Understandable, But A Bad Idea

I wanted to title this post “Why Denying Him A Sex Act He’s Done With Someone Else Is A Really Bad Idea” but long titles are a problem for post sharing.

On both my blogs and other’s blogs I have seen comments from women who say they will never engage in some sex act their husband wants because he did it with a former girlfriend. In a couple of these comments, the woman even said she had wanted to try the act until she found out he did it with someone else.

Understandable, But A Bad Idea

I think the idea here is “I’m not going to compete with his past.” I get that, but I also understand how that looks to a husband. He sees his wife as the women who refuses to do something she knows he enjoys. In reality, his wife has set up a competition with his past that she can never win because she won’t even try. She makes his past look better than what he’s doing with her, which is hardly what she’s going for!

I understand the fear of being compared to some past lover. I was once interested in a girl who had been a wild party thing before she got saved, and the idea of getting married and trying to live up to that was a bit daunting. But had I ended up with her, I would have wanted to know what she enjoyed in the past because it would help me be the best lover I could to her. The fact someone has learned what they like by engaging in sin doesn’t change the fact they have developed certain preferences. I don’t think we should feel we must do all those things, but rejecting them because of how they were discovered seems both unwise and unloving.

But what about the fear that “I will never do it as well as Mary Beth did it”? Seems to me doing it at all is going to bless him more than not doing it. I would certainly appreciate the effort, and I think most husbands would feel the same way.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and my wife didn’t have much to live up to.

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72 Comments on “Understandable, But A Bad Idea

  1. To me, it seems kind of dangerous, because comparison is kryptonite to a marriage. The request does set a ‘standard of performance’; it was enjoyed, after all.

    A comparison might be drawn to the situation in which a man wants his wife to cook meals ‘like mother used to make’; it’s something she can never really live up to, because it’s both meal AND ambience that are in play.

    And you’re right…not every man would appreciate a lap dance from a stranger. I sure wouldn’t.
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…Your Dying Spouse 374 – Caregiving For Our Country {FMF/#write31days}My Profile

    • I moved to Texas when I was in my early 20’s. All the flavors were new to me ~ barbecue, TexMex, and more. Years of Texas cuisine later those flavors are now my favorite and they say “home” to me. I love it when my husband fixes his TexMex enchaladas!

      What y’all are saying is that something that happened years ago is so strong an influence that years of marriage and building a relationship can’t stand up to it. That a man can’t set down an old memory in favor of a creative sex life with the woman he loves. That he can’t learn to love and anticipate what he and his wife do together in the bedroom.

      Are we really going to be afraid of that comparison? Are we going to cheat our spouse and ourselves out of something fun and intimate because we are afraid of a memory that is decades old? A faded memory is nothing compared to the sex life of spouses who delight in sexually pleasing each other.
      Lori Byerly recently posted…A Little Gratitude for His DayMy Profile

      • B, you’re the one he picked. You’re the one he loves. You’re the one he married. I’d say that makes you the best. Put a smile on your face, enjoy your life with your sweetie doing whatever you please, and leave those gals in the dust! They’ve got nothing on you.

        Just a suggestion … Try reading Without Rival by Bevere.
        Lori Byerly recently posted…A Little Gratitude for His DayMy Profile

        • I think it’s a bad plan to read something into another person’s choices and behavior, especially something that happened so long ago (he’s is who he is today, not who is was so many years ago).

          I would just take him at his word and delight in the fact that he chose you and that he wants to be with you.
          Lori Byerly recently posted…See Each Other in a New LightMy Profile

        • Well, I’m not in her situation, but my husband picked me but not for any of the reasons he picked his past girlfriends / sexual partners. We’re on 8 weeks of no sex now; any attempt at frequency just dropped when I started fertility treatments (which were apparently a get out of jail free card). So, he may have chosen to marry me, but he chose to screw a coworker until she was pregnant. With me, he chose to tell me that I was completely wrong about needing to time intercourse or have it more than once a month to conceive. I have chosen to invest in IVF because it’s the only way I can have children. And I know there is a very long list of sex acts that we discussed before we were married that he said he loved to do that he has never attempted and has rejected every time I’ve attempted.

          I think it’s important to note — history makes a HUGE difference. And the reasons that you get married make a huge difference — not everyone marries for romantic love. In my case, I honestly believe that my husband craved stability, loyalty, comfort, a sense of family, and that those things were significantly more important to him than sexual attraction. When push came to shove and we were actually married, he just did not have a foundation of sexual attraction toward me to work with. And here we are.

    • @Andrew – It may or may not have been enjoyed. But even if it was, it can’t begin to compare to what a loving wife does from her heart and her desire to pleasure her husband.

      I don’t think the cooking example works very well because sex is so much more than the physical action. I’ve heard men who said it was difficult or impossible to reach climax with a prostitute because she was so obviously bored and was just there for the money. There is some ability to block that out, especially for young men with over-the-top sex drives. You would be surprised how common it is for a man to find it difficult to get or maintain an erection with a prostitute, how many struggle to climax, and how many fake orgasm just to be done.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Once Bitten, Twice Shy, & Totally StuckMy Profile

  2. One more reason why waiting for marriage is a good idea.

    There are too many variables in this type of situation for there to be one right answer.
    What if he told you that he and Jane had threesomes with her best friend. He loved it and wanted to try that with you? Ok to refuse? What does that tell you about him?

    My husband told me one act he truly enjoyed with a specific girlfriend. I tried it but it is too physically painful for me. Now I feel I’m depriving him and often wonder if he dreams of those times with her because I can’t provide that pleasure for him. Wish I never new about that one.

    To turn this around hypothetically, what If I really liked some act I tried with a previous boyfriend. I told my husband I wanted to try it with him but it didn’t feel the same. Then husband wants to keep doing it because it brought me pleasure before, but it’s not so great with my husband and I want to move on to something else. How do I explain that to him?

    Personally I prefer not knowing about what my husband did with past girlfriends. I’d rather he just bring something up and we see if it fits for us. End of statement. Leaves out a lot of unnecessary room for questions and hurt.

    Paul, you said to B, “You have been fed a lot of lies about men!”
    Society is pretty adept at feeding us all lies about sexuality in general….including our own!

    • I was going to post about how my wife is the one who has had more experience than I. She is my first but I’m here third but it actually doesn’t bother me. But it’s because she doesn’t tell me it was better with him,thankfully. If she would have told me he was better at something I would have died inside so I understand you. My wife had done a lot of things with this guy and she let me ask her about everything one day. I was curious but I didn’t feel so jealous mostly because it was before she was a Christian. She didn’t want to be like that and the guy cheated on her so I don’t feel the need to compare to someone like that. And my wife has done all those things with me and she feels good about it now. She is very ashamed for her past but I see her as new in Christ so her past doesn’t bother me. But again, doesn’t tell me what she liked with him. Just told me once what she had done and I think it’s best to leave it at that and together find out what we like now.

  3. I married a widower, and he has said a little bit about his activities with his late wife, and I’m sometimes curious to know more, but it seems wrong and disrespectful to her memory. Yet I am curious! What was it like with her, what was different… I can see how much he enjoys what we do, though, so it doesn’t make me insecure. Maybe the secret is, men, make sure your wives see how much you enjoy intimacy with them!

    I want to absolutely agree with Jolie, it’s best to wait for marriage. I think my husband would have hesitated to get involved with a woman who was already experienced.

  4. If we associate sex with being safe and loved, and find it a fun, enjoyable act, we are probably less bothered by our spouse’s past. But if we associate sex with trauma and deep emotional pain, it’s already a frightening experience, and adding the memory of a past lover to the mix is just too much to bear.

    • Most men have not been to a strip club (more on that in another comment), and many who have were dragged by friends and their fear of looking less manly if they refused to go along. That may not make sense to you, but it’s reality. This is particularly true for young men when peer pressure is brutal. I’m not excusing his choice, but I think you should understand why it happened. We all give into sin because of peer pressure, and while it’s just as wrong, it doesn’t say the same thing about our character as doing the sin because we want to.
      Yeah, some guys are just creeps who go to strip clubs regularly – but I have heard nothing from you that indicates that is the case for your husband.
      I haven’t been to a strip club, much less had a lap dance, so I did some reading on the Internet from men who have – and I looked for guys who are not Christians. The men who like lap dances seem to be greatly outnumbered by those who do not. Lap dances are called gross, embarrassing, uncomfortable, horrible, awful, and things I won’t repeat. Even a lot of men who are all about strip clubs say they hate getting a lap dance. And several said it’s pretty much impossible to do it if you’re sober. Aside from the few who enjoy it, it seems to be more of an initiation/bonding/I-dare-you kind of thing. You’ve never been in a group of men so you don’t know what that’s like, but trust me it’s peer pressure on steroids. If a “friend” buys you a lap dance and you refuse it you lose face big time, and you will NEVER live it down.
      Again, I’m not excusing your husband, but what he told you about his experience sounds like what most men feel about getting a lap dance.
      As for messing with his memories of that lap dance, any difficulty he had with you doing it would be about dragging up his shame over what happened before. Some guys would refuse it for that reason, others would feel they don’t deserve it because of their past sin. But I can’t imagine any man who would reject such an offer from the woman he loves because he felt her performance would be inferior. Just the fact she is doing it out of love rather than for money makes it way better.
      Bottom line, I’m sorry your husband did what he did, and I believe he regrets it a great deal. I’m sorry his choice has hurt you and limited your sex life together. This post was to suggest it’s both his choice and your choice that limit your sex life. Do with that what you will.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Once Bitten, Twice Shy, & Totally StuckMy Profile

  5. This is why I am glad hubby keeps mum about his past. Although, he is so vanilla, I don’t have to worry about what he did with whom.

    His recollection is so skewed, anyway, colored by how he feels currently. For example, a friend showed us her ultrasound picture and he smiled and said to me, “I remember going to a couple of those with you.” I kept my mouth shut because I didn’t want to start anything, but he never went to any of my prenatal visits. None. Zip. He didn’t want to go and didn’t show any interest when I showed him the ultrasound pictures. So, where he got the whole “I remember going” thing, I will never know.

    He pulls up other “memories” between us and I know they never happened, or they were quite different. I could go confidently before God Himself and truthfully confess that they never happened, but in my hubby’s mind they did. Whether they are happy memories that never happened, or false accusations towards me….one would say he is gaslighting, but I don’t think it is deliberately done to hurt me. Sucks, though, and makes it very hard to deal with anything with him because he remembers it soooo differently.

    • You’d think, but my husband is super vanilla(missionary only, no foreplay), yet he watched porn to get kink variety and did a ton of stuff with other girlfriends that he’s told me about but has continuously refused to even try with me.

      Sexuality, and love, and relationships, are weird.

      • @sunny-dee – I’ve talked to plenty of men who won’t do things they see as kinky or wrong with their wife because they love her too much “to do that to her”. They had no problem doing those things with a girlfriend because the didn’t really love her.
        Some men use early girlfriends to “get out” the bad sexual urges they have. They don’t think of it as that at the time, but it’s what they are trying to do. Of course, it never works out well for them or their future marriage.
        Paul Byerly recently posted…Once Bitten, Twice Shy, & Totally StuckMy Profile

  6. Paul, this post makes me very, very sad. Let me preface my comments by saying that this has never been an issue in my marriage, so this is not personal for me.

    As I read your thoughts, I was putting myself in the place of a woman who might make those comments. If I felt like that, it’s probably not because I’m being punitive or am afraid of being compared with a previous lover, although I can see those things being true for some women in some cases. I’m sure it happens. However, if it were me, it would be because the thought of him sharing that with someone else would ruin it for me. The same way I wouldn’t enjoy slow dancing with him to a favorite song if I knew it had been “their song.”

    This blog postfelt very low on empathy. Especially: “I think the idea here is ‘I’m not going to compete with his past.'” and “In reality, his wife has set up a competition with his past that she can never win because she won’t even try.” It also felt like you were trying to explain XX in this post much more than you were trying to explain XY.

    “He sees his wife as the woman who refuses to do something she knows he enjoys.” This is the only comment in your whole post I could find that attempted to explain XY, and it basically accuses XY of generally lacking in empathy. God forgives the eternal consequences of our sin, but we still often experience the earthly and sometimes relational consequences. If a guy can’t see his part in his wife’s problem with it, that in itself is a big problem. Sex has it’s very important place in marriage, but in importance, empathy trumps sex EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

    This is not to say that a woman should have cart blanche to just not consider whatever act it is. *Not doing the act* is not what’s a bad idea. Maybe we can agree that *not doing the act WITHOUT talking about what it means or how to address the differences on the issue* is a bad idea?

    • Yes yes yes. Love this blog and all the Byerly’s work, but this comment perfectly summarizes my reaction also, and rings true when I think of women I know experiencing these situations

    • @T – With the exception of the last paragraph, I was showing how men think about this. Even the last paragraph shows that, but I did write that one as an XY guess at why women do what they do.
      At best a man sees his wife refusing him what a past girlfriend did as selfish, at worst he finds is punitive. It’s like she is going to punish him for it for the rest of his life. No love, no grace, and really no empathy.
      There is another thing – in most of these situations the wife is doing all kinds of things he did with a former girlfriend and is only refusing to do something he particularly enjoyed. This is more than her not wanting to do what he’s done with others, and the man knows it.
      If a man was honest about his past before marriage, or if he tried to be and she stopped him, then really his wife has no grounds for getting upset. Of course, it hurts, but she went into it knowing and presumably choose to make it work.
      If he hid his past from her it’s a much bigger mess, and for his wife being deeply hurt and hesitant is normal. It’s going to take some time and work by both of them to get past it. However, if his mentioning it causes her to refuse to ever do it with him, it certainly gives him good reason to never again talk about his past, and I see that as a problem.

      And yes, I agree some deep conversation is needed. That’s why I baulk at women who don’t want to know about his past. Real intimacy requires knowing each other fully. If either person refuses to share or tells the other to not share certain things, then that person does not want real intimacy.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Once Bitten, Twice Shy, & Totally StuckMy Profile

      • “There is another thing – in most of these situations the wife is doing all kinds of things he did with a former girlfriend and is only refusing to do something he particularly enjoyed. This is more than her not wanting to do what he’s done with others, and the man knows it.”

        Paul, you are mind-reading. You are projecting your own meaning on it, and giving male readers license to do the same. This attitude is another empathy failure. We can’t unilaterally decide “what it’s about” because it seems that way to us – go back and read your own post from September 13. Saying that doing other acts with him besides his favorite proves that it can’t be about hurt feelings associated with the act and she must be punishing him, is just like saying a man can’t pinch his wife’s love handles and say she’s frumpy if he finds her attractive. I understand your perspective, I see how it could feel that way to a man, and I see how it could be true in some cases, but that doesn’t make it universally true. This discussion we are having is based entirely on perception.

        So, imagine this scenario: I know he slow danced with another woman. Even though it makes me sad to think about it, I can still slow dance with him and enjoy it. But that song that was their special song – it’s just too much for me.

        “At best a man sees his wife refusing him what a past girlfriend did as selfish, at worst he finds is punitive. It’s like she is going to punish him for it for the rest of his life. No love, no grace, and really no empathy.”

        Really, Paul? Seriously? This is the *entire gamut* of XY thinking? And you are an expert on this, just because you happen to have XY chromosomes? I just can’t believe that the empathetic man is non-existent. Sure, there are some men that will believe their wife is selfish and punitive just because they don’t get their own way, but I don’t believe that can be generalized to all men. Just like I believe there are some women who use sex to punish their husbands, but that cannot be generalized to all women.

        “Gee honey, although I would really like to enjoy this particular act with you, I can understand how it might make you sad or feel disrespected. It’s more important to me to build a sex life that we share and enjoy together, than to insist on getting my favorite at your expense. Especially since the problem was my own creation, it would really not be fair of me to blame you for the problem. Let’s explore and create new favorites that belong to you and me, and nobody else. However, I hope that eventually we can get to the place where you feel loved and secure enough to be able to enjoy this thing with me, because I would really love to share it with you and in my reality it has nothing to do with her. But I can see how it could feel that way to you, and I don’t want to disrespect you or make you feel unloved by pressuring you for it.”

        So, this generous husband is the stuff of legends, like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster? I don’t think so. I have more faith in men than that. I know you hear the stories of countless men and you feel their pain; please consider that the majority of men you hear from are not representative of men in general. You’re probably not going to hear from this guy, because he probably ends up with a happy relationship. You are hearing from men who are hurting and frustrated, and it’s probably the fault of both people. If he jumps to the conclusion that she is selfish, cruel, and punishing him because she won’t do one specific act that he wants – that is not because he is XY. That is because he is seeking his own. It’s a victim mentality.

        • @T – Okay you’re right. I should have said that’s what he thinks – and thinks he knows it. I’ve talked to enough men in person and electronically to know this is the common reaction. As for projecting I’ve never been in this situation, so I have nothing to project!

          A man looks at the 100 sexual things he did with his girlfriend(s) and the fact that his wife does 87 of them with him. That makes it seem like her not doing the 13 is not because he did those with another woman. It’s really that simple.

          I understand what you’re saying about empathy, and you have a point, but it’s way more complex than “He did it with someone else.” If that’s all a man gets he knows it’s not the truth because of all the other things he did with other women that his wife happily does with him. He may or may not guess at the full truth, but he knows what she is saying can’t possibly be the whole truth, and that tends to short circuit empathy.

          Your next to last paragraph is great, it’s what I have advised many, many men to do in this situation. It’s how I hope I would have reacted if I’d been faced with this. It’s the only right thing to do. But when she refuses just a few things, all of them high on his list, it feels like something more. It’s not just about his past, it’s also about her insecurity and fears. If she can own even a bit of that it makes a huge difference.

          Are there men who react as you suggest without getting a more vulnerable and honest statement from their wife? Yes. But they are not the norm. And if it continues without any change from her for years and years, most of those men will stop being “understanding”.
          Paul Byerly recently posted…Pain Relief vs A Real FixMy Profile

          • Thank you, Paul. That means a lot to me.

            Sorry, I think projecting was not the right word. Just that it seemed like you were reading into the comments (the ones which inspired your post) the things that made sense to you. To me, the main ingredient of empathy is to be able to acknowledge that someone else has a different reality than your own, and give them the benefit of the doubt until you have a clear understanding. I couldn’t feel that in the post, or in the previous discussion, but I do now.

            I told you that this issue (sex acts with former lovers) wasn’t personal for me, but in reality our discussion indeed is personal for me. I reacted personally as I did, not to your topic, but to how it was presented. My husband was just recently diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. Among other things, that includes being very low on empathy, and “Splitting.”

            https://www.verywell.com/what-is-splitting-425210

            Having lived through 29 years of “Splitting” and low empathy, I admit I have a hair trigger on this. It is important to me that people be given the benefit of the doubt, and that issues aren’t presented as black or white, even if they don’t apply to me personally. I think this is also what Jolie was getting at, and thanks to Holly too for the validation. I tried very hard to try to frame my original comment on this post in terms of “this is what I experienced” as opposed to a criticism of the post. I apologize for the harshness of my subsequent comment. (This hair trigger was also a factor in my poor response to Nick Peters awhile back, even though I don’t withhold sex.)

            Last thought: “It’s not just about his past, it’s also about her insecurity and fears.” Yes, absolutely. Unless…. it’s about a sense of grief or loss about what could have been, or should have been. Or, it could be that she has selfishly allowed such a grief to grow into bitterness and resentment. In any case, I’m starting to think that “lack of participation in the favored sex act” is never the issue; it’s merely the outfit that the issue is wearing. The problem is rooted in fighting over the outfit instead of mutually exploring the issue.

            • @T – I’m making two separate replies on this.

              First on splitting. That’s a new term for me, but I’ve known a couple of people (male and female) who are certainly like that. It can be very difficult to deal with folks like that! You have my prayers.

              No harm or foul on the sensitivity. I could tell I was hitting something, but from all you’ve said before, I didn’t think it was about sex. I appreciate your explaining.
              Paul Byerly recently posted…Friday Flashback: Why Women CheatMy Profile

            • @T “I’m starting to think that “lack of participation in the favored sex act” is never the issue; it’s merely the outfit that the issue is wearing.”

              Well stated. The frustration I hear from men is related to this. What his wife says can’t possibly be the truth, or not the whole truth, and that leaves him to fill in the blanks himself. (Not a good plan, but it’s what humans do.) The most logical explanation for most men is that she is punishing him. If she never offers an alternative explanation, he camps on that and grows angry and bitter.

              As for empathy, I might have been acting out of too much empathy for the men who deal with this when I wrote my post. Comments precipitated the timing of this post, but it’s something I’ve heard many times, and there is a great deal of pain involved for the men involved. I’ve never found a good way for a man to bring about change in this because any mention of it upsets his wife even more. I agree mutually exploring the issue is the way to go, but is there any way for the husband to initiate that?

              I tell men to drop it. Don’t ask, don’t hint, and don’t expect it. Surrender it and pray that she will someday have a change of heart. Unfortunately by the time a man does this he has usually pushed it for so long his wife hates the very thought of the act. It’s like her reaction to it is splitting!
              Paul Byerly recently posted…Friday Flashback: Why Women CheatMy Profile

              • “I agree mutually exploring the issue is the way to go, but is there any way for the husband to initiate that?”

                Sure, absolutely I believe there is! Based on what I learned in Gottman counseling, if I were coaching I would suggest something like this, to be modified depending on circumstances: “Honey, I’m not asking for [act] right now, but I was hoping we could talk about our differences over [act.] I’m having trouble not seeing this as you punishing me, but I also don’t see you as a vindictive person. I’m trying very hard to not end up resentful, and it might be easier for me if I understood your perspective better. Are you willing to help me with that? What does this issue mean to you personally?”

                Then, shut up and listen. Ask clarifying questions if necessary. Don’t tell her she’s wrong, or argue her points. When she’s done, repeat what she says in your own words and ask if you got it right. Allow her to correct any misunderstandings, and repeat the process. Don’t get angry or try to argue your side. (You can do that later.) Finally, try to look for a way to validate her, even if you don’t agree. For instance, “Yeah, I guess if I saw it that way, I wouldn’t want to do it, either.” or “It sounds like [XYZ] is a really big deal to you.” This is an amazing formula for empathy, and it leads to intimacy, too.

                At the end of the chat, thank her for being willing to share, tell her how much it means to you, and give her a hug. If she was not willing to share, I’d say it’s on her and the fellow has done what he can at the moment. Maybe try again in a month or two.

                If she wants to ask about your viewpoint during the discussion, go ahead and share – if you can do so without any criticism, using “I” statements, etc. If things start to get heated, suggest a continuance to a time when the situation can be handled without making things worse. Enlist the help of a counselor if necessary. (Especially a Gottman-certified one!)

                If she doesn’t ask about your viewpoint, save that for another conversation, maybe in a day or two, beginning with something like “Thanks again for sharing your viewpoint with me. I’m not asking us to do [act] or even agree to it, but it would mean a lot to me if I knew you really understood what [act] means to me, too.”

                • @T – Your approach is good, but more often than not she stops listening as soon as he says [act], and she certainly is not going to discuss it in any way, shape, or fashion. Most of the time a good part of that is the fact he has brought it up so many times in the past that she has no tolerance for it.
                  I agree a counsellor is a good idea (and I’m a fan of Gottman), but getting her to do that for anything related to sex is unlikely. Or they go to counselling for months and months and sex is never addressed because of her resistance.
                  Basically, her avoidance is not the problem, it’s how she protects herself. You can’t deal with the avoidance by addressing the problem because she is avoiding dealing with the problem.
                  Sorry to be so negative on this – I’ve just heard it so many times. Successes are very few and far between, and almost always a result of the woman making an internal decision motivated by her relationship with God.
                  Paul Byerly recently posted…How We React Exposes UsMy Profile

              • P.S. I don’t think there’s such a thing as too much empathy for the men, we just have to be careful to spread it around to everyone!!!

  7. Just FYI, Paul is at a men’s retreat this weekend. He was able to make some comments as he drove down there on Friday, but the retreat center is so far out in the boonies that there is no cell service or wifi. He will be back home later today and can respond more fully then.
    Lori Byerly recently posted…A Warm Winter TreatMy Profile

  8. Most men have not been to a strip club (more on that in another comment), and many who have were dragged by friends and their fear of looking less manly if they refused to go along. That may not make sense to you, but it’s reality. This is particularly true for young men when peer pressure is brutal. I’m not excusing his choice, but I think you should understand why it happened. We all give into sin because of peer pressure, and while it’s just as wrong, it doesn’t say the same thing about our character as doing the sin because we want to.

    I haven’t been to a strip club, much less had a lap dance, so I did some reading on the Internet from men who have – and I looked for guys who are not Christians. The men who like lap dances seem to be greatly outnumbered by those who do not. Lap dances are called gross, embarrassing, uncomfortable, horrible, awful, and things I won’t repeat. Even a lot of men who are all about strip clubs say they hate getting a lap dance. And several said it’s pretty much impossible to do it if you’re sober. Aside from the few who enjoy it, it seems to be more of an initiation/bonding/I-dare-you kind of thing. You’ve never been in a group of men so you don’t know what that’s like, but trust me it’s peer pressure on steroids. If a “friend” buys you a lap dance and you refuse it you lose face big time, and you will NEVER live it down.

    As for messing with his memories of that lap dance, any difficulty he had with you doing it would be about dragging up his shame over what happened before. Some guys would refuse it for that reason, others would feel they don’t deserve it because of their past sin. But I can’t imagine any man who would reject such an offer from the woman he loves because he felt her performance would be inferior. Just the fact she is doing it out of love rather than for money makes it way better.

    Bottom line, I’m sorry your husband did what he did, and I believe he regrets it a great deal. I’m sorry his choice has hurt you and limited your sex life together. This post was to suggest it’s both his choice and your choice that limit your sex life. Do with that what you will.
    Paul Byerly recently posted…Once Bitten, Twice Shy, & Totally StuckMy Profile

  9. Well, I’m not in her situation, but my husband picked me but not for any of the reasons he picked his past girlfriends / sexual partners. We’re on 8 weeks of no sex now; any attempt at frequency just dropped when I started fertility treatments (which were apparently a get out of jail free card). So, he may have chosen to marry me, but he chose to screw a coworker until she was pregnant. With me, he chose to tell me that I was completely wrong about needing to time intercourse or have it more than once a month to conceive. I have chosen to invest in IVF because it’s the only way I can have children. And I know there is a very long list of sex acts that we discussed before we were married that he said he loved to do that he has never attempted and has rejected every time I’ve attempted.

    I think it’s important to note — history makes a HUGE difference. And the reasons that you get married make a huge difference — not everyone marries for romantic love. In my case, I honestly believe that my husband craved stability, loyalty, comfort, a sense of family, and that those things were significantly more important to him than sexual attraction. When push came to shove and we were actually married, he just did not have a foundation of sexual attraction toward me to work with. And here we are.

  10. I think it’s a bad plan to read something into another person’s choices and behavior, especially something that happened so long ago (he’s is who he is today, not who is was so many years ago).

    I would just take him at his word and delight in the fact that he chose you and that he wants to be with you.

    • Well, in my case, he wants to be married with me, but he doesn’t want to have sex with me. Or invite his friends over here or have me out with his friends. Or do “fun” things with me because he said I’m not fun. Or talk with me, unless he’s really stressed and needs to vent.

      It’s really hard to “delight” in watching the same reruns of Big Bang Theory and then having him hide in the bedroom and watch Netflix by himself, with headphones, until he goes to sleep.

      I know why he married me for some reasons — money, stability, a house with pets. But, on the day to day? Aside from the fact I make dinner and walk the dogs, there’s no difference to his life between a normal day and when I’m gone on a business trip.

      I actually think that he is getting emotional needs met, and so he values being married to me. But I live in a very tight little box. I am needed for #reasons, but I am not loved.

  11. A note: Several comments were removed by the request of the author. Comments that were just in reply to those were also removed. I reported a couple that went beyond just a reply above.

    One of the lost comments was from a man who said, “Most guys have had a lap dance.” I wanted to address this. It’s tough to find statistics, but according to Bernice Kanner, author of “When It Comes to Guys, What’s Normal?” 13% of US men have EVER been to a strip club. Another source says 80% of those have had a lap dance. So less than one man in 10 has had a lap dance. There are probably subcultures where it’s close to the majority of men and others subcultures where it’s one man in 100.
    Paul Byerly recently posted…Once Bitten, Twice Shy, & Totally StuckMy Profile

  12. Thank you for removing the comments. I apologize for going on a “rant”, this is a very painful topic for me.

    In rereading your response to another commenter, maybe I can explain a little “xx” on this:

    “At best a man sees his wife refusing him what a past girlfriend did as selfish, at worst he finds is punitive. It’s like she is going to punish him for it for the rest of his life. No love, no grace, and really no empathy.”

    For me, and I certainly can’t speak for all women, but for me it’s not about that at all. Not about being selfish, or punitive. It’s not about a lack of grace or empathy. For me, it’s about not setting myself up to fail. It’s about not putting myself out there to come up short in the comparison department. It’s about knowing I’m lacking, and not wanting to reinforce my lack of “worth” or “ability” to him. It’s about self protection.

    And because there were a couple things he knew I wanted to do for him, but he still never asked me or attempted them, shows me he doesn’t think I’d be worth the try. That’s all it is. There’s no malice intended.

    • @B – If my girlfriend had been the best ever at oral sex (in reality she never got her mouth anywhere near there) I would still enjoy and appreciate Lori making an effort at oral. Something less than what I had once had would be a lot better than her not even trying.
      Besides, practice makes perfect!
      As for his not asking, it may be he has decided asking for anything is too risky. It may be that your fear is keeping you from offering and his fear is keeping him from asking.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Why So Snippy?My Profile

      • Maybe. Isn’t that sad? That we are both going to miss out on what might’ve been good, because of our respective fears.

        Although, my husband is a pretty brave and forthright guy. He’s not afraid of much. If he’s not afraid of the crews of tough men he works with, or the difficult jobs he runs, I find it really hard to believe he could be afraid of me or anything I might say.

        But maybe.

        • My wife had sex with probably 10-15 different boyfriends before we were married while I was a virgin. Recently I bought some edible massage oils to use in the marriage bed and she angrily told me to put them away. “I’m not sucking your d–k, you can forget that!”

          I suppose I should be sympathetic toward wives who don’t want to be compared to past girlfriends and might have trouble engaging in sex acts they knew their husbands did before. But here I am WANTING a sex act that my wife won’t perform because it reminds her of what SHE did before our marriage.

          Add insult to injury and throw in generous helpings of humiliation.

          • @RickyB – Personally I find what your wife is doing a lot more understandable. Doing those things will bring back memories she would rather forget.

            I would argue she needs to work through those things so she’s not limiting your sex life because of her past. It’s not easy or fun, but it can be done. Of course, that doesn’t mean she is going to want to do oral on you. Maybe she really dislikes it, and always has. But at least then it’s her real preferences, not her past, that are the stop.
            Paul Byerly recently posted…Friday Flashback: Single Minded Leaves Her No Choice?My Profile

  13. Might this post represent an example of boundaries vs gatekeeping?
    It all comes down to motive, heart, and reasons?

  14. @Paul, continued from above in reply to Oct. 15, 7:41:

    If there is a concern that she may stop listening, then the man can write a letter instead of having a face-to-face. (This way, he can have a neutral party check his approach and word choice, too!)

    If [act] has become such a point of contention that she automatically shuts down at the mere mention of it (like a Pavlovian thing – been there, done that) the letter may need to start with an apology for his part in getting to this place. And it may need to say that he doesn’t want to discuss [act] right now, but wants to discuss how talking about [act] in the past has affected the relationship and his attitude toward it. Gotta peel the onion one layer at a time.

  15. Hi again Paul,

    This comment has been nagging at me. “Sorry to be so negative on this – I’ve just heard it so many times. Successes are very few and far between, and almost always a result of the woman making an internal decision motivated by her relationship with God.”

    I’m still getting a one-sided vibe, but I’m not sure whether you’re saying that it’s always the woman who needs a change of heart, or if the chances of a man changing his heart is miniscule. I’m not comfortable with either conclusion; maybe I’ve missed your point entirely. Can you shed any light on your meaning?

    Sometimes it’s not the mere quantity of discussions that’s causing the disconnect. It’s that he’s been bitter about it. If the common reaction for the man, as you seem to think, is to see his wife as punishing him, it would be very easy to become bitter. Colossians 3:19 says “Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.” It could be either the man, or the woman, or both, who need to do the changing.

    • @T – My comments here build on each other – they do not apply to all couples or all wives.

      Earlier in the thread saying “Unfortunately by the time a man does this he has usually pushed it for so long his wife hates the very thought of the act.” I am fully aware of how men make a mess of this for themselves by nagging, complaining, and generally being a pain in the butt. By the time they get the kind of good advice you gave, they have put their wife off sex and put her in fear of discussing sex. This is why “I tell men to drop it. Don’t ask, don’t hint, and don’t expect it. Surrender it and pray that she will someday have a change of heart.”

      Once a couple has reached this sad point, it is very rare for anything a husband or a counsellor does to make a difference. I realise that’s my personal experience, but I’ve heard the same from plenty of others who work with couples. For what it’s worth I see men do the same thing when their wife has nagged them about something for a long time. Even if she becomes loving and reasonable he is done.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…There Are No (Good) Marriage ShortcutsMy Profile

      • For either gender on any issue, if persistence is the only problem, then it’s okay to drop it. But if there has been any bitterness, the relationship has been breached by this (in addition to any issues that may have led to the bitterness. ) In order to repair it, the bitter spouse needs to repent and ask for forgiveness, not just “drop it.” IMO, even if there were no words spoken in bitterness but there was resentment held in the heart, you can be sure that the message was transmitted through non-verbal communication.

        • @T – In theory you’re right. In practice, it’s just one more time he’s bring up sex, and often that does more harm than good. When a woman would choose a root canal without anaesthesia over her husband talking about sex, there are just no good ways to talk about sex. That, and most of the time the husband feels there is nothing for him to repent about. Dropping it because it’s the only wise thing to do is possible. Honestly repenting when you feel you are the one who has been wronged is not.
          Again, this is not everyone. This is couples where the man had been beating a dead horse for a long time.
          Paul Byerly recently posted…Eleven Cents & 3 Clamps Later…My Profile

  16. Paul, I really do understand that we are talking about very specific circumstances.  You haven’t lost me there.  In fact, we keep whittling down the scenario.  Cumulatively including your most recent comments, we are now talking about a situation in which a wife does not perform a particular sex act that the man wants, and consequently he sees her as punitive.  He feels resentful and bitter, and he believes he has been wronged.  Furthermore, he believes he himself has done nothing wrong, even though he has been “beating a dead horse for a long time” instead of addressing the issue in an appropriate and loving manner.

    You stated two things that are very significant when considered together:  1) In this situation, you tell the men to drop it and pray that she will have a change of heart, and 2) You’ve heard this so many times, but successes are few and far between.  Doesn’t this indicate that a new approach is needed?

    Based on your responses, I’m not sure I’m communicating well enough.  I am hearing you say that the husband bringing up the sex issue is doomed to failure because of all that has led up to this point.  I agree.  In fact, in the scenario we’ve defined, it is not just ineffective but also unscriptural, based on Matthew 7:3-5.  It’s not about initiating a discussion of the sex act.  I’m advocating discussing his bitterness associated with the disagreement over the sex act.  Repenting of bitterness and seeking reconciliation after the damage it has caused is a prerequisite to even addressing the differences over the sex act.

    In the context we have mutually outlined, we have created as a “given” that the man is harboring sin in his life.  You’ve defined the man as bitter and resentful.  (Colossians 3:19 Husbands…do not be embittered.)  You’ve defined the man as feeling like he’s been wronged.  By definition, “[love] keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Cor. 13:5)   You said, “Honestly repenting when you feel like you are the one who has been wronged is not [possible.]”  ???  Huh?  In light of 1 Cor. 13:5, that is like saying “honestly repenting when you are unrepentant is not possible.”

    We have not created a “given” regarding the spiritual state of the wife.  We do know that she does not agree to a particular act, which itself is not wrong.  We do not know her motivation or how she has treated her husband throughout the process.  Moreover, the spiritual state of the wife is irrelevant at this stage of the intervention, if he is to follow the scriptural guidance to not keep a record of wrongs and deal with his own sin before he confronts his wife.

    “Drop it and pray that she will someday have a change of heart” can certainly keep the man from making things even worse.   But it doesn’t help make things better.  It’s not part of the solution.  It’s basically saying, “Let’s pray she’ll face her [possible] sin so you don’t have to face yours.”  “Drop it and pray” is not the only wise thing to do; maybe it’s just the only wise thing he’s willing to do.  It’s not the just the expectation of the sex act that he needs to drop.  It’s the bitterness and attitude of being wronged that he needs to drop.  The scriptural charge to the counselor is to seek to restore him in a spirit of gentleness.  (Galatians 6:1)

    Finally, I hope you don’t define “success” as the wife giving him the act that he wants. A man is entitled to have his sexual needs attended to, but he is not inherently entitled to any particular sexual act. I would define “success” as lovingly working together through the gridlock surrounding the conflict, which would hopefully (but not necessarily) include coming to a place where they can both enjoy that act together.

    (Disclaimer, none of this was to let the wife off the hook, that’s a whole other discussion.  But the whole point of the post was to talk about XY and his perspective, right?)

    • @T – It’s not just that she’s not doing it, it’s why she says she’s not doing it. And “you enjoyed it with someone else” is seen as a particularly lame reason.
      As for “‘beating a dead horse for a long time’ instead of addressing the issue in an appropriate and loving manner” it is probably more a matter of his loving and appropriate didn’t get him a response in kind and so it degenerated.
      I don’t disagree any bitterness on his part is a problem, but it’s not the only problem. A lot of decent guys are limited to a very few sex acts because of their wife’s total control over sex. Bitterness is a pretty likely response to seemingly arbitrary control, and if the control isn’t addressed the bitterness is going to start again.
      Please understand this kind of thing doesn’t happen just because a man is selfish. The men I’m talking about are married to women who have significant sexual issues; issues they aren’t willing to address. ANYTHING he does to try to discuss any area of the problem is seen as negative by her. Even telling her he is sorry for how he has acted is going to upset her and cost him.

      Honestly, we’ve moved way past the intention of the post. From his perspective refusing to do something because he enjoyed it with another woman is bogus. It feels petty and punitive. That doesn’t make it those things, but it is how virtually all men would feel about it. That was what I was trying to communicate.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Let It Go (Already!)My Profile

  17. “The men I’m talking about are married to women who have significant sexual issues; issues they aren’t willing to address.” How do you know? Did they tell you?

    I like your re-phrase of the intention of the post very much, though. So we agree it’s not the absence of the act that’s the problem, it’s just that you need to examine your heart, and be careful to avoid misunderstandings about it. Like, it’s better to use “I” statements; instead of “because YOU did that with her” it’s better to say “I feel too sad to do it because I think of you enjoying it so much with her.” Or whatever other “I” statement happens to be your personal truth.

  18. @T – We’ve had plenty of women tell us they have no interest in sex, or they could live just fine without ever having sex again, or they wish their husband would, “stop bothering” them or lose his sex drive. We’ve also talked to women who had a “sexual awakening” after one or more decades of marriage, and they say they were as I indicated. And, we’ve talked to counsellors who deal with this kind of thing. I realise extrapolating this to any particular woman may seem like a stretch, but when someone who knows ducks says it walks and quacks like a duck, there is a good chance it’s a duck.

    Yes, it would be great if the wife could give some introspective I statements. But if she has no interest in examining sex, that’s not going to happen. It’s human nature to avoid uncomfortable things like this by putting them on someone else.
    Paul Byerly recently posted…Friday Flashback: Single Minded Leaves Her No Choice?My Profile

    • Paul, you’re off topic – remember we’re not talking about women who avoid sex. We’re talking about a couple that is gridlocked over one specific sexual act, a sexual favorite that was enjoyed with a past lover.

      Let’s focus on the heart of the issue. Your desired title: “Why Denying Him A Sex Act He’s Done With Someone Else Is A Really Bad Idea” Your supporting argument: “Because the majority of men will view that as a lame and bogus reason.

      This isn’t about sex. This isn’t about sin. This is about gridlock.

      “Why Giving Him A Sex Act He’s Done With Someone Else Simply Because He’ll Think You’re Punitive If You Don’t Because He Thinks Your Explanation Is Lame and Bogus Is A Really Bad Idea”

      Because a solid relationship is built on trust and understanding each other.  In order to move past gridlock in a healthy way, both partners should be able to accurately understand, explain, and validate each others’ feelings and positions to each others’ satisfaction.  If he views your reason as lame and bogus, he is not doing that.  Sure, a woman can just give in and do it and the gridlock will go away, but that comes at the expense of the relationship.  But the same is also true if he just gives in.  So you have to work through the gridlock in order for the relationship to be healthy.

      Now, you keep “Yeah, but what if”-ing me.  But what if she won’t even talk about it?  Yeah, that’s wrong and it sucks.  It indicates that the relationship is not built on a solid foundation of mutual trust and cooperation. It takes two cooperating to work through the gridlock.  Which is why I stick to my original thought from my original comment: “Avoiding a Particular Sex Act Because He Did It With Someone Else Isn’t A Bad Idea But Refusing To Do It Without Sharing What It Means To Each Other And Then Working Through Gridlock Is A Bad Idea.”

      BTW, on that note, love today’s post.  It had nothing to do with our conversation, right? (Wink)

      • @T – Saying it’s not about sex is only true if the couple does the same thing in other areas of their life. If they don’t, then the fact it’s sex is a major part of the issue.

        It’s not as much about gridlock as it is stonewalling. You have read Gottman, so I know you understand what that is. Gootman says “Rather than confronting the issue, someone who is stonewalling will be totally unresponsive, making evasive maneuvers such as tuning out, turning away, acting busy, or engaging in obsessive behaviors.” There is no dealing with that, not talking it out, you are just done.

        Yes having an open discussion would be great. Sadly most men who try this find it doesn’t work. Not all, but most.

        As for today’s post, it’s been scheduled for a while and was written earlier this week. But I have no doubt our discussion has coloured it. And I’m good with that!
        Paul Byerly recently posted…Friday Flashback: Single Minded Leaves Her No Choice?My Profile

        • Okay, Paul – we’re getting somewhere. I think we may be almost ready to put this thing to rest. Let me see if I can accurately state your viewpoint.

          Your concern is that you have seen so many couples who have moved past the point where they are able to talk about the subject and have become gridlocked. Then they deteriorate to the point where the wife is stonewalling. “Because you did it with someone else, end of story” is the outfit the stonewalling is wearing. That is the vibe that you were getting from the comments which inspired your post. In an effort to show empathy, you acknowledged that the whole messy thing might be a result of fear and insecurity about competing with his past, and suggested a new way of thinking about it – instead of just blaming the women for being stubborn and hard-headed.

          How did I do? Which parts did I miss?

          • @T – That is a good outline of what often happens. Three bad choices – first from her due to fear and self-doubt, then him out of selfishness, then her because she’s just tired of the whole thing.

            That said, the intention of the post was to explain to women how men see refusing something just because he enjoyed it with another in the past. On that count, today’s TGH post has an example I wish I’d thought of when I was writing this. (And see the comment from Andrew as an example of how men feel about this!)
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            • I went and read your TGH post. I don’t disagree with it, but it still seems too narrow. I feel sad again because we went back and forth so many times but I don’t think you heard me. Oh well. I tried.

              • Oh the irony. I just scrolled through yesterday’s generous husband post, and the second paragraph perfectly described what it feels like I’ve been on the receiving end of in this discussion. I never felt heard our understood, and eventually I gave up. I think I have a new appreciation for how stonewalling can get started. “why should I talk about it if he’s not going to really listen, but just wants to give me the answers?”

                • Well you had the opportunity. I tried to show that I understood your view, and I gave you the opportunity to clarify. If I didn’t understand you could’ve said so, but you said I got it right. You can’t say you’re a fan of Gottman just ’cause you liked reading his books.

  19. This post, the comments and the post on the generous husband blog raises some questions: 1) why do men get hung up on one sex act? It’s one thing for heavens sake, just drop it and move on. This really does seem selfish from a woman’s point of view. Kind of th I sinned you expect you to pay for it dynamic 2) why in the name of all that is good and holy would you mention having enjoyed it with a previous girlfriend??! That just seems tactless to the extreme. Did any guy really think going on about how much he liked doing it with the ex would have any other result than shutting the wife down? Why not mention it in a neutral context? Like a sensible person?

    The easy way to avoid this is 1) don’t have pre-marital sex and 1b) if you did, for the love of everything, keep your mouth shut about details. Gentlemen don’t kiss and tell. Just mentioning you had sex, you tested negative for STD’s and there are no children is more than enough info.

    • @alchemist – First and foremost I think this shows a deep difference in how men and women think. Not all of each group, but most.
      I don’t know that it’s as much the sex act as what’s seen as an unrealistic or dishonest reason given for not doing it. I’m not saying it’s those things, but it’s how most men will see it. That was the point of this post – that while it may seem reasonable to the wife, it’s going to communicate something different to her husband.
      1) I sinned and expect you to pay for it? Not seeing that. He sinned and in the process, he gained some information about what he likes. Is he supposed to see that information as irrevocably wrong because of how he gained it?
      2) Why would you not? Is this so horrible it must never be spoken? I see “don’t ask, don’t tell” as the opposite of fully knowing each other. Please note I’m not talking about “going on” about it (others have added that in the comments). He can say “I’ve done XYZ in the past and enjoyed it, can we try it?” If neutral context means not charing you’ve done it before, I see that as dishonest.

      Do most women really want their husband’s past to be a deep dark secret that is never revealed? I just don’t get that, and neither do most other men.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Roll Those Massage Dice!My Profile

      • 1) Yes. He wasn’t supposed to be doing it. He did, he wounded her and caused her deep insecurity and feelings of inferiority and now she’s supposed to suck it up. Just because he’s not willing to forgo some physical pleasure. That seems deeply unfair. Cruel even. I don’t really see how this is different than other cases where you suggest that men should chill out and slow down because their pre-marital sins caused their comfort zones to be miles wide.

        2) Yes again. My husband did that once, years before we were even engaged. He mentioned how he had enjoyed oral before. Just that. I knew he had been sexually active before this point. But that was like a kick in the gut. I was upset for days and my feelings for the act went from mild distaste to physically feeling ill when thinking about it. I got over it, eventually and I don’t have a problem doing it now. But it took me over 2 years.

        He maybe saw I didn’t take it too well (I didn’t say a word, but he’s perceptive). He’s not done it again. I absolutely do not want him to. I don’t want to know what he did, who he did it, when he did it, what he liked, what he saw, nothing. I don’t need that kind of emotional rollercoaster in my life. If he just suggests something, or just tries something I’m fine with that. I don’t need to know where the request comes from. All it does is causes hurt, resentment, grief, and a profound feeling of unsafeness which I can not control. No matter how irrational it is. It’s done, it’s in the past and it’s irrelevant to our current situation. So yes, not telling helps me to know him better. I’m not blind, I can see if he enjoys something he suggests. So, same info, less drama = win.

        • @alchemist – So the whole “I want us to be able to share anything” comes with an undocumented list of exceptions?

          I hope that doesn’t sound nasty, I just don’t know how else to express what I think I’m hearing.
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          • Not an undocumented list, just one. Don’t tell me about your past sex life. Like libl said in the Spaghetti post; don’t need to know, don’t want to know, don’t need to intrude on your past intimate relationships. Sharing intimate details seems to have a touch of voyeurism, honestly. Just, no.

            Sharing specifics is like placing a stumbling block in my path. It presents a serious temptation to unforgiveness, self-righteousness, suspicion, jealousy, fear and bitterness and for what? So you feel better? Am I your priest or confessor or something?

            Like I said, it’s past and done. It can’t he helped, and it can only cause hurt. This particular issue has the very real potential of completely wrecking your sex life. Or at the very least cause your wife serious mental anguish. That’s not loving and does not promote intimacy at all. Especially if the goal – knowing what your partner enjoys in bed, expanding your sexual repertoire, or whatever a guy thinks he’s going to achieve with telling his wife what he did with his ex – can be accomplished much more easily by just requesting you do something, without that little piece of backstory.

            I really don’t see what you think can be gained from telling her what you did with who and how much you enjoyed/ didn’t enjoy it. Most marriage/ sex bloggers counsel against full disclosure of past sex acts and I think they are right. What if she did try and and hated it? Then what? Like CSL like’s to say, it’s y’alls sex life. So in a very real sense, what you did before is complete irrelevant. One half of your sex life changed when you got with her. What’s the use of dragging up the past and inviting comparison? So you want to kicking her in a very raw, deep wound (you’re not good enough, you’ll never be good enough, you can never live up to past experience/ porn, he only wants you for your body, he only likes sex not you etc.), and then she might not like for whatever reason and then you end up without it anyway.

            • @alchemist – I could give all kinds of examples where not talking about it causes problems. Real examples.

              But for me the bigger issue if either we can talk about everything or we can’t. I want the first, not the second. Everything, not everything except whatever.
              Paul Byerly recently posted…Roll Those Massage Dice!My Profile

              • You have real life examples where a husband said “I’d like to try this” instead of “I like this, let’s try it” or “I used to do this with so-and-so and I liked it, let’s do it” and that caused problems?

                Like J and Sunny-Dee has mentioned. The first is a neutral statement, actual need to know information the second and third statements is a direct comparison. I liked doing this with another woman so much I’m asking for it again. So you’re confronted with the thought of him with another woman, you’ve got a specific picture because he mentioned a specific act, he’s saying he liked being with the other woman (or the act, but he did it with the other woman) and the wife is supposed to be ok with this?

                You’re saying direct comparisons of her sexual attractiveness/ ability/ prowness/ whatever invites intimacy?

                I suppose that sharing eveything should be the goal, but maybe I find that too daunting. Remember, you’ve been married 30 years. That’s a long time. You can’t expect a < 2 year marriage to have the same level of intimacy than a 30 + year one. You can’t force intimacy either. Especially if your haste to disclose everything seriously injures your bride.

                • @alchemist – Examples of not sharing about the past causing problems. The truth has a way of coming out, and that can be really ugly. Overhearing your husband’s old college buddy ask if you (his wife) give as good a BJs as Betty-Sue is a disaster.

                  On the second paragraph – Yes, I now understand that is what a lot of women are hearing in those words. That doesn’t mean it’s what the man is saying. Yes, he should learn to say it so she hears what he means. And yes, she should learn to not read into it what he didn’t say.

                  What comparison? There is no comparison, not in his mind. I can sort of understand how a woman would hear that, but it’s not what the man is saying.

                  I agree we shouldn’t share more than our spouse can handle. Apparently, my expectation for what a woman can handle is too high here. Am I expecting too much, or do many women need to be able to handle more? I don’t know.
                  Paul Byerly recently posted…Time or Money?My Profile

                • @Paul, overhearing it from a college buddy would indeed be a disaster, but probably for a different reason. That would be a serious blow to my esteem of husband and would immediately and irrevocably destroy any respect I’ve had for said college buddy. I’d also have some serious questions about his choice of friends. Asking something like that is vulgar in the extreme. It also means you’ve been blabbing about past relationships. Overhearing that would make me irate. I’d probably lose it like he’s never seen or imagined. Unless I already had a low opinion of said college buddy, then that would cement my low opinion of him and I’d simply refuse to be around him. However, it would not be the same as hearing it from husband. Hearing it from him would be much more painful and evokes fear, sadness and intense desire to hide instead of towering wrath. I’m reasonably confident that’s not something I’ll run into. Husband is a very private and prudent person. The chances of him having discussed his sexual escapades with his friends are slim. He doesn’t really see people from that period anymore either.

                  Maybe that’s how the hornets next got kicked. It’s difficult (impossible) for me to see it in any other way than as a comparison. He said he liked a sex act you have not done with him. He did that with someone. Ergo – He liked sex with the other woman. That’s not reading into a statement. That’s a direct logical consequence.

                  Well, in her mind it’s a comparison, and not a favourable one. I don’t think you can be female and hear it any other way. Guys knows it’s a bad idea to ask his wife not to do things like his mom did. So, is it not obvious that asking for stuff the ex did is a much worse idea? I asked husband if he thought it was a good idea to tell his wife about sex acts he did with other women and then go and ask for it. He immediately got that it was a comparison and a terrible idea.

                  I think you’re asking too much because you didn’t understand the emotional impact on women. Apparently it’s an inconsequential request for a dude. It’s and extremely upsetting and painful statement to me, and judging from the comments, lots of other women.
                  If women were 100% confident of their husband’s love and devotion they might could handle more. But this is particularly difficult because it strikes right into worse fear territory.

                • @alchemist – It sounds like a minefield for the guy. He has to understand things that make no sense to him and deal with them as if he had a clue. I begin to understand why some men stop talking to their wives.
                  That’s not intended as an insult, just reality. It’s like she sees colours and he sees black and white. He has no idea if something is red or green to her because they look like the same shade of grey to him. He can’t win, and he can’t even show up and give it a good try because he has no clue. In fact, he may not even know she sees colours, so he may think she is making it up as she goes.
                  I don’t know if I can help men learn to see colours, but I can try to help them understand women see colours.
                  Paul Byerly recently posted…Time or Money?My Profile

                  • I suppose that’s an occupational hazard of trying to cultivate a close relationship with a person of the opposite sex. I’d feel more sorry for him if it wasn’t his hypothetical sin, subsequent tactlessness and him being unwilling to let go of an act that caused the problem. Like sunny-Dee mentioned; a man trying to say a wife’s poor reaction to him recounting his past sexual escapades makes him not want to talk to her is probably a jerk. At the very least looking for a cop-out.

                    It really isn’t that complicated: Don’t mention the ex. Just don’t do it. Your post today said Jenny was incidental. Then for the love of everything, leave her out of it.

                    “He can’t win, and he can’t even show up and give it a good try..” and yet, you’re urging women in this post to do that very thing. Show up and try, even if the mere thought causes her emotional anguish.

                    From reading your blog and others I no longer wonder that women refuse sex. I’m astonished that any women still want sex. What with the pressuring, the guilt-trip manipulation (if you loved me..), the lack of attention to foreplay, host of ridiculous expectations cultivated by media, porn and previous experience, and subsequent tactless comparison to said previous expectation cultivators, over eagerness and getting absurdly hung up on specific acts.

                    I agree that people should try and stretch themselves and do things for the other person because they love them.

                    I just don’t think your treatment of this specific topic is inconsistent.
                    1) You insist that sex is about bonding and feeling close for men, but then you say that he doesn’t couple an act to a person in his mind. Huh? How is that even possible?
                    2) You say men should be willing to give up their expectations they got from porn, but not from previous girlfriends? Granted, you tell women that not all things he suggests is stuff he’d seen in porn. And even if it was from porn, it should not automatically be out of bounds.
                    I notice you don’t tell men they should tell their wives; “I saw this thing in a porno, let’s try it out!” Why is it important to know that he got the preference from doing it with a girlfriend, but not seeing it in porn? Do you really not see that mentioning the act in conjunction with the ex makes the act at least as repellant to the wife than if you’d connected it with porn?
                    3) I’m pretty sure you’ve stated that preferences can change…

                    I had more examples.

                    I get that you’re trying to explain a man’s thought process. Maybe you were blindsided because you’ve been married so long and you didn’t really have this problem in your relationship. I know my emotional reaction to this has been far out of proportion to what the post actually said. You hit a nerve. At least with me. Judging by the reaction to this pair of posts, a lot of other women too.

                    I appreciate your work.

  20. Paul, I usually agree with you, but on this whole ideal of disclosing names, acts, details, etc., I believe that you have wandered off the common-sense reservation. I further believe that the reactions that I read here in the comments section verifies my belief. Intimacy has boundaries, and those that don’t recognize it will have and create more trouble than can be imagined. The Biblical book of Proverbs talks about discretion, and its importance. There are numerous instances where we are wise not to spill our guts. Let us suppose that a man is dealing with his physical attraction to another women. He has no intention of doing anything about it, but the animal attraction is there. In the interest of intimacy, does he tell his wife? I don’t think he should. What good does it accomplish?

    There are questions that best go unasked, and answers that should never be given. All one needs to do is read above and see the emotional havoc caused by the violation of this concept.

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