SWM 091 – Explaining romance and foreplay, should both spouses enjoy sex, is my wife faking, nipple orgasms and more

Topics include:
Is it okay to masturbate as a widow?
Explaining romance and foreplay
Is it unreasonable to expect both spouses to enjoy sex?
Is my wife really having an orgasm?
Is it wrong to want to be more adventurous?
Wife got upset when asked for more frequent sex
Is mutual masturbation wrong in marriage?
Nipple orgasms

Today we have another roundup of questions, this time from April of this year.  As always, these questions come from our anonymous Have A Question page, and so there is no context other than what we received in the question, and no way to get any more.  Our wonderful supporters have helped discuss the questions and shared their views in our forum and today I’m going to share mine, which often draws from those discussions.  If you want to be a part of that ongoing conversation and see the questions as they come in, check out our support page.

Let’s jump right into the questions.

Question 1 – Is it okay to masturbate as a widow?

  1. my husband died in August, I would like to know if it is a sin if I touch myself sexually
  2. my husband passed on 4 years ago, and I haven’t had another man touch me in any kind of way, but I ———still need to know is it all right for me to play with myself?

I get this question every month or two and rather than go through the entire argument again, I think I’ll just refer to my post Is it sinful for widows to masturbate? I know many of you are going to want to argue about it, so you can do so there.

Question 2 – Explaining romance and foreplay

Hello Jay. Long-time reader.

I want to see if you or someone in your group can shed some light on this. My wife and I are approaching our first anniversary. We were married as virgins as God would expect. The only trouble is we still have no idea really what and how intimacy works. We’ve never had intercourse still to date, but we’ve done other things. We’re both responsive desire individuals so that makes things more difficult as we almost never remember that it’s something God expects couples to do. I also recently discovered that I am on the autism spectrum, something neither of us knew before getting married. This makes things even more difficult yet because being on the autism spectrum means I won’t quite understand various social or emotional situations. Romance is not something I understand at all. Nor do I understand foreplay. I was wondering if you or anyone in your group could shed some light on sex and intimacy when one partner is on the autism spectrum? It’s probably the greatest challenge at this time. Thanks.

Let’s start with a bit of sidenote: I don’t think God “expects” us to be virgins at marriage. I think God expects us to be flawed humans. I think He desires us to be virgins so that we can have the most fulfilling sex lives possible without the burden of previous experiences.  

After that, I was curious as to why you haven’t had intercourse. Is it because of pain, erectile dysfunction, lack of lubrication, sensory issues, or something else?

As for romance, romance is … complicated. Made more so by the fact that different people mean very different things when they talk about romance. And, they’re almost all feelings based, which can be very difficult for someone on the spectrum to associate with as people on the spectrum tend to bury a lot of their feelings because emotional regulation tends to be difficult. It’s easier to shut everything off than deal with the wild ups and downs. Even if you don’t disconnect emotionally – trying to understand neural-typical emotional responses can be difficult because there are nuances that don’t tend to happen as much in people on the spectrum because emotions get pushed to the extremes. At least, that’s my take on it.

Technically, romance is “a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love”, which tells you very little really. Plus, I think when most people talk about romance, they’re not talking about the feeling, but rather the expectation of a partner doing something that evokes these feelings. So, now you’re trying to do a behaviour, which changes for every person and so is very vague, to try and evoke a vague sort of emotional response which is similarly difficult to define or describe. Frankly, I don’t bother.

Rather, I try to go with another definition I heard once – “Romance is meeting a need before they even realize it exists.” Now, that still has some pitfalls. I mean, how do you know it’s a need if they don’t? Especially when you’ve only been married a year. But, as you get to know each other more – you start to see them. I used to tell my wife to take a shower – not because I thought she smelled bad or was dirty, but because I knew to her it was important, and she would forget to (it happens a lot when you have young children). So, making her take a shower was meeting a need of hers before she realized it was one. Now, you’re not going to see that considered a romantic gesture in a movie, but for her it was.

I try as often as possible to get those moments where she asks for me to do something and my answer is “already done”. I try to anticipate her needs and then do them. Does it mean I get all of her needs met before she knows of them? Not even close. But I think at this point at least once a day I’ve managed to get a step ahead of her recognition of a need.  

So, that’s how I deal with romance. Now, this is particularly difficult for many on the spectrum because, well, people on the spectrum often struggle to anticipate other people’s feelings. But, I believe it’s a skill that can be learned. It just doesn’t come naturally. So, practice, ask your spouse a lot of questions about what they need, why and when, and then start to see the patterns and behaviours and anticipate them. It will be the work of a lifetime, but well worth it.

Foreplay is similarly complicated because the definition has shifted a lot over the years. Historically, foreplay was defined as any sexual activity you do before intercourse to prepare for intercourse. So, kissing, touching, manual stimulation, oral stimulation, and using vibrators would all fall into that category. But it’s going to change for everyone. For some, kissing gets them in the mood. For others, they don’t enjoy kissing until they’re already aroused, so it would be bad foreplay.

These days, foreplay has been extended to include any and all things that get you in the mood. So, doing the dishes can be considered foreplay if “chore-play” makes it easier to get your spouse in the mood. Being “romantic” in general is considered foreplay. An oft-repeated quote lately is “foreplay starts when sex ends”. While I don’t like the large burden this tends to place on men in particular, on the one hand, I think it’s awesome that we acknowledge that intimacy is holistic. Every part of your relationship is integrated into every other part. So, how you treat each other during your daily life is going to affect what happens in the bedroom.

So, have a discussion with your spouse and find out what sort of things get them in the mood, get them aroused, get them turned on. Then try those things. Don’t know what to try? Maybe try our free Truth or Dare game. The first “level” is all foreplay ideas.

Hopefully that helps with all the confusion and gives you some things to try.

Question 3 – Is it unreasonable to expect both spouses to enjoy sex?


I recently discovered your podcast on Spotify while I was searching for biblical perspectives on dealing with a sexless marriage. I’m in year 7 of marriage and we have two toddlers. The sexless marriage is my fault. We have sex every week and a half to two weeks and for me, it feels completely connectionless. The first reason I call it duty sex is because she gets in missionary or doggy and wants me to hurry so she can get back to what she really wants to do. Reason two she says she can tell when I’m getting melancholy and she will offer. I’ve asked what I could do to turn her on or what she likes sex-wise and she doesn’t know. Do I have unreasonable expectations of how sex should be (as in both of us enjoying it)? I turn down sex and suggest cuddling when she is only doing it out of duty. Is that the wrong move? I love my wife, we have a great life together but it’s almost like I’m a husband in the friend zone. I’m doing all I can to honor God with this marriage. Leaving, cheating, porn, and masturbation are all off the table. I’m married and burning with passion, some nights I feel my side of the mattress is melting. What do I do?

It sounds like sex isn’t very fun for her, and that’s not uncommon. The longer I deal with couples and their sex lives, the more I believe that women need sex to be more varied, adventurous and exciting than men do. Or at least, it’s more strongly tied to their sex drives. I think while men tend to desire that eroticism, women need it, without realizing they do. While it’s often the men pushing for more adventurous sex, the women tend to get more of a benefit from it. That is, while the men think it was cool, sexy, fun, etc., the women are the ones who tend to see their ability to orgasm increase, get stronger orgasms, and experience a larger sex drive increase.  

Now, it’s not universal of course, and what counts as adventurous will change from couple to couple, and there is a danger of pushing too far too fast which could have the opposite effect, but, on average, I’d say that women need more excitement in the bedroom, often without realizing they need it.

And this comes out very strongly as a theme in romance novels. They are full of adventurous, erotic, and even transgressive sex. What arouses a large percentage of the female population, it seems, is being pushed into more erotic situations than they ever dreamed they’d enjoy and then being able to say “well, it’s not my fault, he made me do it”. Of course, that’s very politically incorrect to acknowledge these days.

So, I’d say try out something like the Truth or Dare game I mentioned earlier because it has those elements in it – pushing more erotic play while also giving her plausible deniability that it’s something she desires. “It’s not my fault, the game made me do it”. I think Sexy Memory would also be a good candidate for you.

Question 4 – Is my wife really having an orgasm?

Thanks for taking my question. My wife and I have a really good sex life, she seems to really enjoy it. My question is that when she tells me she has an orgasm there are no pelvic contractions but afterwards she becomes very sensitive to touch. I notice in one of your articles you note that contractions are part of the female orgasm. Should I assume she is not really having an orgasm or maybe it is not to a sufficient strength to produce pelvic contractions? I’m sure if we communicated about it she would say everything is great, but her body just does not work that way. I can’t help but think she is missing out on something. Thanks for your consideration of this question

I think it’s hard for some of us men to believe that our wives don’t feel those contractions. The contractions we feel during orgasm are very noticeable due to the structure of our genitals. I mean, those contractions are pushing on a relatively long lever (the penis) compared to women’s genitals which are all much closer to the body, and so there isn’t the same sort of sensory amplifier going on.  

That said, some women feel the contractions. Some feel them very strongly, some as little pulses, and some don’t feel them at all. And if you’re a husband performing manual stimulation, sometimes you can feel them, and sometimes you can’t during her orgasm.

Plus, while men’s orgasms tend to be more uniform, women seem to experience a much wider variety of sensations when having an orgasm. We’ve been married 21 years now and the last 2 times we had sex my wife has said “I don’t think I’ve ever had one like that”, and I agree! It looked different than all the others from my perspective as well.  

So, I wouldn’t assume anything when it comes to female orgasms. Just enjoy the wonder that they are. 

Question 5 – Is it wrong to want to be more adventurous?

Hello. My wife and I enjoy a great sex life. We have 4 children, so the only mutual hangup we have is sometimes having intimacy before we are too sleepy at night. We do have a different definition of risky, or exciting sex. I want to have sex outside (not in public, but on a private balcony). Or maybe in a wooded area. These never broach her mind.

I also like to ask her “what is your fantasy”, or “what can I do to you that hasn’t been done.”

 More times than not, her response is “nothing”, “I just want to be with you” or “I don’t know.” This is very frustrating to me, as I am looking for ways to excite our sex life, but often get met with what feels like a lack of imagination (at best) or lack of care for my wants (worst case). It’s obvious to me that we both have different feelings about what amounts to risk.

Am I wrong to want more adventure in our sex life?

My wife, and many other wives, are the same way. They don’t have those types of fantasies, or if they do, they don’t dwell on them. They flit in and are gone and forgotten. Trying to catch them can be maddeningly difficult as it’s often just a quick quirk of the lips or something and you have seconds to ask “what were you just thinking about?” I’ve only managed a handful of items in our 21-year marriage.  

But, these days my wife is starting to get more comfortable with telling me about them. When she out of the blue says “you know what might be fun”, my heart always skips a beat, because there’s about a 5% chance that it’s going to be sexual rather than something like strawberry picking.

And as I said in the earlier question, I think wives do want more exciting sex, but maybe you’re jumping too far ahead. I would consider my sex life fairly adventurous, but we’ve never had sex on a balcony or in the woods, or anywhere outdoors yet. That’s a big leap for my wife, and it sounds like yours as well.

So, maybe try baby steps in another direction first. I don’t know what that’s going to be for you and your wife, but I would bet you could probably find something in Our Sexploration List.

Question 6 – Wife got upset when asked for more frequent sex

My wife and I had a long talk about our sex life after I found this podcast. We average having sex about once every 5 weeks, I encourage us to have it more often but she’s not interested. When we do have sex it’s fairly unfulfilling as it seems one-sided on who is doing the work (me). I’ve asked her to use the Christian-friendly sex positions website to maybe see if there are other positions that we could try and she doesn’t want to even look cause it’s “gross.”

I brought up conversations that we had during premarital counseling where she said she was a sexual person and when we spoke about sex I told her I would want sex 3-5 times a week and she said that sounded like a lot, the pastor facilitating said most couples are somewhere around 2-3 times per week.

Our last conversation didn’t end super well as she kind of blew up at me for “always trying to push her into doing something new, always trying to get her to have sex with me, and not being okay with what she gives me” she said it seems like I’m always just trying to get off not that I want anything else from it. I don’t know what I’m doing that gives off that vibe.

But at the end of the day that’s kind of a big portion of sex anyways, isn’t it? The fun aspect? We just ended the conversation as I really didn’t know what to say about it. How should I approach the topic again?

I would hazard a guess that she has some psychological block, shame, guilt or another hang-up about sex. I mean, I think most Christian women do. Many men do as well, but we somehow often still manage to grow up believing we’re sexual beings, whereas Christian women tend to get the message that they’re sexual objects if they like sex.

So then, for many of them, their view of sex is that it is gross, dirty, sinful, shameful, etc. Looking a something like CFSP to them feels vulgar, because they associate it with sex – a “gross” topic, whereas men I think put themselves in the positions as sexual beings and think “That would be fun to do with the love of my life and see her get pleasure out of it.”

I think maybe step back and try to address the underlying issue first. I’d highly recommend the book Intimacy Ignited. Read it as a couple, do the discussion questions together and talk about intimacy, sex and all those things, from a biblical perspective. If there’s a bigger issue there that you two talking through can’t resolve, then maybe engage a Christian therapist to work through the deeper issues.

Question 7 – Is mutual masturbation wrong in marriage?

Topics include:
Is it okay to masturbate as a widow?
Explaining romance and foreplay
Is it unreasonable to expect both spouses to enjoy sex?
Is my wife really having an orgasm?
Is it wrong to want to be more adventurous?
Wife got upset when asked for more frequent sex
Is mutual masturbation wrong in marriage?
Nipple orgasms

Is it ok to masturbate with my wife as part of our foreplay? Sometimes we masturbate till we cum. Is this a sin?

I don’t think it is a sin. I have an entire post on mutual masturbation and I did a survey about it a while back as well.

Question 8 – Nipple orgasms

How can I make my wife have a nipple orgasm?

I can’t claim any expertise in this area as we’re as yet unsuccessful at our attempts, but we have tried in the past and got close, and just the trying was fun, even if we didn’t succeed.

The basic process is:

  1. Get her incredibly aroused – try edging her for a while so that it doesn’t take much to push her over.
  2. Then stimulate her nipples

Now, this comes with a huge condition – she has to really like nipple stimulation at the time. For many women, this means she has to be aroused enough at the right time of the month, and child-rearing activities (pregnancy, birthing, breastfeeding in particular) can all play a positive or negative role, depending on the wife.

And that’s it for this round of questions.  If you have a question of your own, you can ask it on our anonymous Have A Question page, or you can contact me here.  I’m still trying to catch up on my emails from moving this summer, so if you haven’t gotten a response yet, I ask for just a bit more patience.  

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

1 Comment
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x