I received this question from our anonymous Have A Question page about a month ago:
My wife and I have had a troubled sex life for years. Before we were married it was incredible and she fulfilled every desire I had(yes we know it was sin, but it happened). In counseling she said the only reason she did that was to make sure I would stay. One time after what i thought was a great time of making love I said to her “that was the best ever!” She was quiet then when pressed said it was more exciting with her first lover.
This line alone cuts me to my core.
She will not discuss sex. She will not help me understand how to please her. She will not talk during sex. She does not communicate during sex. We seldom have sex- perhaps two or three times a month and of those she is engaged maybe once.
Help me get out of this hell. What can I do to deal with all of this?
Unfortunately, this is a scenario that happens in a lot of Christian marriages: the bait and switch. That is, you thought you were marrying someone who shared your views, passions, feelings, goals, etc. and then as soon as you get married, it turns out that wasn’t the case.
There’s a few ways this happens.
Sometimes they simply didn’t know what they were committing to. I’ve heard spouses say they expected sex to be great … and when it wasn’t, they really weren’t interested any more. Unfortunately, a lot of them simply shut down and don’t realize that great sex takes practice. It’s not good for a lot of people right away, but, it can get there if you keep trying. However, some just give up and say “well, it’s not good, so I’m not interested”. They don’t realize that sex is a requirement for a thriving marriage, and so they cheat themselves and their spouse into ever having a fulfilling sexual relationship, or a thriving marriage.
Sometimes they change, and it’s not a conscious decision, or intentional. Our marriage was like this. My wife did a complete 180 degree turn around when she went on birth control pills, just prior to marriage. Her sex drive shut down, she became depressed, had a short temper, and every day felt like walking on egg shells living with her. On the rare occasions when we had sex, she liked it, but that was quickly forgotten. I often thought, and said “I feel like Jacob” who got his bride switched on the wedding day. This created a pattern of behaviour that turned her primary reaction to sex to be that of refusal. Now, we both had our issues to deal with, but the primary catalyst of this was external: the birth control pills. I often wonder what our marriage would have been like without them.
Sometimes they actively deceive you. These are the really difficult situations, like the one described above. This is a true bait and switch. It’s unethical and immoral, and just wrong. Unfortunately, I honestly don’t know how to protect against it. It’s not just women who do this either. I’ve heard of a lot of husbands who make very overt sexual advances prior to marriage, or even have sex, frequently, before marriage, and then, once married, they lose interest. I don’t have the words to describe how deceptive this is.
Regardless of the situation, whether they deceived you or not, you made a vow to stick with your spouse, for better or worse. Well, this is the worse.
That doesn’t mean you should abandon hope though. I’ll admit, I had some years that I pretty much had given up on hope. Some days my only hope was the mythical “sexual peak” at 35-40 for women. I thought perhaps that might mean we’d have sex a couple of times a month. Other days I had no hope. So, I understand the feeling.
While you can’t change your spouse, you can change yourself. You can make talking about issues in your marriage easier. In our marriage, we decided that since divorce wasn’t an option, we’d have to learn to communicate better, before we killed each other. So, we learned to communicate. We learned how to share our feelings, the good ones and the difficult ones. We learned to create a safe space for each other. We dealt with our issues, and slowly, our marriage started to change. It wasn’t easy, and it required years and tears, but we did it.
So, is there hope? Yes. Can I promise it will get better? No, because this requires both spouses to be invested in making the marriage better. If they are both willing, it can happen. I hear from many couples who have gone from sexless to sexually fulfilled marriage just like we did. Some of them are regular readers. Some I’ve been blessed to play a smart part in helping.
So, what can you do to get out of this hell? Figure out what you need to learn to make your marriage a safe place for your spouse. I can’t guarantee it will make them willing to talk about it, but it will increase the chances that they will. That means learning to communicate, effectively, intimately, lovingly.
Now, I’m afraid I don’t have many resources to help with communication , but I am working on more, so stay tuned. There seems to be a huge need for this, and we aren’t doing a good job, as Christians, of teaching good communication skills. So, I’m going to try to find the time to help fill that gap.
In the mean time, I’d suggest these posts:
How to resolve conflict more effectively
As for her referencing a previous lover, I’m not sure what you can do about that. You pressed, and she answered. It’s not the best way she could have handled the situation, but this is one of the drawbacks of sex before marriage. Perhaps there needs to be a ground rule of not comparing your marriage to previous relationships, but only to previous sessions in your marriage. Then, you won’t be comparing yourself to anyone else, only to a prior you. I think that’s generally a good way to look at things. Not to keep up with others, but only to make sure you are constantly improving.
So, work on communication, and that will make it easier for her to talk about sex. Then use that feedback to improve sex into something she might actually desire.
I hope that helps.Have a Question? Ask it here!
10 thoughts on “Dealing with a Bait and Switch”
I’d like to offer a weekend program called Marriage Encounter. It teaches and models for couples a new way to communicate and learn how to hear and listen to each other. You can find more information at http://Www.agme.org. Weekends are held in about 30 different locations throughout the year.
My brother got caught by a woman who baited him then switched. She went to church, said she did not smoke, take drugs, looked slim, was financially responsible, etc. After they married she admitted she lied about it all. She quit church, gained weight, was $100k in debt, smoked, took drugs, refused sex, etc. He paid her debts, tried counseling, tried much, but when she threatened him physically, he got out of the marriage. I told him before he got married that she was deceptive, but he could not hear anything I said. He was blinded by his hormones.
It’s hard when people don’t listen to warnings because of their hormones.
I feel like my husband pulled a bait and switch. We “fooled around” before marriage (no intercourse) engaging in oral and manual. After the wedding things cooled off. We went 3 months no sex, his choice. He just said he was tired. Sex was iffy and after 8 years the foreplay, manual, and oral dwindled to nothing. I went 3 years without an orgasm by him. Sex was just “for him quickies.”
We had a blow-up fight about it, which ended in him pinning me to the bed and having another, rather forceful “for him quickie.” Since then, we have established a routine of pretty much no foreplay, no manual, no oral, but I do get to masturbate during intercourse to achieve my own orgasm. Sex is literally the same thing every time and he is satisfied with that and won’t budge.
Whatever happened to my “do anything anywhere” guy? He talks a good talk sometimes and his occasional porn use reveals a wilder side, but reality shows different. And now I am stuck.
The early years of our marriage were rough when it came to intimacy. She became pregnant soon after the honeymoon and that sent her hormones into la-la land. Her first trimester was like 3 full months of the worst PMS ever and I nearly committed to never having a second child because of it.
We didn’t cross the line before the wedding but we were very affectionate, and after getting married that vanished. Before, being affectionate was the end point for us, now she knew it would lead to more than it did before. She didn’t tell me, but sex was physically uncomfortable for her so she avoided it, but she didn’t want to directly refuse me. She would limit affection and get her ‘I’m so tired’ etc. etc. excuses out there right when I got home to discourage me from asking.
Yeah, those “pre-refusals” are hard to push past. It makes you feel like a jerk for even suggesting sex later.
I feel like this is not uncommon at all.
You say you knew it was wrong, have you repented? Have you asked forgiveness for not protecting her purity? Have you thought of the fact that she may be eaten alive by guilt?
You also say it was fulfilling before. For who? Probably you, since you say she did everything *you* wanted. What about her? Did this pattern go into marriage? This may have given her or strengthened the pre-existing belief that sex is only for men. Which can lead to resentment.
She may have a lot of anger and insecurity around the subject of sex, which may contribute to her not wanting to talk.
Communication is good. But I think you need to get your mind off yourself and focus on what’s going on with her and how she may be thinking and feeling about the situation if you want to get anywhere. Maybe start with repentance and prayer for patience, compassion and understanding.
What if you did not have pre marital sex, but then once you get married you find out that you’re really not that into sex? I really do not find it appealing to see my wife in uncontrolled convulsions or screaming due to the female orgasm. The amount of work of the few seconds of male orgasm is, well, a lot of work with very little return. Why would anybody want to be in complete loss of control of your body for even a few seconds?
You and up sweaty, stinky, sticky and wet spots all over.
Everybody is “isn’t it great! It’s the best thing ever!” I really don’t get why the world is so obsessed with it.
Bait & switch is very very very common with Christian women
The behaviour is, but I don’t think it’s intentional. I think many go into marriage expecting to just continue wanting to have sex, and then they don’t and then neither spouse knows how to deal with it.