Husband won't talk about sex


Husband won't talk about sex


your avatar   Chris, 30-year-old woman

I am a 30-year-old married female with one son. I have had a very active sex life that began at age 14. I am also bisexual.

I feel that I am very open-minded and enjoy trying new things sexually. My problem is that my husband is quite the opposite. He does not have much of a sex drive, is not very imaginative during sex, will not masturbate in front of me (something that I love to watch) and seems more concerned with his own pleasure than mine. He is a premature ejaculator. He is almost never the initiator when it comes to sex. He does not like to talk about it, and I have been rejected so many times by him that I am afraid to discuss it with him anymore. I have tried to get him to open up, to encourage him, to offer to try new things. Most of the time, he tells me that I am a freak, nympho, pervert.

We have sex maybe once a week, but more often it's once every 2 weeks. This is very frustrating for me, because I really like to express myself during sex, not to mention that it is a way for me to feel closer to him. He acts like the quintessential "frigid woman". I have been complimented in the past over and over again by former lovers (male and female) on my sexual talents. But, I feel like I have lost all of that. I have no sexual confidence anymore.

How can I get him to come out of his shell, and how do I feel more sexually confident again? Please help!


    Robert W. Birch, Ph.D., ACS Certified Sexologist

There are some men who do not express themselves in the bedroom. I would imagine, however, that this man is not particularly open with his feelings at any time. It is probably something that many boys have learned... those destructive messages that boys need to be tough, boys need to handle their own problems, and boys don't cry. Such messages prepare males to deal well in the competitive world, but handicap them in a relationship with a woman who wants more than just superficial talk. Men often do not understand the difference between talking about things and communication about emotions. Men often mistake thoughts for feeling, and may do well at expressing what they think, but not what they feel.

In therapy sessions I have often asked a man how he feels about something, only to be told what he thinks. For example, the question "How do you feel about your wife's need for more affection?" might be answered with "I think she is too emotionally dependent." I would then tell the man, "That is what you think, but my question was about feelings. How do you feel?" Often I would then get the response, "I feel she is too emotionally dependent." Simply call a thought a feeling does not add depth or emotional substance to the message. But it helps to be persistent. "Yes, but how do you feel about that?" It might help also to guess, for example, "I guess if you think your wife is too emotionally dependent, you must feel powerless to meet her needs... and that must feel frustrating."It might take a while to get below the thinking level, and, unfortunately, many men will become angry or defensive when you try. But you've got to try, because if a man does not understand what you want and is not in touch with his feelings (or knows how to put them into words), he will not suddenly become expressive on his own.

In bed it helps to ask questions that require more than a yes or no response. If you ask, "Do you like it when I touch you here?" you will probably get "Yes" or "No" as the response. However, if you ask, "Do you like it better when I touch you here or over here?" you will get a little more information. That is a start. You can do the same thing with pressure. "Do you like it when I touch you lightly like this, or firmer like this? It will be limited information, but more than a yes or no. Map out your partner's body, asking for comparison as you move around. Then "play dumb" and state, "I forget where you liked to be touched the best...tell me again...where and how." It helps to put in your own feelings so he hears how feelings are expressed. "I really love touching you here because it feels so good to you and that makes me feel good...tell me again how good it feels."

I have actually told men to practice the nonverbal sounds...the moaning that I think should just come naturally with the experience of sexual pleasure. I have also encouraged couples to moan together...she moans in harmony with his moans when he is feeling pleasure...he should moan empathetically with her as her excitement and sounds build.

Comfort in talking about "parts" is also important, and couples have to negotiate the words that are used. Some words are acceptable in the heat of passion, but might be inappropriate at a dinner party. Some words can be a turn on, while others a turn off, and understanding what works and does not work is important....and at times it is a matter of timing. If the "dirty" words seem too dirty and the clinical words seem too sterile, make up fun names for each others sexual parts. One woman named her left breast Shirley and her right one Lavern, which allowed for some playful discussions out in public.

Comfort in talking about sexual parts, feelings and activities can sometimes be learned by watch a romantic movie or erotic video and playing particular attention to the dialog. Remember, these guys need to learn something they had not learned as they were growing up and it is important they understand how much this means in an intimate relationship. Women need to tell men things like "You must first touch my heart before I can really feel good about you touching my (insert your word)," or "You men like to look at bodies because you are visual, but we women need to hear your words and sounds because this is how we feel connected."

Buy the books about wild and outrageous sexual techniques, not so much to do them, but to talk about them. The classic sex manual titled The Joy of Sex was a take off on the recipe book "The Joy of Cooking." I have always told people to read a sex manual like a cook book. You will not want to try everything and some things you might only want to try once just to experience it. Other things will be more fun to fantasize about, but others are must do activities. One of the major contributions of all the sexual manuals on the market is that they communicate the idea that sex should be fun, that sex should be open, and that sex should be as creative as any two people believe it should be... and it gets people talking about it!

The problem of men not expressing feelings of affection, putting words to their sexual pleasures, or crying out in the midst of their orgasmic ecstasy is much greater than men think it should be. For most women, sexuality is about a mutual connection with their partner and words and sounds are the links. When a woman does not feel connected, she might feel she is being used, that her partner's response is mechanical, or that she is not really desirable. Issues of sexual self-esteem begin to emerge, and a woman might begin to worry that she has lost her ability to really turn a man on.

We must also talk of issues of sexual desire, specifically when a man is the less sexual one within a relationship. The old stereotyped jokes have the woman saying, "Not tonight dear, I have a headache." In reality, it is the man who has the lower desire in about 40 percent of the couples seen in sex therapy. Clearly there are those men who have high desire and never utter a peep during sex, and there are those who only want sex once a month but are open in the expression of feelings both in and out of the bedroom. Desire and the ability to communicate are two different issues, but the frustration a woman feels is compounded if her partner is less interested in sex and is noncommunicative when it happens. She will be further frustrated when the blame is unfairly laid on her for being too sexual or too needy.

Sexual desire (or libido) is the motivational aspect of sex. It is the "horniness" that drives a person to seek sexual satisfaction. The differences between the levels of desire of the two people within a relationship is complicated, potentially destructive, and not easy to "fix." No one understands all of the psychological and physical factors that contribute to desire, but it is known that hormones (particularly testosterone) play a major role. Men with low sexual desire would do well to talk to their physicians about this, reviewing any medications being taken and possibly getting a blood test to clinically evaluate hormone levels.

Sexual relationships can certainly become frustrating when there is a difference in levels of desire, when the man is unable to communicate feelings, and the sexual act is a silent and unimaginative event. It has been said that when sex is good in a relationship, it only comprises 20 percent of it. However, when sex is bad, it can consume a full 80 percent. I strongly recommend that couples seek professional help from a counselor or therapist who has training and expertise in working both with the emotional and the physical aspects of intimate relationships.

Robert W. Birch, Ph.D., is a retired sex therapist, now identifying himself as a sexologist and adult sexuality educator. He now devotes his time to writing educational and self-help books for adults.For more information visit:


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