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Long Distance Service

Also: "Forgotten Foreplay", "I'm Impotent", and "Allergic to Ejaculate?"

Q. My Army husband was deployed six months ago. Our sex life is active when we're together. Now that we're living apart, we continue our sexual intimacy by phone and through the Internet. Is this okay?

A. You've been wise and creative to find ways to stay focused on each other during your separation. That playful, erotic exchange can keep you faithful and protect you from temptation. One indication of its effectiveness is that you become sexually aroused through those exchanges. It's normal and healthy for you to pleasure yourselves and each other through a shared masturbatory experience!

What a tribute to each other that your desire is alive and fulfilled, that you can maintain closeness even though you can't be together physically. This seems to reflect the apostle Paul's advice in 1 Corinthians 7:3, 5: "The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. . . . Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you." It also reflects the biblical principle of becoming one flesh, keeping your focus on your spouse.

Forgotten foreplay

Q. My husband's idea of foreplay and sex is taking off his clothes and lying in bed. He barely touches my breasts, and I have to be on top every time. He won't discuss trying anything different. I don't know what else to do. If I want to have sex, it's his way or no way. Help!

A. "Help" is right! One sad aspect of your husband's behavior (besides your frustration) is the pleasure he's missing. Many men enjoy variety and aren't stuck in one monotonous pattern. You must be a satisfying lover for him to avoid more foreplay.

Since he won't discuss the problem, you might get his attention some other way. Write him a letter expressing your disappointment and explaining your need for more stimulation to really enjoy intercourse. Stick with your feelings rather than complaining about his behavior. Tell him you crave more stimulation. Let him know that women have a slower response curve than men, and penetration alone is rarely sufficient to produce an orgasm. Most men also like to hear praise for their love making, so include affirmation for the times he's brought you pleasure.

A second approach would be to seduce him unexpectedly. Be assertive in your foreplay, telling him how excited you are. Maybe his arousal will give him a taste of what he's missing. Some wives we've known have met their husband at the door in a sexy negligé;e or kidnapped him from work and driven to a romantic spot. Changing the routine adds adventure to your sex. Take charge and talk about your desire for him and how great it feels when he caresses or kisses your whole body!

A third, more drastic response would be to take a sabbatical from sex until he'll listen to your feelings. We'd see that as a last resort.

Some men have a problem with premature ejaculation, and foreplay may bring them to orgasm too quickly. When that's a fear, they want quick sex to avoid the embarrassment. Maybe he heard somewhere that women like to be on top to increase their control of clitoral stimulation. Or if the routine you describe happens only when you initiate sex for your pleasure, there could be a control issue involved. These and other explanations can be explored with a counselor.

"I'm impotent"

Q. How can I please my wife even in impotency? My impotence doesn't take away from my desire. And don't ask me to try any of the pills because I have and they don't work!

A. There's an exciting and satisfying approach to sex that doesn't depend on a man's erection. It's called "sensate focusing" or "pleasuring."

Sensate pleasuring is simply a way to take turns giving physical stimulation to your mate to achieve orgasmic release. A wife can find great release and enjoyment from caresses and kisses of lips, neck, breasts, and genitals without needing penetration.

Likewise a man can find pleasure in being caressed and kissed. It's not necessary for a man to have an erection to reach climax or ejaculate. Stroking a flaccid penis will usually bring a man to orgasm, although the response may not be as intense.

Mutual touch and physical expression of love is an important way for a couple to feel intimate. The medical and mechanical techniques for enhancing male erection don't always work, but exploring those options may help you deal with the problem as a team. Having a common goal of sexual pleasure may release you both to find alternative techniques.

Allergic to ejaculate?

Q. Have you ever heard of a wife being allergic to her husband's ejaculate? Is this common? What can we do about it?

A. Since allergic reactions are the body's defenses against foreign protein materials and a husband's seminal fluid contains protein, it's possible for a wife to develop an allergy to her husband's ejaculate. Ordinarily the ejaculate doesn't enter a woman's blood circulation where the allergic response is generated, but remains in the vagina or uterine cavity. Consequently, it's rare for such an allergy to develop.

If you think this is occurring, you can get allergy testing that will confirm or rule out that diagnosis. Should you find you do have an allergy, an allergist can suggest treatments. Meanwhile you can prevent or minimize exposure through use of condoms.

Melissa and Louis McBurney, M.D., are marriage therapists and co-founders of Marble Retreat in Marble, Colorado.

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

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