Category Archives: Q & A with J

Q&A with J: How Do You Know When Orgasm is Close?

Today’s question is a great one about orgasm. For many women, the building of an orgasm, the crossing of the line, and the characteristic spasms are fairly easy to detect. But for some women, it’s not so clear. And for pre-orgasmic women (a term Bonny Burns of OysterBed7 taught me!), it can be frustrating to feel that build and not know what it should feel like to get all the way to climax.

With that in mind, here’s this month’s reader question:

I wanted to ask how you know if you’re close to having an orgasm? There are times when my body tightens up in a way that seems similar to when my husband orgasms. However, it’s not followed by a sense of release or uterine contractions (which I thought is an orgasm?). Do you think this is on the way to orgasm?

Quick answer: Yes, I think you’re on the way to orgasm. Building tension is a key component of heading toward climax. But the arousal may not have increased enough to get you over the edge to release.

There are really two ways to look at orgasm: physiologically and experientially. Let’s look at each.

Physiology of an Orgasm

Medical professionals and scientific researchers define the buildup and orgasm through physical characteristics — that is, what’s actually happening in your body. Leading up to a climax, the blood vessels in the genitalia dilate, meaning that a woman’s vulva will swell. The inner vaginal lips will become 2-3 times their normal size. The blood flow can also cause flushing of the body, particularly on the neck and chest. Heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure increase.

Right against the edge orgasm, blood flow causes the lower area inside the vagina to become firm. A wife’s breasts may swell, the areola of her breasts (shaded part around the nipple) flatten, and the clitoris pulls back from the pubic bone. The climax, however, has not happened until rhythmic contractions occur.

That’s a lot going on, and you’re almost certainly not aware of all that as it’s happening. Your husband is likely not fully aware either, as you are both hopefully caught up in the passion of the moment — not eyeballing your parts to see what’s swelling or firming or flattening.

But biologically speaking, that’s what’s going on.

Experience of an Orgasm

Experientially, the female climax has certain features most wives recognize, but it can also be individual. One wife may flush a lot, and another not so much. One wife may feel her pulse strongly, and another isn’t all that aware. One wife may feel the contractions strongly, and another less strongly.

So how do you know when you are coming close? Or have arrived?

I asked the wives in my Hot, Holy & Humorous Facebook Community to describe their experience, and here’s what they wrote:

  • Increasing leg twitches, a feeling of warmth in the whole pelvic region, and a building tension similar to the buildup before a sneeze.
  • Like I am on a roller coaster heading up a big hill then the drop off the end for the orgasm
  • Shin cramp
  • Legs start twitching and my leg muscles automatically tense. The pelvic region in general will tense and … there’s a feeling of warmth or tingling. And then there’s the wave as the tide hits
  • My stomach drops like on a roller coaster, just before you go over the top, then I have the most peculiar feeling to hold perfectly still and not breathe
  • There is a very intense feeling in the clitoral area that builds. All my muscles tense up. This continues till I can’t take it anymore and then the release…ahhh
  • Much more vocal, focused on only on us and the moment. My inhibitions become waaay lower
  • The good feeling of what is happening intensifies and gets more and more concentrated almost until I can’t take it anymore, then it’s like an electric explosion
  • A lot of pressure, but it’s pleasurable. Warm and tense in the clitoral area. Sometimes my body shakes a little bit. Breath comes in gasps. Muscles tense up right before. 
  • This weird sensation that starts from the pelvic region and travels up my left side of my spine, to my brain — then, fireworks. … I also agree with the leg twitches, and the first time I heard “like a pelvic sneeze” I thought- YES! that is exactly what it is like.
  • I feel like I’m moving closer and closer to something amazing—good sensations everywhere and everything feels so good and much more intense. When it happens—the best way to describe it for me is fireworks exploding in my brain and all over my body
  • Tingling, tickling, spark-like sensations. I also feel a swelling in that area and stimulation at times feels like it’s too much to handle. I also cannot keep my hips still… then it feels like a run away train or fireworks that go every which way in the end
  • I can no longer focus on what I’m doing (like kissing or touching his back)
  • Mostly it seems like my toes just curl up and I feel just warm and fuzzy, nothing real intense, but my breathing stops and I just feel so close and connected with my hubby

My favorite description here might be the “pelvic sneeze.” But think of a big sneeze — like that one that makes your whole body tense, and you know it’s coming and you won’t be able to stop it, and the eventual sneeze is actually a relief. 

If you’re not sure you’ve had an orgasm, then you probably haven’t. (Not always true, but generally so.) The contractions are really the key, and you should be able to feel those, at least somewhat — and it should be followed by a release of muscle tension.

Achieving an Orgasm

So what factors can help a preorgasmic wife finally reach orgasm? I recently read an interesting study about what helps a woman climax, in which researchers said mattered most were:

  • How important orgasms were considered personally
  • How high was sexual desire
  • How high was sexual self-esteem (including how skillful and good in bed women considered themselves)
  • How open was sexual communication with the partner
  • Ability to concentrate on the moment
  • Mutual sexual initiations
  • Partner’s good sexual techniques

I actually address every one those in my book, Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design. So if you’re struggling, go get a copy! (Or get a copy anyway, to boost your lovemaking.)

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The vast majority of wives can, and definitely should, reach orgasm most times they have sexual intimacy with their husbands. If you’re not getting there, it’s time to consider the issues mentioned above. Though I would add relationship health and belief as a Christian that sexual intimacy is a God-approved and blessed activity in marriage.

Orgasm is an experience not quite like any other, and I hope and pray that each wife can lean into their sexual enjoyment and feel that special peak of pleasure.

Sources include Medical News Today: Everything you need to know about orgasms; NIH – Determinants of female sexual orgasms

Q&A with J: “What If Neither of Us Desires Sex?”

Our reader question comes from a wife who doesn’t care about having sex, but neither does her husband. Here’s her query:

…the problem I am facing is that neither me or my spouse have any desire for sex at all, like, none. I think I may be asexual. What do you do if neither spouse has any sexual desire? I mean, we are both very happy and our marriage can’t be any better, but I’m just wondering if this is normal and should we be worried if neither of us have any desire to have sex yet are happy either way…. Is asexuality bad? I love romance and so does my husband, but I have no desire for sex and neither does my husband. I’m just wondering your opinion of married couples who are completely happy being sexless like we are because reading everything you have written makes me wonder if me and my spouse are broken even though we are both otherwise in a happy marriage.

If you asked a psychologist or sex therapist what they think, I suspect they’d say you should only have sex as often as the two of you agree to have it. Moreover, some Christian authors and counselors might agree.

But what does God have to say about this?

I mean, hey, He invented this whole put-the-puzzle-pieces-together act. He also created the institution of marriage, with its other benefits and blessings. Surely, as both Creator and Lord, we should hear what He has to say about whether sex in marriage is nice or essential.

The passage many might consider as definitive is this one:

The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control (1 Corinthians 7:3-5, NLT).

Except in your case, it could be argued that neither of you feels deprived or experiences self-control issues in the realm of sex. So are you really hurting one another to avoid it?

But everything I see in Scripture says that sexual intimacy is supposed to be happening in marriage. Genesis 2:24 says, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” While this verse includes many aspects of marital intimacy, you won’t find any reputable biblical scholar who wouldn’t say that sex is among them. Even the word choice of one flesh connotes a physical connection.

Jesus affirmed this focus of marriage by citing the verse: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Mark 10:7-9).

Married couples have sex in the Bible. It’s what they do. Indeed, if you didn’t fulfill your full sexual obligations, you could get in trouble (see Genesis 38).

Additionally, God told His people to “be fruitful and multiply” — which means they must have sex. Now I do not believe this means every marriage must produce children, but it does show that one reason for marriage is to provide the context for creating more made-in-His-image human beings.

God’s Word as a whole not only allows but encourages married couples to make love — for the sake of reproduction, yes, but also for pleasure and intimacy.

God's Word as a whole not only allows but encourages married couples to make love -- for the sake of reproduction, yes, but also for pleasure and intimacy. Click To Tweet

And here’s where the crux lies: intimacy.

If you live with someone and have a great friendship and partnership, wonderful! That’s a great relationship to experience in your life.

But it simply doesn’t have the same depth as one in which you are vulnerable at the most intimate levels with one another, literally joining your bodies together in the act of sex. Moreover, you increase intimacy by bringing one another to heights of pleasure that release body chemicals that bond you further together. This is how God made our bodies.

But now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you that God intends your marriage to include sexual intimacy, but the real question is:

Why don’t you two desire sex?

Because you can mentally believe it’s good for you and still not want to do it. (Same reason why I’m not jogging right at this moment.) And I’m not going to advise, “Just schlep yourself to the bedroom, do the hokey-pokey, and check mark that you fulfilled your duty.”

That’s also clearly not God’s plan!

But physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy adults respond well to the pleasure and intimacy that sex with a beloved mate can bring. Plenty of people don’t have an independent drive ahead of time to engage, but they do get into it once things get started. So if you’re not getting into it, why? What’s amiss?

  • Have you soaked in erroneous messages that sex is inherent impure or base?
  • Do you experience pain or discomfort during sexual activity?
  • Did you have past experiences that soured you on sex?
  • Do have physiological issues, like depression or hormonal imbalance, that cause you to be disinterested?
  • Are you overly self-conscious about your bodies or the act itself?
  • Do you have arousal issues, like an inability to lubricate for the wife or erection problems for the husband?
  • Is your relationship more like a friendship than a romance?

Those are just some of the possibilities. But I would suggest that if you don’t respond well to sex, then something really is off and needs to be addressed. Because God made us to be sexual beings, desiring physical pleasure and intimacy with our spouse.

I would start with a visit to the doctor, asking for a full check-up to make sure there are not physical obstacles. If the issue is more spiritual teaching on the subject sex, may I suggest grabbing a copy of my devotional book, Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage (ebook less than $5), that will walk you through getting a godly, healthy view of sexuality. You may also want to see your pastor or a counselor together to discuss this issue and how you can address it. (Albeit it needs to be one who actually understands God’s design for marriage includes regular sexual intimacy.)

A sexless marriage, over time, can and likely will take its toll on your relational connection. It’s worth pursuing answers now to awaken the love in your marriage.

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Q&A with J: A Wife Struggling with Lust

Today’s reader question is from a woman struggling with lust and/or discontentment. Here it is:

I am a woman who considers herself to struggle with thoughts of lust, though many would disguise this cringe-worthy term with simply “discontentment”.

…I never thought of myself as attractive growing up, because my two older brothers were verbally abusive to me, which I believe was an effort in ensuring I wouldn’t be a slut (solely to not make them look bad… not because they cared). My perspective of it, anyway.

So to the point- I am not out looking for guys… but I know that there are men out there with attractive personalities that would be compatible with mine. I sincerely don’t have any attraction to them if they don’t express any interest. However, if some guy who is potentially attractive were to hint at being attracted to me, my mind goes wild. I begin to really wrestle with getting these thoughts out of my head. Essentially I am going insane wondering, “does he think I am attractive? Is this in my head? I don’t think I’m making this up…”, and can go as far as wondering what life would be like if I was married to said guy (my thoughts are thankfully not sexual in nature, but still covetous).

I’ve talked to several close friends and everyone is appalled when I say that I struggle with lust… and then when I explain, they pretty much all admit that they often wonder what life would be like with another man… but never do they consider it to be a real issue in their life… Help!

A wife asks about how to deal with her lust or covetousness toward other men, and J. Parker of Hot, Holy & Humorous answers.

First, let me say what she describes isn’t what some might immediately call “lust.” But if you read my post on What Is Lusting? I think you’ll agree her use of this term is fairly accurate. As she says, “my thoughts are thankfully not sexual in nature, but still covetous,” and the Greek word that gets translated at times as “lust” can also mean “covetousness.”

As to the question itself, I really wanted to answer this one. Partly because I’ve had lust issues too and been in circles with Christian women who act like that’s a shocker. “Seriously?” I want to say, “Have you never taken a longer look at a hot guy than you should have?”

But this really isn’t a problem for me anymore, so I’ll tell you from personal experience what I’ve learned.

1. Attention feels good, but it’s pretty meaningless.

If you grew up thinking you weren’t pretty and then discover some guys think you are really attractive, the attention can be heady. Growing up, I was puny, awkward, and the brainy type. Believe me, the profile photo you see on my website now is so much cooler than the complete dork I was in 8th grade, right when boys were noticing girls — but not me. So I understand that having guys looking, now that you’re an adult, can feed your self-doubt and longing for acceptance.

But this is false attention — it’s pretty meaningless. I’ve concluded that any guy who’s ogling a modestly dressed woman wearing a wedding ring is the kind of guy who ogles a lot of women.

I’m not saying you’re not gorgeous, but I started reminding myself in the moment this guy’s attention didn’t matter. Rather, it was my husband’s desire for me that filled me more and what I thought about myself that really mattered.

2. Instead of looking away, maybe look deeper.

I tried bouncing my eyes, but that didn’t really bounce my mind. What has helped instead is actually looking more closely at guys I find physically attractive.

Is he wearing a wedding ring? Then I think about how he’s probably a family man and at the store shopping for his wife and kids. Is he sporting a tattoo? Then I wonder why he got the tattoo and why that particular image. Is he wearing a T-shirt with a message on it? Then I consider what I think about the message, the team, the image he’s chosen to show to the world.

I take my mind off the man-as-an-image and find ways to see the man-as-a-whole. Then the potential for lust just fizzles. He’s a whole person, I’m a whole person, and we’re just going about life.

3. Maintain reasonable boundaries.

I maintain boundaries about being alone with men. Knowing how my past has been, I have pretty strict rules for myself—no extended or private alone time with a man other than a family member. If I have to meet with another man for professional reasons, I do so in a public place like a restaurant, and that’s rarely the case anyway since I can mostly do those things through other means like email or a phone conversation.

I don’t share any personal information one-on-one with a man. If I feel any spark of attraction to someone, I avoid them. Chemistry is not destiny, and it goes away if you don’t feed it.

In conversations with men, I bring up my husband or his wife positively, giving off the clear indication that I am happily married and he is married and that is that.

4. Focus on gratitude for what you have.

Finally, I think a lot about what’s so great about what I already have. Sure, it’s not perfect—no marriage is—but it’s pretty darn good.

I have a husband who loved me enough to marry me, have kids with me, and keep coming back for 25 years. I think he’s rather hunky too, so I’m certainly attracted to him.

And as others have said: “The grass isn’t greener on the other side. It’s greener where you water it.”

A wife asks about how to deal with her lust or covetousness toward other men, and J. Parker of Hot, Holy & Humorous answers.

I simply want to add here that there’s been a bit of talk in the past on my blog about husbands and lust, but lust happens to women too. It’s our temptation as well. But it can be addressed and quelled by taking intentional steps to lessen the temptation and embrace what we have instead.

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Q&A with J: How to Celebrate an Anniversary

It’s another Q&A with J day, but frankly I’m exhausted. I went a conference in Chicago last week, and then my husband joined me for a few days of rest, relaxation, and sightseeing. On Sunday and Monday, I walked over 14,000 steps, and on Tuesday, I walked 18,848 steps!

So let’s imagine this is the question y’all asked: How should a couple celebrate their anniversary?

It’s a good question, right? Surely, someone out there wants to know the answer!

Blog post title + illustration of couple embracing

1. Acknowledge your interests and values.

What do you both enjoy doing? What do you do together well? My hubby (“Spock”) and I love to explore new places and visit museums. So when I scheduled a trip to Chicago for a conference, we saw the opportunity to explore a city we hadn’t been to before and set The Art Institute and The Field Museum as our two must-sees.

J and Spock on the steps of The Field Museum with Chicago skyline behind them

On The Field Museum steps with Chicago Skyline behind us

Other couples would prefer dinner and dancing, a party with family and friends, a beach vacation, a tent-camping trip (what’s wrong with you people?), or even snuggling up on the couch for a weekend movie marathon. That’s great! Don’t fall for the pressure of This Is How You Celebrate; rather, do your own thing and let your celebration remind you of why you enjoy being in one another’s company.

2. Allow for each other’s quirks.

My husband is one of the most deliberate human beings on the face of the earth. Like how he spent five full minutes folding and putting his jacket into his suitcase. I also know that if we pause at a museum plaque, we’ll probably be there for a while.

I used to get really antsy about such things, but now I embrace that that’s just who my guy is. (Also, I prayed for patience a long time ago and God has a sense of humor, so it’s really my own fault.) I just build that time into my expectations and don’t sweat if we’re not moving through as quickly as I might on my own. In fact, that’s the point—doing our anniversary together.

View of park and Chicago skyline from Maggie Daley Park

Taking a leisurely stroll through Maggie Daley Park in Chicago

When you consider how to celebrate your anniversary, think about your quirks and your spouse’s quirks. If she’s always late, don’t plan something where timing is crucial. If he’s a picky eater, don’t go to the new Asian-Mexican-African fusion restaurant. Plan for the quirks you know you already have so that you can avoid anxiety and just enjoy one another.

3. Avoid stress-producing topics.

While on our trip, it was tempting a couple of times to use our extended time to discuss current politics or some financial issues we need to cover. But we navigated away from those very quickly, because we simply wanted to refresh and reconnect. And wouldn’t you know—discussing Congressional hearings or retirement planning is apparently not the way to relax!

Yes, you might have some topics you need or want to discuss — whether your relationship, your children, our finances, or something else — but hold off. This is a celebration! No one stops in the middle of an Easter egg hunt or Christmas present opening to discuss heavy issues. Your anniversary deserves the same kind of focus.

4. Appreciate the good years.

Spock and I have been married for 25 years. How many of those were good years? Definitely not 25. Maybe 20? But we held on in those five or so years and rebuilt our relationship with a solid foundation that set the stage for many happy years to come.

J and Spock sitting on the bench in the elevator of the Drake Hotel

Sitting on the lush bench in the elevator of The Drake Hotel in Chicago

On the day set aside to honor your marriage, you don’t need to dwell on the bad stuff or even the stuff you still need to work on. Embrace what makes you glad you’re still married and celebrate that. Commemorating the positive will give you inspiration and hope for the future.

5. Arouse and excite one another intimately.

When I posted the above picture in my Facebook group, a couple of people commented that they expected some hot things to be going on between Spock and me in that elevator. I added the comment: “Wow, what y’all think of us! Lol. Our hotel room was only steps away, you know. ;)” And yes, we made reasonably good use of the bed. Gaye of Calm.Healthy.Sexy. wrote about this with 5 Ways “Hotel Sex” Can Improve Your Marriage.

Whether you’re in a posh hotel room, your own bedroom, or the floor of a camping tent (seriously, how is that a vacation?), pay extra attention to your physical connection. Take a little more time with one another’s bodies or try something different. Express extra affection as you touch, caress, and kiss. Remind one another of why this relationship in particular is different from all others—including the intimacy you experience as one flesh.

But all of this actually can start with holding hands as you walk into a restaurant, a party, or a museum; lingering with your eye contact; speaking lovingly to one another; and flirting with playful innuendo and suggestive touches. This is the time to awaken all those senses and enjoy the mutual experience of physical pleasure.

Your turn: What are your tips for having a great anniversary?

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Q&A with J: He Doesn’t Want Regular Intercourse

Today’s reader question addresses a husband who prefers oral or anal sex over regular PIV (penis-in-vagina) intercourse. There’s more to the email that the wife sent me, but the pertinent parts are here:

Because of my husband’s past sexual experiences he tends to prefer sexual acts other than just vaginal intercourse to get aroused and to climax. For example, he seems to only get aroused if I give him oral sex and he likes anal sex. I have told him that anal sex is very painful for me and that I do not find it to be an appropriate sexual act for two Christians. He has since stopped trying to initiate anal which I feel is respectful to me and I appreciate his response.

However, when we do have sex I have to start out with oral to get him hard and sometimes he never even penetrates me, he just finishes by climaxing in my mouth. I do not mind giving him oral sex but the semen in my mouth makes me gag every time. Also, if he does penetrate I am grossed out when he wants his penis back in my mouth almost immediately (I do not like the taste of my own juices). He sometimes can’t even stay hard unless he puts it back in my mouth.

Is this normal for a man to not like or to not prefer his penis in a vagina and just like it in a mouth?

Blog post title + illustration of worried woman with thought bubble

I hate to break it to you, but no, this isn’t normal. Or at least, it’s not good and how God designed sexual intimacy in marriage.

It sounds to me like your husband’s view of sexuality is that it’s primarily physical and for his own pleasure. Additionally, I suspect his desire for edgier sexual practices could be based on previous partners or pornography.

Regardless, he’s missing the core goal of intimacy. Becoming “one flesh” can mean a number of things in marriage, but it certainly involves the physical connection of husband and wife in intercourse.

Becoming one flesh can mean a number of things in marriage, but it certainly involves the physical connection of husband and wife in intercourse. Click To Tweet

What about anal sex?

As for anal sex, I advise against it for a number of reasons. In fact, my podcast partners and I discussed a listener’s question on anal sex in our last episode. I shared my opinion that it’s not okay for Christians to misuse the bodies God gave them.

And I believe it is a misuse of our bodies since health professionals give clear warnings that anal sex:

  • Can lead to fecal incontinence, by stretching the sphincter muscle intended to hold in feces
  • Can increase the risk of anal cancer, by passing the HPV virus
  • Is the riskiest sexual behavior for contracting HIV, more  than 17 times higher than vaginal intercourse and twice as risky as needle-sharing during injection drug use
  • Is more likely to transmit other diseases and infections, such as gonorrhea, Hepatitis A, B, and C, parasites, and bacteria such as E.Coli

Why does anal sex pose greater risk? Because the anus lacks the natural lubrication of a vagina, such that penetration can tear the interior tissue, allowing bacteria and viruses to enter the bloodstream. Using lubricants alleviates, but does not eliminate, tearing. Moreover, the interior tissue lacks the protective barrier protection our outer tissue has, making it more vulnerable to fissures and the spread of infection.

Just looking at all this information convinces me that God did not intend for the penis to penetrate the anus, and your husband needs to know it’s a bad idea.

Not to mention that the vast majority of women report pain with anal sex. While some later report pleasure, after many penetrations, they might have merely loosened their sphincter muscle enough to not hurt in the moment—but clearly, there’s a price to pay for damaging your sphincter muscle this way.

“’I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24).

What about oral sex?

What’s more concerning right now is your husband’s seeming fixation on oral arousal. While I’m certainly not opposed to “blow jobs,” the crown jewel of sexual intimacy should be penis-in-vagina (PIV) intercourse.

And it’s not typical for a man to require oral manipulation to maintain an erection or reach climax. It sounds like this has become the way he gets aroused, probably because of past experiences that rewired his pleasure process.

As frustrating as it may be in the short term, I’d suggest you stop doing oral. Because your husband needs to rewire how he gets turned on, maintains an erection, and achieves orgasm.

Now I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to march in the bedroom and say, “That’s it, buddy; no more ____ for you!” That’s likely to devolve into an argument. And understandably so. Neither spouse should be the sole determinant of what happens in your marriage bed.

But you need to discuss the situation with your husband and explain that you want to experience better sexual intimacy, including more exploration of one another’s bodies, more romance and foreplay, and a focus on learning how to engage in PIV. To that end, you feel like you need to move away from oral for a while until his body can respond to other sensations involved in making love.

Encourage your husband to read Song of Songs with you and see how much they engage in flirtation, kissing, touching and appreciation of one another’s bodies, and lovemaking. It may inspire him to see how sensual and erotic the Word of God is regarding sex in marriage. We could learn a lot from those godly lovers!

Also, if he is struggling with his past or what he saw in porn, he should consider getting counseling to undo the damage of those experiences. If porn remains a draw, get internet filtering software to keep the temptation at bay, like Covenant Eyes. And work together for true physical intimacy in your marriage.

Sources: The Consequences of Heterosexual Anal Sex for Women – Medical Institute for Sexual HealthAnal Sex Safety and Health Concerns – Web MD