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.