Do I Have To?


This post grows out of something I addressed at the end of a recent post. If your husband really wants to do a sexual activity that you dislike, do you have to do it?

During a recent sexual encounter, my husband attempted to do something he hadn’t done in a long time. I found myself pulling away, feeling dirty and turned off. I had to force myself to get back into the game, so to speak. I was puzzled by my reaction. It wasn’t something I even thought about. He made his move, and I found myself crossing my arms in front of me, trying to curl up to protect myself, and saying, “no, no, no, not that!”

As I’ve thought about how unexpected my reaction was, I’ve been reminded of how ingrained our feelings can be. During my refusing days, I would sometimes experience a mild panic attack during sexual activity. I would find myself wondering, Why is this one act more important to him than I am? How can he expect me to find pleasure in something that makes me feel so unloved?

I used to have this same kind of reaction to my husband’s requests for oral sex. It became a huge issue. He was always asking for it. Even when I caved, I did it half-heartedly and it didn’t even come close to the sexual feelings or emotional connection he’d been craving. Meanwhile, I was building up resentment in my heart.

I frequently wondered why we couldn’t just cross that one thing off the menu indefinitely. I clearly hated it and didn’t even do a good job (yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as a bad blow job).

Even after I began to work on my sexual engagement and the frequency, oral sex continued to be a problem in our marriage bed.

I asked God, I’m finally doing everything else he wanted with sex, but he keeps pushing oral sex. What’s the big deal? I’m doing everything else. Do I have to do that do? I heard no response.

The Battleground

Even when a wife is sexually generous and loving, one act can become a battleground in the marriage bed. When a wife does not have a history of being generous and loving sexually, that act can become a huge mountain that seems impossible to climb. And sadly, wives with a history of refusing and gate-keeping have made many mountains of different acts.

It doesn’t even matter what the act is. Whatever the Big Bad Icky Act is that freaks you out, battling about it erects a barrier in your marriage. These acts can include oral sex, anal sex, positions outside of the usual one or two, having sex during the day, having sex with the lights on, wearing revealing lingerie, removing pubic hair, using a vibrator, purchasing something specifically for sex, or using graphic language in the bedroom. (Edited to add: It should go without saying that if this act would clearly be sinful, it would be wrong to pursue it. However, even a desire for a sinful act can reveal needs that can be met in non-sinful ways. See this post at Hot, Holy, & Humorous for guidance on how to address desires for sinful acts.)

Or, in my case the other night, it can be just a Little Icky Act, such as getting a hickey. Yes, folks, that is the thing my husband attempted to do the other night that had me freaking out for a short while. Does it make sense that I would have such a strong reaction to something that so many people enjoy? Does it make sense that I would even care about getting a hickey, especially since he was aiming for a place that no one else could see?

No, it makes no sense at all. The reality is that when we have a strong negative reaction, it doesn’t matter whether it makes sense or not. We have a negative reaction to deal with. And when we don’t deal with it, we are maintaining a barrier to intimacy.

Litmus Test of Love

She thinks, If he really loved me, he wouldn’t ask me to do something I dislike. Why can’t he let go of his desire for just this one thing?

He thinks, If she really loved me, she wouldn’t ask me to let go of something I like so much. Why can’t she let go of her desire to not do just this one thing?

When we let one act become an issue, it can take over the sexual relationship. I would avoid sex altogether in order to avoid having to deal with requests for oral sex. During sex, I was constantly anxious that he’d ask for it again.

My husband’s requests for this one act became the thing by which I judged his love for me.

I would look at 1 Corinthians 13 and think about how he was impatient, dishonoring me, self-seeking, easily angered, and clearly keeping a record of our oral sex battle. He was not rejoicing in knowing my truth, and I felt unprotected, distrustful, and unhopeful. The only thing I thought he got right was the persevering part.

Of course, I’d conveniently forgotten that 1 Corinthians 13 doesn’t tell me what I should expect from those who love me. It tells me what I should be doing out of love.

When I finally made myself do some serious thinking about it, it was pretty clear that I was not acting out of love toward my husband.

Slaying the Dragon

So what do you do when you really, really can’t stand an act that your husband really, really wants?

First, I don’t think there is any single sexual act that is absolutely necessary for marriage. Intercourse comes close, but I do know of several couples who have been unable to have intercourse and still find ways to be sexual with each other.

Second, that doesn’t absolve you of making an effort. That doesn’t mean to force yourself to participate in that act whenever he wants. After all, that adds to resentment rather than building intimacy. As nice as it would be if your husband agreed to never bring that act up again, if you are resistant to it, it may be that there is something deeper you need to work on.

So what are some things you can do to really work on this barrier?

Be intentional and persistent. Spend a lot of time in prayer for understanding and wisdom. It’s unlikely that you’re going to wake up one day and suddenly lose all of your dislike for an act. You really need to work at figuring out what’s going on.

Work hard to understand your dislike for the act.

  • Is it physically painful or uncomfortable, or are you afraid that it will be? Make a list of all the things you could do to relieve pain or increase comfort. For instance, I learned that if I take a decongestant about an hour before giving oral sex, my sinus issues are less likely to interfere with my breathing.
  • Have you had negative experiences with this act in the past? If these experiences were with someone other than your husband, it may be helpful to remind yourself that it was the other person and his attitude that were the real problem, not the actual act. If the negative experiences were with your husband, have you talked with him about your feelings? If necessary, seek pastoral or other counseling to deal with your memories.
  • Does it make you feel embarrassed, ashamed, or self-conscious? Come up with a plan to address these feelings. I used a lot of visualization, deep breathing, and self-talk, and I made myself go through with things even when I wasn’t feeling like it. That won’t work for everyone, and it wasn’t enough for me with some things my husband requested—but it was a good pattern to be able to fall back on for most of his requests.
  • Is it about timing or technique? If so, try it different ways, with different approaches, speeds, and tactics. With some acts, women find a big difference if they are fully aroused before proceeding.
  • Does your husband’s request feel like a betrayal of your relationship? If you agreed earlier in your marriage that you would never engage in a particular act and then he asks about it anyway, it is easy to feel like he’s going back on his word. Or, perhaps you’re concerned that he got interested in the act by watching porn or from a previous sexual partner. Talk with your husband about your feelings, and see if he has some suggestions on how to proceed.
  • (Edited to add: Is it sinful?  Read this article at The Marriage Bed for a good look at what the Bible says is sinful in married sex. It’s important not just label something as sin just because you’re uncomfortable with it, but do be familiar with basic guidelines of what’s okay and what isn’t.)

Learn about the act.

  • Read about it and how other women have managed to make it comfortable.
  • Read intimacy blogs by Christian women (there’s a nice list here), and read the comments on posts that address the act you’re struggling with. If your dislike is mostly based on a view that “good girls don’t do that,” you may find that reading about other Christian wives’ enjoyment of certain acts is enough to reframe your own thinking.
  • Learn about the anatomy and sensations involved. Okay, this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I like to learn as much as possible about the physiology and psychology involved in why something is considered pleasurable. With some acts, this might be especially helpful.

Involve your husband in the process. Be sure you’ve communicated clearly about your feelings about the act as well as your commitment to address those feelings. If your past efforts have involved subtle hints and redirection, you probably need to be very direct. Your husband may have some ideas about how you can work on the problem. Or maybe he’ll say that he’d been doing it only for you and doesn’t care if it never happens again.

Putting It to Rest

You really can’t know what the outcome of your efforts will be. It may be that your thinking will completely change. Or maybe you’ll get to a point where you can tolerate it and enjoy the fact that your husband is finding so much pleasure in it.

Maybe you’ll learn that your dislike of an act is just too deep to even be able to tolerate it. And that should be okay. There’s a big difference between grimacing and saying “no way, buddy” and sharing with your husband what you’ve learned in a way that he sees that you’ve made genuine effort. Really working on the issue adds to intimacy rather than taking away from it.

Even if you and your husband agree that it is best to set this act aside, revisit it again in a few years. As you continue to develop in your sexual relationship and as life and bodies change, you may find that your dislike fades away.

When you work on understanding your dislike of the Big Bad Icky Act or the Little Icky Act, other issues may be revealed. You may come to see that the act itself isn’t what the real problem is.

Tackling the Hickey

If your husband requests a particular act, do you have to do it? No—but I do think it’s important that you work hard to address it so this one act doesn’t become a battleground and a barrier to intimacy in your marriage.

As I said, I freaked out over a potential hickey a few nights ago. It isn’t something my husband particularly cares for, and it’s likely that I won’t have to deal with it again for years (if ever). I could get by with sweeping it to the side since it may never come up again.

However, I’ve decided to use this as a chance to practice what I’ve described here. I’ve been reflecting on my early experience with hickeys. I’ve asked people what they enjoy about it. I’ve researched. (Did you know that there are instructional videos about how to give a hickey?) This is just a small thing, but I am already learning about some residual sexual attitudes I didn’t even know I had.

I refuse to be slayed by a hickey.

Are you going to be slayed by your dislike of a sexual act, or are you going to try to conquer it?

Image courtesy of Ohmega1982 /

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19 Comments on “Do I Have To?”

  1. A hickey, are you kidding me, just teasing ya. I can see where you could develop a bad feeling about them. Good girls didn’t have hickeys when I had them 🙁 I wouldn’t really mind it now, but only where it wouldn’t show. They seem unprofessional at work.

    1. Yup, I apparently am hickey-phobic. As you say, it’s from a “good girls don’t have hickeys” mentality I had in high school. Well, it’s a bit deeper than that, but that’s the gist of it.

  2. Can I ask …. what did you do to get past the panic attack issue? I am a wife who is really working on this, but sex is scary. I’m trying to transition to the mindset that my husband owns my body and I owe him not only sexual satisfaction, but also my enthusiastic enjoyment. But it feels like an unreasonable expectation for me to delight in an experience that can frankly be terrifying. I can make myself do it willingly, but I can’t force myself to like it. And it’s scary to think that I have to be positive not only about basic sex, but also whatever he decides would be nice, no matter how I feel about that act. I’m not trying to make excuses or be argumentative, but if that is what is required of a Christian wife, how is Christian marriage different from what my old boyfriends expected of me?

    1. Bless you, CW, for wanting to work on this. When sex is scary, just being willing to make these changes takes great courage. This is a giant first step!

      To deal with the panic and anxiety, I took one tiny step at a time.

      1. I began by doing nothing more than observe what I was experiencing. When my husband would initiate sex or would request an activity other than what we were doing, I simply noted my symptoms (such as rapid breathing and muscle tension) and told myself (in my head), “I’m feeling anxiety.” I named my feelings as a way of bringing them into the open for me.

      2. My next step was to pause before responding to my husband’s requests. I would close my eyes for a moment and take a deep breath. The breath helped counteract the effects of the panic by getting me some extra oxygen. Plus, with my eyes closed and the sound of my deep breath, I was shutting my husband for that brief moment. This helped me learn to recognize that the feelings were within me and not imposed by him. This was probably the most important thing I did, because it interrupted my previous habit of immediately reacting to my husband. Changing this made it easier to make other changes.

      3. Next, when my husband would initiate or make a request, I would take my deep breath and ask him to ask me again in five minutes. During that time, I would take more deep breaths and do some self talk (this is my husband, his desire is from God, I want to want to do this for him, etc.). And then I would be the one to “counter-initiate.” Before the five minutes was up, I would offer or simply get started with what he’d requested. This helped me feel like I was the one in control of the act rather than him. Also, it laid a foundation that was helpful later as I learned to get comfortable initiating.

      4.I prayed about it a lot. When we would begin to have sex, I would pray to be able to stay calm and not panic. During sex, I began to think about how glad I was to have my husband’s arms around me. I would find one positive thing to think about during that encounter. Every time I was successful at any of these efforts, I thanked God. I recognized even small successes.

      This will sound silly, but I practiced these things all the time, not just during sexual times. He would ask me to pass him the salt, and I would close my eyes and take a deep breath. Doing this during non-sexual encounters helped me train myself so it was easier to do during sexual encounters.

      It took me a long time, but this was what worked for me. Over time, as these behaviors became automatic for me, I was able to concentrate on what I was experiencing sexually and sex stopped being just for my husband.

      You talk about being able to delight in an experience that frightens you and be positive about sex and sexual variety. It is okay that you aren’t feeling those things yet. I simply focused on the step in front of me without thinking about what might be down the road. Give yourself some grace about not being there yet and for not knowing how you can get there.

      Sex in a Christian marriage is vastly different from sex with boyfriends. I wrote about some of the bad lessons I learned and the differences I’ve experienced in this post.

      I have found a freedom in sex with my husband that I never even dreamed of with my previous sexual partners. My husband is the only man who has seen me in the fullness of my glory as a Christian wife. Sex is for him. Sex is for me. Sex is for our marriage, an act that cements us together every single time.

      That probably sounds impossible and a little scary to you right now. Just take one step at a time—and a lot of deep breaths—and focus on what’s in front of you. Changing my sexual attitude and behavior is probably the hardest thing I have ever done—but it is worth every single step I took. It truly is.

      I’ve added you to my prayer list. Bless you.

  3. cw,can you please elaborate why sex seems to be so terrifying to you. What triggers you panic attacks. IMHO any decision about sex acts should be made jointly by both partners.

  4. CW, I too am wondering what is making sex with your husband so terrifying. I get entirely what Chris has written about in her post…going from a refusing wife to one who is trying to open up sexually to her husband, but your comment sounded a little more extreme. I don’t want to jump to conclusions on what you wrote, but no one should be made to do any sexual ‘act’ they are not comfortable with. What happens in the marriage bed between spouses needs to be mutually agreed upon and satisfying for both. As Christians, yes, our bodies belong to one another in marriage, but that does not mean we have no right to say no if something does not feel good or is perhaps being done in an unloving way.
    I apologize if I read your comment in the wrong light. I pray for peace and healing in this area of your marriage.

  5. I don’t think it has to be any particularly scary or “out there” act to be scary. There is a vulnerability with any sex act. I used to have huge anxiety even reading about sex, much less doing anything. When you’re not feeling connected it can be hard to work up the nerve to make yourself vulnerable in that way. The longer you’re saying “no” the harder it is to get started again. 🙁

  6. I understand that, Trixie, but some of what CW wrote sounds like she could be dealing with a lot more than just not feeling connected to her husband or having refused for years and now trying to open up to him. But the mind set of her husband “owning” her body and how she ‘owes’ him sexual satisfaction, this just sends up a red flag for me, along with her saying how she has to be positive not only about ‘basic sex’, but anything other ‘act’ he wants to do.

    Perhaps it’s from me being in an abusive marriage for 20 years that make me suspicious of reading things like this. We are not ‘owned’ by someone when we are married and it’s sad that this type of teaching is so prevalent in the Christian community.

    Again, I apologize if I’m reading more into her comment than is truly there, it just really bothered me when I read it.

    1. The phrasing may mean nothing in particular, it may reflect prior experiences, or it may reflect something in the marriage. The phrasing raised some concerns for me as well, and I hope CW returns to clarify.

      We all read through the lenses of our own experiences, which means that sometimes we see something that isn’t there and other times we don’t see enough.

  7. Really, guys, my husband is a good guy. Really he is. He loves me and he loves Jesus. He’s not abusive, or anything like that. And the problem is not that I’ve been saying no for too long, it’s that I NEVER have said no.

    In high school, I had a boyfriend who said he was Christian but wasn’t. He told me that waiting until marriage for sex was unacceptable and unreasonable, and the only reason that I wanted to wait was because I had been brainwashed to think of sex, a beautiful thing, as dirty. He let me choose when we could start having it (within reason) but in the meantime, I had to take care of things in other ways. Because everybody knows that is what a girlfriend does.

    As time went on, I learned that pretty much all guys think that way. Even my husband, when I first met him, expected sex (he was not a Christian at the time). Everybody knows that a relationship without sex is not a boyfriend girlfriend relationship if you’re older than the age of 13 or something. I gave him whatever he wanted because I loved him and didn’t want to be rejected. I never said no. To anybody, really. I have people pleasing issues. I pretended to be enthusiastic.

    After we were married, I started to resent “men” for not loving unless they get sex. I wanted to be loved for who I really am, not who I have to pretend to be. After he was saved, my hubby regretted how things had started between us, but I felt like the damage had been done. The pretend enthusiasm, which had been so easy for me at first, got harder. I started to feel used. I started to get mad because, even though I have never been sexually abused, I felt scars similar to women who have been, and I didn’t even have a traumatic story to back my feelings up. I still have never told him no, I’m more scared of conflict than of sex, lol. But I’ve lost my ability to feign enthusiasm, and it hurts him that I don’t want it like he does. So I’m trying to get there. But I have a really, really hard time. Because all these Christian blogs tell me that I have to not only have but ENJOY sex as a duty to myself (yeah, right) and him. That I have no rights over my own body, but he “has authority” over it. I can “want” things sexually all day long, but only if my “wants” are for more frequency and more variety and more excitement. If my “wants” are to back off, that’s invalid and unholy. I get that’s the way that God designed things, and I MUST submit to God, he has a right to do things HOWEVER he wants. But seriously, those arguments about why I’m supposed to enjoy sex sound an awful lot like what high-school-boy told me about why I had to put out for him. It’s hard not to view the whole thing as saying I have no right to think and feel the way I just honestly do think and feel. I can control my actions, but I can’t just will myself to feel a certain way. Sex makes me feel like less than a person, because my wants and fears and feelings don’t count, only his “God-given” desire. I’m tired of being told that how men naturally feel is more holy than how I naturally feel. Like I’m less of a person, and need to just “fix” my opinions.

    Maybe that makes a little bit of sense?

    1. Thank you so much for coming back and helping us understand.

      You have every right to think and feel the way you do. Yes, we’re supposed to enjoy sex–not because it’s in the wife job description but because it’s the way God designed us. We’re supposed to enjoy sex in the same way we’re supposed to breathe. It isn’t about having a list of rules of what wives should do. It isn’t about what you must do. It’s about having full and authentic intimacy. For me, the sexual desire I have now is a reflection of that intimacy as well as a contributor to it.

      It’s okay that you aren’t feeling it right now. It’s okay that you can’t imagine ever feeling it. If you’ve been feigning enthusiasm and are now not able to do that, that moves you a step closer to authentic intimacy. Don’t pretend what you don’t feel. My changes began with a recognition of the heart pain I’d caused my husband. That made it a little easier for me to genuinely want to have sex–not because I wanted it but because I wanted to make my husband’s heart feel better.

      What do you want in your marriage in terms of intimacy? What are some ways that you’d like to see your husband grow (other than related to his sexual desire)?

  8. I just want him to love me, the real me. I’m sorry for lying about my initial feelings about sex. And I appreciate him wanting to work things through with me. I know and believe that he WANTS me to feel LOVED through sex. He wants to show me his love. But I can’t help being frustrated that I’m supposed to have awesome sex so that he can FEEL loved, and I’m also supposed to feel loved right back. He wants to both give and receive love in the way that comes naturally to him – sex. His desires set the terms for both how I’m supposed to give love and also how I’m supposed to receive it.

    I wish he could feel loved because I’m doing what he wants me to do. I’m trying. Because I love him, I’m trying. Like you said, I don’t want him to hurt, and I’m doing my best. Why can’t he FEEL loved by my imperfect attempts? And I wish he could understand the pain that I feel. It makes me feel so very alone that he just doesn’t get it. I mean, he regrets that our relationship started out in a sinful way, but he just has no mental category to understand that I felt my body was the price of his affection in the first place. He’s sorry we didn’t do things the right way, but there is no pain in those memories for him. No disgust. For me, there is. And he can’t understand that. For me, intimacy is being known and understood. I want to receive the love of being known. But because of this whole sex thing, I feel like we’re not even living on the same planet.

    And how can I demand that he love me in my way by “getting” where I’m at, while at the same time, I’m resenting that I have to love him in his way? It’s just a mess…

  9. CW, I’m so glad you clarified for us what is happening.

    First off, you have every right to feel how you feel. And it’s vitally important that you’re husband knows your feelings and thoughts. Have you shared with him what you have shared here? Our husbands need us to tell them what is going on, they cannot read our minds or if they try, often misinterpret what we are truly thinking and feeling! LOL And by talking with him you are also releasing yourself from carrying this burden alone.

    Second, I have a real problem with the whole thing of our husbands have authority over our bodies or our bodies are not ours any longer once we marry. That is NOT what scripture says. I Cor 7:4 “The wife’s body does not belong to her ALONE but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him ALONE but also to his wife.”
    This does not say our bodies do not belong to us AT ALL. We still have control over our bodies and what happens to them, but we are to share our bodies with our spouses and not deprive one another all the time since we are to become one flesh during marriage.
    It’s great that you have never said no to your husband, but it shouldn’t be because you cannot decline once in a while as long as you talk with him about it and agree to coming together soon. It is not unholy or wrong for you to say no or not desire sex with the same frequency as your husband. It’s just not right to deprive one another for long periods of time without mutually agreeing to it. In other words…communicate your needs, wants, desires…talk it out and try to find some mutual ground for keeping your sexual intimacy alive in your marriage.

    And finally, God gave both men and women a sexual desire. Unfortunately, you’re right how so many Christian marriage sites allude to how wives need to make sure their husband’s God-given sexual desires are met on a regular basis and tend to lessen the woman’s God given desires too. You are not less of a person in this aspect of marriage. There should be a mutual enjoyment and satisfaction from the marriage bed.

    I pray that if you haven’t had an open, candid talk with your husband that you are able to do so. And I pray for peace and comfort for you during this difficult time.

  10. Thanks to everyone here for letting me talk these things out. I have spoken to my husband about most of this. It’s hard because it hurts him very much to hear about me not wanting him in that way. And it made him pretty mad to think that in a way, the start of our relationship felt the same to me as when I was with that guy in high school. It’s hard for him to listen or reply objectively. But we are trying. Thank you for your replies.

  11. CW,
    I understand what you’re saying about the pain from the way your relationship started. I was the pursuer of my husband, but that was a pattern I learned very young about how to get love.

    Does it have to be an either or situation. Can you accept that he’s both giving and receiving love through sex and yet still ask for him to also give and receive love in your love language?

    Praying for you today!

  12. Speaking of anxiety… I am curious Chris just how your hubby requested oral from you. I’m working up enough courage to do so with my wife, but don’t know how to communicate it in an inoffensive manner, if that’s even possible. How did he ask? What words did he use? How can I make a request in such a way it doesn’t turn her off? I’m so impressed that he continued even during your refusal days. His persistence is commendable and something I think I will need as well. I just want to do it in a productive manner.

    1. Thanks for asking, mdoggm1. I, too, am impressed at my husband’s persistence. It wasn’t easy for him, I’m sure, especially considering that he usually got a fairly rude “no” in response.

      Is oral something that has ever been part of your marriage bed, and have you and your wife discussed it before? Any request at all may seem like it comes out of the blue, and my recommendation would be not to spring it on her during sex (although some women are more amenable to trying new things when they are very aroused).

      I suspect that sharing my husband’s approach wouldn’t help you much. I read your comment to Big Guy. He always felt that we had a good relationship except for sex (which I just learned a few minutes ago), and he said that the only reason he ever felt he could ask is that he felt he could talk to me about things.

      That said, I can tell that you would really like some suggestions as to how to ask, so I’m going to give you some ideas of things to think about.

      If you’ve never spoken to your wife about this desire, it might be better to approach it outside the bedroom. Do you ever talk about your relationship or sex? It helps if this is a normal occurrence since it won’t seem so strange to your wife. You can say something like, “Honey, there’s something I’d like to share with you about our sex life. I’ve really loved how you’ve done [insert the good things she does sexually and especially praise any efforts for growth she’s made]. I’ve been thinking . . . I would really love to know what oral sex feels like. I’ve heard it’s amazing, and the thought of your mouth . . . ” This would just introduce the topic and give you a sense of her views.

      If your wife is open to thinking about it but doesn’t feel ready, ask her if she is willing to do some reading from other Christian wives about it. Several Christian women who blog about marriage have really helpful posts about oral sex. Also, know that many women are concerned about their gag reflex and about ejaculation into their mouths. Oral sex includes kissing, licking, and sucking and not just deep throating or ejaculation. Many couples prefer oral sex mostly as part of foreplay, in which case dealing with ejaculation wouldn’t even be an issue.

      Then there’s the prospect of making a specific request for oral sex during a sexual encounter. This would depend a lot on how a sexual encounter typically proceeds in your marriage. If you spend a lot of time in foreplay, it might be easier at first to ask if she would kiss your genitals for a while. Use words that feel natural in your marriage bed. Think about whether your wife would respond best to a question or to a hint or to an expression of your desire. These things might sound something like “Would you be willing to kiss my [name for your favorite body part] for a while?” “Will you suck on my [body part]?” “Will you go down on me?” “I wouldn’t mind a [whatever you call oral sex].” “I’d really love to feel your mouth on me.”

      Think ahead about how your wife might respond, and plan how you will react. When my husband would make a request at a time when I felt extremely disconnected from him, I was less likely to have a positive response. When he expressed his own frustration and hurt, I often would feel guilt, anger, or my own hurt. This meant that the topic of oral sex became associated with difficult and negative emotions in my mind. It was when he expressed disappointment but carried on with sex in other ways that I would find myself thinking about oral sex rather than about our negative interactions.

      If her response is along the lines of “no way, buddy,” you may feel quite hurt. I understand this. That was my response quite frequently. In my case, it was a reflection of feeling unloved or disconnected in our marriage at that time. Giving oral sex is such an intimate thing, and when I didn’t feel close in our relationship, it hurt too much to think about being so intimate and giving. My refusal to give oral sex was always more about me and my perceptions of our marriage than about my husband–although he always experienced it as a rejection of him.

      I know this doesn’t give you much of a script or step-by-step approach to follow, but because communicating about anything (especially sex) happens within the context of a relationship, it’s hard to make specific suggestions that can apply in another marriage.

      How do you ask her to do anything else sexually? That’s probably the best approach for you to take.

  13. Yeah. Sexual communication is a huge issue for us. Both ways. In general, It’s waaaay too close for comfort and due to previous rejections, I generally don’t ask for anything. Things just kind of “happen” which usually means the same ‘ol things that just work are what we wind up doing. (And it does all work for both of us so there’s not any physical/medical excuses). Asking or “trying” or “something new” generally aren’t in our vocabulary to my great frustration. I know you’ve posted on the topic before, and I wish she would read counsel from others regarding technique or how-tos, but for her, that’s like inviting a third party into the bedroom. So anything with too much information is a no-go for her. Spiritual sex books=no problem. How-To sex books, nope. When last we talked about OS the words “eeew”, “messy”, and “gross” came up. That was pretty much the end of that…back to the usual thing.
    If sex were a dessert, a bowl of vanilla ice cream would pretty much be it. Sometimes strawberry. And rarely chocolate. But ultimately still a bowl of ice cream. And frankly, After 22 years, I’m growing tired of ice cream for dessert. Sometimes I’d like a banana split. Some pie. A milkshake. I hear chocolate cake and lemon meringue pie are really good too. But I can’t convince her to read any cookbooks on how to make a great dessert. So we pretty much stick to bowls of ice cream. Heck, even an ice cream cone would be great. But that’s too messy I guess so we stick with a bowl and spoon. It’s hard to initiate any more knowing that its another bowl of ice cream i have to look forward to. That puts all the burden on her initiating and she doesnt do well with that either.
    I really like your writing and willingness to share your story. It encourages me that perhaps there is hope. At the same time discourages me because i feel our life is where yours was years ago with little signs of changing.

    1. My recommendation is to ask your wife if she would be willing to read Passion Pursuit. It is not a how-to book as much as it’s a why-to book. It is a study, with questions at the end of each chapter for women to answer about their own views and how those compare to what the bible tells us. It isn’t a cookbook; it’s a book about the importance of paying attention to nutrition.

      It is important for you to lead growth in your communication about sex. If you’re a “things will just happen” couple, then communicating about sex can seem like a big shock. But you can still begin with making comments to her about what she did that you liked, even if it is language that is vague at first (“I really liked when you touched me the way you did”). When you are touching her, ask her things like, “Would you rather have me start with your right breast or your left one?” Encourage her to think about her own preferences, and it may make it easier for you to begin expressing your own.

      I know that my story both encourages and discourages many husbands. There were a lot of years when the only change my husband saw was that things were getting worse. My changes happened for very selfish reasons and because something in our marriage dynamic changed enough to make me uncomfortable. God took advantage of my momentarily softened heart to swoop in.

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