Disgust

Female sexuality is, on the whole, a delicately balanced business. It might be fair to say that for many women, their libidos ask “why,” when men’s ask “why not?” This is not to say that women’s sexual desires can’t be extremely powerful once they are awakened, but it often takes complex, subtle and sustained stimuli to get them to stir, and — most important of all — it doesn’t take much to put them back to sleep.

Intelligent and sophisticated men “get” this concept intellectually, having been told over and over again that there can be significant differences in desire and how it manifests itself, but it is sometimes very difficult for them to really, viscerally understand it. When a man can feel an instantaneous urgency for sex flaring up from, say, a moment’s glimpse of the edge of a lace bra, it’s sometimes almost impossible to fathom his wife’s slower or more equivocal responsiveness. Even more baffling, perhaps, is how apparent trivialities can so fundamentally interfere with her sexual desire. Little things can make a huge difference in how much she will want you.

So first things first: take care of the minor stuff that might be damaging her ability to respond to you erotically. If she experiences a steady stream of continuous small disgusts and little irritants associated with you, that can set up a negative conditioned response to the very idea of being intimate with you.

With that possibility in mind, here’s my first insulting question:

Do you stink?

No, really. I’m serious.

Evolutionary psychologists insist that pit pong and Eau de Crotch must have been sexually stimulating to our ape ancestors (why else would nature have left all that curly hair there to trap the scent?), but culture seems to have triumphed in the last hundred thousand years. Women today — especially American women — are not usually turned on by powerful body odors.

Don’t get me wrong, a faint whiff of Animal Armpit in a man who showers and uses antiperspirant deodorant every day can be very interesting or even exciting to many women, at least once her libido has already been engaged in other ways. But if you are taller than your wife, missionary position will bring her nose pretty close to your underarms, and if they’re putting out the equivalent of mustard gas, she’s not going to wholeheartedly enjoy the experience.

And you’ll be breathing on her, too, so it behooves you to think at least as much about your potential mouth miasma around her as you would when greeting your clients or office mates every day. Keep a tin of Altoids by the bed. Morning breath can be minimized by aggressive cleaning and flossing the night before, followed by a rinse with Listerine or even hydrogen peroxide (full strength, never swallowed — but watch out, that stuff foams up like crazy!). Coffee on your breath is fine in about the first half hour after you drink it, but after that it goes sour FAST.

Do you sit around at night with your feet propped up on the hassock or recliner, perfuming the air all around you with an acrid cloud of Fungi Foot? Sure, you should be able to relax in your own home, and maybe it shouldn’t matter, but your aromatic dogs are a turnoff, and their turnoff effect will linger with your wife long after you’ve washed them and gotten into bed later, because she’ll see your waving them around in the family air as thoughtless and arrogant, and that will be remembered long after the odor itself has gone away.

So get rid of any shoes that are not canvas or real leather, and any socks that are not mostly natural fibers. “Man-made materials” are your enemy (this goes for polyester shirts, too). Put a dryer sheet or deodorant insole in your shoes. Don’t wear the same shoes day after day, switch around between several pairs. You might even have to — gasp — consult a doctor. Suck it up, soldier.

And speaking of sitting around stinking up the place, most women will not feel all cuddly and romantic about guys who treat them to lengthy evenings of luxurious farting, either. I’m aware that some men consider body-tooting the height of humor (exceeded only by “The Man Show,” perhaps), but it’s likely that your wife doesn’t consider it nearly as knee-slapping as you do — especially when repetition dulls its hilarious ability to startle her. She might be a good sport through a couple of serenades, but trust me, after 3 or 4 the delights will pale considerably.

Yes, it’s hard not to fart. Sometimes you just have to do it. But make an effort. Get some Bean-O and take it when you eat any musical fruit or cruciferous vegetables. Get up and bleed off some of the pressure in the bathroom. Take some Gas-X or generic simethicone when the belly balloon starts inflating. Although increasing your fiber can increase gassiness at first, over time it will at least diminish the odor of the gases that emerge. Above all, don’t make farting part of your routine comic repetoire. If you push her head under the covers once too often, your bed may begin to seem to her more like a torture chamber than a bower of love.

Comments in response to “Disgust”:
I hope marriage isn’t as cynical as you make it seem. While you are ostensibly trying to create a guide to help both sides of this issue, it seems that you are barely able to mask your contempt for men who feel their wives don’t sleep with them often enough. While it is not the duty of a woman to satisfy her man whenever he pleases and to ignore her own feelings of disinterest, what I’ve read thus far very neatly casts the blame on men for either being undesirable to their wives or insensitive to their needs.I was married for about five years and had similar problems regarding differing sexual appetites (although my wife has confessed that her lack of desire had a lot to do with unhealthy attitudes about sex she acquired when she was young). With regard to today’s post in particular, that it is also possible for men to have issues with “Disgust” (although this is not the word I would use). After gaining weight and having a child, my wife was far less physically attractive to me than she was when we first started dating, and she frequently generated smells from all three places you discussed — but I did not (to my credit, I’d say) hold this against her.

As I said before, it’s not a woman’s duty to fulfill her husband’s every need, but you make it seem as if the bulk of the effort required to rectify the problem is the duty of the husband, as if a woman is always blameless in such a situation, no matter what.

Marc

Of course women aren’t blameless when it comes to sexual disconnects. I contributed plenty to my own marital impasse, as I will detail later.But my focus here is on assisting men who would like to have more sex. If they find their wives too disgusting to have sex with, they’re unlikely to be reading a website that hopes to advise them about how to enhance her desire. THEY are the ones who want to do something to solve THEIR problem, so it would do little good to tell them that she is the one who should solve it.

It WAS big of you not to have held your wife’s unattractiveness and distasteful smells against her. Would that wives everywhere could emulate your magnanimity.

Unfortunately, life is unfair, and a woman’s desire to have sex with a man is seldom very urgent if her primary attitude toward him is one of noble tolerance.

Julia Grey

A little background first. I have been married to my wife nearly 9 years. We have 2 children (6 and 3). She is 33, I am 35. She is a stay at home mom. Attractive, fit (works out daily while I am at work). I work a 45 to 50 hr week. Provide a 6 figure income and a very comfortable life for my family. I spend a lot of time with my family when I do not work. My wife and I go to dinner at least once a week or every other week and leave the kids with a sitter, so we can have some quite time together. I have done this in an effort to spice up our relationship.Here is my situation. My wife has very little interest in sex. We will go weeks and sometimes months without being intimate. Her excuse is always that she is tired, or the kids wear her out, or she is unhappy with her body right now, and will feel better when she gets it into better shape. She nevers initiates it. When I try to initiate it, I get the brush away or the “I’m too tired” excuse. After several weeks of this, I cannot help but to become internally frustated.

I have discussed my situation with collegues (whom I trust) to see if they are experiencing similar situations with their wives. They are not. I have to take care of my own sexual desires via masturbation, which makes me even more resentful. At this point in my relationship, my only conclusion is that she has either lost interest, no libido or she is unat tracted to me. Being from a divorced family, I have no desire to end this marriage and hurt my children. My wife and I are still able to laugh and find similar interests. She just does not have similar interest in our sex life.

Yes, I am a man and I realize our urges are greater than a female. I would be happy with once a week. Blown away with a couple times a week. Unfortunately, it just does seem like it is possible with her. (I have tried all the romantic stuff ie. candles, flowers, clothes, romantic movies, etc.) Those things sometime work, but it is uncomfortable because it makes me feel like I have to work so hard at something just to be intimate with her. It is like a downer for me to think that just being intimate with me is not enough. When she does have sex with me it usually because it has been 6 or 8 weeks (or more) and she realizes that she needs to probably do it to appease me. At that point, I sometimes choose not to be interested to prove to her that I will not take a “charity” sex encounter.

I have been faithful for 9 years (and an additional 5 years prior to marriage). I have passed on opportunities with other women (met during business or collegues). I am now being tempted to act on these opportunities, due to my current situation. Are there any last hopes or advice you can give me to get my old wife back (who enjoyed sex and initiated it occaisionally). Besides losing some hair, I have not deteriorated physically and take hygene very seriously. So, I dont think that can be a reason (as you suggested in an earlier email).

Darby

Darby, I sympathize enormously. This, in particular, was something that made me wince:

(I have tried all the romantic stuff ie. candles, flowers, clothes, romantic movies, etc.) Those things sometime work, but it is uncomfortable because it makes me feel like I have to work so hard at something just to be intimate with her. It is like a downer for me to think that just being intimate with me is not enough.

Believe it or not, it’s a good sign that your hard work is “sometimes” paying off. That means there is hope.

It is very hurtful to any human being to think that for their spouse “just being intimate” is “not enough.” But in certain circumstances the cold hard fact is that it isn’t. Women do sometimes go into terminal boredom mode and lose all interest in long-term partners (a phenomenon I’ll discuss later, with some speculation as to causes and a few possible methods of reviving it).

However, given that you’re still having sex occasionally, another aspect of your situation seems to be more salient here. I think perhaps sex has become a power struggle between you. I say that because of this comment:

When she does have sex with me it usually because it has been 6 or 8 weeks (or more) and she realizes that she needs to probably do it to appease me. At that point, I sometimes choose not to be interested to prove to her that I will not take a “charity” sex encounter.

Somehow sex has become a duty for her. A routine job she has to do, rather than a pleasure she wants to indulge in. (I have some ideas bout how that happens, and I’ll talk about them later.) The fact that sex has become a household chore is bad enough, from her point of view. But even when she is willing to fulfill that duty, you sometimes reject her effort to “appease” you.

There’s a power struggle going on here, in which, for her at this point, offering sex feels like “giving in” to your demands, and at the same time she also realizes that, for you, the dutiful offer is still “not good enough.” She knows that you think she’s Inadequate to your needs and not doing what she Should do. That makes her both guilty and angry, and that turns her off even more.

It’s understandable that you are now feeling that you have Done Enough and you’re not prepared to work any harder or make any more concessions. In a sense, you don’t want to “give in,” either! So you reject her mere “charity” because it isn’t the full, complete enthusiasm that you really want.

Your instincts are obviously excellent. You know that expressions of affection and “working hard” will sometimes attract her into your arms in spite of the angry, mutally resistant spiral that has risen up around your sex life. Can you think of any way to break the impasse by looking at it from this point of view?

Julia Grey

Using sex as an instrument is manipulative and crazy, regardless of who is doing it. Seeing it that way is just as crazy. I now think you need therapy. It’s your life to live, but to think you’re actually offering valuable advice here is lunacy. This is palliative care at best.Look, it is not necessarily selfish for a woman not to sleep with her husband, but it IS selfish if there is some underlying cause that she isn’t being completely honest about. I don’t think a wife owes her husband sex, but at the very least she owes him an explanation.

Chris

The real problem goes far beyond hygiene, and obviously whoever wrote you doesn’t get it. It’s about respect. If there isn’t enough respect in the relationship to go brush your damn teeth once in a while, then why on earth should you expect your wife to have sex with you? I say bravo to you, Julia, and keep writing. You’re doing a wonderful job.

Kel

Chris, sometimes — I would even say USUALLY — women don’t actually, consciously know why they don’t want to have sex. She can’t “explain” because she doesn’t understand it herself.And, speaking of lunacy, considering the matter in the light of of who “owes” who what, whether it is an “explanation” or a sexual act, is unnecesarily adversarial in the first place.

This is where the breakdown so often occurs: it becomes a subterranean fight for one’s Rights, when what both people really want is Love. If we can’t get love, we’ll try for power — but we don’t always understand that’s what we’re doing.

Just as women don’t want to admit to themselves that they don’t measure up to their husband’s expectations (they’d rather see the expectations as unrealistic or intrusive, for example), men don’t want to acknowledge that they’re sometimes seeing their wives’ sexual disinterest as a challenge to their power and masculinity.

I agree that it is “manipulative” for a man to try to demonstrate that he doesn’t want “duty” sex by turning her down when she tries to offer it to him, but, like his wife when she tries to figure out why sex has become a duty to her, he is probably genuinely confused, hurt, and angry. I for one don’t blame either party for trying –consciously or unconsciously– to maintain as much control as he or she can.

The bottom line is that these adversarial reactions are UNDERSTANDABLE and forgiveable, but they are not not USEFUL.

Julia Grey

I suppose we will disagree about what is useful and what is not (among other things). I will go about my own business and you can continue your pseudoscientific yougogirlology to an imagined audience of men seeking to hump their wives more often (although, as the comments reveal, the support for your movement is more “Sing it, Sister!” laudation from ornery post-feminists than anything else).

Chris

You have a nice day, now.

Julia Grey

Wow, I discovered this site today and can’t stop responding.

I would like wives to keep a few things in mind.

1. We are never in the mood to go to your moms

2. We are always too tired to go fix something on her house or mow her lawn.

Now, darling wives, we husbands still go do those things, so the next time you aren’t in the mood, picture your husband in the outfit you like him to wear, under your mom’s sink with your children helping by handing him different tools as he skins his knuckles and bumps his head and asks your daughter for the 5th time for the OTHER screwdriver. He does this simply because he loves you. Remember that next time you are not in the mood and give him the fu#k of his life

john • 9/16/04; 9:07:59 AM
What I want to know is what it is that makes women care, and how to turn it off…you know, stop em talking and moving about so much

John 2 • 9/7/05; 1:17:10 PM
Infidelity hurts everyone

trever • 4/20/07; 2:17:00 PM

Darby, I feel for you Man. And I know it is absolutely NOT some sort of power struggle to maintain your wife’s dutiful zeal for you that Julia so often implies about every man who writes on this board.You simply wish and stated matter of factly that you dont want her to feel obligated, but rather interested.
And you asked a question that has yet to be answered, because Julia completely dances around the subject that women “dont really know” why they are the way they are. So her best idea is to call it a power struggle.

Any woman that is obviously chased after, and treated with the kind of insightful thoughtfulness and extremely longsuffered patience you have endured, does not deserve it, or you, and I think you could find someone out there that would appreciate you and love you and be there for you, because they dont have their heads up their own selfish “choose not to think about it, thus not know why” approach to your marriage. To me, thats just plain lazy and self centered.

It seems like Julia is defending womens rights to being self-centered, and offers no real support other than for us to sit there like little puppy dogs to take a beating and still come back to lay at the feet of its master. Screw the idea of “power struggle” thats OBVIOUS that it is not your situation. I say, quit dumping yourself down the bottomless pit and go enjoy a new life with someone who you know sees eye to eye with you. Quit wasting your life on someone whose got no further input or control of herself other than to “not know why” they are that way. And while Julia defends that lazy, self-serving attitude towards a marriage, you will be out there with Hope, and Possibility, and at least have shoved the burden of self sacrifice right out the door where it belongs.

“When she does have sex with me it usually because it has been 6 or 8 weeks (or more) and she realizes that she needs to probably do it to appease me. At that point, I sometimes choose not to be interested to prove to her that I will not take a “charity” sex encounter.

Somehow sex has become a duty for her. A routine job she has to do, rather than a pleasure she wants to indulge in. (I have some ideas bout how that happens, and I’ll talk about them later.) The fact that sex has become a household chore is bad enough, from her point of view. But even when she is willing to fulfill that duty, you sometimes reject her effort to “appease” you.

FirstyLast • 4/17/08; 2:36:48 PM

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142 Responses to “Disgust”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I think several times a day, “I hate you so much.” Then I remind myself to be positive and focus on my plans, fianancial and otherwise, so I can leave as soon as our youngest goes off to college in 15 months, 22 days.

    My husband snores, has a beer belly, and smokes enough pot every night that he can barely continue a conversation. What’s funny is that he’s a high-level manager with a prestigious job, yet he comes home, gets wasted, and thinks I should have sex with him, even though he can barely get an erection. Somehow, it is my problem to take care of that. Guess what? I’m not a prostitute, and I am not going to spend an hour working on your soft, sad penis.

    He thinks “I go to work!” makes him a great husband and father. Guess what? Lots of people go to work every day. Heck, I worked and made more money than him, raised our children, took care of finances, chores and errands, and pretty much everything so he could “I go to work!”


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