I thought I was broken. My body didn’t work the way it was supposed to. Or maybe I just didn’t deserve it.

Many nights early in my marriage, I would lie in bed, crying next to my husband who was sleeping the slumber of the well-sated.

Why was orgasm so easy for my husband and so impossible for me? Why could other women experience orgasm and I couldn’t? Was there a deformity in my body that was preventing me from having an orgasm? Was I being punished for my sexual sins before marriage? At times, I would start to feel something a little different than usual and I’d find myself hoping and praying to just once have an orgasm…and it would all go away.


I didn’t experience an orgasm until I’d been married for a year and a half. While I experience them now, and in amazing ways, it still isn’t easy for me. And the memory of feeling like a broken woman who was a failure at such a basic human activity still sits in my heart, emerging every time it doesn’t happen for me.

I went into every sexual encounter anticipating frustration and disappointment. A while ago, I received an email from a reader that included this description of sex without orgasm:

“My greatest struggle right now is that sex is not tension-releasing; it’s tension-creating, because we have found no way for me to climax. Without that, the tension of arousal is never released, and the end result is usually uncomfortable and horribly disappointing, no matter how much fun it was before we stop.”

My husband was willing to try to help me out, but while I knew some things that felt good, I didn’t know what would actually get me where we wanted me to go. Each effort took so long and was so fruitless. When I didn’t get anywhere and I ended up in tears, I would just tell him to stop trying and we’d do it for him.

I learned that sex was for him and not for me.

Finding Peace . . .

I’d experienced sexual feelings for lots of years, and I had really looked forward to orgasms. I wanted the fireworks I’d heard about. I wanted to know what it was to experience the peak of something with my husband, sharing something that I’d never known with anyone else.

On occasion, I would feel a build-up of some kind. I expected very clear fireworks. Everything I heard or read said that there was no question about whether you had an orgasm or not, so I just felt constantly disappointed. I do remember sometimes when I would feel like it was just about to get good–and then it would just stop. And then I would feel really sensitive to touch and would feel let down and finished, even without any pleasure.

I tried with my husband and alone….nothing. I tried with hands and with a vibrator. I was always able to feel very aroused, but I never experienced an orgasm. Sometimes I would even feel vaginal spasms, but they didn’t feel pleasurable at all.

One night, I remember crying myself to sleep again, praying in anguish. It hurt so much. A sense of peace washed over me as I asked God to help me accept that my body wouldn’t orgasm–and that I should just try to relax and enjoy whatever sensations did come.

 . . . and Fireworks

A couple nights later, the usual thing happened, with my husband finishing and me feeling really frustrated. I was very, very aroused, though, and I asked him to go again. And since it was the second time around, it lasted a longer time than usual. I started to feel that build-up and found myself thinking, “Oh, maybe this time it will finally happen . . .” Then I remembered that I was going to stop trying. I asked God to help me appreciate the gift of sexual sensation, even though I couldn’t experience orgasm.

I remember lying there and just enjoying how it felt and thinking that even though there were no fireworks, there was still some pleasure in the build-up. I decided to try to mentally describe the different sensations I was experiencing—and as soon as I got to the phrase “vaginal spasms,” I realized that this thing I’d felt before actually was an orgasm–and as soon as I realized that, it suddenly felt really, really good. As soon as I had the thought, I felt the fireworks I’d been yearning for.

It turned out that my body had been having orgasms all along but my mind hadn’t actually been experiencing them.

I wish I could say that everything’s been easy since then, but it hasn’t. I still don’t orgasm every time, and it isn’t always easy. The more I try and aim for it, the more elusive it is. I still have to remind myself to just enjoy the sensations and stop worrying–and sometimes, that’s enough.

Pearl’s OysterBed has a new post about orgasms. I read part of Bonny’s post and thought, “Oh, wow. That’s exactly what happened with me!”

“In one research article a female patient had a disconnect between the brain and the vaginal/clitoral real estate.  The patient had measurable vaginal contractions, signs of orgasm, but the sensation didn’t register in her brain for her to experience it.  There are also clitoral and vaginal anomalies.”

It was such a relief to know that at least one other woman has had an orgasm but not actually experienced it.


As much as I aim for transparency here, this subject is one of the hardest things I’ve shared here because it taps into the broken and failed feelings I had as a new wife. I often felt that my marriage grew on a foundation of brokenness.

There were many roots to my years of gate-keeping and refusal. Most of those roots were connected to our relationship, my control issues, and the load of baggage I carried around.

My early inability to experience orgasm was one of those roots, too, teaching me lessons that I am still unlearning.

  • Sex was frustrating rather than fun.
  • Sex was more for my husband than for me.
  • Sex made me feel broken.
  • Communicating about sex accomplished little.
  • My body was not my friend.

I absorbed those lessons about sex into my heart. By the time I finally experienced an orgasm, those lessons had already become part of our marriage bed.

Walking the journey from refusal and gate-keeping to sexual generosity isn’t always easy. Knowing that pleasure is waiting just around the bend is what has kept me going sometime.

My heart hurts for women who have not yet found God’s wonderful gift of orgasm with their husbands. I hear from readers who have never experienced sexual pleasure, and I think of the lessons I learned early on. I pray for each of these women to find the pleasures of sexual intimacy—not just orgasm, but the pleasure of being held, being caressed, touching the hair on her husband’s arms, feeling his breathing, hearing the sounds of two bodies connecting in such an intimate and unique way, becoming one flesh in connection with the man who has pledged his life to hers, and simply knowing that at that moment, his attention is all on her.

I remember the sense of peace that I allowed to wash over me the night I decided to let go of my pursuit and appreciate the sensations I did experience. At that moment, I felt my soul ease in the knowledge that whatever gift God gave me, I could accept with joy.

Even now, when the fireworks don’t happen, I rejoice in the reminder of God’s design as we fit together and move as one. And I know that I was not broken as a new wife; I was in a phase of learning, acceptance, and anticipation.

To every thing there is a season,

and a time to every purpose under heaven.

Ecclesiastes 3:1
Image courtesy of Teerapun at
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8 Thoughts on “Peace and Fireworks

  1. “And the memory of feeling like a broken woman who was a failure at such a basic human activity still sits in my heart, emerging every time it doesn’t happen for me.”

    Oh yes, this resonated with me. I am remarried and it took my husband and I plenty of time to help me reach orgasm. And there were many nights of tears on my part, because I felt like a failure…I felt ‘broken’…and I wanted to experience it fully as my husband got to. Sometimes I still find myself feeling that way, even after two years together, and I try to remember, like you, that just being together as one is special, whether or not it always results in orgasm for me.

    • I’m sorry this is something you can relate to. I’m glad you are able to recognize that there is still value in sexual contact without the fireworks at the end.

      • Well, I try to feel that way most of the time, but honestly it is hard. Especially when we only have time once, maybe twice, a week to connect sexually. Being the higher drive spouse I don’t feel like I truly get my needs met often enough and it can be hard not to get resentful.

        This is something I’ve been praying about all morning since my husband will back tonight after a week out of town for work. I’m so excited for him to be home, yet a part of me is trying not to get myself all pumped up because I don’t want to be disappointed. I feel like I’ve already been putting the pressure on myself and I’ve prayed that God will give me peace so I can just enjoy my husband being home whether there is much sexual intimacy or not…or any fireworks. Unfortunately, he leaves 1:30am on Monday morning for another week out of town and he is going hunting tomorrow, so our alone time will be very, very limited.

        • It’s really hard to deal with firework difficulty when you don’t have many opportunities to light the fuses, so to speak. Hang in there, and let yourself feel loved when your husband returns.

  2. OldMarriedLady on October 25, 2013 at 4:47 pm said:

    I didn’t have an orgasm with, or even in front of, my husband for the first 29 years we were married. I was so low drive all that time though, it didn’t bother me. It wasn’t like having sex got me aroused and left me in need, because I rarely felt much of anything during sex. Every so often I would “take care of myself” on my own just to make sure the parts still worked, but I wasn’t even driven to do that more than a few times a year. I never tried to show my husband what he could do to give me an orgasm because I was so embarrassed by sex in general and being looked at.

    Then when I had my “awakening” and found my sex drive that had been buried under medications and menopause, I was more than ready to have orgasms with my husband, but needed therapy to get brave enough to do it. As it stands now, I give myself all my orgasms because my husband, bless his heart, isn’t much of a learner. It’s just easier for me to do it. He has finally figured out a way to “help” though, which is nice. He used to just lay there next to me, completely silent and not touching me. He wasn’t purposely rejecting me; usually he was falling asleep (he has bad post-coital narcolepsy) and wouldn’t have known what to do anyway.

    My husband left yesterday for a 10-day hunting trip and I miss him already.

  3. Thank you for posting this even though it was hard. I’m also following Bonny’s series on the topic too. Your bullet-point breakdown of the “lessons” your experience taught you is exactly what I’ve learned, except for me it’s been over six years instead of just a year and a half. My husband, in turn, has learned that it doesn’t do any good to keep trying and often makes things worse in the end, so he mostly doesn’t bother trying very much or very often either, which only reinforces the negative cycle for me. In general, he’s very affectionate but not very sexual/sensual at all.

    • I’m so glad you’ve been reading Bonny’s series. I’ve learned from it as well.

      Would your husband be willing to work on slowing down to give you sexual sensations, withou worrying about whether there is an orgasm. You deserve the time and attention, and there can be sexual pleasure and comfort even when there is no release.

      Continue to learn about your body. Although I had been married for a year and a half, I had been sexually active for much longer than that before I experienced my first orgasm.

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