Keeping the Fire Stoked

9 Sep

We received a very nice letter from a reader who is a former bishop, and I will share part of his email:

…During the time I served as a bishop I found that there is a lot of stress caused by peoples’ misconceptions and lack of knowledge about sex. By providing a safe, comfortable place to discuss sexual topics, you’re helping people look at things in new ways and get new ideas.  I don’t agree with all the advice given in the posts and comments, but I think the vast majority of it is helpful.

…I thought it might be helpful to have a post about how to keep the excitement alive for those who have been married for many years.  That was a challenge for some of the people I’ve counseled with, and I think to some degree it is a challenge for all of us who have been married more than 10 or 15 years.

Thank you, Bishop. While the compliments and point of view are appreciated, let’s have the readers and commenters chime in with answers to the real question: How DO you keep the fire alive after being married 10 or 15 years- and beyond? I’m not qualified to answer this one, as my divorce happened at year 12, so I toss the ball to you all. Let’s hear it, everyone- What do you do?

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74 Responses to “Keeping the Fire Stoked”

  1. KaralynZ September 10, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

    I’ve only been married 8 years so I don’t know how qualified I feel to answer this either. I would be interested in hearing how other parents find time for sex, though. Bonus points if both of you work outside the home!

  2. YoungFoxwife September 10, 2011 at 7:45 pm #

    We have been married 11 years and have 5 kids. Having that many kids can make it challenging sometimes. I like to think of it as a game, how much can we get away with with out getting caught! We will have quick make out sessions, fondling with making out. It definitely is fun and really good fore play so once the kids are tucked away for the night we can play 😉

  3. Kevin Barney September 10, 2011 at 8:39 pm #

    It’s perhaps a small point, but it helps if you each stay in some semblance of shape. My wife is 54 years old, and to me she looks the same as the day I married her 31 years ago. She’s a petite blond, and to me she’s hot. (When you’re a young man you might not think of a 54-year old woman as hot, but when you’re a 53-year old man, yeah, “hot” is the appropriate word.)

    As a consequence, I feel a self-imposed obligation to keep myself in shape for her as well. I work out daily and keep myself trim. (My body actually looks better now than it ever has.)

    Neither of us has ever verbalized any of this. It’s just an unspoken obligation we feel towards each other. And when you still find your spouse to be physically desirable, all the years under your belt don’t really matter.

  4. Fanny A September 10, 2011 at 9:33 pm #

    Great point, Kevin. I think physicality (and all the emotions behind fitness or lack of it) probably effects more marriages than imagined.

    YoungFoxWife, I like that as well- foreplay doesn’t begin when you get in bed, but is an ongoing thing. Good advice.

    Keep it coming, folks.

  5. Kelly September 11, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    People drift apart emotionally and physically because they put all their obligations ahead of their marriage relationship and arrive in the bedroom either separately or so exhausted that nothing creative can happen. Put your marriage first by agreeing to spend some quiet time naked together in bed every day. For most people, that would mean turning off the TV, computers, phones and games at 9 or 10 PM, and spending at least 30 minutes talking, cuddling, listening to music or making love. It becomes a sanctuary for your marriage and sex happens rather naturally. Try it for two weeks and you will be amazed at how your marriage improves.

  6. Veron September 12, 2011 at 10:02 am #

    Variety is the spice of life. My 19th wedding anniversary is less than a week away and the sex in our marriage is great. Sometimes we make love, sometimes we F–K. Some times the toys come out, sometimes its in the backseat somewhere or the dressing room at the department store. It ranges from mild to wild. I am so blessed to have found an eternal partner that is more open minded than even myself.

    For us it depends on what is going on with our kids and their schedule. We have three daughters age 9,11 and 15. From day one they have known what mommy and daddy do to “show our love for each other” and “play together”. We have explained that, that is what you do when you are married and that it is important for us to stay happy. If the kids are home its mild and if the kids are at Grandmas or somewhere else it gets wild. We are very open in our relationship and feel comfortable talking about all the aspects of our sex life and fantasies with each other. Communication is key, what you do in your bedroom or backyard (wife is a bit of an exhibitionist) is up to you.

    We mix it up. From vanilla quickies to out of this world marathon sessions. It all depends on how busy we are, what and where the kids are, or how tired we are. If we know the kids are going to be gone or we are going to be out of town we will take the time to plan something extra special.

    In no way have we ever thought “The Church” had any impact or saying on our sex life, what is ok and what is not. We have this discussion regularly and with others of our faith and we both feel that Mormons for some reason limit themselves for some perceived reason that neither of us can put our finger on.

    I could go on and on. But this is what works for us. I love my wife with all my heart. Our children come second in our marriage, I chose my wife to be my partner for time and eternity and our children are a result of our marriage. Kiddingly we tell people that we can always make more. I think if more couples had the same outlook marriages would be better off.

  7. Patty B. September 12, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    At this point, the fire with my partner is burning so hot and steadily that I can’t imagine needing to stoke it…

    In all honesty, I’ve never been able to imagine a future in which a marriage I entered lost its spark. I think that’s partially a result of watching my parents’ lifelong love. I’ve never once doubted their love for each other and always saw regular indications that their love had a physical component. So that seems normal to me. And then there’s my own rather insatiable appetite for physical relationship–not just sex but also all the other kinds of touch involved in an intimate, romantic relationship.

    I know things are unpredictable and that no one plans on their marriage ending, so I could be surprised. But I can’t imagine it happening.

  8. Fanny A September 12, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    Veron makes an incredibly valid point- and one I see inverted too often. The children are the RESULT of your marriage, not the cause or reason for you to be. When we remember- and yes, I am divorced- that our marriage comes first, not the kids, not the callings, not the hobbies, not 99 other things that might be vaguely interesting, then I think we have a whole different conversation.

    And yes, there are a million reasons why that inversion happens, and that’s its own conversation for another day.

  9. Fanny A September 12, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

    Patty B, I hope you always get to feel that way.

  10. Anonymous September 12, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

    I don’t stoke the fire because I’ve been turned down so many time I just wait and hope something will change and the fire will not burn out completely (its pretty close). Its been 12 years though, and I have little hope of that. I wish I was Veron! At this point I’ve given up…look forward to trying anything readers suggest here.

  11. Fanny A September 12, 2011 at 11:16 pm #

    Anon, based on the emails and responses we get in comments, this might be one of the biggest problems in our marriages. I wonder if it’s the same outside of the LDS world, or if this, again, is part of the “good girl” fallout we’re suffering from?

    You have my sympathy- truly. It’s a painful place to be.

  12. Gavin September 13, 2011 at 12:09 am #

    I think so many suggestions in these comments are fantastic. Me and my wife have implemented many of them in the past year. It took us many years to get to this point, but things are finally working in quantity and quality.

    The change came about a year ago. In a lengthy heart-to-heart with my wife, I explained that our sexual needs were not being met. She knew it, but was too much of a good girl to do anything about it. At the end of our talk, when she asked me how often I would like to make love, I told her at often as possible. She wanted a number, as in how many times per week, but I refused to say because I did not want that number to be used as an upper limit.

    She became frustrated with me, so I told her to just assume that I am always in the mood for sex, no matter how tired, hungry, achy, etc. I told her that I wanted to take pressure off of her, so she can know that I will never reject her, and that we can have sex as often as she wants, as she assured me that she wanted it more often. While there have been some rough spots and misunderstandings, for the most part, when the kids get to bed, the clothes come off.

    The difference is that in the 224 days of 2011, me and my wife of 17 years have made love 198 times, so far. That is well more than double our normal frequency. The quality has dramatically improved, for her especially, as she orgasms far more frequently, can orgasm in more positions, and has even discovered multiple orgasms. In addition, things have become more adventurous, including having sex on our trampoline in the middle of the night.

    Of course, the major improvement in our sex life coincides with huge improvements in our communication, intimacy, loving, kindness, patience, and relationship in general. It has been a massive blessing in our lives to finally discover and unleash the power of this incredible means of strengthening marriages.

  13. Zookie September 13, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    Fanny, this (refusal, withholding, denying, whatever you want to call it,) is a huge problem outside of the LDS world, too. At The Marriage Bed.com there is a very large forum and a refusal section with lots and lots of people, men and women (although the majority are men being refused) talking about their spouse refusing them. It does have some to do with “good girl syndrome” but not all.

    I’ve been married 24 years. We are keeping the spark, and the main reason is frequency. It’s not been about trying out new and crazy things, for us. If we come across something new that we want to do, we do it, but after 24 years there’s not much new to try! Of course, we don’t do the same thing over and over, we mix it up quite a bit, and we make sure it’s frequent. Use it or lose it kind of thing.

    In my marriage, it hasn’t really been, ho hum, we’ve been married so long and now we’re bored half to death of each other. It’s been getting better and better with practice and our relationship growing and both of us willing to do what it takes to make the other person happy, forgive past slights and always turn to each other.

    p.s. I think Gavin did exactly the right thing in making sure his wife knew what he needed and didn’t back down from it. And look at his results!

  14. Eliza R. September 13, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    kiss me.

    please please please KISS ME. Like you mean it too!!

    That is one thing I have had to communicate and insist upon from my partner. raised LDS good boys and girls, we did not have sex before we got married… but with our raging hormones we made-out for hours like fire and brimstone.

    then.. we got married and suddenly could have sex and suddenly: 3 minutes then BAM. Goodnight. Nothing against quickies, but when that is all you get, wtf?

    KISS ME LONG AND HARD YOU *MOTHERF-CKR. (and, so, he does 🙂

    *i mean that very light-heartedly: he did, in fact make me a mother, and he does, in fact f-ck me.

  15. Gavin September 13, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    I agree with Zookie that frequency is the key. We don’t need to be swinging from a chandelier for sex to be thrilling (not that there is anything wrong with that). However, for my wife, when we started having frequent sex, she became more willing to experiment with positions, techniques, toys and locations.

    Sex can be a lot like eating out (pun intended). If you only go out to eat once a year, you will likely play it safe and make sure that the restaurant and/or entree is something that you know you will enjoy from prior experience, because you do not want to risk being disappointed for that one time a year that you dine out. You may not learn new things, but it won’t be a disaster.

    However, if you go out to eat frequently, you will have more tolerance for times that might not live up to expectations, as you know that there will be plenty of opportunities to find places that are outstanding. In other words, you will be more willing to experiment, to try new restaurants, new appetizers, new entrees, new flavors and new types of cuisine.

    In the end, the person who eats out infrequently is going to have a few tried and true restaurants or entrees that are enjoyable. However, the person who eats out frequently is going to have a long list of restaurants, cuisines, appetizers and entrees that are thrilling to the palate, that heighten the senses, provide variety and create an excitement.

    Just being there for each other frequently will get the fire stoked and burning red hot!

  16. Strong Man September 13, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    I believe men need to feel more empowered to take the lead and be clear about their desires. Generally, men have the hormones, but they’ve been hammered so hard about not exercising unrighteous dominion and “equal partners” language that they are afraid to share their real desires. So, like Anonymous above, they end up giving up.

    Gavin’s approach of a real, frank discussion may be helpful if it works, but she may not actually get the message unless you also back the talk up with some actual action–show your wife how much you want her and let her know how often that is–even if that’s several times a day. Your method might just be a simple text to let her know you’re thinking of her.

    I’ve written some ideas about that in my posts: Effects on Intimacy , and Intimacy and Leadership .

    Also-it’s good to be educated about all the thinks “The Church” has NOT said about limiting sexual relations in the bedroom.

    From a practical matter, it’s helpful to get kids out of the way and be sure that your relationship comes first.

  17. Eliza R. September 13, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

    “Generally, men have the hormones”

    ……uh… excuse me?

    a bit of a thread jack, here… but i really have to disabuse you of this misconception. That is NOT a generality. It is a stereotype. A false (and damaging) one.

    otherwise, agreeing with your comment: communication = must have.

    okay, now back to the regular scheduled discussion.

  18. Lucy W. September 13, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

    @StrongMan

    The mail we get suggests that you may actually be statistically incorrect. We don’t know, and obviously can’t make an actual study of it unless someone writes a grant proposal, but you know, as a woman approaches forty, the fire starts burning a little hotter.

  19. Anony-miss September 13, 2011 at 8:20 pm #

    My husband’s not even 35 yet and I already worry what our sex life will be like in 10 years because he can’t keep up with me. Not in desire, mind you, but in just sheer physical stamina. I mean not only do you have the “we could have sex for an hour but after he’s done I’m still raring to go” issue, but…He’s not in very good shape and by the time I’m really getting into things he’s physically exhausted and can’t go on.

    Doesn’t seem to bode well for the future, and yes I’m a little bitter about it.

  20. VirginAskingQuestions September 14, 2011 at 3:45 am #

    Anony-miss,
    Maybe you can develop a sudden interest in walking around the neighborhood – and take him with you? Or hiking? Maybe just take a family walk after or before dinner or something every day – that might help, and be non-confrontational. I think that discussing health issues can still be awkward if you’re married (it sounds like you don’t want to call him out for not being in shape) but perhaps a discussion on you wanting to be more healthy and not wanting to do it alone would help him get more healthy – and perhaps less physically exhausted. A family member and her spouse gained a lot of weight and the only way they got rid of it, was to make a conscious decision to do it together, they had both tried separately and it didn’t work, which is why I think the, ‘let’s do it together’ thing might work.
    I also read a study where they said change little things – don’t worry about big things. So in this case, it’d just be, let’s be a little more active. It doesn’t have to be – we’ve signed up for a gym membership and we MUST GO!!! I have problems with that myself. My absolute favorite thing to do is read, which is, perhaps obviously, a sedentary activity, but I’ve been trying to get out more. I also lost a little weight (and feel slightly more physically fit then I did last September) mainly by cutting down on the fast food trips and by upping the veg and fruit content in my house. OH, and drinking less soda and more water. Mind you – I didn’t completely stop ANY of those activities, I just did them less. (of course, you could be eating entirely healthy and also exercise all the time all ready – but if not, perhaps this could give you ideas).

    Or perhaps, you could be inspired by the First Lady’s physical fitness campaign? She’s promoting good stuff, and it’s not just for kids you know.

    OOH, quick question! You always hear that men don’t like doctors or going to doctors, and even if they think something is wrong they won’t go unless they’re nagged by their wife. Is this in any way accurate at all?

  21. ADS September 14, 2011 at 8:13 am #

    I’ve been married 13 years now with five kids 9 and under. The biggest change we made was making sure that I orgasm every time I want to. Figuring that out took some time and now that we have that worked out not only has our frequency dramatically increased, but overall contentment with the marriage has skyrocketed. Mutual satisfaction on our love life was a huge thing and learning how to become aroused after a long day was critical. It came so easily and quickly when I was a teen, but now I have to work at it. It was so worth the effort. I also agree that turning off the tv is so important. Connecting and focusing on your spouse takes effort and time, which easily can get eaten up by tv time. For girlfriends that have lackluster love lives, by far the majority aren’t orgasming often and regularly.

  22. KaralynZ September 14, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    OOH, quick question! You always hear that men don’t like doctors or going to doctors, and even if they think something is wrong they won’t go unless they’re nagged by their wife. Is this in any way accurate at all?

    It’s a stereotype and so like any other stereotype, there are some people who fit it and others who don’t. You have to also keep in mind the social stigma against men who ask for help, the fear that they’ll go to a doctor for Symptom B and be told by the doctor that there’s nothing they can do, or it’s not a big deal, so suck it up. With my own husband certain things are not a problem – we thought he had strep throat this winter and he got right in to the doctor. Getting him to go in for regular checkups or on medication for depression in the first place required an enormous amount of effort and also my going in with him in the first place.

  23. Strong Man September 14, 2011 at 11:30 am #

    Note my use of the word, “generally.”

    Men produce ten times as much Testosterone as women, and Testosterone has been shown biologically to increase libido in both men and <a href="http://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/news/20030626/testosterone-increases-libido-in-women"women..

    It’s also biological that men produce enough semen to ejaculate about every two or three days, whereas women have a hormone cycle that rotates monthly. The male pressure just builds up quite frequently.

    How this all works out in terms of desire for sex is probably less easy to measure.

    I imagine there are many women feel they want more sex than their husbands, but given these biological facts, I doubt this represents the majority. I also suspect among healthy men whose wives say they don’t get enough sex–if that means sex less than once a week–that masturbation is a common alternative release.

    The nature of your blog is likely to attract women who like sex but are not getting enough.

  24. Strong Man September 14, 2011 at 11:32 am #

    Sorry that link to the study came out wierd. A better link is here. You can also see wikipedia on Testosterone

  25. VirginAskingQuestions September 14, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    Thanks KaralynZ!
    I was originally curious, because Anony-miss sounded worried about the physical health of her husband – and I thought maybe if she could get him to go in for a physical and have a health care professional tell him maybe he’d take it better then it coming from his wife?

    About depression – Depression runs like CRAZY through my family – we all know this, and yet those in my parents generation and older seem to not want to get help for it. (This is not helped by THEIR parents telling them they were depressed and just soldiered onward and through it… like getting help is not needed… I personally think that that individual doesn’t know there is a difference in severity of depression, but whatever) Anyway, that seeming to not want to get help is worse in the men than the women. And I have heard – through the family grapevine – how much this has affected their sex lives – not too mention all other aspects of their lives.

  26. Veron September 14, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    Communication is key.

    From a guys point of view it can sometimes seem hard to discuss sexuality with our partners. I would assume its the same for the ladies as well? I believe our religion directly or in directly injects a negative stigma about our sexuality. I would go as far and say almost to the point it negatively impacts marriages and the purity that relationships should be.

    Its a partnership. We have to be able to communicate our feelings with each other. What ever those feelings may be. Let the chips fall where they may. I would rather my wife tell me I’m a fat slob and I’m just not getting it done for her anymore and then deal with it. Than have her either looking elsewhere or just sticking it out. We should not have to stick our marriages out. Kids sure, but that is another topic.

    For everyone the quantity and quality is different. For some it may be 7 or more times a week and fairly vanilla, while for others it may be only once a week and would make Caligula blush and/or a complete mix of both. The only way to find the balance is to to talk about it, share your feelings, your desires and your fantasies. Take the time to learn what the others needs are and then make the time to get things done.

    Yep agree TV bad.

    As for doctors? I’m a guy and have no issues with going to the doctor. Now asking for directions is another, bu the doctor is no problem.

  27. Veron September 14, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    Virgin, I was seeing a doctor for depression issues. I did not have good experiences with the meds so I moved on to something else. For me it was a two prong issue. There are the chemical imbalances that cause depression and then there were the personal issues I had to deal with. I took care of the personal issues, through prayer, a therapist and my wife.

    The chemical imbalance I take care of through a homeopathic/holistic type approach.

    Again. Its all about communication. I think we all have to take a personal inventory of who we are, what we want and how we feel. We make life more complicated than it should be and if more men (and women) expressed our feelings more freely the world would be a better place. I only look like a big tough guy……

  28. The Other Brother Jones September 14, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    2 comments for the price of one!
    I am a bit overweight and my mother has started worrying about it. She told me about how my father lost a lot of weight, lost his sleep apnea, and mentioned in passing that his sex life got a lot better. Not a comment I would have expected from my mother!

    Also, I suffer from depression and take meds for it. It didn’t reduce my libido, but it made it harder to reach orgasm. This changed the dynamic in the bedroom.

    In conclusion, there are a lot of reasons for sexuality in your relationship to change over the course of 20+ yrs. But comminication is the basis of getting through it. But it must be loving, tender, honest, open and careful.

  29. KaralynZ September 14, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

    See? This is what I mentioned on the other thread with the depression meds. My husband has the same side effect on his meds. It is not as bad as it was when he started them, (um, 4 years ago I think,) but on the plus side it means he “lasts” for a lot longer…

  30. Frustrated September 15, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

    So, my problem has an added dimension. Like others, my sex drive is significantly higher than the wife’s. But in my case, I’ve communicated this in no uncertain terms many times over the last year or so to her. I don’t get much sympathy. Her response consistently amounts to “I have to ‘like’ you to have sex with you.” I don’t take offense to this so much (maybe I should – I’m getting screwed by all this…er…uh…actually I’m not getting screwed – that’s the problem), because admittedly we frequently have challenges “liking” each other – we both get frustrated with each other a lot. When things are clicking, I feel like we really click and love each other deeply. Anyhow, the problem for me is that I frequently feel like sex can help smooth over the rough spots between us while her attitude seems to be that we can’t have sex unless everything is smooth between us. Kind of a “chicken first vs. egg first” thing. Of course, all the comments here seem to suggest that more frequent sex might help. But I feel like I’ve made this argument before to no avail.

  31. KaralynZ September 15, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

    Well I’m a woman, so I have to ask what *are* you doing to “like” each other better?

  32. Frustrated September 16, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

    KaralynZ – Please, educate me about the fairer sex…

    So, after the kids go to bed we try to spend the rest of the evening with each other. A lot of times we talk (though frequently our discussions are about resolving differences – usually productive, but still hard), sometimes we watch a movie/show, or play board games, etc. In other words, we try to spend quality time together. There’s only so much you can do when you’re stuck at home in the evenings with kids in bed. But we do try to get out on a date once a week.

    We try to avoid pushing each others’ buttons but we both have fairly strong personalities. While there are lots of happy moments, frustrated moments are quite frequent, especially in the evening. Once there’s a frustrated moment, sex is out the window as an option. To me, sex seems like a nice diversion – something we can do together to put the frustration behind us. To her, it doesn’t seem to work that way.

  33. KaralynZ September 16, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    In my own experiences the “liking” is not really the issue – it’s more of an insecurity either about the relationship or something else. Sex can strip away your emotional protections and leave you very vulnerable and if she’s not feeling safe in doing that. If my husband does or says something that hurts my feelings or makes me feel uncomfortable it’s going to be hard for me to have sex with him because I am then opening myself up further and becoming MORE vulnerable with the person who has just caused me pain. Regardless of how negative comments are intended, I (and many, many other people) tend to take them personally.

    Is quality time her primary love language or would she be better served by one of the other four? (Words of Affirmation, Receiving gifts, physical touch,and acts of service are the other four in case you haven’t read the book.)

  34. Fanny A September 16, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    Frustrated, I wish there was a magic answer we could give you. This is such a multi-dimensional and nuanced situation. Not knowing your wife, it’s easy to paint with a broad brush and just say “She should…” but the truth is, no one can answer that.

    If you’re really trying to be communicative and receptive, and she’s just not having any of it, I would suggest talking to a third party. I’m not a huge fan of LDS services for issues like this- seldom does “be faithful and pray about it” help a couple who are out of balance sexually, imho. See a professional who is trained in such things.

    Best of luck to you.

  35. SPE September 16, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

    Frustrated:

    My husband and I are in a similar situation. When we are bickering, he usually wants more sex and I don’t want to be touched. I agree with KaralynZ about the vulnerability. I want to feel wanted, loved, cherished and valued–I don’t just want him to want me for my body (of which I am particularly sensitive when I am feeling emotionally vulnerable). I would prefer gentle touch, some sort of affirmation that I am special to him and loved, and then usually I soften right up. But it has to be genuine. Take some time and be candid about it. We have had several conversations about our different views and it is slowly helping. I am also on anti-depressants for postpartum depression, so they don’t help my sex drive. I have to make a conscious effort not to push him away sometimes.
    You know what works great for us? Middle of the night (DO NOT TRY THIS IF SHE IS ALREADY SLEEP DEPRIVED), spontaneous, wake-me-up-and-pull-me-towards-him sex. My body responds involuntarily and easily and I am too groggy to allow my brain to stop me. Best wishes

  36. Rob September 16, 2011 at 11:41 pm #

    “I don’t just want him to want me for my body”

    SPE, he really, truly doesn’t just want your body. So many wives misunderstand that. I read an awesome article on that, but can’t find it right now. Here’s a merely “good” one on the topic:
    http://intimacyinmarriage.com/2010/04/27/a-mans-perspective-sex-is-more-than-sex/

  37. Frustrated September 17, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    Rob: Can I get an “amen” for that!? I’d love to see the “awesome” article if you ever find it.

    SPE: Sorry to hear you’re in a similar situation. It’s…well…frustrating. Your middle-of-the-night suggestion is interesting. We’ve done that, somewhat unintentionally, a few times before. While it’s always nice to have sex and the novelty of middle-of-the-night sex is fun, you sort of miss out on the opportunity to emotionally connect afterwards because you go right back to sleep. That’s where we get back to Rob’s comment – it’s not just about raw physical sexual desire. Men want to connect too. The article from Rob’s link suggests that the “connector” hormone increases in men AFTER sex. Whether that’s scientifically true or not I don’t know, but it does feel that way for me. If my wife and I are disconnected (due to bickering, etc.), I often see sex as an opportunity to reconnect. Sex at any time of the day is great, but one reason I like evening sex is because it sort of guarantees that you end the day in a connected, rather than a disconnected, state. It’s sort of similar to the common marital advice that you should never go to bed angry with your spouse.

    Anyhow, I understand and agree with the idea that a woman isn’t going to be interested in sex at the end of the day if she’s received nothing but negative interaction from her man. So there’s no question but what the man has to make efforts during the day to “love, cherish, and value” his wife. But inevitably, even with the best of intentions, sometimes guys make mistakes. This is especially true when both people in a relationship have strong personalities. So, clearly, there’s a balance required. But I guess my point again is that sex shouldn’t just be for couples who are emotionally connected – sex, I think, can also be a great tool for emotionally disconnected couples to re-connect.

  38. KaralynZ September 17, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    SPE, he really, truly doesn’t just want your body.

    Intellectually, I know this. And I think probably know it better than some other women, but sometimes it gets into your head anyway and you can’t get it out.

    That’s a cool site though, Rob.

  39. Anony-miss September 17, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

    I just keep thinking of the crockpot vs. microwave analogy that’s so popular. If we have sex I’m on a slow burn for the rest of the day and most of the next day and wanting more. Which I won’t get. By the time he’s ready for more I’m back to square one and have to make an effort to get in the mood again. So frustrating. If I know I’m going to spend two days frustrated and miserable it’s almost not worth it to get the sex in the first place.

    A second husband would probably not solve this problem but I like to pretend it would.

  40. TJ September 18, 2011 at 1:23 am #

    Anony-miss, what you explain above is kind of like what men go through with “blue balls” and sometimes kind really hurt. All those hormones built up have to have a release, it make biological sense, and then you can go on.

    Over the 18 yrs of marriage my wife always knows I would love more quantity and I’ve told her that when our quantity is up things just go better in my opinon. The frustrations with each other and the arguments decline a lot from my point of view. Not just in our relationship but things just go better in life when you’re not having to think about sex so much because you know it won’t be long before you’ll be getting some again.

    What I can’t complain about is the quality. That’s always been incredible. From reading other lds based blogs and my wife talking to one of her friends in particular, we started the conversations about adding toys and such to our “action”. I was all for it but waited for all our ensuing conversations and her feeling comfortable with it. It started out with some over the counter stuff, which was nice, but it seemed like there was so much more we were missing and we ordered a vibe online. Our quality went from very good before to toe-curling, sweating, screaming, almost convulsing sometimes, orgasms for her. The biggest turn on for me is to see her turned on, I’ve always told her that. So I usually, after a nice amount of foreplay for both of us, sit next to her laying down and use the vibe to slowly and consistently hit all of her right spots. If I’m missing a spot or keep taking it away from a good spot she tells me. She says she’s had orgasms before on occasion, but never to this intensity. Then I penetrate and finish it for me which makes her go sometimes for a second or a third.

    I admit, lately when were done with an awesome session, she’s extremely vulnerable. Any slight disagreement between us for about the next day or two and it’s a made into a huge deal by her and I’m always like “this shouldn’t be such a big deal, what’s going on?”. So I’d say that the wife being super vulnerable afterwards is very legitimate. Even though the quality has always been good, and even better now, that hasn’t changed the quantity, that fluctuates. But we talk and say something like “honey, you know it’s been ‘X’ amount of days since we, uh you know” and make the time. I also am always aware of her monthly biology. I at least think in my head about which week she’ll have more of the hormones pumping and try for us to up the quantity then when both of our hormones seem to be more in sync.

    She always says that I’ll never be satisfied with how much we’re having sex, it’s always what have you done for me lately. I tell her that’s not the case at all. I’m not looking for a number. I just want the consistency to not have think about it all the time and “could it happen tonight? If we don’t tonight, I know our schedule coming up and it’ll probably be awhile”. I hate having those conversations in my head. I just want to have the consistency to know it won’t be too long until the next time. We’ve had times like that and we’d flirt all the time and it didn’t have to lead to sex because it happened when it happened but when the quantity is down, every time you flirt it’s like walking on egg shells between us to make sure nothing happens so it’ll lead to some action. That’s not healthy mentally speaking. I guess that’s the vulnerable side of sex-life for us men.

    Sorry to go on so long but that’s how we keep the fire stoked.

  41. Anony-miss September 18, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    Anony-miss, what you explain above is kind of like what men go through with “blue balls” and sometimes kind really hurt. All those hormones built up have to have a release, it make biological sense, and then you can go on.

    It’s like it, except backwards. The longer it’s been since he’s had the release the more he needs it. The longer it’s been for me, for the most part, the easier it is to leave the “crockpot” turned off. So he gets his release and then is good for a few days while I’m wanting more, and by the time he wants more I don’t care anymore PLUS I’m upset that I’ve been horny for the last few days.

  42. Married Matt September 19, 2011 at 9:11 am #

    I’ve got a question for the group. I’m a husband who’s consistently struggled with the fact that my wife had a year long sexual relationship in high school/college with her high school boyfriend. I don’t hold it over her head, or bring it up, or think she should harbor any guilt, etc. But if I’m honest with myself, it still hurts me after several years of marriage. I believe it hurts because I feel like she was more sexually adventurous with this person and willing to explore and experiment more with him than with me. 

    To put it simply, I feel like the guy you “take home to meet your Mom” — the safe guy to marry.  Not the guy you’re so excited about that you’ll throw caution to the wind and have a steady sexual relationship with, despite knowing and feeling it goes against everything you were taught. (By that comment, I’m not judging her behavior; just making the point that deciding to have premarital sex was a very large emotional and mental leap for her to take, and a big risk from a family/social standpoint — a type of risk I don’t feel she’d take for me.) 

    I also struggle with the fact that she misrepresented the timing of her last sexual encounter with him. When we were dating she said it had been over a year since it had happened when later I found out conclusively that it had only been about 3 months. I know she was trying to spare me the painful details and protect me and that she felt embarrassed, but it’s really affected my trust. I have a harder time believing her compliments or positive comments toward me because now I have this fear she spins things to make me feel better whether she really feels that way or not. 

    My struggle is that I go through waves of feeling pretty downtrodden and low about myself and it shows.  My wife asks why I’m down and I don’t feel good bringing these things up and causing her pain/guilt for long-past actions, so I say it’s work stress or something else.  I wish immensely I could just let it go, be confident and not let it affect me (and then subsequently her because of how I’m feeling.) She’s good, kind, trustworthy and unselfish, and I wish I could get past this.  It baffles me when I read comments line Moriah’s when she says she wanted a sexually experienced partner. (That’s not judgment — that’s me wishing I could have a more similar attitude.) The times I’m closest with my wife both sexually and emotionally is when these feelings start to come back and hurt the most because I realize some other guy got to experience that sexual intimacy with her and she with him. It takes the wind out of my sails and makes me want to withdraw a little so I don’t feel as bad. 

    Sorry for the long post. Honest, thoughtful feedback is appreciated. 

  43. Moriah Jovan September 19, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    Married Matt, since you gave me a shout-out (thank you!), I do have some things to say (not bad ones!), but I need to percolate on them, ‘kay?

  44. Married Matt September 19, 2011 at 10:46 am #

    Thanks, Moriah! I look forward to reading your thoughts.

  45. Moriah Jovan September 19, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    @MarriedMatt

    Any way I put this, any way you go about dealing with this, is going to hurt. So I guess the question is: Is the pain of the known greater than the fear of the unknown?

    I’ve always felt that people act ONLY when the pain of the known becomes greater than the fear of the unknown. By your asking this question and posting this post, I believe you may be on that edge, so please take what I say with that assumption in mind.

    I believe it hurts because I feel like she was more sexually adventurous with this person and willing to explore and experiment more with him than with me.

    Has she told you what they did?

    Are you willing to listen without comment if she does?

    Has she expressed any preference of him (and her time with him) over you (and her time with you)?

    To put it simply, I feel like the guy you “take home to meet your Mom” — the safe guy to marry. Not the guy you’re so excited about that you’ll throw caution to the wind and have a steady sexual relationship with, despite knowing and feeling it goes against everything you were taught.

    So basically you feel inadequate, and you’re comparing yourself to a guy you don’t know, and don’t know how he may be different from you, but you believe he was “better” than you?

    I also struggle with the fact that she misrepresented the timing of her last sexual encounter with him. When we were dating she said it had been over a year since it had happened when later I found out conclusively that it had only been about 3 months. I know she was trying to spare me the painful details and protect me and that she felt embarrassed, but it’s really affected my trust. I have a harder time believing her compliments or positive comments toward me because now I have this fear she spins things to make me feel better whether she really feels that way or not.

    This entire situation is a catch-22 for her. Since I’m a woman, I do understand her position as well as yours, okay? She can’t tell you the truth about this issue without hurting you. She can’t tell you a lie about this issue without making you distrust her.

    So this is what I would hope you’d think about: Does she lie about money? Does she lie about your kids? Does she lie about where she goes and what she does? Has she given you any reason to think that she’s lied about any other facet of your relationship?

    If the answer to any of these questions is “no” (especially the money one), then at some point, you have to trust that what she tells you is the truth.

    My struggle is that I go through waves of feeling pretty downtrodden and low about myself and it shows. My wife asks why I’m down and I don’t feel good bringing these things up and causing her pain/guilt for long-past actions, so I say it’s work stress or something else.

    You either need to tell her straight out and get it out there in the open, or go to therapy, where a therapist will tell you the exact thing I just told you.

    The fact is, this is going to hurt. You need to remember that. My husband and I had a very painful argument (or sixteen) that’s been ongoing for nine years. But it gets better because we’re both committed to the relationship. If you’re both committed (and, honestly, it sounds like to me you are), then it can be worked through.

    I’ll give you an unrelated example: I had a late-middle-aged babysitter when I was a baby. My mom worked to put my dad through school, and she was the neighbor. I very rarely saw her husband (he was always at work). She didn’t drive, so she didn’t have a car available to her. Years later, I saw her husband hanging out alone in the middle of the day, in the middle of a vacant lot with a bottle in his hand. My grandmother was with me, and she told me he was drunk and the bottle was vodka. I told my mother, and my mother told me this:

    That man was her second husband. Her first cheated on her, once, and she immediately divorced him. The second one was a deadbeat loser drunk (I think it might have been implied that he beat her), and that the first one was a kind and wonderful man, except for that one thing. Her first husband was devastated and wanted so badly to make amends for what he’d done, but she’d have none of it. My mother told me, “I can see why she divorced him. But maybe in the long run, she may have been better off trying to forgive her first husband.”

    I’ve never forgotten that.

    I wish immensely I could just let it go, be confident and not let it affect me (and then subsequently her because of how I’m feeling.)

    From what you’ve said, I’ll assume that you won’t be able to until you know what you’re comparing yourself against, and know what it is she found so consuming about him so you can duplicate it, if that’s something you’re willing to do.

    It baffles me when I read comments line Moriah’s when she says she wanted a sexually experienced partner. (That’s not judgment — that’s me wishing I could have a more similar attitude.)

    There’s a downside to that. 1) I still have insecurities if I stop to compare myself to them. 2) Sex was old hat to him, so for him, it’s no big deal to go without if he’s tired, where to me it was (is) still shiny and new.

    It takes the wind out of my sails and makes me want to withdraw a little so I don’t feel as bad.

    My advice is to ask her point blank what he did that was so exciting, and would she like to have that back, and would she teach you what she wants. But if you do that, you have to be prepared to follow through.

    Your goal, in my opinion, should be to be a better lover than he was. To do that, you have to know how he was and what he did, and you have to be willing to follow through.

    Right now you’re picking at a scab through an old Band-Aid you can’t bear to rip off. What you need to do is rip off the Band-Aid and lance the wound. It’s gonna hurt, but the wound will heal if you put ointment on it and dress it properly. And I do believe that by asking this question in such a public forum, you’re ready to do that.

  46. SomeMarriedGuy September 19, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    @Married Matt,

    What Moriah said.

    The issue isn’t going to go away and it sounds like it’s bothering you to the point that it is affecting your relationship with her. That’s not a good place to be.

    At some point you’ve got to deal with it and tell her how you feel. It’s going to hurt her; it’s going to hurt you. It will be painful and the wounds will be tender. On the plus side, there will probably be good make-up sex. 🙂

    Things won’t be better instantly and you’re going to deal with “flashbacks” for a while. You deal with them, you both learn to love each other better, and you move on.

    We just went through this about a different issue. There were some things that happened that really wounded me. She knew that I’d been hurt, but didn’t know how deep the hurt ran. We finally addressed it several weeks later. It took most of the night and was difficult and painful and there were tears, but it was one of the experiences that strengthens the bedrock of our marriage and our commitment to each other.

    The alternative is that it continues to bother you and slowly drives you further apart.

  47. Moriah Jovan September 19, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    Oh, one more set of questions for @MarriedMatt:

    1. Are you suffering from Good Boy Syndrome? That is to say, are you skittish about certain acts because you’re conditioned to think they’re shameful? Because if you are, she may be honoring that part of you by not being specific about things she finds exciting.

    2. Have you thought about what acts YOU might like? If not, please do so. Let your imagination run wild. You’re married, and there is no reason to hold onto the “chastity” version of your youth.

    3. And then, if you do #2, please share those with her. You may find that you pleasantly surprise her.

  48. Moriah Jovan September 19, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    I have one more thing to say and geez, it seems I keep running off at the mouth. And disclaimer, this is not a plug.

    I get a lot of email from male members of the church who identify with a character I wrote. My character had a hellish marriage marked by a lot of sexual issues with his wife. He also has PTSD, which is built on top of ongoing conditioning in his youth from the Miracle of Forgiveness and his marriage. He finally decides to chuck the church because he can’t stand where he is emotionally and sexually, and that’s where the female comes in, who brings with her a different philosophy.

    Anyway, so I’m writing this guy, thinking he’s pretty extreme and that nobody’d believe it, even if they ever read it. It’s fiction, right? And so you’ll have to imagine how shocked I was to start getting mail (from MEN!!! from LDS men!!! reading ROMANCE!!! reading MY books, which are NOT clean!!!) who identified so strongly with this character, who are suffering in silence, thinking they’re alone in their misery when what they want (in a woman, in bed) is really kind of normal (IMO), and exactly what my character wants, has always wanted, and thought he was sinful for wanting.

    So my whole point is that it occurs to me that maybe, somewhere in the back of your mind, you want something sexually you think you’re not supposed to want. It could be that you’ve really never thought about what YOU want.

    And it could be that I’m totally wrong about that, so take that advice for what you paid for it. 😉

  49. Married Matt September 19, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    Thanks, Moriah and SomeMarriedGuy, for the responses. Much appreciated. Here’s a little more info to give more context and answer some of your questions. And before that, let me clarify that my love, respect and commitment to her is absolute. I love her dearly and mean that. 

    This has been an issue that we’ve discussed in depth, cried about, and discussed more on many different occasions over the years (we’ve been married 5-10 years).  Most of the discussions took place early on. They’re usually centered on me having that struggle about fearing the unknown vs. fearing the known and me wanting to know and understand more. 

    Moriah, I don’t believe good boy syndrome is an issue. I’m happy and willing to try anything and I make an effort to offer novelty and excitement.  I really endeavor to try to find out what she enjoys, but it’s a struggle getting that information from her. She gets a little closed off talking about sex with me and instead of a fun bonding discussion she becomes serious and I end up feeling like I’m just pressuring her so I carefully back off. I’m not trying to persuade her to perform for me, I’m usually trying to have an open discussion about what each of us enjoys. It’s as simple as I like sex so it’s fun to talk about sometimes.  I don’t intend the conversations to be serious or a time of “working through problems.” I wish it could be a light-hearted, fun discussion, like someone discussing a TV show they liked, but about sex instead 🙂 Having said that, I really feel we have a good sex life and that we make ourselves available to each other sexually whenever the other is up for it. I guess the pain comes from me wanting to be her number one and just not knowing how I stack up or why she would try certain things with him and not me. 

    To give you an example of what can trigger my feelings of inadequacy or insecurity, she’s not too fond of giving oral sex. I can live with that and I don’t pressure her for it or act annoyed by it. However, I know she gave oral sex to her boyfriend. How often, if she liked it, if she let him come in her mouth (something she would not appreciate me doing), I just don’t know. I also feel sad that there are major holes in my understanding of her sexual development — for example, I don’t know her feelings about when she lost her virginity or the circumstances behind that. Going off of what Moriah said, I just don’t know if the fear of not knowing outweighs the fear of knowing yet.

    And regarding your last comment that I just now read, I can really relate to the issue of wanting something that I feel I’m not supposed to want. That’s a huge, huge source of my struggles. I feel deeply jealous that my wife was willing to embark on a journey of thrilling, illicit, forbidden sexual adventure with her boyfriend, defying her religious and familial values in the name of “love” or “romance” or “teenage rebellion,” but if I were to want the same thing, I’d be considered bad or unrighteous and encouraging unrighteous behavior in her. I feel jealous that I can’t experience that same illicit thrill with her, for example if I wanted to try something mildly adventurous, like watch a racy movie with her, or hope for her to initiate a new level of novelty, like “hey husband, look at this crazy toy I bought for us!” (To be clear, I’m not longing for the act itself, such as her buying the crazy  toy — we have sex toys — or watching something risque, but rather the intimacy of her taking that “forbidden” adventure with me.)  I think jealousy of not sharing that with her is what tears at me, and then feeling guilty for wanting that “unrighteous” feeling of “forbidden” excitement with her. I hope that makes some sense. 

    I’m very much appreciating people’s thoughts. It’s been helpful thinking through this and articulating my thoughts enough to write them down.

  50. KaralynZ September 19, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

    @Married Matt
    Hopefully not oversimplifying this, but what you’re describing sounds like the heart of the issue is this – “She did X, Y and Z with and for this other man, but I don’t know if it had been me that she met at that time of her life if she would have done those things for and with me.” Which – again, I apologize if I’m over simplifying – makes you worry if she loved him more and is “settling” for you. (by what you said about your being the kind of guy you take home to meet the folks.) If church/family weren’t an issue, would she have stayed with him? Is that what you worry about deep down?

    As I stated in another thread, my husband had several sexual partners before me, and it is not an issue anymore, but early on in our relationship it was something I would spend a lot of time worrying about. The last relationship he was in is the one that REALLY kept me up at night, even though it ended badly and he broke up with her. More details are not always better when it comes to specifics. For example, he told me the specific date he lost his virginity, and I often would think about it when that day rolls around. With his last girlfriend, who had moved in with him, the relationship got really toxic and hostile before he was able to move out. And he told me he still had sex with her then, even knowing the relationship was over just for the sex. He even told me that at that point, he would always do it from behind so he didn’t have to look at her. Not surprisingly I refused to have sex in that position until we had been married for two or three years because I associated it with his ex and his not wanting to look at her!

    Things worked out fine for us but details are not always better. My insecurities always boiled down to – “if sex was that important to him that he would have it with someone he hated, how could I know if I’m good enough for him and if he wouldn’t rather be with someone else?”

    I can’t tell you how to answer those questions you have but I’ve found that jealously and fear often boil down to very simple questions if you examine them closely enough and it’s only when you get down to the base of your fear that you can address it. And FWIW we’ve been married 8 years.

  51. KaralynZ September 19, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

    And I can think of several reasons why your wife might be hesitant to do something “wild”, knowing you feel as you do. Has she *ever* done this? Did you react poorly?

  52. Moriah Jovan September 19, 2011 at 5:36 pm #

    My only comment *right now* (because I’m still thinking and I have some deadlines to meet) is that she may not like giving blow jobs because it was a bad experience for her. That was my first thought, anyway.

    Something to think about.

  53. SPE September 20, 2011 at 9:06 am #

    @MarriedMatt:

    I know firsthand the sting of jealousy. I understand that the Ugly Green Monster, as I refer to mine, can make your mind go down dark paths it would rather not. I agree with everyone else that you need to have a frank, honest conversation with your wife. You two need to find some time alone, in a private place, where you are both comfortable, and talk. For us, its our living room couch once the little one is in bed. Take some time to think about what you want to say, say a prayer by yourself beforehand if you think that will help, or write down some notes. Ask her to listen to you with an open mind and be prepared for her to respond. Try to keep a level head.
    Once, in conversation with my bishop about my own past and my fears for a new relationship, he shared with me that his wife had a similar experience as your wife’s. He was anguished and angry and vented to his parents. His parents told him that if Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father had forgiven her and erased her actions, was he any better than them? Although it was still difficult for him, he repeated that mantra to himself over and over until it stuck. He didn’t share with me their intimacy issues, but I can surmise that they were probably similar to yours.
    I think we all have issues in our marriages that require the debridement of wounds in order to heal. I promise that with proper care, yours will too.

    PS: Thanks to KaralynZ, Frustrated, and Rob. I have a lot to think about.

  54. SPE September 20, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    Oh, and one more thing. Did you mention that she was in high school? I think maybe you should put that into perspective: everyone is horny, carefree and reckless in high school. And, he couldn’t have been that great, he was a kid, and most women know that a good lover usually takes some time to develop. 🙂

    Can I make one more random suggestion: you mention her experiencing this illicit, forbidden, exciting relationship without you. Why not try it together? Why not have sex outside or somewhere exciting for both of you or role-play? Show up at her work, say there is an emergency, take her to a hotel, tell her your name is ________ [insert sexy name here] and get creative. Be spontaneous. I doubt you will be thinking about whats-his-face when you are enjoying your beautiful wife.

  55. j September 20, 2011 at 10:24 am #

    I just want to say if you are experiencing the “I want to have sex in order to feel close and you want to feel close before having sex” problems, I suggest doing what my wife and I did and schedule a little reboot of the marriage based on communication.

    Our marriage was in a rocky spot and had been for a few years. We’d have some good times, but extended rough stretches where we definitely fell out of ‘like’ with each other because of the “what have you done for me lately” line of thinking. It’s not healthy. At all.

    We sat down, allowed ourselves to be vulnerable on an emotional level, discussed our dissatisfaction in a non-argumentive or finger-pointing way and read a book on relationships. Not saying this book is the answer for everyone, but it has made a world of difference for us. Check out Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages.

    It totally opened our eyes as to why we were not connecting on that deep personal level we needed.

    It’s reignited our sex life to a degree because we’ve rebuilt a major part of our relationship based on speaking directly to each other’s needs. Those needs can be sexual, physical or even service related. But it takes time. After a few years of hurting inside, it takes time to rebuild trust and establish that relationship.

    I hope we develop this over the next few months. Our sex life has always been something I’ve been frustrated with and mildly dissatisfied with. I think she’s felt that way, too.

    As we rebuild the levels of trust, I’m hoping my wife and I are able to take added steps in discovering that spark again and in creating excitement and passion.

  56. Married Matt September 20, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    Moriah, KaralynZ, SomeMarriedGuy, and SPE. Thanks for your thoughts. Very helpful. Please don’t hold back if you have more!

  57. Mac September 20, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

    @MarriedMatt

    I sincerely wish you success and happiness.

    Disclaimer: Take my words with a big grain of salt, disgard anything that doesn’t apply and mold anything you might like to your obviously better knowledge of your situation.

    Main message: She chose you! Not him! Take heart in that and be the best F-ing lover she could imagine, both inside and outside of the bedroom. To do this you must let go of the fear, the hurt, the insecurity. Jump into the deep end of just loving without fear, making love without doubt, and trusting her with no more recrimination of her past.

    Jealousy and insecurity about one’s sexual prowess compared to others’ (real or imagined) is real and something I had to deal with. For me, seeing was believing: seeing that I could perform and please women. But I had to let go of what fear I could and act in spite of the remaining insecurities that plagued me. Gradually I came to see that I could do pretty well and that my fear was mostly in my head. By tapping into my very romantic and sensual side I was able to forget about the fear and just live the moment until gradually I realized that the fear was unfounded.

    In the Church, the ideal of only ever having one partner tends to heighten insecurity and jealousy. That was me before I had sex. The most sexually insecure and jealous people I know are the ones who are still virgins or lightly-experienced and think of sex in excessively idealized and possesive and ultimately selfish ways. (Not that it isn’t beautiful to think that you’re only sharing this wonderful thing with only one person but taken to an extreme then it sews some of the seeds for jealousy and insecurity.)

    I would recommend that you work on letting go of the jealousy and insecurity and just “ravish” your wife and be the best lover you can be (which will probably make you the best she’s ever had), but not by focusing on the other guy and what he did but more by tapping into your own sensual, seductive, passionate, loving, caring, adoring, giving, naughty, sweet, and wild sides, both inside and outside the bedroom. I had a lot of hang-ups about size, ability, stamina, and a huge list. With experience and letting go of my fear (not fully all at once) bit by bit and just enjoying the moment I came to see that my fears and inhibitions were nearly all in my head. Also, I think it can be helpful to lighten up about this and not try to have so much riding on each encounter. Also, don’t put all your eggs in the first basket of putting your fears aside and your heart out there. Realize it may take some time for her to come to trust that you truly are being free and open and non-judgemental of her. I think she needs to really come to trust that you don’t hold her past against her so that she can also open up and be the free, loving, wild, nurturing, naughty woman she probably (?) wants to be.

    It might be the case that your wife doesn’t seem to engage in as-candid-of conversation as you’d like because she can sense your hurt and insecurity on this matter and fears that open discussion will only hurt more. She may also feel embarassed or that you judge her for having been a bad prodigal girl while you were always the faithful, but now somewhat resentful, righteous guy.

    I agree with the other posts about increased communication but add the emphasis on you getting to a more empathetic and secure inner frame of mind and heart before you start talking about these things. She will sense your inner emotions and if you’re still bitter and too hurt then it will be harder for her to want to discuss things in a real way.

    Anyway, I’ve focused more on what you can do. I’m certainly not saying she doesn’t have things to improve. I think she should do a lot more to make you feel more secure and sexy but you can’t choose for her so that’s why I focused on things I think can help you.

    I would recommend The Secrets Of Female Sexuality Be The Masterful Lover Women Crave by David Shade, available on Amazon.

    More than anything, come to really believe in yourself and take the leap of faith to let go of your fears and jealousy and insecurity. She chose you. She’s with you. Do the things that make sense for you to do and regardless of the outcome you will be a better person for it. In the end, I imagine she has some things to improve to and I think that by you working on your end it will make it more likely for her to also.

    Once again, wish you the best and feel free to discuss or even disagree with anything I’ve said in order to bring a better understanding of the situation and what would be helpful for you to do.

  58. Mac September 20, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    Also, I think that once you get to a better place that it might be good to know specific things she did with her first lover but not necessarily. If you and your wife can get to a point where you can talk about such things like two friends talking about old times over a (root-)beer then it could be good but I wouldn’t try to delve into right now while the hurt is too strong and more likely to make you both recoil in pain or embarrasment or feeling the need to one-up him.

  59. Moriah Jovan September 20, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    by tapping into your own sensual, seductive, passionate, loving, caring, adoring, giving, naughty, sweet, and wild sides, both inside and outside the bedroom.

    I think that is lovely.

  60. Mac September 20, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

    @MarriedMatt

    I think that perhaps what you are jealous of her having had is what you really want to have with her: “a journey of thrilling, illicit, forbidden sexual adventure.”

    I feel deeply jealous that my wife was willing to embark on a journey of thrilling, illicit, forbidden sexual adventure with her boyfriend, defying her religious and familial values in the name of “love” or “romance” or “teenage rebellion,” but if I were to want the same thing, I’d be considered bad or unrighteous and encouraging unrighteous behavior in her. I feel jealous that I can’t experience that same illicit thrill with her….

    You can have it! Don’t let the fact that you are married get in the way of being able to make it feel forbidden, thrilling, illicit, adventurous. Use your imagination if you have to and guide hers but I would suggest that if you create the right attitudes within you first and bring these emotions to your love-making that she will feel them and go along with you. Stop feeling like you need to ask for permssion to ravish her when I imagine that you really have the permission to do so and she’s waiting for you to do it. Have the balls to pick her up from work/home on a Friday afternoon and surprise her and go the airport and say, “we’re going on a little trip!” and go to a tropical beach for the weekend (or at least a nice bed and breakfast in the mountains).

    I’m not sure if you feel like certain activities now would be considered “bad or unrighteous” now that you’re married or you were refering to doing those things before marriage. Anyway, to whatever extent you may feel that things you want to do now are unrighteous then I would suggest you throw that guilt and self-condemnation and fear out the window and engage in any such things that you want (of course assuming they are things that she is in agreement with doing).

    As for getting oral sex, I don’t know for sure, but I could see that once you guys build your trust and you give her mind-rocking orgasms that she will naturally want to be naughtier herself and do things that you love. I’ve known more than one woman who suddenly wants to do things that I have never even suggested once she feels really and consistenly turned on.

    Have the courage to be what you want to be. Be the righteous badboy she really wants. Turn your heart and your bedroom into a field of dreams: build it and she will come! ; )

    Good luck!

    p.s. If after really coming to grips with your own

  61. Mac September 20, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    p.s. If after really coming to grips with your own issues and she really doesn’t come around then it’s going to be a much harder path since you can’t change someone else.

  62. KaralynZ September 20, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

    In response to Mac’s post I’ll chime in that part of my issues with my husband was the “UNFAIR! I waited and he didn’t. I sure as hell didn’t WANT to wait, so why did he get to have fun and I didn’t?” factor.

    And part of my getting over it was just time and exploring sex and its various aspects and also getting old enough that I see high schoolers and shudder. They’re just kids. Kids! and I think “Man, high school sex was probably not as awesome as I thought it was when I was in high school, and there is no way those kids are having the kind of sex I have with my husband.”

  63. LDP September 20, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

    “More than anything, come to really believe in yourself and take the leap of faith to let go of your fears and jealousy and insecurity.”

    This is what I want to do, need to do. How in the world do you accomplish it???

  64. Married Matt September 20, 2011 at 11:16 pm #

    Mac, your comments blew my mind. Your thoughts rang true on many levels with me and you emphasized the ideas and principles that have gradually been standing out among the sea of options and methods that I’ve been considering for tackling this situation: confidence, courage to be who I want to be, empathy for my wife, ravishing her, loving without fear, etc. You were so spot on with how my wife reacts to the situation and how my own insecurities greatly influence the dynamics of our relationship. At a few points in your comments I got little worried that you knew me personally judging by the insight you had! 🙂

    “Jump into the deep end of just loving without fear.” That’s really what I need to do. I work hard to be close to her and then withdraw when my insecurities get the best of me, fearing I’ll be hurt and affected more by the occasional pangs of jealousy if I’m vulnerable with, and close to, her. I withdraw and then miss the closeness and emotional intimacy with her so much I almost feel physically ill, like there’s a dark cloud over my every thought. During these times of disconnectedness, the jealousy I allow in is even darker and more irrational than normal. I don’t harbor anger or animosity toward her or ever want her to feel guilt or shame for the past, so I struggle with how honest to be with her about what I’m experiencing. That’s where the empathy can really help me, so I can be sensitive to how discussing these feelings will impact her. Fortunately, these episodes of insecurity and pain are much less frequent than they used to be, and I’m determined make them even less frequent with effort and faith that I can stay close without fear. And the truth is I can remain close to her without fear because of how compassionate and tender she is toward me, not only with this situation, but generally as well.

    KaralynZ, your last comment was very true for me, too. I had those same feelings of unfairness and had (have) to consciously choose to not feel that anymore.

    Again, a very sincere, humble and appreciative thanks for everyone’s very thoughtful, compassionate, articulate comments. This discussion is invaluable to me.

  65. mac September 21, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    @LDP

    It may be a lot of work to swim in the deep end but that’s where the true joy and deeper life is found.

    It’s a good question. How? I don’t fully know but I think that a certain amount of fear, jealousy and insecurity is actually a good thing. It shows we’re human. If you weren’t at all jealous of your partner then it would probably be more of a sign that you don’t like her/him! : )

    It’s more when things get out of balance or extreme that they become a problem.

    Simply trying to repress unwanted feelings isn’t helpful. What we sweep under the rug usually hides there and grows. I find that when I’m fearful or jealous or whatever that acknowledging them and trying to observe what I’m really feeling at the root and why can be helpful. Once I look at the feelings a bit and understand what it is I’m really insecure about I can usually (though not always) find a more positive outlook on things or some tentative solution to try. If it’s a feeling of low self worth at the root then I take a step back from being so embroiled in the situation and remind myself of the good things I have and am. I think of things that I’m grateful for and my opportunities. I also sometimes think of the worst case scenario and think of whether I could live with that. I usually realize I could probably deal with it. In my case, I also think back to having almost died a while ago and remember that each day is a bonus for me now. Extending that, really each day is a bonus in a sense and though things aren’t perfect they could always be worse! ; ) I also try to be realistic and honest about my weaknesses and shortcomings and just accept them as how I am now but not how I necessarily always have to be. Some things I’ll improve and others probably not.

    As we identify insecurities or negative emotions I think it can be useful to ask ourselves what the useful lesson(s) is we need to learn from this and how we can grow from it–what wisdom can we learn. If we’re insecure, maybe we need to learn that by calming our panic and being courageous we are actually more capable than we think. On the flipside, maybe if we’re too arrogant we need to learn the limitations of our abilities and come to grips with that.

    I should emphasize that life isn’t all about avoiding all suffering and negative emotions either, but more of trying to have a healthy balance. Negative emotions basically tell us to avoid harmful things. As long as we’re not being excessive then these emotions serve us well and mix in with our positive emotions, reasoning and spiritual insights to provide a rounded source of input to act upon.

    In the end though, diving into the deep end of love is largely a decision to just do so, the best we can–prepare as much as we can before we leap but realize that we’ll have to figure it out along the way and keep choosing to stay in the water instead of fleeing to the edge. Remember after the plunge that you will go under the water and it will take a moment or more to come back to the surface–don’t panic.

    It may be a lot of work to swim in the deep end but that’s where the true joy and deeper life is found. It may be a lot of work to swim in the deep end or even just tread water or even temporarily retreat to the edge to rest for a moment before getting back in but that’s where the deeper joy and happiness is found.

  66. mac September 21, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    @MarriedMatt

    I’m glad my comments rang true and, no, I don’t know you. haha It sounds like you’ve made a lot of progress and have most of the pieces in place. Just a bit more excecution now maybe.

    Have you ever asked yourself what the root of your fear is?

    For me, I have a fear of being abandoned by someone I care about and the pain that that would bring. I’ve had it all my life and poignantly remember it as a little boy who would feel very sad when I’d be left at kindergarten or with a babysitter. In some ways that same scared little boy, that same underlying fear is still there but sometimes manifests itself in romantic settings now. It tends to make me needy and possessive and easily hurt and has the opposite effect of what I really want. I used to chastise the scared little boy in me when he’d make appearances but no longer. Rather, I hug “him” and tell him things will be alright and that I love him and realize that that tender/scared side of me is probably tied in with the nurturing, loving side of me that I like and so I can’t and shouldn’t get rid of him but rather find the way to both comfort him and help him be more courageous and happy.

    On the plus side I am very romantic and nurturing and affectionate but when my needy, fearful side takes over more then I start doing these thing to try and get the other person to act back in those same ways so that I can feel that things are going well. So I’m doing these outwardly good things with partially selfish motives and it doesn’t go over well usually.

    In contrast, when I act out of positive and less selfish and needy motives, when I’m romantic or affectionate or giving because that’s how I am or want to be in the moment, without trying to get something from her, then it’s much better received and even when ocassionally it’s not then I don’t get upset because I wasn’t trying to get something.

    I think that taking a few moments every day to think about what we really want and who we really are can be key to gradually moving to a better place and replacing less useful habits with more productive ones.

    So, don’t repress. Acknowledge what you’re feeling and think through what is really causing you to feel that and what the wisdom is you need to learn. I think we have certain lessons to learn and until we do we will keep repeating the same situations and behavior. But luckily we can learn and grow.

  67. nat kelly September 22, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

    I don’t have time to read all the responses to Married Matt, but I wanted to chime in with a few small thoughts….

    First, Matt, I think it might be helpful to consider that your wife’s past actions are less about the guy she was with, and more about who/where she was at that time. Maybe she was in a place where rebellion and branching out seemed really appealing. Maybe she was in a faith crisis that undermined her desire to hold tightly to standards she wasn’t sure of. Maybe she was going through something hard and chose physical affection as a coping mechanism.

    The only reason the guy matters in all this is that he too was willing to be sexual, for whatever reasons on his end. So yeah, maybe she wouldn’t have done the same thing with you, but maybe that’s just because you wouldn’t have broken the rules – so she wouldn’t have had the opportunity.

    She is no longer with that guy. Whatever they had, she left it, and she chose you. Maybe, in the course of that year, she got to know herself better, and decided she wouldn’t have sex again before marriage. That just means you came to a different “her” than the “her” that had a relationship with the other guy.

    My husband is a convert and had multiple partners before me, and I have most definitely struggled with it. But one thing that gives me comfort is knowing that, after having so thoroughly investigated (blah) other options, he decided he wanted to really be with me, permanently. He wasn’t picking me blindly. I wasn’t his first love. I was his mature love, the person he picked when he’d had time to find out what he really wanted.

    It is really hard to overcome, for sure. Before we were married, I couldn’t help thinking, whenever we were physically affectionate, “he’s already done this with someone else.” “I wonder if he’s thinking of the way she did it.” “Am I as good?” I had lots and lots of private bawling sessions about it. But eventually, over time, I just had to accept that those past relationships were part of what made him the guy I was so madly in love with. Despite those relationships, no matter how great they might have been, he was with me now.

    This might contradict what others have suggested, but I’d actually be cautious about going to her with the concerns. This is for a few reasons.

    A) Most emotional turmoil in [healthy, non-abusive] relationships is not “the fault” of the other person. My best friend’s husband is deeply depressed, has been for years, and always says to her, “If only you were nicer, or more understanding, or less critical, or whatever whatever whatever, YOU need to change, and then I’ll be happy.” That is just patently false. If we are unhappy, we need to sort out why, and do what we can to fix it. We should include our lovers in that process as a source of support. But we should never place the blame for our feelings on their heads.

    B) If she’s Mormon, and a believer, she’s probably felt just gobs and gobs of guilt about having pre-marital sex. She’s probably hyper aware that she wasn’t “pure” [whatever that means] when she entered your relationship. If she’s like most religious people, she probably feels the need to suffer for her sins, or has a hard time forgiving herself. If she suddenly had to feel accountable not only for her own “sins”, but for her husband’s self-doubt and sadness, she’d be under a heavy load indeed. Like I said, include her in a supportive capacity if you are able to, but putting any blame her direction is only going to add more complications to the healing process as you both have to touch sore wounds.

    I had had one other super serious (not sexual, just really, really involved) relationship before my husband. That relationship was gone and buried, but I did cherish the memories of it, and it formed a piece of me that was really special. I wasn’t in love with the guy by any means, there was a reason it ended, and I wouldn’t have changed it at all. But when you’re with a person, they grow over certain parts of your heart. If my husband had required me to rip out those parts and stitch it back up before he could be comfortable with me, I would have been devastated. And hollow. I would have felt obligated to try, but I would have failed. You can’t erase your past. I was really lucky in that my DH has not a jealous bone in his body, and he was always totally fine with my past. He realized that it was part of what made me the person he loved. And my cherishing that past experience in no way diminished my love for him.

    Flipping it around, and realizing the same things about his past, was a trial. But I was able to do it, and now his past, that I used to just agonize over, scarcely occurs to me. I never think about. I am free of it. And that was MY process, not his. I’m really glad I went through it.

    Best of luck to you.

    Sorry for writing such a book…. I hope I didn’t just duplicate what everyone already said.

  68. nat kelly September 22, 2011 at 10:01 pm #

    Also, I would not try to replicate any of the specific experiences she had (however enjoyable) with her previous partner. Those were special for THEM. Trying to purposely mimic them will only make you both feel like you are living in shadow of that relationship.

    You relate to each other in your own special way. You need to figure out your own special type of intimacy. I for sure encourage open communication about what you like, don’t like, want, don’t want, etc. But make it about you two, now. Not about her and that other guy. Then you’re just inviting comparison and all the self-doubt that comes with it.

  69. nat kelly September 22, 2011 at 10:09 pm #

    Okay, for example, in trying to skim the comments (I’ve seriously got to go to bed), I see this from SomeMarriedGuy

    “There were some things that happened that really wounded me. She knew that I’d been hurt, but didn’t know how deep the hurt ran. ”

    In this instance, it sounds like the partner did something that hurt the other partner. But in the case of your wife, she didn’t do anything TO you. She made choices in a part of her past. They had nothing to do with you. They weren’t shaped by her feelings for you. They were completely independent of you. The trick is to make yourself realize that this means your feelings about her should be completely independent of that choice as well.

  70. anna September 23, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    nat has already mentioned this possibility, but i too was wondering how much her unwillingness (if i’ve read correctly and she is unwilling) to be sexually adventurous with you stems from guilt over her previous “sins”. sometimes (speaking from experience) i think the repentance process can be so traumatic and guilt-ridden that you cope by shutting down the part of you that found that “sin” desirable. i think this is particularly true of sexual sin, where the line can seem rather arbitrary (it’s ok to desire and participate in almost any kind of sex within marriage, but even THINKING about those things outside of it is shameful). sometimes it’s just easier to forget about sex and lust to begin with.

    in other words, maybe her sense of lust has got confused with her sense of guilt, and to avoid the latter she’s considerably dampened the former. maybe she’s decided only to participate in “good,” vanilla sex because anything else reminds her of her painful and regrettable past.

    just speculation on my part. you haven’t said much (or maybe i missed it) about how she regards her former relationship…with nostalgia? glad to be shot of him? i’d be curious to know. good luck.

  71. LDP September 24, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    @mac

    Thanks for the response, I appreciate the insight. I find myself repeatedly falling into a pattern of retreating from the “deep water”, because I feel vulnerable I guess. If I keep him at arm’s length, the potential for pain is less. It’s safer. Maybe it is low self worth, I am not certain, I really have a hard time putting a label onto my negative feelings.

    I look back over the decade of our marriage and find multiple instances when I was certain we were headed for divorce. I even made some of my decisions (ie. education, employment) in preparation for that eventuality. He has no idea that I ever felt like that, I think it would really shock and hurt him to know.

    Anyway, I have wasted away some of our years together, retreating emotionally, bracing myself for the end, and now I wonder if our relationship was ever really that bad… or if it was just me being panicky, fearful and angry all along. I think it is just me (well, mostly, he’s not perfect).

    I very much want to let go of my fears, jump into the deep water, and embrace the relationship, feel unconditional love for him, and LIVE. It is so, so hard to break these old, fearful, angry habits.

  72. Married Matt September 24, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    Thanks, nat kelly. Your comments was helpful and insightful.

    “I think it might be helpful to consider that your wife’s past actions are less about the guy she was with, and more about who/where she was at that time. . . . Maybe she was going through something hard and chose physical affection as a coping mechanism.”

    This is exactly the explanation my wife has given as the main motive for her actions. When I’m rational and confident, I have no doubt my wife’s feelings for me are greater than any she’s had for anyone else. And to answer Ana, while she may have some positive memories of the relationship, I know that generally she looks back on that portion of her life with disdain and sadness (not because of unhealthy, excessive guilt for her choices, but because she feels empathy for her former self and the difficult times her former self was experiencing at that time.)

    I also agree with your comment, nat kelly, that my wife didn’t do anything TO me. That thought has helped me rid myself of anger and resentment toward her. You said it well, “The trick is to make yourself realize that this means your feelings about her should be completely independent of that choice as well.” Thanks.

  73. Mac October 17, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    Hey MarriedMatt, just curious how things are going lately.

  74. Married Matt October 17, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    Thanks for asking, Mac. Things are much improved. I’m enjoying a healthy, renewed confidence in myself and it shows in my relationship with my wife. I suspect down times will come again, but hopefully they’ll be infrequent. I feel much more prepared to tackle the self-defeating thoughts from a position of strength and rational confidence. Having the resolve to be a better, stronger version of myself has naturally inspired more sincere affection from my wife. Your thoughts, and everyone else’s, were well received and appreciated.

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