Welcome to our “Open Forum 2” discussion page! This has been the place (up until April 3, 2011) to post your questions and comments, and have an open dialogue about subjects related to marriage, sex, intimacy and parenting.
To create new discussion posts please visit our Open Forum 4 discussion page.
For additional insights, you can review previous discussions by clicking on the links below. You will then find a list of topics discussed in each Open Forum:
Open Forum 4 (to post NEW questions and comments)
Open Forum 3 (posts from Apr 2011 – May 22, 2013)
Open Forum 2 (posts from Jun 30, 2009 — Apr 3, 2011)
Open Forum 1 (posts from Aug 14, 2007 – Jun 29, 2009)
- Laura’s Straight Talk Q&A (for other questions and answers from Laura)
Open Forum 2 Topics
You’ll find some interesting and insightful discussions on the following topics in this Open Forum 2 post:
- Intimacy in later years
- One spouse hates sex
- Disgust for semen
- No emotional intimacy
- Expected sex
- Am I weird for wanting sex so much?
- What percentage of women actually enjoy sex?
- Is it better to focus on emotional or sexual aspect of marriage?
- How to deal with a sexual desert
- Why does my husband view pornography when I am open to sex?
- Books for the honeymoon?
- My wife refuses sex
- Oral sex?
- Is sex a NEED?
- Couples Dialog
- Twilight obsession and its effects on marriages
- Wife not interested in sex
- Masturbation in marriage
- Sex inhibited by meds
- New ways of asking for sex?
- Withholding sex
- When neither partner wants sex and neither partner enjoys it, is there any reason for them to continue having sex, even on an occasional basis?
- Sexual surrender
- My spouse is confusing
- My wife is no longer attracted to me
- Trying to overcome “The Good Girl Syndrome”
- How to spend time when I travel so much
I know from your many personal emails and the conversations we’ve had at various events that there is an army of intelligent and intuitive people who have great insights, and are seeking to strengthen their marriages intimately. I hope you will consider yourself a valuable resource in this forum as you share your questions and comments.
Please continue to be attentive to the tone of your posts, so that we can maintain an atmosphere of reverence and respect for each other and the sanctity of sexuality in marriage. I will try to respond as often as I can, but hope you will step up and share your insights as well.
Thank you all for your participation here! Let’s learn and improve our marriages together! : )
I have been married for 21 years. We have had a very active sex life during this time. Last summer while away, my husband was checking out new positions for us which led to pornography. When I came home from my trip, he told me about it and had since stopped. A month ago I came across some photos on our computer which turned out to be some he had downloaded. He is totally into pornography again. I am ashamed, sad, hurt, angry, optimistic, hopeful, confused,depressed… I really don’t know how to handle this.
I can understand why you feel the way you do. In some cases, the men involved in this feel “ashamed, sad, hurt, angry, optimistic, hopeful, confused, depressed” as well. I think if he has these types of conflicts you are in better shape than if he didn’t. I would ask him if he wants help for this problem. I am not a fan of 12 step programs, or trying to “control one’s thoughts”. As far as I know, BYU counseling center has the best pornography program, but I don’t know if they take clients outside or if they know of therapists who are trained the same way. I just don’t know, and I am not in the place to recommend anyone. I do know that you can’t get help from just anyone. Unfortunately, there is so much poor advice out there, finding help can be very difficult – possibly more difficult than working through the problem in the first place.
I think that LDS culture makes it difficult to get help, since sex is such a taboo subject in the first place. I wish you luck in getting help for your husband. If you are not LDS, I apologize that some of my comments would reflect that bias.
Pornography is a difficult trap for any who get caught in it. I would certainly suggest that you get some professional help if your husband is ready and willing to beat this. Addiction recovery is not something you can do on your own. One place to start looking for help is http://www.lifestarnetwork.org/. They have a great program and have therapists throughout the country. Hopefully they have some in your area. I wish you and your husband well. Pornography is one of Satan’s powerful tools to wreak havoc in our lives. It’s one of his great counterfeiting efforts.
Just some thoughts. You said you were away. He probably became very lonely and missed you.
As for pornography, please don’t be upset with him. He’s a man. He should be attracted to beautiful, naked women. It bothers me when I hear people discuss pornography as the cause of problems. If you take away pornography, we as men are still surrounded by beautiful women: at work, at school, at church, around the neighborhood, everywhere. If they are clothed, some of us are very good at mentally disrobing them anyway. If society responds by making women cover their heads down to their ankles, then men will see those lovely ankles and lust once again. Whether it’s Christians bashing pornography or Muslims beating women and forcing them to overdress, I see a common thread of men in denial about how beautiful women are and how that is God ordained.
So is pornography okay? As thrilling as it all is, it’s still a problem. But not because of nude women per se; but because it lures our heart away from God and his designated human proxy for our affections, our wife.
So what’s the solution to pornography and “other women” in general? Well, unfortunately, I don’t have much experience to draw on here to support my theory, but I do have a theory nonetheless. I think attraction to other women is natural and inevitable. And I think a healthy marriage is one where a husband can express those feelings sincerely to his wife and where she will understand and support those feelings. This will enable him to turn his feelings towards his wife and love her with that same energy that was drawing him elsewhere prior.
I have a good pastor friend who confided once that when his wife caught him masturbating one time, she was furious at him. And I think that’s so tragic. I think a loving wife would respond two fold: 1) ask herself if there’s any way she may have been neglecting her husband’s needs, and 2) invite him to share what is “inspiring” his passion, and see if she can be a part of it.
Imagine the following happening: Jack sees a woman at work with an amazing body. He’s beside himself all day. Later, Jack comes home, and after the kids are in bed, his wife Diane asks, “you’ve seemed rather distracted this evening. Is everything okay at work?”
Jack sighs. “Honey, forgive me. But there was this woman at work today who kept me rather ‘distracted'”.
“Oh, she was pretty hot, eh?” Diane asks with a grin as she walks closer to him.
“Well, not really THAT hot”, Jack playfully minimizes the intensity of his distraction.
Diane puts her arms around him and starts stroking him. “So what was it in particular? Did she have nice ____?” Diane continues to engage Jack verbally, though lovingly and playfully. She works out of him his “deep, dark” passions that he feels a bit ashamed of and yet feels strongly nonetheless. Diane “pursues” Jack until he’s not hiding anything from her, or cherishing sweet thoughts about that woman that he hasn’t “come clean” about. Diane doesn’t reject him, but realizes he’s being human, and understands the therapeutic value of this process. In fact, she loves his sexuality and wants to be a part of it.
Meanwhile, they’re undressing each other and making love. Now that they’re truly done discussing the “mistress”, the verbal dialogue (if any) synchronizes with the physical “dialogue” so that it’s just about Jack and Diane. As she’s about to bring him to a climax, she whispers in his ear, “If you ever want to talk about Miss ____ again, just let me know.” But at this point, he’s crazy about his wife and how much she truly loves him, and the “power” that mistress had over him shrinks into the distance.
Doesn’t that sound phenomenal? It’s the “I’m here for you” approach to managing “competition to” or “distractions from” the marriage. Instead of denying or punishing external desire, it leverages that desire by redirecting it to serve as a catalyst to enhance the marriage, all the time giving thanks and praise to God.
(Don’t confuse this with fantasizing about someone else while you have sex. “I’m here for you” is different because it involves verbal dialogue, encourages full disclosure of feelings, and by being supportive, it redirects that passion to the lover.)
So back to your comments, your husband saw some sexy positions in a book. Same idea applies: bring in the above attitude, and ask him what he liked about them? And if you have to go away again, here’s what I suggest: phone sex. It can be fantastic. Or even “sexting” each other! It’s all about doing things that build up your relationship to the exclusion of other people.
Those are my thoughts. I’m curious what other people think. I also wish I had someone like this to validate my feelings. Lord, if you’re willing…
I am actually disgusted with your advice here.
As a woman who was previously married to a porn addict, and is now married to a wonderful man of God, this suggestion you give is utterly appauling. I do agree, that it doesn’t help the wife to get mad at her spouse because of masterbation or porn. But there are other solutions than the one that you gave, that I think, could be more loving, and more appropriate than escalating and further indulging in an inappropriate fantasy that the husband ( or spouse ) may have had throughout the day.
Though these feelings of attraction are real, and human, and natural, we are commanded to temper them, and only hold those feelings for our spouse, period. I would never engage in a conversation like that.
As for the origional post and pornography problem, I delt with that for many many years. If she wants to email for suggestions, she can,.
Thanks for your reply to my suggestion. I understand your reaction.
Let me offer one point of clarification. I’m not saying it’s right or good for your husband to fantasize about other woman. What I am proposing is how the wife can respond to it in a way that will be effective, to “rescue” him back to a healthy relationship with his wife, rather than drive him further away.
You said: “we are commanded to temper [our feelings], and only hold those feelings for our spouse, period”. Sure, it’s wrong when we sin. But the ways of approaching it are a lot like the Old Testament vs. the New Testament. Under Mosaic Law, the approach was to stone you if you broke a certain law. That was certainly “just”, but didn’t exactly endear people to God, but rather built a wall of intimidation and fear. But Jesus took a different approach. He left his throne in heaven, came down to our world as a human, felt our pain (and a lot more of his own pain), and showed us love, in order to win back our hearts. And it worked 🙂 (at least for those who believe). By condescending to us, he wasn’t condoning our sinfulness; he was reaching out to us. To be sure, Pharisees were appalled that he “dined with sinners” and yet claimed to be of God; but Jesus’ approach won over the hearts of those “sinners”. Remember Zacchaeus?
That’s the model my above proposal is based on.
Hope this helps.
Buy the book Confronting Pornography from Deseret book. I have read it 5 times. It has a lot of great succes stories told by the wives of the addict. Teaches you the psycology of how the brain becomes addicted to pornography.
Get professional help. Cut off all means to the internet, including cable tv. Might have to live in the stone age for a few months but trust me. it is worth it.
Here is what i do. I have a calander of the month taped to my dresser. If i make it threw the day with out viewing porn. i put a circle or a sticker on the day. If i slip. i put an X. Us guys are visual achievers so if i can see my progress it helps to achieve my goals.
dont waste any more time. Buy the book i told you about and if you live in Utah go to LDS family services and take there “AA” class they have for this very issue.
I know this may sound stupid but you have to support him threw this. It hurts just as bad to him as it does to you. The pain a man feels in his heart, when he loves his wife so much, knowing he has betrayed the one he loves, is so excruciating that at times they would rather die. The depression it causes a man, the anger, the hate. It is horrible.
There are 4 things that will start the healing process.
first is motivation. He needs to be motivated to stop and this is where you come in. Self motivation is extremely important to. He HAS TO WANT IT more than ANYTHING in this world to stop. But you can not force it.
Second. A safe environment. Like i said earlier. no cable or internet. Find more productive things to do then internet and cable. IF you have to have internet download K9 web filter. it is free and only YOU will have the password. Store the password somewhere out of the house so he can not find it. Make it a hellish password. something like 5ucC3s5. If he travels for bussiness. Call the hotel and disconect his tv and internet connections. Call him every night or hour if you have to.
Third. A 12 step program which is free, needs to be taken advantage of. SA or Sexaholics Anonymous is a great program.
Fourth. Select a professional therapist in this area. Most therapists no little of this subject so you have to do some research. I know of a couple in utah that are great.
Fifth(i added this one for you) If you are religious, Pray, fast and do some service. it never hurts to have the extra help from the other side.
I hope this helps.
Best of luck.
I’ve been married for 14 years and haven’t had an orgasim yet. My husband is totally frustrated and he stopped trying to help years ago. I feel that it is my responsibility to help him get what he needs. When we married my mother told me “When you say you do, you do whether you want to or not.” I have lived by this rule and have only turned him down a couple of times due to health issues. Even three weeks after our fourth child was taken by c-section, we were intimate. I love him and enjoy the closeness, but I keep thinking that Heavenly Father surely intended this to be more than I am experiencing here in this life. He went through a rough period battleing porn before I caught him. I tried to spice things up but he wasn’t interested. He told me that I didn’t turn him on anymore and that he wasn’t sexually attracted to me. That has been several years ago, and even today, i struggle with those thoughts. Sometimes, I just want to crawl under a rock and stay there until the Second Coming. He deserves so much more than he has. He must also feel totally discouraged to have me for his companion. I can’t even undress if there isn’t a total eclipse. I hope that reading her book, And They Were Not Ashamed, can help me over come these feelings of hopelessness. If not, I will endure untill the Second Coming.
I’m wondering if there have been any scientific studies conducted researching the average age at which LDS married couples stop having sex. I’ve been a member for 40 years, married for 39, and have come to believe that most LDS couples’ intimacy doesn’t last much past the mid-50s. This is based on 40 years of comments (both overheard and directed to me), conversations and observations over that period of time. I’m sure there are a few that are still going strong at 70+, but I think they are the exception, not the rule. Any studies out there? Maybe it’s time for one.
Let me tell you about my parents. They are in their mid 70s and had to stop having sexual relations because intense cancer treatments that my Dad was going through. It just zapped everything out of him on many levels. However, they didn’t quit without a fight. They tried many things to keep that part of their marriage going, but finally had to accept the facts. BUT, even now when we visit them, I have seen them being intimate-her sitting on his lap while looking at the computer and his hand reach up the back of her shirt in a loving way. There is still intamacy. I don’t think that ever has to stop! The act of sex might have to end in the senior years, but I think intamacy never has to end.
Without knowing anything about you or the background behind your comment, I am left to wonder if you or your spouse is looking for an out.
I also believe in the three levels of intimate couples-1)the barren desert couple 2)the average sexually intimate couple 3) the very happily married, very sexually active couple. In one of the articles it made reference the the very happily married/sexually active couple. It said within the LDS church that is 20%. A very low number–and a sad number. So if the study reflected that same percentage in the over 50 crowd–that makes sense
I suppose I’m struggling in a similar way to others here. I really like reading this forum because at least I can know I’m not alone. I would like to know if anyone has any suggestions though. I’ve posted here before but never got any responses.
When we first got married, my wife didn’t care much for sex but didn’t really dislike it either – she would say she just enjoyed being with me. Since not long after our honeymoon she has been saying that whenever I touch her in any of her sensitive areas during sex (even nipples) that it feels awful to her and it makes her think of me as a pervert. It seems to get worse and worse every time and I can no longer touch her in any sensitive area because if I do she’ll say it’s okay and try to tolerate it for a few minutes but then she just feels sick and upset about it and doesn’t want to even continue trying to have sex. We have been praying for help to find a solution for awhile and don’t really know where to go. The problem seems to be getting worse and worse and realistically I think the only thing that may help is a therapist.
It has been a while since we’ve had anything more than a “quickie” because whenever we are going to have sex she gets impatient with any form of foreplay and just wants to get it over with as quick as possible. I have been feeling very sexually starved – not necessarily because of the infrequency of it but more because we just have “quickies” with little real intimacy or foreplay and she hardly participates at all which makes me feel awful about it and not even want to do it. Unfortunately not wanting to have sex due to her lack of involvement doesn’t make my sex drive go away.
This is just very difficult for me since I have a very high sex drive. When we talk about the problem she readily acknowledges the problem but we don’t know what to do and can’t figure out why things that should be pleasurable make her feel so sick and disgusted.
Sorry to hear that you are “struggling.” It can be very hard to deal with.
From my untrained eye it would seem that there is certainly some “good girl syndrome” going on with your wife. Laura’s book can certainly help if you wife is willing to read it. Counseling my very well be needed, but don’t look at that as a negative. I would suggest you start working to address this more than you have.
I do think you need to try as much as possible to put yourself in your wife’s shoes for a bit to see her perspective – even if it is incorrect. This can help you think of how to approach her.
The worst thing you could do is push in a way that makes her feel like you think she is a broken wife. I suspect she may already have some of these feelings. I would suggest you approach her saying that you want to make the marriage the best it can be for both of you. Thank her for her efforts to attempt to satisfy you and acknowledge that it must be hard for her to work through the feelings that you have. Then ask her if she would be willing to read a book together with you. Make sure you really show her that you still love her and the she is the most important thing in your life.
I would have to assume if there is little to no foreplay that she is not having any orgasms and over the years can leave her with a feeling that intimacy is just a chore she does for you instead of being something you both enjoy and having it bring you closer together.
I would suggest that you do address and work this sooner than latter, but do it without showing your negative emotions. I tried very gently for 20 years to get my wife to go to counseling and just within the last year we have finally started. I wonder what would be if I had pushed harder earlier to get us to start working on our issues sooner.
Good luck and my prayers are with you and your wife.
Thank you for your comments and support JustGettingBy. I have read a lot of Laura’s book and I have tried to encourage my wife to read it as well. She has read the portion talking about the “good girl syndrome” and at various points has said that she doesn’t have that because she doesn’t think sex is bad. After talking to her about the other characteristics of the “good girl syndrome” she did at one point agree that maybe she is suffering from some of the other characteristics. At one point she said that she thinks Laura’s book is for people who already like sex. I don’t think she necessarily feels that way at the moment but she doesn’t really have much interest in reading books to try and help the problem.
We have definitely discussed counseling and we are both willing but at the moment I don’t even know where to begin in trying to find a good counselor who can help us. We would like to find someone who is LDS or supports positive LDS views on family, marriage, and sex. How did you go about finding a counselor? Any ideas?
I agree with you very much about what you said regarding her feeling like she is a “broken wife”. On many occasions she has said that she thinks she is a bad or broken wife but I always try my best to encourage her and tell her she’s not broken. It’s difficult to put myself in her shoes but I try to do so in order to try and be as understanding as I can.
Regarding foreplay, to be honest she does try to do at least a little foreplay on every occasion though it often lasts for only a few minutes making it feel to me like there was almost nothing. You are correct in assuming she is not having orgasms. In fact she never has had one before (although we’ve tried to work on it unsuccessfully). She tells me frequently that she thinks it is not possible for her to have an orgasm. One thing that makes it difficult is that she seems to have very little patience in trying since she hates sex as it is.
We recently had a positive experience where (I think for the first time) she actually didn’t mind having sex and though she says she can’t say she necessarily “enjoyed” it she didn’t have the negative feelings so much as she usually does. This time, when she started to feel the awful feelings she usually does when I touch her sensitive areas, instead of getting frustrated she tried to think of why she was feeling that way. She hasn’t figured it out yet and I think that it will take some counseling or therapy of some sort to really figure it out so I hope we can find some good help in this way.
Glad to hear that you have had some small improvements. Complement her on this.
As far as finding a counselor I looked around just a bit. Laura does address this a bit on another part of her web site.
If you look at http://www.strengtheningmarriage.com/qa.php and look for the question “He needs it, and I don’t–Finding a counselor” you will find some good advice. I don’t live anywhere near Utah, so there were not a lot of choices, but we did find one that my wife felt reasonbly comfortable with.
Talk to your Bishop, he can point the way, and LDS Family Services DOES offer marriage/family counseling within an LDS perspective.
Thank you JustGettingBy and Morguerat for your suggestions. I will look into those places and see if I can find someone. Hopefully we can figure out the issues and overcome this challenge.
Luckily for my wife and I we are really just getting started on our journey since we just got married in January of this year. Judging from a lot of the responses I’ve read on this forum there seem to be a lot of individuals who have suffered for many, many years and I’m hoping we can overcome the issues relatively early on in our marriage. My heart truly goes out to those who have been struggling like this for so long.
I’ll try to keep you updated on our progress as we seek out counseling if I can. Maybe our experience can serve to benefit others as well.
” At one point she said that she thinks Laura’s book is for people who already like sex. I don’t think she necessarily feels that way at the moment but she doesn’t really have much interest in reading books to try and help the problem.”
My wife won’t read the book because she likes sex! So, it is totally the opposite. I think the book is for women who haven’t discovered the power within themselves to find enjoyment.
Sometimes the best ways of finding sexual adventures are totally counter intuitive. For example, scheduling sex (every 2 days for example) may sound like inhuman computer but I found out that scheduling reduces pressure on both sides. I can’t beg for more sex and feel overwhelmed by my thoughts about sex, because I am following a schedule. She can’t say she’s too tired because she is following a schedule. It also opens the door for more communication regarding your needs. Scheduling allows for more give and take – for example, I could probably have sex daily and be okay, but my wife would be fine with once a week (or less). For at least the last 6 years (with baby breaks…) we have followed a non-rigid schedule.
I certainly don’t profess to know how all women are, but I have found through first hand experience that when we are following a schedule and my wife is not really in the mood, as the experience progresses, she can get into it easier than if she puts it off, pushes me away, and tries the futile battle with her negative thoughts. Obviously, guys can get into it before penetration. However, a woman only has to be partly ready.
There are really so many issues that could be at play here that it’s difficult to give you a “quickie” attempt at an answer! : ) I guess this is why I felt the need to write a 373 page book! Sexuality can be intricate.
I do agree that finding a sex therapist is a good idea, though it can be difficult to find one. I list as many resources as I can on my Resource page under “Finding a Counselor” (http://www.strengtheningmarriage.com/resources.php) that I hope will be helpful to you. I would say that it’s important to find one who has experience with sexual issues even if they aren’t an official sex therapist.
Doing the homework at the end of each chapter in my book is probably the next best option to finding a good therapist. I am pretty thorough in providing exercises for women and couples to walk through the inhibitions that are often contributing to sexual problems. Reprogramming any negative or unproductive thoughts and core beliefs about sex is a necessary foundation to create a sexually satisfying relationship. It sounds like your wife was able to do that somewhat in the one good experience you mentioned having.
I hate for people to jump on this next suggestion, but given the fact that nearly a third of women have experienced sexual abuse somewhere in their past that is also a possibility to consider. Again, a therapist would be needed to work through all the ramifications of that.
There’s a lot of guilt, shame and feelings of failure for wives who feel that they aren’t satisfying their husbands and/or who have never had an orgasm. Plus imagine how much you would enjoy sex if as a man you had never had an orgasm. Putting yourself in her shoes will help things a lot.
These are just some general thoughts that may not be exactly what your situation demands, given that I am only going off of a few comments that you’ve made. I hope something here might be helpful though.
I would suggest you also read through some of the other blog posts here especially those addressing husbands stranded in a sexual desert in their marriages (http://strengtheningmarriage.com/blog/intimacy/help-for-husbands-stranded-in-the-sexual-desert/). You might also read through any pertinent articles (http://www.strengtheningmarriage.com/news.php). Even if your wife won’t read or finish reading the book you can benefit your situation by reading and applying what you can anyway.
Remember that women tend to be wired emotionally, so that’s another area to consider as well.
I wish you well. I believe if you will make this a matter of prayer that you will be directed to those people and resources that can help you create the kind of intimate relationship God intended.
Thank you for your suggestions Laura.
Regarding the sexual abuse aspect you mentioned there are a few times I had thought of that as a possibility as well. If that were the case, however, her mind would have to have any memory of it deeply suppressed because she says she has never had any form of sexual abuse occur in her life and can’t think of anything even related that could have happened to her. I do know that she has always had a deep fear of being raped as I would expect many girls to have but I don’t know if that would cause anything. If something like that were the case I’m sure that only a therapist could help resolve it.
I will see if she is willing and has the patience to go through the book and do the homework with me. I agree that these things would help a lot but in the past she has had no interest in doing them. I have already read the last couple links you posted and they are excellent resources and sources of strength.
If she isn’t willing to work on the homework exercises I suppose we will try to seek out a good counselor or therapist. I will continue praying for guidance on the subject as well.
Definately remember that we as women ( I am a woman ) are emotional. If things are great with my husband emotionally, everything is better.
Also a big thing is to feel that you are loved unconditionally. No matter what, even if things don’t change sexually.. I am in a second marriage. It is 100 percent opposite of my first.
My first, I hated sex. It was a chore, it was degrading, it was the way he treated it, the way he looked at me, the things he said, the pressure, etc. My husband now, loves me, for me., would never ask me to do anything that I would feel uncomfortable with ( and surprisingly, with that very trust, I am more than willing , than I have ever been sexually with him, even in things I would otherwise never do )
I find the two situations so strikingly different , it is easy to see what has made the difference., I actually think that I crave sex more than him, if that be possible. Love helps, sincere , honest love and trust are key.
For your wife, I would definitely suggest Brotherson’s book. So far, it is the best book I have seen for LDS sexuality.
Sorry if my comments are considered graphic by some.
One thing that I would caution my fellow men about is how sensitive women’s clitoris and nipples are. While stimulating both parts can lead to orgasms, they are extremely sensitive. My wife always reminds me how sensitive nipples are by grabbing mine. In general, a woman has to be aroused and very comfortable before serious nipple stimulation can occur. As for the clitoris, if you push too hard it can be very painful for a woman. It is akin to having somebody squeeze your penis too hard. One thing that is helpful for understanding how to touch the clitoris as foreplay would be to have your wife guide your finger at the rate and with the pressure she likes. However, contrary to some advice, some women do not like men to touch that part of their body with their hands prior to engaging in intercourse.
Communication is the key to these things problems.
If you AND YOUR WIFE have read Brotherson’s book, and you are still having difficulty, I would recommend finding a sex therapist, preferably somebody who shares your values. Gender of the therapist should be taken into account here.
I have no idea what your wife’s back ground is, but I do have some advice, if being a woman helps at all.
My ex-husband and I were married for 4 years. I was not active in church and neither was he when we were married. We had been sexually active for a few years before we married, and we both enjoyed it very much ( me also ) After we married the truth came out that he had a porn addiction. I dont know if this is any part of your life, in any way , shape , or form, but if it is, or if your wife feels in any way like you are comparing her to others , or that you want to ” fix” her,. she will be exactly as you describe. I can’t tell you what that did for our relationship sexually. Things I had done before , I no longer wanted to do, or found ” appropriate” I have read many posts where this subject has been brought up and it seems the guys are so easy to put down the girl, with oh she has ” the syndrome,” In a way , that is not a good expression. In her book, and in many books, it is clear, that women, operate emotionally, period. If your wife is happy emotionally with you, things should progress in the right direction. The other side of my point is this, so after my first marriage ( I eventually left ) I am currently married, for over 5 years. There were things I was uncomfortabl with sexually and before we married we discussed them. My husband was more than loving and I was even shocked to hear him say that he would never ask me to do anything at all that I was uncomfortable with. He let me know, he loved me , for me, exactly who I was and am. Well it has been years now. We are close, I trust him completely. Sexually, I am more open to almost anything with him, where in my previous relationship , because of the mistrust, lies, etc.
If there is anything at all, that would make your wife feel , less of something in your eyes, either physically, etc, you can guess this would be a major reason why she is that way. As for improving this, time, and absolute, unconditional love. I hope I did not offend, and do not mean to accuse,. Sometimes women ( and I do this too ) read into things our husbands do or say, that are completley not true, but are a reflection of how we feel . This too, you can help with., dont take that as you taking blame for something, more something you can help with.
I am looking for any answers to this one. My wife and I have an excellent relationship, and we always have. However, she has a huge aversion to semen. If any gets on the bed she gets very upset. Frankly, it ruins the post-intercourse moments. I understand that she needs to get up and use the bathroom to prevent bladder infections, but her level of disgust for semen really interferes with the experience. Any advice?
I don’t know if I have any suggestions to cure her aversion to semen – for her it would probably be a lot like having an aversion to someone picking their nose or something else you find disgusting. Eventually she may just get used to it to the point that it doesn’t bother her so much but that could take some time.
I can offer one suggestion, however, that may help to prevent her from getting upset. It can be helpful to keep a towel nearby. For all I know maybe you already do this, but if you put a towel on the bed under you then it will get on the towel instead of the bed and it’s a lot easier to just wash a towel than to wash the sheets 😉
Condoms seem to be pretty good at keeping the mess to a minimum. It’s not a good option when you are trying to get pregnant. Otherwise, it might be worth trying.
Thanks for the suggestion, but unfortunately, she has an even bigger aversion to condoms (not to mention my aversion to them!). I will try to use a rational approach to this one (such as talking!). I think I will remind her that it destroys the time. Thanks anyway.
This is a common concern for many women. Thoughts such as “sex is messy,” or “I can’t stand the smell,” etc. can certainly be intimacy inhibitors. If your wife is interested in getting over this issue she might work on reprogramming that thought/belief with something more positive and productive until the old programming has been replaced.
Thoughts such as “I enjoy every aspect of lovemaking,” or “I love pleasing my husband,” or “I bask in the lovemaking experience” may help to pull out the negative/unproductive thought and plant a mental flower in it’s place. Conquering the mental inhibitors is a huge thing for women to be able to fully embrace lovemaking.
On a practical note, keeping baby wipes nearby can help address this issue. They can work wonders. You might also be sure to take the lead to quickly clean up any spills that might occur. Your attentiveness to this concern of hers can also work wonders.
I have just discovered your web site. I am glad because I have a lot of questions inside, that go unanswered. I have been married for over 20 years. My marriage has never a wonderful part of my life. Divorce has been a consideration a few times, but I have stayed with it for different reasons. Being scared, our children, advice from Priesthood leaders to stay with it, family pressure and others reasons.
As I mentioned my marriage has not been the highlight of my life, but lately it really bothers me to have my spouse hold my hand. After a few minutes I just find a way to get out of hand holding. I also don’t ever want to allow my spouse to get emotionally intimate with me anymore. I can have sex with him, but no emtional intimacy! And lately the thought of living alone, without having someone to share my bed, is a very comforting thought. I know the whole purpose of the gospel is families and being united as husband and wife, but lately I don’t want any part the husband and wife portion. I feel guilty when I have done sealings in the temple because of what is said in that ordinance. I am probably wrong to feel this way, but don’t know what to do.
Hi MB in UT,
I am sorry to hear about your situation. Given the intricacies of intimacy especially for women, there are many possibilities as to why you are responding the way you are. It could be conscious or unconscious anger and resentment toward your husband; it could be past negative experiences that make you shy away from physical intimacy (like affection always having strings attached to sex); it could be related to something I call the Good Girl Syndrome (chapter 1 of my book And They Were Not Ashamed); it could be some kind of abuse in your past; or it could be any number of things.
I would suggest you seek out a good therapist if you can as that will be your best option. (I have multiple resources for finding a good counselor on my resource page under “Finding a Counselor.”– http://www.strengtheningmarriage.com/resources.php)
You might also try reading my book and doing the homework exercises to see if you can get to the bottom of the issues, or even just start doing some free writing about your thoughts and feelings, etc. If you make it a matter of prayer I believe the Lord will help you awaken to what is troubling you and guide you in how to resolve the issues. I wish you well. Please feel free to keep us updated here as to your efforts and progress. God bless!
Expected Sex …
Can someone help me with some insight into one recurring problem in our marriage … Expected Sex.
Expected Sex always seems to cause us problems. What I mean by expected sex is times when, at least to me in my mind, sex is the obvious outcome. For example, our anniversary or my birthday. I’d like to celebrate those events by making love. So sex is the expected or anticipated outcome of our time together. That generally causes big problems for my wife.
As a specific example, I finally got my wife to go with me on a business trip to a conference this summer. We were at a beautiful resort place together. We had a great time … Went to a movie, and a show, and to dinner. It was lots of fun. But I had the “expectation” that since we were away from all the stresses of the kids (kids at Grandparents) and home, that sex would be the obvious results of our time alone. Again, that just caused lots of stress for my DW.
Several years ago, we tried the “lets go get a hotel room for the night” thing and it was a disaster – she said she felt like a Whore because I expected to get sex by taking her to a hotel. Knowing that, I tried sooooo hard all week NOT to push intimacy, and to do all the things non-sexual that she would like. But still, the “expected sex” thing hung over our last night there, and she said “well, I guess I did say at one point I would wear some lingerie, so I’ll go put something on”, but it was sooo “unsexy” they way she said it, it ended up in a fight in the middle of the night.
I guess I must be doing something wrong in the time leading up the “expected sex” moments, but it is unclear to me what that is. I’m wondering if other people have similar problems with expected sex and if they have identified the triggers or behaviors that make this so hard.
TOPIC — Expected Sex
I had to read your post with a smile as I’ve heard this issue many times mostly from women. Women who have not yet awakened to nor embraced their sexuality as part of their “personness” tend to be annoyed by the expectation of vacation sex or birthday sex or whatever we want to call it. Yes, for some having more open conversation of each other’s expectations can alleviate some of the problem, but in a lot of cases even making that expectation more clear would still be irritating for women who might see a “vacation” as an opportunity for her to NOT have to have sex, when you might be seeing things VERY differently! : )
I remember when I used to think in such a way myself. With all the demands of young children, any kind of getaway from them did not equate to glee about having sex. I’m sure my thoughts were more about catching up on needed sleep or not having to do anything. I can certainly see how you or any husband would see things differently.
When sex is still a “duty” in a woman’s mind then you are more likely to get the kind of behavior you got on your business trip with your wife this summer. And yes, that ends up being a very “unsexy” experience for both. It’s possible that your wife’s behavior had more to do with specific circumstances or a lack of emotional foreplay, etc. but if you really have done all that you can imagine that would make her feel loved or loving toward you, then it probably has more to do with how she feels about sex or herself. It’s back to Good Girl Syndrome issues.
I see part of my efforts as that which moves us toward a sexual awakening for women in hopes that someday the norm will be for wives to have learned to embrace their sexuality within marriage and not see it as a duty or a less-than-godly activity. Unfortunately we still have a ways to go…!
I do think a conversation with your wife about this very subject would be good. It may work best in a letter or email, but I would share the thoughts you have shared here. If you can be pretty casual or neutral about it, you might be able to create a good conversation about it. It seems like you have made some progress in this department in your marriage, so the chances for you to continue the progress might be pretty good. Again, I’m all for more open interchanges between husband and wife, especially if empathy and compassion can be the guiding factor.
Thanks for the feedback …
I guess the trip was particularly painful for me because I tried hard to get rid of all the excuses … “The kids are still awake”, “I have to get up in the morning”, “I’m soo tired”, “Someone who we know might see us”, etc. Which just means that is was all the more obvious that the fact is all those are just empty excuses to not be intimate with me.
I tried to have a calm conversation about it with her. I approached it from what I thought would be a not threatening angle, and ask her “The ‘Good Girl Syndrome’ is still a big struggle for you isn’t it? I’m sorry about that …” She cut me off there and angrily threw it back at me that I am a “Bad Boy” for wanting any of that ….
I guess I still have a lot of work to do on all this ….
I tried a letter expressing my thanks for the times she has stretched herself beyond her “good girl limits”, but the letter made her uncomfortable, because it was too explicit for her.
It’s sad … what I wouldn’t give for a “too explicit” letter from her …..
I have just recently heard about your book and am interested for what seems to be a very different reason than most of your readers. I am a 36 year old mother of 2. My husband and I have been married for 18 years and have what I consider a really strong relationship both in and out of the bedroom. My reason for looking for some help is that I have a much stronger sex drive than my husband dose and am often left frustrated and feeling rejected when I want to have sex and he doesn’t. Also I have recently been feeling a little less satisfied with our lovemaking I keep feeling like there is something missing or not quite right and I think it is primarily because although we enjoy sex and I feel that I am very uninhibited my husband has never been able to educe orgasm for me, I always have to do it myself. I know that masturbation is considered wrong in the church and have struggled with it since becoming a member, my husband and I sort of decided that it was okay for me to masturbate if he is there with me and it is part of our lovemaking so that I can feel sexually fulfilled, it seems to be the only way I can have an orgasim is there something wrong with me? Is there anything I can do to change things? Am I weird for wanting sex so much? It seems like usually the husband wants sex more than the wife.
carei: you wrote: “Am I weird for wanting sex so much?” is that a question about frequency of wanting sex, or just plain wanting sex? Sorry to be so personal, but how often are you talking about? Men naturally lose sex drive as they get older. There can be many factors for this including biology/chemistry, psychology (i.e. depression), or others. Is he taking medication that could reduce sex drive? I don’t think what you are doing is considered masturbation if you are doing it with your husband. Some people may disagree, but as a lifelong member of the LDS church, I don’t think you are engaging in masturbation when you are there with others.
About your initial question, you should really read Laura’s book.
Another suggestion, if he is open to it, is for you to show him what works when you touch yourself, let him get involved, encourage it, and be vocal about what does and doesn’t work for you. As long as you aren’t doing it in secrecy, alone, or while fantasizing about another man, I don’t think most people in the church would say there’s anything wrong with it.
Men DO lose drive as they age, and women hit their peak in their 30’s. There are ways to overcome it, and simply being the sexually aggressive partner can go a long way towards helping. (Not saying you haven’t been, just more or less thinking out loud)
My husband loves to watch and I have shone him many times what I want him to do, but somehow it just never seems to work. I’m sure that it’s me, I don’t seem to be able to relax enough when he is touching me instead of me touching myself.
Also I only seem to be able to climax in one particular position with one particular motion. I’m wondering if that is usually the case and if there is a way to retrain my body to orgasm in another way? I’ve ordered Dr.Laura’s book and am just waiting for it to arrive. Dose she teach anything about how to do this?
I can understand that, I was only rarely able to climax from oral sex (it’s a trust issue, and giving up control of myself enough to finish), and have never from manual stimulation, if it wasn’t me doing it for my ex-wife. But as important as the psychological issues are, physical ones are important as well. Positioning of “naughty bits,” height, positions, and more can all be physical causes.
Yes, the book “And They Were Not Ashamed” addresses what women need to know and do in order to be able to relax and enjoy sex with their husbands more fully. What’s going on in your mind during lovemaking is probably even more important than what’s happening with your body!
Chapters 3, 4, and 5 about the female sexual response and the male/female sexual differences may be especially helpful to you, as well as Ch 12 that talks about sensate focus exercises. Orgasm can be challenging for a lot of women, and it does require a lot of practice! Building the underlying emotional relationship is key for many women. I wish you well!
Well I think it’s frequency, but I don’t want to just have sex for the sake of it. If he was just going through the motions to please me that would be upsetting too.
I would be happy with 2-3 times a week and my husband is happy with 2-3 times a month. We usually end up much closer to his preference than mine. He is not taking any medication, he is 6 years older than me so I’m wondering if that can make such a difference.
I guess I’m wondering if there is anything I can do to make him want me more. Is the fact that I’m pretty much ready whenever, a turn off? I’ve asked my husband that question and he says no that he loves it that I’m so sexual but I still end up feeling frustrated quite often. I’m pretty sure most men would say that they would want a wife who loves sex and wants to have it often but I wonder if they had the reality of it would they be able to handle it and keep there wives happy.
I’ve tried to turn it off, not let myself feel sexual so that I’m not wanting it so much and don’t end up disappointed but I just end up feeling really depressed and in a bad mood.
So the “Am I weird?” question is me wondering if I should try and lower my sex drive to be more inline with my husband’s ( no idea how to do that) or if I should try and see if there is a way to raise his to be more inline with mine?
Regarding frequency, I am all too familiar with this battle. Realistically there is little that you can do to increase your husband’s desire for greater frequency. You can talk to him and see if you can reach a compromise. Mostly though you can only focus on yourself. Enjoy whatever frequency you do have. Realize that there will be times when your desire for sexual intimacy will be unfulfilled. Try to not take it personally or to be upset by that.
Try to enjoy other activities together. Try to find other interests that you can pursue on your own- exercise, or some other hobby. Find ways to serve/help others.
It is ironic that I give these suggestions when I am in a similar predicament myself. It is easier to give advice than to take it.
I strongly encourage you to help your husband discontinue any use of pornography. I believe it can be a very difficult addiction to break- just as difficult as breaking an addiction to tobacco, alchohol, or any other drug. I believe pornography can devestate a marriage, so it should not be taken lightly.
Thanks, I know your right.
It might be worthwhile to have a Dr check if he has a low testosterone level. Low testosterone kills desire and if not treated can also can cause a level of depression, weight gain, and other health problems. At the very least you could rule it out.
Carei, hang in there. I was in the same situation. Trust me, don’t get so frustrated that you go outside your marriage. I did and it had a great cost. Your husband sounds alot like mine. Mine was raised in a home where mom and dad rarely touched or hugged in front of the kids. He never saw his parents kiss. If he touched his penis in the tub he was told by his mom it was “naughty” or “dirty”. He couldn’t even adjust his privates in his pants a little without being told he was “acting naughty”. Of course nobody wants to be naughty or disobey mommy so my husband grew up thinking what felt good, was bad.
My parents on the other hand were alot different. They hugged, kissed, etc in front of everyone. I even knew that one day I would get married and then I would be able to have sex with my husband and that it was a good thing. Some how I just understood that.
I sure wish parents could understand and teach the truth about proper sexuality education in the home.
Carei, God bless you! You sound like a wonderful person.
There is NOTHING wrong with having sex with your husband. There is nothing wrong with you because you love to have sex so much. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be sexually saticfied by your husband either. If I were you I would see if your husband would be willing to be councelled by Laura herself, either over the phone or in person. That is probably very possible. If not Laura then someone she suggests.
Your man really needs to understand that you are frustrated and that he can help you.
He needs to understand that your sex and sexuality can only be shared by HIM.
Don’t try to “turn off” your sexual feelings. Be happy you have these feelings. With proper councelling your husband will hopefully someday appreciate them.
As for your climax. I know exactly what you are talking about. Hopefully your husband is both teachable and willing to be taught.
I taught my husband how to kiss first of all. Then how to stimulate my entire body with his gentle hands and his mouth. Oh how I love his mouth! Then to work his way to my breasts. I taught him the art of turning me on. I used many yeses and some very careful nos. Be careful to never hurt his feelings while love making.
It is so important to allow him to get “turned on”. That is sooooo important. What he does to you (foreplay) and what you do to him (foreplay) should turn him on and make him want you even more.
There is a big difference between “sex” and “sexuality”. They are 2 different things. Sex is simply the act of “penis goes into vagina”.
Teach him to experience his sexuality. Pay close attention to what turns him on. What is it that makes him breath harder? What part of sex does he really enjoy the most? Dance for him. Dress sexy for him. Undress for him. Let him undress you. You undress him. Show him your genitals. Ask him to shave and “groom” that area for you. Teach him to gently stimulate your whole body with his mouth and his tongue. Express to him how good it feels.
Hopefully this helps you. I know its helped put my husband and I on the same page sexually. We now have very fulfilling sex quite a few times a week.
I hope this helps.
I too have experienced this let down and confusion and frustration. For me, it has almost always been because of a lack of communication regarding the expectations. In my mind, it might be perfectly clear that sex was the logical outcome, and even though nothing was explicitly discussed, I would be certain that my wife understood what was expected. And then when the expected doesn’t occur, the natural result is disappointment and frustration.
I don’t know if this is the case with you, but for me, the solution is to clearly express what you expect or hope for in advance. If there is an issue with the expectation, it can be discussed and resolved beforehand and chances of expectations being met are improved.
I can’t say that I’m very good at this yet, but it is something that I am working on…
I saw the following at Mormontimes.com, and thought it was interesting, especially in light of the “Good Girl Syndrome” that is so frequently mentioned:
“The body is depraved. It is the center of sin. It is a prison.
At least that is how the body was viewed by some philosophers and Protestants… Parley Pratt helped articulate the Mormons’ “radically optimistic” view of the body. This view developed as doctrines were revealed by Joseph Smith and then explained by Pratt.
Mainstream 19th century Christians “always separated the soul from its corporeal body,” Park said. The soul was the “immaterial human spirit,” the body “a temporary shelter.” Joseph Smith taught both spirit and body must be joined together to be a soul.
Pratt contemplated the nature of death while in Liberty Jail. He wrote about how matter was eternal in scope — an idea later declared by Joseph Smith, who took it even further than Pratt: “(T)he spirit is a substance; that it is material, but that it is more pure … and refined matter than the body.”
This meant the body wasn’t “made up of temporary, vulgar element,” Park said.
Joseph Smith taught that the spirit was “in the beginning with the Father” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:29). The body was a way for spirits to grow. It wasn’t a prison; it was, according to Park, a “receptacle of power.”
Pratt saw Christ’s embodiment as the example and model. “Here was an end of mysticism,” Pratt wrote about Christ’s physical resurrection. “Here was material salvation.”
To Pratt, true salvation wasn’t the suppression of the body, but the refining and perfecting of the body.”
While not directly related to sexuality, there are important lessons to be gleaned from it.
Just me, …
I don’t think the communication was the issue in this case. (Well, alright, communication can always be better …)
As we were packing to get ready to go, I asked her if packing some lingerie would be ok, and she said that it would. She asked me another time what I’d like to do while we were gone, and listed several things (dinner, movie, shopping), including a fantasy that I always have had to wake up with her naked beside me. One day we were out seeing the town, and she asked what I wanted to do that night and I said I’d like to have dinner and then go back to the hotel and play Bliss. Another time I told her it would make me very happy to go to some of meeting, and then come back during a break and find her waiting for me in the lingerie we had brought. I think I expressed pretty clearly what I was hoping for …
What happened? After I suggested dinner and bliss, she said she rather watch a movie in the room, and she ordered a silly teenie bopper Disney Channel movie (a kind she knows I don’t generally enjoy). After I told her that I’d love to come back to the room after this break or that break and find her waiting for me in lingerie, I came back to find her all dressed, with a jacket on, reading her scriptures. So the last night comes around, and she says something like “Well, I guess we should do something sexual, so would you like lingerie or Bliss?”. I said “If it is an either/or, I guess I choose Bliss”. About 30 minutes later after getting some of our stuff packed, she said “Well, ok I’ll go put on lingerie since I told you I would”.
Yeah, I could probably express my sexual desires to her better, but honestly, when I try, quite often that means she won’t do it at all.
I have read Laura’s book. It is very good. My wife hasn’t read the book. I think it should be manditory reading for all engaged couples and reread once they are married then doing all of the homework. Having read much on this site I have come to the conclusion that 99% of men enjoy sex and 99% of all women do not. That means that only 1% is happy. I would like to know some truths. Laura, do you have the information of what percentage of women enjoy sex. What percent have learned to enjoy sex. What percentage of women do it because it is there married duty. And what percent of women just hate it. Also, what percent of women what to change. Round numbers would be fine.
Thank you for your comments. I can see where you may be coming from and can certainly appreciate your observations. It’s probably important to keep in mind that those who frequent my website are likely to be those with an extra vested interest in issues of marital intimacy. There’s likely to be a higher percentage of those who have struggles.
You may be surprised to know that 99% of men do not necessarily have the stereotypical higher interest in sex as is widely believed. A fellow marriage advocate and well-known author Michele-Weiner Davis has noted in her book “The Sex-Starved Wife” that there is a large segment of our population where the man is the lower-desire spouse and has a very sexually frustrated wife.
My discussion of the Good Girl Syndrome very much applies to men as well. It’s not just women who do not embrace and develop and enjoy their sexuality as divinely intended. Many men do as well. Sex can be a very scary thing for a man even in some ways more so than it might be for a woman due to the potentially over powering driving emotions associated with male sexuality.
You are correct that it is likely to seem that from the comments and articles and such on my website and blog that it is all men that are the sexually frustrated ones with sexually-uninterested wives, but I just want people to be aware that this is simply not always the case.
But back to the women (though most of this could apply to men as well)…it’s pretty difficult in our society for women to really develop a healthy sense of themselves as a sexual being and to see that as being a good thing. On one side you have the “No, no, no. It’s bad” (PERIOD!) mentality and on the other side you have a sexual free-for-all mentality. Both extremes are detrimental to a healthy sexual identity and functioning within the divinely appointed relationship of marriage.
It is possible that some women have been raised with such a healthy, open, and appropriate understanding of sex and sexuality (most likely by parents who have a healthy sexual relationship themselves) that they were able to overcome all the other crap they would otherwise accumulate throughout their lives. But even if you think about body image issues alone, many women even with a good sexual upbringing still have a row to hoe to conquer body image struggles, which obviously lead to inhibitions in the sexual relationship.
I think it would be difficult to identify accurate numbers about those who truly understand and fully enjoy the sexual relationship of marriage. To start with most people are not even sufficiently self-aware enough to answer that question honestly. Most people in a survey would likely answer yes just because it’s the socially acceptable answer. Prior to my sexual awakening I would have “honestly” told anyone that I “enjoyed” sex because that’s what a “good wife” says.
If we turn to some of the research I was able to find on the matter of sexual function and satisfaction, which I reference in the introduction of my book, you’ll see that a study in The American Family Physician journal estimates sexual dysfunction in the general population as high as 52 percent in men and 63 percent in women. Sexual concerns were reported in 75 percent of couples seeking marital therapy and are nearly universal (100%) in women seeking routine gynecologic care.
A less scientific look at sexual dissatisfaction comes from Ann Landers who asked her readers to respond yes or no to the question “Would you be content to be held close and treated tenderly, and forget about the sex act?” More than 90,000 women responded and 72 percent of them said YES. That’s a lot of women willing to forego sex for a hug!
Much more study needs to be done to accurately identify the numbers to these kinds of sexual questions, but as you’ll see in my article about the “Characteristics of a Healthy Sexual Relationship” http://strengtheningmarriage.com/blog/sex/characteristics-of-a-healthy-sexual-relationship/ I consider it a generous number to say that 20% of couples have “figured it out” and have learned to really enjoy their sexual relationship.
Because there is so little positive affirmation or positive promotion of one’s sexuality and the sexual relationship of marriage I do say that there are not many women who really get it. I may need to start a registration for women when they finally “get it” to start counting how many there are. You can see by the Self-Assessment I posted for the Good Girl Syndrome (http://strengtheningmarriage.com/blog/sex/the-good-girl-syndrome/) that there are quite a few hurdles for women to overcome in order for them to be able to count themselves as having really “got it!”
If I had to take a total stab in the dark on your question about what percentage of women have sex out of duty, and what percentage of women hate sex, and what percentage want to change and want to experience their sexuality as God intended I guess I would break it down as follows (I’m just going with numbers that consider married women only–based on my studies and experience):
Have sex out of duty —– 60%
Have learned to enjoy sex —– 15%
Want to change/Want to enjoy it —– 15%
Hate sex —– 10%
One last thought…keep in mind that all couples will experience sexual incompatibility simply due to the nature of the very different sexual wiring of men and women, coupled with growing up in our sexually dysfunctional society (including both extremes). I am convinced that truly enjoyable sex and having a mutually fulfilling relationship sexually over the long-haul is a learned behavior for every husband and wife.
I hope something here has been helpful to you and has at least somewhat addressed your questions.
I must be in the 1% of the women who LOVE sex, but I didn’t before I found Laura’s book. I was one who came close to how the woman who is Catholic said they are taught about sex and I am not Catholic. And YES my husband is MUCH happier now whereas sex used to cause most of the dicord in our marriage…which usually ocurred about once a month. I guess that is when he had just about had it with putting up with no intimacy during that time. He treats me with much more respect and tenderness since I got past the Good Girl Syndrome. It took a few years for me to break free of it, but it was well worth all the pain and tears I went through to get past it!
I’m curious to get others’ ideas on this: if a marriage is lacking emotional and sexual intimacy, is it generally “better” to focus on improving the emotional aspect of the relationship (with the possibility that the sexual aspect will consequently improve) or to focus on the sexual aspect (with the possibility that the emotional aspect will consequently improve) or to focus equally on both aspects of the relationship?
I think that depends on which side you’re on. If you’re the man, typically, focusing on the emotional intimacy can help bridge that gap and make your wife feel more secure in offering the sexual intimacy. And of course the opposite can be true as well.
I’m 41 and have been married for 20 years almost to the day. I was raised by wonderful parents. It was obvious to those around that they were in love with each other. They held hands, took walks, sat and laid on the couch together and always kissed and said “I Love You” when they left to go somewhere. I remember having hopes of someday having the same beautiful relationship with a daughter of God one day. I did my best as a young man. I helped those in need any time I could. I recieved my Eagle Scout Award when I was 13. I did well in school. I graduated Seminary. I am so grateful I was able to served a mission for 2 years in Washington DC. I married a wonderful and beautiful young lady from a near by town. We got along great and had many common goals and intrests. I have worked sooooooo very very hard to provide and to be the very best husband and father I possibly can. Our huge home, vehicles, boat, etc are all paid for. I try my best to support her emotionally. I am kind to her in every way. Our children love us both. Although I worry about them. Their mother can be quite negative and has a hard time seeing good in a lot of things. I try hard to have our disagreements in private. It seems like about twice a year “it” hits the fan when I can’t take much more of her ways. She has the comforts many women would die for. Any clothes, furnature, etc. she wants. I love her but some would say I’m “too” good to her. Even though she has so much comfort, she still is not comfortable. If that makes sence.
Laura, I love your book, ATWNA. You might think this sounds crazy, but I have given over 100 copies to various people over the past few years. Newly weds, family, etc.
I found it at a book store when I was having a terrible time in my marriage. I was hauling horses, had my dad and brothers in the truck with me. All I can explain is I felt so compelled to pull in to a shopping center to get something. My dad asked what I was doing and I didn’t know. Out of all the stores I feel like I was guided to the book store. I’m not kidding, I walked right to your book, thumbed through it, bought it and walked out in about 60 seconds. It was newly writen and I had never heard of it. When I got home I began to read and realized I had purchesed an absolute “gold mine”!
Even though my wife seems to enjoy sex a TON while we’re making love, she seems to forget about it rather quickly. I am very gentle and strive to meet her needs. I am very accomodating. She can have orgasms many different ways including intercouse. Then it’s another dry spell. I’ve gone months without asking her for sex just to see what she would do. She does nothing. I feel like I have to beg like a little puppy before we can have sex again. We might go 3 or 4 weeks before she finds it nessisary to give her whimpering puppy dog the attention he despretly is seeking. It’s obvious she still suffers from the good girl syndrome.
I hate to say it but I’m too tired to go on like this. After being turned down last night it ablolutely broke my heart. I couldn’t sleep and I cried a lot. I think I’m done. I really don’t want to shuffle through life like this. “For the kids sake”. Just because her mom and dad sleep in seperate rooms, never touch, never kiss, and so on, that doesn’t mean that I have to strap myself to the same wagon.
Divorce is seldome the right choice, but I’ve tried and I’ve tried and I’ve tried.
It hurts to know what our marriage SHOULD BE, ie,God ordained sex, intimacy, touch, etc, then to see what kind of cold and dark, non-intimate life I actually have.
In the work places of my different companies I have been offered sex many times by a dozen different women over the past 20 years. Customers, employees, etc. I have NOT crossed the line, nor have I even came close to the line. All the while knowing I had a bad sex life at home.
I love her dearly but I’m emotionaly exhausted.
I pray to God and ask why my wife refuses to realize the blessings of intimacy.
I feel for you, and I think there are many of us who have felt much of the same pain, although you seem to have it worse than at least I ever did …
I was at a similar low spot as you about a year or so ago. May I make a few suggestions that have helped us at least get started in the right direction ….
1) Have you read “5 Love Languages”? I’d try that book, especially looking for what is your wife’s love language. And then do anything you can find in that love language. My wife’s is words, and I bought a jar of 365 sayings that I try to read to her every morning. It kills me, since they are so “un-me”, but she likes them, so I keep reading …
2) I may be overridden by others on this, but if your wife’s parents slept in separate bedrooms, you might try it too. I set up a bed in the office of our house a year ago and slept there for about a week. It was something that pointed out graphically (and I think painfully) to my wife just how bad things were for me. She seems to have tried much harder since then to meet me partway. If her parents did that, it might be especially powerful message to her.
Good luck. It can get better. It is long slow climb. “The Good Girl Syndrome” is tough to beat, if it can be beat at all. I hope you can at least turn a corner and start in a positive direction….
Wanted to share a thought I had a couple of weeks ago. It seems to tie into the “Good Girl Syndrome” as well as “What Sex Means to a Man” and other blog entries here.
We were visiting my brother-in-law, and I found on his bookshelf a few books from 10ish years ago with EFY talks/articles. One of these articles (about resisting temptation. I should have noted who wrote it so I could give proper credit to him.) opened with a letter written from a teenage girl to her boyfriend. Apparently, the previous evening, he had used the “If you really love me, you’ll have sex with me” argument on her. She left him, and wrote the letter to explain how she had felt.
I remember as a teenager hearing people talk about this sort of ploy — in particular how big of a lie it is. What was interesting was how I interpreted the “If you really love me…” argument 20 years later. After my own experience in the sexual desert; reading about “What sex means to a man;” the “Involuntary Celibacy” article; the “Good Girl Syndrome;” and a host of other writings, I’m inclined to believe there is at least a kernel of truth to the “If you really love me…” argument. Maybe that’s why it works so well: as with many of Satan’s lies, there’s enough truth in them to make them believable.
Granted, I don’t think I would ever use it as some sort of ultimatum (“If you really love me, you will make love to me RIGHT NOW.” or “If you won’t make love to me now, that means you don’t love me, and I’m leaving for good.”) From my own experience and others comments here and elsewhere, it seems that, though sex and love are different concepts, they are very closely related — even intertwined — so that you can’t always talk about one without the other.
But, on another hand, I think of my daughters. In teaching them about sex, I don’t want them to ever think that, before they get married, they have any obligation to “prove” their love for a guy in this way. I want to teach them that those marriage vows make all the difference in how you express your love.
My husband sometimes looks at pornography. He knows it isn’t good and he tries not to but sometimes he dose. This really hurts me, not just because he’s looking at other women but more because he’s spending his sexual energy doing something that doesn’t involve me. That he has been sexually excited and has chosen to go look at pictures of perfect strangers.
I don’t really understand why he would choose to look at pictures rather than come to bed and have sex with me. I’m very sexually open and would be willing to do what ever he wanted. No, I’m no porn star but I’m the woman he says he loves so why would he rather look at pictures sometimes then be with me?
Well, for one thing, the release of endorphins from the porn/masturbation combo is highly addictive, and while it’s a behavioral problem, it’s also a chemical addiction, that isn’t usually recognized as such. And like any addiction, it does its part to rewire the brain, and become a need. The ease of hiding it makes it harder to give up, because there’s no needle scars, no cigarette smell, no hangover, nothing that would give it away, and with a very small amount of computer savy, any evidence can be cleared away.
It is addictive, and as the General Authorities have often stated, it’s a pernicious evil.
The first thing to ask is, does he want help getting past it? Does he recognize the harm it does? He can’t exercise his priesthood authority if he’s tainted by pornography, he withdraws from the spirit when he does it, and he’s certainly not temple worthy if he’s doing it.
Seeing that, is it enough to help him want help with it, or does he even see it as a problem? The Church offers an addiction recovery program in most stakes, at no charge, and with anonymity (nobody there will tell the Bishop or Stake President that he went and admitted he has a problem), when he’s ready, they’ll encourage him to go and discuss any worthiness issues, but he won’t be pushed towards it. Also, IIRC Laura has posted a few links around here for help, if group therapy isn’t for him. and http://candeocan.com/times-page/?ref=mou seems very good.
I can see how porn can be addictive, just like masturbation. My husband is not LDS so the personal worthiness issues aren’t of such a concern to him. He knows it upsets me and that it really isn’t a good thing for our relationship so he tries not to fall into the trap but occasionally it happens.
I guess I just wonder what’s going on in his head when he makes that choice?
I think this is a very difficult problem. You really need to try and explain to your husband how this makes you feel and directly ask him not to do it anymore. I think sometimes as wives we don’t want to seem controlling or prudish but this is an important emotion issue about trust and your sexuality as a couple it needs to be treated with seriousness.
Having said that the choice he makes to view this material most likely has nothing to do with how he feels about you. Often this problem is more of a temptation that becomes a compulsion without deliberate choice being made so try not to feel personally slighted but talk to your husband and see if you can work it out together with understanding and forgiveness.
I simpithize with your situation.
My wife would turn me down 4 out of 5 times for sex, who knows, maybe it was more like 9 out of 10.I found myself fueling my need for sex in the facade or false front of porn. Magazines, video and internet. It all had the same outcome. My wasted time, my slow but sure distancing from my wife and our relationship, and my lack of enjoyment of true sexuality.
Porn only leads to loneliness. Sure it is exciting but sex with our mate should be equally as exciting.
Porn and sex-for-one is so incredibly lonely. It’s exciting but empty and dark. Sex was designed by a loving God and it was never ever ever ment to be empty and dark. Ol Scrath on the other hand, wants sexual intamacy to fail so our marriage will fail. I would dare say that 100% of all divorces have something to do with lack of fulfilling sexuality. Sad but true.
Porn is very good at painting nonrealistic relations of human sexuality. It makes no sence. Is my wife really supposed to BEG for passion from our neighbors? Sex with her boss? Sex with multiple partners? Etc? Heavens no!
What is your husband looking for that he cant get from you at home? In your bed, in your kitchen, in your back yard on the tramp. In the pool. In a dressing room. etc
How would he like it if YOU showed more intrest in sexuality with total strangers and less in him? I think it would be painful for him.
Our brains can be tricked very easily. The perfume that smells like flowers really isn’t flowers. The computer generated sounds of a horse running, really isn’t a horse running. My favorite watermelon bubble gum really has nothing to do with watermelons. Our brains can not distinguise reality in all things.
The images of a person on the page of a magazine is really just ink on paper.
A plastic computer screen only produces an image. In reality its still plastic. Our brains are only fooled in to thinking it is real. What is real is a man and a woman, totally in love, married, passionate for each other, sharing their love with each other every single chance they get, morning, noon or night. Or maybe even morning, noon AND night.
He needs to quit cold turkey. He needs to entertain thoughts of you and no other or others.
Masterbation with porn is so empty and unfulfilling. It only leads to emptiness and sometimes relationships out side of the marriage.
100% of his sex and sexuality should be together with you, his loving, sexual partner.
I am praying for you.
Hang in there.
Two of my favorite words, “Don’t Weaken”.
Heya, lara or someone wanna answer me a question.
I have read laras book a few times and really like it. found it informative. However i am single and never been married. I am looking for a book geared towards the whole honeymoon situation and how to handle it. I am totally un experienced in the sex category so i would like some sort of path to follow so that it ends up an awesome honeymoon rather than a depressing one.
I prefer an LDS book. But if there is one that is not LDS minded im ok with that. As long as it is wholesome and does not bring pornography into the relationship.
I read The Act of Marriage: The Beauty of Sexual Love by Beverly and Tim LaHaye before I got married and it was very helpful. The authors are not LDS but they are Christian and the book is geared towards Christian couples who likely have little to no experience on their wedding nights. There is no porn but there are a couple of diagrams showing male/female anatomay. I wouldn’t read it too far ahead of time as you don’t want to be dwelling on thoughts that you shouldn’t be before you get married but definitely within the last week or two depending on how fast a reader you are. The other nice thing is that since the author is a fairly well-known Christian writer (Tim LaHaye writes the Left Behind series) it was available at my local library and I didn’t actually have to shell out any cash to buy it. See if your library has it. Then you can get that in addition to an LDS one is someone has one to suggest.
Learn to do Kegel exercises. That is what opened the door for me, only for me it had been 28 years before I figured it out. Now it is rare for me not to find sexual fulfillment. Also, it helps to gain the Lord’s perspective on sexual intimacy in marriage through prayer and study. Laura is a master teacher; her book opened doors that were barricaded shut in my mind.
Regarding Your August 12th comment:
I don’t know that there is a specific book for preparing for the honeymoon, but I would say that by reading my book “And They Were Not Ashamed” plus reading the article I wrote “From Honeymoon to Happily Ever After—Preparing for an Intimately Fulfilling Relationship” (http://www.meridianmagazine.com/LdsMariageNetwork/060802honeymoon.html) you should be well prepared for a positive honeymoon experience!
My wife and I have been married for over 15 years now. When we were first married – my wife would not let me sleep in the same bed as her. I stayed in the marriage because I made covenants to do so. But I soon realized that living with a woman who does not want or like sex is like living with pornography in front of you every day of your life. It’s like looking at a picture in a book or on a computer screen and it’s all a big fantasy. I eventually overcame my addictions to masturbation – but our marriage seems much worse after I quit than it was when I had the addiction. It’s been years, but it’s a constant battle. If I was single it would be easy because I wouldn’t have to look at and sleep with my wife every day. She has always been able to have an orgasm – but after sex she always feels dirty. I have done everything in my power to make her feel comfortable. I have read “And They Were Not Ashamed” twice and visited this site multiple times. My wife will not go to counseling, and when I finally convinced her to read the book she freaked out after chapter one and wouldn’t read any more. She has been nice to me during the day – but as soon as it’s time for bed, you could cut the air with a knife. Even when I tell her that there is no expectation of sex she still has a hard time going to bed. We have sex maybe once or twice a month if my wife is happy (if she’s ever upset with me it could be 2 or 3 months). I want sex much more than that, but I believe that if my wife was more willing and anitiated it more often that I would feel safe in letting days or even weeks go by without it. But I feel starved and don’t know what to do about it. Now almost 16 years, and 4 kids later, I feel really stupid for not leaving after the first week. I love my wife, but my eternal salvation is hanging in the ballance. I wish that God would just take me out of this life. I try to focus my energy in other places, but it turns out that I can’t focus my energy long enough to keep my mind off of the need for sex. So here I am stuck in a pornographic marriage. What do I do?
After thinking about my last post. Is it safe to say that a woman who does not have sex with her husband becomes pornography to her husband? I understand there are times when it is not possible to have sex. But the temptation to a man seems to be exactly the same. I suppose if a man is not attracted to his wife it could be different – because he would seek it elsewhere, but I am extremely attracted to my wife – and she does not like me at all. It hurts.
Maybe I should stop thinking men though because, I did read something on your site about women feeling the same way when their husbands are the one who don’t want sex.
After reading a lot more on the site, I’ve come to the conclusion that “enduring to the end” realy does mean enduring. I always thought before I was married that old married people were just living happily ever after until the Savior came back or they died. But it seems for 80 percent of couples life just sucks and must be endured. It seems that life is a cruel joke. For people in my situation there is no simple answer, it’s one of three things: Endure, Divorce, or Sin. I suppose a fourth one would be death, but it’s not something I’m willing to consider. What a sad pitiful existence.
Without question some things in life can be very difficult. It is frustrating when something as important as one’s marriage isn’t turning out as expected. I am sorry that you are struggling. These very struggles are what give us opportunities to learn and to grow.
Hang in there. You may feel like your options are limited, but it is the adversary that wants you to feel that way.
I am sure there are good things about your wife and your marriage. Try to focus on whatever positive that you can. Express appreciation to your wife as often as possible. Compliment her on things she does well. Go out of your way to help her. Do little things for her that you know she will enjoy or appreciate. Do these things without any expectations at all- just because you love her. If you can give love to her like this, I guarantee you will find greater happiness.
That’s the problem. I have done those things for years. It goes better for a short time. But one small mistake on my part sends us realing back into the first week of marriage. And then it takes me months or years to get back to where we were. There is no forgiveness of shortcomings from my wife. Zero.
Welcome to this site. I hope you are finding some help and solace here knowing that you are not alone in your struggles with your wife. Marriage really is a surprise grab bag where you never really know what you are going to be faced with. Isn’t that the way with life as well. I think the difficult things we face in life, like your current situation, are things to compel us beyond our natural abilities. I imagine that things have gotten so difficult for you that you are pretty motivated to really do something about it. But sometimes the only thing we can “do” about it is turn to God to have him carry the burden for us.
Unfortunately the only person we can directly change is ourself. But the good news is that our actions/words/attitudes, etc. can have a dramatic effect on those around us. Your most effective actions (other than turning this over to God) is to do those things that are most likely to bring about a change of heart in your wife. Until she wants to change she likely won’t. If you are angry and respond that way to your wife (even if it is well deserved) it won’t do much to soften her heart or make her want to work on this aspect of your relationship.
I know it doesn’t seem fair. But I am beginning to see that the Lord has bigger plans for the sexual frustrations in marriage than we might first be able to see. I think He does hope that the angst and powerlessness we may feel will turn us to Him more fully. No one can take away your pain and the heaviness of your situation except Him.
I’ve seen women have a change of heart about working on the sexual relationship in their marriage, when their husband is able to conquer the anger and frustration they inevitably feel about not having their needs met sexually. You don’t want to do something to destroy your marriage or your soul, so your best course of action is to focus your energies on loving your wife and family even better until she and/or the Lord are willing and able to change her heart.
I imagine there are many other factors involved in your relationship. I always try to imagine what the other spouse would say about things in order to try to work from the bigger picture. Past negative experiences, fears, inadequacies, etc. can all play into your wife’s resistance to sexual intimacies. Patiently, lovingly, compassionately seek to love and lift her up and the returns will be greater than if you stay focused on you. I wonder if your wife fully understands your pain. Have you ever written her a loving heartfelt letter to share your perspective. Sometimes wives really don’t understand what their husbands are going through, because they are wired differently.
I wish I had an easier answer for your pain. In my work I hope to help change the cultural dynamics of sex in marriage so that women are more prone to embrace this god-given part of their being more fully and see it as a more important part of their beingness.
There is hope. Hold onto it. Find solace in the many heartfelt experiences and suggestions shared here on this site. Review the following posts and see what you can do to improve your situation:
I can see how it is a terrible temptation to have your wife lying next to you in bed knowing she is unavailable to your sexually. Your pornography analogy makes sense because of the visual nature of men sexually. I imagine it feels like a you-can-look-but-don’t-touch situation.
I wonder what would happen to the dynamics of your marriage if you were to be able to really take the expectation of sex off the table for her for a time to remove whatever pressure has accumulated for her regarding sex and going to bed. I wonder if it might be helpful to imagine that your wife has a serious terminal illness that makes her incapable of having sex anymore. How would it be different for you to endure such a different circumstance. Getting to that place mentally may help you to endure your situation and be able to love her more unconditionally even if she doesn’t seem to deserve it.
As hard as it is I hope you can find another option besides “Endure, Divorce, Sin or Death.” I think the human mind is capable of making something good (or at least okay) of a less-than-ideal situation. Change your own heart, pray for her heart, and love her as compassionately as you can. You could even consider counseling for yourself (if she won’t go for now) to help you find positive and more productive ways to deal with the less-than-ideal situation. God bless! Couples who struggle with sexual issues are always in my prayers!
My last post is not intended to be a doctrinal bludgeon, but especially the last few quotes, merely a collection of statements from church leaders who say that sex is OK. If you use it, do so in a gentle and loving manner, trying to force the issue with a “you’re wrong, I’m right” attitude will only drive a wedge deeper.
From the Eternal Marriage Prep book used in the church’s institute classes: http://institute.lds.org/manuals/eternal-marriage-student-manual/h-l-intimacy.asp
http://scriptures.lds.org/1_cor/7/2-5#2 (vs 5)“Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.”
President Spencer W. Kimball – “It is the destiny of men and women to join together to make eternal family units. In the context of lawful marriage, the intimacy of sexual relations is right and divinely approved. There is nothing unholy or degrading about sexuality in itself, for by that means men and women join in a process of creation and in an expression of love” ( President Kimball Speaks Out, 2).
“The union of the sexes, husband and wife (and only husband and wife), was for the principal purpose of bringing children into the world. Sexual experiences were never intended by the Lord to be a mere plaything or merely to satisfy passions and lusts. We know of no directive from the Lord that proper sexual experience between husbands and wives need be limited totally to the procreation of children…”
Elder Parley P. Pratt – “The fact is, God made man, male and female; he planted in their bosoms those affections which are calculated to promote their happiness and union” ( Writings of Parley Parker Pratt, 52–53).
Elder Dallin H. Oaks – “The expression of our procreative powers is pleasing to God, but he has commanded that this be confined within the relationship of marriage”
President Howard W. Hunter – “Keep yourselves above any domineering or unworthy behavior in the tender, intimate relationship between husband and wife. Marriage is ordained of God, the intimate relationship between husbands and wives is good and honorable in the eyes of God.”
It may be that your looking at your wife and desiring to be physically intimate with her is similar to pornography in that both invoke unrealized desires; however, that is where the similarity ends. Although pornography is dangerous and destructive, wanting to be with your wife sexually is a righteous desire. And the fact that you are often unable to fulfill that desire for sexual intimacy with your wife does not make it any less righteous. It is a blessing to be attracted to your wife, even when it hurts to feel as though that attraction is not reciprocated.
As a comparison, imagine that you lived near a temple, that you drove past it every day on your way to work, and that you desired to go to the temple to receive your temple ordinances. That would clearly be a righteous desire. But imagine that you were prevented from going to the temple for some reason. The desire would still be righteous, and it would be something that you should continue hoping and praying for. It would be something that you should think about and prepare for, and meanwhile continue doing the best you can in other areas of your life while waiting for the time to be right. You stated that you try to focus your energy in other places, and that is good.
I can imagine how extremely pleased the Lord must be with your efforts toward and success in overcoming addictions. And doing so in the midst of feelings of being sexually unfulfilled in marriage makes your success in developing self control all the more meaningful. Likewise, keeping your marriage covenants is one of the best, most honorable things you can possibly do. Keeping covenants when it is easy is good, but keeping covenants when difficulties arise (as they always do, in one form or another) provides opportunity for each of us to learn for ourselves what kind of “mettle” we are made of.
Being single would not make everything easy. Some things would be easier, while others would be harder. The Lord has a hand in directing our lives, if we allow Him to do so, to help us achieve maximum spiritual progression. The times when we most feel like giving up are the times we most need to press forward with correct choices.
With your having been married over 15 years, surely you have noticed many good things about your wife and your marriage, as JustMe suggested. You’ve already mentioned one: your wife is extremely attractive! Even though you are suffering, what are some other positive things about your wife and your marriage?
From StrengtheningMarriage.com Comments Page
Date: September 24, 2009
I don’t know where to begin, but I will try. First of all I was divorced after almost 30 yrs. of marriage. To a man that was not a member of the Church. I was not active in the Church for most of that time. I have it all I had, and I was the one who started the divorce. that took place in 2002. I felt like I just had to find a man in the Gospel. Well, it took me awhile but I found one, that was divorced after 40 years. We got married in July of 2007. He had just gotten divorced. Let me just say, I shouldn’t have married this man, I didn’t love him. I have talked to my Bishop and he says I’m confusing love, and infatuation. People keep telling me that I can learn to love him. I hope they are right. I married him in the Temple. I know that I made covenants with my Heavenly Father and I want to keep them. We have talked about divorce but don’t want to really do that. I lost $900.00 a month alimony,when I got married. I can’t take care of my self totally. I am 59 years old. I feel really bad and could use some advise. I could care less if I ever had sex with my husband. I was not that way in my first marriage. I was used to a very well built man. My husband now has hardly anything. I just keep telling him that I don”t have any sex drive. But I’m pretty sure I would have if I really loved him. I have been to two LDS therapists, and they really did’t help. Can you give me some advise please.
From StrengtheningMarriage.com Comments Page
Date: September 16, 2009
Subject: Oral Sex
On June 27 2007, Marty wrote on the StrengtheningMarriage.com Comments Page – “There was, indeed, a First Presidency letter that addressed oral sex. From what others said in these posts, it was never sent out.” The letter WAS sent out. I have a copy of it. I’d be glad to send you a jpg picture of it. It was presented to all of the married couples in our ward at a special fireside. Marty is correct that some bishops got too personal in their interviews and that line of questioning was dropped. The problem remains though. The letter said that oral sex IS an unholy and impure practice, yet young couples getting married, married converts, etc…are not told about it. I have a brother-in-law who was a bishop not long after the whole controversy was buried. I asked him about the letter and he had never heard of it. if oral sex IS really an unholy or impure practice, why aren’t newlyweds told about it? My guess is that it was Pres. Kimball’s own personal opinion being imposed as official doctrine. Thoughts?
From StrengtheningMarriage.com Comments Page
Date: September 14, 2009
Subject: Is it necessary at all?
If sex is so necessary for “health” reasons, what are singles and widowed/divorced persons supposed to do? Especially the widowed persons who have had a “steady diet” that is now disrupted. I am so turned off by this reasoning that men NEED sex. I have not read your books. Do any explain this NEED? As though it is an essential akin to food, water, shelter. Not desire, I know all about that. I want the NEED explained. Thank you.
It isn’t that the physical act of sexual intercourse is a biological need for physical survival. Intimacy however IS an emotional AND spiritual need for their soul, and it is a very real need. There is a world of difference between not having sex because you are single, or because your spouse is away, and the case where the spouse is constantly uncaring/unwilling to make an effort. The latter case is damaging to the neglected spouse’s spirit, perhaps even a form of emotional abuse.
Intimacy is also the food that nourishes the relationship and without it, the relationship dies a long, slow, and very painful death of starvation. I doubt any woman here would let their child suffer intense hunger just because they themselves did not feel hungry, but that seems to be what many women do when it comes to feeding their relationship with their husband and satisfying his needs. (again, I’m talking about cases of having a casual or active disregard for satisfying your husbands desires for you, not cases where external factors make it impossible for sex to take place.)
Continuing with the food analogy, the relationship is not nourished if the man ‘cooks for himself’ (masturbates) or go out to eat at a restaurant (hires a prostitute) or goes to eat at somebody else’s home (has an affair). It doesn’t even really satisfy his emotional and spiritual needs either. Only the two of you together can nourish the relationship and provide for his needs. You can feed your relationship the sexual equivalent of a gourmet dinner, leftovers, meatloaf, cold mush, snacks, BBQ, or junk food, but the health of the relationship will be linked to the diet it is fed. Variety is wonderful, and you will each need to find what your favourite dishes are.
Somebody who feels their most treasured relationship starving to death will be in emotional misery and like a drowning person may react in a panicked way that doesn’t help the situation. Or a person may get to a point where hunger has so dulled the appetite that they are unaware of the danger until death is near. Don’t let that happen, there is no such thing as an obese relationship so plan your meal, gather the ingredients, and provide a feast for the one you love, because you love them.
Wow Arogen! This is an excellent analogy. I think I may share it and respond to it more fully in an upcoming Marital Intimacy Show episode if you don’t mind! (http://thewinonline.com/shows/marital-intimacy-show). The concept of feeding a hungry child even if the mother isn’t hungry herself is, I think, a helpful concept for many women.
I appreciate your insightful comments and all the other insightful comments shared by many others here!
From StrengtheningMarriage.com Comments Page
Date: August 6, 2009
Subject: Emotional intensity
As a woman one of the things that I wish I could change about my sex life with my husband is the level of emotional intensity involved. We both enjoy sex but after 19 years of marriage the level of emotion involved is sometimes not what I would like it to be. Dose anyone have suggestions of how I could begin this discussion without making my husband feel that he isn’t good enough or that I’m not happy, and what are some ways we could heighten the emotional aspect?
From StrengtheningMarriage.com Comments Page
Date: July 30, 2009
Subject: Help, please
I have a wonderful wife and family–three children. My wife is emotionally disconnected. I try all that I can do to ease her burdens. I try being sweet, etc. And, she is inhibited in the bedroom to the point where I feel that she is expressionless. I am a fairly emotional guy. This and other behaviors are killing me. How can I persuade her to read the book with interest?
This is one man’s reply to “Anonymous” dated Sept. 14th.
As to the choice of “Need” vs. “Want”, well, I think we could all agree that there are a number of men who either choose to live celibate lives (Catholic Priests for example) and those who perhaps don’t choose it but are single and not dating. If sex was in the same “need” category as food/clothing/shelter these men would be dead.
Most men, however already have food, clothing, and shelter. Having had their true needs met they want other things that God has programmed them to desire. Sex is one of those things. I guess to fully comprehend it you’d have to do research on the incredible effects of Testosterone. See what happens to when when they take elevated amounts of testosterone – they become more like men. Or, look at it from the other side of the coin: study what happens to men who undergo surgical procedures to “become women”. They (and their partners) will tell you that their sex drive drops off markedly.
Perhaps the best way I can explain it is like this: Think of the most aroused you’ve ever been. Maybe it was your honeymoon, or an anniversary, or any other time. I’m not asking but think of a time when you were so aroused that you were 100 percent focused on satisfying your aching need to be fulfilled. You weren’t worried about who’s going to clean the sheets, you weren’t worried about going to work the next day, you weren’t worried about getting your hair or make-up mussed up. The only thing on your mind was the release of the orgasm.
With that thought in mind (I’m hoping you have at least one such powerful memory…) now realize that for men that point of arousal is like a man standing right around the corner saying “Hey, buddy, you want something really great?!” Sex for men isn’t a thing we have to work up to, or work our way towards. Hardly, it’s something we have to nearly constantly suppress. I was on the beach in the Meditterranean a few years back and two 60-something grandmothers were walking towards me (remember in Europe it’s topless beaches) and I had to avert my eyes least I became aroused! I’m not talking about 18 year old swimsuit models here but very mature women. I could very easily have been very aroused if I had only given my mind permission to do so and trust me it very much wanted to look and do more.
Maybe another anology is if you are a smoker or a coffee drinker. You really enjoy the feelings of pleasure and release that these things bring and you expect it those feelings on a regular basis. Now take that away.
On second thought I see that a lot of people on this site are Mormons so I’ll use a different example. Think of one of the best conversations you’ve had with your husband/boyfriend, whatever. How wonderful it was, how connected you felt, how you felt as if what you were saying was being held on to and listened to and how you had a feeling of emotional one-ness. Now, imagine that you could experience that regularly (maybe you’re lucky and you do!). Take that away. Would you miss it? Certainly.
Men are designed by God to “need” sex. Another way I heard it put and it made perfect sense was this way: If God didn’t put an incredibly strong sex-drive in men then they’d be very reluctant to have relations with a woman because of the awesome responsibility that flows from the man-woman union. Sex must be a powerful drive in a man to make him want it even though he knows that the “cost” of it will be a lifetime of commitment both financially and emotionally. For those brief minutes of intense pleasure a man will sacrifice the rest of his freedom. That’s a very powerful trade-off: forty years of “paying” for 15 minutes of pleasure? I’m generalizing time-wise but you get the picture.
It always hurts me when women try to tell men how to “control” themselves (not that we should be animals by any means) but it would be like a man telling a woman “Quit talking about your feelings so much!” and expect her to say “Oh! Okay. You’re right. I’ll do that.” Ain’t gonna happen.
You’re right – it’s not a “need” in the same sense of food/clothing/shelter but once those three things are accounted for it’s the very next thing on the list. And, at any given moment it may even bump one of those other things off of the list.
Okay,I tried. I don’t know if you’ll ever even read this but I hope that, at least in some small way, it shed a bit of light on your question.
By the way, regarding oral sex. Christopher West has some really good books out about Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Catholics believe that oral sex is not a sin at all. After all, sex is a tremendous gift from God. BUT, oral sex should not be the culmination of the male-female union but merely a method of arousal and pleasure-giving so that the union may end up in sexual intercourse. Indeed, in his book Pope John Paul II noted that since women tend to take longer to become aroused then men that it may be good for a man to bring his woman to the point of pleasure so that when he is ready she too can also be ready. Surely oral sex fits right into that category.
It doesn’t make sense to me that God finds oral sex objectionable as long as it’s not substituted for intercourse. Or, to put it another way, as long as it isn’t used to waste the seed of the man which is a gift from God.
I think I’m outnumbered here but I have seen some others of like mind.
No offense intended, please.
What sounds reasonable to me, but I would add that it also can be a release for men at time when vaginal intercourse is not possible or safe for their wife (shortly after childbirth, physical handicap, etc.). Ditto for hand jobs.
“If sex is so necessary for “health” reasons, what are singles and widowed/divorced persons supposed to do? Especially the widowed persons who have had a “steady diet” that is now disrupted. I am so turned off by this reasoning that men NEED sex. I have not read your books. Do any explain this NEED? As though it is an essential akin to food, water, shelter. Not desire, I know all about that. I want the NEED explained. Thank you.”
The health benefits of sexual intercourse have been well and long established, from improved prostate health (good if you, as a wife/potential wife, ever want your husband’s “wedding tackle” in working order when you are ready or willing to indulge him), Having sex once or twice a week has been linked with higher levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin A or IgA, which can protect you from getting colds and other infections, lower stress levels, improved cardiovascular health, it boosts self esteem, sex and orgasms increases levels of the hormone oxytocin, the so-called love hormone, , which helps us bond and build trust, as the hormone oxytocin surges, endorphins increase, and pain declines. So if your headache, arthritis pain, or PMS symptoms seem to improve after sex, you can thank those higher oxytocin levels, (for women, sex improves Pelvic floor muscles, as with Kegels), improved ability to sleep. http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/10-surprising-health-benefits-of-sex
To grab just a few of the sites that came up with “health benefits of sex” on a google search.
As for single adults and/or widow(er)s, they certainly DO miss out on the health benefits, and it can negatively impact them, however, they avoid risk of STD’s, unplanned pregnancies, lustful thoughts, heck, the reason solo masturbation is ruled out (puritanical heritage aside) is because of Jesus’ words on adultery http://scriptures.lds.org/en/matt/5/28#28 “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” And, well, it’s difficult enough to fantasize about someone for self-stimulation without it being lustful, especially if single. How do you go about telling youth to do it without lustful thoughts? far easier to circumvent the situation by saying “no.”
I recommend you read SirJohn’s wonderful and evocative description of the meaning of sex to a man, most of us are not in tune enough to vocalize it so perfectly, but I think it mirrors our thoughts very well: http://strengtheningmarriage.com/blog/marriage/help-for-husbands-stranded-in-the-sexual-desert/comment-page-1/
Is it a “need” physically, no, but it DOES have tremendous health benefits, for both genders. Is it a “need” emotionally, YES, it’s how men largely communicate their love for their spouse, and understand that their wives love them in turn, how many of the sexless men here feel loved? Is it a need mentally, strictly speaking, many of the mental benefits such as lower stress, pain tolerance, better ability to sleep, etc, CAN be met pharmaceutically with sleeping pills, tylenol, and antidepressants. BUT should you really rely on pharmacology when a natural, with no undesired side effects, all-in-one alternative is readily available?
Additional Reading: http://strengtheningmarriage.com/blog/sex/what-sex-means-to-a-man/
Laura, I’m a big fan of your book. My wife and I have been reading sections together for a few months. We recently read the chapter about the couples dialog. We were excited to read this because we have had a hard time over the years talking about sex and our relationship. I can see now that the validating and empathizing has been getting skipped and as a result, there are now years of emotional wounds. I do feel loved, but somewhat unimportant because the things that are on my mind everyday, such as our relationship and financial issues, don’t seem to matter to her enough for her to engage me in conversation on them. She has never liked talking about our relationship, especially sex, and instead prefers to “take action” to resolve issues. Even though she was excited to try the couples dialog, I’m terrified to do it. I feel like we have so much to talk about, enough that we could do it every day for a month. She made a comment once that my wanting to talk all the time seemed really high maintenance and insecure, which has actually made me feel very insecure. I know the pattern well enough, and sometime soon she’ll notice that I’m upset, and ask if everything is OK, which brings me to the decision of whether to start a talk or not. After reading about the dialog, I’ve been thinking that if I’m the one that has wants to talk, then I need to be the one to start it. But because I don’t trust that the talk will go well, I don’t want to have it, and it ends up getting started when SHE sees something is wrong, at which point something has been wrong for much much longer. I don’t know how to get out of this vicious cycle. Any advice?
I’m sorry for being so slow to reply to your question, but I will try to do better. Initiating an important conversation can be a bit scary, but if you can get yourself to a place of neutrality about the discussion (no emotional strings attached to the outcome) that will help significantly. One way to do that is to write out all your feelings and frustrations in a letter even if you don’t give it to her. That can take a lot of the steam out of the topics (in a good way!). You could also see about setting up a regular time each week that each of you get a chance to do the Couples Dialogue on a topic of your choice, that way the discussion is more evenly balanced to meet both of your needs. If she is hesitant to respond to the “dialoging dates” then I might consider writing the letter in a way that you can give it to her, just so that important issues don’t continue to be left to build. You might also check out some of my suggestions about “getting ones’ spouse to change” to focus on the things you can do to improve the dynamics of the relationship. I hope something here is helpful! Good luck!
Transferred from StrengtheningMarriage.com Comments Page
TOPIC — Twilight’s Effect on Teens
hello laura, I’m Deela From Malaysia, I’ve read your articles on “Twilight obsession and its effects on marriages”. I am doing a research on Twilight effects and influences on teenagers. I do understand that u are a relationship consultant, however, i would love to know your opinion on how its effects teenagers lifestyle. if its possible, can you email me back for any confirmation??
I think you can see from my two Twilight articles what some of the effects are not only on married women, but really all women. The biggest problem is how it feeds the image of love and romance in a young girl’s mind, making it nearly impossible for any “real” man to ever be able to compete.
Also, depending on each situation, some teenagers can end up spending a lot of time, money, energy, etc. on their fixation with all-things Twilight and create significant opportunity costs for other more positive and productive things they could be doing instead.
Transferred from StrengtheningMarriage.com Comments Page (Sep 16, 2010)
TOPIC — Wife Not Interested in Sex
My wife and I have struggled with intimacy over the course of our marriage. From the time of our first child was born it has never been the same in fact it has been difficult. There has been a lot of outside stress in her life and I have tried to help her in every way I know how to. My wife sees intimacy as one more thing on her plate and it is not a priority. It became a duty for her and not too often either. Nothing excites her physically. We hold hands and she likes to snuggle, but when she thinks it will move to other things she won’t. She does see the need to change, wants to, and wants to work on our relationship. How do I help her to switch gears mentally and have positive thoughts and beliefs about sex, in general, her sexuality, and the sexual relationship in our marriage? How does she learn that it really begins with her as Laura Brotherson has said, “It is a conscious decision.” I would like to have her read, us read, Laura’s book. I think it would be the place to start. But, she is still hesitant to read the book. What can I do to build the mental positive thoughts about sex in the mean time?
You have a common situation for sure! Many wives see sex as just another thing on their to do list! I imagine your wife has not yet “awakened” to sex being an important part of her own wholeness and aliveness–thus, it is just another thing to do. It would be helpful if your wife would read my book “And They Were Not Ashamed,” but until she is ready to address the matter it may be more effective to focus on how you can improve the dynamics of the relationship, so that she will have the motivation to tackle this area of marriage!
I’d encourage you to review the many excellent posts under the “stranded in a sexual desert” post here on this blog and some of my Straight Talk Q&A on my website to help you while you are not having the intimate relationship you desire:
I hope something here will be helpful!
Laura, Thank you so much for your book and the work you do in the LDS community. I have a question for you and your readers that I hope can be answered.
My wife and I are in a circumstance where we cannot have a child do to the potential for financial and health problems. In addition, of the available birth control methods, condoms do not work due to allergies and skin irritation, birth control pills have negative side effects, and other methods we have tried have not worked as well as we hoped. We hope that our condition is temporary so we do not want to go through with vasectomy or tubal litigation.
With these risks, we find ourselves with few options. My wife knows that she can climax if she touches herself, and she has never been able to climax with me touching her. So generally it ends up with the focus on me. I don’t like it this way, it feels selfish and embarrassing that I have to have this sort of focus on my fulfillment only. I want her to experience some pleasure, but she feels like her touching herself is masturbation, and therefore a sin (due to what I feel is negative conditioning).
At any rate, does what I described fit the definition of masturbation as defined by church authorities over the years? My wife doesn’t trust my answer, in spite of her desire to have fulfillment in this area. I feel like it is not masturbation because the difference between masturbation and what I proposed is that we are together and in reality the true sexual stimuli are in our brains through talk, visual, and some touch regardless of whose hands are where. Her reply is that there is no distinction between a husband and wife touching themselves while together and masturbating alone. I can see why she feels that way and we don’t fight about it. I have even told her that I don’t think it is a sin, and I don’t agree on that point, but I totally agree with her desire to avoid this practice if she is embarrassed. She is not. She even told me she wishes it wasn’t masturbating so she could do it.
Please help us. I acknowledge that I may be seeing this completely wrong. I am not asking you to settle an argument for me, I just want her to be happy and enjoy our intimate relationship as well.
I have always been told when it is is when you are alone for a selfish pleasure, or even together for selfish pleasure that is centered on you and not as a husband and wife couple trying to please the other. As a couple trying to fulfill each other it takes time and is not selfish as long as you are trying. A woman may have to take her husband’s hand and do it for him until he learns. Let him feel your movement of your hand as part of him learning. Sometimes it means going all the way. Learn and be happy, but don’t make it the goal to go solo. Learn to transfer what you do to your husband doing it. One step at a time and for as long as it takes for him to get it down. Work together and not as a single person.
Another option you might want to look into is condoms made from sheepskin. I know they don’t protect against STD’s, if that is a concern, but it might get you around the latex problem. They might be hard to find, or you might have to order them online, and I don’t know how they compare to latex condoms in terms of effectiveness so do some research before going ahead with it. Perhaps use a sheepskin over top of a latex one if they aren’t so good for that.
I’m really hoping that you can help me.
I really love my husband and I know that Heavenly Father intended for me to marry him. I just really need your help. After our first baby, I too went through the “baby blues” and became very OCD which I think that I have always had, but was also told that after having a baby it can really manifest itself hard. I have since been on medication to help w/depression and OCD and it definently helps, but has also made me not want to be very intimate with my husband. I know that this is also a crappy side effect. I have tried different meds with the same outcome. I just hate it. I used to never feel this way. I used to love being intimate with him, but its not easy now. I know it sounds like I blame meds, but things were so different before I started taking something for my stupid OCD. (Can I just say that I wish there was no such thing as OCD) I’m grateful for meds to help, but not when they have such a terrible side effect as this.
Thanks for listening.
It’s a really tough situation you are in. Medications often have sexual side effects and are a common cause of sexual issues, so you may not really just be blaming the meds unnecessarily. It sounds like you’ve tried some others to see if the side effects will change. That’s one of my first suggestions is to get back in there with your doctor and let him know what’s going on and that you need to try to find something that won’t have such negative side effects.
Another suggestion is to do what you can on your side of the boat by working to address the negative thoughts and feelings that inhibit your sexual interest. Get yourself a notebook and start writing about what’s going on with you and what effect it is having on you. Identify the negative and unproductive thoughts and feelings and choose a more positive and productive thought to plant in it’s place. Nurture positive and productive thoughts and attitudes about sex and your spouse.
Be sure you are both nurturing the emotional relationship so that that mental/emotional foreplay is there, and find ways to nurture romantic/intimate/sexual thoughts and feelings towards your spouse. Maybe that might be by listening to music that helps make you feel romantic or other things that you identify as intimate fuel to your fire.
The meds certainly make things more challenging, but if that can’t be changed then these other avenues can help. Also read and do the homework in my book (together if possible). Just reading about sexual things can sometimes help women make the decision to go there where the feelings can more easily follow. I hope something here will be helpful to you. I wish you luck! : )
Laura M. Brotherson
I have an open question. I would like to find some unique way of asking my wife to have sex. I don’t mean like a boy asking a girl to the prom with some sign with cookies and all that sort of stuff but trying to be very considerate of her. Sometimes if I just ask the answer is no. If I ask a little a head of time, even the day before, the answer is more on the side of yes. I just don’t want to blurt out do you want to have sex, but find a way so it isn’t just the same words. I’m sure she is tired of hearing the same old words. Do you, Laura, or anyone else especially you wife’s have any suggestions? Wife’s how, verbably, would you like to be asked to have sex regardless if you are excited about sex or not excited about it? This might seem like a strange request but I am serious.
There are lots of fun ways to ask (or hint) to your wife that you’d like to be intimate. We can all share some ideas, but I think you’ll get the most out of asking your wife for some ideas of ways that she’d find appealing. It really depends on where your wife is sexually to know what would work best. Usually a playful (no strings attached) approach is best in general!
Here here are some ways to ask that you might consider:
“Hey honey, wanna get lucky!?” (being cute and playful with her)
“Let’s have ‘dessert’ after the kids go to bed (or after date night tonight)!” : )
“You wanna engage in some ‘bedroom activities!'”
“I think I owe you a back massage…” (then decide if it needs to have no strings attached or could provide the opportunity to get lucky)
I wish you luck! : )
After several years of a clinically sexless marriage and a lot of emotional pain, I’ve started in on the book and have already learned so much that’s helped us to raise our overall relationship to new levels. We’re now talking about our relationship where, before, that was something that we could never seem to do.
One topic that might be an interesting subject for discussion would be withholding. To the sex (and intimacy)-starved spouse, there’s only one type of withholding going on in the relationship and it’s the other’s doing! There were times when the idea to maliciously withhold something she wanted (and deserved) in retaliation popped into my head, but that was pretty easy to dismiss as wrong. There were other times when I entertained the idea of withholding something – not out of revenge – but as a means to “educate” her to gain a little empathy. Maybe if I withheld, say, eye contact for a long period of time I could help her see how hurt and rejected I felt and she’d be motivated to work on this aspect of our marriage. Fortunately, at least part of my brain had a little more emotional intelligence than that and I consciously decided that that wasn’t a good idea, either.
But it’s very clear to me now that my subconscious latched on to the idea and decided to do the dirty work of withholding even while I congratulated myself on my maturity. I rarely gave compliments or felt like saying “I love you”. There was one night where I was just looking into her face as she slept in the moonlight. She looked incredibly beautiful and angelic to the point where my heart just melted, but I didn’t say anything about it at the time. What kind of a fool keeps that to himself? (I’ve since shared that experience). I wasn’t doing nearly enough around the house, knew it and felt bad about it but something was keeping me from wanting to. I’ve since become much more involved and probably need to do more, but the fact that it now comes so much more naturally to me and I enjoy helping out tells me that it was there all along and that, at some level, a part of me decided to stop contributing to the relationship as I should. It’s a little disturbing to me to realize that. I’m also not wild about the message that I’ve sent to my children about fatherhood, so I’m now sending a better one.
Like I said, we’re on a much better path now. As I read the advice to improve the other aspects of our relationship, I had this fear that I would be going through the motions cynically just to “earn” more sex. I even shared that fear with my wife (although I’m still debating the wisdom of having done that!). But the fact is that those feelings of love and admiration and desire to be a good spouse were all there and genuine. I just needed to allow myself to feel them and express them.
As I said, we’re on a much better path now in terms of our relationship. I wanted to share these thoughts, as they probably sound familiar to some and, I suspect, others could probably take a look at themselves and see where they’re holding back. I have a lot of thoughts on the highs and lows of this journey out of unhappiness, so the members of this forum might have to put up with some additional ramblings of mine!
(I will say that the format of this forum makes it hard to find what’s new and follow the conversations, but it’s still a great resource.)
You’ve got a great question that I may also discuss in an upcoming episode of my podcast “The Marital Intimacy Show.”
There’s a lot to say about this topic, but just a couple thoughts for now…the main issue is that because men and women are wired so differently sexually, and because sex generally has a different meaning to husbands vs. wives I really don’t think women “withhold” for malicious purposes. Women who are un-versed in their sexuality may just see themselves as never being in the mood and just think something is wrong with them or the relationship or whatever. Women often think they should just want it like men seem to or they shouldn’t have to do it.
From a man’s perspective sex is generally such an awesome experience that they have a hard time imagining that anyone (including their wife) would NOT want to do it any chance they could. Because sexual desire is not usually the first phase of their sexual response (mental, emotional and sometimes physical arousal is required before “desire” shows up) then they aren’t just always thinking about when they get to have sex next.
Women don’t withhold sex to be malicious or to teach their spouse a lesson or any of that in most cases. They “withhold” because of the complexity of their sexual wiring:
It’s about them having a (1) “Tuned-in Identity” as a sexual being (or not). It’s about their (2) “Thoughts” and what’s going on in their mind about sex and about you and the relationship. It’s about the (3) “Tenderness/Thoughtfulness” or emotional connection in the relationship. It’s about whether there’s (4) “Teasing and Playfulness” in the relationship, which eases them into their sexuality. It’s about the (5) “Talk” or conversating that’s going on in the relationship (or not) to build (or weaken) the emotional relationship. It’s about whether there is enough non-sexual (6) “Touch” in the relationship (especially enough touch that has no strings attached). It’s also about the sexual (7) “Technique and Education” you both have, and whether she is usually sexually fulfilled or not. (If she doesn’t usually have an orgasm there’s not as much motivation to do it again.) It’s about whether she is able to (8) “Transcend” or surrender or relax and let go within lovemaking so that she can climax. It’s also about (9) “Time” — spending time on the relationship and spending enough time in lovemaking for her to be fulfilled.
This is just a Reader’s Digest version of what is more likely going on from the wife’s perspective — rather than having husbands think their wives are just heartless and cruel. : ) I hope this gives you a little bit to think about. I’ll discuss it more on “The Marital Intimacy Show.” (www.TheMaritalIntimacyShow.com)
(BTW, we’ve changed the threaded comments plugin on the blog, so I’m wondering if you think it’s a little more user-friendly now since your original comment about that. I welcome your thoughts.)
Thanks for the response, Laura. I think we might have missed each other on the intent of my post, but I’ve certainly wrestled with some of those feelings, too. It’s interesting to see the terminology used in this situation. On another site, I see the words “refuser” and “refused” a lot to describe the roles of the partners. I agree that those terms, as well as the word “withholding” assume a certain mental process that paints a complex issue with a broad, unflattering brush. One of the very hardest things in this process has been to let go of the years of hurt, so any kind of “villain/victim” way of thinking just adds to the pain.
As a funny side note, I’ve seen most of the material on your site and it’s fun to watch the evolution of your Ts list! Remember when it merely had 3 Ts? I can almost date an article by how many Ts there are. I expect about 12 Ts by the time you’re done!
I do like the new flow of the posts better, where it goes in the order of the original post. Thanks for addressing that!
I’d love to understand what I missed in the intent of your original post especially since if I try to respond to it in my next Marital Intimacy Show episode! : )
Sure! Within my post, there was just one minor reference to the assumption that the higher drive spouse often has that the lower drive spouse is “withholding”, which is a thought I’ve (mostly) vanquished. The bulk was really about what the higher drive spouse does to make it all worse.
But I wouldn’t be shy about sharing what you posted in your response. Personally, I really needed to hear that a month or two ago and probably still do. Without real communication, it’s too easy to believe that the 20 reasons you can think of for the sexual rejection are ALL true, and you wind up thinking of both of you as being pretty broken and without hope.
I’ll also comment that many higher drive spouses in sexless marriages will agree that it’s not the “withholding” of sex itself that hurts the most – it’s withholding the willingness to tackle the issue head-on when it’s obvious that it’s such a source of unhappiness in the marriage.
Here’s the situation in which I find myself:
My wife never did have much interest in sex and after menopause lost interest completely. She is willing to put up with sex once or twice a month, as long as there is no passionate kissing, breast caressing, or anything “inventive”. Basically she just endures it rather than getting any enjoyment at all.
After 40 years of marriage, I no longer have any desire for sex with a woman who has no desire for sex, and I have no desire to have sex with a woman who finds my sexual kisses and caresses repugnant or unpleasant, nor do I enjoy being “endured”.
Question: When neither partner wants sex and neither partner enjoys it, is there any reason for them to continue having sex, even on an occasional basis? I’m sure there are many other “60-somethings” in the same situation.
Yes. There are actually many good reasons to continue having sex even into our later years! In one of our “Straight Talk about Strengthening Marriage” newsletters from some time ago I compiled a list of “35 Reasons to Make Love.” Research continues to show many health benefits of lovemaking and especially orgasm. Even just the physical touch element is greatly needed by couples.
It sounds like your wife is not a big fan of sex anymore, so I’d see if you can discuss other forms of intimacy (emotional/physical) that meet her needs and see if you can work out a compromise. Menopause can be difficult on women in the intimacy department, but it usually just requires an adjustment and an expansion of the couples’ lovemaking. I wish you well.
I hope this kind of question isn’t too graphic, but I’ve never seen anything that talks about this and I have a lot of respect for you Laura. Anyway, during foreplay, while stimulating my wife’s clitoris she gets to a point where she is quite aroused, but then suddenly will feel what she describes as literally a jolt of electricity through her body. Not pleasant for her, and it seems to really be a barrier to her achieving orgasm. Is there anything we can do about this?
LAURA – I hope you can help and I want to thank Arogen for bring this up. This same thing happens to my wife to the point where she has literally jumped out of bed. She does not like it and she also describes it as electrical shock through her body. I had never heard of anything like this before and neither had my wife. We thought it was something unique to her, but apparently not. As with Arogen’s wife it is a barrier to even wanting to have sex and going beyond for fear of experiencing that shock. I knew this was a barrier but it might be the key to the general problem especially if it can be resolved.
1. Can you tell us more about this?
2. What is it?
3. What causes it?
4. What can be done to prevent it.
This is not pleasant for her and holds her back. Is there anything we can do about this?
I found my answer.
Sorry I haven’t had a chance to respond yet. Can you share some of what you’ve learned as there are others with a similar situation! Happy Thanksgiving!
Laura, what I found by doing some reading is, as we all know, a woman’s clitoris is extremely sensitive to touch and the direct contact of the exposed tip of the clitoris may send an electric shock throughout the woman’s body. The tip of the clitoris contains around eight thousand nerve endings.
Fixing the problem is quite simple. There must be sufficient lubrication on the clitoral region before touching. Friction without lubrication creates soreness, or even an electric type shock. “The clitoral region can become sore, numb or a shock if exposed to too much friction.”
It is as simple as that from what I have read. Laura do you have anything to add?
Thank you very much Badg, I at one time thought it might be related to that. It takes her a while before she self-lubricates, and it doesn’t usually make it up that far by itself. I bought some lube once but she took that as meaning I only wanted to ‘do her’ and didn’t want to take the time to arouse her, so she didn’t want to use it. I guess I’ll need to talk with her again about trying that.
BTW, where did you read that, in case I need to show it to her.
Thanks a LOT Badg, we’ve reached a new level. Both very happy.
Hi Arogen and Badg,
Sorry to be slow getting back to you on this. Sounds like you’ve found some answers. Just a couple additional thoughts — One of the key things to remember is that the clitoris is extremely sensitive! : ) (Lubrication is certainly important whether enough comes naturally or you need to help out Mother Nature!) Another consideration is cleanliness as the clitoris can also be easily irritated. Another issue is the thoughts a woman has associated with sexual arousal and such–and if pain becomes associated with sex then it can be an extra challenge to keep those fears away.
Additional relaxation techniques may be needed to not tense up during arousal, and increased communication between husband and wife may also help to be sure little adjustments to speed and intensity can be made in the course of lovemaking.
This little piece of information may also be helpful with the specifics of the clitoris and such: http://www.goaskalice.columbia.edu/2242.html
Hope this was helpful.
Laura, one thing (of several) that is a challenge for my wife and I in our relationship is that my wife sees sex as requiring a level of submission from the wife and dominance from the husband, and she feels very uncomfortable with that. I’m not talking about pushing her to do something she doesn’t want to do or using any kind of coercion or dominating her in any unrighteous way, I’m talking about the idea of sex being the wife ‘giving herself’ to her husband, and her husband ‘taking her’.
She feels it is wrong, even dangerous, for a woman to be submissive like that, no matter how kind and gentle and Christ-like the husband is. So she emotionally holds part of her self back, fearful of ‘losing herself’ and of becoming ’emotional dependant’ on me. I think this has to do somewhat with societal conditioning, and more so as a result of seeing some of her friends fall completely head-over-heels for Mr. Wrong and paying a heavy price for it, but we’ve been married over 20 years. I’ve done my best to be great husband all along, and according to her I’ve been just that.
I have not held any part of my heart back from her, and when she sees the hurts she causes in me by her aloofness, it just makes her more hesitant to drop her emotional defences and let herself be that vulnerable by fully handing me her heart. I try to convince her that she has no reason to fear with me, but to no avail.
We’ve only just started going through your book together so I don’t know if you cover exactly this in there, if not, could you please address it here.
It’s a tough thing for many women to be able to fully surrender not only to the sexual experience but also to their husbands. The fear often comes from having been hurt in the past, or not having sufficient trust for a woman to fully give herself–body and soul to her husband. It’s a great thing that you are reading my book together, but I think some of my Marital Intimacy Show episodes might also be particularly helpful:
#055 “Sexual Surrender” — http://thewinonline.com/episode/sexual-surrender
#030 “I Am a Sexual Being, and It’s Good–Developing a Sexual Identity” — http://thewinonline.com/episode/i-am-sexual-being-and-its-good-developing-sexual-identity
You can also see what you think might be other helpful episodes here: http://strengtheningmarriage.com/blog/marital-intimacy-show/
If you aren’t successful in achieving your desired results, I’d encourage you to get some professional help as well. I wish you the best in your journey together!
Letters from the First Presidency do not establish new doctrine, that takes at the very least a declaration signed by every member of the First Presidency AND the Quorum of the Twelve. As such, that part of the letter appears to represent the opinion of those men, and that also would explain why it was quickly withdrawn/ pushed aside, so that it would not be mistaken as doctrine.
There is no shortage of quotes from General Conference, lesson manuals etc. denouncing homosexuality, masturbation, pornography etc. etc. If oral sex was in the same league as those, there would be the same amount of material denouncing it.
I am an avid reader of your site and find its honesty and educational value refreshing. I want to convey to you how pervasive the “Good Girl Syndrome” is and how long it can put a stranglehold on a marriage.
Here’s the situation I find myself in. My wife and I have been married for 25 years. We have had a rocky sex life for almost all of it and I have never really understood why. Before we were married, we were sexually active and had no problem pleasing each other. After about a year, we cleaned up our act, went through the LDS repentence process, and went on to have a temple marriage. I thought the premarital sex issue had been put to bed, when a year later, my wife told me that she still felt that she had not forgiven herself and that God had not forgiven her, so we went to our new Bishop in a new city and went through the repentence process again and he assurred us that all was well and to move forward and quit looking back. I did that, thinking that she also would move on and she played the part for many years, never bringing it up again. We have had an extremely rocky sex life. I can count on one hand the number of times she has initiated sex in 25 years. She will no long have intercourse because she says it is painful. I have asked her many times to ask her doctor about it, but she never does saying she is too embarrassed.
Fast forward 24 years, our sex life is still horrible, she receiving nothing out of it, not allowing me to touch her for more than a minute, and never, ever any full nudity.
Last night we were running some errands and I was asking her some questions about our vacation we just returned from and asked her why she couldn’t relax enough to have enjoy having sex with me. I wasn’t mean, just curious. Her reply was that she can’t enjoy sex because we had premarital sex 27 years ago and is still harboring guilt about it. She then confessed that she didn’t have pain having intercourse, just that it felt dirty and slutty. My jaw dropped and I felt so sorry for her and sorry for myself. For 25 years, she has harbored guilt about premarital sex. She says she doesn’t want to talk about it, and that it is her problem, not mine. When I told her that it is my problem because it affects our marriage, she said she give me enough sex that I should be grateful. Wow. I am at a complete loss. I think we need counseling, but I know she won’t go. She refuses to talk about it further. I often wonder now that my child is grown and off to college what is in this marriage for me? Why does this guilt she harbors manifest itself as resentment towards me? What options to I have? What a mess.
That’s a sad story, sadandconfused. I’ll just throw in my $0.02 while you’re waiting for Laura’s $0.75!
Given the long-standing depths of your issues, don’t take on the responsibility of saying ‘no’ for your wife when it comes to counseling. She needs the chance to say it herself. I know very well that being rejected for a long time makes it even more difficult to approach someone with a difficult proposition, but you seem to be contemplating divorce. If that’s where it’s heading, it’s going to be difficult for you to find peace about your decision if you don’t give her every chance.
Don’t let the thoughts of divorce take root before being sure she’s aware of exactly how this is impacting you.
There’s a lot of church literature on forgiving yourself, which seems to be a main issue here. You and I know that it seems a little ungrateful to discount the miracle of forgiveness, but you’re certainly not going to guilt her out of feeling guilty! It just sounds like that guilt has become comfortable to her psychological makeup tends to confuse regrets with guilt as something good to hold on to. I have to wonder if having a college-age child means that you two of you have been teaching abstinence for several years now and your wife is struggling with feeling hypocritical, and therefore more guilty. That’s just another trap, of course, but it’s easy to see how that could happen.
I was surprised by your final question “Why does this guilt she harbors manifest itself as resentment towards me?” because you didn’t mention resentment before. It’s possible you’re right and she’s harboring the idea that sex is something a man “does to” a woman. But there are a lot of other things that could be going on that don’t involve resentment, and still more that don’t involve resentment towards you specifically. I’m not a great one to speak about not taking sexual rejection as a rejection of you as a person, but often it’s more about how she sees herself than how she sees you.
Better that one of you go to counselling than neither of you. Your example may help her accept going at some later time too. Whatever you do, don’t use divorce as a threat to try and make her do anything. You might want to express to her your FEAR of what might be down the road if there isn’t a change in course, but you have to be careful doing that too. She may think (or be in denial) that doing nothing means things will stay as they are now and not realize what the longer term consequences could be.
I am trying to figure things out. When my wife tries to just talk, all I hear is complaining. I think that it may be just the way I am understanding her. It drives me crazy. She will go from having the best week to the worst week over night. I am stuck between wanting to be a good listener and feeling like a failure. When she says I want to go home for Christmas she means her parents house. They just visited us in November. Any suggestions?
Women can certainly be confusing. Men and women naturally think and communicate in quite different ways. Even though you may not have major problems (…yet!) it really would be helpful if you’d get in to see a good therapist to help you understand each other better and work through a few things. I have some resources for finding a good counselor on my Resources Page — under “Finding a Counselor” (http://www.strengtheningmarriage.com/resources.php).
I hope this is helpful. It’s hard to be very helpful without knowing the specifics of how you both interact. That’s where the magic of marital counseling comes in to help couples identify and change some of the ways they respond to each other.
Last June my wife informed me that she wanted to seek a counselor to find out why she didn’t love me anymore. Shortly after I intercepted an email that she left open telling her friend that she wan not physically nor emotionally attracted to me anymore and has felt that way for years. How do I overcome that empty feeling that of knowing how she feels and move forward. Things with our relationship have improved since then but those comments weigh heavy on my mind and she knows that I read them. I’m in my mid 40’s and fit and good looking….
The email is a snapshot in time, not a permanent condition. Take heart that she a) recognizes there is a problem, and b) wants to do something to fix it. Go with her to counselling while she still holds out hope that things can be fixed, if she loses that, it could be over.
I apologize for being so slow to respond here. I am sorry to hear about your heartache. In marriage love can easily slip away when it is not nurtured. Loving someone is very much an action. It’s more than just a feeling. If you both are not effectively nourishing your relationship it will understandably get to where one or both no longer “feels” that they love the other. Thankfully that can be reversed!
While it sounds like things are getting better, to overcome the hurt that occurred you may want to either talk with your spouse about it, write her a letter about your feelings, or solicit the help of a professional to help you work through some of that hurt and the history in your marriage.
Focusing your effort and energies on being the best husband you can be and learning to love your wife even better will generally be a better investment than looking for love elsewhere! I wish you both well.
Please get some help if your efforts alone are not getting you where you want to go. I have many resources for finding good counselors on my Resource Page under “Finding a Counselor” — http://www.strengtheningmarriage.com/resources.php
I know this is way overdue me responding to your post, but your question is a good one for others who also may have a hard time getting over any kind of anger, pain or resentment. It can be very painful to hear a spouse say such things. It reminds me of the pain a spouse might feel when their spouse has had an affair. While it may be difficult to get over, doing some free-writing about it may help process the pain and hurt in order to be able to forgive and move forward to build a stronger relationship.
I would recommend you get yourself a notebook and then spend some time having a conversation with God so that you can ask questions about the situation, express your hurt and anger, and have Heavenly Father help you understand what may have been going on for her and how you might make things better now.
Making a place in your heart to forgive is important if you ever want to truly create the kind of relationship I imagine you may desire. You do the journal therapy with God’s help and the “remembering (with pain) no more” can become a reality! I wish you well! Hope this will be of help!
p.s. Sorry, I didn’t realize I had already responded, so hopefully this additional info will help! 🙂
I have to first say that I’ve truly loved your book Laura. We need more reverent, frank discussions about sex for married couples from an LDS perspective. We’re taught our entire childhood/teenage life to avoid sex and stirring those emotions, and then we marry, and suddenly we feel in the dark!
I’ve been married for 7 years and we have a good marriage – not perfect (whose is?:), but we are getting better and better. In comparsion to our first years of marriage, I feel the quality of our sex life has grown TREMENDOUSLY – I used to never want to do it unless I was super in the mood, but now will willingly have sex 1) because I know my husband wants and needs it and I want to fulfill him and 2) because I’m getting better and better at getting aroused even if I initially think I can’t. Even if I think I won’t climax, I still (most of the time) try to ‘have fun’ and make it fun for my husband.
I feel we do it more often and sloooowllly but surely, with the help of your book, I’m overcoming any remaining “Good Girl” stuff that’s hanging on. I love what you wrote about the counsel given to teenagers is usually directed to the boys to help them harness and control themselves, but instead, it’s us girls that interalize that a little *too* much!
The Problem: still with the advances I feel we’ve made, my husband is unhappy with our progress. I can understand that in some way – he wishes these advances had not taken 7 years to get to and wishes we were farther along by now, but I’m doing the best I can. I feel like as long as we are working towards it, aren’t we still having fun in the process even if we aren’t at his “goal” of an ideal sex life for him?
I get to feel so frustrated, picked apart, and uncomfortable when I realize times he doesn’t appreciate my efforts and progress. Which makes me not want to have sex. To which he will try to say, “Grow up and do it anyway.” I don’t like to be someone that “withholds” sex for punishment, but it just hurts to have to brush my feelings aside without some sort of loving apology or effort to realize his hurtful attitude from my husband.
I feel like I’ll never be that “dream lover” he’s always wanted when I know I’m trying really hard.
It sounds like you husband still has needs that are not being met, and you too. While it’s great that you’ve made progress, you have not finished that journey.
Talk with your husband and together lovingly work it out so you know what his needs are (does he need it be more frequent, does he need you to convince him that you have really progressed and that this is not just a temporary improvement, does he need more reassurance and praise from you?) and help him understand what your needs are (appreciation for what you’ve done, time to improve at a pace you can manage etc.)
When one of you unintentionally hurts the feelings of the other, it is because there is something one of you didn’t know about the other and the only way to stop it from happening to is communicate it. And sometimes it takes many reminders and much practice before it sinks in all the way.
Hi Kate, I have no solutions, but just wanted to share some thoughts as someone roughly in your husband’s shoes. In fact, if you changed a few details I’d wonder if my wife had just started posting here!
In the last few months we’ve made some major progress in our love life, too. I’m so grateful for that because where we were was really bad, and I’ve told my wife how grateful I am. The problem is that it feels like we’re now stalled and we’ve settled into a new routine that still leaves me feeling like sex is a chore for her, even though it’s clearly not when we’re actually together. Our newly found emotional closeness has amped up my desire, too, so I actually feel frustrated more often than I did when we lived in a clinically sexless marriage. I just don’t feel desired most of the time, which is a rotten feeling for me.
Sometimes, it feels a bit like my mind and body are conspiring to make me an ungrateful jerk, and I hate that. We’re at a point in our physical relationship that I probably would have given up my left arm to reach a year ago. I try to manage what I say to my wife carefully, and hide from her the number of hours of sleep I miss because my mind wants to wallow in my unmet needs, but it still comes across in little ways. She picked up on something I said the other night and asked me about how I felt about the state of our sex life. I had to stifle the urge to complain (because that’s the most prominent feeling in my heart on the topic) and reiterated how grateful I was for our progress. I certainly don’t want to discourage her, but I also have this lingering thought that I allowed our sex life to die years ago because I was too accommodating and didn’t want to confront that issue. Part of me wonders if I should be speaking up here, too, but I don’ t want her feeling that the proverbial goal posts are going to keep moving out of her reach.
I think your husband really needs to understand that the amount of pressure he’s exerting is extinguishing your desire. That’s a normal process and I’ve run into lots of articles about it. He should be able to appreciate the logic that his tactics won’t get him the results he wants. Another thing I’ve concluded in my case is that I shouldn’t depend on my wife’s day-to-day feeling of desire for me so totally for my happiness. I need to pick up healthy hobbies and friendships that will improve me and make me happier, which will in turn make me more attractive to her!
For your part, keep the desire to build desire and help your husband see your efforts more clearly. I sometimes get down because my wife doesn’t seem to want change enough to do anything about it, but then I find she’s been reading more of Laura’s book, for example. Desire is a strange, fragile thing and he probably understands at some level that you can’t just wish yourself into having his level (or type) of desire. But just hearing that continued progress is your goal will help him.
So, I guess I’m saying that I’m sorry that we husbands are knuckleheads sometimes. This stuff is so complex and we’re not always equipped with the maturity to deal well with the strong feelings we have that pull us in a lot of directions at once. That’s a learning process, too. I wish me and him luck!
Rob, you have GOT to talk these things out. I’ve found that every problem my wife and I have had to overcome usually traces back to one of us suppressing their feelings and biting their tongue for the sake of avoiding conflict or avoiding hurting the others feelings. It just makes it worse in the long run.
You’ve got to talk about it, but in a loving way and I know that can be hard if you are freshly hurt or angered. It might be good to wait till your feelings are not too intense, or perhaps do it via email where you can make sure you get it all out without interruption. And always re-assure her of your love, and that you are trying to make your marriage with her even better.
See my replay to Kate above too.
My wonderful wife is a “Time” love language person, with words as a secondary. (I’m physical touch and a little gifts).
I sometimes have to go on trips for work … usually 3 or 4 days at a time.
Those couple of days are usually pretty tough on my Wife. Dealing with all the homework from the kids, the early mornings (my DW is NOT a morning person! I usually do the get the kids up and moving routine!), the running errands and everything else for those days usually just completely wears her out.
And the fact that I can’t be there to give her “the time” she needs really drains her love bucket.
SO, I want to try to find something to do to help her feel loved while I am gone. I’m looking for some suggestions ….
I have tried….
1) Leaving her notes / letters to read each night, where I tell her how much I love her, how wonderful she is, how hard I know this is on her, etc …
2) sending e-cards during the day with cheerful thoughts
3) making arrangements with friends / neighbors to cover some of the “run child A to this practice and pick child B up from this activity”
4) chating with her on the computer when the meetings I am in allow it
I think the notes/letters have been the best … but I’m looking for some more suggestions if anyone has some…
Any “time” love language people out there who can say “What I would really like is …”? Most of my ideas tend to be in more of the “gift” category, because that is my second language (and is her least language!)
Get webcams for you and her so you can spend time together that way after work.
These are wonderful ideas and great efforts on your part to take good care of your wife and make sure she feels loved. This is wonderful to see! I imagine your wife notices your efforts and greatly appreciates you!
I hear what you’re saying, and I believe that completely in the situation we were in just a few months ago. But, in this case, I’m at least going to try following what the research-based literature says for a while because I truly don’t feel my responses to the situation are healthy. I need to not rely on my wife so much for my happiness. It’s possible to reveal how unhappy I am and I think she’ll react, but I’ll be left wondering whether it’s just the price of having a happy husband to her and not desire, which is what I really want. For genuine desire to develop – and it has grown measurably already – I need to be more self-sufficient and less needy. Those self-sufficient types are the ones we’re attracted to, after all.
We’ll continue to work on our intimate relationship, too, of course. I had a really crappy night’s sleep last night over this. Our love life has been a string of missed opportunities over the last couple of weeks. While she can forget that she was in the mood one night when I was exhausted, I’m left with heightened anticipation the next day and, a little too often, *really* heightened disappointment when things don’t line up again for a while. Today, rather than brooding over it (or more accurately, rather than being seen brooding over it), I put on a pleasant face this morning.
When I got to work, I sent her an email proposing that we head to bed early tonight (wink, wink) because I was thinking about her. I said it with all the confidence and happiness in the world even though I wasn’t feeling a great deal of either. I just know that’s what she’ll usually respond well to – much better than an “I’ll be unhappy if you don’t…” or “I’d be happier if you…” conversation. If I can be consistent with this and not wallow in bad feelings by waiting for too long to take action (as I did in this case), I think it will be better for our relationship in the end.
There is what you say, and how you say it. I don’t think there is any problem with making sure you say it in a way that will be effective, it’s when you don’t say anything and just brood that it’s bad, so good for you!
It does sound to me however (and I could be way off base here, you be the judge) that may have a level of insecurity about your wife’s love for you, or something like that, and you look to sex as a means of dealing with it. If that is the case, perhaps the solution is to let her know you are struggling with these insecurities and discuss the ways to overcome or deal with it (sex is not the only tool for this job). Avoid as much as possible any accusations or finger pointing to lay blame for those feelings.
I know that with our struggle with intimacy there were times I really doubted if she loved me and it made me act in a similar way, trying to get proof. At the very least she can have a better understanding of what is behind your actions so she doesn’t misinterpret them as something worse than they are.
It can take a lot of introspection, even revelation, before you know what your own emotional needs are. Until you know, you and your wife can’t craft a relationship that will satisfy them, and the emotional hunger you feel will drive you to act in ways that probably won’t be helpful.
No – I feel pretty secure in the love department. It’s the desire end of things. So, interestingly enough, this all came up pretty organically the other night and I was able to talk some of the main concerns without (I hope) coming off as the needy, ungrateful person I feared I was being. I don’t know that anything will change for now, but we agreed to keep heading in the right direction and we understand each other a little more now. That helps. More progress!
I have been translating chapter 12 in french lately and I must say that Sensate Focus is a great subject to help couples overcome their sexual problems. It does wonders with a couple I know (I used to be their bishop). However in week 7, you speak of a vibrator if a wife cannot get an orgasm otherwise. (which is fine with me)
Then, I came to the following sentence for translation: ” Once a woman experiences orgasm and know what those intense sensations feel like, a couple can more easily work together to recreate an orgasm with only manual or penile stimulation.” (see p. 250) There, I was surprised at the way that sentence was stated because there is another way to get an orgasm to a wife beside manual stimulation and penile stimulation. This way is mouth stimulation on the clitoris. This is the only way I could get my wife to have an orgasm which I think is better than having a vibrator since it is a device that comes from outside the couple itself.
I have noticed also there are some statements about women’s breasts in the sense that a woman like to have her breasts stimulated manually but I know from my wife’s experience that she likes to be touched with my mouth a lot more than with my hands.
Is there anything wrong in saying kissing your wife’s breasts or kissing your wife’s clitoris if this the best way for her to reach orgasm?
Thanks for your answer.
IMHO, anything the works and doesn’t put your temple recommend at risk is fair game to a willing couple. You aren’t going to hear of anybody denied a recommend for doing those things. I bet she just didn’t think to include those.
Laura, we haven’t got to Chapter 12 yet, but I’ve scanned it and I really don’t think I could take that much teasing with no release for so long. Two days per stage I could do so it finishes in 2 weeks, but not 7 weeks. Is there any point in doing it like that or does it have to be a full 7 weeks?
Also, is it easier to get to orgasm after the first time just because you’ve found what works, or is there some actual change that makes it easier to get there? My wife gets to a point of arousal where she says she can’t take any more and insists we move to intercourse. She is working at relaxing more giving foreplay more time, and we’ve gotten closer than ever before, but still haven’t quite crossed the finish line. I really hope it is something that gets easier to accomplish with experience, I really want to repay her in kind for what she has given me so many times over the years.
Question about lubrication:
Earlier in this thread I asked about a problem my wife had that seemed to stem from insufficient lubrication. We’ve tried water based and silicone based lubricants since then, and both irritate her to some degree (she is a ginger and with that some extra sensitive skin).
Mineral oil works great, but on the bottle for the silicone lubricant it says that if it does irritate that she should see a doctor. Is there really a need for that or is that just them trying to prevent getting sued for something? What are the possible medical problems it might be indicating?
Chapter 7, this is where the rubber meets the road for us. I would do anything to pleasure her that wouldn’t cost me my temple recommend, even if it doesn’t do anything for me personally, just the fact that it pleasures her is enough to make me want to do it.
She on the other hand is overflowing with inhibitions. Not ‘it isn’t right to do that’ inhibitions, but ‘I think that is gross’ inhibitions. And I’m not talking about anything wild and crazy, french kissing is an example. I feel so boxed in and restricted, needing to express my passion but unable to fully do so without upsetting her.
To top it off, she doesn’t yet see them as inhibitions she should get rid of, but as a part of who she is, and when I try to encourage her to work on shedding her inhibitions she feels like I’m trying to change who she is, or that I don’t like who she is, rather than seeing it as me trying to free her from ideas that bind her down, limit her ability to give and receive pleasure, and harm our relationship.
It seems the book focuses largely on the ‘it isn’t right’ kind of inhibitions. Any additional insights for a couple like us?
Not that it helps, but you are not alone. To quote my own wife, “I am who I am, I feel the way I feel, and there’s nothing I can do about it.” This logic is quite impenetrable and I was never able to find a way around it.
Don’t give up. I keep reassuring my wife that I do lover her for who she is, and only want to free her from ideas that bind her down and cause us both unhappiness and creates discord in our marriage. She has at least made it to the point where she can see that we would both be happier if she felt differently, but she isn’t ready to commit herself to the task of changing just yet.
After 40 years of this I just don’t have the energy left to keep trying. I just tell myself that at this point in our lives we’re too old for sex anyway.
My husband and I have been married for 5 years and we are completely celibate. For some unknown reason, my husband is unable to open himself up in any meaningful physical way. This is of course a complicated issue for us, and I want to keep this short so I won’t go into all the details. Suffice it to say that it has been a rocky 5 years and we still don’t really know what the future holds for us. I have tried to reach out to people I trust as well as groups online for those suffering with spouses with mental health issues, and it seems like all around me advocate for divorce. I do not feel at this time that divorce is the answer, so I am trying to accept that this is my Heavenly Father’s plan for me.
My greatest frustration has always been that there is no one I feel I can talk to who will really understand what I am going through. Advice is great, but more than anything I would love to have someone say to me “I know exactly what you are going through because I have been there.” And I would really love it if that person came from the LDS perspective. Today I stumbled on the article “Involuntary Celibacy,” and it made me hope that maybe there are people out there who do understand.
Is there anyone else out there who is struggling with this? In particular, are there any women? The stereotypical roles have been switched, and that makes it even harder for me. I would love to be able to just talk to someone. I have great hopes that after 5 years of searching, I have been led to a place where I can get some comfort and strength.
Hi Antenney. That’s a tough one – I’m sorry you’re going through it! You’re certainly not alone, though. I’m working my way through a book by Dr. David Snarch, a sex therapist, where he says it actually runs pretty even in his practice between men and women being the low desire spouse.
themormontherapist.blogspot.com deals with desire problems and mental illness, but I don’t know how much overlap there is between the two. Natasha, the site owner, recently posted a link to a book named “Sex, Love and Mental Illness” on Amazon.com. That might be worth looking at.
Probably the biggest online forum for desire issues is themarriagebed.com. The forum there has lots of women discussing their concerns with their low desire husbands.
It seems like I’ve seen more articles and comments by women that are the higher desire partner. You can probably find many of them by doing a search on “low desire husband” on Google. It’s tough to be the high desire partner and feel unwanted, but I can understand how it would be even tougher when you’re a woman and the allegedly “always on” guy doesn’t pursue. Hopefully with the number of cases like that coming to light, the women in that position can see that there are common causes and it’s likely not them at all! It sounds like you have some inner strength to fall back on and that’s great – best of luck in finding some peace and comfort!
Thank you so much for the resources. I will certainly pursue those.
I guess in my effort to be succinct (I tend to be long-winded in my writing and over-explain everything!), I left out an important detail. He has been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. One doctor also told him he had a personality disorder, but then another one said that diagnosis was incorrect.
This is why I started looking for support through the National Alliance on Mental Illness. He is convinced his issues stem from mental health, but we haven’t had the funds to investigate other causes. I personally would at least like to rule out physical causes, but we just haven’t been able to do so just yet, although we should be able to soon if my husband is willing. He has done a lot for me because he feels guilty and inadequate, which just makes my heart hurt. He might do this as well.
Ironically, my mom gave me a copy of “And They Were Not Ashamed” because I was concerned about my own desire and inhibition issues. If I have learned anything, it’s that we can never tell what the future holds!
I have an adult son with mental health issues (bi-polar). My experience in that area has convinced me that diagnosing mental health issues is more art then science but that is another story.
It might be the medication(s) your husband takes that is affecting his libido, or just the fact that having this illness makes him feel bad about himself creating a mental block. Depression can kill the desire for intimacy but in manic states a person usually goes too far the other way being promiscuous and taking risks (unprotected sex with strangers etc.)
I hope you find the help you need, your husband too. If it’s the medication or the mental illness itself, you might want to look into this: http://www.truehope.com/
I know all too well about that “more art than science” thing! Thank you for an another resource–I plan on looking into anything and everything suggested! I do wish you and your son all the best. Mental illness is so hard.
My husband has had absolutely 0 desire for pretty much our entire relationship, including dating. I just didn’t recognize it for what it was at the time as he was my first and only boyfriend, and we did practice abstinence. In fact, I don’t think even he realized how deeply his inhibitions (or whatever it is) run until we got married. He has had this issue during the times he was on medication but also when he was not. I’m really working on trying to accept that answers may not come in this lifetime without giving up all hope at the same time.