Wanting What Doesn’t Work for Her

Last week in Finding a Sex Life You Both Enjoy I discussed why I think arguing about what sex acts are required as part of “due benevolence” misses what God intends for sex. I then said, “The Biblical way is to focus on giving your wife what she wants, and trust God will move on her to do the same for you.”

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That didn’t sit well with some, as seen in both the comments and private emails. One argument is not doing certain things is withholding. It sounds good, it sounds right; and it makes her wrong and you right. You’re ready to give her anything while she’s only giving you bits and pieces. Right? I get it; been there, fussed a lot and hurt even more.

I don’t think the above is how it really is. Can I prove that? I’ll give it my best shot. Proving this is difficult because of a fundamental difference in how men and women see and feel about sex, so let’s look at those first.

Some of the differences are cultural/learned, but many are based on differences in sex organs and how our brains are wired. Any sex act providing a bit of friction to the head of the penis can result in male orgasm, usually easily and quickly. It’s true any sex act giving the clitoris good stimulation can result in orgasm, but a great many of the most common sex acts don’t give the clitoris good stimulation. Additionally, female orgasm takes longer than male orgasm. Even in solo masturbation, men can get there faster than women can. (While the fastest men and women can masturbate to orgasm varies only by a couple of minutes, the woman take several times as long.) Likewise, with most sexual contact, it will take her five or ten times as long to reach climax. This is biology, not something she chooses.

So here’s the deal, much of what you want her to do sexually is not going to get her to orgasm, or at least not unless it goes on for a very, very long time. In fact, much of it isn’t even going to do much to get her aroused.

Let me try to explain by suggesting some kinds of sex that would be better for her than for you.

  • Imagine her idea of sex was for you to get on all fours so she could rub her vulva against your rear until she climaxed. This would be excellent stimulation for her, but while it might excite you the first few times, there’s no way you would climax from it. So you complain it’s not working for you, and her response is if you need to help yourself out by touching your penis with your hands, it’s okay with her. You tell her no, that does not fix it, and you stop having sex in this way. She says you are withholding from her.
  • What if she could orgasm from breast stimulation (some women can) and she wanted most sex to be nothing other than touching each other’s breasts? She wonders aloud why you don’t climax this way, and suggests you have a problem and need to see a doctor.
  • Perhaps she wants to have sex fully clothed. She has no problem reaching orgasm through a pair of jeans, but it’s more difficult for you. She keeps going long after she is done “because she loves you” but it’s clear she is put out by having to do it.
  • Maybe her idea of fantastic sex is to spend several hours, having dozens (or more) orgasms and then being so sated she has no desire for a week. She feels cheated you won’t have many orgasms with her, choosing instead to spread them out one at a time every day or so. She accuses you of being sexually repressed.
  • What if she felt sex must include so many scented candles you could barely breathe, or a strobe light that made you want to throw up? She tells you it can’t be as bad as you claim, and asks for those things every other time you have sex.
  • How about this – she thinks seeing you in pink spandex from head to toe is a huge turn on. When you complain about how it makes you feel she acts hurt and mumbles about how your pride is more important to you than she is.
  • How would you feel if your wife “generously” offered to take care of you by hand after having any of the “real sex” above?

Yes, I know my examples are a bit contrived, but I can assure you most women will completely identify with the “what’s wrong with you” sentiments following each one. If most of what you heard from her about sex was a mixture of the above, might it cause you to be less interested in sex? It would certainly make you frustrated about sex! If the activities above were portrayed by media as right and normal, as the proper way to have sex, how might you start to feel about your sexuality?

If you want to make this go away, you can argue all the reasons my examples are silly and not the same thing as what you want. Alternatively, you could really think about it and try to understand how your wife feels. If you do the latter, you’ll be on your way to building a sex life both of you can enjoy (probably starting with a heart-felt apology for what you have unknowingly been doing to her over sex).

Tomorrow: A testimony and a great start on getting the sex life God intended you to have.

BTW, for those of you who complain my bride never tells the women to suck it up and have more sex, please see I Don’t Feel Like Having Sex.

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34 Comments on “Wanting What Doesn’t Work for Her

  1. I’m disappointed that you took the quote from my comment last week and used it out of context to try and prove your point.  In no way did I create the impression that the ‘7 things’ my wife has said she will not do for me relate to an orgasm for me.  It’s irresponsible and unfair to your readers for you misuse my quote to infer that I was asking my wife to do things that would result exclusively in an orgasm for me.  You read into my comment what you wanted to see and did not read my question in an unbiased manner.  In all honesty none of the seven things my wife has told me she would not do would result in an orgasm exclusively for me. They entail an orgasm exclusively for her, for both of us, are a matter of mood-setting, or relate to her discomfort with bodily fluids.  None are sinful, involve other people, or involve pain.  My question was simply how to handle an impasse when one spouse wants something and the other doesn’t.  
     
    It also isn’t fair to me to conclude that my argument ‘sounds good – it sounds right.  It makes her wrong and you right.’  You didn’t quote from my comment that my desire is to be an Eph 5:25 husband that loves my wife like Christ loves the church.  I have no desire to be ‘right.’  I only asked how to work through an impasse when one spouse wants something the other has no desire to fulfill.

    • @allterrain I apologise if I put words in your mouth, it was not my intention. I was using what you said as a jumping off point, and reading it I did not clarify that well or give a break between your comment and my thoughts.I will look at how I can clean that up.

      • @TheGenerousHusband  @allterrain Thanks.  I hope I didn’t come across as overly harsh.  I can agree with your initial statement, with a bit of a modification, the biblical way is to focus on pleasing your wife and putting her needs first and, through prayer, trust that God will move on her to do the same for you.  I hesitate to say ‘give your wife what she wants’ because sometimes my wife might not even know what she wants, but she enjoys it when I find a new way to please her that she hadn’t thought of.  So I think the concept of ‘pleasing’ and ‘putting her needs first’ is more encompassing than ‘giving her what she wants.’  Having said that, I’m finding it a challenge to continually put her needs first when it seems like we are at an impasse on several things I’d like.

        • @allterrain Giving her what she wants certainly does require finding what she enjoys, and sometimes that means helping her find what she enjoys. That should work both ways, but in sex it is more commonly the man introducing new things.

        • allterrain that was an awesome, honest perspective.  Thank you for sharing that truth!  From a wife’s perspective, that was beautiful and assuring.

        • TheGenerousHusband ehahea thank you!  I felt bad that I so hijacked this thread – but as a woman, I REALLY enjoyed this perspective.  Hearing other men who DO get these things is rare.  It’s not men’s fault.  I don’t mean that.  There is a great book called “Stiffed” about the plight of the American male – he can do no right in our society.  We HAVE to figure out how to have compassion for each other.  I don’t buy the whole “Mars and Venus” schtick, BUT I completely do see that because the way we are raised and treated in our culture, it’s SO hard to get across where we both feel lacking, and then to have to cross those deep DEEP emotional barrier with each other in a Godly fashion?  Truly, ONLY God can take care of that.  And reading your post was SO encouraging and made me feel even happier that I NEED to be more encouraging and even sexually supportive in my own marriage. 
          What a great blog (just found it).  Thank you, and so happy to say I found several Christian marriage blogs last night that are scripturally sound – and talk frank about sex.  I get the whole fluffy love thing… but lets start talking honest about the HARDEST things to talk about.  First within our gender, second among each other… and always with God.  It’s our only way of bridging the pain.
          Thank you so much for your posts.  Truly.

        • TheGenerousHusband ehahea thank you!  I felt bad that I so hijacked this thread – but as a woman, I REALLY enjoyed this perspective.  Hearing other men who DO get these things is rare.  It’s not men’s fault.  I don’t mean that.  There is a great book called “Stiffed” about the plight of the American male – he can do no right in our society.  We HAVE to figure out how to have compassion for each other.  I don’t buy the whole “Mars and Venus” schtick, BUT I completely do see that because the way we are raised and treated in our culture, it’s SO hard to get across where we both feel lacking, and then to have to cross those deep DEEP emotional barrier with each other in a Godly fashion?  Truly, ONLY God can take care of that.  And reading your post was SO encouraging and made me feel even happier that I NEED to be more encouraging and even sexually supportive in my own marriage. 
          What a great blog (just found it).  Thank you, and so happy to say I found several Christian marriage blogs last night that are scripturally sound – and talk frank about sex.  I get the whole fluffy love thing… but lets start talking honest about the HARDEST things to talk about.  First within our gender, second among each other… and always with God.  It’s our only way of bridging the pain.
          Thank you so much for your posts.  Truly.

    • @allterrain I have removed your quote – again, sorry for any offence. 
       
      I would ask myself why she would turn down something that would result in orgasm for her – and especially why she would turn down someting that means orgasm JUST for her. Clearly that is not a case of selfishness!
       
      As to an impasse, the only sane option seems to me to not do anything either of you don’t want to do. Yes, I know that can be very limiting, but what rational choice do we have? The bigger issue is why she does not want those things. Some reasons are things that can change over time, some are not. 
       
      Yes, a lot of women are uptight about sex. That is almost always something they bring into marriage, which means it’s not the husband’s fault. Sadly many men are so clueless and eager that they add to the problem significantly the first couple years of their marriage. What was a problem that might have improved on it’s own over time becomes much bigger, and the wife wrongly assumes it is all her husband’s fault.
       
      Solving this requires backing off from what she does not want, and some good discussion. A man can unilaterally do the first, but the second requires her to be willing. If she has been hurt by him being clueless and eager, he needs to own that, she needs to understand it was not intentional, and it needs to be put behind them. That requires both of them to be vulnerable.

  2. Paul, this article….uh, confused me. Just to be fair, I had my wife read it too. It did not make any sense to her either. I understand that husbands should love their wives and that it can affect positive change. I did not get the idea put forth in the article starting with, “So here is the deal, much of what you want her to do sexually is not going to get her to orgasm,”. If I really think hard about it, I wonder if you are talking to husbands who are insisting on sexual acts that result in their climax but do not help their bride to reach climax. Are you speaking to men who are insisting on oral sex or anal sex to climax? Most of the bedroom acts that I have discussed with my wife are in addition to or fit in well with acts that satisfy her. Most of what you write makes sense to me, at least most of the time, but I am confused this time around.

    • @NathanaelNeuenschwander It’s not just men who don’t care about their wife’s climax (a small group) – it’s also the men who just do not understand how complex and difficult female orgasm can be.
       
      Yes, there are women who orgasm with great ease. There are women who can orgasm without any direct stimulation of the clitoris. Such women are real, but they are also a very small fraction of the whole. Why they are that way is irrelevant, they are and most women are not.
       
      Most women do not orgasm from intercourse alone. I think a majority can learn to do so, but it’s going to take some real effort and learning time for the couple to get there. Many women will never be able to do this without the addition of manual stimulation or a vibrator during intercourse. Beyond that, those who do orgasm from intercourse don’t do so in just any position. She may enjoy a lot of those other positions, or she may be happy to do them for him, but many won’t get her there.
       
      The other part of this is arousal. Women are more easily distracted off of the path of arousal, so doing something that is not arousing to her is a bigger problem than doing something that is not arousing for him. It’s also a lot easier to find things that are not arousing to her than things that are not arousing for him. If he is ready for intercourse before his pants are off, and she is going to need twenty minutes of good foreplay to be ready to enjoy penetration, then it makes sense that foreplay be about what she wants and enjoys. If a couple spends ten minutes on what she wants and ten minutes on what he wants he is still ready for intercourse, and she still is not.

    • NathanaelNeuenschwander It sounds like your wife is able to climax from traditional sex, but she’d be in the minority.  Many women cannot, and even for those that can, very very few can from “doggy style”, as described in the post, or from a “quickie” with clothes on and no foreplay.  These are the things he was addressing – that many women need attention, closeness, and generally much more foreplay and stimulus for her to enjoy it as much, and with every woman being different, it’s just a call to action to pay attention to, pray on, and ask your wife what she as an individual woman really likes in order to have a more open and fulfilling sex life for both of you.

    • NathanaelNeuenschwander It sounds like your wife is able to climax from traditional sex, but she’d be in the minority.  Many women cannot, and even for those that can, very very few can from “doggy style”, as described in the post, or from a “quickie” with clothes on and no foreplay.  These are the things he was addressing – that many women need attention, closeness, and generally much more foreplay and stimulus for her to enjoy it as much, and with every woman being different, it’s just a call to action to pay attention to, pray on, and ask your wife what she as an individual woman really likes in order to have a more open and fulfilling sex life for both of you.

  3. I think that Love My Wife has hit the nail on the head here.
     
    Your ministry is drifting in the direction of “blame it on the guy and encourage the girl.” Honestly, I was a pretty avid reader of your “the generous husband” until this post, now I have stopped reading it altogether.
     
    I don’t think I am alone.
     
    The rub of it all is that I don’t believe that your approach will actually result in a sex life that both husband and wife can live with. It will result in the kind of sex life that doesn’t put any responsibility on the wife for her own sexuality and will eventually leave a husband working harder and harder for less and less.
     
    In your last post on this topic you commented that you would address what a man should do if his wife only wanted a very limited menu when it comes to sexual variety. In this post you seem to be saying that as long as men get the necessary friction on their penises so that they can orgasm, the rest should be focused on conforming the marriage bed to the wife’s preferences.
     
    This isn’t very mutual, it isn’t very biblical and I daresay it won’t lead to a sex life both can enjoy. It will lead the kind of sex life a man gives up on.

    • @jzchristiansen I try to listen to all criticism with an open mind, but you are making it difficult. You were an avid reader, then you gave it all up over ONE POST? Really?
       
      I find it interesting that those who say this can not work have ignored the next post, from a fellow who says it does.
       
      Will it always work? Of course not. Does it sometimes work? Absolutely. Is there another option the husband can initiate that is more likely to work? I’d love to hear it.

      • @TheGenerousHusband  @jzchristiansen 
        Paul,  No, I am giving up on the Generous Husband because of one post, I am giving up because of a continuing trend I see in your blog posts both here and guest blogging elsewhere (like others who have weighed in on this post).
         
        Frankly, I am just tired of being beat up by your blog for wanting something more from my marriage bed.
         
        I do think there is a better approach to a matrimonial sex life  and better advise than resign yourself to do what she wants in bed and only what she wants in bed, probably for the rest of your life.
         
        Sure there are going to be differences of preference. I think those differences need to be talked over, prayed over, talked over some more and prayed over some more. And if necessary counseling should be sought until the couple comes to a point in their marriage bed where they are both seeking to outdo one another in showing honor.
         
        When it comes down to it, I guess I am just looking for some encouragement and I’m not finding it here.  Honestly, I have walked away from some of your posts feeling about as discouraged about marriage as I have ever been.
         
        Take that for what it is worth and I admit, it might not be much.

        • @jzchristiansen Thanks for the clarification – I think I hear what you are saying.
           
          I don’t know you, so this is not about you specifically – it may or may not apply. Here is a discouraging fact: a lot of men have a desired sex life that is never going to happen. Some of these men want things that may not be humanly possible, and far more want things that go well beyond what 99% of women would be able to enjoy. Other men have a more reasonable goal, but they have no understanding of how sexually injured their wife is. Still others frankly don’t care how injured she is. Finally you have men who could have 75% of what they want, but mess it all up be refusing to let go of the 25%.
           
          Your suggestions are great, but if the man is not willing to let go of ANYTHING he wants, the chance of success is near zero. If he is willing to hold things loosely, he can have far more. He might even eventually get everything he wants, as long as he is okay with not getting it.
           
          If you cam into marriage with a gourmet appetite, and your wife could not boil water without burning it, you would both become very frustrated very quickly. There is no way she could quickly become the cook you wanted, no matter how much she might want to. If you could set down all your wants and appreciate what she can do, she would be motivated to learn to do more. If nothing she ever does is enough, she will soon give up all together. This is the sexual situation in a lot of marriages, and continuing to push for more is not the solution. 
           
          Does that make scene?

        • Paul,
           
          Let me assure you that what I desire from my own sex life is pretty tame. It doesn’t take any superhuman feats of contortion nor does it go beyond what many women enjoy. Frankly, it probably wouldn’t even make your grandmother blush.
           
          As far as whether or not my wife is “sexually injured.” What does that even mean? She’s never been sexually abused by me or by anyone else. The bottom line for me, and for a lot of us out there, is that our wives call the shots in the bedroom and the reason they do what they do and don’t do what they don’t do is because woman have been told that their preferences are the only valid ones in the bedroom. The average American marriage bed is a place where women are encouraged to express their desires and men are told to suppress their desires.
           
          In reality, it barely matters whether I am holding tightly to the things I want or holding loosely to the things I want because, like a good number of us out there, what we want doesn’t matter no matter how tightly or loosely we hold on to those desires. We do what our wives want, when our wives want it and we had better like it and not complain or we’ll get even less.
           
          Your illustration is fine advise for a newlywed couple. But, for pete’s sake look around. There are marriages of 5+, 10+, 15+ and 20+ plus years where (to use your analogy) dinner hasn’t gotten any more gourmet for decades. In many cases the meals get less frequent and less gourmet the longer you stay married.
           
          When do we, as men, finally stand up for ourselves? I guarantee that a woman’s blog would not counsel women to just suck it up and give in if there we aspects of their marriage where their husband refused to take their wants and needs into consideration. They would be told to “find their voice” and speak up for what they want in the marriage.
           
          But this advice appears only to be relevant to women, and it certainly would never apply to a man’s sex life. For us, we are given another round of, “if you aren’t getting what you want, it’s probably because you are a bad husband, and inattentive lover or your expectations are too unrealistic, or all of they above.”
           
          When it boils down to it, I’m looking for more than this tired old refrain. I can get that anywhere, I don’t need to log on to your blog to get another helping of it.
          @TheGenerousHusband@jzchristiansen

        • @jzchristiansen I use sexually injured to cover lot of ground. Frankly I doubt a woman can grow up in the USofA today without being sexually injured in some way. If nothing else, media exposure is going to mess her up. The other all to common form of sexual injury is the anti-sex attitude of some in the Church.
           
          Yes, the wife controls sex in many marriages, but if you talk to the 25% of wives who want more sex you would hear “I wish!”. This is a selfishness issue, and both men and women are selfish.
           
          As to my analogy, I did say she would give up if she was just beat up about her bad cooking. Many women give up on sex for the same reason. They think they can never give him enough, so they give him a bit and stop there. It’s not right, but it’s understandable – and while the husband did not intend to push her to that, he did.
           
          All that said, you are seeing only part of what I am saying, and I doubt anything I can say will change that. I pray you find something that is of help to you.

    • jzchristiansen I’m sorry to say, I think you are missing the real message to this post. As a woman, and a woman SUPER blessed by an amazing husband, as well, I can say a LOT of these things ring true to me.  Not because my husband has EVER made me feel any of these ways, but as a WOMAN – period – I live in a society that makes me feel that way.  I feel used and jerked off on (please pardon the crass, crude candor here) by society so often.  I feel like that’s what I’m supposed to be.  I feel like every TV show and movie projects that.  And my poor husband has to be the guy that deals with the feelings of violation I get merely being a woman in America.  He is like The Generous Husband – my husband realized I have some things I have to work through in my head – on a nearly daily basis – and he’s OK with helping me over those things by making sure he REALIZES who trivial and used he would make me feel to treat me any of these ways.  But men are NOT treated this way in society.  When they are trivialized, they are rarely if ever made to feel that they were used and violated against their will.  Instead, they are treated like they are some sort of sex beast.  I cannot do to a man against his will and when he very much does not want it as a man can do to me.  Period.  And having been through things in my life before my husband – or again, simply living day to day in America – means I have to get past the feeling of being used as a receptacle or a means to an end in order to feel strong and sexy… and when I feel strong and sexy, I can feel confidant in my Christianity AND be JOYFUL to do a lot of these things – because I WANT to, and not because some guy (even if it is my husband) makes me feel like he’s a big old man-baby that whines because he can’t just have his way with me and me “love him enough” to take it – over and over again.
      It IS very Biblical to love your wife as Christ loves the Church – meaning loving her enough to make SURE her needs are every bit as important to you as your own – and knowing that by you living such, she also joyfully submits and enjoys the give and take you have for each other.

      • jzchristiansen
        (update:  I read past your first comments
        into the back and forth with you and Paul… you ask what “sexually
        injured” means and how your wife was not sexually abused by your or
        else… I think my explanation above might be the answer…  Please,
        read my post… pray to receive it without any defensive notion – I do
        not know you at all, and frankly, if you are anything like my husband, I
        can understand why you are frustrated to have a tame life when you are
        so trustworthy, loving, and considerate.  Just try to open your heart
        and realize your wife may even be harboring her own pain, insecurities,
        and possible abuse she hasn’t even shared with anyone.  Ever.  And
        hasn’t figured out how to address them herself… and THEN, feeling
        guilt because she knows your marital bed deserves more… it just
        compounds the problem, sadly and ironically.  Just pray to take it in,
        all of this, from a REALLY loving place… and maybe consider doing The
        Love Dare.  I’m not kidding.  Blessing.  Blessings and love and joy in
        marriage and in Christ to you, friend.)

      • jzchristiansen
        (update:  I read past your first comments
        into the back and forth with you and Paul… you ask what “sexually
        injured” means and how your wife was not sexually abused by your or
        else… I think my explanation above might be the answer…  Please,
        read my post… pray to receive it without any defensive notion – I do
        not know you at all, and frankly, if you are anything like my husband, I
        can understand why you are frustrated to have a tame life when you are
        so trustworthy, loving, and considerate.  Just try to open your heart
        and realize your wife may even be harboring her own pain, insecurities,
        and possible abuse she hasn’t even shared with anyone.  Ever.  And
        hasn’t figured out how to address them herself… and THEN, feeling
        guilt because she knows your marital bed deserves more… it just
        compounds the problem, sadly and ironically.  Just pray to take it in,
        all of this, from a REALLY loving place… and maybe consider doing The
        Love Dare.  I’m not kidding.  Blessing.  Blessings and love and joy in
        marriage and in Christ to you, friend.)

  4. When your spouse doesn’t give you what you need, you just suck it up.  Bottom line.  You guys may want to read some of the Pearl’s books.  Very legalistic, but they really hit home specific ways to do your job regardless of what your spouse is doing.  If Paul can have his legs broken multiple times with rods and praise the Lord in a sewer after being beaten, I suspect we can live in a trailor, go the rest of our lives without sex,  wear the same exact Goodwill clothes every day, live with a spouse who screams at us and calls us names, the list goes on!  Perpective!

  5. I can’t stop thinking about this. I can relate, but I’ve taken a different approach. I found my husband to be so boring in bed that I stopped having sex with him altogether. For years. The fact that I’m capable of that highlights a big difference between men and women, though, doesn’t it? I did still masturbate. I’m sure it exacerbated the problem and enabled me to withhold. Anyway, I recently saw my selfish ways for what they were and completely turned around. I will do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. However, that means missionary sex every two days. I have written him lists of things I’d like to do in a sexy nonpressuring way and told him fantasies. I guess he’s not interested. Well, I can sit around and focus on all of the things I’d like to do that I’m not (and we all know 90% of men in the world would be ecstatic), or I can focus on what I like about what I have. I focus on things like the way he smells, his thick hair, his strong arms, and I tell him how much I love these things while we make love. I want to build him up and make him feel confident. I don’t want to make him feel insecure, or like he isn’t enough.

  6. Rest of last comment.  It was too long. 
    That really won’t get what I want from him in the bedroom anyway. My plan is to make him feel confident in bed and maybe he’ll one day venture out and we’ll try some of the things I’ve mentioned to him. If we don’t, I’m trying hard to focus and expound on the things I do love about our physical relationship. He said when he hardly got any at all for nearly a decade that he focused on how he got to watch me undress and touch my bottom around the house. He had to reach, but focusing on gratitude seemed to pull him through.

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