How to Reclaim Your Sexual Autonomy in Marriage

by | Nov 30, 2022 | Sexual Intimacy | 22 comments

8 Steps to Rebuild Sexual Autonomy
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If we want sex to be awesome, then we need to be able to feel like sex is for us too.

We need to feel like we matter.

Sex is supposed to be mutual, intimate, and pleasurable for both, and mutuality and intimacy means that you are both coming to the bedroom willingly, with all of who you are, and joining together. If only one person’s needs matter, then you’re not actually coming with all of who you are. You’re covering up your needs. And then sex can’t really be an intimate expression of the two of you.

We’ve been talking in our series about how to rebuild your sex life when your sex life is in a pit. I talked about the four step recovery plan:

  1. Redefining Sex
  2. Establishing Safety
  3. Rebuilding Affection
  4. Rebuilding Sex

And, as I said at the beginning, safety is really the biggest step. When people feel safe, the rest can naturally flow.

What happens too often when there are sex problems is that people start with sex. They move right to step 4–how do we spice things up? Figure out how to help her orgasm? Make sex more frequent? But you can’t get to step 4 without going through the other steps first.

Sexual autonomy is the key ingredient in sexual safety.

 

What is Sexual Autonomy?

Sexual autonomy is the ability to decide freely when, with whom, and under what circumstances they will engage in sex; to put boundaries around what sex they’re willing to engage in; and to do so without coercion, pressure, or force of any kind. It’s to feel as if you have the right to decide what your body will do.

When there’s no safety, that actually means there’s no sexual autonomy. Someone feels like if I don’t do X, bad things will happen to me. Or maybe they’re being pressured into doing X more often than they want.
Sex is not the culmination of how they feel about each other; sex becomes about feeling used and treated like a body rather than a person. That’s an inherently unsafe feeling.

How is Sexual Autonomy Lost?

You can lose sexual autonomy in several ways:

  • Your spouse may exert the pressure, the force, or the guilt trips
  • You may exert pressure on yourself, applying guilt trips on yourself, because of the things you have internalized about sex, or the messages that you’ve heard.
  • Others can exert pressure on both of you for sex to look a certain way, with a set frequency, and with certain acts.

And, of course, these can also all overlap!

What’s especially insidious is that sometimes you feel as if it is God that is coercing you. It’s God telling you that you don’t have a choice; your body belongs to your spouse; and you can’t deprive your spouse.
If that’s what you think God is telling you, please read The Great Sex Rescue, if you haven’t already! And focus especially on chapters 1, 2, 9 & 10!

"A groundbreaking look into what true, sacred biblical sexuality is intended to be. A must-read." - Rachael Denhollander

What if you're NOT the problem with your sex life?

What if the messages that you've been taught have messed things up--and what if there's a way to escape these toxic teachings?

It's time for a Great Sex Rescue.

Great Sex Rescue

How to Rebuild Sexual Autonomy

In order to feel like you have sexual autonomy, you have to feel as if you can say no without consequences, and you have to stop reinforcing any negative associations between sex and things you don’t want to do.

Your body draws connections between things. If you want sex to be something where you feel safe and free, then you must break the connection between sex and something you don’t want to do.

If you can’t freely do that because your husband (and in this case it is usually a husband, though not always) is coercing you, then please call a domestic violence hotline, or get some other form of help. If your spouse would react badly to these steps, that’s also a sign that healing may be unlikely to happen, and you should start planning accordingly.

If you believe you may be a victim of abuse, please contact your local Domestic Violence Hotline

  • Canada: 800.799.SAFE (7233)
  • United States: 1-800-621-HOPE (4673).
  • United Kingdom: 08 08 16 89 111
  • Australia: 1 800 737 732
  • New Zealand: 0800 456 450
  • Kenya: 0-800-720-072
  • Nigeria: 0800 033 3333
  • South Africa: 0800 428 428

1. Take a sex fast

Not everyone will need to do this one! But if you’ve felt very coerced, or so stressed about sex because you think it’s something you have to do, then taking a fast for a few weeks or 60 days or something can help you realize: Okay, even if I don’t have sex my husband won’t leave me. He won’t become ugly to me. We can have intimacy in other ways.

When you realize that you won’t be punished for not having sex, then you can start to rebuild.

Note: If you try a sex fast and you are punished in some way, that’s a sign that there’s something fundamentally wrong. Please seek licensed counseling, call a domestic violence hotline, or get some other help. That coercion does need to be addressed. A good man may be frustrated, but he will also realize that this is something you need, and he will be willing to sacrifice temporarily so that you can reclaim and rediscover the amazing sexuality that God gave you!

Once that allotted time is over (if you felt you needed a reset), then move on to the rest:

2. Commit to only having sex when you want to have sex.

This may mean that you decide that for the next month, he won’t initiate, and only you will initiate. Or you may decide that he can initiate, but you commit to saying no if you don’t feel like it tonight.

Many women with responsive libidos don’t often feel a felt need for sex spontaneously, and often don’t get aroused until the kissing, etc., has started. So the idea of only having sex when she wants to may feel confusing.

What many women have found is that they thought they had a responsive libido, but it was really that they had many negative associations with sex. When they work through sexual autonomy exercises, then suddenly their libido that God gave them blossoms for the first time!

For now, until that happens, ask yourself, “Do I think sex may help relax me, help me feel good, help me have a positive experience with my husband tonight?” And if the answer is a genuine yes, then feel free to initiate, even if you don’t feel excited yet.

3. Decide that sex will be about your pleasure

Sex is not about giving gifts to your husband; sex is not just about being selfless. Sex is supposed to be a mutual experience where you both feel pleasure. If you’ve been having trouble reaching orgasm, then focus on that (and our orgasm course may help).

But regaining your libido, feeling positively towards sex, getting excited about sex–none of that is going to happen unless sex is about your orgasm too. It can’t be just about feeling a few good feelings. It can’t be only about making him feel good. It can’t be only about the closeness. It’s supposed to be about your pleasure as well.

4. Stop giving “sexual favors”

Many Christian male writers (like Gary Thomas, for instance) portray women getting physically excited giving hand jobs or oral sex. A large minority of women do indeed get excited by this–and that’s a great thing! But that excitement only comes when play is the main focus of your sex life, when sex is totally mutual and pleasurable.

But when sex has felt coerced, there is nothing fun or sexy about giving sexual favors. It often makes one feel used. When you are trying to gain sexual autonomy and feel like sex is for you, it’s important not to reinforce the idea that sex is a duty that you give to someone else.

Now, if you’re exploring your own sexuality and want to see if you can drive him crazy–of course go ahead! But for a time, it needs to be about you.

5. Think of yourself during sex, not your husband

So many of us almost dissociate during sex, feeling separate from our bodies and thinking primarily about how he is feeling. You start judging yourself–am I making him feel good? Do I look good doing what I’m doing? Am I moaning the right way?

One woman told us that she moaned one night, and her husband got so excited. So she started moaning every night–but she wasn’t necessarily feeling aroused. Then he thought she was aroused when she wasn’t, but she thought she was doing a good thing because the focus was on making him feel good.

You likely won’t be able to feel aroused and feel pleasure unless you focus on what your body is experiencing rather than what he is experiencing.

During sex, let go of the idea widely taught in Christian books that your job is to make him feel like he is a good lover. Believe instead that his job is to be a good lover, and your job is to experience pleasure, because God actually physically made women to need to be pleasured by their husbands. He needs to slow down and care for you. That’s how God made your bodies!

6. Speak up when you don’t like something

As soon as he does something which doesn’t feel good, speak up. Sometimes simply moving position or moving his hand or tilting differently is enough. But sometimes you will have to speak up!

If you don’t speak up, you will likely lose arousal. Again, remember: You are supposed to feel pleasure. Your primary goal is not to make him feel good or make him feel like he is a good lover; your goal is to fully make sex something you enjoy too. That can’t happen unless you speak up!

This includes speaking up about positions, actions, or anything else you don’t like. If he finds it super sexy for you to wear a particular something, and it makes you feel icky–you don’t. If he finds a certain position the sexiest, but you don’t like it–you do the position you feel comfortable with. If he likes you to do something that you don’t like–you say no. This is about you drawing those connections in your body and brain that sex is something that makes you feel invigorated and loved, not something that makes you feel used or degraded.

7. Speak up when you want something

As you’re having sex, if there is a body part that wants to be touched, or if you want to be touched or stimulated in a different way than what he is doing, speak up. This may be difficult at first, because it can feel awkward to tell him what you like.

Do you find it hard to speak up during sex about what you want?

Here’s a way to make it easier!

Make a goal: “I will give directions at least three times every time I have sex.” (harder; slower; a little to the left; can you touch here?).

Of course you can ask for more than three things! But if you have a goal to speak up three times every time, chances are it will be easier for you to do

8. Stop if you change your mind

THIS is the biggest thing that changed everything for so many women in our focus groups for The Great Sex Rescue. Their husbands told them, “If we are ever in the middle of something and you change your mind, tell me and we’ll stop. I never want to do anything you don’t want to do.” And then the husbands proved to their wives they could stop.

When women had permission to say, “nope, I don’t actually want this tonight,” it was like something in their bodies clicked. Finally they realized that sex was actually something just for them! They found their libidos finally growing.

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Can sex ever become more mutual?

That would hopefully be the goal! It’s great to have give-and-take in your sex life, where sometimes sex is something special you serve up for him when he’s stressed and you want to have a gift and have some fun; and sometimes it’s something that’s served up for you, but usually it’s totally mutual.

It certainly is the goal that you’ll both be giving in your sex life, where sometimes you may think, “I’m not that in to sex tonight, but he totally is, so I’m going to throw myself into it because then I can get there too and we’ll both feel amazing!”

It certainly is the goal that you may be willing to try other positions one day.

But here’s the thing: If you want to get to that mutual, intimate sex life where you both feel free to suggest things, where you both feel excited about sex, where you both feel close during sex, you can’t get there until you’ve told your body and mind a new story about sex. Your body and mind need to know that sex is for you too. It’s not just for him.

This is not a selfish ask. For years, likely he has been the main focus. If he acts like it is, then that is also a sign that you may never feel safe sexually, and it’s worth talking that through with a licensed counselor.

Many guys would honestly love to try this. I hear from so many men who want to make sex amazing for their wives, but their wives are constantly rushing their husbands through, acting almost panicky about sex, because they feel as if they have to satisfy their husbands or else something bad will happen. And when husbands have said, “hey, let’s slow down and make it about you,” their wives may have balked.

I hope you won’t balk today. I hope that both of you can take whatever time you need to make sex feel like it is something for you too.

Yes, this could take some time. It could take months, even a year or so. It’s different for everybody. That may feel like a really, really long time.

But what’s the alternative? If you’re going to be married for decades, and you don’t take the time now, then sex may never feel like it’s about you. I’m sure you don’t want that.

Women, you were designed with a body part whose only purpose is pleasure.

You were designed with the ability to have multiple orgasms. You are very, very sexual, yet for many of us, our sexuality was stolen. Sometimes it was by bad teaching; sometimes it was from selfishness and/or immaturity in our husbands; sometimes it was by negative events that happened to us earlier in our lives.

You didn’t deserve that. You were meant to be passionate! So take the time to prioritize yourself. It isn’t selfish. It’s reclaiming your birthright.

You were meant for this, and I hope that you can experience it fully!

Rebuild Sexual Autonomy in Marriage

What do you think? Is there another step you would add? Have you ever tried something like this? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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22 Comments

  1. AnonE

    For years my husband has refused me. We have talked at length about this. I don’t want to coerce him in anyway. How do I express disappointment when I’m rejected yet again? How can I get it to be about me when this is the case? I’m reading TGSW, but I’m finding a hard balance of being able to directly express what I want when there is still so much hurt.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi there! This is a really difficult road to walk, because you can’t coerce and you can’t make someone change.

      What you can do is draw boundaries and decide how you are willing to live.

      I’m going to write about this one next week (it’s next in our series!) about the importance of dealing with your own stuff, and what to do when your spouse won’t deal with their own stuff. But I’d start by asking him, “is there something that I have done that has made you not want sex?” And if it truly isn’t about you, then it’s that your husband likely has issues that he is not dealing with, and that’s not okay.

      I’d see a licensed counselor to help you navigate this, but if he is choosing to have the benefits of being married without being willing to do the work of being married, that is a form of abandonment. Now, if he is a victim of sexual abuse in his past, that’s a lot of wounding that requires great care. But he also needs healing. You want to be a force for good in his life where he will get that healing.

      If he doesn’t want sex because of same sex attraction, or porn use, or something else, then he also needs to deal with those things. Again, I’ll write more on this next week, but it is a really hard road, and I’m sorry you’re walking through it!

      Reply
      • Laura

        Looking forward to next week then.

        Today I learned at pelvic floor PT that the reason why I never knew when I needed to pee was because I was so dissociated with my pelvic floor that I couldn’t feel it. I couldn’t feel anything really. Except pain during sex.

        This summer I started being able to more reliably orgasm.

        Last week I finally had two spasmodic orgasms! (One with hubby, one on my own).

        Meanwhile two things are happening at once:
        My husband has ED and is on medication for it. But his interest in sex has waned significantly.

        I thought that maybe realizing that sex could be really really good for me would get him excited to want to do more. Or at least willing to do more.

        This man- for the first probably ten years of our marriage I swore three women wouldn’t have been able to keep up with his sex drive. The pressure was insane. And since I was in the “God says I should never say no” crap, I had sex under horrible circumstances.

        Thinking that now it could be so good for me and that I’m excited about it, I thought he would get more excited about it as well. Or at least happy for me and want to participate for my sake.

        The answer is no to all of it. He’s not excited about it. He’s meh. He’s not wanting to participate just because it would be good for me. He can’t work up the energy enough to want to try. Like, excuse my language, but what the hell??! Let’s flip the normal advice for women (yes that’s horrible), it takes so little time and would make her so happy…

        You literally can’t work up the energy to try. Oh and “his back hurts a little”. I can’t even…

        Feeling very upset, angry and hurt. So incredibly hurt.

        At the same time, he gets angry when I try to correct small things… Like I’m out to get him, despite 20 years of being his biggest cheerleader, trying to build his self esteem, etc, all the Christian advice crap of being careful of how you talk to men… 20 years and he still thinks I’m out to get him? Like I hate him? I’ve adjusted how I speak to him to try to account for his ADHD, etc. I’m interested in real communication, real problem solving. I freaking don’t care about being “right” or any of that. Just trying to get stuff done, live life, deal with 3 teenagers, etc.

        I asked if he ever adjusted what he says to help communicate with me better. He said no.
        Has he ever taken the time to think over what we talk about to see if he needs to approach me differently to assist with better communication. No.

        This man is basically living, watching out for himself and his own needs/wants, not adjusting for me or our neurodiverse kids… Never willing to take correction…

        And not willing to have sex for my sake.

        The entitlement is astounding.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I’m so sorry, Laura. That’s just awful. That doesn’t sound like a relationship. Have you read the book Boundaries in Marriage? Or Leslie Vernick’s How to act right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong? Those are great books for people whose spouses are treating them badly and ignoring their needs. This really shouldn’t be happening. I am sorry.

          Reply
          • Laura

            Yes, I’m very aware of those books and love them. It’s so ridiculous, I’ve helped women out of domestic violence… Only to turn around and realize my spouse is totally checked out.

            We’re both in counseling. My counselor just told me to sit down and have is both make lists of what we are bringing to the relationship, the family, the household. Then make lists of what needs to get done. Then compare and see if he realizes how checked out he is.

            Gonna try it.

            His medical insurance is keeping him in the door at this point. I have chronic illness, I have to have it.

        • Viva

          Laura, I feel heartbroken reading your story. The way your husband is acting is not right.
          Your testimony reminds me of something that has been dawning on me lately. That is that it seems increasingly likely that based on the experiences you describe and my similar experiences, there are people who find satisfaction in withholding and depriving. I might even go so far as to say their pleasure is in control and self gratification, and they have no pleasure in loving and serving. Therefore, it is rejoicing in evildoing.
          Your statement, “The answer is no to all of it. He’s not excited about it. He’s meh. He’s not wanting to participate just because it would be good for me” really speaks to this destructive character.
          I notice that when I am learning and growing and sharing what is good for me and what is harmful, there is an increase in the behaviors that I name as harmful (silent treatment for example) and an almost complete absence of simple things that I name that would nourish (gentle, patient conversation, hand holding). Entitlement, control (power over), withholding and abuse are all connected.
          The last sentence of yours that I quoted could be said with a different emphasis than I think you meant. With different emphasis, it is chilling. I wonder if he is not willing to participate not only because the focus would be on you, but specifically because it would give you pleasure.
          I hope that I am wrong in your case, but I know it to be true in mine as I have been observing this form of evildoing over the course of many years. I speak, using your experience as an example because it seems that we too often fall into a trap of attributing good will, making excuses for unloving behavior, and not naming abusive behavior patterns for the evil that they are.
          Again, these are new thoughts for me based on years of observation and direct experience, and I offer my theory in case it is helpful to others who are longing for intimacy and sharing ideas for growth in love and integrity only to have those good character traits used against them by people who are not loving God or others.

          Reply
          • Laura

            I kinda worried over that sentence.

            He says he wants to focus on me. He says he wants me to be happy too. He’s been saying that for years. But now that it’s a real possibility, the willingness does seem to have waned.

            We are going to chat about it soon. I find myself increasing unwilling to put up with mediocre, as I’m doing the majority of the emotional labor/mental load, plus bringing in near equal income, despite working part time (vs his full time). Like, step it up at home or get a better paying job so I can step it up at home. Between my job, 3 teens, and chronic illness, I’m maxed out.

            What it feels like- since sex is no longer a priority for him, he forgets it exists and that he needs to make time for it and emotional space for it. And no, I’m not excited to have sex with someone who is literally playing a game on one phone while watching a video on the other phone or laptop… Then at 10 pm goes, oh yeah, I guess we could do something.

            Yup, super turn on there. (*Sarcasm)

            Idk.
            Chatting with my counselor today- she literally said, “He’s seriously bringing nothing to this marriage, relationally.” I’m like, yeah.

    • Lgs

      Just wanted to say that you aren’t alone ❤ And rejection registeres in our brains in the same place as physical pain.. it really does actually hurt us to be rejected. Especially in an intimate and vulnerable area as our sexuality is in.

      I don’t have anything to say to help though.. maybe learning about attachment styles can be helpful. I know it helped me to know my hudbands attachment styles because I could then see that he was rejecting or accepting not based on me but on his own insecurity and fear and so on. It helped me have empathy for him, but also not put more pressure or pain onto myself for his actions.

      Reply
      • Laura

        Oooo yes, we are both learning about attachment styles!

        I think this is the first time he’s ever taken counseling seriously.

        We’ll see if it continues

        Reply
  2. Laura

    “Sexual autonomy is the ability to decide freely when, with whom, and under what circumstances they will engage in sex”

    This here is very important for single people as well. I’ve been single again for 20 years. After leaving a marriage due to sexual assault from the ex, I have really had to work at owning my sexuality. Whether it’s Christian men or non-Christian men, both have tried to push my boundaries, and saying NO helps me to feel in control. Unfortunately, I’ve dealt with the consequences of saying no. I never hear from these men again. But, then I think that’s their loss and I am much better off.

    I want to be able to enjoy a dating relationship that does not revolve around sex because I believe it’s important to save sex for marriage. Being allowed to say no and set boundaries helps me to feel in control and not worry about being taken advantage of. Thankfully, I experienced a relationship several years ago where my boundaries were respected. Breaking up was tough, but it would have been tougher if we had had sex. My brother (who’s not religious) had pointed that out to me. This indicates to me that regardless of one’s religious or nonreligious beliefs sex is very powerful.

    In my marriage, I never felt like my body belonged to me. I struggled with bulimia, not only because I thought I was fat, but also because I felt like I was in control of my body when I felt so out of control with it. Sex was a duty and I don’t know how many times my ex would say this, “Could you do me a ‘favor’?” which was code for oral sex or hand job. I felt like a legalized prostitute. I don’t ever want to feel that way again and I am beyond grateful for this blog because I am learning so much. I want to have a wonderful second (hopefully final) earthly marriage if it is meant to be. I don’t want to go into another marriage all fearful of sex and still reeling from the trauma of my last sexual experience which was non-consensual.

    Reply
  3. Jen

    Thanks for connecting the body and the mind here. Dissociating during sex has been a huge issue for me primarily because I wasn’t safe (secret sexual sin on my husband’s part). My husband has always been an attentive lover but there was so little emotional intimacy inside or outside of the bedroom that the attentiveness was more of a “trading orgasms” than intimate bonding.
    I usually felt completely separate from him — like there was a wall up — and that’s just so sad.

    As we heal, I’m working with my body to try to release the beliefs that I’m responsible for my husband’s fidelity. The first thing I did after he revealed his secrets was say, “I’m never having sex with you again unless I really want to.” Period. It’s amazing how healing that one statement was. He, of course, also has the right to say no to physical intimacy.

    But I sometimes still feel that pull to dissociate. We both have awareness of it. And we stop and talk about if needed. I’ll even run through a mental checklist if I catch myself dissociating. “I felt emotionally close to him today when . . .” Etc. Do you have other tools for handling this?

    One other area I’d love your advice on is the connection between physical pain and safety. After my husband revealed his betrayals, I developed intense lower back pain. It’s nothing a pelvic floor specialist could help with because I don’t have issues in that area, but you’ve connected clenching in the body in the past with feeling unsafe, and I wondered if there was a connection with back pain, too.

    Thanks for all you do!

    Reply
    • K

      Lower back pain can absolutely be related to the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is connected to your core.

      Reply
  4. Nessie

    What about if you start step #2 (because he seems to “get it” in conversations) but in the midst you realize you are not feeling it and ask to stop? He complies but then becomes irritated/grumpy.

    How much of a backslide do you think this puts her in if she felt he was trustworthy but he really wasn’t? While he may grasp the change intellectually, it feels like he is coercing again… like he “got it” outside of the bedroom, but when it comes down to it she really can’t trust him, and it feels like she has to start all over- but with more time/work needed to re-establish trust because trust was broken yet again- even if not meant. Any ideas for a barometer for gauging that before getting in that situation?

    I don’t think most wives want to “tease” their husbands with the prospect of having sex then needing to stop, but- especially with a responsive libido- it is difficult to know until in the moment. Likewise husbands can’t know for sure until they are in the situation if they will become grumpy or not (assuming they previously coerced, etc.).

    I hope if husbands have any doubts, they would speak up beforehand as would she, but since she is the one in more of a recovery mode in this situation, she may feel even more unsure and in doubt of her response.

    Reply
  5. Codec

    I do not understand why people would give as advice the idea that you should make your partner feel great instead of learning together what feels good.

    How are you even supposed to learn what works without trial and error?

    Reply
    • Jo R

      Because for the man, the sum total of the trial and error consists of one attempt of “insert penis, move around, ta-da!” For the woman, if that doesn’t work, she’s always expected to catch up to him and figure it out on her own. 🙄🙄🙄

      And men AND women are TAUGHT by a very small group of men that husbands are excused from any sexual activity that brings ONLY HER pleasure. Nice free pass straight down the road to laziness and selfishness in the man, and few or no orgasms for the one with the organ DESIGNED BY GOD to potentially orgasm multiple times with zero recovery period. And very often, this situation continues for DECADES.

      But that seems fair, at least to the half of the population WITHOUT a clitoris.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      Both should figure out what feels good together. Some of the advice saying all men need is to insert penis and be done is so harmful. Men are actually emotional beings also who enjoy a partner who enjoys finding ways to make him feel good beyond insert penis and orgasm.

      Maybe wives would enjoy sex better if they didn’t view their husbands as sexual simpletons.

      I find things go better if I orgasm first. This technique would solve several issues Im reading in here.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Of course things go better if you orgasm first! But Anonymous, the problem is that many men don’t bring their wives to orgasm and don’t seem to care. I think you’re missing the bigger point.

        (There are several commenters named Anonymous; I’m replying to the sum total of these comments).

        Reply
  6. Anonymous305

    If he feels angry when rejected, but doesn’t actually expect her to have sex in response to his anger, then I hesitate to call that coercion (as long as she know that he doesn’t expect it). Of course, I hate the feeling of someone being mad at me, but if I want others to understand my anger, I should understand theirs, right?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think there’s a difference between anger and disappointment, though. Disappointment means you wish that things had turned out differently. Anger means you think somebody has been unfair or mean to you. Saying “not tonight, honey,” is not being mean or unfair, unless it’s done maliciously or as a way to manipulate, which is rarely the case.

      Reply
      • Anonymous305

        Related to what you said about maliciousness, I feel like self-protection and revenge are hard to separate in my emotions. I know the difference intellectually, but my emotions are all mixed up.

        When 1 person does the behaviors that count as the “4 horsemen”, that can trigger contempt in the other partner, and contempt is also a horseman.

        Even if he is the first to do something that hurts the relationship, I can easily react in a way that also hurts the relationship.

        It’s hard to identify my responsibilities without sounding like I’m victim-blaming. I HATE victim-blaming and weaponized forgiveness, but I also can’t heal a relationship without forgiveness. SIGH!!!!

        Reply
  7. Kle

    I had always had a spontaneous libido (before getting married). I was so shut down for so long, I thought I was permanently broken. I took sex off the table about three weeks ago. Within a little over a week my libido came back (I’m still human apparently). But I do not have desire for my husband. Starting to lose hope I will ever have a true desire after it’s all said and done). On top of actually having a libido I have more emotional and mental energy. My husband says he feels guilty about masterbaring (but masterbates every day). I wish we could have an actual real/deep connection. I’m afraid he is one that will never understand the concept of allowing sex to be a result of true intimacy, but instead can only feel loved and connected through sex.

    Reply
    • Anonymous305

      ☹️❤️☹️!!

      Reply

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