I just read your entire blog from start to finish — took me a couple of late-night hours when I should be working on my taxes, due no later than 23 hours from now. I’ve been married for 21 years, together for 25, and we’ve had one of the great love affairs of this era — except sexually. We are emotionally, intellectually and spiritually compatible, we are or should be the envy of all couples everywhere. I feel a closeness, comfort and safety with her that is astounding, and she with me. We love each other with all of our hearts.
But sex has been so screwy practically from day one. I have to admit, I do think it’s more her problem. As far as I can tell, she never has had an orgasm — not even from masturbating, even with some Mighty Wurlitzer vibrators she bought and some fancy slim Italian model she paid serious money for. And the truth is, I don’t think she cares all that deeply whether she has ever experienced to much degree this thing called sex.
A few years back there was an interesting study that showed that sexual activity among women was inversely proportional to their educational level, which led to a very funny editorial cartoon I saw of a woman telling her husband in bed, “Not tonight, dear — I have a Ph.D.” My wife’s a post-doc. Not only that, she’s a successful businesswoman, so she’s constantly thinking and planning, even though we also have two children ages 7 and 3 (and an au pair). She thinks she doesn’t want to work so hard, but she has a drive big enough for three or four people. Just not for sex. And maybe, given how much sex and attraction has screwed up so many people’s lives, maybe she’s better off.
I’ve given up initiating, almost. Generally, she either wants it or she doesn’t, and if she does, she’ll let me know. If she doesn’t, nothing I do will change matters, and I end up feeling rejected. I masturbate a lot. Sometimes she wants it more than others, and comes on to me to make love. But I have to admit, I feel kind of resigned and not that enthusiastic anymore about it all, though I don’t think she knows this.
We’ve both gained weight over the years and we’re both trying to take it off right now — I miss her beautiful flat stomach, and maybe she misses that in me. She never had an amazingly sexy body though — but I’ve always loved it, because I loved her. Sometimes our flabby, almost 50 y.o. bodies strike me as a turn-off, as kind of absurd, although I have no trouble getting aroused when the occasion arises.
What I’m asking here is, is there any hope? You seem to have done some homework, talked to some “experts.” Can we ever have a great sex life? Even though she seems, once in a blue moon, to actually really want sex — or else she knows that if I don’t have it, I’ll go crazy or get truly weird — I think I feel cut down, in some basic way, that I can’t ever satisfy her (and man, I’ve tried at times until my fingers were sore and my tongue was sprained).
At my worst moments, I think that this is basically my fate — I have tremendous love, but I will never know what it’s like to satisfy a woman sexually (I was almost totally inexperienced when I got together with her). … continued …
Once in a while I fantasize about a shapely, younger, sexually excited woman. I wonder what it might feel like to be a little dominant, in control, successful, not to be always so equal or so one-down to the woman in my life (even though she will freely admit she emotionally needs me enormously and could never even function without me).
We still have little kids. Her career is especially intense right now. Maybe life might become a little more relaxing and conducive to better sex later on, but I have my doubts. We’ve been together for so long, through so many stages, I’m not confident that it’s ever going to change that much, and my low expectations stance seems to keep the sexual peace best. On one level, I shouldn’t complain at all; having such an amazing partnership should be enough.
I’ve never been able to share this stuff this intimately with anybody, not even my closest friends, so thank you for this opportunity, at least. What do you think of all this?
Thanks, Kerry (not my real name) Now I better get my taxes done.
Hey, Kerry, thanks for reading!
What I’m asking here is, is there any hope?
I want to answer “yes,” but I’m going to have to say, “It depends,” because of this part of your question:
Can we ever have a great sex life?
You know what I’m going to say, don’t you? I’m going to say that the answer depends on what you consider a “great” sex life.
I think there is considerable hope in your situation because she is still actually initiating. One of the things that struck me as very important was the orgasm question.
You said, “As far as I can tell, she never has had an orgasm — not even from masturbating, even with some Mighty Wurlitzer vibrators she bought and some fancy slim Italian model she paid serious money for.”
To me the crucial words were “as far as I can tell.” Could she be having orgasms in private masturbation with these sex toys? The reason I ask is that it seems a little odd to lay down serious green on vibrators if she didn’t get significant pleasure.
This is the possibility I’m turning over in my mind: that she is the kind of woman who cannot have an orgasm when she’s being “watched” or when the orgasm is being engineered by someone else — even a very very Beloved and Trusted someone else. It’s similar to not being able to pee when there are others around who might hear or see you, or stuttering when someone is waiting for you to speak but not when you’re talking to yourself.
Many women also can’t stop thinking about how long they’re taking to “get there,” how hard their partner is trying, and what an inadequate female they are if they can’t come even when he’s wearing his fingers down to the nubs or getting cramps in his tongue in the effort to “make” her come. If a woman needs really major and continuous clitoral stimulation to achieve orgasm — and a certain percentage of women do — she will often “give up” on the idea of ever having an O with a partner, because she can’t stand the embarrassment of needing so much “work,” or being reminded over and over again in intimate circumstances that she’s a lousy excuse for a Pornobabe.
Thinking of these things is a very special kind of “distraction.” But when she’s alone with a vibrator, there are no distractions. She can concentrate on her fantasies and her pleasure without worrying about what her partner is doing or thinking or wanting. For many women, being able to disconnect from those concerns is sometimes the difference between coming and not.
And I don’t mean to be insulting, but have you actually asked her if she’s ever had an orgasm? Given the circumstances I suspect here (and let’s be clear it’s only a suspicion and I could be totally wrong), I wouldn’t ask this question during a sexual encounter. I’d take it completely out of a possibly “threatening” context, perhaps during a quiet private dinner or some other occasion when you’re both feeling more relaxed than usual, and preface it with something like, “Can I ask you a very difficult question, dear? I won’t be upset and I don’t want you to be upset that I’m asking, but have you ever had an orgasm?” You two seem to have a good enough relationship otherwise that this might not be the “pressurizing” question it might seem for other couples whose basic relationship is shaky.
You want to make it clear that you are not just asking for yourself. You would like to know her heart and her body and her needs and pleasures, of course, but not because you want to “get to work” on her, or “fix” her or anything. Heaven forfend.
And you also need to ask if your perception that she doesn’t “care all that deeply whether she has ever experienced to much degree this thing called sex” is correct. It may be. Far be it from me to say that women — or men, for that matter — should always care desperately about having lots of sex and lots of orgasms in order to be considered “normal.”
But again, the investment in vibrators indicates to me that there is some interest there, that she has a basic concern about finding or maintaining a sexual self, in being a sexual person. Whether any such concern is self-generated or the result of outside influences, I don’t know.
Even though she seems, once in a blue moon, to actually really want sex — or else she knows that if I don’t have it, I’ll go crazy or get truly weird
I would tend to think that a woman who doesn’t initiate sex often has a genuine desire for it when she does. “Duty” sex is not the sort of thing women volunteer for, generally speaking. And maybe now’s the time to say that even non-orgasmic sex can be very nice for a woman in a variety of ways. Just being held and penetrated, not to mention enjoying being able to give YOU such pleasure, is a lovely experience on its own for some women. At the very least it tells her you still love her and you can still get it up for her and all that validation jazz. So I’d advise assuming that she really wants you to make love to her when she initiates.
Which is what gives me hope. If she volunteers, even if it’s only every once in a while, she’s still in the erotic game. What would be good to know is what prompts her to initiate sex. When does she approach you? What are the circumstances? Is it after a movie, or after she’s been reading a book? Is it after a bath and a glass of wine? Is it on vacation or when the kids are out of the house? Is it when she’s finished with a work project (celebration) or had a bad day (comfort)?
I think I feel cut down, in some basic way, that I can’t ever satisfy her (and man, I’ve tried at times until my fingers were sore and my tongue was sprained).
Again, we need to know if this is true. Have you really never “satisfied” her? Try not to think of “giving her an orgasm” or “making her come” as the only definition of HER satisfaction. It might very well be YOUR measure of “success,” and be something YOU really would love to experience (because it would validate you and fulfill your fantasies), but it may not be necessary from her side of the equation. In fact, your painful and extended efforts to achieve the Goal, make the Score, get your peak experience of “satisfying a woman sexually” might even be distressing, pressuring or distracting her in bed.
Once in a while I fantasize about a shapely, younger, sexually excited woman. I wonder what it might feel like to be a little dominant, in control, successful, not to be always so equal or so one-down to the woman in my life.
You know what? She might be wondering what it feels like to be momentarily dominated and “taken over” a little bit herself. Right now it seems you’re sort of waiting passively on her initiative and fretting a lot about her satisfaction. This is muy admirable, of course, but maybe, just maybe, she’d like to feel that you’re so incredibly turned on by her, that her sexual allure is just so irresistable, that you just can’t take the time to work obsessively on her orgasm or Think of Her Needs. With your actions you might say, “No production number tonight, my love. You are too beautiful and too sexy, and I am too turned on. I Have To Have You Now.”
I don’t recommend this approach as a steady diet, of course, because it’s, well, selfish, but it could be the perfect change-up in this situation. Just a thought.