Category Archives: Q & A with J

Q&A with J: Should A Higher Drive Spouse Lower Their Expectations?

Today’s question comes from a lower-drive husband (yes, there are many of them!). The husband started his email saying that his wife could have sex almost daily, while he’s fine with once a week or so. They’ve settled on 2-3 times a week, but their mismatch in drives still seems to be a point of contention.

Here’s his question for me:

I’ve been reading through all your posts about high-drive wives, trying to seriously take to heart any advice you have for husbands like myself. I am committed to trying to make things work ….

Your recommendations seem to be that the husband such as myself needs to see her needs and step up my game, and that the wife shouldn’t be ashamed of her desires and needs. Yes, I do see you talk about both spouses trying to meet the other where they are, and find a happy medium where both are satisfied, but that usually appears to be more in the context of significantly differing libidos like 4 times a year versus wanting sex every day. In our case, yes there’s a difference in drive, but it’s not that drastic, and we still have regular, not infrequent sex.

So I guess my question is this—from your perspective, am I in the wrong, or do we need to talk about the possibility of my wife lowering her expectations in regard to frequency? I just feel stuck.

Let’s start here with an important principle: Sex should be mutual in marriage. It should be mutually prioritized, mutually agreed upon, mutually pleasurable, and mutually satisfying. That’s how God designed it, and if any one of those is an issue, the couple should address it.

(If you want specific text proof, head over to 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, which I’ve cited numerous times. And that passage is less about rights than mutuality, by the way. Also, all of Song of Songs.)

But in practice, most marriages have one spouse who wants sex more than the other. Here, it’s a wife, which is more common than many think with 15-30% of marriages having a HD (higher drive) wife. Whoever is higher or lower, though, there will inevitably be times when one spouse wants sex and the other not as much. How do you negotiate that?

Let’s look at some commonly recommended options.

Never Say No?

This advice has been given to wives for I don’t know how long. But usually some well-meaning older lady tells a young fiancee or wife that to keep her husband happy, she should never say no to sex. Meaning whenever the HD spouse wants it—in this case, the man—they get it.

That could mean sex once a week. It could mean sex every day. But whatever the HD spouse desires, that’s what sets the pace of sexual frequency for the marriage.

This approach at least denies the legitimate reasons to say no to sex sometimes. If you don’t feel well, if you need to care for the children at that moment, if you simply can’t see straight because of how tired you are, it should be perfectly fine to take a rain check. Also, “I’d really rather try this tomorrow when I’m more refreshed” is a perfectly reasonable answer.

Saying otherwise makes it seem like one missed chance will sink the whole sex life. But our sexual intimacy is made up of numerous moments within marriage, and sometimes intimacy is even increased by a spouse understanding the other’s current reluctance and passing on a sexual encounter.

So yeah, you should be able to say no sometimes. That’s not depriving your spouse; it’s saying “not now.” Your feelings and desires matter too.

Only when you’re “in the mood”?

On the other hand, plenty say you should never be asked to participate in sex unless and until you are “in the mood.” If you don’t feel like it, you have carte blanche to wave it away without a worry. It’s your right to say no, and say no you will.

Take that viewpoint out of the sex arena for a moment and ask when this is ever a good idea. Your wife wants conversation, but you refuse to talk to her unless you feel the need yourself to discuss something. Your husband wants to save money for a trip, but you spend like a Kardashian until you suddenly feel like shoving a few dollars into the kitty. You both want to move to a house, but you don’t agree where, so you stay in your crappy apartment until one of you feels inspired to surrender. Does that sound like a good marriage?

Look, we do owe something to each other by virtue of saying “I do,” and that includes trying to meet one another’s emotional needs. Since sex is important not primarily as a physical release but as an emotional connection, it should be pursued regularly and generously.

Moreover, we should understand that “sex drive” sounds like your engine is revving before you put it into gear, but that’s not how libido works for many. Some have what has been phrased a “responsive” libido, meaning that you don’t get into it until you’re into it. That is, you can become aroused and enjoy lovemaking, but your desire begins with a decision to engage. Your sexual interest looks like this:

Which means you aren’t going to be “in the mood” until that second stage when your body awakens to arousal and begins to enjoy the experience. Once you know this about your desire, you might be willing to engage more than you originally thought.

Right Down the Middle?

Hopefully, we’ve established that it’s okay to say no, but it’s also good to say yes sometimes when you don’t think you’re in the mood, because you might get in the mood. But this husband asks specifically about frequency, and that’s an overall view of how much sex you should be having in your marriage.

Let’s say she wants sex four times a week, and he wants sex twice a week. Well, the obvious answer is to have sex three times a week, right? It’s a number right down the middle, so everyone should be reasonably happy. That’s a good solution, if you ask me (which you did).

But what if she wants sex four times a week, and he wants it once every three months? That’s a difference of 17 times versus 1, and the middle ground would be 9, or sex every 10 days. Do we think she’s going to feel satisfied with that? Do we even think sex every 10 days is enough in marriage?

Both the Bible and research would say no. To receive the intimacy and health benefits of sex, a couple should be engaging at least once a week.

To receive the intimacy and health benefits of sex, a couple should be engaging at least once a week. #marriage @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Now in reality, if a spouse only wants sex once every three months, or even once a month, there’s an issue that needs to be addressed. That’s not typical or good for your marriage, and whatever obstacle is in the way of sexual desire or satisfaction needs to be tackled together.

But you can see how a strict middle-ground approach may not work for all couples either.

Who Gets to Decide?

Having covered some common advice on this topic, let’s get back to the question itself: “From your perspective, am I in the wrong, or do we need to talk about the possibility of my wife lowering her expectations in regard to frequency?” In this scenario, their difference is small, and they’re having regular sex, but she’s still pushing for more.

Should he come up to her expectations? Or should she lower them?

As the higher drive spouse in my marriage, I can honestly say that I’ve lowered my expectations. If I was completely in charge, we’d have sex more often than we do. But I’m not unsatisfied because we also have sex more than we would if my husband was entirely in charge.

Did we negotiate out a specific number of times? Nope. We just discussed what we each wanted, what saying yes or no means to us, and what challenges we had to engaging more frequently. It wasn’t a single conversation either, and I’m not going to pretend that each of those conversations was conflict-free. But we kept communicating, kept making love, kept working on our parts of the equation.

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Indeed, our frequency went up a few months ago, and I mentioned to my husband that his sex drive had apparently increased. His response? “It hasn’t gone up. I’ve just been initiating more because I know what it means to you.” Swoon, right?

What Does Love Do?

When it comes to negotiating sex drive differences, ask this question: What does love do?

When it comes to negotiating sex drive differences, ask this question: What does love do? @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

And not love as in “ooh, I feel heat in my nether regions when you come near!” I’m talking about agape love as described in the Bible:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

What does that look like in practice when it comes to mismatched drives? Well, the HD spouse isn’t self-seeking their own perfect number of times to have sex, easily angered by missed opportunities, or keeping record of all the times they didn’t get any. Instead, they’re patient, kind, protective, hopeful, persevering.

Likewise, the LD spouse isn’t self-seeking their own perfect number of times to have sex, easily angered by their spouse’s higher drive, or dishonoring of their beloved’s emotional need. Instead, they’re kind, joyful, trusting, and hopeful.

Honestly, a lot of advice I’ve given to HD and LD spouses pressuring for what they want in marriage could be summed up like this: HDs, back off. LDs, step up. And that’s really what I’d say to this couple. Yeah, she should lower her expectations a little, especially since he’s stepped up more. Though it’s probably a topic that will continue to be discussed and negotiated through various seasons of their life.

But ultimately, my answer is a question: What does love do? Once you define that, you can figure out how to address the mismatched drives in your marriage.

Q&A with J: Is Sex Disconnected from Love for Men?

A wife sent me an email that got my shoulders slumping and my heart sagging as I read—not just because of what she wrote, but because she represents the thoughts of too many women. It’s a longer message, but I’m including all of it below.

All my life, and in my own personal experiences with men, I have always observed that sex does not equal love for a man. As a teenager and young adult, I always knew to be wary when dating because most guys only wanted sex. I received advances from men that barely knew me much less loved me. Also, I know that many men look at (or struggle not to look at, depending on their convictions) porn. It seems to me that their sexuality is completely disconnected from love. They can be turned on by the sight of any woman. It doesn’t have to be their wife. They have sexual fantasies about other women. So why is it that that somehow changes when it’s sex with their wife? How is his desire for his wife different from his desire for the porn actresses or the woman who walks by on the street?

I have a hard time taking my husband’s sexual advances to mean that he wants emotional intimacy when I see him look at other women the same way he looks at me when he’s “in the mood.” I know he has an emotional connection with me that he doesn’t have with the other women, but to me that’s because we share a kind of friendship that seems totally separate from sex in my mind. From what I can tell, he can be turned on by other women just as much (if not more than) as he’s turned on by me. Even men who try not to lust after other women because of their convictions still have to TRY NOT to.

From my observations, it appears that my husband merely needs available female body parts and I happen to have them. I just can’t make sense of these articles that say that a husband is seeking to feel loved through a sexual connection. Because it’s hard for me to believe/understand that, it’s also hard for me to get in the mood for sex because I feel exchangeable. Any insight you can offer would be helpful.

I want to take this woman in my arms, hug her, and apologize for all the times she was treated as less than a person, when she is a daughter of the King of kings.

But I also want to stand on my soapbox and shout at the top of my lungs against the lies and half-truths she’s received and absorbed throughout her lifetime. So let’s tackle what she says.

I have always observed that sex does not equal love for a man.

Sex doesn’t equal love for anybody. That said, women are more likely to become attached to a sexual partner, due to oxytocin that releases and makes her feel bonded. Meanwhile, men (overall) don’t experience that level of oxytocin unless and until they engage with a woman in a relationship.* Men also have a tendency to compartmentalize more. So yes, the likelihood of attachment is a bit imbalanced. However, plenty of women have slept around without feeling terribly attached, and plenty of men get attached quickly.

Regardless of how we feel, though, God says you do attach to someone you have sex with. Consider 1 Corinthians 6:16: “Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.'” That doesn’t equal love, but it does equal sex being a Big Deal. For both women and men.

While sex doesn’t equal love, it is one way God provided for husbands and wives to nurture love and express love. Not everyone out there understands that purpose of sex, but it’s what God intended with His design.

While sex doesn't equal love, it is one way God provided for husbands and wives to nurture love and express love. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

I always knew to be wary when dating because most guys only wanted sex.

I was told this a lot growing up, and it’s so wrong. I’m not saying a lot of guys didn’t want sex—they did. My premarital promiscuous past is partly due to various guys wanting to go past kissing to fooling around and more. But this statement has two main problems.

First, guys don’t only want sex. They want to be accepted and loved too!

If men only wanted sex, they’d only date the girls clearly willing to have sex quickly and easily. But men date all kinds of women, because they want a woman who can also engage in conversation, share recreational companionship, make them feel loved, etc.

The presumption that men only want one thing—and we all know what that one thing is, wink, wink—sells men short. It makes them sound like shallow sex machines just looking for a female hole to put their thingamajig inside. Thankfully, I know too many great guys to believe that.

Second, women want sex too. Guys aren’t the only ones who want to be sexually active. Acting as if men are the ones who want sex sells women short: God created us as sexual beings as well!

Acting as if men are the ones who want sex sells women short: God created us as sexual beings as well! @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Frankly, it’s frustrating how prevalent this teaching has been—that men only want sex from women. It has sold men short, denied female sexuality, and plunged too many couples into sin—because the single man believed himself justified in pursuing sex and the woman faced too big a burden trying to manage two sex drives (his and hers). Let’s please stop telling people this terrible half-truth!

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I received advances from men that barely knew me much less loved me.

So did I, girlfriend. So did I. But I also had male friends who treated me like a whole person worthy of respect.

Are there jerks out there? Sure. But are all men jerks? No way. (See What I Truly Believe About Men.) However, one jerk can harass many women, meaning if John Donkey makes an unwanted advance to every appealing woman he encounters, he makes an impression on hundreds of women about how men behave. And those encounters are more memorable than the guy who held the door open for you, the guy who looked you right in the eyes and asked you how your day was going, or the guy who didn’t look your way at all because you’re just another person in the universe.

I’m saddened that you were treated this way, because you shouldn’t be! But in a broken world, it happens. If we can recognize that the jerks of the world are not as many as we might think, though far more prevalent than we’d like, we can deal with them as we should—tell them to get lost. Or, when needed, take greater precautions to protect yourself.

Also, I know that many men look at (or struggle not to look at, depending on their convictions) porn.

Yep, a lot of men look at porn, including Christian men. And that stinks to high heaven. But I have heard so many redemption stories, with husbands devoted to learning a better way. I also know men who haven’t sought out porn in years and are solely attached to their wives. In addition, this isn’t a struggle for my husband at all, and he’s not the only one.

Porn can change how a man views sex and women, which are terrible effects. But to believe that men are destined to lust or look at porn isn’t accurate by statistics, real-life examples, or the teaching of God’s Word.

It’s more than possible to overcome or never have the problem in the first place. (See When Should You Stop Battling Porn.)

They can be turned on by the sight of any woman. It doesn’t have to be their wife.

Again, there’s some truth here. I agree with those who say men are more visual than women, although women can also respond to visual stimuli strongly. And yes, the sight of a beautiful woman can stir interest and even result in physical arousal or lust. But that’s not inevitable, and your husband noticing another woman doesn’t mean he wants her. (See Does Your Husband Look at Other Women?)

Consider a couple of interesting studies on this involving the “bonding chemical,” oxytocin. In one study, 40 male participants in long-term relationships viewed pictures of attractive females, including their own partner. Some received a dose of oxytocin (nasal spray) and others did not. “In the men who were given oxytocin, the pleasure and desire regions of their brains lit up when they saw pictures of the women they loved—but not when they looked at strangers. Some of these regions were also activated by the images of the women the men knew, but not as strongly as by the pictures of their loved ones, suggesting that it made their partners more desirable.” (Time – How Oxytocin Makes Men (Almost) Monogamous.)

Remember how oxytocin is released during physical touch and sexual intimacy? So a husband engaged in regular sex, with regular hits of oxytocin, may well find his own wife more attractive than some other woman anyway.

But a second study is particularly interesting, in that a dose of oxytocin made men desire more physical distance between them and a female who wasn’t their partner. “Unexpectedly, the men who had received oxytocin and who were also in monogamous relationships preferred keeping a significantly greater distance between themselves and the temptress researcher—the hormone promoted bonding with their significant other, not the stranger.” (The Atlantic – Study: Oxytocin (‘the Love Hormone’) Makes Men in Relationships Want to Stay Away From Other Women.)

Although these findings were subtle rather than strong—and we are responsible for our own choices—it’s interesting to see research showing that men really do have a preference for the lady they love.

They have sexual fantasies about other women.

No, they don’t. Well, some men do. But a lot of husbands do not sit around and fantasize about other women. They may have a memory of another women or an image pops into their head of a particular woman, but that’s not tantamount to “fantasizing” or lusting.

And if your husband is fantasizing about other women, that’s not merely because he’s a man, but because he’s a sinner in need of repentance and redemption. Our desire and sexual interest should indeed be focused on our spouses! (See Lust: The Pigpen or The Feast?)

How is his desire for his wife different from his desire for the porn actresses or the woman who walks by on the street?

Bluntly put, for some husbands, it’s not that different. Sadly, I’ve read comments, received emails, and even come across blogs from presumably Christian men who treat sex solely as a man’s physical need and expect wives to simply fulfill the duty to let him have sex with her so he won’t have sex with someone else.

However, that’s a minority. I sometimes wish women could read my many more emails from husbands expressing their incredible love for their wives, their focused desire on the mate they chose, their longing to be one flesh and enjoy mutually satisfying sex with the woman they adore.

For most men, the gal down the street may get a moment’s attention, but their wife has their heart, their devotion, and their love. Which makes sex not merely a physical act, but a covenant bonding of husband and wife. And even a testimony to Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:31-32).

Is Sex Disconnected from Love?

Returning to the original question: Is sex disconnected from love for men? Are you just “available female body parts” that your husband needs?

I can’t speak to what your specific husband has learned about sex or how he demonstrates his love for you. However, I’m convinced that while sex can be disconnected from love for men, they, like us, want the two interwoven. Sex is more meaningful in the context of marital love, and marital love is richer in the context of fulfilling sexual intimacy.

Sex is more meaningful in the context of marital love, and marital love is richer in the context of fulfilling sexual intimacy. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Honestly, it sounds like sex and love are not connected enough for you. God longs for you to have something better, including the full experience of intimacy while making love. Begin to work on how sex can become a better experience for you and your marriage.

Also, check out 5 husbands talking about how sex and love are connected!

*I’m 100% sure I read the study on this, but I cannot for the life of me find it online now. If you can point me to it, that would be great!

Q&A with J: Are Separate Bedrooms Okay?

Today’s question is an interesting one, and a take on separate bedrooms I’d never considered before. Here’s what the wife asks:

Is having separate bedrooms a sin? We have sex several times a day…. I cannot sleep in the same bed as my husband. I wake up numerous times a night. He is hot (temperature) and I wake up sweating. He also snores. … He tells me that separate bedrooms are the fast way to divorce. I’m not leaving. I just want to sleep a full nights sleep in my pajamas and read for 10 minutes before turning off the lamp and going to sleep.

Is sleeping apart a sin?

No, having separate bedrooms is not a sin. 

In various cultures and eras, separate bedrooms were used by husband and wife, including men and women in the Bible. One example is Genesis 31:33: “So Laban went into Jacob’s tent and into Leah’s tent and into the tent of the two female servants, but he found nothing. After he came out of Leah’s tent, he entered Rachel’s tent.” Jacob, Leah, and Rachel all had their own tents, and that setup doesn’t appear to have been unusual.

Will separate beds cause divorce?

Today, the National Sleep Foundation reports that 1 in 4 couples sleeps in separate beds. The divorce rate is about 33% (it’s hard to calculate, but that’s close), and I simply cannot believe that separate-bed couples account for a big percentage of that. So clearly, some couples are sleeping apart and remaining married.

If everything else in the marriage is good, why would not spending time together during the part of the day you’re mostly unconscious cause you to lose your commitment to one another?

What are the benefits of separate beds?

One can make a good case that separate beds actually benefit the marriage and your sex life. By not sharing bed, you avoid issues of snoring, cover-hogging, needing different mattress firmness, noise and light preferences, and falling asleep at opposite times or in unmatched ways. Dodging those interruptions contributes to achieving more and better sleep.

And quality sleep could help you get along better. We all know that feeling of being sleep-deprived and feeling a little snippy with others. But a specific marriage study conducted in 2017 with 43 couples demonstrated that a lack of sleep (less than 7 hours) heightened stress and conflict. If both spouses hadn’t slept enough, arguments became more hostile. Not a good outcome for marriage.

Fatigue is also named as one of the primary reasons why lower-drive spouses don’t feel like engaging in sex or struggle to participate fully. Sex requires some energy, and if you’re wiped out from not sleeping well, you don’t have as much juice to devote to sexual intimacy. As one husband who admitted to not sleeping with his wife said: “We have the most active sex life of any couple I’ve spoken with on the subject. Let’s face it — lack of energy is a far greater threat to an active sex life than lack of opportunity. And we are better rested.”

What are the drawbacks of separate beds?

If you moved into different bedrooms, and sexual intimacy fell off, then yes, it could be a problem. This questioner actually says, “We have sex several times a day.” Several times a day? That’s quite a lot for any marriage. I hardly believe that sleeping separately at night will kill that sex life.

But for many couples, sleeping apart may indeed cause problems. Drawbacks could include less sexual intimacy, not sleeping as well without your spouse, losing physical touch, and missing connection times. Sleeping apart usually reduces the opportunities you have to talk, touch, and make love. You could make that up at other times, but the question is will you?

Some couples who end up in separate beds drift apart in other ways, as they simply spend less time together. And some spouses actually head to another bedroom to avoid communication, affection, or sex—in which case, this is obviously a bad idea.

What about temporary arrangements?

Most couples at one time or another sleep in different beds, due to illness, caring for children, rampant snoring, or even that rare argument that makes you want a little more time to cool off. 

If the situation is temporary, it’s not likely to change your overall marriage. But it’s worth discussing how it might affect each of you and looking for ways to minimize any negative consequences.

What about this specific situation?

Back to the original question, it’s certainly not a sin to sleep in separate beds. It strikes me that all of your reasons for wanting to do so are reasonable—your desire to wind down through reading, his snoring, your sweating, and your waking up several times a night. You’re not dodging him or sex, just trying to get a good night’s sleep.

First, try addressing the issues that get in the way of you getting sleep while in the same bed. But if that doesn’t work, you could snuggle up and stay until your husband falls asleep, head to the other bedroom. Then you can both get the rest you need.

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Sources:  “Lack of Sleep Fuels Harmful Inflammatory Response to Marital Stress.” Newswise = Smart News Connection. Accessed December 04, 2018. https://www.newswise.com/articles/view/676974/; 
“My Wife and I Sleep in Separate Bedrooms. Our Marriage (and Sex Life) Have Never Been Better.” Los Angeles Times. March 26, 2018. Accessed December 05, 2018. https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-austin-separate-bedrooms-20180326-story.html. 

Is Giving a “Blow Job” Enjoyable for the Wife?

A husband in my Facebook community recently posed the question of “what is it that the ladies enjoy so much about giving [oral sex]?” He explained that he didn’t mind giving to her, but felt awkward about the reverse and didn’t understand why a wife would enjoy that activity.

I held onto the question for a bit, mulling over how to answer. As much as possible, I avoid giving any reader a peek into my own marriage bed and/or getting too graphic. However, since I believe fellatio — oral sex for him — can be quite enjoyable for the wife, it seemed like something worth spotlighting.

So why would a blow job be enjoyable for a wife to give?

The present she gives.

Sometimes a wife gives a husband oral sex as a gift. It’s a way of showing that she cares about his sexual pleasure and wants to arouse and satisfy him. This can include giving a blow job when she’s out of commission, due to health issues or menstruation or other factors.

She thus derives enjoyment from being able to offer this wonderful present to her husband, knowing that she alone can gift him in this way. It’s simply one way of living out selfless love in the marriage bed. And doing good can feel good.

The power she possesses.

Much of a woman’s experience sexually is as the responder. Even if she is the higher-drive spouse and/or initiated the sexual encounter, her body receives manual or oral stimulation of her erogenous zones and intercourse is penetration by another. Turning the tables can give her a sense of potency.

She may enjoy watching the effect she has on her husband, how she can drive him wild with her mouth. It’s one of the few times in sex when the man seems to fully surrender — putty in her hands. It’s a sweet feeling to know the power she possesses to stimulate and satiate her husband.

The pleasure she feels.

Most husbands don’t lie back like dockside fish, either still or wildly flopping while oral sex is being performed on them. They respond with touches back to her head, her shoulders, her breasts, wherever he can reach. They make sounds of arousal. Their muscles clench and release. Their penis and testicles twitch or lift or shift. And to her, all that can be sexy, and therefore pleasurable.

Many wives become aroused while performing fellatio. They might be surprised at first to be focused so much on his sexual pleasure, then reach down to find their own body excited, but it happens. Turning him turns her on.

The passion she pursues.

Adding oral sex to your marriage bed expands your sexual repertoire, and variety is perhaps not the spice of life, but it is spicy. And it’s not an everyday thing for most couples, so much of the time, fellatio happens when she is feeling particularly passionate — passionate enough to put her mouth on or around her husband’s most private part. 

There’s also an implied recognition that his genitalia are appealing and sexy. Getting that up-close-and-personal can show she’s got a big crush on Junior. (Oh, every guy’s dream… Breathe easy, y’all.)

The support he shows.

Meanwhile, what can a husband do to make this experience good for his wife? Well, my best tips are in my book, Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design.

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Want more straight talk? Check out this book for wives!

But in general, you can make this mutually enjoyable by:

  • Telling her what feels good. Since she obviously wants you to be pleasured, direct her to your most sensitive spots and/or indicate with words or sounds when something feels particularly good.
  • Letting her remain mostly in control. That is, don’t press her head against you or pressure her to “deep throat,” especially if she has a strong gag reflex.
  • Cooperate with what she needs to make it more comfortable. If she’s reluctant to give oral sex or swallow, be willing to wear a condom for easier clean-up, keep a towel by the bed, warn her when you’re about to ejaculate — that sort of thing.
  • Making sure she gets a full opportunity to orgasm too. If you ejaculate during oral sex, that’s not necessarily the end. She may want a round two where she gets to climax.
  • Giving her a chance to recover. She may need time afterward to clean up, and she may also need a while before she performs fellatio again. Even those who like it may see it as more of a treat than a regular activity.
  • Thanking her when you’re done. Many wives respond well to being appreciated for their effort.

For wives who don’t like it.

If you’re one of those wives who does not enjoy giving oral sex, I encourage you to read the “Oral Sex” chapter in my book, Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design. The following posts may also address your concerns:

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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