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I Hate Sex

I Hate Sex

Q. I've been married now for two years, and I absolutely hate sex. It seems my mind and body are totally disconnected because sometimes my body shows signs of arousal but my mind doesn't follow. I'm so much more comfortable with friendship love than sexual love, but I know that sexual love is essential to a healthy marriage. How can I get my mind and body in sync?

A. If your body can get sexually aroused, your mind can come around. When it does, your sexual relationship will contribute much more to your overall marital oneness. The fact that you occasionally sense physical arousal indicates that your physiologic response is intact.

Our advice about your "thinking" problem is that you explore the background of your attitudes. There are many developmental byways that can create roadblocks to sexual pleasure. Probably the most common is a negative attitude about sexuality in your family of origin. Mothers who have had unpleasant experiences with sex teach their daughters that sex is a necessary evil or an unpleasant duty that women must endure.

A slightly different dynamic that is well intentioned but can engender resistances to sexual fulfillment is a message of caution and restraint. This may help a girl keep herself pure before marriage (which we highly recommend), but if the prohibition isn't removed it can easily carry over into marriage. "Good girls don't enjoy sex" is a powerful message.

More destructive and regrettably common is a history of sexual abuse. The memories of that trauma are often repressed and unconscious, but have lasting impact on the emotional response to sexually intimate situations. Avoidance of the emotional pain that's been repressed requires mental resistance that effectively shuts down motivation for sexual intimacy.

We'd recommend counseling to explore these factors that can create the disconnect you're experiencing. There is also the possibility that the problem is related to relational or sexual technique in your marriage. These, too, should be identifiable in counseling. The effort necessary to pursue the solution can be richly rewarded as your mind and body become integrated.

He Confessed He's Gay

Q. My husband of sixteen years recently confessed he had a homosexual encounter with a stranger he met at the YMCA sauna. I was shocked and devastated. He says he loves me and still finds me sexually attractive but also feels attracted to muscular, confident men with cute faces (qualities he feels he lacks). He has been in weekly counseling and wants to stay faithful, but I still feel so insecure and betrayed. Is there any hope for us?

A. There is hope for your husband and your marriage—especially since he confessed his homosexual encounter and desire to you. Many men with those issues keep them secret, which gives the behavior more power and control. The confession and vulnerability also allow you to provide support and encouragement.

There are three important facets of successful management and recovery. The first concern is that of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Statistics still indicate significant transmission of viral and bacterial infection in homosexual encounters. "Safe sex" is a dangerous myth, since condoms provide only limited protection. You and your husband should have physical evaluations and laboratory tests. Do not rely on the word of a YMCA partner or on the use of condoms. The risk is just too great to ignore.

The second area that must not be ignored is your emotional trauma from learning this truth. Most spouses we've counseled in your circumstance struggle with the ups and downs of ambivalence. They are relieved to know the truth, yet feel devastated by their husband's attraction to men. The question, "What's wrong with me?" becomes a haunting obsession.

These extremes of emotion can be difficult to cope with alone. Counseling can help a person survive these stormy waters. Yet it's important to remember that typically, a husband's homosexuality has nothing to do with his wife's personality, behavior, appearance, or success as a sexual partner. We realize that's hard to understand or really believe for the betrayed wife. Talking through these feelings with a marriage therapist can help put the problem in a more comprehensible light.

Finally, there are a number of treatment programs that are reporting significant healing in homosexual men. The data indicate that homosexuality is not a genetically determined "preference" but a behavioral pattern related to developmental dynamics. The desired closeness to men can reflect a deficit in male bonding in childhood that leaves a hunger to be held and loved by a man. Unfortunately, in adolescence and beyond, sexually acting out becomes a part of the expression of male love.

We recently heard from a couple who have been right where you are. They went the counseling route and told us that their level of intimacy and marital satisfaction has never been deeper and his struggles with homosexual desires and fantasies are gone.

Consider checking out these resources: Harvest, USA at 215-342-7114; CrossOver Ministries at 859-277-4941; Exodus International at info@exodusnorthamerica.org; or the book Healing Homosexuality by Joseph Nicolosi, Psy.D.

Should I Perform on Demand?

Q. Lately my husband has asked me to perform oral sex on him even if we don't have full-blown sexual intercourse. I think God designed sexual intimacy for mutual pleasure. My husband's position is that if I loved him, I'd see performing oral sex as an act of sacrifice and it wouldn't matter if it led to intercourse. I'm not opposed to oral sex, but I feel cheapened when he asks for it outright. Am I silly to feel this way?

A. We believe that oral-genital stimulation is an acceptable form of sex play from a medical, physiological, and theological point of view. The issue of mutuality is an important component of sexual intimacy. It applies not only to forms of stimulation, but also to frequency, initiation, preference of location, and right of refusal. That seems to be the dilemma here.

It sounds as though you perceive your husband's desire for oral stimulation as a self-centered demand for service. If it's your perception that he is controlling in his requirements and accuses you of not loving him if you don't "obey," it's important to identify whether this is a distortion of reality on your part or a behavior disorder on his.

At times when a wife perceives her husband's desires as demands, it is related to her "filters." Some individuals see any request or preference of others as orders to be resisted. These filters are a reflection of developmental relationships. A controlling parent or other important person may have sensitized you to any message that sounds like an order. This is important to recognize so you can come to a better understanding of each other.

If your perception is not distorted, here are some approaches you can take. The first entails understanding the male psyche and sexuality. Men have not only a high sexual drive with sexual thoughts occurring frequently throughout the day, but they are also bombarded with sexual images that they may build fantasies around. Because of this, your husband may be expecting you to be awaiting an opportunity to gratify your desire to "have him" orally. Check it out with him. Maybe he'll share what his sexual fantasies and ideas are. Imagine his surprise to find out that's not true for you.

The second project to work on is your attitude about his self-centeredness. We can see and respond to the desires of each other in one of two ways. The first is to see the desires as problems with which the other person has to deal. The other way is to see those desires not as demands, but as opportunities to show love.

Lastly, we've also found one other ingredient for marital growth into oneness that is important. That is to practice good communication in areas of dissonance. Just as you can benefit from understanding your husband's sexuality, he can benefit from understanding your emotions. Learn to express your feelings and desires in "straight talk," that is, in first-person sentences about you. Avoid talking about his behavior with blaming "you" statements. Instead, use "I" statements to focus on what's going on inside you. For instance, rather than saying, "You are so selfish with your demands for sex from me when it's just for your pleasure," try, "I want us to be closer sexually and that works better for me when our sex focuses on both our needs. Can we work on that?"

Such straight talk communiqu├ęs can be coupled with a self-giving expression of love that responds to his desires as an opportunity to give. Imagine his surprise if you said, "I want you to know how completely I love you and how excited I am that I can show it in such a private way. I hope this is a delight for you!"

Melissa and Louis McBurney, M.D., are marriage therapists and co-founders of Marble Retreat in Marble, Colorado, where they counsel clergy couples.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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Homosexuality; Marriage; Sex
Today's Christian Woman, Summer, 2002
Posted September 30, 2008

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