Wow. That’s a tough one! Every Monday I like to take a reader question and answer it, and this is one I’ve had a few people ask. One woman gets right to the point:
Should I tell my husband if I fantasize about other guys alone and while with him sometimes? Or will I just hurt him?
Another woman says:
Sex has never felt that great for me, and my husband used to get really upset about that and wonder what was wrong with me. So I started faking orgasm. And I’m tired of faking, but I don’t want to deal with all the fights if I tell him what’s been happening. What should I do?
I thought I’d try to tackle both of these on the same day since they both have to do with honesty about sex. I’m going to ask my husband to chime in on one of these, too! So let’s get started.
Should You Tell Him If You Fantasize About Other Guys?
I asked Keith this one, and asked if he could write this section of the blog for me. He said there was no point, because it would be only one word.
We were speaking at a marriage conference when we were discussing this, and one of the other guys on staff wasn’t sure that one word was sufficient. He said he would need three.
“Are you stupid?”
Perhaps that’s harsh, but I did survey the guys speaking about marriage and they all said the same thing: not on your life.
Now, that doesn’t mean that you’re off the hook. It’s just that sometimes disclosure would do so much harm to the relationship without bringing about any measurable good. What you need is real intimacy, where you’re able to focus on him. But you can get that in your sex life without having to tell him that you’re sexually fantasizing about someone else. More on that in a bit.
For now, I’d suggest reading the post on why honesty in marriage isn’t always the best policy. Then, if it’s specific guys you’re fantasizing about, use the steps in that article to get some accountability with some friends and to start praying (you absolutely do have to do that!). If it’s “other guys” in general, rather than some specific “other guys”, then read below for the steps on how to stop dissociating and start concentrating on what’s happening with your husband.
Should You Tell Him if You Fake Orgasm?
This one’s a little less straightforward, and for this one, I’m afraid, there is no option except to tell him.
If you want a truly intimate sex life, then you’re going to have to learn to experience pleasure, and you can’t learn that if you’ve been faking. Faking may “work” for a while: maybe the kids are little and you’re exhausted and you just want to get it over with and you want him to feel close to you, and this seems to accomplish that. But one day you won’t be so exhausted. One day you’re going to want sex to be for you, too. And the longer you make sex just for him, the more resentful you’re going to feel. You’ll start feeling like he’s absolutely oblivious and likely a little dumb. He thinks everything’s great, but you know it’s not. How can he be that clueless?
Yet from his perspective, how could he think any differently?
And the longer you go on like that, the bigger your dilemma gets. Do you tell him that you haven’t felt that great for 10 years? For 15?
Please, faking orgasm is SUCH a bad habit to get started. I know why we start it–we feel pressure to have an orgasm, because he often feels so disappointed and like a failure if we don’t. And then sometimes that disappointment on his part sounds like anger–“what’s wrong with you”? And we figure that if he thinks that we reach the big O, then he’ll feel so happy and he’ll be more affectionate and life will be great again.
And it actually seems to work.
But do that long enough and you’ll build up so much resentment, because you’ll feel like an object, you’ll feel like he doesn’t really know you (because he doesn’t), and you’ll feel like you sacrifice all the time and he doesn’t even see it–and it’s not sustainable.
What you need is to experience real pleasure.
But you can’t do that until he first knows that you’re not experiencing it now, or else he won’t be able to help you. And you need his help.
How Can You Have that Conversation if You’ve Been Faking Orgasm?
Carefully. Don’t have it on a whim, or in the middle of another fight where you’re angry at him for being insensitive about something else.
Explain that you truly love him, and that you truly want to be intimate together.
But say that you made a mistake. You thought this would make him happy, but you didn’t realize how dishonest it was and how it would end up driving a wedge between you, and that’s not what you want. What you want is a really intimate and fun sex life, and you really need his help to get there.
You may need to give him some time now to grieve or to get over the deception. Take care not to get angry. I know it’s natural–“why are you so angry? I’m the one who’s been giving with sex for the last few years without getting anything out of it!” Let him have his feelings, because you were deceptive, even if it was for what seems like a selfless reason.
Now, You Need a Sexual Reset
Now it’s time to start over, and to start learning how to experience pleasure without dissociating–without fantasizing, or faking, or going somewhere else in your head. Let’s face it: when you fake it, you can also be writing a grocery list in your head or going over your to-do list or thinking of a thousand other things. You’re not really there. And when you’re fantasizing, you’re a million miles away in your head, too.
We need to bring our heads back in the game, because we’ll never be able to experience real pleasure if we’re not fully present, in the moment.
Here’s the thing about a woman’s sex drive: if you’re lying there thinking of a thousand different things, figuring that once he hits exactly the right spot or does exactly the right thing it will bring you back to the moment and cause you to stop thinking of all of those things, you’re setting yourself up for lousy sex. Sex only feels good when we deliberately concentrate on our bodies, because our sex drives are almost entirely in our heads. When we think of everything but what’s happening, then what’s happening can’t feel good, even if he’s the best lover in the world. You need to train your brain to stay in the game.
A sexual reset means focusing on pleasure. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Ask yourself “what feels good right now?” It forces your brain to think about your body and you may realize that something’s feeling good.
- You be the more aggressive one–climb on top, or manipulate your positions so that it’s feeling the best for you.
- Take some time and just let him touch you, without you moving, say for 15 minutes. Learn what feels good.
- Play teacher and order him around, showing him what you need him to do (most guys really like this game!)
I’d also really recommend my book 31 Days to Great Sex. It’s 31 days of challenges that you do as a couple. You read 2-4 pages a night and then you do what it says. And many of those challenges will teach you how to finally talk honestly about sex; how to discover what feels good; how to bring the tension level down in your marriage by flirting more and being more affectionate; how to try different things; how to forgive each other and feel spiritually like you’re one; and so many more! And there’s a big focus on putting the past behind you and moving forward, and you likely need that right now.
Get the book here. (the ebook version is only $4.99; I’ve kept the price low to help as many couples as possible!)
What if you’ve just been fantasizing, and you haven’t confessed that? How do you ask him to do all these things now?
Honey, I feel like I’ve been missing out on all that sex is, and I’d like to start a big research project where we really figure out how my body works and how we work together. I love you and I’ve had fun, but I want so much more for us. What do you say?
You can also tell him something like, “sometimes my mind wanders to sexy things I’ve seen on TV or in movies” (if that’s what you mean by ‘other guys’ rather than a specific guy), “and I want to stay totally focused on you. Can you help me?”
A Sexual Reset is Possible
It needs more honesty. It means a commitment from you to prioritize sex in your marriage; to think of sex positively; to make love more frequently (since libido is a use it or lose it thing for women). It means being giving to your husband and also giving him time to grieve. But you can get there. And if you keep emphasizing that your goal is to be totally intimate with him and have so much fun, then hopefully he’ll get on board and want to explore with you!
Now let’s talk in the comments: What’s the most detrimental thing a woman can do to her sex life? How do you get over this?