A Male Sex Problem Wives Don’t Undersatand

I ran across this in an old Generous Husband post:

Michael [psychologist Michael Bader] challenges the common idea that men are selfish in bed, that they don’t much care about their partner and don’t really want to be close. He says, in fact, that the opposite is true: that most men face such a crushing sense of responsibility in bed that they are, understandably, insecure. This leads them to focus so much on their performance that a human connection is difficult.

Bravo. As a therapist, I’ve noticed this, too. Performance anxiety accounts for a lot of the erection problems I hear about in the office, as well as a lot of the low desire. In fact, there are guys who say “porn is easier than sex with my wife, because I never feel like I satisfy her.” That’s a far cry from “men are addicted to porn” or “men are afraid of intimacy.” Dr. Marty Klein in Male Sexuality: Selfishness or Insecurity?

Not tonight, dear. © MaxRiesgo | dollarphotoclub.com

I’ve heard this a number of times, and have suspected I was seeing it far more often. Most men feel they have no idea how to make sex good for their wife. On the rare occasions they know it was good for her, they may have no idea why. They rack their memory to try to determine what they did differently. If a certain move seems to bring her extra pleasure it is marked as magic and he is likely to do it repeatedly.

Honestly, most husbands would go to extremes to ensure their wife’s sexual pleasure. The failure of his wife to help him understand how to pleasure her is one of the greatest frustrations men have in marriage. This is why there are so many books about sex. There are hundreds of e-books promising to teach men the secret to driving women crazy with sexual pleasure. These books aren’t just bought by single men looking to bed as many women as possible, they’re also bought by men who desperately want to know how to show their wife a good time in bed.

And, yes, some men do give up and stop having sex, or turn to porn out of frustration. Others fall into doing what works for them, since they have no idea how to do what’s good for her. Anger and resentment are also common, and these can lead to problems with desire or erection. Sadly, more than a few affairs have been, in part, an attempt to prove “I can make a woman enjoy sex”. I’m not justifying any of this, just confirming they all happen.

This is a huge thing to men. If you aren’t giving your husband sexual feedback, please start doing so. When it’s good, tell him. When it’s great, make a big deal about it. When it’s not so good, suggest something you think might make it better for you. During foreplay urge him to go faster or to slow down. Tell him a bit lower would be even better, or move his hand (or other body part) to a better location. 

~ Paul – I’m XY, I study this stuff, and I still wonder at times.

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33 Comments on “A Male Sex Problem Wives Don’t Undersatand

  1. “porn is easier than sex with my wife, because I never feel like I satisfy her” I wonder what these men mean by “satisfy” Are they referring solely to orgasm? Are they expecting their wives to behave the way women in the porn films behave? If so, should they modify their expectations?

    Perhaps other methods of connection, such as words of affirmation, mean more to a wife than the connection via sex. This is the case for me. Not that sex isn’t good or that I’m not satisfied, but the thrill of hearing “I adore you” or of slow dancing (without him acting silly and making fun) is much greater for me.

    We could say that for me sex is sparklers and for my husband it is fireworks. For him, words of affirmation are sparklers and for me they are fireworks. I don’t expect him to change so that words of affirmation are his fireworks too.

    Do husbands feel a sense of failure if they cannot make sex as powerful for their wives as it is for them?

    • FWIW, frequency could be part of the reason sex is in the sparklers category and words of affirmation are in the fireworks category. We have sex often. I experience the other things rarely so they stand out and mean more to me.

    • Ultimately it is about his perception of her pleasure – which may have little to do with her reality! He wants her to desire and enjoy sex – he wants her to share his enjoyment of sex because shared things are far better.
      I suspect in many cases the issue if the wife not trying or no knowing how to communicate her enjoyment. I think some women feel uncomfortable expressing their sexual enjoyment. In some ways it may violate the “good girl” thinking. Enjoying sex is iffy, making a big deal about enjoying it is way over the line.
      You mention frequency. I wonder if more of what you want and enjoy would result in you enjoying sex a bit more? The balance is off for you. The solution I think would be more of the other, not less sex.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Invite Her into AdventureMy Profile

      • Thanks for stating in your first sentence what I spent far too many words trying to communicate. :)

        Regarding the frequency, you may be right.

        • The issue then is getting a husband to understand fixing the balance. We get focused on what happens during sex, and don’t want to hear how anything non-sexual will change what we so desperately want to change.
          Tell a guy “do ABC twice a week and LMNOP daily and your wife will want and enjoy sex more” and he looks at you weird and then goes back to trying to learn some secret sex technique.
          I think most men have a hard time understanding how something non-sexual could affect sex. I’ve never been able to be sexual outside a healthy, intimate relationship, so I’m not as affected by this as most men. For me sex does not happen in a vacuum, so I get why other parts of the relationship make sex better or worse for women.
          Paul Byerly recently posted…Invite Her into AdventureMy Profile

          • I don’t know, Paul. I feel some apprehension about having the balance “fixed.” For one thing, I’m content with our sex life and so is my husband. Frequency, passion, and variety have increased substantially in the past two years. And what if increasing the frequency of words I long to hear just dilutes their power? Currently they are rare, precious jewels that I cherish and treasure. It’s not that I’m starving for them or basing my self worth on them or need them to enjoy sex. They stand on their own like fireworks in a month of blue skies and balmy temps.

  2. I could definitely see that. I don’t know that my husband has this issue; if he does, it’s not to that extreme, I guess. There’s no affair or porn going on over here, thank God! I feel like there’s some unspoken rule that if a husband can’t make his wife orgasmic then he isn’t a man or something. An orgasm for them is pretty much guaranteed, but for us, it’s a blue moon kind of deal depending on our sensitivity that day, our mood, the situation, time of month, the color of the sky, how many chores are left to do, etc.

    Women face this same issue, but in a different way. Oh, body image! We’re worried about sounding or looking weird. It would be mortifying to make such an ugly face or odd sound that he loses his erection. I mean, for real, though. I would just hide under the bed for a few days, LOL! And good lord, let’s not get into the physical expectations society puts on women these days. We’re worried our bodies aren’t visually appealing enough, no matter our weight. It doesn’t matter what you look like – every woman feels this way. I’m young, attractive and in fairly good shape, but ever since having a baby, I sigh at my reflection. I remember looking so good and I know my husband remembers that, too. I definitely project my insecurity onto my husband because he’s in better shape than me right now.

    Insecurity on both sides is probably why so many people fake orgasms (men, too!) because it makes it look like everyone is getting what they want. Not that I agree with it now, but I did it for years.

    • I think it is a lie of the enemy that men don’t find post baby bodies attractive. I have had many children and my husband thinks I am hotter now than I was on our wedding night! He loves my curves and my stretched skin partly because he put them there!! Before I was a cute waif. Now I am a gorgeous goddess!

      He is of Northern European background and studied north religions and culture and frankly, matrons are HOT! A maiden is pretty and fun to deflower, but a matron is stunning and knows her way in bed. The tightness of a maiden gives way to the incredible softness of a matron.

      My hubby goes crazy over my softness. His fingers curl over my hip or waistline and they gently sink in and he is in awe at that feeling. Young women just don’t have that.

      Young, tight, and fit do NOT have a monopoly on sexy.

      • @libl Well said!
        Both love and sex are about a person, not a package. The years of time together are a huge part of both. The shared experiences, the intimacy, and knowing each other all make love and sex so much sweeter!

    • There certainly is a “real men make women climax every time” thinking for many. If SHE wants that, it’s an okay goal, as long as he understands it won’t happen sometimes no matter what. If she is happy without on occasion, his expecting it to happen every time is setting them up for problems.
      I had to laugh at the idea of some noise of face a wife makes causing her husband to lose his erection. I’m not laughing at your concern, I know it’s real. It just has nothing to do with male reality. Much as our concerns can have little to do with female reality!
      As you suggest sex can become more about performance and saving face than enjoying each other. It’s understandable, and very sad.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Invite Her into AdventureMy Profile

    • For a short time after our first child I was bothered by my wife’s stretch marks and flabby tummy. I don’t even notice them now–really. And, I don’t think that I am unusual. Men are so totally enamored and fascinated by their wive’s bodies, that a woman can’t even begin to imagine how wonderful they seem. Believe it! Don’t try to figure it our or understand it. Take it by faith. Just because you see flaws doesn’t me that they are a big deal to him. A second point: Body confidence is liberating to you and very sexy to him. You will never be able to understand why he finds your body so appealing, so just believe it!

  3. ‘Sadly, more than a few affairs have been, in part, an attempt to prove “I can make a woman enjoy sex”. ‘

    Again, how are they defining “enjoy?” Are they looking for more than duty sex, consistent and predictable orgasms (like their own), or responses that mimic what they’ve seen or imagined?

    This seems to be about proving himself and conquering some great feat more than about ensuring his wife’s happiness. Unless he thinks her enjoyment of sex fixes everything in the relationship?

    • @IntimacySeeker – It’s how he defines it. For some it’s as simple as she wants sex and says she enjoys it. Others are looking for writhing and screaming, and other things real women don’t do in bed.
      If a man is enjoying sex, he feels his relationship is okay, Not perfect, but not in crisis. So we expect women to be the same way. This makes trying to get her to enjoy sex about trying to improve the relationship, at least in his mind. It’s not the way to go about it, but the desire is usually right.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…So Much Coffee!My Profile

  4. @ IntimacySeeker — personally, I think a man feels his wife enjoys sex when she is very enthusiastic about the experience, participates fully by asking for certain positions and taking charge of what makes her feel good (i.e. asking for specific foreplay techniques that bring her pleasure), and probably yes, some men may think his wife truly enjoys the experience only if she has an orgasm. Does a woman need to orgasm to enjoy sex? Not necessarily, but if so then she does need to let her husband know it’s important to her.

    I believe a majority of loving, caring husbands truly want to pleasure their wives and we wives need to be open about what we need each time to truly enjoy the experience. I know it’s taken me a while to catch on to the fact that my husband does not just automatically know what gets my body revved up and I need to directly tell him or show him how to help me.
    When we keep our husband’s guessing as to what we need or want sexually we deprive them and our ourselves of the ultimate pleasurable experience. My hubby has always said that my pleasure, especially my orgasm, makes lovemaking so much better for him too — and I believe him!
    Amy recently posted…Paradoxical thinkingMy Profile

    • Thanks, Amy. I appreciate your comments.

      The question I am trying to bring to the forefront here is why a husband insists on focusing his attention on his wife’s sexual pleasure if there are other aspects of the relationship that mean more to her. If his desire is to do the things that mean most to HER, why would he not focus more on those things and worry less about sexual pleasure and performance.

      I understand sexual pleasure is how most men feel most loved, but question whether they should expect their wives to have the same priority. We should, of course, be gracious receivers and let them love us the way they need to love us. But they need not put so much pressure on themselves to achieve something that is a lesser priority for us.

      Of course, by putting pressure on themselves, they put pressure on us also. “My husband won’t feel loved unless I respond a certain way.” “My husband feels a sense of failure when I can’t orgasm”

      • “The question I am trying to bring to the forefront here is why a husband insists on focusing his attention on his wife’s sexual pleasure if there are other aspects of the relationship that mean more to her.”

        True, if a woman isn’t getting other needs met outside the bedroom it can make it hard for her to perhaps connect during sex. And women need their emotional love tank filled up before feeling the sexual part kick in. But Paul is simply addressing the sexual aspect of marriage. He is talking about the frustration a husband may feel when he wants to ensure his wife fully enjoys sex but isn’t sure how to make that happen because she may not be giving feedback to him about what she needs or wants sexually.

        And I think while having sex is the best time for a husband to insist on focusing his attention on his wife’s sexual pleasure! Why not?!
        But of course that doesn’t mean your other needs outside the bedroom shouldn’t be met or are not important, but while having sex with our husbands we wives would do good to help them help us — it’s a win-win for everyone involved. ;)
        Amy recently posted…Paradoxical thinkingMy Profile

        • So often it comes back to balance. We all need to build the places where we are weak. For men this usually means working on non-sexual things, for women it often means more focus on sexual things.
          Paul Byerly recently posted…Invite Her into AdventureMy Profile

    • Being an active part is certainly a big deal.
      I think a man can learn to believe his wife sometimes enjoys sex even without orgasm, if in fact she does. She can help him towards this by saying something like “I really needed that” after having non-orgasmic sex with him. Or she can ask for sex saying “I doubt I will climax, but I really need to make love with you.”
      For most men their wife’s orgasm is the best part of sex, so sex without it is not as good as sex with it. However he can learn to enjoy it very much without that if he understands her reality. On the other side, his God given desire to giver her great physical pleasure can help her go beyond her internal limits and open some great doors for her.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Invite Her into AdventureMy Profile

  5. “He is talking about the frustration a husband may feel when he wants to ensure his wife fully enjoys sex ”

    I’m questioning why? If it is not an issue for her, why does he make it an issue for himself? Why does he assume “crushing responsibility” that is not his to assume?

    If I long for tulips, should my husband insist I prefer roses and make himself crazy and depressed over it?

    Yes, I can receive and appreciate the roses, but I will still long for tulips.

    • @IntimacySeeker – Hey Girlie!
      Relationship wise, I was “neglected” for almost 13 years or our many years together. It didn’t start off that way but as I’ve shared before, when the boys came and things got rough, our relationship suffered. My favorite flower now is whatever my husband brings home. It is very hurtful at times to listen to wives complain about what their husbands are doing wrong when I was so starved and wanted to scream “be happy he is thinking about you!!”. That is changing, which is why whatever flower I get is my favorite. Whatever date night I get, I love. Its not that I have no likes/desires/wants, but my basic need is to have unsolicited attention, so whatever form it comes in at this point, I like.
      Men need unsolicited sex. They need us to enjoy it and want it. And they are willing to do just about anything to get us to that point. Why? Because its how God made them. Just like He made us relational. They can be the roughest, toughest guy, but if they can’t bring sexual enjoyment to their wife, they are failures. And it comes down to a drive that was put into them, that we will never fully understand, except to turn it towards the drive we as women have to culture relationships that they don’t fully understand.
      Can this get warped. Sure! There are men who never care if their wife enjoys it, or has an orgasm (because they aren’t one & the same). Sometimes this can be from being broken, rejected, abuse, outright sin. Other times maybe they were never taught that it mattered as young men. Just like a wife can make the relationship more of priority then sex, and refuses to have one without the other.

      Whats your part? Easy, enjoy sex and have fun. Even if you don’t get your end of the relationship just yet.
      There is no performance for you either. If you like something, let him know. If you don’t like something, move him or yourself until you do like it, and tell him kindly “hey I think maybe if we do …..” And then afterwards, tell him you didn’t really care for xyz, but when you tried abc……..he will do abc alot. Because it made you happy. He doesn’t want you to be a porn star, he doesn’t need you to be a porn star. He just really needs you to be happy and enjoy yourself. Its not really about him in the end. Sure he gets a release, but think about, women have multiple orgasms. Men typically one. And he is happy to let you do that. Because watching you have fun, validates him as a man, in a way that no one else can.

    • @IntimacySeeker – I certainly hear your concern, and pain. I have no doubt you could learn to enjoy sex more. Maybe it could be said you “should” do that. But this would do little for your empty places, which are not about sex. And those empty places make it difficult for you to care about sex.
      I would guess your husband is feeling empty in some sexual ways, and that limits his interest in the other areas, the places where you need more. Two hungry people with different hungers competing for what they each need.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Invite Her into AdventureMy Profile

  6. It’s not about a husband insisting his wife prefer anything she doesn’t want in bed. It drives him crazy not getting feedback from her so he knows what she wants and prefers! Most husbands will do anything their wives want sexually but most don’t have a clue unless she tells him.

    She longs for tulips, but get roses — her husband may continuing bringing roses because he loves her and wants her to enjoy some flowers, but she doesn’t tell him she loves tulips more. If he knew, he would likely jump at the chance to bring her the flowers she truly loves and enjoys. :)
    Amy recently posted…Paradoxical thinkingMy Profile

  7. Interesting conversation here. For sake of clarification, I was using roses to represent sex and tulips to represent other than.

    Also, I was not writing about me except where I made that clear. I was speaking more hypothetically and asking some questions to help us avoid making assumptions.

    If she is unsatisfied with their sexual relationship and says so but won’t give him any feedback to change things, the responsibility lies with her. And my question then is, why does he take on that responsibility?

    If she is satisfied, but he doesn’t believe her because he does not experience the kind of responses he longs for, he is taking on a burden he need not take on.

    Or, she may be unsatisfied, but not realize it because she is starving for other kinds of attention and is therefore blinded to her own sexual desires. Again, him pushing for more sexual response in this case won’t work, because he’s barking up the wrong tree so to speak.

    Or she can be having all kinds of sex and all kinds of satisfaction with it, but still be starving for words of affirmation because she experiences the most powerful connection and thrill that way.

    ‘Sadly, more than a few affairs have been, in part, an attempt to prove “I can make a woman enjoy sex”. The verbs “prove” and “make” are red flags for me here. Do husbands desire their wives’ sexual response to they can “prove” themselves? Do they take pride in “making” (assumes it is against one’s will) their wives enjoy sex?

    I hope they feel honored and humbled that their wives love them and trust them. I hope that’s what the validation Henri mentioned is about. Because as this post makes clear, a husband cannot “make” his wife enjoy sex. She must choose to do so. This is her responsibility.

    • “Why does he take on that responsibility?”
      It’s what we do.
      Actually we don’t take it on, we have it put on us by society. The best we can do is learn to set it down when it’s not reasonable.

      I do not disagree with you and the issue of proving, but we all do it in many ways. For example, we look at how our kids do to “prove” we are good parents.
      As for “making” I did not mean it as against her will in any way. “I can give a woman sexual pleasure” would have been a better choice of words. The fear men has if their wife’s lack of sexual pleasure is HIS fault. Proving to himself it’s her, not him, is not healthy, but some men get to that place.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Invite Her into AdventureMy Profile

      • Perhaps men take on this responsibility, assuming blame for their wives’ lack of sexual pleasure, because it means they can potentially take credit for enjoyment if/when the situation improves. I don’t mean this in a snarky way–I tend to be overly analytical.

        It is healthy to release responsibility that is not ours to own. Doing otherwise is part of codependent behavior. Releasing those responsibilities to their rightful owners often gives them the freedom to make changes on their own. Then the rightful owners can take the credit that is due them.

        • This is a deep and tricky issue. When my wife gives me great sexual pleasure I certainly giver her credit for it. It’s not a matter of responsibility as much as a gift she gives me. She feels much the same for what I do for her. This is true in both sexual and non-sexual areas. And yet, sex is not never one sided or one way. The blending of two people in sex is a unique thing, and giving can only be done when the other is actively receiving.
          Giving something sexual is not as easy and straight forward as most gifts, and we can easily get into bad thought patterns over it.
          Paul Byerly recently posted…Happy Wife, Happy Life?My Profile

  8. @Intimacy Seeker- From a fellow analyzer, I think that might be over analyzing things a bit. I’m not sure they take a whole bunch of credit when we do enjoy it, I think they just relax all the more because we enjoy it.

    No offense to any men, but guys don’t typically think that deep – some can, but I read somewhere that women think on 4 levels – where men pretty much think on 1, so we can come up with things that totally blow their minds and they wonder where did that come from, because they aren’t wired to think that way. Mostly its because God designed us to be the more relational one, which is why we think that way. My sons like to tease me (lovingly) sometimes and say “must be that other level you’re coming from because I don’t get it!” or “there goes mom, thinking on level 3 again”. It keeps things in perspective for me that they don’t see like I see, and I’m just frustrating them when I can’t let it go. I’ll try to remember where I read that, it might be helpful to read at some point in time.

    Sexually, no one should be taking credit for anything. Its a joining to become one, and it makes sense that the husband would want to take the time and effort to help his wife enjoy it. This probably should whole true to the entire marriage relationship, but I feel like that is an entirely different post!

    • I would agree most men don’t analyse things as much as most women do. I say this as one who does analyse far too much. Sometimes I drive myself and Lori crazy this way.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Happy Wife, Happy Life?My Profile

  9. I had a conversation with a gentleman on another blog who said he takes the blame for his wife’s lack of response because it means he can take the credit for the times she responds positively. To him, her response means she is in a positive emotional state about their relationship, and that is a result of him doing the right things. Orgasm = she’s happy = he’s a good husband. Her sexual response reflects his capabilities and accomplishments.

    We all need to find our self worth in our relationship with Christ AND we are affirmed and built up by those we love and respect. ‘Tis not an either/or thing. There is a spectrum for this and when we veer too far toward needing others’ affirmation, we are out of balance. That seemed to be the case for the guy in this scenario. I lived in the place for some time and was miserable. I feel for men in this situation and pray they can let go of what they cannot change.

    • I’ve actually told men to not read too much into their wife’s orgasm. I’ve also talked to women who resist having an orgasm when they are not happy with their relationship because they don’t want hubby to think everything is good. Orgasm is a physiological response to stimulation, and while emotions certainly can make it easier or less likely and better or not so good, a woman can have an orgasm even if her relationship is horrible.

      You are right on the balance issue and needing both.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Is This My Battle?My Profile

  10. Wow! I guess I’m not an over analyzer because what I got out of this post — and tried desperately to articulate in my comments! LOL — was simply that most husbands want to please their wives sexually and need feedback so they can help them enjoy sex!
    And I want to enjoy making love to the fullest too so it’s a win-win when I speak up and tell hubby what will help me! :)
    Amy recently posted…Paradoxical thinkingMy Profile

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