Reader Question: My Husband Doesn’t Think I’m Adventurous Enough in Bed

Reader Question of the Week

Every Monday I like to post a question that a reader has sent in and try to take a stab at answering it! Here’s one that many of us may deal with: when your husband thinks you’re boring in bed:

We have been married for 3 years. Our sex life has never been very exciting, let’s just say it is almost satisfying. After having a bumpy sex talk tonight my husband told me that on a scale of 1 to 10 his pleasure is at 1…. I find that very discouraging and I don’ t know what to make of it since he always finishes when we have sex and so do I. I may not be very adventurous in bed and I always feel clumsy but I want to change things and this is why I tried talking to him. He says that if it doesn’t come naturally I shouldn’t try anything because he wouldn’t like it. Please give me some advice.

That’s so hard! Our sexuality is really tied up in our identity. It’s in our sexuality that we’re often the most vulnerable–that the “real me” comes out. If your spouse then tells you you’re boring in bed, that’s a big rejection.

So let’s try to work through some of this together.

When you're scared you're boring in bed: figuring out what's really going on.

1. Be Honest with Yourself: Are You Comfortable in the Bedroom?

When you’re the one where sex has short-circuited

Don’t worry; I’m going to deal with his issues in a minute, because I do see several red flags in this email. But it’s always good to begin with ourselves.

She’s admitting here that her sex life hasn’t been that exciting, though she does reach climax and so does he. That’s pretty good! Not a lot of couples can say that, so she’s already doing pretty well.

One of the big reasons that it may not feel super exciting, though, is because we tend to do the same things each time, or we hold ourselves back. Sex becomes stupendous when you stop holding yourself back and you jump in with both feet–and any other body parts you want!

If we’ve grown up a little ashamed of our sexuality, so that it’s hard for us to say what we want, or to try new things, then it could be that “boring in bed” pretty much describes your relationship.

If you want to try to make sex exciting, but you really don’t know where to start, I’ve written a post on spicing up your marriage that you may find quite helpful!

Remember that God created sex, and He really does want us to enjoy it. It isn’t something shameful. There is nothing particularly holy about the missionary position over any other position, and there is nothing wrong with exploring your bodies and feeling good. You may have to ease into that a bit–talking to him if you’re nervous and keeping the lights off. But do try! And see how good you can feel.

2. Be Real: Are You “Boring in Bed” or Is Your Husband Emphasizing the Wrong Things?

When he’s the one where sex has short-circuited

There’s something about this particular letter that is sending off some bad vibes to me. Many men wish that their sex life could be more exciting, and there honestly is nothing wrong with that.

But in this case he’s not looking for sex to be more exciting; he’s looking for her to be transformed into something else. “if it’s not natural, don’t try,” he says. That sounds to me like he isn’t willing to put in any effort; she’s just supposed to live up to some ideal of what he thinks sex should be. That’s not intimate; that’s not a partnership; that’s a distorted view of sexuality.

Also, she’s reaching climax, and he’s reaching climax, and he’s still rating their sex life a “1”. Believe me, many men would be ecstatic if their wives were enjoying sex that much, and for most men, that’s the majority of their pleasure–giving their wives pleasure. He’s not rating it a 5 or 6, though; he’s not even rating it a 4. He’s saying it’s a 1–the worst it can be.

Again, that says to me that there are some issues going on that have nothing to do with her.

He could be fixating on a particular thing he wants to try, and he’s so fixated on that that until he gets it he won’t be satisfied. Or he could be picturing what to him is a “good lover”, and quite often that image lines up with something someone has seen in pornography. Porn wreaks so much havoc with our expectations and with our libido, so that we’re no longer able to take pleasure in being together.

Often when a guy has a genuine sexual issue stemming from unrealistic demands, we women “own” the problem. We start to feel like the issue is with us, as if we aren’t beautiful enough or sexy enough or “nympho” enough. But the problem may not be with you at all. The problem may be that either our society’s warped view of sexuality or past porn use has put images in your husband’s head that make a marriage relationship seem boring.

I don’t know if that’s the case with our letter writer, and I don’t know if that’s the case with you, but I have seen this many times. A husband starts telling his wife she’s awful in bed or that she’s boring or that she’s frigid when really the issue is that he has used porn and robbed himself of the ability to enjoy a regular, healthy sexual relationship in marriage.

So examine yourself and ask, “am I being myself in the bedroom? Am I being vulnerable? Am I letting myself go and having fun?” And if you can say that you are, but he still isn’t satisfied, then perhaps it’s time for a conversation about where this is coming from. What exactly does he want you to be like? Why does he want you to be like that? If he can’t communicate it to you (as this husband seems unable to do), then it’s likely that he’s embarrassed to tell you what’s really going on. And in that case it’s probably good to start asking about past porn use or present porn use.

3. The Most Explosive Sex Happens When We Feel Truly Intimate

When your relationship has short-circuited sex

The best sex isn’t when we try 10 positions in one night, or when we use sex toys, or when we act out a weird scenario. It’s when you feel completely and utterly one, and when you are open and vulnerable with one another. Intimacy is the best aphrodisiac.

So if sex has become boring, maybe what you need to work on is your prayer life together. Or perhaps you need to start being more vulnerable and sharing more of your dreams and passions for your family. Or maybe you need to talk about some of your fears, and have him share some of his fears.

Kiss Me AgainBarbara Wilson wrote an amazing book called Kiss Me Again, where she talks about why sex often isn’t pleasurable, and what we can do to bring our libidos back in line. And she says that this is what often happens: when we date, we start having sex. That gives us this sense that we’re really intimate and close. But the problem is that often we weren’t that close yet. Here’s why:

There are 5 levels of emotional intimacy. With some people we talk about just the facts: it’s cold out today, eh? But with one or two people in our lives we should be able to share our deepest hurts and dreams and fears. We should be able to become completely vulnerable.

If you have sex when you’re only on level 3, where you share opinions and thoughts but not feelings, then sex becomes a substitute for emotional intimacy. And then, when you get married, it’s likely that you may never progress beyond level 3, because your emotional intimacy stalled. You felt close when you really weren’t. And now sex isn’t able to keep that close feeling anymore, so you’re both aware that you’re missing something. You feel like roommates rather than soulmates.

If that resonates with you, I really recommend picking up Kiss Me Again, because she goes through how to heal this in your marriage and get to those deeper levels of intimacy again. And when you do that, sex often starts to become really explosive–often for the first time!

Those, then, are my thoughts on this question. Perhaps you’ve short circuited sex because of shame or guilt; perhaps he has short-circuited sex because of porn; or perhaps you both need to delve into more intimacy. Ask God to show you where you need to concentrate, and then work through this together!

Let me know: have you ever had disagreements because you’re “boring in bed”? How did you handle it?

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    We’ve had this discussion more times than I can count. I go along with his position experiments and they are usually awkward at best, or painful at worst. But once in a while we find a keeper, so that’s good! The problem is that the discussions usually leave me feeling inadequate even though that’s not his intention at all. He wouldn’t rate our sex life as 1. He’s said 7 or 8. I think that’s pretty good, but yet it’s still not good enough. I start to resent him because I feel like he’s asking more of me than I am capable of giving.

    • That is tough! A few quick things that may help: have “his” nights and “her” nights where you take turns deciding what to do. If he sees that what you really crave is just a sweet, intimate time, that may help him to see things from your point of view. And then he still gets what he wants on his nights! And then just talk about it a lot. Make sure that you’re able to actually “Make love” when you’re having sex, and that you do feel intimate. Communication is really the key ingredient, and if he sees that you do love him and you do want him to feel satisfied, but you also want to be more tender, that may soften him a little, too.

  2. Why is anyone using a scale to “rate” each other’s sexual performance? Who’s standard is this scale based on? Who is EVER a “10”? Is sex a competition, like the Olympics? Is an “8” not sastisfactory? This perspective is so offensive! Where does one begin to untangle the issues, if at the heart, sex is comparative and not intimate? Get rid of the idea that love-making can be rated on a scale. Do not watch porn or compare each other with other sexual experiences. Start again by being generous with your body and time, honest with your motives, gentle with your words, intimate with your hearts and spirits. May God bless you in the bedroom and everywhere!

    • Amen.

    • I would completely agree. The problem is that I think the letter writer would agree, too. But what do you do if your husband doesn’t? That’s a dialogue that’s really necessary, but often hard to have, especially if he just doesn’t understand the importance of real intimacy. My heart breaks for women in these situations.

      • You know, a guy can be a husband, understand the importance of intimacy and still crave novelty and adventure when the decades start ticking by. This comment discussion is starting from a place where some status quo is assumed and it seems to me it’s the lower libido spouse. In relationships it’s about compromise and genuine effort. What the poster’s husband is saying is, “Don’t fake it because I’ll know and it will hurt my feelings that you don’t genuinely value something as special an intimate as I do.” Sex for men IS intimacy, and I hate the careless disregard that it’s emotional impact has on men when women assume it’s just some physical act on the man’s part. I can regale you at length on this topic but just know I’m writing this as one of the few men that can communicate and articulate what many of us can’t, or won’t. It matters to use too and at as deep a level, just not always in the same way or path getting there.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you! I hate rating scales too – particularly in this area. My husband read a Christian marriage book that suggested the rating scale as a start off point for dialogue. His intention was not to rate my performance but “our overall sex life.” I still didn’t like it. I want him to be able to be able to talk to me about anything, and yet I still always come away feeling like I’m not good enough no matter how he approaches the subject. I know that’s not how he wants me to feel. He’s a fantastic husband – I just wish he’d let up on this issue and be happy with where we’re at. We’ve got kids, jobs, health issues and a life going on. I think an “8” at this stage of life is pretty darn good.

      • Actually, that’s a good point. Do we really want to get to a 10? Is that our goal? I’m not sure it always is, because there’s always other issues, like tiredness, or hormones, or issues with kids, that are going to influence us. We have to see the health of the relationship overall.

        I do think talking about whether or not you’re happy with your sex life can be a very important thing, because many couples just never communicate. But I wouldn’t just judge it physically, because that’s not the only element. I’d also ask: do we feel intimate? Do we feel like we’re having fun? If you’re feeling intimate, and you’re laughing a lot and you enjoy each other, but it’s not as adventurous as it could be, how much does that really matter?

    • Mrs. Mac,
      Do you believe the same thing about comparing how romantic our husbands are to others? Or how good of providers they are? Or fathers? Or how godly they are?

      It’s a tough issue. One that is going to be viewed very differently from a male and female perspective. I’m somewhat in agreement with you but I have some reservations also.

      I think most males have expectations to in regards to sex within marriage, just as we might have on some of the issues I listed. I think going to far is damaging like you suggest, but I also think it’s only natural and even godly to have some expectations.

  3. Is is possible, because this is not a repeated conversation but a one time conversation that was bumpy, that he was just frustrated in the moment and said a 1? It seems like 75% of the content of this post is coming from that one comment as it sets the tone for everything else I imagine he was just a frustrated man saying something in frustrating he really did not mean in the moment.

    I do find that on the other side there is just as many “red flags”. Any young wife that judges if a man is satisfied by “finishing”, well, that is almost automatic for most young men.

    You say he is not willing to put in effort, and yet she is “finishing” every time. That does not seem to add up in the least. Most young wives I know struggle with that and yet it doesn’t seem to be an issue in the least so why are we jumping to he’s not wiling to put in the effort. He seems like he is if she is finishing everytime.

    It seems we are making way too much out of this, my guess is the vast majority of husbands would like more in bed…that is not shocking is it?

    • Julie, I have no idea, because this is all that we know about the letter writer. That’s why I try to make the advice given generic, for anyone in this situation. And I do think that there are many, many women in the same situation–where their husbands say they aren’t adventurous enough in bed. So I think the three question approach is a perfectly valid one for anyone reading this–try to figure out what the root is in your own relationship. We don’t know enough about the letter writer to say where she falls, but since many women have written with similar issues, I think this is valid.

      For instance, I received another letter today from a woman whose husband wants her to take her panties off while shopping or ride the escalator braless in the mall. He also wants her to wear a vibrator out in public. In this case, #2 would definitely apply.

      So there are many women writing in with the same question: “My husband doesn’t think I’m adventurous enough in bed”. Those women can ask these three questions, and then figure out which applies to them. I hope that’s clear.

      • Sheila,
        I have heard your friend and guest blogger J teach about handing him your panties across the dinner table when you are out to eat. Does #2 apply to her?

        I think many of the things we attribute to porn, men think of naturally. Sometimes we put the cart before the horse. Why is the stuff in porn if men didn’t think of it?

        I think porn is aweful, please don’t misunderstand me. But I think we as women are to quick to chalk everything up to porn these days.

        • I’m not sure I ever said that–I don’t think it’s WRONG, though, but I think there’s a big difference between wanting your wife to be an exhibitionist in the mall and wanting to touch her in the car on the way home or something. And whether it’s porn or not it’s coming from the same thing–our culture which sees sex primarily in terms of how much we can push up against boundaries, not in how it’s intimate. That’s the main thing in porn (it’s really the only thing), and it permeates everything. So whether he watches porn or not he’s bought into the culture, and that’s become what he finds sexy, and I think asking a wife to be an exhibitionist crosses a major line.

  4. I think all of this is really great advice. The letter had red flags for me, too, before I read anything else. I’m sad for this couple and hope they are able to make some good progress.

    Thanks for your ministry, Sheila.
    Megan G. recently posted…Honeyed Chicken & PineappleMy Profile

  5. Ya know? For over 10 years, I was willing to do it anytime, any where, and in any way. I welcomed his advances with willingness and excitement, and I often tried to surprise him with occasions to get intimate away from the children, like a secret getaway for one weekend. I often (more often than I can actually recount) had to endure rejection. Now, years later, as things are breaking down, communication is almost entirely absent, and our moments together are sometimes 4 months apart, he tells me he needs more “variety”. I was so insulted and humiliated. In all the years we’ve been married, all the rejection I’ve endured, I always thought the problem was me, somehow. I’ve read books, watched marriage videos, gone to women’s seminars, Bible Studies, and now counseling- and you know what I’ve learned? I’M NOT THE PROBLEM……. If you are being as creative and adventurous as you are able (and sometimes we plain embarrass ourselves trying to be that “woman” he wants), and he still claims that your lack of sexual intimacy is because of you- I promise you the problem is him. My husband tried to blame me for our lack of “excitement”, and I didn’t question him- but I did ponder it for weeks. And after looking back, putting all the pieces together, I realize- this is just another blame game. Put the blame on me, so that I spend another umpteen months working on improving my attitude, my appearance, and my “techniques” (which he benefits from greatly, ladies) so that all the attention can be taken off of his wrongdoing. I can’t endure the blame any longer. It is humiliating, and emotionally devastating. It is true that some of us get put off by our husband’s lack of attention to our needs, so we go through the motions to just get it over with. If that’s the case, then out of love for your mate, put effort and thought into how you please each other. If you are like me, stop blaming yourself. You are not the problem- he is struggling with something, doing something, or needing something that you are not at fault for, nor are you able to fix, and he needs to figure it out without- without putting the blame on you.

  6. A possibility is he has read or heard of how wild and passionate some women can be sexually (in real life, not porn). There is so much more information available on the internet now, not all of it false. Perhaps that is only a minority of women, but that information can seed serious doubts for a man. If a man’s wife does not show the passion and vigor he is able to have for his wife, he may feel she does not really love or desire him. At least not as much as she possibly did for other men. Or as much as she would for a different man. Once his thoughts turn in that direction, it can get pretty dark. He may begin to believe that she only finishes because she thinks of other men (or women). Or that she holds back because she’s really not that into him. If he thinks about these types of things too much, a perfectly reasonable 5 or 6 sex life could seem like a 1.

  7. I read all these comments with much interest. I have so many questions, too, after almost 40 years of marriage. Tell me, when a man has “heard of how wild and passionate some women can be sexually”, is this a true fact or is this brag-talk by “that” man who is actually maybe having great sex with his wife but dreaming of even better? My husband, too, claims he hears other men at work talk about how they come home to a “horny” woman each day or how they get sex every day. Really? Is this really a fact? Is this realistic? I don’t believe it. According to many statistics I’ve read (Sheila’s included) 2 or 3 times a week is the norm for sex. I still do that and more each week (and willingly) but then all of a sudden, like this past week, I hear that I’m not making the effort to enjoy it, not really being willing, even seeing someone! I was stunned! And very hurt. Not only is porn very damaging to a marriage but so is brag-talk, because so much of it is just plain that – bragging. About something that doesn’t exist but you want to look good and elevate yourself above what you really are. Women do it, too, for that matter. And it damages marriage relationships…expectations are heightened and all of a sudden you’re convinced you’re not getting what you could be. I have worked so dang hard on my marriage all these years that when something like this comes up I feel like I just can’t put in any more effort. And yet I must; I believe it’s worth it…always has been! Just an awful lot of hard work trying to figure each other out, and feeling happy (or not) about the result.

    • I would guess the issue is more intensity of passion rather than frequency. Men have around ten times the testosterone as women, at least before a certain age. Many men could live with once or twice a week of intense sex with once or twice a week more of agreeable sex. But every man knows how much desire/passion he personally has felt for his wife. If his wife has never shown a similar level toward him, did in the past but now gone, or only several times a year, that will usually cause a problem.

      [Editor’s note: I have deleted part of this comment because the author of it was commenting directly on someone else’s comment and someone else’s marriage, and I didn’t feel that this was helpful. The author didn’t recognize that the original commenter’s problem was that her HUSBAND was the one who, from the beginning of the marriage, refused sex, not the wife. I feel that sometimes on this blog people respond a little directly to other commenters, and that can be hurtful. I’m quite open to people talking about the situation GENERALLY, but let’s not start critiquing other people’s marriages unless they specifically ask for it. It just can get dicey, that’s all.]

  8. I am also struck by the fact that he rates their sex life a 1. That seems harsh and unrealistic. From what the wife is writing here I would agree that this is at least a 5. If both of them are able to climax, even most of the time, that is a good start. I wonder what it would take for him to think it was a 10? I also wonder what he would to make it be a 10?
    Jed recently posted…Make Out Monday – America, Bead, & The EaglesMy Profile

  9. If the reader posing the question is reading this: I just want you to know that you are not alone. Over the years while talking about sex with my husband some very hurtful things have been said. Not that they were always meant like that, its just that when you hear that you aren’t that great it really does hurt.
    Unfortunately I don’t think there is an instant cure, at least not one that I have found yet. Just keep searching. If the situation seems right talk to him about it. But don’t force it either. I’ve been married 9 years, and one of his complaints is that we have talked and talked and talked about sex but nothing ever changes. And if I’m honest I have to say it is at least to 50% my fault. He has told me things he would like different, reasonable things but there are always too many excuses. And at the end of the day when I am exhausted I just feel guilty that another day with good intentions has passed. Is there something your husband has told you before or hinted at that you could do for him?
    In regards to his comment about it not coming naturally (yup, I’ve heard that one too) just realize that it is one of those lies society tells us. Without even watching born our over-sexualized society sends out the message that women WANT sex just as much as men (magazine covers at the supermarket, day-time TV, song lyrics). While it may take time for him to realize this is all just a lie, don’t you buy into it too and start doubting yourself. I read a book a while back called Sheet Music by Dr. Kevin Leman. He addresses this issue of people thinking sex comes naturally. He says that when he is doing pre-marital counseling he’ll hand the groom to be a violin and instruct him to play beautiful music. Of course he can’t. And so Dr. Leman explains goes it with sex. It takes time, time, time to learn. Even a natural talent has to practice. Taking his analogy a little further I am reminded of friend my parents had when I was little. He was an amazing musician. God-given talent and classically trained too. He played the piano so beautifully you were sure that was his passion. But you know what, his true passion was the guitar. The only reason he learned all the other instruments was so he could get better training on the guitar. My point? Perhaps your husband can understand that though your natural passion is the guitar (slow, romantic sex, or whatever it is you like) you can certainly be trained on the piano (take the initiative, be more spontaneous, sex in different rooms of the house, wearing sexy clothes for him, etc.) and become excellent at that too.
    I hope this made sense and provided a little encouragement. If nothing else, just remember to not let this get you down. Don’t let it dwell in your mind. I know that is easier said than done. I’ll say a prayer for you.

  10. From the man’s side, may I have my two cents worth?

    Like MM we have been married almost 40 years. Every time we make love we do much the same thing and always in the same position. Is it boring? Certainly not, I think my wife is the most wonderful and beautiful woman in the world. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to arouse her to climax. She is God’s gift to me and when we make love we are truly intimate; every time is thrilling. She excites me more now than ever and I love her more than ever. I do not forget to tell her this and I pray for her every day thanking God for bringing her into my life. I do admit I should prefer to do it more often but that is simply because it is so exciting.

    • P,
      I loved reading your comment. My husband and I have not been married nearly as long as you and your beautiful wife (it is a second marriage for us both), but we have a wonderful relationship and our love making is always intense and passionate. And we do practically the same thing each time. Is it boring? No way, it is thrilling for both of us. Unfortunately, I was getting worried that he might be bored or wanting more but not asking, because it seemed like all the marriage blogs I read talk about needing to change things up frequently or it will become dull and hubby will lose interest. So I decided to ask my hubby outright if there is anything more he wants to try or if he feels bored with our routine. He replied that we do lots of things and then, with a sly grin, asked me, “why, did I look bored?!” LOL
      Amy recently posted…What true love really looks like…My Profile

  11. My husband has not outright rated our sex life, but has come close enough that I am sure he would give it a low score. This makes me so sad and discouraged. I like someone else mentioned above tried for years to get my husband’s attention and was faced with rejection. I even had him tell me when I tried to initiate that when he wanted it then he would let me know. This was such a blow to my ego that I began doing just that…being available when “he” wanted “it”. This is how our sex life progressed for years. As time went by I gained weight due to quitting smoking and sex became even less, which was an even greater blow. This past year I became serious about getting healthier due to developing high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. I lost the excess weight and got my body into better physical shape and now he has had a total reverse attitude. Now he cannot understand why I do not initiate sex, why I do not demand sex from him even. He is completely fixated on this issue. I try!!!!! I have lit the candles, surprised him when he came into the bedroom, etc. and it is wonderful, yet if I am not constantly talking about sex or initiating sex he is complaining and throwing temper tantrums and I am not exaggerating the point here. It is as if he expects me to do all of this and he is willing to do nothing himself to better the situation. I have tried to encourage us to read your blog and other Christian based material and learn more about intimacy in marriage together but yet he refuses and says that he does not have time for that. He tells me that I am weird because I must be the only women in the world that does not want to have sex, which is not the case at all. I want to have a healthy sex life with my husband. I am so hurt and frustrated. I do not know what else to do.

  12. Anonymous says:

    What if he’s boring in bed & has little interest in pleasing me and/or bringing me to orgasm?

    • That’s a great question! Let me think about that and I’ll try to answer it as a Reader Question sometime this summer (I’ve got a backlog right now!)

Comment Policy: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. Any comment that espouses an anti-marriage philosophy (eg. porn, adultery, abuse and the like) will be deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are replying to another commenter, please be polite and don't assume you know everything about his or her situation. If you are constantly negative or a general troll, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Sheila Wray Gregoire owns the copyright to all comments and may publish them in whatever form she sees fit. She agrees to keep any publication of comments anonymous, even if you are not anonymous on this board.

Trackbacks

  1. […] sexual incompatibility is simply that one person is more adventurous in bed than someone else. I’ve written at length on that, and you can find some of those posts […]

  2. […] lived with someone before. He hasn’t talked about it much, but you know that he was quite adventurous in bed, or that he likely he tried a whole lot of stuff. Then you got married. And you? You were a virgin […]

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