mature couple lying in bed together

I’m 39 and have been married to my husband, whom I love very much, for 12 years. We’re about the same age. He is a wonderful husband and I know he loves me dearly. The problem is that we have never (!) had a good sex life. My past experiences tell me that when I first have sex with a man, it is never all that good, but the newness counteracts that. After a while, when you have learned each others’ likes and dislikes, you create good sex. So, my husband & I married after just a month and I wasn’t worried, we’d get good at sex together, right? Well, he runs his race no matter what–for 12 years. For example, he is a very sloppy kisser and when he wasn’t responding to my signals to adjust the kissing, after a couple of months I finally said in a playful manner, “This is how I like to kiss” & I showed him. He was so offended & hurt that we haven’t kissed since (open mouth that is). He is angry with me for never wanting to have sex, yet he won’t listen to what I want or need. He gets his education from porn. Foreplay to him means to rub my erogenous zones for 10 minutes before penetrating. He always complains that I’m not passionate, but I turn inwards trying to get excited enough to where it won’t be too uncomfortable or even hurt. I have talked to him about needing foreplay, and that I’m not ready to have my special zones rubbed right away, to touch me everywhere else to build up desire. He tries to accomodate me, but touches me without intent just to get it over with so he can get to the good spots. He just doesn’t know how to do it and I don’t know how to teach him. I have never ever had this issue before. I bought him a book on foreplay once but he never read it. He was again hurt & thinks that sex shouldn’t be that difficult. He’ll buy toys for me and erotic books, etc since he sees me as having a sexual dysfunction problem rather than us having a communication problem. He has had several partners before me by the way. To make matters worse he has a very high sex drive and I feel like I could live the rest of my life without ever having sex again at this point. We have sex about 3 times a week, which he feels is not enough. I’m to the point that I don’t even know what I like because it has been 15 years since I had good sex and I’m angry about it because I feel like I have been robbed of my own sexuality. How do I communicate to him what I need without hurting his feelings? He is American and I’m from a country where sex is not as taboo. We had good sex eduaction in school & we learned the importance of foreplay for women around age 16 I think. Anyway, I just don’t know what to do. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.


  • Michael Castleman says:

    It sounds to me like you have three problems–(1) a desire difference (he wants sex more often than you do), (2) a communication problem (he won’t listen to you and take your expressed desires seriously), and (3) anger and resentment because of 1 & 2. These are difficult issues, so it’s no wonder you feel so frustrated and angry.

    You have three choices: You can leave him. You can accept things as they are. Or you can change them. You say you love him deeply, so I don’t see you leaving. You’ve more or less accepted things his way for 12 years–including sex 3 times a week, which places you among the most sexually active long-term couples–but that no longer works for you. So it seems that you’re ready to insist on some changes. You have every right to do that … and from your tone, your marriage may be at risk if you don’t.

    Of course, change is difficult under the best circumstances, and asking for sexual changes is even harder. You say that he’s gotten hurt when you’ve asked for changes previously. Well, unfortunately, it seems like you’re going to have to hurt him–and maybe anger him–if you do what it’s going to take to get any semblance of what you want erotically. On the other hand, you have one thing in your favor, his high sex drive. I suspect that if you threaten to cut back on sex until he does things a little differently, you’ll get his attention .. his anger too, but that sounds like the price you’ll have to pay to have any chance of getting what you want. You might also offer a carrot–more sex if he does it your way.

    First, I suggest that you read several chapters in my book,“Sizzling Sex For Life”, that relate to your situation: How Sex Therapists Recommend Overcoming Desire Differences, Women Know Best: Men Should Heed Women’s Sexual Wisdom, Caressing Women: Advanced Erotic Tips for Men, Whole-Body Massage: The “Language” of Great Sex, Forget Foreplay, Cultivate Loveplay, and because you say he got his sex education from pornography, I urge you to check out The Real Problem with Porn: It’s Bad for Sex, which points out two dozen ways that porn-style sex turns off women and contributes to men’s sex problems. Read these articles yourself, and if you agree with them (I think you will), insist that he read them, saying that your suggestions for changes are not simply YOUR preferences, they’re what sex experts recommend.

    If discussion of the articles doesn’t coax him down the road to sexual changes, then I would strongly urge you to consult a sex therapist. For more about how sex therapy works, read the article, An Intimate Guide to Sex Therapy. To find a sex therapist near you, visit the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, the Society for Sex Therapy and Research, or the American Board of Sexology.

    If he won’t accompany you to a sex therapist, I urge you to go by yourself. You’ll be able to vent and be heard and get emotional support, and the therapist may be able to help you coax him into changing or after a while, he may join you in therapy. Good luck, and please keep me informed of your progress.

  • JeremyZ says:

    I’m very, very curious what country you are from. From your grammar, better sex education and a less taboo attitude about sex, I would guess Holland?

    It also makes me wonder if your husband chose you for a wife partly because he saw you as having less inhibitions about sex than American women. AND he has a high sex drive so he thought he found a good solution for his needs. He sounds somewhat ignorant and selfish from what you write; unfortunately a certain segment of American men are like that: very macho, insensitive, no insight into themselves and little emotional intelligence. And caveman-like sexual expectations. Or he’s an engineer or some other occupation which has given him social superiority so he never had to negotiate anything in personal relationships—its also true that American women throw themselves at men with money and tend to reject others. (The American culture has been a breeding ground for these traits for generations). It’s possible you missed seeing these things because you were from a different culture and couldn’t perceive these traits in him, or you assumed all American men were like that.

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