SWM 102 – December 2022 Anonymous Questions
Welcome to another roundup of questions from our anonymous Have A Question page. Today we’re answering questions from December. These questions come in with no other context. I post them in our supporters’ forum and use those discussions to inform my answers.
So, without further ado, here we go into these six questions.
Question 1 – Does my wife know what I’m doing to her?
Hi, my wife and I have a fairly healthy sex life, I think, but I (husband) tend to be interested in looking for variety and new experiences. My wife is fairly comfortable doing the same thing every time, almost acting confused when I express interest in something new.
Oral is a large part of sex for us, and every time we have sex, it’s how she orgasms, kinda. When she nears orgasm from oral, she always finishes using her hand, and I move my mouth lower, out of the way of her hand. Over time, I’ve began exploring lower and lower during this “stage” until I’m basically giving her analingus while she orgasms with her hand. Her orgasms seem much more intense since I’ve started doing this. That said, we’ve never discussed it, and based on her attitude towards “extreme” things in the past, I’m wondering if she realizes what I’m doing, or if she’s too removed from herself at that point to realize what’s happening. Is this a stupid question? Obviously, I don’t really know what the sensations feel like to a woman, so I don’t know if feelings just blend together at high levels of arousal, or if this is something she’s very conscious of and it’s just unspoken. Sorry if this is too graphic, but there are times where I’m essentially doing mini “thrusts” with my tongue, so it’s not exactly subtle…I wouldn’t think.
I’d love to discuss it with her so we could explore it further, but I’m concerned it’ll ruin something we’re both enjoying if she becomes self-conscious once it’s spoken out loud.
Is this anything you’ve heard anyone else report? Is it wrong for me to do it if I think she might not be aware of exactly what is happening? Am I obligated to ensure she understands what I’m doing?
I’d be willing to bet that she knows. There is an often confusing and difficult-to-navigate element of female sexuality that many men struggle with. Many wives want all the uninhibited, adventurous, kinky sex their husbands do, but without any responsibility for choosing it.
This element is why books like 50 Shades of Grey swept through the female population – even in churches. The idea of that dominant/submissive dynamic which would allow them to have all the crazy sex and pleasure but with zero guilt or shame – because it’s not their fault. They’re being “made” to do it – pleasure without responsibility. Erotic novels for women often have that element of being ravished, forced, coerced, or otherwise made to do all the things they want but can never bring themselves to admit they enjoy, let alone desire.
That’s hard for their husbands because they want all the same things – but they typically are free of the same psychological barriers. Then they are confused why their wife seems to really enjoy something, but when asked directly about it, she’ll get angry and possibly deny that she enjoyed it.
Usually, it’s because that guilt/shame/embarrassment is just too much, and it’s easier to get angry than be uncomfortable.
Society has also conditioned men to hold back, wait for her to make the first move, get explicit consent every step of the way, never push and be eternally patient. And frankly, many women are turned off by such a passive stance.
Add to this that our brain changes how it calculates things during arousal, and you end up with a bit of a mess.
In short – your aroused wife may be a radically different person than your unaroused wife, and she may want you to act like another person.
So, yes, I believe she knows, but I doubt she wants to acknowledge it – especially in an unaroused state.
If you want to try discussing it, what you could do is while she’s in an aroused state, when she’s getting relatively close to orgasm, you could stop what you’re doing and ask her if she enjoys it and wants you to continue. Now, it’s risky because you might pull her out of the feeling part of her brain and into her logical brain derailing the whole thing. Or, she might simply say, “don’t stop,” or “yes,” which will at least be a verbal acknowledgement you can build on.
Question 2 – I want to share orgasms with my husband
Hi, Jay. I love your podcast it really helps me keep a Christian perspective about sex and my marriage relationship. My husband and I have been married for 25 years. The past couple of years, our sex life has been awesome. For the first 23 years, I feared not ever being able to keep up with him. I never had a great sex drive but we never went more than 2 or 3 times a week without. Up until menopause about 5 years ago, I orgasmed easily during oral but not intercourse. However, I climaxed only by fantasizing, not about a different person but about body parts or particular acts.
As orgasm got more difficult, I searched for sexual healing in many different Christian books which helped me understand God’s view on sex and after hormone therapy, my sex drive is great. One book says the goal is soulgasm, taking focus and frustration off orgasm. And I get that, I definitely enjoy sex after learning that. I feel very loved and close to my husband, but I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve gone over the edge to climax. To him, he believes I’m climaxing because I allow him to believe that. My body’s response seems like I am without the intensity of orgasm. It’s just too exhausting and takes so long. Sometimes I lose complete sensation. He’s very patient and wants me to orgasm before him. I’m tempted very often to masturbate. I justify it, but I do believe it’s not the right thing to do. I’m taking the orgasm program through your website hoping I’ll learn my blocks.
How common is this? And any advice for me? I want to share orgasm with my husband.
It’s pretty common not to be able to orgasm from sex. The stats are a bit hard to nail down, but only 18% to 61% of women can orgasm from penetration alone. That’s a big spread, and the reason is that it depends on who you are surveying.
For example, surveys closer to 18% tend to survey young women in colleges or universities. If you ask the general population of women, you get about a 30% stat. The 61% figure comes from stats from my readers.
The reason for this is that orgasming from penetration is a skill. Some have a natural ability, but some have to learn it. Young women tend not to be able to as easily, but as they grow up, they’re more likely to learn to. Also, those who have a better understanding of biology tend to find it easier to orgasm, likely because they’re leveraging that biology to increase their arousal. As a result, nurses tend to score higher than the general population.
Your relationship status also changes things. It tends to be that the longer you are in a loving relationship, the more likely you will be able to achieve orgasms from sex. You’ll have a more challenging time if you’re just doing hook-ups in college.
So, what can you do to increase your chances?
Stop lying to your husband about your orgasms, or lack thereof. A lie of omission is still a lie, and if you really want to work on this, you’ll have a hard time making progress if he’s not involved, and he can’t be involved if he doesn’t know what’s going on. Check out Question 1 of episode 95 for help with how to talk to him about it.
Educate yourself – You’ve already been doing this. I am going to guess that by “orgasm course” you mean either our Becoming More Sexually Engaged course or our Making it Easier to Orgasm guide. Whichever one you don’t mean, maybe check that out too.
Increase your arousal level – If you can orgasm through oral sex, get your husband to get you right to the edge using oral, then switch to penetration, perhaps with you being on top so you can control how things feel. Adding Dirty Talking or other activities can also help boost your arousal level and make it easier to achieve an orgasm. Dirty talking will also help you stay present and aroused so that you don’t have to disconnect and go into a fantasy to orgasm.
Quit masturbating alone – if you’re used to orgasming regularly and remove all other avenues, that may help give your body the kick it needs to find a new path. Our brains are very good at trying to find pleasure and creating new neural pathways to get it. You can also try orgasming with your husband. It can be awkward at first, but if you can get over that, then at least you can learn to orgasm with him, and that might help you learn to orgasm during sex as well.
I hope that helps.
Question 3 – What are your thoughts on BDSM?
My wife and I have been married for almost ten years and have had a mixed bag of fulfilling and unfulfilling seasons in our sex life. The unfulfilling years usually had more to do with postpartum depression than anything. For the past few years, we’ve been exploring more with different toys, positions etc and are having a great time. One area that we’re getting more into is BDSM. We’ve dabbled a bit with blindfolds, spanking, hand cuffs etc,. And it’s been a surprisingly big turn on to both me and my wife. We are interested in learning about it and exploring it more. What are your thoughts on BDSM and can you recommend any resources to help us learn more about it. So far pretty much all resources are on sites I’d rather not visit.
Let’s start with my thoughts about BDSM. For those who don’t know, BDSM is an overlapping acronym for Bondage/Discipline Dominance/Submission Sadism/Masochism. I don’t have an opinion about it as a whole but views on each part.
Bondage – I have no problem with it so long as you’re safe, it is with your spouse and consensual. I have a bunch of posts on bondage:
Discipline – This one gets complicated because I know it’s just a game for some, and they enjoy the mix of power exchange and sensation play. Others take it too far, and it becomes a twisted version of headship like the Taken-in-Hand / Domestic Discipline models of marriage. These models tend to run towards abuse, manipulative behaviours and coercion.
Dominance and Submission – Again, this one can get complicated because while many people enjoy the power exchange, it can go too far sometimes. Any time you take a step towards trying to subvert your spouse’s will rather than both willing and consciously accepting the roles, you’ve gone too far. So, if you get your spouse into sub-space and they can’t think anymore, then you have to be very aware of their boundaries, and you need to be their advocate rather than your own in those times.
I have one post on this topic:
Sadism/Masochism – I struggle to see how these are appropriate in a Christian worldview. We should not take pleasure in either receiving or giving pain. Now, there’s a bit of a nuance here because lots of people enjoy things like spanking because, while it may have some pain, it also brings pleasurable sensation and exhilaration, and that’s what they’re after. Sadism and Masochism seek the giving or receiving of pain itself and derive pleasure in the giving or receiving of it, not pleasure despite it.
As for resources – yeah, not any that I can think of off the top of my head. There’s a lot of garbage out there. The bondage resources link above is for knot tying, specifically for bondage, but other than that, no. One day I’ll try to put some together.
Question 4 – Is bondage a problem for me?
I have a fantasy/kink that involves bondage. We have tried wrist and ankle restraints, tied to the bed, etc. but I don’t really feel like that’s exciting enough anymore. We also tried handcuffs but I find them uncomfortable for extended periods of time. Is it wrong for me to desire/pursue this kink with my wife. I don’t want this to become an idol or a gateway to sinful desires.
I think I see some warning signs there that I want to point out. First, you say it’s your fantasy/kink, but you don’t mention what your wife thinks of it. Secondly, you say what you’re doing isn’t exciting enough anymore, which tells me you’re focused more on the thing itself than the connection with your spouse. So, it’s less of a kink and more of a fetish.
Men tend to want to pursue new adventures in the bedroom, but most men I talk to aren’t bored with what they have; instead, they love sharing it with their spouse so much that they want to see what else they can share. But you may have crossed a line where you focus more on the fetish than your spouse.
Maybe take some time off from it. See how you do. If your world implodes and you have a difficult time with it, if sex itself becomes uninteresting, then I think you likely have a problem that needs to be addressed.
Question 5 – Wife doesn’t like direct clitoral stimulation
My wife and I have been married for over 20yrs, have a good sex life (2-5 times a week) and she orgasms regularly (not every time but probably around 75% of the time and very often multiples). It’s almost always through G spot manual stimulation but occasionally (10ish %) through PIV sex. Throughout our marriage, she’s had no problem giving oral but was never really that interested in receiving and I took that for granted for years but learned through conversations that it wasn’t that she’s not interested, I’m just not good at it. I try to take these things as constructive criticism, so rather than let it hit my ego, asked for more feedback so I can get better (there’s no need to suffer in silence!).
I read She Comes First and it was really helpful and she’s enjoying receiving oral and asks for it on occasion. The challenge has been she says clitoral stimulation is “super uncomfortable” so I was wondering if any of the ladies on your group have experienced this and if there was anything that helped? I’m thinking perhaps a small vibrator for indirect clitoral stimulation, but we’ve never incorporated sex toys in our bed. She’s said in the past they’re gross, but I feel like she’s thinking of things that are phallic in nature and that’s not what I’m thinking of including so obviously a deeper conversation needs to take place but I was hoping I might have some community feedback before we have that chat. We’re both middle-aged and I’m concerned with menopause on the horizon and only one tool in our toolbox for regular orgasms (G spot stimulation) if orgasming becomes a challenge and PIV sex is uncomfortable our sex life may suffer.
Very simply – start with indirect stimulation at first. Many women don’t like direct stimulation initially, and some don’t until they’re extremely aroused. I haven’t read She Comes First, but I know enough about the book to know that they go into a fair bit of anatomy, so you should be able to indirectly stimulate the clitoris based on the knowledge you learned from it. If not, maybe reread those parts.
One of our supporters in the forum suggested getting some sort of numbing cream – just be careful because it can also numb your mouth if you’re using it during oral sex.
Other than that, yes, I think talking to her about vibrators, what exactly she finds gross and seeing if there are alternatives that would work is a good idea.
Question 6 – How do I hold my wife accountable?
Thank you for all your work and freely available resources like the podcast. I would like to ask your group a question to see if any of the men have cracked the code?
Apologies, it’s a long one.
How do you hold your wife accountable?
My experience as a husband has been that our marriage can withstand me being corrected (By our pastors, my wife and at some times even her parents). We’ll eventually come to a solution and implement, even if I’m not perfect at receiving it well on the first go. I’m not claiming to be the gold standard here, but I genuinely welcome candour and constructive criticism and see it as fundamental to my growth.
However, for my wife the slightest “less than complimentary” conversation will usually derail the entire marriage indefinitely (especially sex) until we decide to make up because we’re tired of fighting. This leaves very little resolution and just a “return to normal” with the original issue put aside.
My wife often says that the main reason for this phenomenon within our marriage where she can correct me but I cannot correct her is because I dont say it nicely. I find this to be a complete copout and manipulation tactic. Here’s why… firstly, “saying it nicely” is an ever-shifting, unattainable goal with no proof that it exists. Secondly, I’ve seen our pastors or even her boss at work, correct my wife and she did not take it well. Its much easier to ignore them, shrug it off and continue as before though. Lastly, somehow whenever I raise a complaint in the marriage based on my experience, or even answer her question about my experience, if she doesnt like the answer, we will spend the next few days discussing how I could have said it better and miraculously we never get round to addressing my raised issue. Its actually quite fantastic at times to see the route she will take to make it my fault and I just laugh at the mental gymnastics it takes to deflect away from the issue. Ive seen her be dishonest, break promises, neglect her responsibility, make bad choices because they’re easier and the one commonality between all of these actions of hers, is that I should have let it go or raised it in a better way.
I always keep in mind that I may be able to build a communication skill and there truly is something I could learn, but having A/B tested on many occasion, I can safely confirm if she doesnt want to hear anything that sounds like criticism she doesnt want to hear it regardless of how I say it. I have even allowed her to give me a script to follow for the next time the issue arises. I followed it, including the recommended tone and time of day, and got the exact same results. Personally, I will never again let anyone, let alone my wife, control/dictate my speech but the fact that I spend so much time second guessing myself in what I want to say is frustrating and disheartening.
Not to toot my own horn, but I communicate in a way many have described to me as articulate, wise and with gravitas. In my marriage this translates to harsh, forceful and overbearing. I have friends, strangers and even at times those older than me coming to me for advice and have few complaints about my ability to put a point across, even when the content of my speech is unfavourable.
My wife says that’s all different and I need to learn to be gentle to give honour unto her as the weaker vessel. I take this onboard and genuinely want to learn how to be gentle but I dont think it’s possible. I really feel like I missed out on this humanity software patch. I look around for this gentle correction people speak of but what I find most intriguing is no one can show it to me with a guarantee I’ll get any favourable results. Like I said the goalpost is ever shifting. Gentle is never gentle enough. 9 times out of 10 if a husband and wife say theyre having a communication issue, he says she deflecting from the issue, she says he’s mean……. who do you think everyone will jump on to fix things? The assumption is that any shortcoming my wife has must be as a result of my doing, so if we fix the way I talk, of course she’ll take it well and validate my concerns (Hooray for me). No one will however stick around long enough to see themselves proven wrong. My wife admits she cannot successfully tell me what she wants me to say, but she just knows how she wants to feel. I make her feel the opposite. How much of this is her responsibility to receive criticism well? Sometimes I think it’s having seriously low self-esteem that cannot withstand the slightest shake, that causes such violent avoidance, deflection and defensiveness when facing any scrutiny. But on any occasion we’ve sought help we rarely get to her, we’re still trying to figure out whether I should use “but” or “however”.
I believe that when it comes to tough conversations “firm but fair” is the only guide I can get behind. It’s what I strive for. It’s what I see of God in the Bible. A God who isnt afraid to call the children of Israel what they are, be that “idolatrous” or “wretched”. However, he chooses not to give up on them and to redeem them. He’s committed and continues to provide for His people and sacrifice for them. So when my wife says I need to learn how to “restore her with love”, thats what loving restoration looks like to me. It appears to me, however, that if my wife was the woman at the well, when Jesus told her she had 5 husbands she would be less concerned with his prophethood and more offended at the accusation.
My father wasn’t around as my parents divorced and my mother was extremely firm with me and sometimes not even fair. Am I to doubt my mother loves me because firmness seems to equal unloving in this instance?
My darling wife, the same one preaching grace, patience and gentility to me, can be extremely sharp with her tongue when she’s unhappy. I draw a firm boundary and require respect. It can still lead to me getting upset and a fight and on terrible occasions if it’s pushed beyond our previously agreed boundaries I can lose my rag and shout all sorts of unkind things back (Im still working on my stoicism in the face of taunting irrationality). I still look for what I can learn from what she has said, albeit imperfectly. Sometimes, on separate occasion, I’ll even mimick her style of communication back to her in place of my own and she will describe it as mean (fancy that).
I’ve sought counsel on this matter and found that the very people talking to me about grace and gentleness would do so to me in a way just as firm and straightforward as me, if not more. It doesnt always feel nice but I dont expect it to, it’s correction. I’ve even listened to a full-on telling off about the way I spoke to my wife and I simply asked at the end, “can I speak to her they way you just spoke to me instead?” Lol you can guess the answer. I guess the argument is Im a man so Im able to (or should learn to) take it, but it also means I cannot see in practice anyone successfully both managing to hold anyone, let alone a woman accountable without the accusation of harshness. I have asked others for better ways to get my point across and after much merry go around, we end up with synonymous phrases to what exactly what Im saying and an admission that this is extremely tough (But/However). Serious brainpower is going into how to state the problem. Zero brainpower has actually gone into fixing it.
I have some tangible results for the work we’ve both done on changing me, based on my wife’s complaints. But/However, we battle with a lot of the same issues on her side from the beginning of the marriage to varying inconsistent results. We’ve had long periods of marriage where my wife thinks everything is great because she is getting everything she needs. The whole time I can be shouting from the rooftops that Im not sharing this experience. She will not only deflect, but even try to silence it by saying I complain too much and should just stop complaining for a while. She is also genuinely shocked a month down the line when I say Im not happy in the marriage because she thought everything was going so well and she’s so happy.
Sometimes her theory of gentle correction is to “just be kind” and when you follow her path it goes into “dont say anything that will make the person upset” which ends up at “dont say anything at all”. So basically gentle correction becomes not correcting, in order to be gentle.
One infuriating deflection is that I shouldn’t raise my concern because i should just pray on the matter. It’s infuriating because I actually agree about the importance of taking things up with God, especially to avoid nagging on the issue (not saying I’ve always managed this perfectly). However, it’s definitely only relevant if it’s my complaint. If it’s her complaint she (rightly) believes she has a right as my wife to communicate her expectations and needs to me. Again, seems very manipulative to me. On the one hand I need to learn how communicate my feelings better and on the other hand the moment she doesnt like my feelings, I’m supposed bottle them up and take it up with the Lord.
So please tell me, how can we talk about something my wife may need to work on and still give her the warm fuzzy feeling inside she needs, so we can actually make progress on some of these issues?
First, our supporters had a bunch of excellent ways to help people communicate. However, I want to pull out a more straightforward principle:
You cannot hold people accountable who don’t want to be held accountable.
That may be because they are unwilling to accept criticism from anyone due to past trauma or current circumstance. It could be that your wife is unwilling to accept criticism from you, specifically due to relational issues, communication issues, trust issues, or who knows what else.
Whatever the reason – accountability is something that is asked for. You cannot take it. As great as it would be if everyone agreed that marriage = a permanent accountability partner, not everyone does. So, you may not be able to hold your spouse accountable. It seems from your message that you cannot.
Will that change in the future? Maybe, maybe not. If it’s because of something you’ve done, then changing your behaviours might improve it. If it’s something in her past, healing from that might improve it. But there’s no guarantee.
So, instead of trying to hold her accountable, why not focus on communicating instead?
One of our supporters had this very simple “I statement” template, which I’m going to expand slightly.
When you [do behaviour], I feel [emotion]. I wish you would [do different behaviour] because that would make me feel [emotion].
Now, there are two levels on which you can use these. I think the beginner level is something like:
When you break promises, I feel unsafe. I wish you would do what you say because that would make me feel secure.
I think the advanced level is something more like
When you break promises, I worry about what others think of you. I wish you would do what you say because then I know they’d have more respect for you.
But, there’s no guarantee that these won’t also cause conflict because even if you are 100% right, which I’m not saying you are, and she’s 100% wrong, which I’m not saying she is, if she feels convicted, some people get angry and defensive when face to face with conviction.
My guess would be, based on all the context you gave, that she takes criticisms of her actions as criticisms of herself, that she places her self-worth on how well she does things. That likely needs a therapist to walk through with her, and is not something I have the skill, training or experience to resolve, especially in an anonymous question.
And that’s it for today. If you would have answered a question differently or want to add your thoughts, please put them in the comments section below. If you want to be anonymous, leave the contact info blank.
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