Am I expecting too much?
About a year ago our marriage was tested after years of neglecting to address various problems in TMB. It couldn’t get much worse, but we have been working at it. For the past year my focus has been my dedication to marriage vows, the biblical commands to love my wife and consider her needs above my own. I took away any demands she may have felt in TMB so she could heal from the past and begin to enjoy sex. Our relationship has been much better and I’m thankful for that, but sex has been exactly the same as it has always been with no variation whatsoever except that a couple of times a month she is able to orgasm. It is very satisfying to me when it is mutually enjoyable even if it is predictable, but the much of the time it isn’t that way. I have asked her what I can do so that she can reach orgasm more often. She thinks I’m over thinking it, and claims that many women never orgasm at all and it’s fine the way it is. When it becomes clear during sex that she won’t be having an orgasm, she just gives up, asks me to stop stimulating her clitoris and just finish up. I can’t continue with PIV lately in these situations. She has shared with me how in the past she has felt used by me and these moments remind me of this, I feel like I’m using her and it breaks my heart. She has no suggestions for what to do differently and she doesn’t want any from me. She just says it feels different after a certain point in her cycle, mainly all the time except the first week after her period. Suggestions to add anything to TMB have always been shot down. She is dead against adding a toy or receiving oral. Is this all there is?
You said in the past she felt used by you. Was this comment in regard to sex? Does she still feel this way?
If you are feeling unsatisfied with what is happening in the marriage bed, you need to gently explain to you wife how you feel and what you think will help solve the problem. She has to understand that sex is an integral part of marriage, and both parties have to work together to address marriage bed problems. There will always be compromises on frequency, activities, etc., but this can only be done after the spouses understand what each other’s expectations are concerning the sexual dimension of marriage. In the absence of health issues, each spouse should take delight in pleasing one another sexually, even if this means they may not experience an orgasm in a particular encounter.
I’ll speak as a woman, and I have been where your wife is. These are my opinions and please take as so, there could be other things going on with your wife. For me, in the past, when I was dead set against toys or orgasming through oral sex, it was for reasons of shame. Shame of my sexuality, shame of wanting pleasure, shame of being “too sexual”, shame of being dirty. I think there is a strong chance there is some element of this underlying what is going on with your wife.
I also struggled with feeling used by my husband when he would so effortlessly enjoy sex, and I would struggle. That said, I was trying to force sex into a box: “I must orgasm by PIV” “It must look a certain way”. I was not surrendering to sex, or even to my own unique sexuality. Underneath I had strong feelings of disgust, of sex, of my body, of my sexuality. Some of this is from a past of sexual abuse and assault, but this can develop without those things easily in the current culture. The message women are given about sex is garbage, and it comes from the church too.
I was thinking about this awhile ago, in most books and movies, the woman who is overtly sexual never keeps the guy, is scorned by the culture, is thought less of. The girl/woman who keeps the guy is the one that has been reserved, but then magically becomes unreserved with the hero. The hero often has not been sexually pure, but somehow this matters not. I’m not expressing my opinions about this, I’m commenting that this is the messaging that begins really early on.
This leaves a woman coming into marriage trying to guess where the line is of “too far”, “too sexual”. That combined with trying to figure out the complexity of our bodies (which are more complicated than the male body). We get this conflicting message of too far is a slut, but you also need to be a real wildcat to keep your man happy. It is all VERY confusing. I think many come in just hoping PIV (not too crazy, accepted as good by the church) will just magically work and we will be able to enjoy sex, please our husbands, and not get pushed out of our comfort zone.
The reality is we have to get pushed out of our comfort zone. We must confront all the lies we have been fed. We must start the journey of discovering the sexual woman God made us to be. Guys, please be compassionate. This is a painful road for most women.
Your wife cannot be forced down the road. But you can be a leader in this in many ways. You can shift the focus to pleasure, not orgasm. You can go absolutely overboard in expressing unconditional acceptance of her. You can praise her beauty. You can pray together about this. Bringing God into this will help most women. When I realized God wanted me to sexual, designed me to be sexual, created pleasure as a gift to me…when I truly believed that, it shifted something in me. Pray before each time you are together, pray truth over your wife.
I would also change the focus from sexual to sensual. This is often something foreign to men, but for a more reserved woman, can be a great path to her sexuality. Sensuality is like coming to sundae, closing your eyes, and slowly, decadently enjoying it. SLOW, fully enjoying each little caress. Be vocal. There is a reason romance books are appealing to women, it’s all the language. Tell her how beautiful the slope of her back is. How gorgeous God made her shoulders, how they are so sexy. Describe how sensual the back of her thighs are…and if you want to kiss and lick them while you do so, how very fun!
I feel you brother. Your story is not unusual, if that helps at all. Mine is similar in many ways. I’ve heard the “just stop” words before and know how they hurt. One of the hardest things to digest is that it’s not all up to you and you are not always at fault. You are also not responsible for her orgasm, not fully. Sure, you can help and should if she wants. But if she doesn’t, that’s on her. All you can do is make it clear with words and action that you are not a selfish lover, in fact you are a willing and generous one. Beyond that, nothing more you can do alone. It feels lonely and exasperating at times, I know. You want your wife to feel about sex and orgasm the way you do. Truth is she never will, and that’s not on you. Letting it go is very difficult. But until you do, you are not only lessening your pleasure and satisfaction, you are in fact making it harder on her. You already see this. That’s part of where the “used” comment comes from. It’s a terrible catch 22 and a back-door ambush. She can feel that you are using her by insisting she orgasm. And we men do get a lot of pleasure from our women’s orgasms. But if we exhibit disappointment that looks like it’s stemming from getting less pleasure from them because of no orgasm, then they can feel used. That becomes just another thing we are expecting and not getting, thus thinking less of them for it. It’s a vicious cycle. The only way I know to get out of it is to back off, try to focus on the actual pleasure you get from sex and letting her know how much she pleases you, whether she orgasms or not, thus taking the pleasure off. One thing is for sure, pressure of any kind is counter to her orgasm. If you don’t do this, she will become more and more averse to having sex at all.
Maybe you already understand this intuitively. You said you have been working on it. But the realization that my going over and above the call of duty to give my wife an orgasm was actually causing more problems was lost on me for the longest. It just didn’t make sense. (Still doesn’t but that’s beside the point.) She has identified for you a special time when the road to orgasm is easier for her. Embrace that and don’t fight it. Keep up with the cycle and act accordingly. When the time is not right, don’t worry about it. She’s told you as much. Trust her. What she needs during those “off” times is to be able to give you sex and know she’s making you happy with no additional pressure (assuming she is being generous with sex during those times -you haven’t indicated otherwise.)
This has been my experience at least. It has not been a miraculous change for the better, it it has been incremental improvement. There have been a few times lately where my wife has pursued her own orgasm. It can only get better from there.
A bit of an update, I had a good talk with DW to express my inner conflict. I have worked to help take pressure off for her so that she can enjoy it more and it has helped. I want to continue with this. When she isn’t enjoying it as much and is more just available for me, I want her to know that she is enough for me and that I delight in her and at the same time I don’t want to feel like I’m using her or have her ever feel that again. By not being able to just enjoy it when she isn’t as eager, I can make her feel like she is not enough, and I can potentially make her feel used. We worked through a plan to “reset our minds” to reinforce positive connection. I won’t go into detail but I think we both feel a lot better. Thanks for all of your helpful comments. Everyone made valid points.
What Orolin said is gold. I didn’t see in your post that you mentioned seeing a professional Christian counselor for the issues you were addressing and since you come to a stand still, I think it’s worth it to have outside influence and help navigate where you are stuck, a neutral party to ask probing questions, help guide discussions and throw flags when someone violates the boundaries of decency and respect.
Depending on your issues and what the past is, it may be even worth considering seeing a Christian sex therapist. (Yes, they have those or ones that specialize in sex-related issues). It could even be from a distance. Sexy Marriage Radio host is one, A Female friend from college became one.
You are one of millions of husbands with the exact same story. Me included.
Sadly, my wife has NEVER had an orgasm. Ever. Solo or with me.
But to her credit, she finally understands it’s important to me to feel like she is as satisfied as I am, so she’s working on it, just not in the way I would like, but we’ll see.
I say this not to compare or hijack your thread, but rather so you know that this is a very common issue, especially in a culture where sex is hyper positive or hyper negative.
As for advice, I do believe a Christian couples counselor is the right way to go. If the counselor is wise they’ll know if it’s an issue for a sex therapist.
Women often have a hard time speaking our language of sex, and we men are often terrible translators.
In the past, internet posts were nonexistent. Women did what they did or not and no one knew of any problems unless a therapist or close friend was involved. Now we can see polls and opinions and often solutions, which is great but I personally find myself “unloading” here. Part of me including others here above, are reaching out to find a solution. Time is important because every day we as individuals see our partners and hope for that “connection.” Hoping our spouse means it when they say, “I love you.” We’re looking for the right verbal statement or method or…anything to move us along because continued lack of sexual fulfillment has several outcomes:
b) counseling with/without success.
c) find solution that you both work on or the gatekeeper works on and then great sex results. (example: gatekeeper starts hormone treatment or vitamins/minerals/herbs treatment.)
d) You find no solution and just live in depression the rest of your life.
e) You get an expensive hobby or a busy hobby that you do alone because connection requires a physical contact and a hobby does not replace intimacy.
f) Something sinful. (porn or adultery) In this case you still cannot blame the gatekeeper.
To answer your question – yes, I think you might be.
Some thoughts Hungry that I hope bless you.
The first is that it is very common for a husband and a wife to have different drives and needs. I really want to argue against this idea that there should be some sort of orgasm scorecard and that if one person is getting more than the other then they are somehow using the other. All of that is worldly thinking and can be easily debunked by reading 1 Cor 7 which teaches that each person’s need is important (and separate). 1 Cor 7 doesn’t teach that a person is being used, rather it teaches that a person is blessing and the other is being blessed, and that this is good and right.
I bring all this up to say that your notion that your wife will want an orgasm every time you do is flawed. This notion may also be putting pressure on her and your marriage bed that is not needed or helpful. I think you can ask your wife to do a lot of things, but you can’t ask her to feel what she doesn’t feel, right? If she is putting effort into your needs when you have them, and rendering her body when you desire it, then she is doing good.
I think you are discontented that things are not what you want them to be, and I understand this, but I am concerned that you are putting this hardship only on your wife as if it is her fault when it isn’t. She can’t make her body have an orgasm when it won’t. Pressure isn’t going to help either. Is it a burden for both of you to bear together? Maybe. Or is it just the way that it is? Probably. You could ask her to try a sex toy, but again, if it is to take care of her need, why not let her express whether she has that need or not?
I understand that there can be a different situation where a wife is never having an orgasm and her husband wants her to try things to open her mind to it. That would be wanting to find out what her drive is and explore it. In the end though, she will likely have a natural drive and pushing her past that drive may be a negative and not a positive.