What do you do if you’ve never really enjoyed sex or never had an orgasm?
I’ve had a lot of women write in frustration in the comments of the blog lately that they’ve given up hope for a good sex life. Sex just doesn’t feel good, no matter how hard they try to “think” their way to enjoying it. I’ve been trying to encourage them, and I’m thinking of some resources I can create to help, but in the meantime a long-time faithful reader (who wants to remain anonymous) shared with me her story. It’s awesome, and I want to share it with you today and tomorrow, because I think many of you will get a lot of encouragement from it!
Here she is:
Last week as I was reading Sheila’s post 10 Ways Real Women Rev Their Sex Drives! I was struck by one of the comments left on the post. What hit me is, that was exactly what I could have written eight months ago about myself:
“It’s hard to feel excited when you get nothing out of it. I am a Christian and eagerly anticipated a wonderful sex life when I got married, having believed what the world portrayed it to be. I am slowly resigning myself to the fact that it was all a lie. It’s wonderful for men, of course…and so easy. But women, apparently, need anatomy books, sex position charts, drawn-out mental and physical preparation, ideal self-esteem, and for the stars to align to have any hope of orgasm during intercourse. I thought God created it to be a bonding, life-giving aspect of marriage. Instead, I’m jealous of my husband’s ability to enjoy it as I wish that I could. I thought it would be fun, frivolous, and stress-relieving. Now it’s just something to check off my mental to-do list to make sure my husband’s needs are met. It has been the biggest disappointment of my life.”
My heart broke for this lady and the other courageous women who have bravely shared their hearts on the post. I had replied with some of the practical things I was trying but I simply made her feel like more of a failure and that was not my intent. She could not see my heart or my journey in those few words. I needed to tell her more, to share my journey with her. To come alongside her and say I understand. I’ve been there and some days I still am. Out of desperation I sent Sheila a message and asked her if I could please share my journey with the women who come to her blog. Sheila graciously said yes.
How Sex was a Lost Cause for Me, too
My story began 28 years ago. The first time together was a mental moment of “wow we are one!” This is intercourse. However at the same time it was physically empty. There were no sparks of amazing feelings physically and I was secretly disappointed. I knew I was becoming aroused because my body showed signs of arousal (lubrication, engorgement, etc) but I simply did not feel anything, no pleasure or climax. I never told my husband. How could I? The rules are you protect his masculinity and you do not ever say no because scripture said (1 Corinthians 7:5) you can not deny him and I was a good Christian wife.
After a couple of years we were given a copy of a well known Christian book on intimacy in marriage. I took some time to read this and thought, if we follow this formula it will work. It took me ages to work up the courage to approach my spouse. His reaction was one of shock and his push back was why do we need to get lessons from some book? Isn’t it supposed to be natural, I don’t need a book?
What followed was twenty plus years of ups and downs for me when it came to enjoying sex
I’d read a book and every single time the message was always the same: “It’s all in your head. You need to choose to like it and it will be good and you’ll enjoy it. The problem is with you because you choose not to…” Same old same old. Every time I would summon the courage to try again. I would spend hours thinking the same mantra to myself. This is good. God made it good. The problem was the words and mantra’s did not line up with the physical reality of my experience.
Our 25th wedding anniversary was approaching and my husband was so excited. All he wanted to do was plan a weekend away just the two of us. It was so hard to be excited because I was filled with dread. A weekend away meant sex. Great sex for him. Satisfaction for him. Pleasure for him. For me I knew it meant trying and trying but nothing for me. I just felt sad, disappointed, disillusioned, frustrated, angry at God, guilty over that anger, broken, and defeated. I knew in my heart I would be the one in tears after he went to sleep at night deeply satisfied. And that is just how it was. I did the sex thing because I love him because he is my mate and I enjoy being close to him even though there was no pleasure physically for me.
Over the next year I just slowly gave up on sex all together.
I began to think, gosh, if we took sex out of our marriage then 85% of our conflict would be resolved. I had spent a quarter of a century trying and nothing had changed. In fact it had just made me depressed, I cried all the time. Why bother? Nothing works. I’m broken. I can’t do this anyway. Why did God do this to me? What did I do wrong? Why doesn’t God love me enough to allow me to enjoy this good gift everyone else seems to enjoy?
I became angry and resentful towards my husband (let’s just say I became increasingly difficult to live with). I was both angry and extremely jealous of him. How could he use me like that? How could he keep doing this sex thing to me knowing I got NOTHING out of it! If he truly loved me why doesn’t he do some research and fix it?!! Can’t he see and feel that I’m not participating? Going to bed was stressful because I knew he would want sex and I just did not want to fail again. I did not want to lie there listening to him have ANOTHER orgasm and add another notch to the list of my failures. Most nights I would cry myself to sleep and my poor husband would be just as heart sore. He started checking in on me. Was it better? He tried all sorts of things. He was feeling like a total loser at life because for this woman he loved, he could not satisfy her or make her feel pleasure and orgasm.
Sex became an exam we would both sit after each encounter. Did it work? Was that better? Did I succeed in helping you experience what I have? He began to feel guilty over the pleasure he was experiencing, which in turn created a performance anxiety in him. He started asking if he may touch me. Asking my permission to have sex. That made me feel even more guilty. He tried EVERYTHING he could think of.
Sex for him became an exercise in how little can I touch you to get it on and how quick can I come so that I don’t hurt you. It broke my heart. And his.
One day in the dark he quietly whispered maybe we should buy a vibrator because it might do the trick. He was so desperate. I was was so embarrassed. I told him no way. Was I really so broken that I needed sex with a machine? He suggested that maybe I should try self stimulation and find out what works for me. I tried. Hearing that woman can bring themselves off in a few minutes added to my list of failure. I failed at self stimulation too. I finally pitched a fit and told him he was never to ask me again. I felt like enough of failure without having to sit an exam after each encounter.
How Sex Finally Changed for Us
By now another year had gone by. I was still a failure. The tension in my marriage was growing. I was frustrated. My husband was frustrated and burdened. Our anniversary was coming AGAIN. I was fed up with how I was feeling and the impact it had on my marriage.
I sought out the sex section at our local Christian book store and after some time I selected Restoring the Pleasure by Clifford L. Penner and Joyce J. Penner. I felt encouraged to go to my anniversary with hope. However as I knew it would be, nothing had changed other than I had a better attitude and now I really wanted my husband to read the new book and fix things. In our marriage I’m the reader. He works long, physical days out doors which is not conducive to reading self help books and this added to my rhetoric, …IF he loved me he would make the time to read this book so that magically he could do this with me and fix me so I could like sex. It just didn’t happen. That book was great. It had good information and helped me address some issues in my thinking but it did not resolve the deeper issue in me.
In desperation I remembered years ago reading a blog about sex and so went to see if I could find it. I found Sheila’s blog and saw her book The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex. I secretly bought it on my Kindle and read it over a couple of days. I was STUNNED. I had this sex thing all wrong from the beginning. Sheila confronted so many cultural and church lies about my perception of sex. I started to watch my husband. Did God really intend marriage to be that way? Did my husband really feel that way when we did sex? Could things really change? And if they could I realized the changes needed to begin in me.
Little did I know God had already begun this change earlier in the year. I was at an all time low. I was deeply sad and I wanted to be happy. I came across Switch on Your Brain : The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health by Dr Caroline Leaf. What a fascinating read. Dr Leaf is a neuro scientist who loves God and sharing how science backs up scripture. I learnt that our brains grow new brain cells (neuro genesis) each night when we go to sleep in preparation for what we will think and feel the next day. I learnt that every negative thought is toxic to my brain and my body. I had a LOT of negative thoughts about my body and sex. Dr Leaf gave me practical tools to learn to combat my negative thinking. I started using those tools to address my attitude about sex.
Things started to change. I enjoyed emotional intimacy. I was no longer passive. I actively pursued him. My husband kept on asking me “What has changed?” the only thing that had changed was my understanding of what God did when he made sex. It did not change my physical reality I was still numb everywhere.
My next mission was to find out how to change the physical aspect of sex for me. I was tired of reading about orgasms, just think your way into it, relax and let it happen. I tell you NONE of that was working for me.
To be Continued tomorrow in Practical Steps I’m taking to find Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
So glad she has agreed to share her story! I thought many of you could relate. Do leave your comments, and let’s talk about it!
Sex is supposed to be stupendous--physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. If it's not, get The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex--and find out what you've been missing.An unknown error occured.