My Two Choice Dilemma

When I got home from work last night, I had worked out and was physically tired.  However, getting in better shape and working out does help me mentally and emotionally and I find I’m more resilient under pressure.   I’m going to need every bit of it.

Qrwyn started earlier in the week working on me and trying to talk me into going to her church with her and boys for Good Friday services.   I was very reluctant, but she voiced how this was important to her and I figured it wouldn’t be that big of a deal if I went.  I’m willing to sacrifice in order to make my wife happy and, even though I was tired, this would be a comparatively minor sacrifice.  It was a lovely service that included all the kids and it really did fit the mood and tone of the evening, where they showed some clips from the Mel Gibson movie set to music.  Pretty graphic for the youngsters and was probably the most violent thing MY kids have ever seen.  But they did really well, despite some yawning toward the end.  I don’t many people at this church, but I do like the ones I do know and the music they sang was from more traditional hymns that I actually knew the tune for and the words were on the big screen.  They did have the big wooden cross in front and had everyone take communion in front of it.  It suitably marked the occasion which I should probably blog about but will leave that for others more capable than me.

Which might be pretty much everyone.

We got home and it was past the boys’ bedtime so they were quickly put to bed.  I was sitting in a chair just thinking, and Arwyn sort of sidled up and said, “Are you just going to sit there all night?”

Hmm.  Okay…

I was tired in anycase, and got ready for bed.  Then Arwyn stated her intention to go to sleep.


It wasn’t even 9:00 so I considered the possibility of going back to the computer for a bit as if I go to sleep before 10, I’ll be up at 4.  But I decided that we at least needed to talk.  My opener was to ask her how long it had been since she was baptized, “Almost exactly a year ago, right?”  She stated that it was.  Regular readers might remember that it was also around this time when we had sex for the first time in over a year and what would turn out to be the last time in over a year.  I also asked her about the ENQ and she said she intended to fill it out.  Hopeful sign there.

We were both lying in bed, holding hands and then embraced and kissed for a bit.  I was stroke=ing her back and hair and she was stroking my back.  This went on for quite awhile and I was feeling less tired and more aroused.  She said she wanted me to talk, but I was at a loss as to what she was after.  So we talked a bit about the church service and then she asked the question, “Do you ever feel like you’re at war with God?”

Funny question, but I was keen to answer.  Basically, yes.  At times, it seems like God is a very sadistic Being who seems to put an enormous premium on suffering.  The Bible is all about people who have suffered at the hands of other people, at their own hand or even at His hands.  Whether or not God causes suffering can be questioned, but unquestionably He allows it and uses for His own purposes.  So, yeah, I struggle and grapple with God on any number of fronts.  However, I also subscribe to the view that a lot of the suffering we endure is largely of our own making as our fight with God is more of a fight with our own selves.

She seemed satisfied with this and didn’t really follow up accept to stress the importance of trusting God.

There was more intermittent kissing and hugging and general making out.  I wanted to make love to my wife this night.  As my hands wandered under her shirt, one hand got into the forbidden zone which would be anywhere near a nipple.  She grabbed my arm and moved it away and I asked her why.  She said it made her feel uncomfortable.

There was a long period of silence interrupted when she announced she had to  turn off some lights and take a decongestant.  when she returned some minutes later we sort of resumed the kissing and then she said she was tired.  After some silence, I asked her, “How can you say that you’re interested in sex?  I don’t get it because you don’t seem to ever want it!”

She said she was interested in only having good sex.  Which led to the next burning question, “Just what exactly would good sex look like to you?”

“Well, I can’t go for an hour.  An hour would be too long.”

“Okay, an hour is too long for you.  That still doesn’t tell me what good sex looks like for you.”

“Well, I’d like to be satisfied>”

“Oh, you mean you’d like an orgasm!”


“And that’s been a problem for pretty much most of our marriage.”


“And you’ve gone on our entire marriage without mentioning this?”


“Because you were afraid of hurting me?”

“Yes, that’s a big part of it.”

She was not telling me anything I didn’t already know or suspect, anyway.  I was past  being hurt by that.  But the next round did put me squarely in the two-choice dilemma.

“So you want to have more orgasm?” I asked, trying to reinforce the point.

“Yes, but I don’t want them through your hands, through your mouth pr through any mechanical means.”

“Which pretty much means only through intercourse.”


“Only about 1 in 5 women have orgasms that way.” I countered.  I was pulling the statistic out of the air, or so I thought.  As it turns out, I was just about right. (that’s the youtube link, here’s one to the text.and here’s one byDr. Phil.

” I have had them in the past.”

“Well yeah, when you and your partner were  both younger and in better shape.  We’re both older now, and in different shape. ”  I did not point out that I was in better shape than I was when we got married or that the pubic bone she liked grinding up against was now more exposed for her enjoyment thanks to the weight loss.

But I went in a different (and perhaps predictable)  direction.  “Have you ever had an orgasm with me?”


“Have you ever faked an orgasm?”

“I don’t think so.”

“So you want good sex, where you have orgasms, but if it isn’t just intercourse, you don’t want it. You don’t want me to use my hands because it makes you feel uncomfortable.”


“So that’s why you’re uncomfortable using your hands on me.”

“Yeah, that’s a lot of it.”

“So if I ever got injured or paralized, sex would pretty much be over.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

It’s now midnight, she’s tired and I am frustrated beyond words.  Sex tonight is out.

As she falls asleep, I lie awake, wondering what the future holds for us.  It seems impossibly bleak to me beyond words.  Basically, I’m not going to have much of a sex life (if any) with this woman unless she decides to change.  She shows no signs of changing or maturing or developing sexually.  I’m changing the things I can within myself and I do try to do things she likes but she seems unwilling or unable to reciprocate.  She wants orgasms but is unwilling to to let me out of the procrustean bed in order to accomodate her.

So basically, I can

a. Stay with her, and totally sacrifice my sexuality and my integrity as a sexual person but my family remains somewhat intact

b. Leave her,  and sacrifice my family but keep remnants of my sexual integrity

Or wait around hoping that an option c becomes available.


16 Responses to My Two Choice Dilemma

  1. Hazel says:

    Goodness. So much of Arwyn in me re sex. Unbelieveable. Apart from the fact that I’m not at all religious! The thing is, from this perspective if I can see myself in her, then perhaps what I have to say means something? From what I know/feel/understand it’s… she needs to be comfortable. She needs to open up. It’s SO hard and it needs to come from her. She’s very insecure with her sexuality and letting herself go. It’s just impossible for me to articulate what you can do, other than have – dare I say it, I will though! – patience with her. There’s little you can do, other than talk and talk and talk. If only you knew how damn close she is to how I feel/felt about sex. So much to say, and I can’t even begin to.

  2. Rosie says:

    It’s understandable that things seem very bleak and your 3 assessments are very valid. But as Emily noted recently don’t you see how far you have come?!? AND you are no longer in this alone, the therapist is involved. You’ve spent soooo much time thinking and plotting about all this, don’t give up – YET.

    Yes, definitely Arwyn will HAVE to decide if she is willing to change, if she is willing to be a wife. It is a huge risk for her, but not a decision she will ponder alone – the therapist will provide guidance, and then examine her decision.

    Hazel has urged patience, many others have said similar things. Ask yourself Dig, why, suddenly, are you in such a rush after procrastinating and pondering so very long?

  3. Emily says:

    I wouldn’t give up on option (c) if I were you.

    Hey, if the woman actually wants to have an orgasm, and an orgasm with you, that’s a start, right?

    In fact, option (c) is really quite a lot of options. It may mean, for instance, that:
    *You and she actually learn how to make her come from penetration. 1 in 5 is not hopeless. It’s one in five. It includes me, for starters, and quite a lot of other women I know. For all you know, it includes Arwyn. It’s also not clear that its 1 in 5 as some kind of biological ceiling. A lot of men and women simply don’t take the time and trouble to learn how – either because they prefer other means, or because they get inhibited, etc etc etc.
    *As the relationship improves, her own sexuality revives more, and she becomes more open-minded, sexually speaking, and more willing to do the other things that work for her and for you.
    *With the counsellor’s help, you discuss that conversation and the counsellor helps you both to figure out how to handle this issue. It may be that he will point out to her the impracticality of her attitude and help her to see that rigidity on this is harming her own gratification and her marriage. Or maybe he will help you take some other course.

    I say look at some positives here.Your attitude to her is better. Her attitude to you seems better. She is actually *initiating* a discussion with you about sex. She is actually saying what she wants (even if you don’t like it or think its impractical) sexually.

    Personally, I think it was a positive and useful conversation, even if only as a beginning.

  4. Emily says:

    PS As your own comments semi-recognise, part of the problem was your own negativity:

    “Well yeah, when you and your partner were both younger and in better shape. We’re both older now, and in different shape. “ I did not point out that I was in better shape than I was when we got married or that the pubic bone she liked grinding up against was now more exposed for her enjoyment thanks to the weight loss.”

    What if, instead, you had said something like, “Well, we used to do it that way and, now that we are both in good shape, maybe it would work. Why don’t you let me know when you’re ready to try that again?”

    I don’t mean to be hard on you, Digger. As you have probably noticed from my own blog, I’m not feeling all that positive and constructive myself, so I know what it’s like. But it’s self-defeating to be so negative – both for you and for me.

  5. xi summit says:

    Speechless …. just don’t know what to say.

  6. MP says:

    C) Find a way to help her feel comfortable with other means of achieving orgasm, besides intercourse. Tell her that it turns out that you BOTH want the exact SAME thing – for HER to enjoy sex. Gently help her figure out WHY any other way makes her uncomfortable, and then try to fix the problem or work out a compromise. For example, is she willing to try using HER hands on HERSELF during intercourse? Is she willing to try to find a position where orgasm from intercourse alone is more likely? Will she let you try rubbing her clitoris with your penis, which is sort of ‘intercourse on the outside’? Is she willing to try using some artificial lube, since dryness may be part of the problem? The keyword with all of these is TRY. Agree to not push it if she makes genuine efforts which don’t succeed. Does she oppose oral and manual stimulation because she doesn’t feel ‘fresh’, or does she believe ‘sodomy’ is dirty or a sin? Is she secretly afraid of getting pregnant and having another handicapped child?

    D) Figure out how to make her SO turned-on that she can’t not have an orgasm through intercourse alone. It CAN be done, but SHE has to really WANT it. The BRAIN is the most important sex organ. Mind over matter.

    I would suggest, for both/either C and D, to start by touching her briefly in non-sexual ways throughout the day. Rub her back for a minute while she’s washing dishes or doing some other chore. Put your hand on her shoulder or hold her hand at the grocery store. Make these moments about soothing and showing affection and appreciation towards her, NOT about getting sex. It sounds (perhaps erroneously) like she cringes at your touch because your touch is (or seems to be) ‘always’ an attempt to get sex, which is threatening to her since it isn’t pleasurable. Touch her in non-sexual ways that benefit HER, not (necessarily) you.

    After a few days, ask if you can give her a foot and/or/then a back massage. Tell her it DOESN’T have to lead to sex unless SHE wants it to (and says so) – and MEAN IT, no matter how hard it is for you (pun intended). Encourage her to take a nice, long, hot bath beforehand, so she feels relaxed and clean. A glass of wine might help. Candlelight (or a nightlight, or darkness) will make her less distracted and less self-conscious about her body. Be gentle and tell her to let you know what feels good and what doesn’t. There are some massage videos on YouTube (search “massage techniques”, user expertvillage) that will give you (and her, if she’d like to reciprocate at some point) some ideas about different soothing non-sexual touches you can try. Get her used to feeling your touch on “safe” parts of her body, and DON’T let your hands wander into the Forbidden Zone. Give her a reason to trust you NOT to go there automatically. Massage her until she falls asleep, and then go masturbate in the bathroom (NOT next to her), if necessary.

    Eventually, SHE will want it to go further. It won’t have to be YOUR goal.

    Good luck!

  7. sixdegrees says:

    Strong parallels between our situations. Particularly in the choices that confront us.

    Her responses remind me of a conversation I once had with a colleague about grant funding. Biomedical scientists must write grants in order to obtain funding for their research. Every colleague of mine wants to have a grant that will provide funds to support their research. However, not everyone is willing to put forth the time and energy to write a good grant that will get funded. (Actually, in todays funding climate, only grants that are ranked as outstanding will get funded.) The kicker is that the first thing you need to do, in order for your grant proposal to be ranked as “outstanding” and get funded, is to actually WRITE the grant! It is IMPOSSIBLE to have funded proposal unless you actually write a grant proposal.

    So she wants good (maybe even outstanding) sex. It is IMPOSSIBLE to have good (much less outstanding) sex unless one actually has sex. It is IMPOSSIBLE for a couple to improve the quality of their sexual interactions unless they actually HAVE sexual interactions.

    Another analogy is NASCAR. Imagine a driver saying “I want to win the race” and then not showing up at the starting line. It is IMPOSSIBLE to win the race unless you actually start the race.

    Other than sharing with you my deepest empathy for your situation, I have no other brilliant words of wisdom. Maybe couples counseling will work, but only if she is willing to acknowledge that starting from a position of “I only want good sexual interactions and therefore I am not going to have any sexual interactions” is a non-starter.

  8. xianhusband says:

    Lots of stuff here. I’ll just address one small part. You said, “I’m changing the things I can within myself and I do try to do things she likes but she seems unwilling or unable to reciprocate.”

    But then you finish up the entire post saying your two choices are:

    “a. Stay with her, and totally sacrifice my sexuality and my integrity as a sexual person but my family remains somewhat intact

    b. Leave her, and sacrifice my family but keep remnants of my sexual integrity”

    So, have you really been as willing to change yourself as you think? You are still hanging onto this core of what you are trying to define as your identity, and saying that you will not change it.

    I would first, as a Christian, point out how wrong it is to try and have any identity of yourself. We gave that up when we put the old man to death. We sacrifice ourselves and put on Christ — the one who gave up EVERYTHING for us. To hold anything back is to keep pushing Christ out of your heart.

    You talk about suffering. I think God has a plan for all of us, and that for all of us it involves, on some level, what it did for Paul; as God told Ananias, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” I’m not sure God has shown you exactly how much you must suffer for His name, but when you start to get hints you freak and pull back.

    I mean, what if He is going to require of you complete celibacy for the rest of your life? Would you decide that would be too much to ask? In the face of what He gave up for us, would you really say that is too much? Is there anything at all in life He could require of you that would be “too much” in the face of that ultimate self-sacrifice?

    You could say that God would never require that of anyone, but I believe Christ said different when He said in Matthew 19, “For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.”

    But on a more practical level, if you are so completely unwilling to give up this part of yourself and instead are guarding and protecting and doting on it (my precious), and are so protective of it that leaving your family is actually on the table, then don’t you think that comes across to your wife? Don’t you think she can feel that your commitment to her is less than total, as you still have this thing that you can say, “If you don’t do what I want I might leave you and the kids”? Of course she can. That sort of attitude of uncompromise comes off in palpable waves. Of course your wife can feel it.

    Is it any surprise then that she might say, “If he’s so unwilling to give up himself for me then I’m not going to give up myself for him”? There might be a lot of things you can do to help her become who you want her to be, but every single one of them HAS to start with you getting rid of the safety-net, going all in, keeping no reserves, sacrificing it ALL. Until you can do that you can’t expect her to move a millimeter. Until you can say, “Even if nothing changes ever for the rest of my life, I would never consider giving anything less than my best for my wife and children,” until leaving is so completely off the table as to be unthinkable don’t expect much to change.

    At the same time, making that commitment to her in your heart, and then vocalizing it — promising that no matter what she decides on these things or how it all goes you will never leave, but will stick by her side — might do wonders.

  9. DH says:

    You know we’re in the same boat, Digger. I feel those are my exact options as well.

    For the commenter who asked “why the rush”? I don’t think anyone can realistically classify Digger’s response as a rush. He’s been in a sexless marriage for years.

    Sure, he can have more talks with her and try different things. But if she doesn’t want to change…how much time should he waste? How long should he wait to be happy???

  10. Mu Ling says:

    Yes, I am not sure why people perceive him as being “in a rush.” This has been going on for years.

    I have no words of advice. In fact, I see your options to be every bit as bleak as you characterize them as being. I wish I believed that stroking her back while she did the dishes would produce anything except an annoyed look and a quick scuttle away, but I don’t.

  11. Cat says:

    For once I kind of get where Arwyn is coming from although I agree her approach seems to be immature. I can completely agree with wanting an orgasm. I mean you are obviously enjoying that particular pleasure and I can’t speak for anyone else but the orgasm is kind of the point of sex. Yes the closeness, the intimacy, blah blah blah. But I think it’s safe to say that most of us have sex with an orgasm in mind. And I can also understand her point of not having sex just for you, which is what bad sex would be for her I assume. I mean she really doesn’t have much to gain in that scenario. At least when she refuses you both suffer, it seems like having bad sex would just mean she would be on the other side of the bed with her arms folded while you were snoring. Which is fine in the beginning for most women but grows old real quick when you begin to realize this could be your sex life forever. The problem as I see it is not that she wants an orgasm through intercourse, or even the low percentage of women that have one that way. But her assertion that it is somehow your duty to “give” her an orgasm. But then have all these rules about how you are supposed to manage it. My advice (as if I should be giving any) would be the next time you have a conversation like that and she says she only wants to have sex if she can have good sex. You should say “I agree, what are your suggestions on how we should achieve that”…because not having sex at all her approach for the last eon is definitely not working. So ask her, you want an orgasm, big surprise, who doesn’t? How do we achieve that? Because forced celibacy isn’t working…

  12. tajalude says:

    I’m sorry, I’m pumped up with hormones and not feeling very sympathetic, but that’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. I spent 3 years in a marriage without having a single orgasm, and I don’t think it was anyone’s fault but my own. How did I fix it? Came clean, and TALKED ABOUT WHAT WOULD WORK BETTER. It’s not your responsibility to figure out how to get her off. Yes, helping her figure it out could be great fun, but in the end, it’s not your “duty” to provide this for her.

    It’s as though you’re totally broke and she’s got 3 tons of cold hard cash stashed away in a secret location, she’s got the map, and she’s blaming you for not knowing where it is. I cannot empathize with a woman who refuses to let her husband touch her intimately. It seems so sad, and so odd. I see you getting hopeful over the smallest of gestures, things that I must take for granted because I get (and give) those things all the time, and I just feel SAD for you.

    I would give my left nut to get in this womans brain for a day.

  13. bb says:

    I was thinking about this post over the weekend and I am wondering if Arwyn doesn’t have some of the hangups I did when I first got married. I was raised in a very traditional, Catholic household and sex was never spoken about. Somewhere along the way, I got the idea that the only allowable sex between my husband and I was intercourse and that I was supposed to orgasm solely from penetration. Touching, toys, whatever, they were Bad and Wrong and something to be avoided at all costs.

    Like many women I couldn’t orgasm simply from intercourse and it set up a very destructive pattern where I spent a lot of time during sex beating myself up for not being able to have sex the way I thought my church was telling me I should have it. It turned into a massive battle in my own head and I started deeply hating sex because it was not full of fun and intimacy with my husband, but rather it was me retreating into a very dark, evil place in my head where I was a horrible woman, a horrible wife and a horrible person because my body wouldn’t work the way I expected it too.

    I don’t know Arwyn, so it’s possible this isn’t there, but your story rang so true with me because I know what it’s like to expect something to happen and then *blame yourself* because it isn’t happening.

    Eventually, I made the decision this was unacceptable and I wanted to change make the demons in my head go away. And the only thing that worked was practice, and more sex but it was often very me driven (and it’s possible it was very selfish). My body was in control and we took things at the pace I wanted and was comfortable with. I did have to force myself to initiate at least once a week (we never had the drought you did, but there were times when there was very little action). I also found a couple toys that made it easy to have intercourse and get the stimulation I needed. After a while, my body figured out how to translate ‘intercourse’ into orgasm, but it was a real learning process for my body, my brain and us as a couple.

    If she is going through the evil demons and the absolutely HATING herself for her body not working the way she wants it to, then I deeply sympathize for both of you. It makes sex a very ugly, horrible, excruciatingly painful experience, even with someone you love very deeply.

    Unfortunately, she is the one who has to decide to relearn her body. You can help, but a lot of it (at least in my experience) comes from the mind and she is the only one that can make those changes.

    I just wanted to bring this up, as I really saw myself in the description you gave of your conversation with her and it really resonated with me.

  14. Desmond Jones says:

    Well, gosh, Digger, maybe I’m missing something, but if she wants to have orgasms, then it seems as though the answer is to work on getting to the point where she can have them. Practice, practice, practice. . .

    I get Emily’s point – I don’t think 1-in-5 is some sort of ‘biological barrier’; there might be various reasons why more women don’t orgasm from intercourse. Some of it is just doing it enough to figure out how orgasms are done. Molly has more orgasms now than she’s ever had; some of it is figuring out how to to it, some of it is just being willing to go after them, and not settle for ‘nice, but no orgasm’.

    Don’t know if any of this is remotely applicable to you/Arwyn, but it’s what came to mind. . .

  15. Square1 says:

    O.k. on the oral and hand thing, I’m thinking it may not be so much that she’s uncomfortable with the concept as much as it’s physically uncomfortable. No offense, but that sort of stimulation requires a finesse that takes practice, and if it’s uncomfortable enough I doubt she wants to be the guinea pig that you practice on. I know in my case where I desire those things, I’d just as soon pass on them if there’s a lot of pinching pulling or accidental bumping of soft tissue that’s going to taint the enjoyment.

    I’m trying not to be rude or crass here, and I’m sorry if it comes across that way, but I think this conversation that you had warrants the question, “What about oral and hands makes you uncomfortable? You can tell me if there’s something about it physically that I’m not doing right.”

    You may be right, it may be conservative religious concerns,and there may be little you can do about that. It may have absolutely nothing to do with what you’re doing or not doing. But, I’m really thinking that’s a convenient cover to spare your feelings for telling you that she might think you a slight bit clumsy.

  16. C-Marie says:

    Taja took the words right out of my mouth and I’ll end it on how I think it’s just complete bullshit. Isn’t half the fun and experience coming from adventurous learning? I think it’s what they call intimacy? You’ve been a patient man….. if I were in your shoes (wait, I think I am!) I’d really be quite out of my mind and out of patience!

    Doesn’t want orgasms through your hands, your mouth… I’D GIVE ALMOST ANYTHING TO GET EVEN A FEW MINUTES OF THAT!!!


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