What do you do if your husband isn’t interested in hearing your sexual fantasies or desires–let alone acting on them?
We’re in Week 2 of our Sizzling Summer Sex Series! And this week we’ve been looking at how to spice things up and make sure sex doesn’t get boring–which also includes a willingness to become vulnerable with each other.
Yesterday we looked at what to do if your spouse asks for something in bed that you find really distasteful, and we talked about how to figure out if it’s just a personal preference, or if it honestly is something that you find sinful. Today I want to flip that question on its head, and address what to do if it seems as if your spouse doesn’t care about what you want.
A reader writes:
I told him one of my fantasies and he shut It down really quickly. I am too embarrassed to even get naked again but I want to be intimate! He has never really been one to “take care of me”. It’s mostly that he gets off every time and I’m left hanging. I’ve talked to him about it, and then after a month or so he forgets and doesn’t take care of me again. I’m pretty frustrated but I’m trying to figure out what it is that I might be doing that causes him to stop after he reaches climax. I just feel like he doesn’t WANT me. I think that’s why I have the fantasy that I have. (It’s to be tied down.) I don’t want to be hurt or told I don’t have a choice. I just want to feel like he wants me that much.
I will get to the fantasy part of this question in a moment, but the more important issue here, I think, is the husband seems to be disregarding her sexual pleasure completely.
In a healthy marriage, spouses care about the other person’s pleasure and desires.
Sex was designed to be a mutual act for both spouses that brings great intimacy and pleasure at the same time. As I explained in The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, it was never supposed to be only physical.
When we make sex only about one person’s experience, though, then we’re totally erasing what God said sex was for. Sex is not just about meeting a man’s sexual needs; sex is about helping both of you feel super close.
I don't see how sex can be more than physical!
In The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex I explain how God made sex to be intimate in three ways–spiritually, emotionally, AND physically. And in fact they fuel each other!
If you feel like sex has gotten shallow, pick up the book, and learn everything that God intended.
So why do so many people seem to only focus on their own sexual needs?
Some people think that their experience of sex is the only right one
It may not be that they’re entirely selfish. It may honestly be that they don’t understand how their spouse works sexually.
You see, we grow up with the idea that “sex”=”intercourse”. Intercourse is the main event. And intercourse is the way that everyone is supposed to feel sexual pleasure. So if my wife isn’t getting pleasure, that’s really not my fault. It’s that she isn’t trying hard enough/isn’t in the mood enough/isn’t quite right sexually.
Foreplay is seen as optional, because most guys just don’t need it to get aroused. And people tend to believe their own experiences are the “right” ones. What we feel must be what other people feel, too. And if they don’t feel it, then they should. So if we get sexual pleasure from intercourse alone, so should they. That’s the way we’re made (they don’t really understand that women aren’t made the same way).
If that’s the case with your husband, then show him this post on how foreplay isn’t optional. It’s got a hilarious video in it that may help him understand what you feel!
To not care about your spouse’s sexual pleasure is sinful.
I hope that this situation is something that’s fixed just by explaining a bit more about women’s sexual experience.
In some cases, though, it isn’t. Some people are just plain selfish in bed.
And let’s be honest: 95% of the time that this occurs it’s the husband who doesn’t care whether the wife climaxes, and not the other way around. (There was a comment left by a man who was in the opposite position, but usually it’s the husband who climaxes and the wife who is left hanging). I’m aware that women tend to withhold sex more than men do (or at least not have sex very often), but in this specific dynamic we’re addressing spouses who, when intercourse does happen, don’t seem to be concerned that their spouse feels good.
That is wrong. That is selfish. That is sinful.
I believe that the root of this problem comes from how our society and church talk about sex
We tend to portray men’s sexual desire as the “right” one. We portray intercourse as being the main event. We talk in churches about how men have sexual needs that need to be met, but we rarely talk about how women have sexual needs, too (and when we do talk about her needs, we usually frame it in terms of “she needs emotional connection”). So if men grow up hearing all about how in marriage they’ll get their sexual needs met, then they may not realize that they have an obligation as well to meet her needs.
Sometimes this grows into sexual shame
When we think of sexual shame, we usually think of women. But men can have sexual shame, too! If you grow up feeling as if every sexual feeling you have is sinful, then that doesn’t necessarily stop once you’re married. And you may think intercourse is okay, but anything else that seems the least bit risque (because it’s exciting) is somehow wrong. I wrote about this phenomenon shortly after the Ashley Madison/Josh Duggar scandal, because I think it explained what Josh did really well. And some guys may be suffering from the same thing (though hopefully they’re not out there looking to have an affair!).
One commenter this week, for instance, talked about how her husband refuses to let her guide his hand during foreplay, presumably because that’s too much like masturbation and that’s wrong. Another commenter said that her husband refuses anything other than the missionary position, because that’s wrong. When you grow up in a shamed filled culture, then plain old intercourse can easily seem like the only thing that’s blessed by God. And since men get plenty of pleasure from plain old intercourse, then this doesn’t always seem like a hardship.
So what do you do if your husband doesn’t care about your pleasure?
Often in the church we hear those “Do not deprive” verses from 1 Corinthians 7 talking about how we aren’t supposed to deny our husbands sex. And so even if our husbands are making no effort to help us feel good, we figure we’re still supposed to have sex.
That is not what those verses are saying.
3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
The verses say that we should not deprive each other. And if your husband is using you selfishly, as if you are a sex toy, with no concern for your pleasure, then he is depriving you. He is sinning, and we are not to enable sin. Maybe that sin comes from a place of shame rather than selfishness, but either way, it does need to be confronted.
The verses “do not deprive” should never be used to tell a wife that she must have sex with a selfish husband who does not care about her needs. That is totally ignoring God’s design for mutuality and intimacy, which are the heart of sex, not just physical pleasure. The point of these verses is not about sexual release but about mutual giving. The gospel is about serving, not about demanding our rights. To read these verses to mean that women’s needs don’t matter while men’s sexual release does is to totally misunderstand Scripture.
So I would say this to your husband:
I love you and I want to be intimate with you. I long for a great, frequent sex life, and I am more than willing to throw myself into that. What I am not willing to do is to continue to have sex with you if you don’t care about my sexual needs. When we have sex, I don’t feel like we’re “making love” because you are not showing me love. You are not showing that you care about me, because you don’t seem to care if I have any pleasure or not. The Bible talks about sex being mutual and intimate. That means that you are depriving me, but you’re also depriving yourself of everything that God wants for us! When we can have a mutual sex life, when we’re both loving each other and giving each other pleasure, I am more than willing to jump in with both feet (or anything else!). But I’m not willing to be used as your sex toy. God made sex to be beautiful and intimate, and I feel as if you have turned it into something selfish, and that saddens me. I think we can do better, and I hope desperately that you agree.
Now, I wouldn’t say that before you have a good talk about how important foreplay is, because he honestly may not understand! And if sexual shame may be at the root of the issue, then I think talking about what God designed sex for may help (and The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex talks about this in detail). But as a wife, you do not have an obligation to have sex with a man who does not care about your needs at all. That is not the biblical view of sex.
So let’s get back to her fantasy:
Why does she want to be tied up?
She just wants some attention, I think! She wants to be the focus of a sexual encounter, rather than it being solely about him, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I do think there’s something wrong with being “tied up” when the goal is to degrade someone or hurt someone. That’s the opposite of intimacy, and is really a fake vulnerability. But to desire to be made to be out of control just heightens sexual pleasure for some, and is not warped in any way, in my opinion (again, this is totally different from the 50 shades of grey phenomenon when it is about control and punishment and humiliation).
I can totally understand spouses being reluctant to do something like tie each other up. But there’s no reason why you can’t spend some time when each spouse is the total and complete focus of sexual stimulation for a time. That’s good and healthy. And maybe if couples did this more, sex would not seem so selfish, or like the other spouse is using you!
Your Sizzling Summer Sex Challenge:
Ask your husband, “are there things that you’d like in the bedroom that you’ve been afraid to ask about?” Let’s have that conversation!
And ask him how you two think you should decide on boundaries, too.
Special bonus: Try something new tonight!
Do you think that men have a harder time understanding how to please their wives than the other way around? How much do women bear the responsibility for this–if we don’t always tell them what we want? Let’s talk in the comments!