Performance anxiety

An saw interesting thought from Dr. Marty Klein in his article Male Sexuality: Selfishness or Insecurity?:

Michael [psychologist Michael Bader] challenges the common idea that men are selfish in bed, that they don’t much care about their partner and don’t really want to be close. He says, in fact, that the opposite is true: that most men face such a crushing sense of responsibility in bed that they are, understandably, insecure. This leads them to focus so much on their performance that a human connection is difficult.

Bravo. As a therapist, I’ve noticed this, too. Performance anxiety accounts for a lot of the erection problems I hear about in the office, as well as a lot of the low desire. In fact, there are guys who say “porn is easier than sex with my wife, because I never feel like I satisfy her.” That’s a far cry from “men are addicted to porn” or “men are afraid of intimacy.

Certainly there are guys out there who only care about what they can get in bed, but in my experience these men are the rare exception. I would also say the pressure on men is even stronger in church circles than in the world. I regularly see messages from wives who blame their husband for the fact they have never given her an orgasm – despite the fact the wife can’t give her husband any idea how to do it because she’s had never had an orgasm at all.  Apparently he’s supposed to be born with the knowledge to do something for her body that she can’t do herself.

My best suggestion for issues like this is calm discussion about things sexual. Start small, and don’t get, or sound, agitated. Realise she is dealing with her own fears and pressures, as well messages like “nice girls don’t talk about things like that” or “it will just happen”.

Another option is to do some detective work on her body. Learn to know her physical arousal level and response by how her body feels under your hands, what her face is doing, and small movements and sounds. If you become able to know “that feels good” from “yawn” you can move what you do in a direction more pleasurable for her.

One other thing – it’s all but unheard of for a woman’s first orgasm to occur during intercourse. If this is what you expect, you need to change to something more realistic. Teach her how to enjoy sex with your hands, and then transfer that understanding to intercourse. If your bride expects her first orgasm, or her first with you, to be during intercourse, you need to discuss it, because short of a miracle, it’s not going to happen.

One Comment on “Performance anxiety

  1. I agree with Dr. Klien, “Bravo!”

    “The Pressure” was indeed intense on me when I first re-married. I went from a wife with very little to give, who liked it that way, to a new wife with lot’s to give and that both aggressivly and easily. In fact, she scared the s%#$ out of me!
    And so we talked and learned and talked some more and touched a lot and talked some more and explored our thoughts as well as our bodies and shared our hearts and now, 4 years after our first honeymoon, we recently celebrated our fourth honeymoon and it was… to be the one that opened new doors. :)

    There was never any blame toward me on her part, except when I assigned ‘blame’ to her words, which, when we talked about them, she was able to clarify. There was never any expectation, but that we would get better, even though there were often times of frustration that we talked about. There were times when she needed more than I ccould give, at the time and we talked about it and arrived at several fun solutions. We talked about what turns us on, even the things held deep in our hearts that no other human will ever know and used that knowledge to please each other on the times when we connected. We never went to bed angry over sex because we agreed that we would talk about why we were angry before we went to sleep. We learned, by talking about it, that all those ‘dirty’ words we all know are actually quite good words to use when you want to talk- both about sex and during sex.

    (In fact they are words that are so useful that we consider them to be set apart for special use only among ourselves. In other words, we made those words ‘holy’; for that is the word for ‘something set aside for special use’. An idea that will take some time to get used to, I know, but at least you now have the idea in your head to consider :))

    In other words, we talked.

    Everything else you mentioned the needing to touch to learn, ‘the porn issue’, my anxiety and her frustration were eventually mitigated to non-issues, for the need being eliminated because we talked and talked and talked. And all that talking developed a lot of trust. Which spilled over into so many other areas of our lives that we found ourselves being not only good to each other but good for each other!

    And since trust is the central theme of marriage, I will say that we are quite successful at being married! For both of us learned, the hard way, that without trust being nourished and cherished through our words and actions, a marriage can quickly become a hell-on-earth in opposite proportion to the heaven-on-earth it can be.

    And so, talking about yourselves, with your spouse, is one of the many ways that you can be good, even as you were created to be.

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