You’re BOTH Messed Up About Sex

One of the comments on the What “Feeling Desired” Means to Him  post read, in part:

My biggest problem with this whole thing is how sad it makes me that some men aren’t able to accept their wife’s sexuality and the way she expresses it as a valid way of showing desire. Her sexuality is being undermined.

You're BOTH Messed Up About Sex

I doubt it was the intent, but to me, this sounds like saying the woman’s expression of sex is just fine, and if there’s a conflict it’s because he’s messed up. 

I assume virtually all men have seen porn, and that certainly messes up a man’s sexuality. It messes up what he desires. It messes up how he acts, and how he wants his wife to act. In short, it messes up the way he expresses his sexuality.

However, virtually all women also go into marriage sexually messed up. It could come from premarital sex, porn, body shame, rape or abuse, or being taught sex is shameful. Most women have more than one of those in their past, and it messes up how she expresses her sexuality. 

So neither of them is expressing their true sexuality, and neither of them knows where they have deviated from their true sexuality. If either assumes they’re right and their spouse is wrong that will become a road block.

Beyond all of that, it seems to me we all come into marriage with far too much sexual expression. I don’t think it can be avoided given the world we live in, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. In a perfect world, a couple would marry with almost no expectations or preferences; their sexual expression would be an almost blank slate. Then together they would discover what they both enjoy and what one or both of them does not enjoy, and together they would build a joint sexual expression. This means Jack and Jill will have a different sexuality than Jack and Mary or Jill and Bob would have had. Every couple would have a unique sexual expression.

We can’t undo what’s happened to us or what we brought into the marriage. We can choose to hold those things loosely and make changes that bring us closer to what should be. And no, that doesn’t mean just the woman, both husband and wife need to do this.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I’m glad my wife had never worn a paper bag to bed!

Links may be monetised
Image Credit: © Czanner |

Shop Amazon ♦ Shop to give links page
We’re donation supported Thanks for your help!
Where we’re going Contact us about speaking

35 Comments on “You’re BOTH Messed Up About Sex

  1. “to me, this sounds like saying the woman’s expression of sex is just fine, and if there’s a conflict it’s because he’s messed up.”
    IMO, Sexual Intimacy is a gift to be shared between a married couple. And gifts mean the most when they are given selflessly. For me as the husband, this means I slow down, I make a conscious effort to be more gentle in my touch, I kiss her a lot, I massage her during foreplay, and if I can’t get her there myself, I put my pride aside and get the vibrator out lovingly if she asks for it. A lot of these are not my own natural expressions of sexuality. I learned to do them because I wanted my wife to get the most out of our intimacy, because I love her.

    Yes, we are both messed up, but we both have to be willing to recognize that and grow from it if we want our marriages to grow.

  2. I try to go as slow as possible. Why would a man not enjoy foreplay? That’s more time to get to lovingly embrace and caress your wife and see her body. Isn’t that what we want as well?

    And as for the idea of sex being shameful, I sometimes think this is because much of our talk is negative. Sex talk is considered dirty talk and we talk about doing the nasty and things like that. No wonder it’s seen as something shameful much of the time.
    Nick Peters recently posted…Deeper Waters Podcast 8/19/2017: Dan StoryMy Profile

    • I agree! I love foreplay! My wife doesn’t seem to enjoy it. I don’t understand why. I love the teasing, touching, the cuddling and etc. My wife doesn’t as much as I do. Or at least I think so because she often just wants me to get in there and start as soon as possible. She says it’s because she doesn’t want to lose her arousal. She is in control of our sex life so I guess that when she wants to have sex she wants it as soon as possible. I mean I would love to cuddle afterwards too but she isn’t so much for that. For me that’s important too. The foreplay and the moments after are very intimate to me so I agree foreplay is great. I don’t get why so many men doesn’t like it.

    • “Why would a man not enjoy foreplay?”
      I don’t know if this was aimed at me, Nick, but in case it was, I did not say I don’t enjoy it. In fact, I love it.
      But I still think you should be careful about how you put things. You are throwing out judgement with your words, and if I happened to be a man that for whatever (possibly legitimate) reason was not enjoying foreplay, I wouldn’t appreciate the verbal jab.

  3. We were both messed up. I was a sex-starved virgin who resented the whole “True Love Waits” garbage (should have been called ‘True Love Waits Forever for Nothing). My wife had sex with every boyfriend from age 14 to age 26 when we met. After 5 years of marriage, she confessed to having 2 abortions then and I realized her sex refusal was stemming from far deeper guilt than I had ever imagined nor could have ever come out in premarital counseling.

    I would like to say we went into marriage counseling and it all got fixed. But the marriage counselor told me I should accept her slow road to mental health and be willing to do without sex until she’s “better.”

    So I guess True Love will just have to keep waiting.

    • I’m so sorry.

      What I find odd is how many women have sex, no problem, outside of marriage, even with their husband before marriage, but then suddenly have guilt and problems and mental disorders after they say I Do. But, if they never got married, they would likely continue on the path of premarital sex. I don’t understand that.

      Hubby and I managed to hold off on intercourse until marriage, but we did other things. One thing I know that caused problems for me is that premarital sex is more illicit, so there is a sense of danger, the excitement of getting caught, and the thrill of having to be creative. All those things drive up the adrenaline and super-charge the experience. Then, once rightfully married when sex is allowed, expected, and you have your own space and privacy, it falls flat. I realized I had developed my sexuality around the adrenaline-fueled illicit,,and not around the God-ordained. I felt broken. I realized my hubby didn’t turn me on. Normal sexual activity didn’t turn me on. I was so used to the illicit turning me on, instead.

      • I have wondered that too!!! Before my wife and I got married she was the one who seduced me. She had sex before she met me because she wasn’t a Christian. When we met she was the one who showed me everything. I had done minor things with my ex. We touched each other where we shouldn’t but always fully clothed. But my wife on the other hand she did oral and other stuff that I only had fantasies about. We knew it was wrong and I know I should have broken off the relationship early because my relationship with God went downhill. Anyways, after we got married she suddenly wasn’t this hot girl that wanted sex all the time. I mean it wasn’t that she didn’t want it but it became less frequent. And that was in the first month of marriage. Then she wanted to have kids while I wanted to enjoy each othe more but she got what she wanted and that put her sex drive on hold for almost two years. I felt like she only wanted me to get a family. That is something she always wanted so I thought I was only a mean to an end. We once talked why sex got so boring after marriage and as you say she said that there was an excitement there. You knew you were doing something wrong. That’s sounds so sad to me. Our sex life isn’t super bad, it has become better but it isn’t pre-marriage good. Sometimes I fantasies about those times and I know it’s wrong and I regret that but sometimes I wish I would have done more because I don’t know if she will ever be like that again.

      • What has made me despise the True Love Waits and all of the other purity culture tropes is how oblivious they are to the consequences to young people who get married only to find out after the fact how messed up people can be and how that impacts the sex life. Our marriage counselor (post marriage) actually tried to tell me that I should be willing to tolerate this “season of healing” (season of sexlessness, actually) because, after all, sex is not a “need” but is only a “desire” because it won’t kill me to go without.

        But if the definition of “need” is only about things necessary for physical survival then I would argue that marriage, love, intimacy, and trust are not “needs” either. But this is absurd. I don’t go to marriage counseling to get physical survival training, I go there to help my marriage survive. And does anybody honestly believe that sex is not a need for marriage survival? Really? All the counselor succeeded in doing is to give my wife permission to continue in her sex refusal without remorse of consideration of the damage it is doing to our marriage.

        I feel alone in this battle and resentful because of the false assurances I was given as a single person for all of the wonderful benefits I would get from waiting until marriage for sex. Whatever benefits they were, I am not feeling them right now.

        • Hi Ricky,

          “Our marriage counselor (post marriage) actually tried to tell me that I should be willing to tolerate this “season of healing” (season of sexlessness, actually) because, after all, sex is not a “need” but is only a “desire” because it won’t kill me to go without…All the counselor succeeded in doing is to give my wife permission to continue in her sex refusal without remorse of consideration of the damage it is doing to our marriage.”

          I agree with you. That is some really poor counseling, but I’m not surprised. There are a lot of bad marriage counselors out there. I don’t blame you for being upset about it. I feel very upset about it on your behalf.

          I am concerned that you used the word “battle,” is that your frame of mind? Women can be pretty good at reading our husbands’ energy, even if they don’t verbalize it. When my husband gave off that “battle” energy, my natural response was to distance myself even further.

          • @T – “I am concerned that you used the word “battle,” is that your frame of mind? ”

            I understand your concern, but I don’t know a man alive who would see it any differently. NOt a battle with their wife as much as against a soul-crushing issue that eats at his very being.
            Paul Byerly recently posted…Are You Reaping What You’ve Sown?My Profile

            • Yes. Battle is an appropriate word. A man strives all day to be faithful to his wife and love her and care for her and cherish her and avoid other women and comes home and gets shut down.

              Want a comparison ladies? Picture being on a diet and grocery shopping and going through the chocolate and candy section or the ice cream section. That is what we go through when we are around the love of our lives so much and feel like we can’t do anything.
              Nick Peters recently posted…Book Plunge: Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, Second EditionMy Profile

              • I’ll be okay once I learn the technique of “eye bouncing.” Of course, I will have to eye bounce off my wife for a while, too.

                I told my mother we were having “issues” but divorce was off the table. She said that it will be alright because “marriage is not supposed to make you happy, it’s supposed to make you holy.”

                I think my mother learned the art of encouragement from Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.

        • @Ricky – I think there are times and reasons to put up with all kinds of things, HOWEVER, the whole “not a need” thing is total garbage. Date nights and loving words are not a need. For that matter, hot water and more than one pair of shoes are not a need.
          Paul Byerly recently posted…Are You Reaping What You’ve Sown?My Profile

          • It also seems suspicious because the assertion about “need” vs “desire” is ONLY made with regards to sex. It would be one thing if, in addition to sex, the marriage counselor included all of the other important aspects of marriage as “desires” and not “needs.” But the distinction is only made for sex. Why is that? I sensed the counselor was reacting to his own pet peeve about husbands who try to manipulate their wives into having sex with them by claiming it as a “need”.

            But this just reinforces the incompetence of the marriage counselor in that he tried to superimpose his own issue on to our marriage situation. If he had really been listening to what was happening in my marriage, he should have confronted my wife with how devastating it must be for me, as a virgin going into marriage, to be paying the emotional cost of the premarital sex that other men got to enjoy with my wife, at no cost to them.

            They got her sexual best. And now I am left with the scraps that fall off the table. True Love Waits, indeed.

            • @Ricky – I don’t know if your wife should be confronted on how her actions are hurting you at this time or not. I used to feel if Lori knew how much the lack of sex hurt me she would change. Now I know she was so hurt she could not have dealt with it – it would only have made things worse. I have no idea where your wife is or what she could handle at this point. But I do think she needs to hear sex is an important part of marriage and be encouraged to keep working to be able to do that.
              Paul Byerly recently posted…A Few Kind WordsMy Profile

              • I fear that confrontation will only drive her further away. I guess I am directing most of my anger at the counselor because I cannot allow myself to direct it at my wife. She is attending abortion recovery at church and is now admitting this to her parents as well, who are also just finding out. They are asking themselves what they could have done differently as parents, since the abortions happened back when she was in high school.

                The only thing I feel I have going for me is that my wife was my first girlfriend and I have no premarital sexual memories to cause me further distress at my current situation. But the internet now becomes my greatest enemy.

                Every man’s battle, indeed.

          • Ricky, I’m seconding Paul’s position on this. I would third it and fourth it if I could clone myself. Please don’t give up or give in. The thought of that makes me want to cry; in fact I teared up a little here at McDonald’s while reading and typing this. Your marriage will suffer in the long term. This is even coming from someone who doesn’t know the pain of refusal, and I can’t state it strongly enough.

            • @T – There certainly is hope. Our second year of marriage we had sex less than 50 times. Today we have it whenever either of us wants it. And there are others who have had turnarounds as or more amazing.
              Paul Byerly recently posted…A Few Kind WordsMy Profile

              • I just have to ask. Paul you say you had sex less than 50 times your second year. Is that little? I would understand if you would write less than 20 but 50!! If i count how many times Me and my wife have sex we get to (as best) to 25. I thought I just had to suck it up and be happy that I get anything at all.

                • @50?! – Probably way less than 50. I know some would find half that an improvement, but for a young newly wed couple it was rather low and did not bode well for the future.
                  Paul Byerly recently posted…Because I Love You…My Profile

                • “I thought I just had to suck it up and be happy that I get anything at all.”

                  1 Corinthians 7 says you shouldn’t have to suck it up at all. So why do you feel this way? I’ll tell you why. Because the church has so inhaled the noxious fumes of cultural feminism that, instead of telling wives to suck it up and have sex even when they’re not in the mood, we tell husbands they have to jump through hoops just to earn it.

                  The church has turned 1 Corinthians 7 on its head and the result is an epidemic of sexless marriages. For every bullying husband who might misuse 1 Corinthians 7, I’ll wager there are 10 husbands who are so intimated by the charges of marital rape they cower in fear and suffer in silence.

                • “…instead of telling wives to suck it up and have sex even when they’re not in the mood…”

                  Wow, just wow! I’m not even sure there is a good response to you on this. I hope to God you are not married and if you are, I pray for your wife.

                  And BTW, this should apply to men too if this is how you’re going to interpret 1 Cor 7. What a sad way to look at God’s beautiful design of marriage. :(
                  Amy recently posted…Speaking loveMy Profile

  4. @Ricky – I agree with you on sexual refusal, but “telling wives to suck it up and have sex even when they’re not in the mood” is not the solution, it’s part of the problem. That is what women were told for a long time, and what we have now is push back to that very wrong reading of 1 Cor 7.
    “Lay there and let him use your body for his pleasure” is not what God intended. Sex is to be mutually enjoyable. When it’s not there’s a problem, and dealing with that problem is what’s needed
    As for “earning it” that’s not right. However, if a man is failing to love his wife as the bible instructs him to, he is in the wrong, and that needs to be dealt with. Neither wrong justifies the other.
    Paul Byerly recently posted…What Air Quality Teaches Us About MarriageMy Profile

  5. Love your wife as Christ loved the church (LYWACLTC™) is often misconstrued as “servant leadership”, which then gets further distorted as “happy wife, happy life.”

    Christ not only sacrifices for the church. He also holds the church accountable and even punishes the church when it is disobedient, rebellious, and/or apostate. If we are supposed to love our wives in a similar way, how would Christ disciplining his church translate into the husband/wife relationship? Verbal admonishment? Connecting sexual refusal with a corresponding refusal of husbandly service? Or is LYWACLTC™ just another term for “suck it up and just be happy I get anything at all”?

    We would all love it if the marriage relationship were perfectly functional and defined by mutual pleasure and enjoyment. But when the sex goes off the rails, something has to give. And because of the excesses in one direction of the past, the church has collectively decided that the onus for fixing sexual problems in marriage lay ENTIRELY on the shoulders of husbands. Most Christian men would rather die than deliberately try to hurt their wives. So they wimp out and accept what 1 Corinthians 7 warns them is unacceptable. So we suffer in silence, accept our lot in life without recourse. The church will blame us for the problem and cite those same past excesses to us now.

    So here are my choices:

    1. Achieve a level of sacrificial love for my wife that would rival Mother Theresa and hope she responds by being more accommodating in the bedroom
    2. Confront her on her sexual refusal by citing 1 Corinthians 7 and sleep on the couch most nights
    3. Take her sexual refusal to the church elders for church discipline, which will probably actually result in me getting chastised for not loving her enough
    4. Masturbate to porn
    5. Have an affair
    6. Get a prescription for Depo-Provera to lower my testosterone
    7. Channel my frustration into long comments on marriage blogs

    • I can empathize with this, including your 7 choices.
      1) Yes, though I think I am getting to the point of losing hope, so it is just trying to “agape” and “philia” while losing the “eros”.
      2) Yes, that has not always gone over well in the past — maybe in part because.
      3) Yes, the church does not seem willing to back me up, but more than willing to back her up. (If you have not seen Paul’s past rant on this: )
      4) One possibility, though is porn necessary? Either way, this one will get you in trouble with those who believe that masturbation is sin. Interestingly, I find 3 and 4 get tied together in my head — especially for those who call masturbation sin. Until a person/church condemns 3 with the same fervor that they tend to condemn 4, I find myself dismissing their thoughts/opinions on 4.
      5) Hopefully I never face this possibility, and, if I ever do, I hope I have the strength and integrity (because I still believe in my own marriage covenants) to turn it down.
      6) Yes, it would be nice to have an easy pray or medicate the sexual desire away.
      7) Is this why we are here?

      • “Until a person/church condemns 3 with the same fervor that they tend to condemn 4, I find myself dismissing their thoughts/opinions on 4.”

        No one I’ve ever heard of does this.

    • @Ricky – What you’re not seeing is the pain your wife is in. She has been horribly hurt sexually. Yes, she was complicit in that, but she has still been torn up and is deeply hurt. Now she has your anger and disappointment on top of that, which just makes it worse.

      My suggestion is a soft version of #2. Don’t beat her with the Bible, but do tell her the situation is wrong and it needs to change. Tell her you’re both hurting, and it’s damaging your marriage. Support whatever helps her work through things, and keep insisting she needs to do something to work through it.

      In addition to that, as needed masturbate WITHOUT PORN. Let your wife know you will do this to help you deal with your drive, and you look forward to the day when it is no longer necessary.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…She Wants You to Initiate…My Profile

      • Actually, I AM seeing the pain my wife is in. Now that the secret is out, a lot of friends are extending their support and sympathies to her. The abortion recovery group is very nurturing and supportive, as well. The leader asked my wife is she wanted to be a co-leader for the next session. They are going to have a “funeral” service where all the women name their lost babies and send them off with a tribute. I am actually quite emotionally moved by what she is telling me.

        As far as my anger and disappointment goes, she actually has no idea how I feel because when she first told me I didn’t freak out but only told her I was proud of her for being willing to admit it. I was trying to imagine how I would want to be treated if I ever confessed a huge sexual sin to her. I also knew that if I didn’t react exactly perfectly, it would probably get thrown in my face as evidence of what an uncaring jerk I was.

        But the sexual refusal just shows me that it is not simply enough to think I am doing the right thing and then expect her to reciprocate. I am starting to believe that I need to make demands. This is why the counselors advice was so toxic. He basically threw me under the bus. If I don’t need sex, after all, then if I tell her I am going to masturbate to deal with my sexual desires, I will just come off as a sick pervert who lacks any self control. Since her parents live with us half the time (we live in a rental house they own) and my wife has very little filter on what she tells them.

  6. @Ricky,

    You should probably choose #7….and channel your frustrations into long comments on marriage blogs. Those reading can take it.

    Wether you know it or not, you have an opportunity to build a strong, loving, sexually intimate relationship with your wife. At this moment in time, your short term pain can actually bring you long term gain, if you play your cards right.

    Your wife is suffering far more than you could ever imagine.
    Think about what abortion means. Really think about it.

    You are sexually frustrated.
    No one expects you to be happy about it.
    What you aren’t realizing is that sex for her right now is emotionally painful.
    Having sex while associating it with a negative emotion can lead to an aversion.
    Don’t go there! You won’t like it.
    If you can wait until she gets past associating sex with negative emotions, the two of you can start to build a mutually satisfying sexual relationship from the ground up.
    Your wife is working on her issues. She can’t do it alone!
    When the time comes, you need her to associate sex, with you, as a pleasant experience, not be something she has to do because You “need” it.

    Please don’t destroy this opportunity God is giving you by becoming angry and resentful.
    In the meantime, you can work on your own messed up ideas of what married sex should be.

    My prayers to you both.

    • In the meantime, you can work on your own messed up ideas of what married sex should be.

      What messed up ideas would those be, exactly? That my spouse shouldn’t deprive me? That sex should be mutually given and mutually enjoyed? Those aren’t messed up ideas.

      But I will tell you what messed up ideas I DID have coming into marriage. I believed that being a virgin would be a source of blessing in my marriage. I believed that women are morally superior to men in that they have greater sexual self-control. I believed that my sex drive was a curse because it caused me to have sinful thoughts.

      I also had messed up ideas about marriage because my older brother married a girl raised in the purity culture and was a virgin when they got married. After 6 months of marriage, my brother told me that he and his wife were in marriage counseling because she was so sexually repressed she couldn’t stand to be naked in front of him. So, while I didn’t know the full extent of my wife’s sexual history, I rationalized her “experience” by thinking it would benefit me by making her more forthcoming in the bedroom. What a sick joke that turned out to be.

      So I will have to take it on faith that you’re right. This is an opportunity to make lemonade out of lemons. God will miraculously transform my wife’s sexual phobias into freedom and intimacy and I will sail off into the sunset of sexual bliss. Cue the choir of angels.

  7. @ Ricky

    “What messed up ideas would those be, exactly? That my spouse shouldn’t deprive me? That sex should be mutually given and mutually enjoyed? Those aren’t messed up ideas.”

    No, those aren’t messed up ideas, those are ultimate goals. Expecting those goals to be automatic the night you get married is a messed up idea. Expecting God to transform your wife’s sexual phobias into freedom and intimacy so that YOU can sail off into the sunset of sexual bliss (whatever YOUR image of sexual bliss might be) is a messed up idea.

    No two couples have the same sexual relationship. You and your wife have to develop your own. That does not mean her transforming into your “fantasy wife”. She is a human being who has had painful sexual experiences. Sorry, sex isn’t always blissful! Sick joke maybe, reality yes.

    There are a lot of women who never get the chance to face their sexual problems head on. Many go through their complete married life tolerating sex with their husbands because they have never learned how to enjoy and/or appreciate sex. Your wife is dealing with her issues. She and you will have the opportunity to create a fresh new mutually satisfying intimate relationship.

    You are pretty tied up in You right now (to be expected). Please think about how You might be able to assist her in finding out how wonderful a sexual relationship can be. Ultimately, it will be up to You to provide the “experience” that will benefit Both of you.

    Please quit using “sexual refusal”. Your wife is acting like an injured animal. She is withdrawing into herself for her protection. Even when you are doing the right thing, please don’t Expect her to reciprocate until she can. A horse can’t run on a broken leg.

    How did you ‘deal’ before you were married?

  8. Fantasy wife? I am not expecting a nymphomaniac. I would settle for just a little bit more than nothing at all. I find it interesting that you equate her with an injured animal. Is that what we tell wives of porn addicts? That their husbands are like injured animals? That their porn addiction is just an amazing opportunity to create a wonderful sex life? Of course not. There is a sin of betrayal at play and the husband is to be treated like the perpetrator and the wife is to be treated like the victim.

    In this case, however, it was I, the husband, who has been deceived. I have been led to believe that things were alright before I married her only to discover after the fact that there were problems. But again, the urge to paint the husband as perpetrator and the wife as victim is so powerful that you want to impose that template on a situation where it is totally inappropriate.

    I will outwardly show love and compassion because I am a person who acts out of duty and obligation toward my marriage vows. I am being defrauded. But I will proceed as if she is the wounded animal and I am the gracious loving husband who will wait ever so patiently for her healing to be completed.

    And so I look forward to the day when I will receive my ultimate reward. I will someday have a wife who doesn’t act like I have cooties when I say I would like to have sex. But perhaps that is too much to expect of my “fantasy wife.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

%d bloggers like this: