Q&A with J: Your Pleasure & Orgasm Matter

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.

Q&A with J: Your Pleasure & Orgasm Matter

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.

HHH coverThere 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.

 

25 thoughts on “Q&A with J: Your Pleasure & Orgasm Matter

  1. Eric

    J,

    I usually wait until several others have answered, but I’m going first on this one. To give your wife an orgasm is normally much more satisfying than to get one. As Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” The man whose wife orgasms under HIS stimulation, rather than masturbating afterward, or not at all, feels like he can conquer the world next day.

    That said, statistics report that about 80% of wives do not orgasm from PIV intercourse. So what’s the solution? It varies with the couple. For most wives, oral sex probably works every time. And whether it’s followed by PIV intercourse, or a blow job, “she comes first” should be the rule. I know it’s hard to wait (no pun intended), but it’s satisfying.

    Many men can bring their wives to orgasm with their fingers and a bit of lube; or start with fingers (following her instructions) and finish with penis, which can result in simultaneous orgasm.

    Or, the man can sit on a kitchen chair, while the wife straddles his thigh and stimulates herself by rubbing against his leg. This way they can look each other in the eye, and that eye contact is very precious indeed. He also gets to enjoy full frontal nudity. Once she’s orgasmed, she then climbs onto his penis and takes care of his need.

    The man you described seems to be very selfish, however, and his issues run deeper than the mechanics of sex. Counseling is needed, perhaps a good book on sex–and a lot of prayer.
    Eric

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  2. libl

    Oh, I have so much I could say! So much! But in a nut shell, my dh is equal parts selfish and clueless. He refuses to give me an orgasm unless I can figure out how to O from PIV alone. He will thrust until I am sore, thinking a good pounding will get me there long after any arousal has completely disappeared. He just doesn’t get it. He also told me to leave him alone and just go masturbate.

    So, I did. But, during sex with him. It started with finishing myself next to him and moved on to me masturbating while in woman on top position during PIV. This compromise is the surest way for me to O apart from oral sex (which he refuses to do.)

    You can’t change a man who isn’t open to change, but you can change how you do things. As wonderful as it is for a husband to play his wife like a classical instrument, some men just won’t, so we women have to take charge of our sexuality.

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  3. Denise

    She says,”I know I can’t withhold sex from him, but I also can’t feel like this every time we have sex.”

    This was the straw that broke the camel’s back, the final straw. I remember the last time it happened seven years ago. I remember, once again, being left hanging, being made to feel dirty or that the problem was mine. I was done. No more.

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  4. a. nony

    “As usual, I wish I could talk to this husband”

    I think you meant, “I wish I could shake this husband!!” 😉

    Honestly, and excuse the shouty-caps, but WHAT KIND OF MAN wants to have sex with a woman who is getting nothing out of it, emotionally or physically? It mystifies me completely. This wife is being treated like a walking sex doll, and that is just NOT OK for anyone, MUCH LESS for a Christian marriage. This couple needs mentors to step in STAT.

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    1. J Post author

      It’s certainly not okay. I totally get what you’re saying. But what I have found is that some men have received such horrible teaching and examples on their end, that they really don’t understand the damage they’re doing. I try to presume the best-case scenario, such as it being ignorance rather than indifference.

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      1. a. nony

        I get that, J, I do. I really try to assume the best of people. But it sounds to me like this wife has repeatedly talked to her husband, asked him questions, tried to guide him, and he has flat out told her that he doesn’t care if she doesn’t orgasm. That, to me, goes far beyond ignorance. If she hadn’t said anything (as many wives, myself included, find ourselves tempted to do!), I think I would be less grumpy about it, honestly. But when a husband says he is unaffected by the fact that his wife is not getting any pleasure from sex, and then backs that up by rolling over and going to sleep while his wife is lying next to him crying… I find it hard not to find the excuse of ignorance pretty unconvincing.

        Even if he doesn’t know technique, he’s got the best resource available right there next to him, but he’s happy to turn his back on her and let her cry after he finishes. There’s ignorance, and then there’s stubbornly remaining in ignorance despite the pleas of someone you’re meant to love “as your own body” and “as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.”

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        1. Eric

          A. Nony wrote, “you’re meant to love ‘as your own body’ and ‘as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.'”

          If married Christian men would only get this truth from Paul’s teaching on marriage in Ephesians 5, how much different our marriages would be! In one sense, guys WE ARE CHRIST to our wives. Jesus “gave himself for her” by dying naked on a cross. Bible teacher and pastor Lehman Strauss put it like this in his commentary on Ephesians: “As the soldier pierced Jesus’ side as He hung on the cross, and thus the Father took from the side of Jesus His bride, the church, so God opened the sleeping Adam’s side to take out his wife, Eve. Strauss writes further that even as Jesus died to create the church, so, in type, the sleeping Adam died to get Eve.

          That’s the crux of the matter. We husbands must die to self-interest if we are to properly please our wives. And bringing a lovely, longing wife to climax is a form of death to self-interest!

          But our marriages are broken. There’s the theological aspect, where we may have been taught the Gnostic lie that only spirit is good and flesh is essentially evil, so we suspect that the highly orgasmic action of sexual intercourse with a wife is a necessary evil. Or so a large proportion of Christianity teaches and believes.

          The very idea of a man putting his mouth on his wife’s vagina to help her orgasm with his tongue can seem dirty and even evil. I’d been married for many years before one day I read from a respected, godly Christian source that oral sex is often the most effective (and holy) means to bring a wife to orgasm. I took me weeks to get up the nerve to try it–but we’ve been blessed ever since

          On the other hand, all of us, husbands or wives, do come to our marriage beds tainted by sins we’ve experienced or have witnessed or heard of, and this makes it even harder to give ourselves with no reserve to the other. Again, read the marriage passage in Ephesians 5, believe what it says, and pray that the Lord will give you the courage to take it literally. To ignore your wife’s need for you to help her orgasm is to head into an old age with an angry, unresponsive woman who chooses her woman friends ahead of you. Or divorce.
          Eric

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          1. libl

            This is poignant, Eric. I have to fight to not just hurry up and get sex over with because hubby simply will not have anything to do with my nether regions except thrusting. I find myself preferring solo masturbation because trying to have an orgasm within the very narrow parameters hubby has set is a challenge. I am trying to work within those too tight boundaries, but I long to just be taken care of the best way for me once in a while.

            For now, I make do and can find some positivity to it, taking charge of my sexuality and all, but if my husband believed as you described, it would be a giant burden off my shoulders. I would likely sob in joy at feeling safe, loved, respected, covered, treasured, worth it, and beautiful with my husband.

            For now, sex is just about keeping basic needs met and temptation at bay.

  5. A

    Here’s what I think. It’s unique for every couple. My dear wife was not selfish enough to say please give me an orgasm and she just would never pleasure herself. I’m writing about years ago. She knows now it’s not selfish to ask me to give her an orgasm. Because our number one problem was size incompatibility which I believe is extreemly rare. But I say every married couple that have a devoted to death do we part approach need to take a work it out approach. Wives need to realize husbands don’t respond well to a perform or else approach. Men don’t realize how a women responds to a ” I can’t wait to have you naked so I can adore your body.” We make it a habit to talk about our nicest sex dates we talk explicitly and have learned to love this topic together. In a matter of the last 7 or so years it’s gotten better and better. She love oral orgasms

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  6. Troy

    This has probably already been mentioned, and just adding to the first comment above. ..(although not really getting at the heart of the matter.) A smaller non obtrusive clit vibrator could really help. This helps stimulate the female while having intercourse. After a while you can learn to time it just right so both can go at the same time.
    I guess this really doesn’t get to the main issue of why the husband doesn’t care about anything else other than his own orgasm. His view of what martial sex represents is more than a little skewed. I would also not be surprised if porn was still an issue. I’m not sure how you can claim to love someone and not want them to experience this fully? ignorance or unattraction could be some underlying issues that need to dealt with.
    …Just my thoughts. 🙂

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  7. KC

    Not to promote someone else’s material on your post, but I love how you and Sheila Wray Gregorie complement each other’s blogs so well! Her 30 Days to Great Sex could be a very valuable resource for this girl- there are a lot of conversation starters for talking about sex and getting to the bottom of issues. Keep up the great work, J! 🙂

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Honestly, Sheila is one of the few out there that I trust implicitly. Not to say that we’re in agreement 100% of the time (I don’t anyone for whom that’s true), but her advice is solid, godly, and practical. Thanks!

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    2. libl

      Shelia’s book I s worth trying, but didn’t work for my marriage. Hubby just ignored anything I tried to read out loud or discuss in the book.

      I’m with J. and start with best possible scenario assumption and work from there. Hopefully, he is just way too clueless, but teachable.

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      1. J Post author

        Well, I don’t know if any marriage book works to read aloud to your spouse and say stuff like, “Listen to what this person says! You should do this.” (Hey, if that worked, I would have improved my marriage a lot faster. ‘Cause I tried that.) I’ve found that you kind of need buy-in from your spouse first to listen and take to heart wisdom from others. If you can get your husband to read a marriage book, GREAT! Go for it. But if not, put into practice yourself the principles you learn. Sometimes when a spouse notices a change, they’ll ask why, and then you can say, “Actually, I’ve been reading…” And then they’re often more willing to hear what you have to say.

        Just my thoughts! Thanks, libl.

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  8. Amy

    I personally do not buy into the whole ‘God made men with a higher drive and purposely made it harder for women to orgasm or even desire sex.” Really??
    I like to imagine in the Garden of Eden that Adam and Eve has equal sex drives and enjoyed each other with abandon. Therefore, I would say the reason women have a harder time climaxing today is because of the fallen world we live in and the warped message the church often presents about sex — wives are to do their duty and make sure their husbands are sexually satisfied. 🙁

    You know you can orgasm so obviously it’s not a physical problem and I think it rarely is for most women. The reason now you’re having a hard time, and probably why many women do, is you are emotionally disconnected from your husband and don’t feel your pleasure matters to him. Thus, you end up in tears each time because there is definitely something lacking, not just an orgasm. And I say all this from experience.

    I hope you are able to have a true heart to heart talk with him and be able to resolve things before you become resentful and start shutting down altogether.

    Sex has become a duty for you and your husband has even made it clear it sounds like that he really doesn’t care whether you orgasm or not. It’s your problem. And that’s a shame.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I don’t believe God somehow cursed women, but I do believe our sexuality is different. Our path to orgasm is a little less straightforward, at least for many wives. The beauty is that once we figure it out, we get the real goodies, the potential for multiples.

      However, I agree with what you say about her pleasure being problematic because of the relationship. That’s what needs to be worked out for real progress to be made toward orgasm.

      Reply
  9. Been There

    The wife says she’s figured out what works for her in the past. Has she tried doing this while he does his thing even though he’s not the best participant? Either he’s very selfish and ignorant, or perhaps he missed the boat on learning and now tries to ignore the fact that he’s not a good lover by pretending there’s nothing wrong. I didn’t have to wait ten years like this poor lady, but we started out this way and it took more than a couple years to start working right. And thankfully he never said he didn’t care about it, but he did essentially avoid the problem and act like nothing was amiss. The first two or three times I reached the finish line with him, I basically just did what worked before he could finish. I kinda acted more dominant in a playful way and made sure I did what I needed for myself before I gave him what he wanted. He thought it was coy and fun. It was way outta my comfort zone, and it felt more than a little awkward the first couple times, but it worked. The next time or two after that, I think it intrigued him that we had been able to make it happen a couple times, so he helped. I told him how great he was at it and now he’s the one suggesting the things I need to get there. All this has been in the last couple months, and we still miss the mark more times than we hit it, but even just the effort he puts in when he puts effort in toward my orgasm is enough that my heart is healing from the past neglect. Yeah, It would have been really nice if he had taken the time and effort from the beginning. It would have been really nice if I hadn’t had to take charge and fix the problem essentially alone before he had the courage to put some effort in and acknowledge he needed help. But in our situation, it didn’t work that way. But things are changing now, and that’s all I can ask for. Since she’s tried getting him to see her point and he’s either clueless, afraid to try in case he stinks at it, or just plain selfish, my suggestion to this neglected lady if talking isn’t working, would be to get a little more assertive and get what you need even if you have to stimulate yourself during sex, show him you’re a sexual being with needs, and then guide him into participation. And honestly, he’d probably like you being a little assertive. I’ve been told most men do. My hubby was afraid to try after the first month of marriage because it was harder than mainstream media made it seem, so he just did what he liked and pretended there was nothing wrong. And I was waiting for him to be doting and caring enough to invest the time and effort, because as women, we really want that knight in shining armor to make our dreams come true. But when talking about it for a few years didn’t work, I decided I don’t want to head into my thirties like this and I changed the only thing I could change – my own actions. And it turns out, he really did care more than I thought he did and he just needed me to show him it wasn’t as hard as he thought it was.

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  10. Anonymous

    My wife has a different view point. In 35+ of marriage, she has never truly had an orgasm. She has multiple physical issues (fibro, hormonal imbalance, etc.) that has prevented her to having an O. She has learn to accept this and just enjoys our time together. However, her physical issues have impacted our frequency though…3 times a month for most of the marriage and once every 4-6 weeks for the past 3 years. I have been learning on how to accept what God has given us…

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  11. Marc

    I am a male and always have considered my wife’s pleasure prime. It’s time for hubby to learn a lesson. You need to make an upfront agreement with him as follows.
    The agreement would be a genuine mutual understanding of what would take place for 30 days – and if agreed to, there would be no backing out unless that during this time there would be a significant eye opening change for HIM. This agreement would be done out of love and not created to deny HIM any aspects of marital submissiveness. This agreed to trial period is suggested to let hubby walk in wife’s shoes.
    For 30 days, start to make love/sex as usual. As hubby warms up and HE approaches orgasm, STOP all activity abruptly and remove yourselves from that situation and let him cool off without getting off. This sounds cruel, but it is also cruel for the wife to go off crying after similar situations (HIS enjoyment only) that has happened time and again. Should he respect this trial and feel the pain of blue balls he may come to understand what his wife is going through. No male likes to experience orgasm interruption, especially in marriage. It’ s time for a wake up call.
    A lesson of compassion needs to be seriously addressed on HIS part. Hope this helps. Marc

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      It would be an interesting comparison. I’d hope he could understand without her having to do that. After all, she’s not relieved from the commands to be kind and loving, although I guess you could make a case that this is just setting a boundary…

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      1. Marc

        J
        I may have gone overboard a little and I totally agree – let us hope it never comer to this. But from a physical standpoint this may hit home for him. The absence of one orgasm on his part may help him realize what his wife has gone without for some time. In love, real Godly love, is secondarily to receive, and primarily to GIVE – even if there is no return. God bless and Peace.

        Reply
  12. Shelly

    I’ve been so blessed in this area. My hubby read the book The Act of Marriage a couple of months into our marriage to learn how to please me. I was a 19 year virgin, very shy and very naive but he really wanted to learn how to please me and boy did he! That’s been 21years and 4 babies ago and he still rocks my world. And I make it a point to tell him how amazing he is and how he must be better than my friends’ husbands who complain about sex!

    Reply

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