I cannot be aroused by my husband. We have been married over 10 years, and I can count on my 10 fingers the number of orgasims I have had. I hate sex, this is not normal! WHat is wrong with me? I have never been raped, I did have issues in my teenage years of letting guys take advantage of me, not sex thou. Other than that, I have never been sexually abused or anything. I just can't see this being my problem, but maybe... I don't know where to start. All I know is this is affecting our marriage and I want it to stop!! I can't stand sleeping in the same bed as him, cause I don't want to have sex, but then I feel its my duty so I feel guilty. I resent him, cause he can get off every time! We have sex maybe like every three months or something, so of course he masturbates and I resent him for that too. Serious complications bleeding into every part of our life from this and it just keeps getting pushed under the rug, cause we have 5 kids and life is busy. Do you have any suggestions for us?!
First of all, you’re not alone. This feeling happens to most of us at some time in our lives. We often go through periods where our desires may take a break. Please know that there’s nothing “wrong” with you; you’re just human.
Sexual desire is a very tenuous thing: it can come and go many times—and the more you worry about it, the worse you’ll feel. Remember that anxiety is the enemy of desire. So first, give yourself permission to feel just the way you do.
There! Feel a little better? Now you need to decide on your second step.
Let’s look at some possibilities regarding your lack of desire and arousal with your husband. One possibility is that your husband no longer turns you on. It may be helpful for you to take an inventory of characteristics that you find attractive or interesting. Does he have any of those qualities, or are you feeling like you SHOULD be turned on regardless? You’re not going to get pizza by hanging out at a steak restaurant.
Are you anxious? If you’re feeling anxious or unsure of yourself, your desire for sex will be affected. Or you may have conflicting feelings about being sexual, based on earlier issues in your life. Or you may actually FEEL desire, but suppress it, due to feeling conflicted.
There could be other reasons you’re not turned on: If you’re worried about pleasing your partner, rather than just enjoying the pleasure of it, this can be a turn-off. The other message that many of us receive is that sex is somehow dirty and wrong, unless you’re doing it for reproductive purposes. Sometimes this can creep into our unconscious thoughts and sabotage any pleasure.
And, of course, there’s the whole issue of your husband’s attitudes and behaviors and whether any of those are affecting your desire. Is sex mostly about HIS pleasure rather than yours?
I’m also wondering whether you are still having any kind of sexual fantasies—apart from your relationship—and whether you’re self-pleasuring. If you’re still interested in sex in general, apart from your relationship, this could be an indicator that it’s the relationship that’s problematic, not sex in and of itself.
Aside from the issues above, the other reason you’re not turned on and you’re feeling like you hate sex is obvious: You’re not having orgasms. The clitoris’ nature and structure has been misunderstood for so long that it’s not surprising that there’s so much confusion.
A major difference between women and men is that generally, the clitoris needs constant direct or indirect stimulation, unlike the penis. For most women, orgasm results from a constant circular motion around the shaft and glans (or head) of the clitoris. Also important is that once a woman’s orgasm begins, if the stimulation is removed, the orgasm will end. In contrast, once men have that first orgasmic contraction, not even a neutron bomb will stop their orgasm!
While many women enjoy p-v sex, for at least 40-50% of them, it usually doesn’t result in orgasm. Why? Because most p-v sex doesn’t provide the steady pressure and reliable stimulation women need for orgasm. During p-v sex, most men use an “in-out” motion that feels great for them, instead of the circular grinding motion that will stimulate the clitoris. So how about trading off once in awhile? Him first; then you—or vice-versa?
Let's also remember that orgasm lasts, what? About 10 seconds? It's important to keep this in perspective. Sex is about a lot more than just orgasm. It's about pleasure, and sharing, and dressing up in sexy clothes, and... Sorry. I got carried away there :)
Of course, once you put pressure on yourself to orgasm, it can become a duty rather than a pleasure. Some people become so orgasm-focused that sex becomes downright predictable, especially in long-term relationships.
So, to recap: you may have negative attitudes about sex in general, or you may have performance issues or be bored or frustrated. Think about the issues I’ve raised and see if any are true for you. Remember not to put pressure on yourself. I’m wondering what YOU think is contributing to this and whether you’ve taken any actions to try to change it. You’ve probably got more insight than you realize. A first step in figuring out what’s going on for you is contained in the book, “For Yourself” by Lonnie Barbach, Ph.D., widely available used and in paperback. This book contains lots of helpful information for women about their sexual feelings. I think it can help you begin to sort things out. Best of luck to you. Dr. J
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