What do you do if you’re in the newlywed phase, but you’ve never had an orgasm?
This week we’ve been talking about the “figuring things out” stage of sex, and I’ve been explaining that, for most people, the best years of sex in marriage are not actually the honeymoon years. They’re years 16-24. For most, it takes a while for things to start working great!
That doesn’t mean, though, that I think people should just put their feet up and give up and think, “oh, well, I guess it will take 10 years or so for this to feel better.” Not at all! In fact, I think if we can understand the dynamics that often cause sex not to be great right off the bat, then we can make better progress and really experience some bliss.
Yesterday I was addressing those for whom the honeymoon years have come and gone, and who need to grieve what they have missed out on. Today I want to talk to those of you who are still in those years, to encourage you that things can get better, and hopefully quickly, too!
1. Don’t be content with one-sided sex.
Yes, 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 says:
The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 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. 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.
We aren’t to deprive each other, that’s true. But take a closer look at this passage. BOTH the husband and wife owe something to one another. It isn’t a one-sided thing; wives are not to be deprived either! If you are in the newlywed phase, and you are having sex but he is the only one having an orgasm, then you are the one being deprived. And it’s biblical to speak up and ask for your needs to be considered as well, because you matter. Sex is supposed to be mutual.
Last week a woman left this comment on an older post:
When we were newlyweds my husband didn’t seem to care much for my pleasure at all. He wanted it almost every night, but he’d rush through it and go back to watching football. The whole process lasted 10 minutes, if that. He came from a very strict evangelical background, where he was taught the wife was supposed to be “always available”. On the other hand, my parents are atheists and my upbringing was very secular, to put it mildly. I didn’t find the Lord until I was 25, and I had prior relationships. So the attitude he brought to the marriage was appalling to me. I tried gently explaining to him several times, but it fell on deaf ears. Finally I just told him we weren’t having sex until he at least made an effort to make it pleasurable for me as well. That went over like a lead balloon. He got angry. He sulked. He consulted our pastor, who got his wife to take me aside for a chat. She told me “As women, our job is to be available whenever called upon.” I remember getting angry and telling her that I ought to just buy him a flesh light. He can call on that, because he’s treating me like one.
The thing is, I’m the kind of girl who likes her husband to take the lead in the bedroom. But I had to take the reins myself and insist that he learn how to make love to me instead of using me. And I mean insist as in “I won’t let you inside me until you put forth your best effort at making me feel good.” Eventually his libido got the better of him and he gave in. It was a long process but he slowly and steadily got better. And as he improved, our overall intimacy improved as well. He later confessed that growing up he was told that the only thing women really get out of sex is babies. It makes me so angry that some people actually believe that.
On a positive note, nowadays things are 1000% better. He’s a wonderful husband and lover. But back then I was a very new Christian, and I had doubts about whether or not I was doing the right thing.
The fact that Christians talk about sex as if the husband’s pleasure is all that matters is so distressing to me. She was not refusing sex; she was refusing one-sided sex. She was saying, “I will not be treated like an object. That is diminishing the worth that God has given me, and diminishing the beauty that God created sex for.” I’m so, so sorry that the message that has been taught in churches (and in best-selling books like Love & Respect) has been far too often that women owe men sex, and that women need to agree to their own objectification. That is such a distortion of God’s plan for sexuality. (and to understand that plan better, please see The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex!)
So it’s okay to speak up and say,
“Babe, I want to have as much sex with you as I can! But it needs to be about both of us. And we have to figure this out now. I don’t want to be treated as an appendage that you use. So let’s work on this together!”
2. Understand that the patterns you develop now around sex will be much harder to untangle in the future.
Here’s why this is so important: It’s much harder to undo habits that have already been established than it is to establish new ones. The longer you say nothing and allow him to have intercourse while you feel very little, the more he will think, “I must be a good lover, because she’s not saying anything,” and “the problem is with her and she needs to figure this out.” He won’t realize that this isn’t YOUR problem; it’s a COUPLE problem. And it needs both of you to engage to fix it. But the longer you let it go on like this, then the more difficult it will be when you finally want to insist that things become more mutual.
3. Realize that most women reach orgasm easier for the first time through something other than intercourse.
So you want to speak up and do something about it. Great! But where do you start?
First, realize that it’s easier for most women to reach orgasm first through direct stimulation (either manual or oral) than it is with intercourse. That’s because it’s the clitoris that gives women the most sexual pleasure, and it’s harder to stimulate the clitoris through intercourse than it is through other means. That doesn’t mean that you can’t reach orgasm through intercourse. However, orgasm becomes easier when you understand what it feels like and understand what precedes orgasm, so that you can “ride the wave” of the orgasm. Learning this when you’re able to concentrate on what he’s doing without having to feel like you need to reciprocate in some way or without being distracted by other stimulation through intercourse is often easier.
One of the blocks that couples need to overcome is the idea that “he enjoys sex” and “she doesn’t enjoy sex” so the solution must be that she just needs to learn how to enjoy sex! But that’s seeing sex through a husband’s lens. The truth is that most women enjoy things differently than most men do. Women do not have to catch up to men. Instead, our bodies (and specifically our clitorises) were created so that men would have to slow down and spend some time concentrating on women.
4. Take your time–and figure out what arouses you!
This means that you’ll have to dedicate some time to figuring it out. One thing I suggest in 31 Days to Great Sex is to set the timer for 15 minutes, and during that time she isn’t allowed to move. He just gets to touch her or stimulate her. Sometimes we women feel like we’re taking too long, and “I should be aroused by now”, so we short-circuit the process. Give yourself permission to not short-circuit it! Let yourself be the centre of attention for a time, without having to feel like you have to reciprocate.
It’s not that you won’t ever reciprocate, but for most women, reaching orgasm does require some concentration. If you’re simultaneously thinking about how to make him feel good, it can be difficult to get enough stimulation. So take that time. And if you need more than 15 minutes, take it! It may even be a good idea if you’ve been married for a while and you’ve never reached orgasm yet to set aside an entire Saturday when you’re going to spend it in bed, figuring this out.
Get some snacks and water and chocolate handy by the bed, and try some stimulation for half an hour, and then have a bath together, and then try again, and then transition to a naked massage, and then try again, and then try a shower together…and so on.
But keep going until you figure it out!
Do you want MORE for your sex life?
5. Direct him–using your hand–so you have constant bio-feedback.
To get super practical, one thing that can help is that you hold his hand, or a few fingers, and rub yourself with them. That way he learns how you like to be touched. And because you’re receiving the feedback from your own body, you’ll adjust the pressure and timing as arousal builds. Then he can get used to seeing what that arousal looks like/feels like. I realize this is something that takes a bit of confidence, and can make some of you feel awkward. But it is a great way to teach him. And, hey, you can always return the favour and he can show you what feels good, too!
If you just can’t do this, then play the “do you like it this way or that way” game. Have him try one thing for one minute, and then another for one minute, and you decide which is better. And then he can keep varying the technique until you find something that works perfectly!
6. Practice being mentally present and “ride the wave”
Orgasm is very difficult if you’re worried or preoccupied about anything else. So don’t let yourself wonder what he’s thinking. Don’t let yourself feel self-conscious. Keep telling yourself, “My husband wants to learn how to make me feel good, and he’s enjoying this!”
If you find other things entering into your brain, try to shut them off by asking yourself, “what feels good now? What is my body feeling?” Keep that running commentary going in your brain, and it’s less likely stray thoughts will take over.
7. Change up your breathing, and tense & relax
Sometimes changing up your breathing can also help orgasm happen. I wish I could give you a definitive one on this, but different women respond differently. So I’d just say this: if what you’re doing isn’t working, change it up! For some women, holding their breath so you get that blood rush helps orgasm. It also helps you concentrate and builds urgency. For others, they’ve held their breath so much that oxygen levels are getting lower and that makes orgasm more difficult. Tensing your muscles in your legs and buttocks can also help build orgasm (and tilting your pelvis forward can direct pressure and blood flow on the clitoris), but for others, relaxing helps.
If you’ve been doing it one way and it’s not working, try the opposite. Either hold your breath and tense, or relax and breathe deeply. And you may find that relaxing and breathing deeply works well until you’re almost there–and then holding your breath is better. Squeezing your vaginal muscles (doing Kegel exercises) can also build arousal. Just try a whole bunch of things, and see what helps!
(One tip: once you do reach orgasm, try relaxing and deep breathing, and you’re more likely to turn it into multiple orgasms!)
8. Vary up the type of stimulation
If him rubbing your clitoris with your fingers is becoming too intense or too much, have him switch to a flat hand instead of a finger. Or have him pay some attention to your breasts. Sometimes, too, things that we don’t particularly like when we’re not very aroused become much more pleasurable right before orgasm. Many women don’t like their nipples touched, for instance, but right before orgasm they do. So if you’ve told him you don’t like one thing, don’t be afraid to try it again later. And many women find that oral sex is more pleasurable than him using his fingers. If you’re nervous about suggesting different things, try something fun like the dice game or even the Ultimate Intimacy App!
9. Understand how hormones & contraception can affect your ability to respond sexually.
Many women report that they have a much easier time reaching orgasm once going off the Pill. The contraceptive pill does affect hormone levels, which are largely responsible for arousal. You can read what my readers have said about the Pill here.
Our hormone levels do naturally fluctuate over the course of our menstrual cycles, too, and, in general, women tend to be more sexually responsive right before ovulation. If you’re going to set aside that Saturday to try for an extended period of time, choose a day before ovulation, not one right after!
10. Do your research–and keep researching!
Finally, keep reading, keep trying new things, and don’t give up! One commenter said:
My husband was so patient and understanding when we got married and it really paid off in the long run. When things weren’t working we read Christian marriage books, talked about it, and practiced until we figured things out. He never made me feel bad that it was more difficult for me than for him. He is reaping the rewards now lol I’m actually really proud of myself for speaking up as much as I did early on, which can sometimes be tough for me. That’s the best advice of all! – EM
Let me know–any other questions? Any other tips? Let’s talk in the comments!