Reasonable request or selfish?
June 6, 2012 7:56 AM   Subscribe

Is it selfish of me to not want to give blow jobs during my period?

My husband and I have been happily married almost 14 years. We are in our late 30s/early 40s with 2 kids. We get along mostly great, but we have a recurring argument about sex. He has a very high sex drive and would love to have sex every night, or at least every other. I have a much lower drive and would prefer once a week. We compromise and have sex about every third night (i.e. 2-3 times a week, and that has been steady for our entire marriage).

The sex we do have is fantastic. When I am really into it (i.e. actually horny and not just compromising), it is mindblowingly good, for both of us. He is wonderful in bed and neither of us have any complaints in terms of quality. It's quantity that we argue about.

Anyway the main problem is during my period. I want nothing to do with sex while I'm on my period. Both of us are totally turned off by intercourse while I'm menstruating (tried it, didn't like it) so that is NOT an option. But he feels that I should satisfy him in other ways during my period (primarily oral). He has a very hard time orgasming from masturbation so he cannot satisfy himself. He's been like this for as long as I've known him - high sex drive but needs a partner to come.

I hate feeling obligated to have any kind of sex, especially at a time when I'm feeling my most unsexy. I'm the one who actually has to suffer through the period, which is bad enough; why does he get to ENJOY this time at my expense? I mean of course I love him and want him to be happy; but by the same token, if he loves me and wants me to be happy too, he'd leave me alone for a week. It's only a week out of every month. He gets regular sex the other 3 weeks!

Also, I love oral sex and give plenty of it throughout the month. It's not like that one week is his only time to get BJs! But I feel like I should get a break during my period. I am already compromising and having sex more often than I'd like; now I have to give BJs during my period? Is this fair, or am I being selfish? How do other couples handle this?

Please note - he doesn't treat me badly or make demands. It's more like wheedling and making me feel bad ("Please? Come on....I'll be quick!"). Sometimes I laugh it off, sometimes i outright refuse, and sometimes I do it. Throwaway email: amiselfish@hotmail.com.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (67 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
But he feels that I should satisfy him in other ways during my period (primarily oral).

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. No, you're not obligated, and his attitude that you 'should' satisfy him--ever--is fucked. 'Should' is not an awesome word when applied to one's sex life.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:59 AM on June 6, 2012 [48 favorites]


Is it selfish of me to not want to give blow jobs during my period?

No. It's your mouth. If you don't want a penis in it, you don't want a penis in it. If he doesn't like the alternatives, that's his problem, not yours.
posted by Gygesringtone at 8:02 AM on June 6, 2012 [34 favorites]


He has a very hard time orgasming from masturbation so he cannot satisfy himself. He's been like this for as long as I've known him - high sex drive but needs a partner to come.

That sounds like the main problem. Maybe he could try using a fleshlight or otherwise improve masturbation enough to orgasm?
posted by Sexy, Sexy Anonymity at 8:06 AM on June 6, 2012 [13 favorites]


Fuck that, nobody owes anybody else sexual pleasure. Regardless of menstrual status, if a person doesn't want to engage in sexual activity, they don't have to engage in sexual activity.

Buy him a Aneros and a gallon jug of lube, and put it in a box labeled "Hubbie's Time Of The Month".
posted by Sternmeyer at 8:06 AM on June 6, 2012 [21 favorites]


You should work with him to enable him to develop an effective masturbation technique, with the aid of toys or porn. The inability to masturbate is not healthy and should be remedied where possible.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:07 AM on June 6, 2012 [13 favorites]


Haha, you're a saint. When my wife is experiencing her period as a husband I just try to do what I can to avoid her wrath (things return to normal in a few days).

Anyway, his demand is unreasonable.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:12 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think you have to tell him no, gently but firmly and say that it's not open for compromise and, as others suggest, lead him towards finding an alternative that doesn't involve you. His insistence sounds a bit disturbing. It's not "why won't you help me come??!!", it's: "why do you insist on making me do something I really can't handle for a short time each month??!!". He's in the wrong.
posted by peacay at 8:16 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


No. He's selfish for making you feel obligated to do something you don't want to do.
posted by scody at 8:18 AM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Some compromise should be expected in a long term relationship, including sexual compromise. While other people are technically right that you don't "owe" him sexual pleasure, that's not really how long-term sexual relationships work. My wife isn't required to have sex with me, but she stopped that would be a big problem because I have certain expectations and our relationship is built on those expectations (this is obviously true for non-sexual stuff as well).

The problem here is that his expectations seem to be out of line with what you're comfortable with, and you're not being selfish for wanting to limit things to what you're comfortable with. On the flip side, he's not being selfish or unreasonable for wanting what he wants. One of you will have to compromise; it sounds like you both compromised on the sex frequency issues, I don't see any reason why you can't both compromise on this. One blowjob during your period every other month would seem reasonable to me.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:23 AM on June 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


I agree with those who have suggested that your husband should figure out how to resolve the "can't get off without a partner" problem. Surely there's a solution for that.

And here's a possible compromise: you don't give him oral during your off week, but you do lie beside him and assist him by cuddling him (which could include kissing and caressing him, or letting him touch you) while he takes care of himself. Maybe you won't want to do even that, but I thought I'd suggest it because it's an option that would take very little effort and no real sex on your part. You'll get to relax and enjoy some physical affection while he gets off.
posted by orange swan at 8:30 AM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's unreasonable of him to not try and understand that you don't want to have oral sex if you don't feel like it. If he can't abstain for a measly week out of a month, then he needs to learn how to be less selfish.

When I get my period, I tend to feel nauseated, so it's understandable. It's really weird that he'd badger someone who doesn't want oral sex for it.
posted by discopolo at 8:35 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


There've been times I've done this because I felt giving and generous and such. It's a nice thing to do. But it's not an obligation. Even if you're married. Even if "all relationships require compromise".

I highly doubt that he would do the same for you if he absolutely didn't feel like having sex but you "needed" it. Though even if he would, that doesn't mean you're obligated to. Of course.
posted by Sara C. at 8:36 AM on June 6, 2012


While other people are technically right that you don't "owe" him sexual pleasure, that's not really how long-term sexual relationships work. My wife isn't required to have sex with me, but she stopped that would be a big problem because I have certain expectations and our relationship is built on those expectations (this is obviously true for non-sexual stuff as well).

I assume that the difference between not having sexual desire one week a month and the difference between stopping all sex should be self-evident.

The problem here is that his expectations seem to be out of line with what you're comfortable with, and you're not being selfish for wanting to limit things to what you're comfortable with. On the flip side, he's not being selfish or unreasonable for wanting what he wants.

Of course he's not being selfish for wanting what he wants. He is being selfish by assuming that his needs automatically trump her needs, and then manipulating her into feeling obligated to act in accordance with this.

The real solution is that the OP's husband needs to learn more satisfying masturbation techniques, so that he can meet his own needs once a month.
posted by scody at 8:37 AM on June 6, 2012 [34 favorites]


I agree with what I imagine will be the overwhelming chorus, your consent is not to be wheedled with for any reason.

In terms of having a productive conversation about it with your husband, talk about how there can be a misapprehension in our culture that a blow job is something that is received--you "give" someone a blow job. A dude "gets" a blow job. Your frame that you think you may be selfish for not "giving" him one suggests that a little of that baggage is weighing down this exchange for both of you. His idea to lighten the burden of what he wants you to "give him" is to "be quick," implying for both of you that what you are giving him is some kind of short-term physical work that he needs from you, on par with bringing in the extra bag of groceries. So, then, if you refuse you're put in a position of being somewhat petty, on par with making him take an extra trip back out to grab a bag of groceries.

Obviously, like everyone has said, this is bullshit. I think you both already kind of know this, especially if the best sex that you have with him is when you're both receptive, open, and feeling giving. Especially if engaging in oral sex is something you know you can enjoy. Going down on someone is something you do because you both get off on it. He gets hot seeing you get hot doing it and you get hot seeing him get hot because of what you're doing. Visa versa. I can't imagine getting off if my partner is doing ANYTHING to me that he's less than enthusiastic about. It gives me chills to imagine him doing ANYTHING to me that I, even passively, coerced him into. The fastest way for him to feel like cold water has been thrown over the whole thing is that if he gets even a vague sense I'm not into something he's doing. Both of you may benefit from talking about just that--how can something feel good if you know the person you love doesn't want it?

It is not actually that difficult to negotiate the line of making overtures to try to warm up a partner who just crawled into bed wearing their "not tonight" pajamas and coercion. Because married or not, "no" is still "no," the first time you say it, and in this case you've provided him a great deal of information about where you're at and made it clear that you do not want to be approached during this time for sex of any variety. It doesn't mean that approaching him is off the table, but if you already know he would be interested if you are, you don't require his campaigning.

It would be interesting to see if given such a frame of his behavior, he can think about who may actually be the selfish party, here.
posted by rumposinc at 8:37 AM on June 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


You're never obligated to do anything sexually you don't want to, no matter what the circumstances.

Reasonable people will agree with this.
posted by Fister Roboto at 8:41 AM on June 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


Sex is not just about orgasms. Your husband knows this. He knows you don't enjoy doing this thing, and that you don't want to do it - and for you, the non-orgasm stuff that makes the act worthwhile is missing under these circumstances. Ergo, it is he who is selfish in this instance.

Work with him on finding a way to address both of your needs here - getting a chance to talk about it in a safe atmosphere (not in bed, possibly with a counselor present) would be helpful.

I don't even like being touched when I'm menstruating - I feel sick and gross - so I am a bit biased here.
posted by SMPA at 8:46 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


All I needed to read was:

"Is it selfish of me to not want to"

And the answer is already a resounding "nope!" You are a human being with your own desires and wants, and no one should ever be able to make you feel selfish, guilty, or ashamed for NOT WANTING something, whatever it is (grilled tofu, sex on your period, going to see The Expendables 2).

Your husband can actually grow the hell up and take care of his own wants, just like every other adult does.
posted by so_gracefully at 8:46 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


You are not being selfish.

It sounds like your current compromise is that you're usually having sex at times when he really wants it and you're just kind of in a place where you enjoy it (albeit not as much) but wouldn't have initiated it yourself. That's good and it's fair. It means you're not being asked to do anything you don't actually want to do.

So, once a month, he's asking you to do something you don't want to do. And he's thinking of this as a compromise along the same lines as the one that means you're having sex more often - it isn't. There's a vast gulf between things you're not as excited about as he is but are still open to, and things you just don't want to do. There are compromises to be had when he wants something more and you'd be up for it with a little warming-up. When you flat-out do not want sex in any form, there are no compromises to be made at all.

He also needs to recognize that sex is not at all in the category of things you can just knuckle down and do, especially in a marriage where you're supposed to have each other's backs and be a safe place for your partner. That sort of attitude makes the whole thing fraught with expectation and pressure. There's nothing less sexy than that.

And the cajoling - that would drive me up a goddamn tree. Everyone's different but I can tell you that in my case I would flip my shit after very little of that. He needs to stop that shit yesterday.

So: Tell him some version of the above. Explain the difference in compromise and then explain that it's really important that he recognize and respect your consent, or your explicit lack of consent, and not try to argue with it, because it makes you feel bad. If you've been married to him for fourteen years then I'd imagine you speak his language to a sufficient degree that you can put this in terms he'll understand.

I think that everyone has a right to be satisfied to a reasonable degree, and if your question were "I'm not really all that interested in sex with my husband and he'd like to maybe at least try to have some kind of sex once a year or so," my answer might be different, but in your case, you are being reasonable and he is not. You're making a good-faith effort and being a total trooper about all this. Dude doesn't get to have sex with you during the one week a month when you don't want to have sex. He is satisfied to a reasonable degree and then some, and he needs to kind of grow up about this.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:01 AM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


I would recommend the same thing as any other time one party wants more than the other: make masturbation more appealing. The Fleshlight has already been mentioned. Another relatively new men's sex toy is the Cobra Libre, which is getting pretty good reviews. The main catch is that it's sized for the average man, so if he's particularly large it might not work well for him.

If you do get him a toy or two, don't just hand them off and say "have fun." As unappealing as it might be during your period, I would use them on him at least the first couple of times. That way there's a solid connection to his partner rather than it being a purely solitary activity. The Cobra Libre in particular is more like a male vibrator and involves less work than a hand job, so using it might even be a good long-term compromise for you. He gets an orgasm, and you just have to hold a buzzing piece of plastic for a couple of minutes.
posted by Sockenpuppe at 9:03 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


How do other couples handle this?

It's not an explicit quid pro quo, but she gives me oral sex (happily and voluntarily, with no whining, ugh that is so not sexy) and I give her the backrubs and footrubs and general snuggling that makes her feel good while cramping.

So even if footrubs aren't your thing, is he going above and beyond to help you and nurture you (and not in a whiny "but I did X, so now I deserve a blow job!" kind of way)? My guess if that you would feel differently about this if he was going to such extremes to do nice things for you with no expectation or demands for reciprocity.
posted by Forktine at 9:04 AM on June 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


He has a very hard time orgasming from masturbation so he cannot satisfy himself.

He can't satisfy himself because he's been able to cajole you into doing it for him for 14+ years. But, unless your sexual relationship began as soon as he hit puberty, I think it's safe to assume he was able to successfully satisfy himself at some point in the past. He's just out of practice. I'll bet he's more than capable of getting it all figured out again if he puts his mind to it.

And no, you're not being selfish.
posted by amyms at 9:06 AM on June 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


Just because I have to play devil's advocate...

If the husband was on here complaining that he's sexually unsatisfied in his marriage, it would be "justified" (in Dan Savage land) for him to cheat or divorce. So tread lightly, and try to find a better balance, rather than trying to figure out which of you is being the selfish one. Maybe neither of you are being selfish, and you just aren't communicating or balancing effectively (if this is a long and tired argument about your sexual compatibility, that is.)

All I'm trying to say is, while I agree with all the posters that your body belongs to you and no one else, obviously neither of you are happy with the situation, and forcing one person or the other to "give in" may not be the answer (since it'll leave one of you unhappy)
posted by el_yucateco at 9:07 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


(happily and voluntarily, with no whining, ugh that is so not sexy)

I meant no whining by me; if she didn't want it we wouldn't do it.
posted by Forktine at 9:08 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Honestly, it makes me really uncomfortable when people of any gender or marital status do this shit - in essence, they are saying that they will derive pleasure from a sex act that you are uninterested in performing, because their pleasure is more important than your comfort and happiness. It's 100% okay if that kind of power dynamic is a equally expressed kink within your relationship, but otherwise, ugh. The wheedling shit is fucking awful and demeaning and just makes my skin crawl.

When you're done with your period, why don't you ask him to go down on you til you orgasm, with the understanding that you will do nothing towards his pleasure afterwards? It's not exactly a perfectly equal situation (unless he's exhausted and gassy and his balls ache, and also because presumably he is willing to get you off when you've got your period) but it might help him understand how you feel.
posted by elizardbits at 9:17 AM on June 6, 2012 [20 favorites]


I basically feel the way elizardbits does. Your husband's attitude about sex being a service you should for him even when you don't want to because he's hornier than you are is creepy. There are lots of compromises in a marriage, and yes, that's really one of the ways to make it work. It's rough being with a partner who has a different sex drive from you though, as at the very least consent is critical to that. I personally think that sex with ANYONE requires enthusiastic consent -- where you both really want to do it and are excited to do it. Sex shouldn't be about acquiescing, it should be about joyful participation.

As others have said, your husband needs to find some ways to satisfy himself on the occasions when you do not want to have sex. You are allowed to draw the line and say that you will not have sex with him when you are menstruating.
posted by Kimberly at 9:23 AM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Also, I love oral sex and give plenty of it throughout the month. It's not like that one week is his only time to get BJs!

Are these to completion or just foreplay? I get plenty of oral sex but (occasionally) during her period is more or less the only time I get to be entirely self-centered and not responsible for giving anything back to her sexually. That's a really enjoyable thing every once in a while. It takes some of the performance pressure off of me and allows me to be more relaxed the 9 times of of 10 when I am expected fulfill her needs before meetting mine. This works out for us because she'd rather get hers the other three weeks of the month. If that means doing something which isn't all that pleasurable for her every couple of months, then it is worth it to her.

So, yeah, I think it's reasonable for a man to expect a partner to suck him off completely every now and again (if that is what he wants). But no, it's never unreasonable or selfish to say No to something you don't want to do sexually. Which is why I ask about completion or foreplay. If it's only foreplay, it may not "count" as a BJ in his book.

Ultimately it's his problem if he is not getting what he wants and he has to decide whether this incompatibility is a deal breaker for him. (In my case it wouldn't be, keeping my family intact is more important overall but it's real nice that I don't have to make that choice.)
posted by Dano St at 9:24 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


How do other couples handle this?

We have a bright-line rule that we don't have sex of any kind unless we both want to. I mean, sure, sometimes one of us is 'YAY SEX!!!' and the other is 'Sex, whatever, sure, okay' but we never ever ever ever have sex unless both of us are at least at 'Sex, whatever, sure, okay' levels.

I think this is how the overwhelming majority of couples handle this. Agree that if you went out of your way to help your husband find ways to get off on his own that really worked for him that you would be being generous and supportive. Here's a review of several men's toys from Askmen.com; JanesGuide.com is also a good resource for toy reviews.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:27 AM on June 6, 2012 [13 favorites]


He can't satisfy himself because he's been able to cajole you into doing it for him for 14+ years. But, unless your sexual relationship began as soon as he hit puberty, I think it's safe to assume he was able to successfully satisfy himself at some point in the past. He's just out of practice. I'll bet he's more than capable of getting it all figured out again if he puts his mind to it.

This, unless it's not. If your partner has never been able to masturbate himself to completion, that is a genuine problem that maybe should be worked on, and might take a lot of the load off - because usually, masturbation fills the gaps here. Is it religious-based? Physical? Positioning? Will your physical presence help him get closer? Does he need help with technique?

Work out the root cause and the rest will follow.
posted by corb at 9:30 AM on June 6, 2012


I don't think you are being selfish at all. I do think you both might like to invest in a wide range of male masturbatory devices (fleshlights, lubes of various types and stimulus, butt toys what ever floats his boat) and let him have at it. Heck buy a new one every month until he has a nice collection. If you feel like it you can lay next to him and offer suggestions, advice or other stimulation that you feel like doing. Or you could go the other way and introduce him to the fun world of orgasm control and he might find himself looking forward to waiting.

Also you can still have orgasms during your periods, that is what eggs and external vibrators are great for. I find orgasms a great cure for period back cramp, though not everyone feels like up for that sort of thing when menstruating. If you did could both masturbate next to each other for added hotness.

What you shouldn't do is feel pressured into sex acts because your husband can't be bothered remembering how he used to wank off like a horny monkey on speed when he was a teenage boy.
posted by wwax at 9:31 AM on June 6, 2012


This is your call. He has to back off.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:39 AM on June 6, 2012


your husband can't be bothered remembering how he used to wank off like a horny monkey on speed when he was a teenage boy

Maybe he didn't. There really are men who have trouble masturbating to orgasm, who always have. The thing is that that's a challenge that's primarily his, but he's choosing not to address it because he feels he has a right to insist that his wife provide orgasms.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:44 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I agree with everyone else that you shouldn't do anything you're not comfortable with. That said, I did want to mention that this:

I'm the one who actually has to suffer through the period, which is bad enough; why does he get to ENJOY this time at my expense?

Is not a very helpful way to look at the situation. "I have to suffer, so you should too" isn't a great negotiating position in a LTR, and if you're using this as the basis for your argument when you have this discussion, it may be contributing to his resentment.

Not blaming you at all - but other people had already covered the "no, of course you don't have to" angle very well, so I thought I'd bring up the one odd thing I noticed.
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:49 AM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Nthing that you are not selfish for not wanting oral sex while you're on your period. I do think that you guys will both be happier if you can find an alternative, though, rather than just tell him that during that week you're totally off limits. Would a handjob in bed be workable? (Oral sex to me is definitely sex and I completely sympathize with not wanting to do it when you're in the no-sex zone; but a HJ seems more like a massage to me - no penetration, less work, etc.)

And speaking of massages, I hope he's rubbing your feet for every time you're giving him nonreciprocal orgasms.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:50 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whining to your partner to get them to blow you when they're feeling unsexy is THE WORST kind of douchebag attitude around, and I speak as a guy with a huge sex-drive married to a woman with a lower one.

He should man-the-fuck-up and stop being an immature asshole. Show some fucking self-discipline, and mix in a dollop of respect for the woman he loves and is building a home and family with.

Because he doesn't REALLY want to be the kind of guy who whines about needing a blowjob when his wife ISN'T FEELING SEXY. On that road, irretrievable douchebaggery lies.

I mean, it's one thing to say Hey baby, I know Luna is in town, but if you felt up for it, I'd love some head. I'll make it up to you like CRAZY once she moves on. That's perfectly reasonable.

And it's perfectly reasonable for you to reply Baby, I really don't feel up for it. And maybe you don't feel sexy but you throw him one because you love him and you don't wanna fuck, but at this moment a blowjob is not particularly onerous. And maybe it's REALLY not in the cards tonight and that's just that.

But the repeated wheedling and cajoling like some 16-yr-old is just such a bad combination of unmanly and disrespectful. I feel bad for the guy that he can't cum beating off. I personally would recommend different porn and different lube. Maybe some snug leather gloves or a cock ring.

Just don't fucking whine. Don't whine, don't wheedle, don't cajole, don't act so fucking entitled.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:09 AM on June 6, 2012 [17 favorites]


Sometimes I laugh it off, sometimes i outright refuse, and sometimes I do it.

Be consistent. You're sending mixed messages. You don't want to do it, and that's fine. Don't do it. Every time you "give in" you're reinforcing the message that if he asks enough, you'll give in.
posted by iconomy at 10:38 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


And speaking of massages, I hope he's rubbing your feet for every time you're giving him nonreciprocal orgasms.

Oh my God, can't believe I forgot about this. May not be your cup of tea but it works in my relationship... since she gets horrible back pains around that time, I agree to rub her back for as long as she goes down. Its not a hard and fast negotiation, more of a game.... she'll actually try to prevent me from finishing so she can get a longer back rub. Totally works out for both of us (and she starts feeling sexier about herself once the "game" starts.)

But see we have good communication in our 'ship, and are very active, so she can understand how going from 4-5 times per week to 0 is taxing on me, and I'd normally be annoyed at constant requests for backrubs but for that one week, we find ways to have fun with each other. Thats not to say that I won't give an reciprocated backrub, and likewise she's a great girlfriend and will surprise me on my way out the door to work every now and then... causing me to be 10 minutes late ;)
posted by el_yucateco at 10:40 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


NO.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 11:23 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


A couple of comments have implied that you need to be accommodating to your husband's desires, because cutting a man off from sex is unfair and if he were here posting his side of things he'd be given the AskMe okay to go ahead and cheat on you to get his needs met.

What you are talking about is one week (give or take a day or so) once a month. That is not "cutting a man off from sex", not in any way. To contrast this situation with an actual cutting-off situation... I'm friendly with a man who's been married for about a decade, his wife has zero interest in sex and they maybe have sex once a month, during which she just lays there and lets him "get it over with". THAT is cutting someone off from sex. Taking intercourse and blowjobs off the menu for roughly one week a month, when the rest of the month is filled with mutually satisfying and enjoyable sex every few days? I know men who would KILL for that.

Would your husband be okay with servicing your sexual needs during a time period when he felt ill, his body was cramping and bleeding, and his sexual desire was extremely low? If not, why not? Because that's what he's asking of you. If this road doesn't go both ways, then he needs to explain why.
posted by palomar at 11:34 AM on June 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


Your man does not realise how lucky he actually is to be getting blowjobs repeatedly throughout the month. If I had someone giving me blowjobs, I would be dancing on the ceiling with delight, not complaining about having to wait a week for another one.

You are not being unreasonable in the slightest to make your man wait a week for his next blowjob. Wheedle him the next time he has manflu to attend to your needs and see how he likes it.

Your husband is the one who is being selfish here.
posted by Solomon at 11:52 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course you are not selfish at all for not wanting to do something. And there's no room for coercion and guilting one another in a loving relationship. It concerns me that sex for him seems to be focused on his needs to the exclusion of yours. Seems backwards to me, but I'm an old-fashioned type.

That said, reading your question left me with two big reservations:

1) The tone of your question -- and his responses -- make it sound like there's an undertone of scorekeeping and negotiation in your relationship that is troubling. Scorekeeping behavior ("You got X last time, so why should you have Y?") is an indicator of unresolved resentments and deeper communication problems in a relationship. Not saying the problems are with just *you,* but the two of you may have deeper problems that are simply surfacing here in your sex life.

2) I can't imagine you posted this question here expecting to hear a diverse range of opinions about your husband's demands. It seems to me that posting this question here is analogous to dishing your marital problems to a chorus of girlfriends. So maybe you *do* need a supportive ear to hear your complaints from time to time, but don't let your husband know that the entire MeFi world thinks he's an asshole or you'll do real damage to your marriage. Involving third parties in an argument (other than trained counselors) is a destructive relationship behavior. It's a form of "Invalidation," which is one of the Danger Signs (Markman and Stanley) highly correlated with relationship failure.

Basically, it sounds like you two -- and after 14 years what couple would not? -- need some relationship/communication skills work. This is about more than just sex and a ringing chorus of reassurance about your rights as a wife from MeFi might just serve to keep you focused on the wrong things.
posted by cross_impact at 11:59 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I will say it's not 'selfish' because I think it's important you don't attach these sort of blaming terms to his behavior; nor are you selfish, of course. I was just wondering why I looked at people's 'oh no, he's the one wrong' responses and felt uncomfortable-- it's not that I think you owe him sex, naturally. But I think there's another issue here: while you're not wrong for not wanting to, he's not wrong for wanting you to. I think it's very important for the issue of blame or accusation of non-love to not enter the picture, you know? It's not that he doesn't care or that he's an inconsiderate asshole in some way. He may be being immature or not 'tough enough' to be manly and suck it up and not whine, but that's different.


So yeah, the problem may stem partly from framing the issue in terms of negotiation in the first place-- like, you give him X amount, so he should be happy, and instead he wants Y amount. It makes the sex transactional, which you're resisting but also perpetuating by attaching moral value to bodily desires he simply doesn't repress enough. People express caring in a variety of ways. I think expecting people close to you to show they care in the way you want will only lead you to believing most people don't care enough about you (in my experience).

So yeah, it's neither reasonable nor selfish because it's a desire, and desires are both-- they are selfish, and they are reasonable (I think it is its own sort of reason to follow your urges). Kindness and consideration and reasonableness are not the same thing. Being reasonable is being rational-- being desirous is not rational nor kind for that matter. I think women who express their desires in rational and kind ways do so because they were often socialized to (as well as more predisposed, sometimes); men are socialized to simply ask for what they want. That he does so is a privilege he has, but it's a privilege you'd exercise a lot more too, if you felt at ease to. So what I'm saying is to relax and exercise your own selfish-desire privilege-- say 'this is what I want' (or don't want) and don't feel it's got to be either kind or reasonable. He says 'wah', so say 'nah' and be a little immature. It feels good. Accept that it's ok if you don't want to give him a blowjob for any reason-- it doesn't have to be a good reason (and maybe it isn't, who cares); but likewise, it's ok if he wants blowjobs. So there you are, two equals, and no one would be forcing anyone to feel or do anything or suppress anything. You can say, 'I feel this', and he can say 'I feel that!' and you'd start from a place where no one has to pretend that they don't, or that this means it has to be compromised upon. It is simply how you two feel. Start with finding your own balance within that feeling of equally-weighted desires. Do not be kind, and don't expect him to be-- and try to be comfortable with that, just in this one case.

So his dick aches and he wants to come? Too bad! How sad! Well, you don't feel like it. Period. Life sucks and then you die. You can both own your feelings.


Then you can try to help him investigate how to get off on his own better. The fleshlight may be a good idea, and there's even different techniques he can try for masturbation, including water (which women use more but he may also enjoy). Encourage him to experiment and use that week in creative self-pleasuring ways, to indulge desire rather than repress it, and to not apologize or expect you to serve him. That is a place of freedom and equality and non-repression, which could only improve your relationship.
posted by reenka at 12:27 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you went away for the same length of time, he'd wait. It won't kill him. More importantly, it will help him remember how much he desires you, and if he can reframe his perspective from "I am suffering and need you to do this for me" to "I can't wait until you want to have sex again, because I hate not being able to be intimate with you", it will probably do you both some good.
posted by davejay at 12:45 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is there a way to frame the situation so the week hiatus from sex can be incorporated into something playful, something that builds up tension in a fun way for the first time you have sex after your period is done? When I've been in long-distance relationships, or was otherwise unable to see a partner for long stretches, we used that time apart as a sort of foreplay. Lots of countdowns and such: "T-minus 10 days until we..."

I also wonder if your husband needs a bit of a reality check so he can focus on what he *does* have, vs. what he feels he's missing for that one measly week. Seems like there are a lot of marriages with dead bedrooms...people going YEARS without ANY intimacy (we see posts like that here on Ask). You guys have fantastic sex for the majority of the month...does he not get how friggin' great that is, in itself?
posted by quivering_fantods at 12:46 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm a husband, been married for almost 20 years, so I think I can say this with adequate perspective: he's being unreasonable.
posted by StrawberryPie at 1:04 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


women's periods can be very different. mine are awful - emotional, crampy, super heavy flow - my husband really wouldn't dream of touching me sexually during my period (which i can tell is sometimes difficult for him, because my boobs also grow half a size and are more firm than any other point of the month) - he sees that the action of adjusting my position on the couch can nearly make me cry. in fact, i just posed this question to him and he said "bent over with a dick in your mouth bobbing up and down isn't a position most women on their periods would want to be in." from where i'm sitting, it seems like a no brainer.

he needs to work it out solo - maybe a doctor's visit if something is physically wrong - in fact, i get bitchy enough during my period that if i was being constantly hounded for head while actively bleeding out of my vagina i'd start answering with "so have you made that doctor's appointment to figure out what's wrong with your dick yet?" - but i don't recommend that for a mutually supportive conversation. as to sex toys, bullet vibrators can actually be more useful for men than women.

finally, i find it hilarious that people think savage would say this is a reason to cheat or leave. you guys have sex 6-9 times per month, 1/4-1/3 of month you guys are fucking and that's even with you taking 5 days off in a row (so really, on an every 3 day schedule, he's missing out on one roll in the hay). every couple gets to decide their own frequency, but you guys are well above the norm for 14 years married couples.
posted by nadawi at 1:17 PM on June 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


From the other side, I'm usually more interested during that time (I'm female) and most of the guys I've been with are content to just wait it out. The thing that has always gotten to me is when someone makes it sound like I'm flat out unattractive just because I'm menstruating. "Oh, it's that time, never mind, I'd rather do something else than be forced to do that." It's an intense emotional blow in addition to just not having sex (which is annoying but not that bad). From your post, it seems like this is the case for you--you are genuinely not attracted to your husband for one week out of four. And I'm not sure that there's any way to sugar coat that.

(Side note: Unless you're still interested, just only if it's two-sided. In which case, yes, vibrators, and also try using the Instead Soft Cup, it doesn't work out for everyone but if it works for you then you can have PiV sex during your period without involving blood, especially on lighter days.)
posted by anaelith at 1:19 PM on June 6, 2012


Something I feel needs emphasizing: I suspect that there were times during your period where you didn't feel too bad and giving head wasn't a big deal. I'm not saying that's what you should do! What I'm sensing is that now the bigger issue has become his begging and expecting it every month. I bet that if he didn't have that attitude, there would be times when you'd think, you know what—I'm not feeling too bad tonight, I'm going to surprise hubby with a little oral even though I don't want sex. BUT. By now, I bet that every time your period starts, your jaw clenches just anticipating the coming battle and his incessant whining. I think he really needs to realize how conterproductive his behavior is and that it will create a permanent rift of resentment in your marriage.

And even if he stops all of that, it doesn't mean you have to reward him with a BJ. You still are perfectly entitled to say no!
posted by Eicats at 1:19 PM on June 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


but (occasionally) during her period is more or less the only time I get to be entirely self-centered and not responsible for giving anything back to her sexually.

...is he feeling like this? Does he understand that sex is supposed to be mutually gratifying?

You are not being selfish at all....honestly his behavior would really gross me out. I can barely do what needs to be done in my life during my period, nevermind having to go out of my way to indulge in someone's selfish badgering to get off, because, "hooray! finally I don't even have to worry about whether she enjoys it!"

That kind of shit's a dealbreaker with me - if he pulled that badgering more than once, he'd be out. It's just not something healthy sexual relationships are built on.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 2:05 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are many marriages, I'd be willing to bet the majority, where there is much less sex than this overall. I'm wondering if your husband knows this?
posted by latkes at 2:14 PM on June 6, 2012


From the OP:
Thank you all for your responses and insights. They have been very helpful. I would like to clarify a bit:



The reason I struggle with this is because I am not the only one compromising in our sex life. My husband has a very high drive and having sex 2-3 times a week is just as much a compromise for him as it is for me, albeit in the opposite direction. I don’t want to lose sight of that, because I don’t think my drive is any more important than his. He is a wonderful guy. He treats me really well, loves my body, is an extremely giving lover. I am a very lucky woman myself. He is often frustrated by his own high sex drive and difficulty masturbating. We need a solution for this, but there is no malice on his part.
He doesn’t whine and badger me – he does ask/joke/cajole but in a nice way – but that in itself is enough to irritate me.
I didn’t post this question simply to vent about my frustrations and look for sympathy. I DO feel selfish about it, because my periods are not painful or all that difficult in general. I just feel completely unsexy at that time, and to be honest I look forward to it as a break. Thank you for letting me know that's ok.
I think helping him figure out a way to make masturbation work is an excellent suggestion and I will work on that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:24 PM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


This won't help with your lack of sex drive, but have you ever tried using a diaphram as a sex-friendly menstrual cup? No blood, no mess, it's just like you're not on your period. If you were up to having intercourse, but the blood was stopping you both, this might be an option.
posted by jb at 3:19 PM on June 6, 2012


Any chance you'd be willing to make up for your "week off" by giving him a week of daily sex once a month when you're not on your period? Then you'd both have something to look forward to.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:39 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


palomar writes "Would your husband be okay with servicing your sexual needs during a time period when he felt ill, his body was cramping and bleeding, and his sexual desire was extremely low? If not, why not? Because that's what he's asking of you. If this road doesn't go both ways, then he needs to explain why."

This is a dangerous approach; it's possible the husband would be okay with it. There are plenty of people who are always up, rain or shine as it were.

quivering_fantods writes "Seems like there are a lot of marriages with dead bedrooms...people going YEARS without ANY intimacy (we see posts like that here on Ask). You guys have fantastic sex for the majority of the month...does he not get how friggin' great that is, in itself?"

Relative goodness isn't applicable; how squelchy the neighbours are getting doesn't affect the husband at all (unless maybe they are doing it more often which might be annoying if known). And if one'd like sex once a day and are instead getting it 8 times a month one is going to be frustrated a lot more often than not (IE: ~75% of the time).
posted by Mitheral at 6:14 PM on June 6, 2012


have you considered letting him have sex with other people? i don't see anywhere in your question or the other answers where an open marriage or being "monogomish" was brought up as an option. is that something he would be open to? is it something you could live with?
posted by cupcake1337 at 6:30 PM on June 6, 2012


It seems like "supporting him in figuring out how to masturbate successfully" would be a lot less intrusive an answer than "renegotiating to non-monogamy." I would also be really surprised to hear of someone agreeing to a relationship with someone that included sex only when their partner wasn't feeling like sex because of their period.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:29 PM on June 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm probably the only person here with a dissenting opinion. I think you should give him a blowjob during your period. Not all the time, not when you're super not into it, but at least once during that week. I say this not because you are "obligated to" or it's your "duty" or whatever, but just because it's such a loving, caring thing to do for your beloved, doesn't take very long, and will make him feel very connected and close to you.

You do a lot of things for him that you probably don't enjoy -- picking up his socks or compromising on evening plans or whatever. A blowjob is a much more high-value activity for him, and probably less costly to you.
posted by 3491again at 7:59 PM on June 6, 2012


He has a very hard time orgasming from masturbation so he cannot satisfy himself.

I know everyone is different and we all have our little quirks when it comes to sex, and that it's really wrong to judge as long as someone isn't hurting anyone.

But I can honestly say I've never heard of a sexually active, healthy man not being able to jerk off, or not even being interested in it. It's actually rather baffling to me...if he wants sex every day...has he had a constant sex partner (you, but before you as well) constantly, since he was a teen? Really, this is really odd to me.

I think this may be the crux of the problem. Your hubby needs to learn how to masturbate. Maybe he has guilty feelings about, feelings a lot of us have to one degree or another, but with him they are so profound it has become a psycho-somatic issue and he can't perform. Maybe talking with him about it, or him even talking with a therapist would help. But a sexually active, healthy male saying "I can't cum from masturbation" is a strange thing.

In any event, you don't owe him blowjobs, handjobs or anything else while on your period. My wife and I are the same when she's on her period--neither of us are interested, but I find it a no-brainer to hold off for a few days. Your hubby can do the same. Or learn to jerk off.
posted by zardoz at 8:34 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


If the husband was on here complaining that he's sexually unsatisfied in his marriage, it would be "justified" (in Dan Savage land) for him to cheat or divorce. So tread lightly, and try to find a better balance, rather than trying to figure out which of you is being the selfish one. Maybe neither of you are being selfish, and you just aren't communicating or balancing effectively (if this is a long and tired argument about your sexual compatibility, that is.)

I've been reading Dan Savage for a whole lotta years, and, uh, no, I don't think we're in "consider nonmonogamy" mode for DanSavageLand here. She's got a great sex life with her husband, they've worked out a general happy medium to accommodate differing sex drives, she ALSO sometimes accommodates her husband's wish for blow jobs when she's not really up for it...pretty sure his answer would be dude, figure out a way to jerk off for a couple of days every several months, FFS.
posted by desuetude at 9:31 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Anonymous, the one sex-related thing that comes to mind as potentially mutually enjoyable is (depending on your temperaments) for you to tease the ever-loving hell out of him instead, like phone sex ramping up for next week. Maybe he would like masturbation better if you were staying the night at a girlfriend's house, whispering in his ear via phone.
posted by desuetude at 9:33 PM on June 6, 2012


[Folks, less mindreading on a touchy question please? Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:10 AM on June 7, 2012


"...because my periods are not painful or all that difficult in general. I just feel completely unsexy at that time, and to be honest I look forward to it as a break"

I hope you just worded this inartfully, but what I'm reading here is that you just prefer less sexual contact with your husband and you're just using your period as an excuse. Some women have real difficult periods and the thought of sexy time is truly distressing. Please don't ride on their coattails.

So, a poor choice of words notwithstanding, one is never selfish if they don't want to engage in sexual activity, but I believe your situation might have less or little to do with your period.
posted by teg4rvn at 8:47 AM on June 7, 2012


Some more thoughts on the masturbation thing:

If he can orgasm from you giving him a blowjob, or from PIV sex, the important thing to consider is what is different in those scenarios?

Physically, both are very moist and wet-there's serious lubrication, as well as a feeling of compression and suction. He may want to try using lube to masturbate - I know most men don't, but I know some men who do and it really helps them.

Emotionally, it may be a couple things: your desire may be a factor, the fact that you're touching him may be a factor.

Important things to think about: What turns him on while you're actually having sex? What puts him in the mood, what brings him closer to orgasming? Then try thinking about how you can incorporate those things into his masturbation.

Ask him to let you help him masturbate. Do it on one of the weeks where you don't have your period, and make it clear to him that this is going to be "Extra" and just "Fun", so he doesn't think it counts as one of the 2-3 times. Make it clear that it doesn't matter if he comes or not from it, you just want to experiment and have fun with different ways to make him feel good while masturbating.

Then work from there, tinkering with the things that seem to work best.

Good luck!
posted by corb at 11:59 AM on June 7, 2012


i have difficult periods, i don't feel like the OP is riding on my coattails. feeling deeply unsexy during your period, no matter how light it is, isn't just an excuse. hormones are crazy things - some women are desperately horny and some women would prefer a root canal. just because she might not have the physical pains doesn't mean the emotional side is unimportant.
posted by nadawi at 12:27 PM on June 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


My husband has a very high drive and having sex 2-3 times a week is just as much a compromise for him

I'm sorry, but I have to disagree. Is it a compromise? Yes. Is it "just as much" of a compromise? No.


Not having sex when you want it can be frustrating - but even then, as stated, there are other means to get off than intercourse.

Having sex when you don't want it can be physically painful. Hell, coercing someone into sex they don't want is actually a crime. So no - it's not the same thing.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 4:16 PM on June 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure of the point of arguing the degree of difference between his sexual frustration* and her frustration with not getting the space/break she needs. OP, who understands this dynamic thousands of times better than you or I, seems satisfied with the compromise they've reached for the weeks in which she is not menstruating, and understands it as an agreement where they've both given something. The ground he has already given is mitigating factor as she considers how to negotiate the week in question, but ultimately she controls her body full-stop, so the relative size of ground given by either is kinda moot.

Besides there is no indication that pain or rape is a characteristic of this sexual relationship, so I don't follow how they help answer the question of whether it is "just as much a compromise," even if that question were relevant.

* lack of sex can be physically painful as well, i.e. blue balls. Probably not happening in this case if dude is poppin' 2+/wk, but it is a real thing, like a woman experiencing pain during intercourse is a real thing. And hey, as long as we're stretching, castrating him would be a crime too, but it would probably solve the problem.

OP, perhaps it would help to think of it this way: you're both in bed... you're on your period and he is uncomfortably horny. What are his options to solve his problem? Like every possible solution you can think of, including the improbable/impractical ones like finding another partner. Of those options, consider which one you would ideally like him to choose and make sure he understands your preference.

If I were your husband, I might think my wife would actually prefer that I ask her for a little help rather than sneaking off to masturbate somewhere to whatever I could find to float my boat. Maybe that's a good assumption and maybe it's not. The point is I wouldn't know if my wife didn't give it some thought and then share those thoughts with me.
posted by Dano St at 6:43 AM on June 8, 2012


Nope, you're not selfish - and I'm someone who has been in a situation that included sex roughly biennially. Thankfully my current marital relationship affords me sex as much as I want, which is nice - and came about through vigorous communication.

Wheedling isn't ok (or sexy), but your response makes it seem like the business he gives you is pretty low-key and joking. That's good - you seem like you're close to the same page. I concur with the advice here to make time to practice his masturbation techniques during the three weeks you feel more involved sexually. Whether you make it part of the scheduled time would be up to you, of course. If you two can get him to a point that masturbation is more enjoyable for him, you might be able to add that to the mix for the other week, in place of the bj if you're feeling up to it. If he can't get off with lube, porn, toys, your presence and encouragement (and maybe physical contact/stimulation) he might want to investigate further.

I will say that this is all going to come down to communication. There have been a lot of commenters here who have negotiated a wide range of sexual agreements, and I think the happiest people (whether they are monogamous, in a triad, or chained up in a dungeon somewhere) got there because they discussed what they wanted.
posted by Nabubrush at 11:09 AM on June 8, 2012


[Blueballs conversation off topic and deleted. Take it to email if you need to.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:51 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


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