Sexual Dysfunction in Marriage: When things just aren't working for him

We’re in the middle of a 3-part series on sexual dysfunction in marriage, and today we’re going to tackle two thorny problems: premature ejaculation and delayed ejaculation.

In movies everything always works so well! He’s attracted to her, she’s attracted to him, and they fall into bed together and everything goes like clockwork. But what if the CLOCK is part of the problem? Either he seems like he’s playing “beat the clock”, and he ejaculates too quickly to make sex satisfying for her (or even really for him), or he the clock goes on–and on–and on. And it never seems to end!

Both these problems can make sex so stressful, and we’re never warned about that. We’re told sex is going to be this great thing that is natural, and easy, and it doesn’t take much to get it right. But what if, for you as a married couple, it does?

Yesterday we looked at some of the issues with erectile dysfunction, and while they’re related, premature ejaculation and delayed ejaculation are a little bit different. So let’s turn to those today.

Good Girls Guide My SiteSexual Dysfunction #1: Premature Ejaculation

In The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, when I was writing about the problems in the bedroom that guys can have, I said that premature ejaculation is a really unfortunate term. Because how do we define it? The most basic definition is a husband who ejaculates before his wife has a chance to experience pleasure. But by that definition a guy who lasts fifteen minutes could be labelled having a problem if his wife lasts 30 minutes!

Other definitions have focused on the time it takes to reach orgasm. If it’s under two minutes, for instance, many people call that premature ejaculation. But most men can reach orgasm in that short an amount of time–if they’re not trying to wait for longer. So let’s for the sake of our discussion today define premature ejaculation as a man who reaches climax very early during intercourse–say in the first three minutes–and is unable to last any longer.

Sexual Dysfunction in Marriage

Who Has Premature Ejaculation?

Some men, from their first sexual encounter, have premature ejaculation. Indeed, it’s not that uncommon for a guy’s first encounter to be awfully short. Most men, after that initial episode, though, can start stretching out the encounters. Some men, however, never really are able to do that.

Men who have used porn, or who have masturbated extensively in the formative years, also often suffer from premature ejaculation. Not all cases of PE are caused by porn; but many porn users do report experiencing PE. Because they have trained the brain to respond to stimulus very quickly, rather than enjoying the experience of arousal, they have a difficult time lasting.

How Can We Cure PE?

If porn use is the root cause:

Like I said yesterday, quit the porn. If your husband is using porn, nothing else you do will help with the problem. You have to deal with the root first, and that means quitting porn and masturbation. Many men once they quit find that their brains reset and that the problem starts to fix itself.

If this is a longstanding problem not due to porn:

His body needs to learn to enjoy the sensation of arousal, and learn to delay ejaculation. Several techniques can help with this:

1. Play the Stop and Start Game

Start making love, but have him keep track of his arousal levels, on a scale of 1-10. Men who suffer from premature ejaculation often will go from a 6 to a 10 almost immediately. Once he reaches a 6, for instance, stop for a few minutes and have him stimulate you, and you alone. Then start again. Spend a lot of time on foreplay and not as much on intercourse as you start to use this technique, because starting and stopping intercourse can be a little frustrating for both of you. Once you’re able to drag out arousal using other kinds of stimulation, then begin introducing intercourse to the mix.  A good idea is to do the stop-and-start by using different positions, so that you’re moving from one to the other and the stimulation isn’t regular.

It can take quite a bit of time to master this technique, and it doesn’t work for all. But it is a good thing to try, and many people just find it fun anyway (and it often is more satisfying for her if he’s spending more time making her feel good!)

2. Start and Stop Just with Stimulating Him

Similar to above, but this time just stimulate him. When he starts to get really aroused, stop and make him control his breathing. Do this once or twice a week and drag out the experience for longer each time.

3. Bring him to Orgasm Earlier in the Day

Sometimes men have an easier time lasting if they’ve already reached orgasm. So a “quickie” earlier in the day can help him last later.

4. Get Some Help

A reader recommends the book Coping with Premature Ejaculation: How to Overcome PE, Please your Partner and Have Great Sex. It isn’t a Christian book, but it has been one of the few things that has helped in her marriage. So you can look at that as well!

Sexual Dysfunction #2: Delayed Ejaculation

If you’ve been making love for quite a while, and your husband just can’t seem to reach climax, or you often stop before he’s finished, then he could have delayed ejaculation. The causes of delayed ejaculation are quite similar to those of erectile dysfunction: there’s a problem in that not enough blood goes to the penis to make it hard enough, and then not enough arousal is present to achieve climax.

When Delayed Ejaculation Has Physical Causes

In some cases, like in erectile dysfunction, it could be a sign of physical issues: circulation problems; heart problems; obesity; diabetes; medication side effects; or excessive alcohol or tobacco use.

It’s always a good idea to have your husband see a doctor if this is a persistent problem to rule out any kind of health problem.

To help with delayed ejaculation, your husband needs to learn to concentrate on his own arousal, because he isn’t able to experience it as arousing enough to send him over the edge. So spend some time just touching him and pleasuring him without actual intercourse. Once he’s able to reach orgasm that way, get him very excited and only then start intercourse. Help him to close his eyes and just think about the sensation–not about anything else.

When Delayed Ejaculation Has Relationship Causes

If you have had your own share of sexual problems early in your marriage, your husband may feel guilty about enjoying sex, or may feel guilty about finishing. Sex is such a complex thing; a guy can start a marriage being completely excited about sex, but if he feels as if you don’t want it, or you feel uncomfortable or painful during sex, then that can affect his own ability to feel pleasure, even if you’ve overcome your own issues.

Allowing him to experience real pleasure and to concentrate on himself can jumpstart this and help you reboot.

Taking the initiative to start sex, too, can show him “I want this. This isn’t something I’m doing just for you.” That can change the dynamic and can help him feel free to enjoy it, and not guilty, thinking “she doesn’t really want to be doing this.” So take a deep breath, try to put the past behind you, and just enjoy being together. Show him that this is something you want, and that you do love being with him.

When Delayed Ejaculation is Caused by an Arousal Addiction–like Porn or Video Games

In other cases, though, it could be a problem not with the circulation system, or with the relationship, but with the arousal process in the brain.

Philip Zimbardo is a Ph.D. psychologist studying men, and in his TED Talk, The Demise of Guys (and I’m paraphrasing because he was talking really fast), he said this:
Arousal Addictions
We’ve become so desensitized because of porn use that what is “normal” is no longer arousing, and people need more and weirder and different to achieve the same level of stimulation.

This is why erectile dysfunction and delayed ejaculation are often two sides of the same coin; with erectile dysfunction the man isn’t able to stay stimulated; with delayed ejaculation the man isn’t able to get stimulated enough. In both cases they need something MORE, and that more was fed to them by porn when the arousal mechanisms in the brain went haywire.

There’s a community of porn addicts on the internet at Your Brain on Porn, who have congregated together to abstain from porn and masturbation and “reset” their brains. It’s not a Christian site, and so I certainly don’t agree with everything that’s said, but there is a wealth of information there and it’s one of the best resources I’ve found on the internet to “see inside” what these guys go through. And what many of them say is that, when they’re using porn, they stop being able to get aroused naturally. Even when they’re having sex, they can’t climax unless they’re watching porn at the same time. Without the porn, they just aren’t aroused enough.

And here’s what’s interesting about what Zimbardo said: this effect is true not only with porn, but also with other arousal addictions. An addiction to video games, for instance, mimics the effects of porn on the brain, where the dopamine receptors are looking for more and more intense stimulation to reach the same high. And so video games become more graphic and more fast-paced. So even if the arousal addiction is not with pornography it can still affect the arousal processes in the brain.

How Do We Deal with Arousal Addictions?

If a guy is suffering from some sort of arousal addiction he just simply has to stop. The community at Your Brain on Porn finds that 90 days seems to be the amount of time it takes most people to rewire the arousal process.

So 90 days with no sex, no masturbation, no porn–and, if necessary, no video games.

Here’s what I like about that: it allows you to work on your relationship, and it allows the man to start experiencing life again instead of constantly feeling like he has to get back to the computer or video game.

Here’s what I don’t like about it: I don’t believe that true healing can come without a spiritual dimension to the problem. We have to acknowledge that we have sinned against God and against our spouse, and we have to ask God to fill us with His Spirit so that we can have self-control. I don’t think will power alone can fix most people; in fact, Romans 7 is all about Paul showing how will power isn’t enough. We need the Holy Spirit.

I think the 90 day reset if this is a real problem due to some sort of an addiction is a great idea. But I think that 90 days also needs to be filled with some prayer sessions, some counseling with a pastor and mentor, and some accountability. A guy has let some sort of an addiction steal his time and his focus away from his wife–and away from the rest of his life. Think about the emotional and mental energy he has wasted on other pursuits! This needs to be a time of real repentance if real change is going to be made.

Porn is not harmlessI know it sounds like I’m blaming it all on porn…

And I absolutely know that in many cases sexual dysfunction is a physical issue, or it’s something that a guy only realized he suffered from once he was married, and there wasn’t an arousal addiction reason. In those cases, trying some of the techniques here can really help. But sexologists, urologists, and marriage counselors are seeing such a huge spike in sexual dysfunction in the last decade due mostly to porn (and to some extent video games). This can’t be ignored. So spread the word about the Top 10 Effects of Porn, and let’s help people to see that porn is not harmless, and that it really can wreck marriages–and your sex life!

The problem is similar to diabetes, really. We call all diabetes “diabetes”. But it’s really two completely different causes. One usually shows up in childhood, and there’s very little you can do about it. The other usually shows up in adulthood, and is highly correlated with lifestyle issues. We may call them the same thing, and they may have similar symptoms, but they’re really two very distinct causes, and that’s what’s going on here, too. Erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and delayed ejaculation can all have physical causes, but they can also be caused by porn.

Today I dealt more with the porn side. Tomorrow we’re going to look at how to reboot your sex life when porn is NOT the cause of sexual dysfunction, but your husband has another cause for erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, or delayed ejaculation.

This post contains some affiliate links, and was partially sponsored. The opinions in it are entirely my own.

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