our honeymoon night and for nearly 10 years until I finally got out. I will say, my pastor and several Christian counselors did not make it easy for me to leave and in fact, I would have probably never left but for the fact that he finally asked me to. He said it was over. That was the beginning of a new but scary life for a Christian woman who only expected to say “I do” once. I was raised once married, always married. Even now, marital rape is still not fully understood or recognized. No means no, married or not. I can’t count the times Ephesians 5 was screamed to me in his defense and my pastor asked me did I understand what submission was. I believe God has and will continue to use my story as I walk the path of healing.

    I am now remarried after 10 years alone after the divorce and my current husband suffers also from sexual abuse in his past. We struggle. I would love to hear of any resources and will keep this wife in my prayers (and the many others who are in the closet with their pain). Keep up the conversation about the topic. Thank you, J.

    Reply
    1. a. nony

      Have you heard of the book Rid of My Disgrace? It’s an outstanding resource for Christians (and others) who feel the pain and (unwarranted) shame of past sexual abuse. Highly recommended.

      Reply
  21. Pingback: Sexual Assault and Marriage | Hot, Holy & Humorous

  22. Mr

    This guy sounds like he does need to learn to listen and obey his wife objection’s to receiving sleep sex. But one thing to mention too is the need for discussing the different types of things allowed in your marriage such as the sleep sex option.

    For example: my wife does not like to be woken up for anything so she has never given me authorization for sleep sex. But on the other hand I like to keep things adventurous so I have given her full authorization that she can sleep sex me anytime she likes. Its not been often but there has been a few times she has taken this option, and the times she has I have woken up a loved every minute of it.

    Sex is exploratory in nature so the main goal is to set the boundaries for each person involved. Communication about each others desires and fantasies are part of setting these boundaries. Then respecting each other, and repenting about the mistakes along the way. God bless this couple and help them find their way.

    Reply
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