[Original blog commenter] “Familyman” posed a question to me in email that I’ve gotten several times before in different forms, so I asked if I could answer it publicly. After some very kind gratitude and compliments (curtsey), he writes:
Let me ask you, guys: isn’t masturbating what you sometimes PREFER to do because it is quick, concentrated, selfish relief without the necessity to Think Of Her Too that partner sex involves?
Add to that impulse the fact that for many women masturbation is the ONLY guaranteed route to orgasm, and you have a big part of the usual answer to this question. If your wife doesn’t always come easily and quickly via intercourse (and let’s face it, relatively few women do), she will prefer masturbation as a fast route to relaxation (the “sleeping pill come”).
Some other parts of the answer that might figure in at different concentrations for different women in different situations have been discussed all along in this blog. Here are a few ideas.
Distraction: When she’s masturbating she can concentrate completely on her own sensations and come more quickly. She doesn’t have to screen out anything “distracting” that you’re doing.
Discomfort: Since she’s doing everything herself, she can rearrange all the stimulus exactly to her satisfaction and never do anything even slightly uncomfortable. With you, there is your weight, the need for lubrication, the chance for an awkward thrust, the sorting out of limbs, the catching of a hair….
Insecurity: If she has sex with you, she has to show you her body, open it up to your judgment, and thus open it up to her OWN judgment. If she masturbates she can just close her eyes and retreat into her own head without having to deal with a PERSON who will be reacting to her and her “performance.”
Anger: She doesn’t want to be nice to you. She doesn’t feel relaxed, warm and affectionate because she’s subconsciously (or even consciously) pissed off. She cannot bear the thought of letting you “pierce” her body with your “sword” or to take pleasure from her. She’s Mad As Hell And Won’t “Take It” Anymore. (Heh.)
Boredom: You just don’t turn her on like that guy in her head does. In that sense, she really isn’t in the mood…to have sex with YOU.
Okay, okay, not all of these things are likely to be operating in any given instance, and I’ve probably overlooked something else that could be going on for Familyman, but those are a few of the ideas that I have that could explain why his wife is masturbating but still refusing sex with him.
The masturbation IS a hopeful sign, though. It means she is not completely shut down sexually. The embers are still glowing.
|COMMENTS ON THIS BLOG POST:|
Crushed! Crushed? Sounds as if your male ego has been spat upon. In your lament, you never said anything about how you’d love to help her enjoy her body, it’s sensations and to benefit from you helping her be pleasured.
Take her out to a nice, slow dinner. Walk down the street, arm in arm. Look in the shop windows. Put your arm around her and tell her–truthfully I hope–you love her, that you need her, that you have the greatest admiration for her and how she has helped your family and you grow and enjoy your lives together. Tell her that in your eyes she is beautiful. Turn and give her a passionate, full mouth kiss… right there on Main Street.
Ask her how you can be more what she wants, how you can be more helpful to her. Remind her no matter what or when, you’ll be there for her.
Do this for a month or two…
Then, come back here and let us know if your wife has been able to re-inflate your ego and whatever else it is that you think is deflated these days.
Ron • 10/31/03; 10:40:36 AM
| Ron, come on. Be careful. His pain is real pain, whether it comes from being genuinely, personally rejected for cause or simply left out for practical reasons. I don’t dispute your suggested remedies, necessarily, but the punitive tone you’re using to express it makes me wince.
Because, it MIGHT not have a lot to do with Familyman himself. Wanting a quick, efficient orgasm can be quite different from wanting sex, per se. For most men, sex tends to be the preferred activity. For many women, it’s just the opposite.
(One thing I left out of the possibilities to consider is that the “empty vagina” orgasm can also be much more intense.)
Julia Grey • 10/31/03; 12:23:25 PM
I will admit my problem has a lot to do with my ego, the male ego. Years ago early on in our marrige I had asked my wife if she ever masturbated (she had a catholic school upbringing) and she said “NO”. I believed her because she has always been pretty much a missionary only type person. No oral sex performed on me but really enjoys recieving oral and does reach orgasm from it. But I digress.
So now she is 32 and I guess is having an increased sex drive which is fine. I was just shocked, surpirsed or hurt that she does masturbate coupled with the ever increasing turn downs on having sex with me. I also wondered is this something new that she has started or did she lie. I know that I have to get over it. She should be able to masturbate and I understand your points about all that is tied to her willing to give herself to me physically. I have some things to work on and will. I was blind to the complexness of intercourse between a husband and wife. I am learning though.
I can see how masturbation for her can be different and enjoyable on her level without complications. I forgot to mention that she reads ‘hot’ Harliquin romance novels in the tub and in bed even on the night she masturbated next to me thinking I was asleep. In fact she will read them while I massage her and perform oral on her to the point of orgasm. Kind of wierd but it just somehow came to that one night and happens alot.
In terms of what kind of husband I am I take her out to dinner about every 2 weeks(something I just started in 2003 after years of not taking her out, she says she has a long memory too). I also give her NIGHTLY massages sometimes with the hope of sex afterward. I do recieve compliments on how great my massages feel to her. She says that I could make money giving massages.The massages always last 45 to 60 minutes before I move on to sexual petting. I use massage oils, always light scented candles and play all kinds of her favorite music on low. Everytime on the nights after we make love I give her a scalp massage until she falls asleep. I do not just roll over and crash after I am done. I am also clean, I exercise, never drink or smoke etc.. My guess is that she is upset on some level and it is transfering to the bedroom. The kids are frequently an issue. Our younger son and daughter 3 & 5 are ours and the older 2 14 & 16(living with us) are from my previous marrige. Discipline on the older two has always been an issue.
Over the years in fights she has said that I love the step kids more than her. It is like she is using a power play or something when it comes to the step kids. I love them a lot and they are all in all very good kids althletic, marching band, no drugs etc.. although I sometimes feel that I hardly ever get a pat on the back from her on how well they have turned out(although others tell me all the rime). It is almost like jealousy that I sense.
Familyman • 10/31/03; 1:37:52 PM
Lotta issues here… not ones that I’d care to address beyond what I’ve said. Attraction and all that parallels it are complex issues. Here, we only see one side of the situation so no judgments are in order and any advice would be tentative at best. That said, raising kids is one hell of a drain on anyone’s composition and can account for all sorts of altered behaviors… stress makes all of us a little weird.
I guess from where I stand I always assume the most significant contributor to a problem is the one suffering it… mostly because that empowers the sufferer to do all within their power to change outcomes. Starting out with “what can I do to change this” is often better than looking for systemic causes or trying to identify things the other person does that creates or contributes to the problem.
And Julia… if you read what I said again, you may find we said almost the same thing. When sharing sex with another is not as rewarding as was anticipated–I think that’s what Familyman was saying–sex is likely not the problem.
Ron • 10/31/03; 8:01:28 PM
I find this all hard to believe. This has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with power. First of all, I have been reading all of this blog.
As a woman, personally, I hope if I ever start acting the way these women do towards a man that I supposedly love, that he has the courage to back me into a wall and make me listen to him.
Gentlemen, it is my personal belief that you had better take the upper hand and tell these women flat out to either put out or get out. It is that simple.
Lynn • 11/1/03; 4:40:37 AM
Lynn — it is only that simple if the gentleman in question is prepared to let her “get out” if THAT is what she decides.
Stephanie • 11/1/03; 8:59:38 PM
Uh, have you simply asked? I mean, some of this is good. She seems to be in touch with a lot of her sexuality – maybe more than when you first got married.
So, if you can ask this without looking hurt (and thus conditioning her response), try “Okay you seem more interested in jilling off than having sex with me. What’s up? Just trying to get a handle on things.”
Roy Kay • 11/2/03; 4:47:07 PM
Hmmm..I can’t argue with Roy on that. Communication is a good idea. If she isnt communicating with her body mabey she will talk? Possibly a lot harder for both of you however a women seems to appreciate it when you enter her mind before you enter her body. Howevery if the problem is that she prefers fantacy (romantic novels) to reality (thats you sorry buddy) then she needs to face up to that. Mabey a gently pointed question might help her see what she is doing or it may help you understand what is really going on. How would she feel if you looked at pornos and had a rub before sleep? That is the equivelent of what she is doing. At risk of stereo typing, you are more visual and she is more emotive. All the best family man.
Joel Young • 11/3/03; 3:10:28 AM
I guess it could be all about ‘power’. I am going to try and communicate directly with her tonight. I do not talk to her directly about things that may end up in an argument very often. Although this weekend I gave her a ‘Thank you’ card with a 3 page note giving recognition to all that she does as a ‘stay-at-home-mom’. I thanked her for all that she does for the household, kids, etc… and bought her flowers. I gave her the card without any strings attached and did not ask or pressure her for sex at all. She seemed to appreciate the card and talked to me a lot this weekend and was in a pretty good mood. It felt good. I am thinking that a strong possibility for the lack of passion may be her insecurtiy with her body. She talks about how much weight she has put on since her triatholon last spring (15 pounds). It has been a tough summer for her with her watching her Dad battle cancer. He lost the battle 2 weeks ago.
I have been as supportative as humanly possible through the whole ordeal. Could she be reacting or should I say ‘not-reacting’ sexually toward me becasue of losing her Dad?? How should I react toward her if I kindly ask her tonight if ‘we can make love’ and she says no?? I do not want to get angry because that would spiral into an argument. Should I say that I am here for you if you want to be intimate. Or should I ask her what is wrong?
Familyman • 11/3/03; 6:16:21 AM
I do think the loss of her male parent is a very emotional time for a woman and that it might at least temporarily complicate any troubled relationship she has with the man in her life. What was the nature of her relationship with him? Was it close or hostile? Why?
One thing that’s troubling me somewhat, Familyman, is a sense that you are standing wayyyy off from your wife emotionally, OBSERVING and CALCULATING. “I have done this, I have done that, she had a tough time and I was supportive and I made this effort and that effort and I am thinking of trying another tack next.” Maybe it’s just a function of seeking advice here, but there’s something bothering me about it.
However, it IS better that you are attempting to think sensibly and calmly rather than reacting in Trent Lottian, “mow it all down” mode out of sheer mindless pain and anger as “Lynn” suggested.
I think that your reaction should be guided as much as possible by an attempt to step back a bit from your preoccupation with Getting Sex. I know that’s the goal here, but you might have gotten so singleminded that everything you are doing in relation to your wife is TOO focused on “I’m doing this to get sex,” and she’s sensing that subterranean agenda.
What you really want to do is UNDERSTAND what is going on, right?
I suggest you ask, gently and calmly, trying to convey that you can “take” whatever she has to say in reply. Tell her that you know she masturbates. It will probably be a shocking/scary moment for her, but if you convey understanding and love, you’ll get through it, I think.
Good luck, and let us know what happens.
Julia Grey • 11/3/03; 7:12:38 AM
Her relationship to her Dad was close in the sense that she always had great respect for him. He raised 4 daughters all straight A students with high althletic achievments. My wife has always said that growing up ‘I would never want to make my Dad mad’ or ‘you never want to see my Dad mad'(he is a big man). They pleased him but feared him. For the 10 years that I knew him(very nice man), he would sit and I mean SIT in his recliner and ask either my wife or his wife to ‘change the channel’ on the tv or ‘I would like a drink/ice cream etc. He was literally waited on hand&foot(which I am not and she jokes about that, she absolutely will not get me anything). Emotionally NONE of the sisters EVER hug,kiss or touch their DAD. My wife has openly said from the beginning that she ‘is not a touchy feely person’ and ‘I need my space’ etc..
I on the other hand come from a family were hugging and kissing your parents was routine. I will say that over the years if I mistakingly or in the throws of an argument have constructively critisized something about her Dad or less so Mom, my wife goes off the richter scale to the point of getting physical. So needless to say I have a hard time even broaching some subjects with her let alone diving in to them…. But I do need to and will gently and calmly try to UNDERSTAND what she is thinking and feeling these days. And you are right I need to get this subterranean agenda that she senses off my mind and focus on the relationship. Thanks.
Familyman • 11/3/03; 7:46:27 AM
“I will say that over the years if I mistakingly or in the throws of an argument have constructively critisized something about her Dad or less so Mom, my wife goes off the richter scale to the point of getting physical.”
Sounds like a physically and emotionally abusive relationship to me. The no sex and her knowing that he hears her masturbate is nothing more than emotionally abusive and a power move.
So what is it that we tell women in emotionally and physically abusive relationships, to get out of it as fast as possible.
Lynn • 11/3/03; 2:36:44 PM
Isn’t it funny what we each read into situations? I guess that’s a main appeal of advice columns, that we can see these sometimes awful predicaments through the lenses of our own needs and wants.
If I strip away the male/female stuff, I see someone who a) wants to be caught and b) is either looking for some form of confrontation or is crying for help. It’s not that masturbation is bad – the opposite – but that the context is one where she’s daring a response. What kind of response? I don’t think anyone knows. If you try to be rough, you’ll probably end up being tender and vice versa. You just have to start.
And there is another question: what if she can’t deal with it? Cross your bridges as you come to them.
As a guy, I was more perturbed by your passive responses – listening outside the door, pretending to be asleep, speaking of UNDERSTAND. Even the most loving relationships require authority from one to the other at some times. She probably needs that now, especially since she grew up in such an authoritarian household. You can’t wimp out on her. Perhaps the response to Lynn’s comments is that you need to be strong, to show her that you’re the man in her life – not that masturbation is bad but that it’s much better when you’re also getting laid, preferably together.
jonathank • 11/3/03; 2:53:22 PM
Uh…Jonathan, can you tell me about a time in your marriage when your wife attempted to assert HER authority over YOU and how that accomplished something that she couldn’t have managed just as well by making an effort to understand your emotions and peer-to-peer negotiation?
Just curious about this “bringin’ down the hammer” theory.
Julia Grey • 11/4/03; 6:25:10 AM
Well my wife was in what appeared to be a good mood (talkative) last night. So I asked if she was interested in heading up to bed, turn down the lights and make love. She didn’t say NO but didn’t say yes. So I followed up by not getting mad and continued to listen to her talk about her day with the kids and tomorrows plans etc… I think she noticed that I was listening intently so as she undressed for bed she looked in the mirror and made several comments about losing weight on her stomach, butt, etc… and I nodded and tried to give her encouragement.
Interestingly she continued to talk for about 20 minutes in bed with the lights out about wanting to get in shape. The conversation sure seemed to point out that I think she is suffering from depression. She admitted that she eats too much and too often and can’t get motivated to go to the fitness club. She said that last Thursday while the 2 young kids were at their 5 hour preschool(once a week), she didn’t want to do anything for herself even though she knew she should. She just colapsed on the couch completely unmotivated. She says that she has been soooo tired lately, yet she sleeps a ton especially on weekends. A lack of motivation was her primary theme throughout the conversation. So I am very concerned and know that she needs help.
I will continue to try and be supportive and not think of SEX for now. I will gently encourage her to workout because I know that she will feel better if she can get the ball rolling. Last January-March she trained so hard for a charity triathalon and felt GREAT about herself(sex was regular and unbelivable back then to). But it has been down hill since then. I do think that exercise is better than ‘pills’. This is all scary because the family needs her(and she is their for the most part) but it has to turn around soon or could spiral downward fast.
Familyman • 11/4/03; 7:59:29 AM
That’s frighteningly easy. The life that goes on in my head sometimes absorbs me too much and I lose contact with people. That then leads to depression. More than once, my wife has simply ordered me to stop, ordered me to see people, etc. I’ve done the same with her. She went through a couple of blue periods that I interrupted with firm intervention. The conversations go, in essence: you’re a mess, stop this, get off your ass and start seeing people/doing this or that and you’ll feel better.
I think there’s a world of understanding in knowing what a person needs. For example, my youngest child was very unhappy and made us miserable. One day, she pushed me too far and I decided, only partly on the conscious level, that she needed to know how bad she was being. She wasn’t responding to basic discipline – or explanation or pleading – so I yelled at her, really yelled at her. I didn’t threaten her physically, but she got it with both barrels. The next day, she was ridiculously happy and that continued for about a month and a half. When she stated to get awful again, I talked to my wife and told her that I thought I should yell at her again, not as much but enough. That worked; she was happy and cheerful right away. It took longer for that to wear off and the next time required only a standard reprimand. I realized that she needed this, that she needed to know her limits, to know what she shouldn’t or couldn’t do so she could relax and do anything else without care. For many years, she has been the most delightful person imaginable.
People are animals. We learn to respond to stimuli, to our perceived limits, to expectations. (For the latter, see the research on the effect of expectations on IQ test results in minorities – meaning that the phrasing of the expectation had measurable positive or negative impact.) People are trained by life, similarly to the way a pet cat or dog or bird is trained. If your dog bowls people over, that dog has never been taught not to do that. Whining children who demand things are not very different from the begging animal who knows that persistent whining gets the treat.
When someone is in pain, when your wife is acting out sexually in front of you, is the best thing for her to engage her in a discussion about the causes of pain in her life? Or is it to help her feel better? Of course, it would be great if you could, in the course of a 30 minute conversation, pull together all the twisted threads of her domineering dad, but that’s really a ten to twenty year deal. And isn’t she more likely to be interested in talking and in you and isn’t she more likely to trust you when she’s doing better?
Julia, I’m all in favor of understanding, but many people are trapped in a cycle of talking/not talking until they are compelled by what’s been bubbling underneath to do something drastic – like leaving, like an affair. Action is a requirement of life. The metaphor I use in my head is this: if you’re on an ocean-going ship and there’s an iceberg ahead, do you a) go into the history of how the ship’s crew was hired, who is in what cabin, etc. or b) turn hard right rudder? I think the latter is the best solution to that particular problem. In this case, I’m sure there are a lot of issues they need to work on – including the husband’s apparent fascination with his wife’s masturbation history (control issues? voyeurism? fear of her sexuality?), but why not deal with the matter that keeps them from being intimate? If they’re intimate, then maybe they can talk. Or not, but maybe they’ll be happier with each other.
This man’s wife grew up in an authoritarian house, meaning that she had little free rein, was under close scrutiny and was subjected to discipline more than necessary. (I believe in an “authoritative” house, meaning that the parents are in charge, but manage their authority.) In other words, she may be extremely sensitized to discipline. She may rebel against it but she also has a need for it. Her husband needs to take a firm hand with her – not always, but when she’s crying out for help like this. If he doesn’t, then he’s letting her down.
Here’s a final example, one of my children goes off into the city with friends. Some of her friends, many in fact, don’t get the nature of responsibility. They resent having to call – and bluntly, their parents may bug them way too much. My daughter was telling me how she’s been explaining that if you have a routine – “I’ll call you when I’m leaving here” or getting on the train, etc. – and stick to that, then life is easier, your parents trust you to do more, you don’t get bugged and you don’t worry either. These things are taught, which requires a mix of authority and communication. After all, authority that’s senseless is, by definition, senseless.
jonathank • 11/4/03; 8:35:56 AM
Hm…Familyman, I’m wondering: while your wife was talking about how she was so fat and had no motivation and everything, did you ever say anything like, “but you’re still beautiful to me, sweetheart”? I know that sounds kind of hokey, but I’m having this vision in my head of her jabbering along, continually putting herself down in this long stream of consciousness, and you just nodding your head, agreeing with her…you see what I mean?
Jonathan, I think I see what you’re saying, but I have to disagree that your wife’s encouragements or … ahem… insistent exhortations to you, or yours to her, are or should be understood as “authoritarian” in the same sense as your parental yelling at your daughter to establish “limits” to her behavior.
Perhaps it’s the way you’re expressing it, but my naval alarm system starts going AH-OOOOGAH! AH-OOOOGAH! GENERAL QUARTERS! Whenever any adult begins talking about “taking a firm hand with” or “asserting authority over” (or, as the ever-entertaining Lynn put it earlier, “backing into a wall”) when they’re speaking of their intimate relationship with another adult.
Not that I think it’s what you’re recommending, J, but it’s a continual mystery to me why (romantic fantasy worlds aside), so many men seem to believe that they can blackmail, ultimatize or otherwise simply BULLY women into being warm and willing sexual partners.
Julia Grey • 11/4/03; 12:25:56 PM
| I think the authoritarian approach is one that has the potential to backfire badly. Adults are neither children nor ships. It’s great that children and ships respond well to authority and discipline — but who wants to be married to a child or a ship? Adults don’t require the same boundaries as a child and they generally have the skills to set their own boundaries (or at least should be heading towards acquiring such skills). Adults also aren’t inanimate objects, to be steered one way or another — they have emotions, they can resent attempts at being steered, they can blame others and they can get up and leave if they don’t like being steered.
To assume that one has, at any point, authority over one’s equal partner seems incredibly disrespectful to the autonomy of someone you purportedly respect. I can think of a few situations where this might be appropriate — if you married someone with the mental capacity of a child, for example; or if you happen to be playing dominance/submission or your relationship is structured along those lines. But that sort of relationship or role has to be worked out to begin with and boundaries set by both people beforehand.
You can always tell your depressed spouse to get off his or her ass. You can order them to, you can nag them to, or whatever. Is it likely that they will do so because they acknowledge that you have some sort of authority over them, or is it more likely that they will do so because you have convinced them that it would be good for them, or because they’re tired of being nagged and want you to shut up about italready? You can think you know what is best for someone, but ultimately you can’t make them do it unless you’re willing to resort to physical force or threats — and that’s not the way to deal with your spouse. Convincing or nagging someone is not the same as asserting authority over them. You can always argue for your case, but their decisions are ultimately their own.
Once someone grows up and is able to think for themselves, you HAVE to let them think for themselves. If that includes making mistakes, so be it. You can be concerned about them, you can point out that they’re making a mistake, you can do everything in *your* power to help them, but you can’t think for them. In my opinion, it’s wrong to think that you should. It’s doing them a disservice. Everyone needs to learn to deal with reality. Depending on other people to deal with it for youmay be nice if you depend on responsible people. However, there’s no reason to assume that responsible people will always be there to be depended on. The next person you may have to depend on may be exploitative or abusive. It’s always best to be able to think for yourself, to be able to establish your own boundaries and your own discipline. If you’re unable to do this, you should be under the authority of a doctor or a therapist. Your goal should be autonomy. Authority may be something that helps in the short run but it’s something one should head away from, not towards.
So authority can backfire in a couple of ways — first, you won’t get a positive reaction out of someone who resents it and rebels against it. If Familyman’s wife resents authority, this will only drive a bigger, fatter wedge between them. Second, even if she does appreciate the authoritarian approach and discipline, it may be making her less able to deal with things later in order to make her happy now.
So. That’s my spiel about authority: thinking == good, not thinking == bad.
munkymu • 11/4/03; 2:14:44 PM
This exchange shows the attractions and limits of “multi-logues” that are typed. For example, munkymu makes several good points about the nature of authority, etc. but of course, to me, they don’t have anything to do with what I meant. I’m not criticizing, merely pointing out that it’s in the nature of these exchanges to read x, take it to mean y in your own head and respond based on your own concerns. We all do that and that, in some forums, leads either to threads spiralling out of control or flame wars based either on arguments over what was meant vs heard or over who controls the meaning of the words at issue.
For example, to say “to assume that one has … authority over one’s equal partner seems incredibly disrespectful” is, to me, one reading of what I said but certainly not one that I would have intended. Nor could I understand the idea “once someone grows up and is able to think for themselves, you HAVE to let them”, since I can’t imagine anything else.
And that is my problem with these mutilogues in a nutshell, that they generally become either a) assumptions that what the other person is saying is nonsense or b) that the other person’s comments are more rational and level-headed than they actually are. Everyone’s speech can be picked over, each metaphor pulled apart – the purpose of metaphor is, after all, illustration by vivid picture, not exact comparison and the “proper response”, to quote an old teacher of mine, is to challenge metaphor by suggesting one more appropriate. And many times the problem a person presents – well, I have this problem with my wife – is just the tip of a huge iceberg, where we latch on to a tiny piece (she’s fat, he’s silent, etc.) and construct an image based on that which likely bears so little resemblance to the reality as to be meaningless.
Again, no criticism is intended. The point of my comments – as I would think Lynn’s comments about getting out – are not that they are intended to be the answer, but are responses that this gentleman will evaluate and deal with in his own context. No matter what anyone says, the most we are is a spur to his own thoughts. It’s like MacBeth, without the bloodshed, for the witches’ prophecy speaks to the ambition that already lurked within MacBeth’s heart.
Julia, as a direct response to your comment, I can think of a million examples of authority exerted, some blunt and some hidden. For example, one says I don’t want to go to this event or speak to your mother, completely against your wishes. Or one becomes an uncooperative obstacle to choosing where or what to eat. We exercise authority every day in every relationship and, as many people have written, all human relationships may be viewed as power exchanges. In a completely equal relationship, to the extent that exists and isn’t merely one of those imagined things which we pretend to have, authority is a matter of I want this more than you want this, so you should respect my choice. It’s very much the same thing with a child, a fact that becomes apparent each year as they grow and become far more adamant about their preferences and needs.
And again to respond specifically, we’ve both lived through the various decades and their hilarious labelling of human relations. The me decade. The sensitive male. To phrase this point with some intentional provocation, I’ve known a few women who don’t want a take charge kind of man. Just a few. Those relationships are almost sexual reversals of type, where the woman exhibits the classic dominant traits. I’d say the same thing runs pretty true to form among my many lesbian acquaintances. So someone in most relationships – actual, not ideal – typically exhibits a greater degree of authority.
But think about it – hasn’t that always been true? A downtrodden wife of the 19th century had dominion over household issues about which the husband might know nothing. In the modern world, in my relationship, I tend to have authority in some areas and my wife in others, partly because these are our interests, partly because of time constraints, partly because of factors more difficult to comprehend like the persistence of traditional role models in general life and the effect on our lives together of life outside the home. I was speaking with a woman who provides services to my company. I swear in front of her but other men in my company make a show of treating her with sensitivity. I swear in front of her – we are in a profane field – because I don’t exclude her, don’t wall her off from the true flavor of the conversation and thus from the actual tone of our business. But I have to go home, from this male-centric, power-driven world, and fit that into a different mental/emotional world in a comfortable way that doesn’t drive me, my wife or my kids nuts. How large is that effect? Beats me.
Men have long known that they can get laid more often by being less senstive, unless of course they’re pretending to be sensitive and are actually manipulative. A recent study confirmed that women prefer to have affairs with untrustworthy men. Thus, the eternal question: why do women go for jerks? Or another phrasing: why do women go for men who treat them like shit? For every woman who wants to be on a pedestal – note the intentional use of cliche – another wants to be under the heel. Good looking, bad looking, fat or thin, rich or poor – doesn’t matter, you can find a million women who want a man to tell them what to do. I’m saying this intentionally because that is the real world, not the ideal world where there are intimate relationship based on mutual understandings, etc. The truth is that we can, each and every one of us and without trying, name a large number of people about whom you wonder: “How do they make it through the day?”
jonathank • 11/4/03; 7:57:38 PM
Don’t have time to go into this in detail tonight, will try to get to more tomorrow, but if you’re talking about the study I think you’re talking about, it said that women who only wanted a brief sexual fling went for the “untrustworthy” type. The ones who embarked on real and long-lasting extra-marital relationships did NOT go for “jerks.” Is this the study you’re referring to?
But this is too much to talk about in comments alone. Will have to post.
Julia Grey • 11/4/03; 8:29:23 PM
Ah yes, authority and power how the two mingle. I have been very conscious of the authority issue in our marrige. My wife has strived hard to be authoritative on key issues such as behavior expectations and discipline of both our 2 younger children and (ouch!)her step children. Needless to say those conversations usually end up with both of us being silently bitter. Ultimatley I cave and try to see it her way(she is unbelievably & intelligently stubborn) because I chalk it up to the ‘give and take’ of marrige. I make my points as factually and logically as possible and then listen to her views. I have grown into this belief that I can’t always have it my way, especailly in marrige, if I want it to last, which I do. BUT I do honestly harbor/bury hard feelings over how much I have CONCEDED over the years and I still end up with a rocky relationship(and now sexless as well).
The thought crosses my mind occassionaly to ‘take charge’ and ‘screw her point of view, I know that I am right and she is wrong’ but for the most part I resist. The 1 or 2 times that I have tried the authoritative approach I catch ‘holy hell’, it backfires. My wife can be TOUGH and it is almost as though she fights with one hand tied behind her back(unless needed). Remember, she was a 4.0 student through high school/college and I was average. Out of nowhere she can ZING me better than my mother used to. So on the oil & water issues I TRY and say to myself that she has equal say in our marrige and decision and is very smart so do it her way. BOY IS IT TOUGH!
As far as last night she is continuing to be very talkative with me and I am listneing, encouraging and being UNDERSTANDING of her thoughts. After she made a small comment on her weight and her need to do something about it I told her that “she is beeutiful to me just the way she is.” She smiled and replied ‘spoken like a true husband’.
Familyman • 11/5/03; 6:34:55 AM
On the one hand, I may have been misinterpreting what jonathank meant by “authority”. On the other hand, the examples he uses still seem to run along with my concerns. However, I am in no way trying to flame, just express the idea that I disagree that there should be authority or power struggles in a relationship. I think that I and my SO have a relationship where authority doesn’t really play a role, and it works very well for us.
My SO and I are quite independent and we have a great deal of respect for each other’s autonomy. We generally resolve differences of opinion using a combination of reason, argument, apathy and compromise. When someone takes up a task, it’s their responsibility as long as the other person doesn’t care. If the other person does care, reasons for doing it one way as opposed to another are considered until it is decided that one way is clearly superior or that there isn’t much of a difference and the person that cares more does the task their way. If one person has superior experience, then their arguments tend to make more sense. But it doesn’t mean that they automatically win the argument on the basis of experience.
Anyway, if he wants me to go somewhere and I don’t want to go then I don’t go — unless I can be convinced otherwise. And if he doesn’t want to speak to someone that I want him to speak to, then he doesn’t. And if person A wants pizza and person B doesn’t but can’t offer a suitable alternative, then it’s fend-for-yourself night. Power struggles don’t get very far. “I want you to do this!” is likely to be met with either “Why?”, “No.”, or a complete lack of response.
I think this arrangement works well for us. It likely works for us because we are fairly similar in our tastes and beliefs, tend not play games, tend not to put up with manipulation and don’t get too explosive when we don’t get our way. I think it’s like a democracy but he says it’s a dictatorship of two.
However, it does make aspects of the relationship inefficient. Arguments can get lengthy. Sometimes, things don’t get done. It’s a tradeoff.
Of course, this isn’t very helpful to Familyman. If it were me, I’d stop conceding for the sake of peace. If you’re not convinced that she’s right about something, then ask for arguments — in plain language. Don’t let yourself be fast-talked into things or make snap decisions. Think things through for yourself. Be prepared to walk away when things get emotional and try not to put up with blackmail. Unchecked resentment eventually destroys a relationship, so you don’t have anything to lose that you aren’t going to lose anyway.
Of course, what works for me may not work for everyone. YMMV.
munkymu • 11/5/03; 1:38:38 PM
There’s something to be said for going somewhere you don’t want to go just because your SO does. It’s a matter of support, of expressing that the opinions of the SO do indeed matter, and that sometimes one’s own desires may be sublimated for the happiness of the partner.
It can be taken too far, of course, but it seems to me that the give-and-take is the most satisfying way to go – but not on a “I’ll go to the restaurant I hate but you love so you’ll give me oral sex later on.” It HAS to be, “I’ll go the restaurant I hate because you like it so much, and it’ll make you happy.” It can be a very difficult thing to follow through with – I, unfortunately, have been guilty of it myself – but can certainly strengthen the relationship (as long as there’s no bitching, buried resentment. I know, I know, this is all much harder than it sounds).
But back to Familyman…talk to her. Tell her what’s bothering you, but before you do that, what’s really bothering YOU? Is it the lack of sex, her unresponsiveness?
And correct me if I’m wrong, but “J’s” coments about “taking a stand” seem to be more in the mode of, “No more excuses, no more back pedalling. You both have to sit down and discuss this, at least on some level.” Listening is good, but you can’t spend forever talking about the symptoms and never get around to the cause. This isn’t a “change or leave” situation but a “I’m at my wits end because I feel like I’m doing something wrong when all I want is to be close to you, and for our relationship to be healthy.” (Again, correct me if I’m wrong on that.)
Josh • 11/6/03; 12:50:18 AM
All good points. Yes, we do need to sit down and dive into the REAL UNDERLYING issues between us. It seems to be harder and harder to do for a couple of reasons. 1) We probably both have buried resentment from 8 years of marrige in our 11 year relationship. In my mind and hers, we have had the knock down – long arguments that never really ended with satisfactory compromises. So we both feel that to have a deep talk it would end in another argument with nothing being resolved. Basically, we know each other all to well. 2) I think we both have a fear of divorce. She and I have close friends and family members that have had or are going through it and all the chaos. So I think in our heart of hearts we see the lesser of 2 evils here. Especially with the children envolved. We seem to have a silent understanding that we both need to try and make things work although it is a struggle.
I am 8 years older than she and I think she is going through what I realized years ago that marrige is a full time effort and is not easy and our ‘Disney’ ideals of the ‘living happily ever after’ were not exactly true(I think this is harder for women to accept). So bottom line we both don’t want to revisit old issues because we just don’t think that we will ever agree, so we are attempting to be good partners here in the present and moving forward. I do like munkymu’s formula for resolving issues I would love to follow a script. But I doubt that my wife would ever follow something like that. She would feel that she would lose the upper hand. One of her POWER moves is that she knows that I hate to argue let alone for extended periods of time and she will drag an argument out until 3:00am in the morning(which kills me because I am the one who works an office job during the day.) So any formula(beginning,middle,end) would benefit me not her.
On another note, we were intimate last night(the first time in a long time). I think my efforts to listen to her and UNDERSTAND may be having a small impact on how she feels towards me. I also did something different, after a 50 minute foot, leg and back massage(while she was reading her romance novel) I ASKED her if I had PERMISSION to play with her privates and was ready and willing to accept a ‘no’ answer. I figured that maybe she wasn’t comforatbale with my typical massage then automatic moves into heavy groping and petting. I felt that this would give her my recognition that she has the POWER when it comes to her body.
I also bought her a red rose on the way to work this morning and came back home to put it in the kitchen(she always sleeps in until 10a.m.) for her as a sign of appreciation for the giving-of-herself last night.
Familyman • 11/6/03; 9:01:10 AM
Oooh, good show, Familyman.
I believe the idea of just “going on from here” rather than grimly plumbing the tangled depths of the past has gotten a undeserved bad rap in the public mind.
So many people have heard so much psychological Theeeeory in their lives that they have come to believe that emotional healing REQUIRES cutting into the patient and rearranging their innards. But sometimes radical, painful, ugly psychological surgery isn’t the best cure, and in any case, it probably shouldn’t be the FIRST thing you try.
The Gordian Knots of real life, strangely enough, can sometimes be dealt with by simply IGNORING them. Yes. Just pretend they’re not there. Something New This Way Comes. The past is the past, the future is yet to be.
Is that a revelation, or what?
Julia Grey • 11/6/03; 10:15:46 AM
Familyman, you’re my hero. Congrats on the “intimacy.” I liked the “asking for permission” idea, but I’m not sure how it squares with the “confident male” idea that is being discussed in the “bad boys” thread. Do confident guys ask permission? And how did you word it? Was it, “may I touch your x” or “mind if I take this up a notch?” or something more subtle? Help me, Familyman, you’re my only hope.
Harry • 11/7/03; 8:58:21 AM
Yes, it is a tricky thing to ask. We each have a name for our private parts. After the long body rub I asked “does ???(my name) have your permission to play with ????(her name)” She answered “yes, I guess so”, to my excitement. I believe I replied with a “thank you” and gently proceeded. An important thing to note is that I asked first before groping. I did not begin groping and then ask the question. Obviously my approach isn’t guaranteed to work everytime for everyone even myself. Best of luck to you. Hey, I have a question for the ladies out there. What percentage of married women or women in a live-in relationship masturbate? And does your significant other know that you masturbate? I am curious.
Familyman • 11/7/03; 10:13:47 AM
mmm i have been reading some of these comments and i find that familyman is always reassuring us about things. ie: his wife the way he explains what she is like stay at home mum, worried about her weight his kids they are in a marching band and do not take drugs. your wife and her sisters are all straight a students. mmm these things seem so un emotional and un attached. they seem so black and white. one more question you open up alot to everyone here do you do the same with your wife and family? i think also there is too much obsession with sex, sex does not make you a man or make you more manly. there are much more important things in life to enjoy with others. mmm maybe your wife is depressed a) all she does is stay at home and look after the children b) she is not happy with her physical look and used to be motivated in the past to do exercise and triathlons c) has just lost her father. I think she needs your support and maybe a push to see what will make her feel better. good luck and i am sorry if i have said anything to hurt anyone
Yamila • 11/13/03; 9:28:34 PM
I feel Familyman’s pain. I am in the exact same situation. My wife of almost 17 years, who has always denied that she masturbates, seems to do just that with her vibrator about twice a month. I too am crushed. Even though I know that she masturbates, she continues to deny it! (I notice her vibrator moved and cleaned in the bathroom vanity, and I have caught her once when I inadvertently left an audio recorder running in a dresser drawer.
She at first denied that she masturbates and then finally said it was the first and only time.) She explained that she was embarassed, that she feels masturbation is cheating. However, she continues to masturbate and lie about it. I am more crushed that she lies about the masturbation, than the fact that she does it. Also, even though we continue to have sex, she never cums and it is always vaginal. I cannot rub her clitoris, nibble her breasts nor perform oral on her.
Will her masturbation lead to cheating? Why does she continue to lie? Why won’t she let me help her reach orgasm? She seems to prefer masturbation. The deciet is the most painful.
Ricky [apple] 11/14/03; 4:41:37 AM
Hey, I have a question for the ladies out there. What percentage of married women or women in a live-in relationship masturbate? And does your significant other know that you masturbate? I am curious.
Continue to the next discussion which involves masturbation: Lying and Power.
80 Responses to ““She Seems to Prefer Masturbation””
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