Outside persepective on sexual boundaries in marriage and feeling pressured
I’m coming here for some outside perspectives, as I think I’m bogged down in my own thinking. I need to give some background, so I need to tell a “story” and I thank you for your time in advance.
My awakening/sexual revolution started back in 2015. We went to counseling and as we worked on many issues in our marriage, it created the safety to begin opening up with sex. I also began counseling for the sexual abuse and assault in my past.
It has been a long road. Both DH and I had 15 years of hurt and pain built up at that point, because of years of gatekeeping, disconnected sex, my dislike of sex, DH’s porn use, trauma carried into our marriage, etc..
I have pushed towards openness, pushed myself past boundaries that I set up through our whole marriage. It has been hard, but we continue to grow. We both have had to continually face our fears and insecurities. I’m hitting a wall though. About 3 years ago, DH began to express a desire for anal play and anal sex. We have tentatively explored this for the past three years. I have honestly tried. I have prayed about it, bought several toys to experiment, tried to push past my boundaries, but I cannot get to a place of ok about anal sex. At best it is uncomfortable, at worst painful. We have engaged in anal sex probably a half dozen times, have tried different lubricants, but discomfort and pain with sex triggers me because of my past and I start shutting down. I start feeling used, not cared for, not valuable and I withdraw.
DH has said he is willing to set it aside. He doesn’t forcefully push for it. However, because of a past of DH being closed down, not sharing, hiding things from me, I have asked for him to share what is on mind, things he thinks about and his desires. Truthfully, to feel safe, I need a kind of blunt honesty in our marriage. So, how this plays out is DH does share that he like my butt, that he thinks about touching me and having AS.
And here is my rock and a hard place….my insecurities rise up, I feel a rush of being inadequate, of failing again because I don’t like AS. It can be something light and playful and I still feel this way. Yesterday, DH was expressing his desire for me. However, right now I have both my period and a UTI. I feel like crap and I’m in pain. He was joking around, but expressed he would be up for AS since elsewhere was closed. I didn’t blow up, but playfully responded “no way”. But inside I’m struggling. Later, I offered an alternative, and he said no that was ok, we could wait, which made me feel even more insecure. When we went to bed I asked him why he said no and we ended up talking about this. He stated he is not trying to pressure me, but trying to be honest like I have asked.
I don’t want the honesty to end. I don’t want DH to have to hide any of himself or his desires from me. I know there are some root issues I need to keep surrendering to God. All of my life, there has been an underlying feeling that my value is my sexual value. In our dating relationship we went way past boundaries, and some of that was because I was afraid to say no. Once in marriage, when it all broke down early on, I withdrew and didn’t want to engage in sex, and that caused so much pain, hurt and dysfunction. I know there is residual fear that I if I say no, DH will start hiding things from me and pain and hurt will come again. I don’t know what is a healthy response. Am I once again putting up a wall where I should keep pushing towards openness? Is it ok for me to just say no I don’t like that?
I am afraid of saying no and leaving DH with an unfulfilled desire. But then I realize that isn’t freedom, for him nor for me. Then it isn’t entered into freely given, freely received. In my head, I know that my value doesn’t come from meeting every one of DH’s sexual desires…but there is something still broken in me that is struggling.
I’m also second guessing myself because I used to say no to so much because of wrong thinking about sex, and baggage from my past. Everything else I have pushed myself to be open to, and honestly, I have tried to be open to this too. This is the only “line” I’ve really drawn in our marriage bed.
Would appreciate some other perspectives and advice.
Because I was interested early on in our marriage, my wife and I tried AS and since then that has been the only time. She did not enjoy it and has her own reasons. Not sure if it was because of pain, not enough lubrication or just the thought of something put in that place. To this day, she doesn’t even want any AP with fingering or even a plug. Even though that is something I would enjoy on occasion, which she knows, because she expresses her dislike of it and desire not to engage in it, I have chosen to respect her decision and honor her by not pursuing it. From time to time when talking about sex and things we like/dislike, she mentions that as a dislike so that let’s me know it’s still a no without my pressuring her by asking if we can. There are so many other things she enjoys that we do that brings her pleasure I would rather go that route than attempting something she doesn’t. That said, I will sometimes give her a back rub and slide up and down her body allowing my penis to slide between her butt cheeks, which she doesn’t mind if there is no effort at penetration. If AS happens in the future, it will be her giving the okay. I want her to trust me that I won’t engage in something she is not at all comfortable with and won’t make her anxious about wondering what I’m going to do. She would never be able to relax and enjoy sex or perhaps not even want sex at all. It is a conviction for her that I will honor. I want her to respect me so I choose that route. However, because she knows it’s something I enjoy done to me, she is comfortable in some AP and at times AS with a dildo.
Life and marriage seems to be this intricate dance of trying to find the right balance… when to step forward and when to step back. We have gone through a lot of this balance and feelings you are describing in your marriage. I don’t know if I have handled it completely the best way, but I also desire for my husband to be open and to share his desires. I try to reaffirm to him that I want to know and even if I can’t fulfill things at this time, it’s good for me to know them so I can keep it in mind and work towards things…or at least be able to be understanding to his feelings and needs.
A couple of things I have learned and have to remember, 1) being completely selfless is as unhealthy as selfishness, and 2) I need to own my feelings, and not take on my husbands. I can listen and try to understand his feelings, but they are not for me to pick up and carry as though they are my responsibility, and the opposite is also true. I have to own my feelings, work through them, and not expect my husband to be responsible for them. I know one of our most recent struggles has been around me feeling “inadequate” or “not enough”. When I realize that is not what my husband is saying, that it’s just what I feel, it’s easier to make that separation and not project it onto the other. When he compliments me or even just watched me as I am naked, and I feel “pressure”, I have to realize that I have to own my reaction, which means I can change my thinking on it, rather then blame him for how I feel by his very normal manly, husbandly actions/responses. Which it sounds like you do this same kind of internal battle between your flesh and spirit.
Just as you want your husband to be open, you have just the same right and responsibility to be open and share where you are. I don’t know if your husband is like mine, but often when I do try to give him a picture of where I am with my emotions, my husband picks up that “responsibility” and takes it very personal and feels like it’s an attack on him. Which makes me have to take that extra step in communication to remind him that this isn’t personally about him, but me giving him a window into myself. He is always appreciative of it, when he is reminded of the intent.
As to the actual act….. have you considered or thought of compromises? Maybe AS, or any form of deep penetration is off the table and a hard no, but what about the area being lightly stimulated by his fingers, or a shallow penetration with something smaller (like a pinkie), so you don’t have the pain? Is rimming an option since that wouldn’t be painful (if pain is the trigger)?
Have you two thought about or explored and talked about which path could be more destructive to your relationship?…. which, individual destruction will erode the relationship. That might help with making a decision on what to do.
Those are just some thoughts.
Wheat, i would have to say this, that AS to me can be a HARD NO. As even though some practice it (i don’t see it as a sin per say) the anus just was not designed for that and it is the woman being penetrated in a way that wasn’t designed for it as the vagina is, and especially that it involves pain, i believe that if that is what you are experiencing, you have every right to respectfully ask that it be completely taken off the table and be a hard NO. Meaning do not bring it up again, do not pout about it or be passive aggressive and that needs to be discussed in addition…
In my opinion, if you BOTH do not come to some kind of compromise that involves NO pain on your part, then possibly your husband is acting in a selfish manner and no wonder you are triggered! Sex should never be that way between two loving married people.
Thank you for being so vulnerable and asking this question.
@SC already gave a very good answer (particularly the part on meeting in the middle). I’ll just throw out a perspective from a married couple where the back door is completely off limits (not just AS, but no AP of any kind).
First, it is completely natural for your husband to be interested in this and ask about it. Even with your lack of success in the past, that doesn’t mean he won’t have it in his mind from time to time. The fact that he is willing to share that with you, even if his execution might leave something to be desired, is a good thing. He can’t always control his fantasies and probably realizes that you don’t like it, so for him to still share is a big thing. Despite it being a hard no in our relationship, I’ll still sometimes imagine or even fantasize about it (always with DW enjoying it), and I don’t even know if I’d actually do it if it were on the menu!
Second, I know you’ve shared in the past about how devastating your DH’s porn use was for you. Rightly or wrongly, porn use is often pointed to when it comes to assigning where this desire comes from. Is it possible that an association of this desire with his porn use is contributing to your mental aversion? For the record, my own porn use did not really instill a desire for AS in me. In fact, I’d say a bigger contributor in that direction was actually reading women talk about how nice it was and get them the best orgasms (or their husbands saying how much their wives enjoyed it). And most of that reading came from Christian sites.
Third, one sentence of yours stuck out to me: “I am afraid of saying no and leaving DH with an unfulfilled desire.” Let me be clear, you have fulfilled this desire–a half dozen times already. He might still have it, but you fulfilled it. You appear to have put in serious and heartfelt effort, which is what you are called to do. However, my opinion is that “do not deprive” (1 Cor 7) is talking about sex in general, not a specific act. Might he as an individual prefer AS to OS or MS during your menstruation? Of course. But his preference is not the same as what benefits your marriage. Honestly, I think he understands that and truly means everything he says (“not trying to pressure you” and “we can wait”). He appears to be living out what you want with the openness/honesty aspect, so I think it is on you to believe him and be okay with him not getting to try something for a 7th time. And I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but if saying “no” troubles you, you can always respond with “how about [insert other awesome act] instead?”
Finally, if you haven’t read it, I suggest reading this post by PaulB and the comments on it:
Even by the stats given from the most pro-AS commenters, only 35-40% of women enjoy AS. Note that is the minority, not that majority opinion rules or anything. The fact is, a significant subset of women (and even men) find this act uncomfortable or outright painful. I guarantee you that your husband doesn’t want you to experience significant pain. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t want or fantasize about the act, but that fantasy will not trump your pain in his mind, I can assure you of that.
p.s. For those who engage in AS and enjoy it, congrats to you. I certainly tip my hat towards and even envy you. But just like any other MB item, it’s not for everyone.
You asked: “Is it ok for me to just say no I don’t like that?”
I say it’s perfectly ok for you to say, “No, that is painful for me, and I don’t like it.”
For me, that’s the end of the story. If that sex act always causes you discomfort and pain, there is no reason to continue doing it. Remember that there are plenty of other sex acts that you both can enjoy in your marriage bed. Taking AS off the table is not depriving your spouse.
You wrote: “…discomfort and pain with sex triggers me because of my past and I start shutting down. I start feeling used, not cared for, not valuable and I withdraw.”
I don’t see any good reason to continue with AS if this is the result.
I will repeat what @SongOfAngels said – the anus was not designed for that kind of penetration. It is not like the vagina, and does not behave and respond like the vagina when penetrated. There is good information online that can explain all this, and I would encourage you to read a bit to give you an understanding of what the physiological reality is, and why AS is causing you physical pain.
Please understand that you are not doing anything wrong by taking AS off the table for good. As long as you are honest with your husband, and you explain to him that AS causes you pain, then I don’t see why there should be any further issue. If a sex act causes one spouse pain, I don’t see how the other spouse can be aware of this, and happily enjoy partaking in that sex act.
One person’s pain = another person’s pleasure? That does not compute in a loving marriage.
You said it yourself – you have tried to be open to this. You have given it more than a fair shot. It’s ok to draw the line. You need to draw that line.
You said your husband is willing to set it aside, and that he doesn’t push for it. I would suggest that you take time to discuss this with him, to let him know that AS causes you discomfort and pain, and that you want it taken off the table for good. It’s a perfectly reasonable request, and one that should be met with understanding and love.
Thanks for sharing. You have tried to do what is good, right, and be a generous DW. But, I feel since is not comfortable for you and even painful, you have a valid reason for not doing it. I would encourage you to allow him to enjoy you butt in many other creative ways. If you are ok, you could try penetration with something that is smaller than he is. (His fingers, a dildo, etc.)
I would argue that because you really tried, you made the effort mentally, emotionally and physically to accommodate him (yes, figuratively and literally) you don’t need to feel you are wrong or bad in saying unless things change, you don’t want to do that anymore. So, yes, it is ok for you to say no – with explanation. Hopefully he is willing to grow and adjust to you as well.
DW and I have never tried AS – anything that she would find painful or even uncomfortable would be an immediate turn-off for me.
In any case, I must admit I don’t understand why a woman would find AS pleasurable. I can see how for a man the tightness might be nice but I can’t really imagine what is in it for a woman.
Thank you all for your responses. I am continuing to pray. I do believe this is something I need to work through internally. If I want DH to be completely honest about his desires, fantasies and thoughts, then I need to come to a place of not feeling insecure about it being of something that just doesn’t seem to work for my body. I have also seen the data, that for almost 70% of women there is pain. I do believe there are some women that do enjoy it, and I don’t believe it is a sin… but my body seems to be in the 70%. I think my loving response right now can be to explore anal play. I bought a butt plug last year and it doesn’t hurt. DH enjoyed intercourse with that inserted. I also have no problem giving him an orgasm with my butt cheeks.
I need God’s healing for these places of past hurt and insecurity. Thank you for the additional perspectives and input
Reading your post, I just whispered a prayer- Oh God have mercy.
Our God is a prayer answering God, He can fix any problem. I feel you also need to have some good chat with your husband , discuss your desires, likes and dislikes and all that. Remember he loves you and will not want to make u unhappy. Please try and give me more PIV, OS, etc .