Since it’s Thursday, let’s dive right in with a reader question. Today it’s from a wife whose body isn’t responding the way she wants.
I need help!!! I am a perfect story for how reading smut and living in fantasy and masturbating can ruin your married sex life. Long story short I find myself desensitized to my husbands touch. We’ve used a toy all our years of marriage and now I can’t finish without one and sometimes can’t finish with one. We are trying to get me back to where I can but are having problems finding ways where he can stimulate me. I don’t wanna use a toy or touch myself. It’s a complicated story. Any advice?
So when I started writing about sex, I had my own reservations about sex toys (see here and here). But the more I learn about them, the less inclined I am to recommend regular use of sex toys — except in the case of physiological deficiencies where a sex toy really is the best answer.
I recognize my position is in contrast with some marriage and sex bloggers I respect, but I disagree that the addition of a sex toy is a great benefit to your marriage bed. It can be, but it can also backfire. Frankly, it can become a crutch.
I’m not singling out sex toys, however. Anything we use to arouse ourselves outside of physical interaction with our spouse — erotica, porn, masturbation, etc. — can have the effect of desensitizing us to intimate contact. No, I’m not putting sex toys in the same category with porn, only comparing the effect they can render.
Now specifically to this reader’s question, what’s the answer when you’ve become desensitized?
You have relearn arousal and pleasure.
That means you toss the sex toys. And the “smut” you’ve been reading, or had planned to read. Get them out of the house and/or delete them off your e-reader. It’s almost like you’ve been an addict to those ways of being stimulated, and you just can’t be around them. Alcoholics must get rid of all alcohol in their home; you must get rid of all of your crutches in your home.
One problem: You mentioned masturbation. You can’t exactly get rid of your hand. Well, you could, but then you’d have a whole other set of problems — like not being able to paint your fingernails or use that God-given hand to bring pleasure to your husband.
Since masturbating has been a problem for you, you do need to stop. At least for a while as you relearn arousal. If later you and your husband want to incorporate you touching yourself into your lovemaking together, you could do that.
But what can you proactive do?
Invest time and effort into sensual activities. You need to reconnect with your five senses and discover how certain stimuli affect your body. For smell, focus on scents you like that relax you or tingle your senses. You could buy potpourri, perfumes, candles, or scented lotions or oils to try out different aromas.
For touch, look for bath products that warm your body or arouse your skin, like bubble baths, bathing salts, loofahs. Or try out different fabrics for lingerie or sheets and think about how they feel against your skin. Ask your husband to give you a full-body massage, and concentrate on the feel of his hand as he touches you.
You can also come up with ideas for sight, sound, and taste. But reach deep for ways to re-engage your sensory responses. Give yourself permission to take this slow, letting your body awaken into sensuality before it moves into sexuality.
Flirt with your husband. For most wives, a good portion of being sexually receptive happens long before we enter the bedroom. It’s the small touches throughout the day, the romantic or playful comments he makes, the compliment he pays you about your beauty, and the way you flirt back with him.
You needn’t wait for your husband to initiate flirtation. Stir those embers yourself to get the fire going. I recently wrote 40 Ways to Initiate Sex with Your Husband, and some of those are simply flirtations that might, or might not, lead to physical intimacy. Sheila Gregoire of To Love, Honor & Vacuum also has a popular post on 16 Ways to Flirt with Your Husband.
But you might have other notions of what you can do and what works with your husband. Try your own 30-day commitment to flirt more with your husband, and see if that reawakens some of your receptiveness.
Allow more time for lovemaking. Some of what you’ve done before may have shortcut the arousal process to get you to climax more quickly. But it could be that if you slow down, you can eventually reach arousal and orgasm. Right now, it might be frustrating how long that could take. But remember — your body is relearning responses. It just needs time to adjust.
So take time for extended foreplay. Give your husband feedback on which touches you like, including placement, firmness, speed of touch, etc. Don’t be critical of what he’s doing, but help him learn what works for you. Most husbands are happy to tweak what they’re doing when they know it will turn their wife on more. Try different positions, even in a single lovemaking session, so you can evaluate the different sensations you experience with different angles, views, etc. You might discover that a position you hadn’t relied on before provides the stimulation you need.
Regardless, slow down the process and let yourselves acclimate to the new approach. You might even need to be satisfied for the time being with arousal but not climax, maybe helping him finish but giving yourself a break on “getting there” right away. Of course, I don’t want you to stay in No Orgasm Land (a place that should have a population of zero wives), but view this as taking steps in the right direction so that you can reach your desired destination.
Pray and communicate with your husband. You need to be in communication with the two persons who can really help you with this: your God and your spouse. (And, if you think there’s something physically amiss, add a third person — your doctor.)
I’ve been assuming that you have informed, or will inform, your husband that you are not as receptive to his touch as you want to be and long for change. He needs to be on board with the new plan, and you need to stress that he’s a good lover but you want him to be your absolute focus in the marriage bed.
And pray about the situation, on your own, with your husband, or both. Pray for strength to stay away from what has interfered with you being fully engaged with your husband. Ask God to “awaken your love” (Song of Songs 2:7, 3:5, 8:4). Tell Him that you desire to “drink your fill of love” (Song of Songs 5:1) according to His plan.
Will this be an easy road back? I don’t know. It could take more or less time and effort than you expect. But nothing happens until you take steps in the right direction. May God reawaken your body and your sexual responsiveness to your husband.
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