Back today (a day late, but here) with another reader question. I’ve often said that husbands delight in turning their wives on and seeing them satisfied, except I tend to say most husbands. Because some don’t. Read on:
I don’t know if you’ve addressed this, but I’ve been married almost 10 years now. And I’ve only had maybe 3-5 orgasms with my husband. I know I can orgasm easily from previous self masturbations in literally 2 minutes. But what do you tell woman [whose] husbands don’t care much. I asked him if it bothered him that I don’t orgasm, he said it didn’t. He just recently started manual stimulation, but it takes him a while to start there, or even do it, so I don’t feel like he’s into it, which makes me want to stop it. I try to give pointers, but I really don’t see a desire that it matters to him. He’s said before that it would be cool if we could orgasm at the same time.
I think he’s completely clueless how things work, but thinks he knows. But I ask him frequently what he thinks of sex and if we should change anything if I could do more for him or what he likes best. And he always says everything is great, but yet never asks me. I feel used for sex and I have told him that before. In fact the other day I made him stop, because a lot of times after sex I cry, he falls asleep and I’m in tears. I have even told him his, but it doesn’t register anything to him. I know he doesn’t use me and loves me, but I feel like it’s all about him. I’m not confident in his attraction to [me] (previous porn use in our marriage early on, now gone). But so much damage in our relationship.
And I can’t figure out why orgasm is so hard for woman, I know people say it’s so that you have to really know each other and figure out each other. But I have a husband who acts like he doesn’t care to figure me out and sex is great for him. I find it mundane, boring and about in tears every time. I know I can’t withhold sex from him, but I also can’t feel like this every time we have sex. I don’t know what God wants me to do. I really don’t feel confident even talking to my husband about it. Cause he acts like he’s already heard it, and I think it’s annoying to him.
As usual, I wish I could talk to this husband, however. I suspect he’s thinking and feeling all kinds of things he hasn’t expressed to his wife. And I don’t know whether it’s because he doesn’t care or he doesn’t know how to talk about sex. For some men, it’s a very uncomfortable subject. Because they’re supposed to know what to do, and when things don’t work, it can feel embarrassing, even emasculating, for some husbands.
What I really wish husbands understood is female sexuality isn’t as straightforward as men’s. Their penises constantly stick out, while our pleasure places hide like turtle heads in their shells until drawn out by arousal. They have a fairly straightforward path to climax, while ours is more changeable and meandering. They are mostly driven by a physical sex drive, while wives tend to be more mentally driven with sexual intimacy. The point being, a guy’s orgasm is like that baking soda + vinegar science experiment that creates a mini-volcano, while a woman’s orgasm is more like quantum physics. It’s not our fault. It just is, and hey, you guys make pretty great scientists when you want to be.
But I can’t chat with hubby or explain the particulars of female sexuality to him. So I’ll address your concerns one by one, and see if we can come up with a strategy to improve your marital intimacy.
Did prior porn use set up unrealistic expectations? You slid this in briefly: “previous porn use in our marriage early on, now gone.” But that’s really telling. Porn tends to send several messages to men: (1) Women should be eager and quick to turn on. (2) Sex is about getting what you want. (3) Orgasms are easily achieved. All of which I call hogwash.
Away from the bedroom and your issues, I’d try to have a conversation with him about what messages from pornography he still carries, how he thinks it impacted the way he views sex, and what your reality about sex is. For tips on having an effective conversation, see How to Talk about Sexual Problems with Your Spouse. Such a discussion might reveal the areas where you need to break down unrealistic expectations and create mutually satisfying goals for your sex life.
Would he want to go without orgasm? You said, “I asked him if it bothered him that I don’t orgasm, he said it didn’t.” Really? I’d immediately respond with, “So what if you don’t have an orgasm? Is that okay?” I don’t know many husbands — or any — who are willing to forgo orgasm more often than not.
You need to stress to him that your pleasure matters. That you want to enjoy this experience, feel that deep intimacy, and make this aspect of your marriage something you look forward to. But just as he wouldn’t enjoy sex with no climaxes, why does he expect you to?
Yes, it’s more complicated for you to reach climax, but once he learns more about your body and how to stimulate you, it will get easier. It’s an initial layout of time and effort, but he can become the Giver of Great Orgasms and essentially your sexual hero. You could even use that phrase: sexual hero.
You don’t to have to have sex if he’s hurting you. You mentioned that “I can’t withhold sex from him, but I also can’t feel like this every time we have sex.” It’s true that you shouldn’t withhold sexual intimacy from your husband. But you also said that you’ve ended up in tears.
I don’t know whether that’s an emotional response based on not feeling loved in the moment, or if it’s because he’s continuing to have sex with you when it doesn’t feel good to your body. I just want to make it clear that if the sex is literally hurting you, you can back it up and say no. Not no for all time, but no under the circumstances that it’s hurting you. And if he wants to continue, he must take your sexual needs into consideration.
1 Corinthians 7:3-5 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.
We cannot deprive each other, but you share responsibility for your bodies. You yield your body to him, but he yields his body to you as well. And his body doesn’t get to abuse your body. That’s not what’s meant by this verse. It’s about mutual respect and generosity in the marriage bed.
Sex can be an annoying subject to discuss. Finally, you say: “I really don’t feel confident even talking to my husband about it. Cause he acts like he’s already heard it, and I think it’s annoying to him.” Not sure I know anyone who felt confident and relaxed the first time they brought up a sex problem, or really any big problem, in their marriage. So don’t expect to feel fabulous about it, because it’s awkward and difficult and rife with potential misunderstandings.
But you also cannot ignore the problems. You’ve been married 10 years already. Do you really want to go another 10 years with how things are now? I can’t imagine that you do. So the only way to make progress is to face the struggle and make it clear to your husband that you believe in your ability to get through anything together.
And I’m not surprised he comes across as being annoyed if/when you bring it up. You might be inadvertently poking areas of doubt or frustration for him. Make sure you’re not coming across as critical of your man and his sexuality. Tell him you trust his heart and his capacity to forge a strong bond with you in the bedroom. Even say that you don’t want to annoy him with this topic, but you want to figure it out so that you’re both happy with your sexual intimacy.
As for getting you to orgasm with manual stimulation, and his frustration with that experience, maybe he’d like a primer on exactly what to do. You could read together my post on Manual Play for Her and/or Paul Byerly’s post on Orgasmic Massage.
There are plenty more tips in Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design, releasing very soon! It’s available for pre-order right now.