Relationship Connection: I’m uncomfortable with direction husband wants to take our sexual intimacy

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Question

We’ve been married for 14 years and I feel like we’ve had a good marriage. I discovered that my husband was looking up advice articles on “spicing up” sex in marriage, but what he was reading was offensive to me. It seemed extreme and way beyond my comfort level and I’m upset that he would be researching this without talking to me about it.

Our sexual intimacy has certainly changed over the years with a busy family and careers, but I had no idea he needed something that different. He swears he’s not been viewing pornography. He says he’s only trying to find ways to improve our sex life.

How do I address this with him? I don’t want to overreact, but I don’t like him looking at stuff that I believe is offensive.

Answer

These days it seems that everyone is telling couples they’re doing it wrong in the bedroom. Media outlets, especially men’s and women’s magazines, constantly remind us that there are secrets we don’t know about sex and that everyone else is having more and better sex. It’s easy to feel inadequate when the privacy of the marital bed is crowded with critical voices.

All of this noise can affect couples in a variety of ways. It can cause feelings of inadequacy and shame. It can also create comparisons and criticism. Your husband may feel like he’s missing out on something or would like a little more variety, or he may be feeling like he’s not adequate in the bedroom. Before jumping to erroneous conclusions, try asking him why he became interested in researching a new sexual direction for the marriage.

You may find out that his curiosity has nothing to do with your behavior in the bedroom. If he is struggling with his own feelings of inadequacy, you can have a loving conversation about how you feel about him. This is a great opportunity to find out where he feels inadequate and work together to help him feel more secure in the relationship.

If he’s looking to simply improve the intimate relationship, then you might suggest you both do some learning together. There are many tasteful books and sources for sexual information. Often times it’s less about a new technique or a new position that will spice things up but finding ways to feel more connected.

If he opens up with concerns about something you’re doing (or not doing), then let him know that you’re open to a discussion about his needs and preferences. Clarify that the problem with his approach is that he completely left you out of the process.

There is nothing wrong with either marriage partner wanting something different in the sexual relationship. Changing needs and desires are a normal part of moving through life. Children, health issues, work schedules, and life events require regular adjustments, especially in the area of sexual intimacy.

Since the only person you can directly change is yourself, you might also ask yourself if there are things you already know that could make your intimate relationship better. You might find out more about why he feels he can’t approach you with his needs. Have you shut down his requests in the past? Does he have difficulty owning his preferences in other areas? Healthy sexual intimacy requires a high level of self-awareness, emotional maturity, mutual respect and compassion from each person as they hear, observe, and respond to the delicate needs of one another. If you both struggle to respond to each other’s needs outside the bedroom, it’s not going to happen very successfully in the bedroom.

You mentioned a concern about pornography. One of the dangers of secretive pornography use is that it creates sexual appetites and preferences that are often outside the comfort zone of the other partner. Pornography primarily focuses on technique and performance instead of connection.

However, recognize that the influence of pornography isn’t the only reason a spouse may want to try new things in the bedroom. Some people feel secure in routines while others like novelty. There is nothing wrong with either, but open and honest communication about preferences is essential if the relationship is to stay safe and connected.

Some couples feel they need more techniques and tricks to enhance their sexual intimacy. I certainly think there is room for couples to explore new ways to improve their lovemaking, but I also think it’s wise to make sure they’re not seeking intensity as a fix for a lack of intimacy. In other words, increasing the intensity of your sex life isn’t going to fix the absence of secure emotional connection.

This experience with your spouse seems to provide insight that you both need to have an honest conversation about your sexual intimacy. If he’s sneaking around looking for ways to improve things without your input, then his inability to ask for his needs has to be addressed before you can even talk about the bedroom. Work together to create a safe environment where each of you can be heard and valued as you begin to explore how to improve your sexual intimacy.

Stay connected!

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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6 Comments

  • comments May 3, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    I’m not sure why Geoff immediately jumps to the conclusion that the man is feeling inadequate. They’ve been married a long time. The guy is a little bored. More than likely he is viewing porn if he’s reading up on kink stuff–or whatever. So what?

    “I don’t want to overreact, but I don’t like him looking at stuff that I believe is offensive.”

    I have a feeling it doesn’t take much to offend this woman. People get a little bored after so long a marriage. I’m all for monogamy, but one of man’s base instincts is to search out a variety of sexual partners and he probably is trying to satisfy this w/ some kind of novelty. Really can’t get away from that. People’s sexual habits are more like monkeys than anything. LDS culture tries to keep sexuality very suppressed, but I think in the end it just makes them better at hiding whatever dirty deeds they’re up to. Amen.

  • comments May 3, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    I figured since I mentioned monkeys I’d go ahead and follow up with a short zoology comment. In monkey societies you always have an alpha male–in some cases there may be more than 1 or even several alpha males but usually one is the leader. The alpha male’s high rank in the monkey troop always him to breed with any and as many females as he prefers. This base instinct of breeding w/ as many females as possible is something that still exists in humans. Societal norms usually keep it in check to some extent.

    Now we will compare this with LDS mormon polygamy. In the early days of the LDS church there were also alpha males, except these alpha males called themselves prophets. The founder of the LDS church The Prophet Brother Joseph Smith would have had the place of the top alpha male. At the time of his death I think he had something like 30-some “wives”–I think a more proper term would be sexual concubines, but oh well. Anyway, the prophet was able to fulfill the urges of his most base (some would say ‘reptillian’) instincts by mating with a, let’s say, plentiful supply of females. The problem with this polygamy and trying to mate as many females as possible is simply biology. For the most part males and females are born in a 1:1 ratio. The top dog alpha prophets and other higher ups were always hunting for new women to make into “wives”. This led to a shortage of available females in early mormon society. One of the main goals of early mormon missionaries was to recruit and bring back as many young fertile women as possible for the purpose of polygamous “marriages”. Over time many many wives were reserved for the prophets and other church royalty. The typical early mormon would not have had only 1-3, if that, because these were not top dog alpha church leaders. The moral of the story: one of the main reasons the mormons were driven out and The Prophet Brother Joseph Smith killed was because of this mormon tendency to always be out “hunting” new girls and women to join the polygamous cult, and often times they would go after married women–probably quite often considering how much hate they brought on themselves.

    This is a short lesson they will not have in Sunday School. And combining with a short zoology lesson–can’t beat that huh?!

    😉

    • comments May 3, 2017 at 5:28 pm

      ” The alpha male’s high rank in the monkey troop always him to breed with any and as many females as he prefers.”

      *allows not always.

  • commonsense11 May 3, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    Wow!
    Simple narrow minded people like you who have absolutely no facts about what they say is a large part of what has hurt modern society. I really hope nobody is dumb enough to find you to be ” the Alfa monkey ” because people like you should not be allowed to raise children.

    • comments May 4, 2017 at 11:12 am

      If you’re going to claim I’m wrong about anything why not support your statements? Seems as though you’re just upset and resort to childish attempted insults.

  • comments May 4, 2017 at 11:09 am

    I was trying to explain that the early LDS founders/leaders were actually sexual deviants set on fulfilling their basest animalistic lusts. You give certain people a lot of power and this will happen. The question is: how many “wives” is enough? Does there come a time when a man will say to himself “I think I got enough now”? Was Brigham Young a sex addict? Was JS? Someone remind me how many “wives” old Brigham had…? And these were just the ones on the books. Maybe they kept the real young ones off the books, Warren Jeffs style. have a good day 😉

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