SWM 101 – Why does my spouse always push for more during sex?
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Way back in November, I received this email about a struggle a wife was having with her husband appreciating what she does in the bedroom:
Jay, I enjoyed the book (Introduction to Talking Dirty) that my hubby put on my iPad. The thing is, no matter what I do in my comfort zone, it isn’t enough. I do many, I mean many, of the examples you use, even the F WORD. How do I get him to be grateful for what I do instead of needing more? I always feel inadequate.
Anyways thanks for helping many couples enjoy their intimacy more!
Don’t worry, I responded to her in November when the email came in, but I also asked if she’d be okay if I used her email for a blog post because I know this is a common conflict in marriage. My wife has felt this way as well.
To all the wives who are reading this – I hope this helps you feel less inadequate. To the husbands, I hope this helps give you the words to express your perspective with your wife. To those whose dynamic is flipped, adjust the genders as needed. It may not be a 1:1 translation, but I hope it will give you a framework to discuss it.
Men tend to be predisposed to push for adventure. Many of us are hard-wired to want to win. We drive for the next milestone, the next award, the next level, the next championship, or anything that constitutes a new pinnacle of greatness. This drive is why men gravitate towards sports or video games because both tend to employ goal-based systems.
And part of it is because winning means an increase in status. That’s why we like the idea of championship rings, black belts, trophies, ranks, etc. They signal to others that we’ve done something; we achieved something.
But it’s not only about that. Even if noone is around to see it, even if there is no scorekeeping, no opponent, no levels, or anything else – we still feel that internal joy of simply achieving something. We live to conquer, to dominate, to subdue, to win. Even when there’s no opponent, we will fight against nature itself. We just want to climb higher, run faster, and hit harder. Higher, faster and harder than what? Anything. It can even be ourselves.
As a result, we’re constantly looking for the next adventure. The next peak to climb, the next skill to learn, the next monster to slay. Because when we “win” at anything, we get this fantastic boost of dopamine that makes us feel like we’ve done something, like we have a purpose. It makes us feel like we’re men.
But it’s even better when we can share it. When there’s someone with us on the adventure, someone to not only witness our winning but to win with, we can witness their winning as well. That’s why we like teams. It’s why we build pseudo-teams in activities with only one winner, like martial arts and Olympic sports. We like to win together.
This translates into every part of our life, including sex. After all, sex has a lot of similarities with sports:
Physical activity – It requires movement, coordination and stamina. Whether you’re engaged in vigorous, aggressive or rougher sex, or slow, sensual touching, sex can be a form of physical exercise that gets your heart rate up and works out your muscles.
Strategy – You and your spouse might talk about what you like and don’t like and come up with a game plan to maximize each other’s pleasure. You might try out different techniques and positions to figure out what works best.
Practice and improvement – The more you do it, the more comfortable you become and the better you get at knowing what works for you and your spouse. Let’s face it, having sex is a skill, and if you’ve had it regularly for years, hopefully, you know you’ve gotten better at it.
Teamwork – You and your spouse need to communicate and work together to create a fulfilling sexual experience. This might involve asking for feedback, being open to trying new things, prioritizing your spouse’s pleasure over your own, and various other team-focused, rather than egocentric behaviours.
Competition – Maybe you’ve played around with some friendly competition in the bedroom. Played a round of Sexy Memory, or see who can make the other orgasm first, or who can cave during foreplay and beg to move on to something more fulfilling (whatever counts as foreplay vs “more fulfilling” for you).
And, of course, sex releases that same chemical dopamine that makes us feel like we’re on top of the world.
It’s no wonder that men look at sex with much the same enthusiasm as they do for other pursuits.
In all of this, men tend to suffer from a common flaw – enjoying the win. That dopamine spike is usually so short-lived that it’s not long before we’re chasing the next win. We often don’t take the time just to sit and enjoy where we are, what we’ve accomplished, and how good it is at the top of this mountain. We too often look over and see a bigger mountain and think, “wow, it’s really great here, but I bet it’s even better there.”
As a result, wives often feel “pulled” in this constant quest for “what’s over the next peak,” thinking that their husbands are unsatisfied with them, which leads to this feeling of inadequacy.
But in reality, he’s not thinking, “ugh, I’m not happy here; I need to find something better,” but rather, “Wow, that was amazing! I can’t wait to see what’s next!” It’s not like reading a bad book and trying to find a better one. It’s like reading an amazing book and then reading everything else the author has because you loved it so much. It’s the belief that “what’s next will be even better – so why would I stop?”
So, wives, if you feel like your husband is constantly pushing for more – it’s likely not that he thinks you’re inadequate. Quite the opposite – he thinks you’re a worthy teammate to scale the next mountain, and he’s excited to get to the top with you. He wants to share that win together.
If you’re not ready to climb the next mountain, remind him that it’s okay to sit at this one for a bit, to relax and enjoy how far you’ve come. Revel in the newness of it and reflex on how amazing it is. Then, when you’re ready, start the next climb together and find that next peak. But don’t sit around too long. While moving forward may be uncomfortable for you, staying still will likely be uncomfortable for him, so you need to find a balance there. Studies like this one show us that having a wider range of experiences also improves our mental well-being. You may remember a time in the past when you tried something new in bed that was a little adventurous, maybe a little scary to contemplate, but the next morning you were all smiles and giggles as a result.
Husbands, slow down. Your climbing partner might need more time before another climb. Let them acclimatize to this new altitude. Let them take in the sights and the sounds. Rather than drive for the next level, be more of a completionist. Work on perfecting this level before moving on to the next. Don’t just try a new activity once and then move on. Get really skilled at it, see how amazing it can be with some practice and fine-tuning.
Also, listen to your wife. There’s a reason God gave us differing drives. Some mountains should not be climbed. Sometimes we can get blinded by our pursuit of what’s next, and in our rush to find the next peak, we can be tempted to explore dangerous paths. Often our spouse can be a sober second thought. When that happens, stop, pick a time when you’re not aroused, and talk through it.
With the two of you working as a team, letting one lead so you never get stuck at a plateau but also be sure never to leave a teammate behind, or force them to move forward before they’re ready, you can scale those mountains together and enjoy the most out of the experience.
29 thoughts on “SWM 101 – Why does my spouse always push for more during sex?”
This sounds like another one of Jay’s self-serving articles. Sorry Joy, I enjoy your blog and the many resources offered, but sometimes your answers are very sexist and one-sided. This woman like many wives out there is overwhelmed and probably fed up of husbands wanting (demanding) more and more extreme sexual acts. Nothing is ever good enough and things need to be more and more pornographic. Sex is an expression of love, that is why it is called making love. That is the way it is supposed to be and that is the way most women prefer it. And no I do not want to be bent over like an animal and for my husband to have his way with me from behind. No thank you. I actually want to look at the person I am making love to. And I do not want to be called dirty names. I just wish husbands were more grateful.
Margo, I get where you’re coming from, but I must disagree. If Jay left it at “husbands, take your time, but know that if your wife loves you, eventually she will climb that next peak with you” then yes, this would seem an ultimately self-serving post. But Jay also acknowledges that the wife (or the spouse desiring less adventurous “newness”) can serve the important role of throwing the brakes, and preventing the couple from sliding into unhealthy, and sinful, acts. It all requires honest communication and a willingness to figure it out together as a couple. Just my $0.02.
I’m curious what you mean by “self-serving”? I’m not having sex with this wife, so how does it serve me to answer her question in one way or another? I answered it as honestly as I know how.
And she replied to my thoughts with “Yes, you are right on!”
Also, there are a lot of wives (23% according to a past survey) who list “doggy style” as their favourite position. Many more really enjoy it, even if it’s not their literal favourite.
But if you don’t want that, and you don’t like dirty talk, then don’t use it! Talk to your husband about what you do want, how you would like to explore. Why jump to the conclusion that you have to do things you don’t want to do? Now, if you have zero room for any sort of exploration – then I’d suggest maybe check your boundaries and see if they’re there for moral reasons, or simply because you’re more comfortable not growing.
If you need to see him when you’re bent over, get a mirror.
Sadly, Margo sounds a lot like my wife. Almost all my suggestions are immediately shot down as “dirty” etc. Doggy style is completely off limits, for example too. Survey results do not seem to help my cause as she always argues that there are people who act in porn or watch porn too, that does not make it right. So Jay’s survey argument is dead in the water. I think some women (maybe there are men too) are just very conservative sexually and their partners just have to live with it.
Some change over time, some do not. If I was in your shoes, I would aim to become an absolute master of vanilla sex, and in the mean time, I’d ask questions, not to try and convince my wife, but to try and understand her better. If you do that in love and show that you’re actually trying to understand her, not trying to push her into something, then there are occasionally opportunities when you ask her why she has a certain boundary where she will honestly answer “I don’t know” and she might herself reflect on that and then wonder if perhaps that boundary has value or not.
What I do know is that constantly pushing when it’s a firm “no” will get you nowhere except resentment on both sides and perhaps a permanent “no”.
I have to say… I’m unsure if Margo is understanding how judgmental she sounds towards others. There are other married women who have not been into porn and were virgins when they got married, who enjoy sex with their husbands in many different ways. I understand having boundaries, but certain positions (like doggy style) feel better for some women. Also, for some women who are more overweight or pregnant, doggy style is one of the only ways to have good sex with their spouse. What she finds degrading is something many women are thankful is an option. Knowing your husband not only loves you in purity, but also finds you extremely sexy and is turned on by you, is also very empowering to many women. And in no way do i think it makes things less holy. You are married! Meant to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is hard, which is maybe why some positions and talk is difficult for women, but it’s so good! Song of Solomon is quite vulnerable. If you can’t imagine your husband or yourself using those kind of euphemisms with each other, or the equivalent in today’s language, are you sure you’re in the right? Or are you trying to be holier than others and look down on your husband and others who take and explore all the goodness the Lord has given them? Perhaps you do not like the idea of enjoying all the possibilities the Lord has given in your marriage, but I hardly think it fair to judge your husband and other women by saying anything other than looking your spouse in the eye and watching very closely what you say while having sex is pornographic. For reference, I am a woman who loves doggy style, and many different positions. I love when I can tell my husband is extremely into what we are doing because of the language he uses. I may not be vocal, but who knows, maybe one day I will be? I also hate porn. It destroys. But I’m not going to let the world take something the Lord has given us and deem it bad because of how the world has chosen to use it. I have yet to read anywhere in the Bible that says I must be looking my husband in the eye, saying or refraining from saying certain things, he has to be the one on top of me, or anything. The Lord has given so much freedom in the marriage bed!
Anonymous 3….beautiful answer. Just wanted to acknowledge how well you understand sex and intimacy in marriage.
I did not mean to sound judgmental. I firmly believe that sex is the ultimate expression of marital love life. I do not think making love is a just a euphemism, I whole heartedly believe that sex is making love, and when making love it is important to be loving. For example, eye contact is a sign of respect. I think it is the case inside or outside the bedroom. So I believe it is important to look your partner in the eye when making love to be respectful. I want my husband to look at me when making love so that I know he is thinking of me and focusing on our love, and not some sick fantasy. These are my beliefs, but I have spoken candidly about these with other women and most share my beliefs even if they allowed other things in the bedroom, it was not usually their choice. I am pretty confident that most woman would agree.
You’re confidence would be misplaced I’m afraid. I’ve run a survey on this in the past and while missionary position was first over all, doggy-style was second, above woman-on-top, and many women did pick doggy-style as their first choice. The reasons often cited are that it hits the G-spot better. This is consistent with all the survey’s I’ve seen on the topic. Some will actually place doggy-style as the preferred position for women.
Now, that said, if you have a lot of fear and anxiety regarding your spouse disassociating or disconnecting during sex and are worried about him having “sick fantasies”, then I can completely understand how it could be difficult to understand how others may not prioritize having to confirm at all times that they are present mentally by being able to look them in the eyes over something else. But other couples can let go a bit more and trust their spouse enough to enjoy the pleasure of other positions and activities that don’t offer that face-to-face connection.
For example, many wives (the majority according to many surveys) really like the experience of blindfolds, but I would imagine that would be a “no go” for you for the same reasons.
I’m sure you weren’t thinking you were being judgmental, but the truth is there is no one right way. Maybe many women you spoke to agree with you, or they just want to be polite (or not feel judged) and don’t tell you they feel differently. There are many ways to have sex. And if it was the husband’s idea first, that’s fine too! Men are more creative than women a lot of times due to most marriages (though definitely not all as much research shows 1/4 of marriages have the wife as the higher drive spouse) having the husband as the higher drive spouse. I don’t recall if it was my husband who brought up the position first or a book I read. I was virginal when married and wanted to know more, so got a book to learn more to feel confident in the bedroom (I was really quite ignorant going into marriage). However, going through pregnancy and hearing other women recommend doggy style, that’s a big part of why that became a huge part of our intimacy. I don’t recall my husband ever really desiring it until it became the only way we could have intimacy. Also, if you need to see your spouse, you can look behind you. I do this sometimes just because I enjoy watching him. However, at the end of the day, do what you and your spouse enjoy and are comfortable with.
I also understand the power of eye contact. Eye contact during orgasm helps with bonding due to the hormones released. It also helps a betrayed spouse (yes my husband has had a history of porn usage in my marriage that we have spent many years both healing from and probably always will) know that their husband is thinking about them and not another woman. However, I don’t believe sex is meant to be a sign of respect. I know my husband respects and loves me through all his actions when we aren’t in the bedroom. I also don’t believe it’s disrespectful to not look someone in the eye. It can be submissive to not look someone in the eye. A sign of trust. Some marriages have an agreement that you can be in your head during intimacy thinking about each other. This would require trust. In my own marriage, trust has been broken. But, he gets it back by taking the opportunities to be trustworthy that I give him and proving that he can be trustworthy. At the end of the day, it’s up to each marriage. Some people are ok with toys. I personally don’t like them, and I can’t recall a time my husband has ever requested we use them. But I’m not going to judge others for using them. To each their own. I know of marriages who love toys. Same with mutual masturbation. I’m not comfortable with that or solo masturbation, but I know marriages that are. Each has to follow their own convictions and respect another’s, while also encouraging each individual marriage to love their spouse in ways that may call them out of their comfort zone. Because at the end of the day, it’s not all about one spouse, but it does require us to not keep score and simply love our spouse.
Thank you Jay and Anonymous 3 for such thoughtful and kind replies (that is the reason why I really love this blog). As much as I hate to admit it, it is true that I’m absolutely terrified that my husband may not be thinking of me during sex. As I’ve said before I do firmly believe that sex is the ultimate expression of marital love and it is crucial that both spouses concentrate on their spouse and focus on them 100%. I do have a lot of anxiety of my husband thinking of someone else. Still to me eye contact and ability to see and kiss your spouse are absolutely essential. But, I do understand that some couples may find the doggy style positions a lot more comfortable due to a variety of reasons, and I did not mean to judge at all. There are 100 different valid reason why that positions may work for other couples. I, however, do not think I would ever be trying it. I would just be so concerned how I would look in that position and the vulnerability of being on all fours. I feel scared even thinking about it, I think I would just be too embarrassed I would not be able to carry on even if I was OK with not looking at my husband the entire time. Are most women not concerned what they look like in that position? How do you get over the embarrassment?
Female here who loves doggy style! Also a plus sized woman with body issues. A few thoughts: first, if you’re concerned your husband is thinking of another woman, pray for those thoughts (your thoughts, cause it may not be true!) to go away and start talking dirty to your husband. Your voice will clue him in on to YOU. Second, don’t worry about your body! Your husband likes it, I bet, so just tell yourself he likes it and keep talking dirty! Also, you use a vibrator on your clit in this position and you’ll find it is very nice. Two thumbs up.
Oh wow, thank you so much for such an open and honest post. I am also a very much a plus-sized woman, and just the thought of being on all fours in front of my husband with everything exposed is absolutely mortifying. I am genuinely happy for you and your husband! But, I do not think I have what it takes 🙂
Does your husband make negative comments about your appearance? I’m curious where this anxiety comes from.
No Jay, my husband is absolutely lovely and loving towards me and always has been.
I’m glad, he sounds amazing. So, why are you punishing him if he’s done nothing to deserve it?
I think that in sex, like in life, not all women feel like you. I am a woman and like to initiate new things in the bedroom, and want my husband to spice up his language during play time. You sound a little sexist in thinking that most women don’t like this. It sounds like you have some old beliefs about sexuality that might need tweaking. My opinion, as a woman
Kind of feels like the response to women is “deal with it. He’s a man!” Science or not, it’s frustrating to constantly feel unappreciated in and out of the bedroom.
Yeah, I did not want to be as harsh. But, yes, that is exactly what Jay is saying. Women must just deal with the more degrading positions and acts we need perform in bed because “men genes”. OK, thank you Jay.
I think you read into it a lot more than I put into it. I didn’t say anything about degrading positions or acts. In fact, I’ve been quite consistent on the blog that degradation and humiliation are not acceptable in a Christian marriage as seen in Question 2, Question 16, Question 9, Question 2, and Question 4.
So, no, anything that makes you feel humiliated would in one of those “mountains that should not be climbed”.
That said, humiliation is subjective. What about these positions and acts makes you feel humiliated? Do you believe your husband’s intent is to humiliate you through them? Or do you perhaps have some unhealthy boundaries and are imposing that humiliation on yourself without due cause? I’d be very curious to know what is on your list of degrading positions and acts that you feel I’m promoting here.
That’s a very different topic. This one was specifically addressing feeling unappreciated simply because of the desire for more diverse sexual activities. You’re upset about a post I didn’t write rather than the one I did.
Now, if you want to perhaps comment with something like, “Hey Jay, could you maybe write a post addressing feeling unappreciated in marriage as a whole and how to address that? I’d really appreciate it because it’s something I’m struggling with now,” that would probably go over a lot better. Let me know if that’s something you’d like to read.
My husband gets all grumpy and sulky if I don’t want to do something he wants me to do.
When he took me away somewhere for a romantic getaway, he brought a double-ended dildo and a harness and pegging dildo to try out with me. He offered me no preparation beforehand, no discussion, no seeking of my consent. Suddenly I was expected to do these things without any preparation.
He also rimmed my anus in the bathtub. Again, no consent sought. I put up with it but was tense and disgusted. That is a germy area. And hotel tubs are likely not disinfected too commonly. It was just gross. Less gross in our own tub, but he didn’t give me a chance to explore it there with him first.
He also gave me skimpy lingerie to wear.
The romantic getaway was not at all about romance, not about any activities outside of the hotel room. It was all about sex. I’m using “romantic” as a euphemism.
I felt like a total sex doll who had no right to decline. He was upset I seemed tense and not into it although I complied and did everything for his sake. He then grew resentful and we left a day early. He threw the toys into the dumpster in the hotel parking lot on our way out and cried the entire 90 minutes home. Not talking to me. Not looking at me at all. Just cried.
Then ensued FIVE LONG YEARS of no sex at all, no real conversations at all about anything meaningful. He shut me out. It’s amazing that by the grace of God I stayed in this marriage. Now things are better, but only because I invited him back to a sex life and told him I would gladly do anything and everything he ever dreamed of in the bedroom.
All of these things, he learned about through watching porn. He wasn’t in a Christian household as a child and his dad had porn magazines my husband explored. In our marriage he has also used porn although these days he is thankfully staying away from it.
So, we are back together again, but only because he got his way and continues to get his way in the bedroom. He also doesn’t court me for sex. I’m an easy “yes” and never refuse him because I’m scared to death he’ll again give me the punishing and emotionally abusive cold shoulder. My Christian therapist told me those 5 years were emotionally abusive. I didn’t even recognize it to be abuse. Of course, my pastor doesn’t believe wives have the right to leave our husbands for emotional abuse; just for physical abuse.
I’m glad he’s happy! For me, I’m feeling very conditionally-loved, and looking forward to Heaven and hope it will come soon. I am ready to die today if the Lord is kind enough to take me.
You certainly don’t sound like you’re glad he’s happy. And I agree, he definitely could have done things better. I think you could have too.
Neither of you seems to know how to communicate, so it’s no wonder you feel like a sex object. I’d imagine he feels something similar. What you shared shows a repeated pattern of bad communication by both sides.
He bought all this stuff without discussing it first – bad communication.
You went along with it despite being disgusted by it – bad communication.
He got upset that you were upset and instead of talking about, he shut down – bad communication.
Then you both went 5 years without talking about it – bad communication.
Then you invited him back and said you would do anything, despite not actually wanting to – bad communication.
You both contributed to this, equally enough to not be worth splitting hairs. The two of you have been either not communicating, or effectively lying to each other the entire time.
As a result, neither of you got want you wanted, because neither of you were willing to talk about what you wanted or needed. You think that what he wanted was just a sex doll that went along with everything and then resented him for it? I doubt it. I think you both contributed to this hell on earth you’re living in and you’re both angry at each other because neither of you is willing to be vulnerable and humble enough to accept your part in it.
And yes, it sucks that he got these ideas from porn and brought them into the marriage. That is awful. It’s awful for you, and it’s awful for him.
And wherever you got your ideas of how to (not) deal with confict, you brought them into the marriage as well. That is awful too. It’s awful for him, and it’s awful for you.
It sounds like you’re both emotionally abusive towards each other.
So, instead of being angry and waiting for the earth to end, why not actually love your spouse and talk to them! Be compassionate for them, and let them be compassionate for you. You’ve spent so much time and energy hating him that you could have spent learning how to love each other. Right now, it seems like you can’t even love your spouse enough to have a real conversation with them about something that’s been bothering you for over 5 years!? You just let him believe that everything is okay now. How is that honest? How is that Christ-like?
You both should look at each other and say “We are a mess, and we need God to help us, because without him we’re just going to keep making things worse.” And then get down on your knees, pray for help, ask for forgiveness from God, and each other. Then forgive each other and move forward and start talking.
I mean, Jesus may not come back this century – do you really want to live out your lives like this? Do you think this is preparing you for heaven?
I cannot even imagine what you are going through and what you have been through. I am so so sorry. You do not deserve this abuse and you have done nothing wrong. What you describe is disgusting and no woman should ever put up with it. I sincerely hope you find the help and support that you clearly need in your community to get out of this toxic relationship.
Boiled down to the core issues and you arrive at the partners sexual blueprint. Communication, Gratitude, understanding our insecurities and embracing your spouses “sexual blueprint” makes things easier If both accept the other. communicate your needs, be grateful for the ability to serve their spouses sexuality and you can create an amazing sexual experience. But trust and vulnerability need to be aligned for it to work. Yes, we can grow “improve our dirty talk”, take chances and say more if we create the right environment. We’re ALWAYS learning, it may be new to us and adjustments taken but a loving relationship growing in sexy language is possible.
I get where Margo and Megan are coming from. I myself have no problem with that particular position but if someone else does that should be respected within the marriage.
It is okay to have boundaries. Constant pushing for activities like bondage or anal can destroy closeness.
I get where they’re coming from too, but they read into the post something that wasn’t there, and rather than reflecting on their own behaviours and responsibilities, they’ve decided to lash out at the thing that convicted them.
If you read a post and your first thought is “my spouse is terrible”, then you should re-read the post and figure out what you’re doing that’s terrible.
If you want posts on boundaries regarding sexual acts, I’ve got a bunch:
The worst time to spice up your sex life
How To Spice Up Your Sex Life
How can I encourage my spouse to do something new sexually?
Do spouses have the right to specific sexual acts?
Boundaries should be respected – but they should also be evaluated to see if they have value or not.
But if you’re boundary is “missionary position, at night, in the dark”, then I’m going to suggest you have some growing to do.
Idk why we’re still stuck on the missionary position, although I really enjoy that position, we practice oral, anal, all fours position, etc. I believe that God created our sexual organs with so many nerve endings there for us to enjoy sex. From our inner thighs to beyond our rectum are pleasure zones, so that area was created to be used for pleasure. Why not use them for what they were created to be used. Our Victorian ideas were passed down from our parents but it doesn’t mean they’re right. Our sexual views have been influenced by our culture, religion, our parents and our upbringing, but God gave us the ability to have pleasure in our marriages and a brain to make decisions about what we can do and not due. Open your mind to the possibilities of having passionate, spicy sex. If you start your time w/your spouse with the decision not to explore and try new things, you’ll probably stick to the same old positions and get stuck in a rut. Idk why women put a brake on new experiences in the bedroom.