Ask the Audience #1: Four Years of Marriage and I've Never Had an Enjoyable Sexual Experience

I frequently receive emails and comments seeking advice about various sexual issues. It's apparent from the comments that many of you, dear readers, have experience and insight that could help those trying to improve their sexual selves. So I've created a new series called "Ask the Audience" and I'm turning to you to offer the best solutions you have to the problems we'll discuss. Here's contestant number one:

When my husband and I were engaged, I could hardly wait to be married to him and have our wedding night. As the big day approached, however, I became more and more nervous. I convinced him that night after our wedding to please wait until we were away and on our honeymoon. I'd gone from excited about giving myself completely to my husband, to nearly scared to death of it. I tried to push that fear out of my mind once we were on the honeymoon, but I couldn't make myself relax. I don't think we actually made love until the second or third night after our wedding, and I don't think I've ever hurt someone so much as I hurt my husband during that time.

Ever since the honeymoon I have been very nervous about making love with my husband. Once we start, I'm okay; there's no real pain or anything. I guess it's just the anticipation that makes me anxious. Sex has never done anything for me, and I'm pretty much only doing it for him now. The problem is, since it doesn't do anything for me, I don't think about it and forget how important it is to him. He's a much better man than I deserve - he's very patient and knows that I struggle with this, and he doesn't want to pressure me, so we don't do it nearly as often as we should. We've only been married 4 years and I have never had an enjoyable sexual experience. In fact, sometimes at night when we're not really doing anything, he will just touch me (kind of caressing my back, arms, shoulders or legs). But if his hand goes below my belly button, I start to panic (inwardly). I hate this because I know it's hurting him, but I don't know how to get over it. It's a really difficult thing to know that you're missing out on such a wonderful experience and you feel like everyone in the world can enjoy it but you.

I'm not sure how to know when or if I have achieved orgasm, because I'm not certain of how that actually feels. People have said that you WILL KNOW when it happens, but I'm just not sure. I've had *something* but not sure if it was orgasm, and unfortunately it hasn't happened *with* my husband yet.

This story is similar to many questions I've received. Please share your ideas, experiences, and detailed suggestions in the comments. All ideas and points of view are welcome. As always, you can comment anonymously if you prefer.

If you have any questions you'd like to see discussed, email me at gwenisinlove {at} gmail {dot} com or leave a comment!

*Please note, I always encourage those dealing with serious or persistent problems to seek medical or professional help. The discussions on this blog aren't meant to be a substitute where professional help is needed.


  1. Oh dear. This sounds like it might be another case of getting to know oneself better!

    I think she needs to start off with finding something that puts her in the mood. Romance novels, making out, anything that makes her say, I am in the mood.

    Once that's accomplished, move on to physical responses. Touching, caressing, maybe introduce some toys. The possibilities are endless!

    Everyone is different, and so everyone needs to find what works for them.

    Good luck!

  2. Men are like microwaves, women are like slow cookers! It takes a lot longer for me to be ready for sex than my husband, but I have found that I'm much more excited about it (and responsive to his advances) when I've been thinking about it and getting ready for it all day long. Picking out lingerie, sending each other sweet texts, even reading online articles or blogs like this one make all the difference in the world! For women, sex is just as much emotional as it is physical- once your mind is into it, your body will follow!

    Good luck- and know that it is worth the work! Sex can be absolutely amazing for both of you!

  3. I think it is normal for women to struggle with having an orgasm-especially if they and their husband were virgins before they were married. I personally still have not have one during intercourse (my husband does other things though to give me one :-))-but I've only been married for 9 months.

    I don't think you're the only one who struggles with this. I have a friend who struggled with the same thing and actually felt physical pain every time because she couldn't relax-and she had been married about four years too. I reccomend seeing a doctor-maybe even a counselor because it could be an emotional issue. There's no shame in it-I think we can all benefit from counseling!!

  4. i agree with what april said, maybe you should talk to a counselor, or even your doctor?
    I know it's "easier said than done" to relax.
    But remember sex isn't all about intercourse, have fun, fool around; foreplay works wonders.
    Start of by kissing and gradually work your way to the whole she-bang.
    But really, just try try try to relax and let the moment take its course, turn off your brain for a moment and go with the flow.

  5. Reading this post makes me sad. Sad for this woman and sad for her husband. I believe that sex is an integral part of a relationship. You are physically showing love to your partner. i agree with the other women to take it slow, show physical love in other ways and work her way up to actual intercourse. But I also think that she and her husband should seek counseling so that they can work on this issue together. I wish her luck AND an Orgasm ;)

  6. oh I agree with all the above. Use toys, relax, etc. Here's an idea for a conpromise: ask him to be completely intercourse abstinent with you for 30 days, but promise that every day you will have naked make-out time together. That way, you can be together intimately, but you won't have a problem relaxing because the fear of sex will be eliminated. Who knows what kind of desire that restraint could ignite for you?! And,I REALLY agree you should see a therapist & doctor together. Don't worry, this is nothing they haven't seen or heard, and they can really give you such better insight being able to have give and take with you in conversation. Best wishes, and it will get better :)

  7. I had problems with pain during intercourse and an extremely low sex drive during the first two years of our marriage. Part of my problem was my birth control method - oral birth control just wasn't working for me at all. Part of the problem was me - I just couldn't relax.
    I ended up going off my oral birth control and switching to condoms, and doing a lot of praying about it. Sex isn't always perfect still (but what is?), but things are significantly better and much less stressful. Intercourse doesn't hurt anymore, which is the biggest plus.
    I agree with a lot of what other people have said - definitely look into counseling with your hubby, especially since it's been such a long-standing issue. (And since it can affect your marriage, and both of your self esteem and view of yourselves as spouses.) I would look into the birth control thing, if you're on a hormonal birth control method, and definitely do some praying and soul-searching if that's where your belief system lies.
    Good luck, and I sincerely hope things get better for you.

  8. I agree with an above comment about sex being mostly in the mind. My guy & i have been married for a little while now, and at first i didn't have a clue what felt good or what didn't... though he sure did! I suffered from good-girl syndrom i guess. Once I started telling myself i wanted it, sex got a lot better. that "ohhh baby!" kind of better. lol!
    so get dressed up, revel in the fact that your hubbs wants you for your beautiful self & your body, and play along. it's fun and, at least for me, rewarding!

  9. This made a BIG difference for me (although in this case I'm sure it wouldn't be the only thing you need)

    It's quite possible that the positive effects were psychological, but hey! It sill worked.

    I take one a day and love it! Husband does too!


  10. I must say that I do understand what you're feeling. We've been married 7 1/2 years, and our sex life isn't the greatest either (although we're working on it!). But it is mostly because I get in my own way when it comes to enjoyment. I think too much, or get too nervous, or start acting silly because I am uncomfortable. I have found that when I just tell myself to let go and RELAX both mentally and physically, I really do enjoy it. I find my toes start to curl during the big O moment. :)

    I think for me it is the feeling of expectation or obligation that kills my sex drive. That is why honestyinbed's advice to agree with your husband to have no sex intimacy is so great; it takes the pressure off you to feel you have to "turn it on" and perform when you're not feeling it. But knowing you can touch and explore without the expectation of "going all the way" can be extremely liberating. (No more getting nervous when his hand goes below your bellybutton!) -- Let your hands explore each other. See if that does anything for you. Try the no sex intimacy rule with the added rule that if YOU feel like doing something more, then go for it! And don't let your mind talk you out of it!

    I also literally have to physically relax before intercourse. Foreplay doesn't do much for me as far as physically preparing my body for sex. I like a little foreplay, but then I usually tell my husband, "Let's do this thing!" Then he has to really take it slow and shallow when entering at first, because I am so tight down there and have to relax both body and mind. Then once everything has loosened up, we pick up the pace and things are great.

    I also agree about trying a different birth control method. Hormonal contraceptives messed with my mood and sex drive. Could be doing the same to you. We switched to condoms a few years ago and I like it better because it is less messy for me! But it can be tricky to stop any foreplay to "suit up" -- but we work around it.

    Relax. Don't fight it. Tell yourself you will enjoy it, and you just might!

  11. I totally feel for you. I know first hand what its like to want to give your husband sex and be unable to do so.

    Question: Is it painful to have sex? Or is it that you just feel nothing at all?

  12. honestly, as the comments show, i think this is a huge problem in christian relationships- as in it's really common for the woman to panic about sex on some level or another.

    i felt the same way when we were first married- i'd been really excited to get to do everything with my husband, but from the beginning it hurt and i was nervous and worried about when he'd want to do it next. this only changed when i changed my mindset about it and realized sex wasn't bad or dirty- and things REALLY changed when we made it a point to have sex every day. having it that often, it just became a basic part of our relationship and within a couple months of setting extra time aside, i enjoyed it, too.

    that being said, i still think that, since it's been four years, you should look into seeing a therapist if you feel you can't make the change on your own.

  13. Oh darling I know how you feel!! We've been married a year and no luck on the orgasm during intercourse however I have the much higher sex drive and it's also a struggle. Before we got married my husband did some research, and bought a few toys to take on our honeymoon in order to give me satisfaction. Check out www.christiannymphos.org for some ideas and other websites to help. Hope that helps!

  14. It took us decades to overcome this problem. The solution came by committing to go to bed together every night, get naked for awhile, listen to nice music, talk and touch with no pressure for intercourse. Gradually I felt more comfortable with my body, and grew to enjoy his touch. Some nights we just caressed each other, sometimes we went on to satisfying intercourse. Since it takes a lot to get me focused and aroused, we found that a vibrator was a big help as well.

  15. I would recommend the book "And They Were Not Ashamed" by Laura M. Brotherson. It has helped me overcome the negative inhibitions and mental barriers I had with sex. This book has changed me. Before I felt alone when it came to this topic. After I found the book, I had hope and steps to take to help my marriage.


  16. I highly recommend the book "For Yourself: The Fulfillment of Female Sexuality." It's famous and widely used for helping women who feel disconnected sexually. They both suggest, as do most therapists, that you take time each day, without pressure, learning about what arouses you and what feels good and then later sharing that with your husband. It made ALL the difference in the world for me and I was lucky to have a supportive husband. Here's kind of a long quote from "For Yourself", but it's the part that helped me most because it was straightforward -

    "Set aside time and private comfortable space in which to develop and improve your sexuality. Now is the time to do it. You'll have to establish different priorities in your life to make time for yourself. You may even have to give up something different each day of the week in order to find an hour to devote to your sexuality."

    "Many women require an hour every day for two to five weeks to reconnect with their sexuality. Once you have made the decision to find an hour each day, think about how you can feel in a more sensual mood. Your mood is important, so pick a time when you are at ease and your energy level is fairly high. Don't forget the mental aphrodisiacs. Erotic writings, pictures or films, and fantasy can help take your mind off the cares of the day and focus it on the sensual feelings."

    "Use oil, saliva or the natural lubrication of the vagina to keep the genital tissues moist so that no irritation develops. Explore by stimulating the area with various types of strokes and pressures. What do very light feathery touches feel like? How about hard rubbing? Try massaging the clitoris with your fingertips by making gentle but firm circular motions. Some women like to stimulate the glans of the clitoris directly while others find this area too sensitive for direct touch and prefer to massage the areas surrounding the clitoris above, below, or to the sides. Find out what feels best for you. Many women rub one finger back and forth over the clitoris with varying speeds and intensity. The clitoris can be massaged between the forefinger and the middle finger, or you can stroke up and down the clitoral shaft. Many women enjoy having their fingers or something else in their vagina while the clitoris is being stimulated."

    "Remember, you're on a fact-finding mission now. You're learning. Feel whatever there is to feel. Don’t hold back in anticipation; don't measure your sensations. Instead, tune in to any feelings that you do experience and enjoy them. At first, you will probably feel very little, but continue, and take note of even small feelings. It is precisely these little feelings that later turn into greater ones, but only after considerable practice."

    "Involve other parts of your body, in addition to your genitals, in the sexual stimulation. Massage your inner thighs, breasts or nipples, or other erotically sensitive areas with one hand as you stimulate the genital area with the other. Stimulate sensitive areas in the manner that feels best to you. You know what is most exciting and pleasurable for you. You are engaged in becoming the expert on yourself so explore a bit until you discover what feels best."

    I hope this helps! Good luck!

  17. My problem is getting my mind in the right place and feeling in the mood. Any suggestions for getting in the mood to even want sex?

  18. How to get in the mood: Spend lots of time with your husband. Go on dates! Spend time caressing and kissing. Set the mood. Light a candle, drape some sheer fabric over a lamp. Make a romantic atmosphere. Maybe you can start with this and just kissing. Slowly move to other things the next time you do it. Maybe the next time you could kiss an touch a little bit. Communicate with your husband what starts to get you in the mood. Men usually like you to start with touching them on their genitals, but women like to start with other things like caressing their necks or wherever you like to be touched.

    Getting to orgasm- I found it very useful when I was first married to find a good book that taught how to achieve it (find a book that you feel comfortable with). Then my husband and I would practice different things, and after practicing things for a while it got a lot easier.

    I know it's hard but what really helped us was to loosen up and start TALKING and communicating about things.

  19. Good link from American Academy of Family Physicians about treating female sexual dysfunction. Look at Table 6. These are the common treatment techniques.


  20. I've probably only achieved orgasm without clitoral stimulation once or twice. But God obviously put the clitoris there for a reason, so why not use it? My husband wants me to enjoy sex as much as he does and he has no problems with me touching myself during sex. It was a bit awkward when we first tried it but we've adjusted and now it's the norm (in all kinds of positions!). This means that the majority of the time we both orgasm.
    I agree with many of the above that this is absolutely something you should work on. Sex is such a wonderful thing to share with your husband when it's working for you both. You should read about what can help and possibly seek counselling also. It can be a great source of joy and fun, don't give up!

  21. I've been going through the same ordeal as the girl who asked the question in the post. :( Can I ask kind of a detailed question?? I get that I need to work at it, but to someone like me who's utterly naive about sex I don't know what to even try. What's a good reliable method others have used to actually have an orgasm? Thanks for this site Gwen! I need the help :)

  22. Steph I think someone already posted it but the book "For Yourself" is a highly recommended resource for learning about how you respond sexually. If your H is into it there is another book for him to read called "She Comes First" all about oral and from what I hear it's a great resource as well. Also check out christiannymphos.org for support and suggestions. That site alone has added much needed oooo la la to my 20 year old marriage :) Warning: the books are not written from a Christian perspective necessarily but once you can get over your aversion/fear two that are are Red Hot Monogamy and Sheet Music. All four are available on Amazon.

  23. A bathtub faucet helped me learn how to orgasm.

  24. I think that you should seek deeper for answers m dear.Traumas from the past can play a strong role on failures in sexually relating to others.Get to know yourself better and you will get to the roots of this painful situation.
    love your blog by the way! fabulous stuff to read and see.
    will visit often!

  25. Yes! I second the bathtub faucet comment. Privacy and a relaxed atmosphere = orgasm.

  26. I'm a little late on responding to this, but I still wanted to add my two cents :). There is one thing guaranteed to give you an orgasm and it's your clitoris. the "g-spot" orgasm is a little more hit-and-miss. But, if your clitoris is stimulated long enough and you let your mind "go there" you will have an orgasm.

    If you've never given yourself a clitoral orgasm, it might be hard for your husband to give you one because you haven't fully figured out how you like it yet; pressure, movement, speed, etc.

    I suggest just taking a bubble bath and letting your mind wander to a few things that turn you on. If you don't know what those things are, start by envisioning people having sex or about to have sex and your mind will kind of fill in the gaps with a subconcious way of telling you what you like. It might take a little bit to actually let your mind really get into it, but when you think it has, that's a good time for you to start exploring down there. You're by yourself so the self conciousness you might feel with your partner will be eliminated, and if you focus on just your clitoris the pressure of trying to figure out how to orgasm with something inside you is eliminated. Just keep on rubbing and thinking and you WILL have an orgasm.

    Practice that kind of orgasm for a week or so by yourself. The idea of the visual aspect of clitoral stimulation on you might seem weird but the more comfortable you get with the whole idea by yourself, the easier it will be to take the steps to guide your husbands hand down there the first time and not letting him stop until you've hit the big O.

    After that, it will be easier to move onto other thins like oral stimulation or the g-spot. But it's hard to just "relax and have an orgasm with your husband" when you have no idea how to give one to yourself! :)

  27. I am that girl. After a four years together and a year and a half of marriage, I've come to the realization that, for me, that lack of sexual desire with my husband, means something on a higher level. The fact that I'm attracted to other guys and WANT to have sex with them, when I don't want to have sex with my husband, means much more than I realized. He moved out two weeks ago, and we've officially started our one year legal separation process.

  28. For My husband and I talking is so important. I have huge self esteem issues and telling him and letting him know whats going on in my mind helps so much.

    As far as getting in the mood, experiment! Videos, making out, magazines, a date, talking "dirty" to each other, Pretend things, dress up... Sex is so easy yet so complicated so trying new things

    Also a Sexual Health Class at a local college can help! I learned A LOT about potions, where the heck the G-Spot is.. what feels good for him and so on.

    Seeing a therapist will work wonders as well. Try it out. It can only help. Relax and Enjoy!

  29. Anon@2:50, Great advice! I think a big hangup for me was being afraid to experiment with things that got me in the mood. I was sooo used to pushing out sexual thoughts that I had to learn to let them in. My intimacy in my marriage is so much better now.



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