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Question #91527 posted on 08/07/2018 3:30 p.m.
Q:

Dear married Board writers (also unmarried, if you have insight here),

This is a personal question that will require some personal answers. I would apologize for making anyone uncomfortable, but I'm trying to open some lines of communication here and start talking about a for-some-reason-still-taboo subject: sex (within marriage).

My husband and I have been married a little under a year, and sex is both a big source of connection and the biggest roadblock in our relationship. I consider my libido to be normal for a woman--I want to be intimate with my husband two or three times per week--and his is way higher than mine. (What? Husband wants sex more than wife? Shocker.) The problem we're facing is kind of a power struggle here.

His perspective: If he wants sex, he feels like he has to make everything perfect and make sure nothing bothers me so I'm in a good enough mood to give it to him. He feels trapped and like he has to put on a face and put up with a lot of stuff--my being moody, or laughing too much, or being stressed out--without letting it bother him, or else I won't be in a good enough mood to have sex with him when he wants it. The way he described it to me, basically, he is motivated by his sex drive to be the perfect husband and do everything he can to make me happy, because he wants that reward of sexual satisfaction. The way he talks about it scares me a little bit, because he sounds like an addict looking for a fix; it's a fine line between normal, healthy, sexual desire and an insatiable addiction. He says things like, his whole day is good if he gets some, and he struggles a lot if he doesn't, and he only feels relief after he gets it.

On my end: the issue is frequency. He has such a high sex drive, he "needs" it basically every single day, and it's not uncommon for him to "need" it two or three times in one day. That's too much for me; I physically can't do it. But if he doesn't get the satisfaction he's craving, he feels like I'm dangling this thing in front of him and taunting him with it because I won't just give it to him. He thinks it's not that hard, I can take a few minutes and just make him really happy. But from my end, doing it when I'm not aroused or turned on just hurts and has some pretty negative physical consequences. He seems to think I'm being selfish, but I think I'm acting out of self-preservation. Like I mentioned before, I also have concerns about him exhibiting addictive behavior (based on some past struggles he's had), and I don't want to be an enabler by giving him a fix every time he wants one.

The power struggle: he feels like I'm taunting him and holding him captive because I hold the one thing he wants most, while I feel like I have to subject myself to something unpleasant or else my husband won't like me. I totally recognize that both of our perspectives are colored pretty negatively, and we both need to change that. (I'm working on it on my end; I'm working on being selfless and giving in that way, but for him it still seems like a pretty self-focused thing.) I'm trying hard to understand his perspective, and he's trying to understand mine, but this difference in desires still causes fights. I hate it. I just want the contention to stop, I want us to be equally yoked, and I want us to be on the same team. Right now it feels like we're fighting a never-ending battle, because if we have sex too, much I'm unhappy, but if we don't have sex enough, he's unhappy, and there is no balance here.

So, Board writers... have any of you been through this kind of thing with your spouse? What have you done? What do you recommend? Should I just suck it up and convince myself that I want to jump his bones twice a day, or should he fight his urges and learn to be okay with getting it 3 times a week like other couples do? Any ideas on how to work through this? (I've already read And They Were Not Ashamed, so that suggestion has already been taken care of. It didn't help much with the conflict piece.)

Sincerely,
-Wife

A:

Dear person,

Oh man. Your question makes me feel really sad. You're being pretty matter-of-fact about everything, but I think it would be really hard to feel like your husband only behaves in a decent way toward you because he wants sex at the end of the day. He thinks that you "laugh too much"? Your stress is something he has to "put up with"? All in the services of getting sex? I could be wrong but it sounds like you don't feel like he enjoys any other aspect of your relationship other than sex. Collectively, my reaction toward this is sadness.

First off, you aren't alone in this power struggle. Honestly, we have this power struggle on the level of our entire society. For more information, this article does a really good job of highlighting the issues. It's a good read. I'll give you a sneak peek: Please don't invalidate your pain, it is important. Women are culturally conditioned to invalidate their pain because of the deeply-ingrained male-centric way that people think about sex. Also, having sex two or three times a day is quite a lot. That sounds exhausting. 

Honestly, it sounds like your relationship could benefit from couples therapy. I would recommend finding a really good couples therapist. I actually think that the problem is more on your husband's end because he seems to view his pleasure/release/whatever as being more important than your pain, but it seems you have reached an impasse. I doubt he would agree if you just told him, "I think you have problems and need to go to therapy." But maybe he would be willing to do couples. 

Best of luck with the situation.

-Sheebs

A:

Dear Wife,

If your husband's sex drive is that high, maybe he should look for releases that have fewer negative consequences for you. There are sexual activities you can participate in that can help relieve that stress that don't involve penetrative sex, or if you're both comfortable with the idea, he could masturbate. You can also look into buying lube that would make sex less painful for you, or spend more time with foreplay so you're more aroused.

But you definitely need to keep the lines of communication open, so that you both understand how the other person feels. He may not understand that sex is physically painful for you if you aren't properly aroused, and you may not understand his pain either. I agree with Sheebs that a couples therapist would likely be helpful as well, as sex is an emotionally charged topic and already a source of tension in your relationship.

Love,

Luciana

posted on 08/07/2018 5:08 p.m.
"And They Were Not Ashamed" by Laura Brotherson is a book that has been recommended on this board in the past. If couples therapy isn't in the cards for you, this book might help give you real ideas for how to deal with and understand each other intimately in marriage.
posted on 08/08/2018 2:06 a.m.
I am really concerned by your description of how your husband treats you. Even within a marriage, consent is a thing, and it doesn’t sound like he cares whether you enthusiastically consent to every sexual encounter. You have a fundamental right to not have sex if you don’t want to.
Please consider seeing a counselor individually to help you work through your feelings and learn to validate your own desires, as well as learn communication techniques.