Category Archives: Arousal
QUESTION: Everyone always says the husband has more sexual desire than the wife, so you can imagine that you feel a little disillusioned when it’s the other way around. It’s always been this way, to a certain extent, but has been exaggerated with having a toddler, stress and busy schedules. We are intimate about once per month, if I’m lucky. I am very dissatisfied with this level of frequency. Not only do I enjoy sex with my husband, but when he doesn’t want me, it makes me feel like there’s something wrong with me or undesirable about me and leaves me feeling angry and insecure. On top of this, now we want to try for our second child, but you can’t get pregnant if you don’t have sex! There’s always something that he has to work late and come to bed after me, or he’s too tired or stressed out, etc. I’ve worked hard to lose my post-baby weight, try different romantic things, be thoughtful during the day, everything for over 5 years now, including trying doing nothing. What should I do differently!? Please help!
ANSWER: Please do not include me in the “everyone always says the husband has more sexual desire than the wife.”
My husband is a recovering porn addict that has been able to stay away from the porn for about 2 years now. For the last several years he has struggled with Peyronie’s disease (even going through a series of shot treatments) and erectile dysfunction. He has now gone about 5 months without wanting anything to do with having sex. I am really struggling with my need for intimacy and sex. Is it okay to ask him to satisfy my needs either manually or orally, is it okay to masturbate, or should I just put my needs aside and be disciplined as if I were single?
A woman has just as great a need for sexual fulfillment as does a man. There are literally thousands upon thousands of marriages in which the man no longer wants sex and the wife is craving it. It is one of the most common, yet least discussed, problems in marriages today.
I’m often a guest on the Woody and Jim show on 107.5 The River in Nashville. They’re going to start a weekly poll on marriage and they’ll use the results of a page on my website. Would you be part of this poll? You can take part by going to http://joebeam.com/marriage_polls.htm and answering the first question that has to do with how important physical attraction is to you in your marriage.
Q: I was at a birthday celebration dinner for a friend recently with a small group of married women. One of the women brought a “girl’s night out” game, a deck of cards with a variety of questions (many about sex). One of the cards had us each rank our sex lives. I have a healthy and happy sexual relationship, and my closest friends know it. Although I ranked myself a 9.0, one of the women ranked me a 10.5! Sadly, though, most of the women only ranked themselves a 5….My question is, how do you suggest I approach this issue with these women? They are all Christians, and I would love to have some material (a website, a book, etc.) that I can refer them to. I’m not sure how to get them interested, but I’m confident that they would respond positively if I could direct them to the right material(s).
A: Unfortunately, your score is the one that would be unusual while your friends’ scores would more likely represent the general population. My friend Barry McCarthy, PhD, is an outstanding sex expert, researcher, and writer. Recently he wrote me, “Emphasize the crucial importance of positive, realistic sexual expectations: The most important being that less than 50% of sexual encounters among happily married, sexually functional couples have outcomes that are mutually satisfying, and 5-15% of sexual encounters in marriage are dissatisfying or dysfunctional.” In short, sex ain’t always great…
However, there are ways to increase sexual pleasure and fulfillment as long as both partners have positive, realistic expectations. Kudos to you for wishing to help your friends with that. There are several books available that guide couples through processes to enhance their sex lives. Forgive the commercial, but some universities use my book Becoming One in this area. The book has three sections, becoming one emotionally, becoming one sexually, and becoming one spiritually. In my estimation, a married couple cannot work on just one of those areas, but must work on all three to make their relationship and sex lives better. I also recommend unreservedly any relationship and/or sex books by Les and Leslie Parrott. You can find them on Amazon as well as other book sites.
You may wish to refer your friends to the Christian Nymphos web site. (Yes, I’m serious. The site exists and is written by Christian women to help each other have better sex lives with their husbands. Tell ‘em Joe sent you.)
Also, help your friends think about these matters:
- Women who are fatigued have difficulty getting aroused.
- Anyone overweight, man or woman, will have associated sexual problems.
- When working on better sex lives, most people need to start with the other dimensions of their relationship.
- Toys can help. So can variety.
- There are ways to overcome sexual inhibitions while still adhering to one’s beliefs and values. (I have a “sexual experimentation scale” that I’m testing with couples right now. Email me at ask@JoeBeam.com if you would like to be part of my testing of this profile.)
The four areas that sex therapists often work with are Desire, Arousal, Orgasm, Satisfaction.
- If a person has limited or no desire but can become physiologically, emotionally, and psychologically aroused so that s/he can enjoy sex and be orgasmic, then she will do well to have sex regularly without waiting for desire to be strong.
- If arousal or orgasm rarely or never occurs, then explore whether the situation is situational (this person, this place, this time, etc.) or global (she would still have these problems even if she were married to a hunk and life was absolutely wonderful).
- If satisfaction relies on impossible expectations or fantasies, sex will never be what she wants it to be.
Better yet, ask them to join me at http://www.marriagehelper.com/marriage_forums in the section about sex and we’ll interact about any and all questions, thoughts, problems, etc. I’m happy to discuss these matters directly and help in any way that I can.
Q: I am a Christian and my husband claimed to be one and attended church when we met. We’ve been married one and it’s been a war, not a marriage. All his life he was attracted to and lusted after pretty women with long hair. Of course, he kept this hidden from me. A friend of his told him before we met that he went after women like a shark. He’s admitted his thirst for women. He wouldn’t miss looking for them. While driving he’d watch in the rear view mirror and if they’d pass us, he’d turn his head a full turn to watch them go by. In restaurants he’d keep looking at them. Driving by he’d turn his head looking if they were on the sidewalks. In church. We tried a couple of churches and he’d pick out a pretty women sitting alone. He’d keep looking at them. Staring, really. During tv commercials he could be reading the paper. If he’d hear a female voice, he’d put the paper down long enough to check them out. If they were pretty, he’d watch the commercial. If they weren’t pretty, he’d continue reading the paper. Most of our married life this habit persisted. We had screaming battles to put it mildly. He claims it’s out of him now. I can’t know because he claimed that repeatedly in the past and wasn’t over it yet. But even if he is, the damage is done in me. He has destroyed several things in me. I can longer trust him. When we’re apart, or even if he’s just outside I’m wondering how many women he’s staring at. That’s what he did. And right in front of me. Stare and stare at these women. Every time I see a pretty woman I now feel so ugly. And, compared to the women he stared at, I am ugly. I don’t feel I have any respect left for him. He claims to love me. He didn’t know what true love is. He’s been married 5 times and been through an unbelievable amount of women. He should consider the problem could be him. But he doesn’t want to hear that. And he won’t talk. He’ll scream for a moment and then storm off. I tell him I need to talk. He won’t. He almost acts like he can’t. I don’t believe this marriage will last. He treats me fine when we’re not fighting, but, we’re usually fighting. We fight almost daily. It’s ridiculous. I’ve prayed over and over about it and given it to God. I know, according to the Bible, he’s committed heart adultery over and over. He claims to be sorry. He claimed that over and over and would yet persist in his addiction to women. I don’t know if I have any more love left for him. If so, not much. I tried and tried to get him to agree for us to get help. He never would. I don’t know whether to tell him to leave or not. It is my home. I don’t feel there is any hope. Does God expect me to live like this indefinitely?
A: You are right, of course, that in Matthew 5:28 Jesus said, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” However, as I began reading your email, I confess that I found myself wondering if he were as bad as you say or if your own insecurity might exacerbate your concern. I also confess that by the time I got to the end, I came to believe that he does have a problem.
If I understand correctly, at least the good news is that he is not physically active with any of these women. Not saying that makes it right; just that it would be even worse if he were. I understand that his continual staring at other women makes you feel “ugly.” It seems to me that women regularly compare themselves with other women and in their minds often come off as second. His actions hurt and you have every right to be hurt by them.
When you say that after five marriages it should occur to him that he may be the problem. I don’t mean to be offensive, but I wonder why you didn’t think the same thing before marrying him — that he has a problem. The old adage is that women marry men thinking they will change and men marry women thinking that they will never change. He was what he was; he is what he is. If he changes, it will be through what is called “a significant emotional event.” The good news is that those can happen. The bad news is that the often they don’t.
Do you have a right to leave a man who continues in sin though he continues to say that he won’t do it again? Forgiving a person who repeatedly sins and asks forgiveness is Biblical. (Matthew 18:21-22) Living with that person is another thing altogether. We can forgive and love the person but we do not have to tolerate his/her continued misbehavior. In my opinion, the Matthew passage you cited gives you right to divorce him. BUT WAIT! (Always wanted to say that…) Before you do, there is more to try.
I strongly suggest you check out our workshop for marriages in crisis, LovePath 911.
Q: If your husband has been in a horrible mood ALL day and snaps at everything you do or say…and then suddenly when the lights go out he decides it’s time for “2 minutes in Heaven” (lyric from a song) … Am I obligated to go through with it even though I am still hurt and aggravated by the way he has been all day? I can’t turn off the day to have sex. I know it’s a different story for men…It even makes me a little mad too because he is suddenly being sweet to me just because he’s wanting “some”…not because he wants to apologize for his behavior earlier. It is SO obvious!!!!!!
A: In some ways men and women are different when it comes to sex. For example, we know that one of the major inhibitors of a woman’s arousal is fatigue. If she’s exhausted it’s difficult for her mind, emotions, and body to gear up for a sexual experience.
A man can get aroused physically without being aroused mentally, emotionally, or psychologically. So can women. However there is strong research that, unlike a man, a woman has no awareness of her sexual arousal if she is not also aroused mentally, emotionally, or psychologically. In other words, she could have the indications of physical arousal (vaginal swelling, lubrication, so forth) but does not think she is aroused nor will she acknowledge that she is aroused if it is not also in her mind and heart.
However, I’m not so sure that men and women are much different when it comes to reacting to the negative moods of the other mate. We know that if a man is focused on sex, he can have sex and come to orgasm even if he doesn’t like the woman he is. So can women, if they so choose. But in marriage if either is “turned off” by the behavior of the other, the man is as likely as the woman to avoid a sexual encounter.
This is a general principle, and your husband may be the exception. More than likely, he isn’t. My guess is that he has no real understanding of how his behavior affects you and writes off your reactions as trivial and easy to get over. That’s likely why he can move into gentleness and sexuality so quickly.
The best course, in my opinion (not professional advice, just Joe’s opinion) is to let him know just how badly you are hurt by his behavior and tell him that until he understands the realities of a loving relationship he shouldn’t count on lovemaking. If you do it in an attacking way, I predict bad times will result. If you do it from your heart, not spouting anger, but allowing your hurt to surface so that he can see and feel your pain (not your anger), you may be on the road to changing your relationship completely.
This is not to say that an occasional bad day means that a couple should go into deep discussion and avoid sex. Sometimes a bad day is just a bad day and everyone just needs to move on. On those occasions, having sex with him is good. It’s repeated negative behavior that hurts your heart, mind, and soul that shouldn’t be ignored but dealt with.