Relief is not the same as enjoyment

Jay Dee

Relief is not the same as enjoyment

Sep 14, 2016

I think sometimes we confuse relief with enjoyment, especially when it comes to sex.  I think this gets confused by both high-drive and low-drive spouses, and I don’t think we tend to reflect on that much.  So, I thought I’d take a second to try

relief-is-not-the-same-as-enjoymentI think sometimes we confuse relief with enjoyment, especially when it comes to sex.  I think this gets confused by both high-drive and low-drive spouses, and I don’t think we tend to reflect on that much.  So, I thought I’d take a second to try and share the difference.

Relief is the release of pressure or the fulfillment of a felt need

We feel many kinds of relief in our lives.  You know when you’re hungry?  I mean really hungry, not just “I want to eat”.  When your stomach is feeling hunger pangs, and it’s grumbling, and you feel that your blood sugar is low.  You know that kind of hunger?  Alright, continue on like that for a few days.  Then a few more.  I once fasted for 16 days, and at the end of it, when I ate food, there was this huge relief.  The need for food was strong and I just wanted to get something in me.  And you sort of feel this “Oh, yeah, that’s good”…but it’s not quite enjoyment.  Instead, it’s just a relief.  A sating of a real need.  You barely taste the food, you’re just trying to get it in you.

Or like when you really have to go pee, and then finally you can, and you feel this … not enjoyment, but relief.  But the relief is so strong, it feels sort of good.  You know?  It is the urinating that feels good?  No, it’s the release from that pressure.  And in any other circumstance, peeing would feel that great, but we sort of think it does at the moment.

And I think this happens with sex too.  When it’s been a while, there’s this pressure.  In men, this pressure can be a literal, physical pressure, but in both men and women, there can be a psychological pressure.  It’s this need to be intimate with our spouse.  That need is very real and it can cause a lot of mental, if not physical, pressure.  Then, when that pressure is released, it can feel good, and yes, there’s some physical pleasure as well, but I think what we feel is relief.  Not quite enjoyment.

Enjoyment cannot be truly embraced under pressure

Because true enjoyment can’t really happen in those circumstances.  It needs a sort of freedom for us to enjoy it.  Our minds are split.  Yes, this is something we get pleasure from, but our brains are first trying to meet a need, and that takes our focus away from actually enjoying the experience.  It’s hard to be “present” and “in the moment” to really share a connection, when you’re brain is so focused on releasing this pressure that has built up.

And when we have sex, and orgasm, we feel this sense of release.  This relief.  And it feels good…but it’s not the same.  We feel more a sense of “finally” than of “wow, that was amazing”.

I wonder if low-drive husbands and wives think that when they finally “give in”, when they feel they should have sex just to “relieve the pressure” if they think that’s what their spouse wants.  I mean, yes, they’re meeting a need, but it’s a need to feel relief.  But there’s also a want buried behind it to feel enjoyment.  If your only ever meeting the need of releasing pressure, then your spouse is never really getting to enjoy the experience.

Enjoyment is needed for actual intimacy growth

When I think back at some of the emails I’ve gotten from higher drive husbands and wives who are doled out sex like prison rations, I think this is what they are trying to express.  On the one hand, they’re relieved that they don’t have a sexless marriage, but on the other hand…they’re just getting their need met.  That’s not living…it’s survival. And yeah, I know, sex isn’t a need for individual survival, but I think it’s a need for the survival of a marriage…at least one that is healthy.  But, for the marriage to thrive, it needs more than just the bare minimum of survival.  I think it needs enjoyment too.

That shared experience, that recreational intimacy, that can only come about when there is enjoyment.  If all you’re doing is relieving pressure, then you aren’t growing a relationship, you’re just providing the bare minimum to maintain it.  If you want intimacy to grow, I think it needs a bit more than the minimum.

Those are my thoughts anyways.  What do you think?

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12 thoughts on “Relief is not the same as enjoyment”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I never thought of the difference between relief and enjoyment. Now I can understand why I never felt true enjoyment in my sex life. Thank you for this insight Jay!

  2. A Happy Hubby says:

    This makes lots of sense. In my marriage I am the high drive side with a wife that likes the role of gatekeeper. Relieving the pressure sure describes the way I feel about the sex we have. It does not connect me with her.

  3. Mike says:

    I never evaluated my feeling between joy and relief. When I have sex with my wife, I have both, I am relieved and have the utmost joy at the same time. I am the high drive spouse, but my wife and I come together every day and make love. She knows I am high drive, so, every day she initiates in order that we enjoy each other. I always say yes.!!! Do I have relief, yes, but joy is the higher emotion I feel.

    When we were in a sexless marriage, there was no joy. Relief had to come in other ways. The joy was lacking until we started having sex again. Our relationship is probably atypical. It is more like tantric. We can be making love for hours. Sometimes there is no release for a long period of time, but there is great joy during that time. Kind of difficult to explain, but thanks for the chance to try.

  4. Spiffy says:

    Nicely put, my husband relieves me because he loves me, knowing he does it because he loves me not because he WANTS me is difficult and I struggled to understand why I didn’t feel totally filled when he does.
    I can now see, I get the relief but not the joy that comes from being truly wanted.

    He will see to me when I get obvious I am needing, when I ask him, the so called pity F&^*

  5. Ken Graham says:

    This has been one of the most absolutely revealing article I have read! I never really thought of relief vs enjoyment!! Sex with my wife has been just that…relief. I am the lower drive husband married to a higher drive wife that does not like nor believe she should initiate anything. I would initiate more but that’s hard to do when the 1yr is in the crib in our bedroom and the 2yr sleeps between us. I digress. When we do have sex, it is more of a relief and not enjoyment. I cannot recall the last time sex between us was actually enjoyment. Smh.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I feel like that’s the only time and reason we have sex anymore. My husband won’t talk about it or express any emotion about it even though I have gently addressed it. We are both super shy and so we just don’t.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      It’s awkward to talk about sex at first, but it gets easier. I would recommend that you push through that embarrassment and learn to talk about it. It gets easier, I promise.

  7. cj8dave says:

    Thank you for a great conversation! My wife and I have drifted away from the enjoyment over the last few months, mostly due to stress. This is a great reminder to stop, take a step back, and see where we are. And then set a course to get back to enjoying each other!

    1. Jay Dee says:

      You’re quite welcome!

  8. Kay says:

    Hi Jay

    Sometimes you scare me with how you seem to really get me.

    Even though I no longer share your faith, I see there is a deeper connection in our shared humanity that transcends race and faith.

    Thank you for sharing and helping.

    Wish you all the best as you sort out your current situation.


    1. Jay Dee says:

      Godly principles don’t require your believe in God in order to be true 🙂

      Glad you enjoyed it. My situation looks like it’s going to improve. I’ll try to send out an update to the mailing list tomorrow.

  9. Bob says:

    There are certainly times when I take the relief route to spare her. To be honest I could go for several hours at times and really enjoying saving that feeling of pressure ad desire rather than spilling it out then not having desire for several days. It takes time to love well and when I am hurried its not as good for sure.

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