My husband admitted that he has had better sex with other women
October 8, 2020 12:40 PM   Subscribe

My husband and I have had a tough start to marriage, primarily due to lots of difficult external circumstances. We decided to get marriage counseling as this experience has revealed some underlying communication issues that we want to work on. During our first session of marriage counseling, the counselor asked specifically about our sex life. My husband replied that it was "fine". When the counselor asked him to elaborate, he said that he's had stronger sexual connections with other previous partners, but he's fine with how things are sexually between us.

Perhaps unreasonably, I have found myself very hurt by this. My husband had had a number of sexual partners before we got together, but he was my first sexual partner. I don't have any basis for comparison, but I enjoy our sex life. (I was waiting for marriage to have sex, and he was totally fine with doing that with me after we got together. I guess this experience has confirmed for me what I had long suspected, which is that it's better *either* to wait until marriage to have sex, *or* to have sex early and prioritize sexual compatibility, but that some sort of middle ground has the potential to go very wrong. I had always been hoping to marry someone who was also waiting until marriage to have sex for the first time, but obviously it didn't turn out like that; before I agreed to marry him, I had reservations of this nature about his prior experience that I guess are now confirmed. Anyway, I'd prefer that the answers to this question focus more specifically on the current situation and dynamic rather than turn into a referendum on my choice about waiting until marriage.)

I was pretty upset about this after the session. We talked about it. My husband said that in particular, he was used to previous partners orgasming more easily, and being more vocal. (I can only orgasm from a very particular type of touching - I think it is an anatomical difficulty, as I tried all sorts of ways when I masturbated as a teenager, and only one way ever worked. I could try to be more vocal, and I'm willing to, but I'd really like to feel like I can be myself and enjoy sex that way rather than focusing on putting on some sort of show for my husband.) We're also trying to have a baby, so our sex is often semi-scheduled, which I think doesn't help (i.e. it's often not spontaneous and we do it sometimes even if I'm not in the mood, which I'm fine with and I try to get into the experience, but I don't really want to feel pressured to put an act on.)

My husband said he never would have volunteered the information if he hadn't been asked directly by the marriage counselor, but he felt he had to be honest in response to a direct question in therapy. He said that he wishes he had never said it. He says that our overall connection isn't less strong than he's had with previous partners, only the sexual component specifically; that I'm the best thing that ever happened to him; that he enjoys our sex life and is happy with it continuing as it has been; that he finds me sexy; and that sex isn't the most important thing to him and he really values everything else that we have. I appreciate that but I am still finding this difficult. It's hard for me to imagine having sex with him again without feeling judged or compared, and the whole thing makes me feel really turned off - maybe indefinitely. I know he has had sex with other women, intellectually I had come to terms with that, and I could have surmised that the sex he had had with more experienced women was probably better. So I know it's irrational to feel so hurt to have him confirm that. Nevertheless, that's how I feel, and I'm not sure how to move past it. (I think that maybe I get unusually turned off with hearing direct comparisons with other women. A previous boyfriend told me I was the "second hottest woman" he had ever dated, and was very explicit about comparisons between me and other women, and I think I started to lose my desire for him from that even when the comparisons were largely complimentary. I don't know how unusual I am here but this is how I feel. Intellectually, I know I might not be the best ever, but I think I need my partner to preserve for me the fantasy that I might be. My own desire very heavily arises from imagining myself to be irresistibly and uniquely desired, and somehow this kind of thing kills it.)  Am I unusual here or was my husband out of line? And how do we move forward from here?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (35 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

Question: What are you expecting to get out of this therapy? Because I'm assuming that "I don't want to have sex with my husband ever again" isn't it.
posted by kingdead at 12:49 PM on October 8, 2020 [12 favorites]

marriage is a process, just because he doesn't feel like you are the best he's ever had right now that doesn't really preclude that possibility in the future. You're both inexperienced with each other so some effort is probably needed on both of your parts in that area. with that in mind perhaps your fantasy could still be preserved?
posted by Dr. Twist at 12:58 PM on October 8, 2020 [18 favorites]

This sounds miserable and I'm sorry youre going through it. I think it's definitely something to bring up in your next couples counseling session! Also, I'd put the brakes on trying to conceive until your relationship is on more solid ground. Good luck :)
posted by bahama mama at 1:06 PM on October 8, 2020 [24 favorites]

Your therapist just committed some serious malpractice, in my opinion.

It is 100% normal for people to have rosy sexual memories of past experiences. It is also 100% normal and predictable for a spouse to feel very hurt by this knowledge. NOT everything needs to be said out loud. We show love to our partners by practicing discretion when it comes to NOT saying hurtful things like this even if they are true. Your partner understood this instinctively but the therapist overrode his instincts to STFU about this sort of thing.

My advice is to take a little time off sex. Tell your husband that you understand that the therapist basically made him say a hurtful thing, and that you're working on letting go of the hurt, but it will take a while. And please keep in mind that those experiences he's thinking of were with people whom he didn't marry. He loves you. You are his wife, by his choice. Not those other people.

And when you do go back to bed with him make sure you're giving him the best information you can about how to help you orgasm. Including making you feel like the most desirable woman in the world.

And get a different therapist, one who thinks about consequences before randomly sticking twigs into the anthill of your marriage.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:07 PM on October 8, 2020 [62 favorites]

Humans are a package of traits. You don't get to order what you want off of a menu and combine them into a perfect partner. You fall in love with a person who is a mix of traits, some you really like, some are neutral, some you rather not have. But every one has some "rather not traits" - you want the partner where their particular package works for you.

It makes sense that you feel hurt - he confirmed your worst fears - that you don't really satisfy him, that when you are bed he is wishing for something or someone else. But those fears inside of you are blocking from hearing what he says about he really feels. He chose (and continues to choose) YOU. And he is telling you that he feels good about the package, or at least that the sex part is giving him enough of want he wants that he is still happy about his choice.

Hopefully the couples counseling will build your confidence in the relationship to the point that you can really believe that he would rather be with you (and have you as his sex partner for life) than anyone else.
posted by metahawk at 1:14 PM on October 8, 2020 [18 favorites]

I've been with my husband for more than twenty years, and the sex *keeps* *getting* *better*. Devoting yourself to learning and exploring what the two of you are capable of together has the potential to keep unfolding with new discoveries for both of you. I look back on our early sex (which seemed quite enjoyable at the time) and it just pales in comparison to what we have together now that we've learned so much more about ourselves and each other. None of the people in his past will ever have a chance to get to the place you two can get to together over time.
posted by Ausamor at 1:21 PM on October 8, 2020 [57 favorites]

I don't know if your husband was "out of line," but I think he was a thoughtless idiot in this situation. Seems like the therapist did NOT ask, "Have you had better sex with other women?" She asked him to elaborate on his initial answer that your sex life was "fine." He didn't need to go there. As stated above, part of loving someone is also knowing what NOT to say. He hurt your feelings. It would also really hurt my feelings, and probably lots of other people. There's what we know intellectually, and also the fantasy.

And one thing you didn't ask, that I want to comment on, which I hope is okay. You state that you have an "anatomical difficulty" because of how/when you orgasm. Did a physician tell you this? (And you don't state this, but I'm going to assume you are not from a country/culture where female genital mutilation occurs.) So, let me please state: There is NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU just because you can't orgasm the way women do in porn or in movies (which is all scripted in a way to PLEASE MEN and stroke their egos; the woman and her body is usually an afterthought). That is not real life.

Anyway--to answer. Husband was an idiot. Seems like he's aware of this. You're allowed to take whatever time you need to work through your feelings, and they are certainly not unusual.

I also recommend you read Come As You Are. Ask your husband to read it too. Seems like everyone needs a reframe on female sexuality.
posted by namemeansgazelle at 1:27 PM on October 8, 2020 [52 favorites]

How insecure do you think you are that your husband has had previous sexual partners? I used to feel pretty insecure about it. I hated thinking about him with anyone else. In fact, one day (a few years ago) we ran into an ex girlfriend of his at a playground and I literally turned and ran away because I just couldn’t cope and felt so awful. Do you have that kind of strong disgust response? Then yes, I think it’s unusual- but it doesn’t make you wrong per se... but it’s better for your well being if you can move beyond it somehow.

I’ve had therapy and life threw us some curve balls and I guess I’ve just grown up... over time it stopped bothering me so much. But I think the key was to stop thinking about it so much. I don’t see sex as such a big deal now (if thinking about it as a big deal made me unhappy then I’m happy not to feel that way anymore) for a lot of couples sex is only a small part of a much bigger picture.
posted by pairofshades at 1:27 PM on October 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

Seconding Ausamor -- like dancing, you can get so much better together with practice and trust. For DECADES of getting better. I don't think it's even uncommon in longterm marriages, it's just... we aren't likely to talk about it because it seems rude to gloat, and it's private, and it might require young people thinking about old people sex which doesn't go over well.

Plus also marriage is a case of being " irresistibly and uniquely desired" -- certainly that's why I married my spouse, so I assume that's why my spouse married me!
posted by clew at 1:30 PM on October 8, 2020 [7 favorites]

Hey there. I wanted to speak, specifically, to this part of your question:

Intellectually, I know I might not be the best ever, but I think I need my partner to preserve for me the fantasy that I might be. My own desire very heavily arises from imagining myself to be irresistibly and uniquely desired, and somehow this kind of thing kills it.

This is not odd or incorrect at all. What may be helpful for you and your husband is for you to communicate these ideas to him--as clearly and explicitly as you can!

I say this from my personal experience with therapy in the last year. My decade-long marriage came to a close, in part because I'd found out that my husband had been carrying on years of secret affairs behind my back. When we first got together, I was a stereotypical 20-something slutty gay guy and he was a 40-something who was just figuring out he was gay. To ease his tensions about coming out and then getting right into a serious relationship, and because I thought I'd be fine with it, I told him that we could have an open relationship. That way we could explore our own relationship--which was a very emotionally bonded one by the time this conversation happened--while he also got to sow his oats in the way that I had. After a few years, though, I learned that I really, really didn't like how this arrangement made me feel. In popular gay culture, people will eagerly tell you that finding comfort in or even desiring monogamy is a crime of heteronormativity or, even worse, jealousy and possessiveness and other sins of "sex negativity." To be honest, for most of my life I'd bought these ideas hook, line, and sinker. Until, you know, that one day when I woke up and realized, wait, no, I don't like this. I had a very difficult time unpacking this apparent dilemma. But I brought it up with my husband, and he said that he was happy for us to close the relationship and be monogamous. And for the next 8 or so years, that's how we operated.

It wasn't until I got an STI that I learned about my husband's very secret disagreement with our relationship status. And it floored me. I mean really, it knocked me down and out in ways I still struggle to think about. It was the spark that lit the torch of divorce, and the tailspin I went into was what sent me to see a therapist for the first time in my life.

What I learned in therapy is something that I think may be valuable for you: those thoughts that you expressed above may well be your core values, not just some programming or personal quirks. What you've articulated is something that took me the better part of a year to be able to put into words--and when I was able to do that, gosh, it was a real "eureka!" moment. Gone was this fear that I was a bad person, or a regressive person, or somehow punitive toward my partner for having these thoughts and feelings. Instead, I could confidently say things (to myself, to prospective partners) that a key part of my sexuality is being in a relationship where I'm prioritized. Part of that priority is taking steps to ensure that I don't feel like I have to compete for my partner's time and affection. If I have to do those things? We can have fun, sure, but we can't date. We're not partner material. If a person experiences my values as negative flavors of jealousy, possessiveness, etc., that's fine! They need to understand this early on, and I need to understand their awareness of it, so no one's heart gets hurt by going too far down the line before they find these things out.

So here you are, in a position where you may be able to say these values of yours, aloud, to your husband, in a way that they are clear. If he can tell you, convincingly, that he understands them and will no longer speak or act in a way that squarely cuts you at your values, then you'll certainly have room to grow together and turn this early speedbump into a hardship that you grow in response to and move beyond. Your marriage may well be filled with similar experiences like this, all of varying magnitude, and I would encourage you to think of marriage as something like that. There will be bumps and bruises. How do you each care for those bumps and bruises, how do you make each other aware of your soft spots so you can avoid harming one another? A big part of that, I think, is getting more comfortable with giving thought and voice to your values.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 1:49 PM on October 8, 2020 [56 favorites]

I am following this with interest because I had an experience that was similar in some respects. I can orgasm reliably with someone who knows what they're doing but, like probably 70% of women, it's not through intercourse alone. Unfortunately my partner either 1) had a statistically improbable series of partners who came at the same time as him through intercourse alone, or 2) much more likely, were fakers and traitors to the cause. And then it became apparent that this is what he was wishing for and thought was "normal," and also had the poor judgement to voice. And could not really be convinced otherwise.

I have a strong libido and the fact of previous partners doesn't bother me, but that kind of negative comparison shut my desire off like a faucet. My view is that a good sexual relationship is like a private world where you can be absolutely vulnerable with the other person because you know you are loved and desired exactly as you are. It's a fragile bubble. And saying things like this pops it. I guess I don't have any advice to offer, just the firm opinion that you are perfectly normal and reasonable for feeling the way you do.

Also, I seriously doubt that you have any kind of "anatomical difficulty." Everyone has specific things that work for them. If you can give and receive sexual pleasure, you're 100% okay. Also read Esther Perel, who will confirm for you that for many if not most women, sexual desire arises from being desired. You're not unusual at all in that.

Also also, don't get pregnant until you get this sorted out. It won't get better after a baby, and you don't want to be saddled for life with a man for whom you feel no desire.
posted by HotToddy at 1:58 PM on October 8, 2020 [50 favorites]

I don't know if I think the therapist did something egregiously wrong here -- I wasn't there, but I do think that "fine" in response to a question like this AND in this type of therapy... is something I'd expect to see a prompt to elaborate on. I think your husband made the mistake of thinking that "fine" would be sufficient.

I think that lots of people feel jealous or insecure about their partner's previous experiences and that is normal. I think you might be more sensitive than your husband realized; it's not clear to me whether he knew that this would hurt you so badly, and his choice of words in that moment was pretty poor. But it almost sounds like you are throwing out all the things he said after, over things that happened before he even met you. Things that cannot be changed, whereas your future sex life has all the room in the world to evolve.

I don't know how long ago this happened but I do think you should give yourself some time and space to heal from the hurt, rather than trying to jump back into the way things were.

I also think it is worth exploring how to empower yourself in your own desire -- having it be weighted so heavily on someone else's view and upkeep, I think, is going to be increasingly challenging and limiting over time.
posted by sm1tten at 1:59 PM on October 8, 2020

You are not unusual here! I think it is healthy and normal to want to have a powerful, intense sexual relationship with your spouse, the one person who monogamous people are intending to have sex with for potentially the rest of their lives. It makes sense that this hurt your feelings, and that you want something different.

And also, your husband was not necessarily "out of line." He was being honest, and his feelings about this are not that unusual or by themselves problematic. I say this as a woman who has at times had thoughts like this about my husband vs. my previous partners. (I haven't said something exactly like this to him, but he may suspect it.) I find him very very attractive, am thrilled to have married him, and love him so deeply. But I had easier, more uninhibited sex with previous partners.

The thing is, I want to continue cultivating, deepening, expanding, developing my husband and I's sexual relationship. I want to work through the ways we each have contributed to our sexual exploration being hindered - and we are working on that, with each other and with our couple's therapist.

Perhaps you want something similar. Perhaps you might need to express something like this to your husband in therapy: "I want to keep expanding and exploring our shared sexuality. The truth is I do want to get to a point where you would no longer say what you said in that session. I can't promise that I'm going to orgasm more easily, or make more noise, but I do think we could have a more intense, passionate, experimental, creative sex life together. And I want that! I am not going to be like any other woman, but I think I have more of myself to discover, and more of US to discover, and I want to discover it with you."

It is very common among women for their partner's lust or desire for them to be a big part of their arousal. I think you should be straightforward about this. "It's a huge turn-on for me to feel sexy, hot, and desired. It honestly turns me off to even think about that comment you made, and that's been really hard. I am going to need you to 'counterbalance' it with lots of compliments and positive talk for...well, awhile? maybe forever?"

Some other thoughts:

He clearly finds you very, very hot and sexy since he CHOSE YOU as the ONLY WOMAN he'd have sex with for the REST OF HIS LIFE.

A lot of young women are faking their orgasms with partners. Most of us grow out of it and stop at some point. A lot of men therefore get to their serious partnerships in their 20s and are surprised when they finally are with a woman long enough that she trusts him and stops faking them. "Previous women I've been came more easily..." is a VERY common thing to hear, my girlfriends and I have joked about it and how when we hear it we think "SURE they did (eye roll)." I dare say same thing about being vocal with regards to authenticity. Sure, some women come easily and moan a lot naturally, but my point is that you have no idea what was going on with his previous partners.

I love your line about how you want to relax and be yourself during sex. I feel you. I would also recommend trying out playing with different personas. What does it feel like to pretend you are a total sexpot vixen while having sex? (Or a very skilled sex worker/adult film star?) Give this alter ego a name in your head or out loud if you want. It might turn you on more than you realize -- and it would probably give you the permission to play with things and try new things. I advise this after a glass of wine or three. :)

Life is long. Marriage is long. Your sexuality and your married sex life is not a static thing, it's not just that it is how it is. It can evolve and develop. Your discomfort with his comment is a sign to turn towards him and seek to deepen this aspect of your marriage, not to get freaked out. It's ok to want him to be fully obsessed with your relationship's sex, and it's ok that he's not.
posted by amaire at 2:01 PM on October 8, 2020 [27 favorites]

I don't have any basis for comparison, but I enjoy our sex life.

You do absolutely have a basis for comparison. You have your own imagination and you have the many, many reports of others, and you have all the times you've slept with him, which I don't imagine were exactly identical every single time. You have had sex and read books; you know what is, in a broad and general way, physically possible and anatomically likely. Whatever you want from him is not less real or realistic or serious or important than what he wants from you (I would say more so, judging from his desire for a performer rather than a partner, but regardless.)

It is possible--I find it very unlikely, but it is possible--that your husband is incapable of admitting to any sexual shame, and so he is expressing a worry about being unsatisfactory to you, phrased in a way to make you feel bad instead of him: a worry that because you believe you have no "basis for comparison," you are therefore inhibited about complaining about (what he perceives as) his failure to please you. and it is possible that he only knows how to express this worry or this shame about not being very exciting to you as a criticism OF you, for failing to exhibit excitement in a pre-scripted way.

I don't know that this would make it better, if it were true. but you might get some small satisfaction out of interpreting it this way. whether you would get even more satisfaction out of verbalizing that interpretation in a therapy session, I couldn't guess.

A previous boyfriend told me I was the "second hottest woman" he had ever dated, and was very explicit about comparisons between me and other women, and I think I started to lose my desire for him from that even when the comparisons were largely complimentary.

this isn't complimentary, this is disgusting. classic "negging." no ambiguity. be very careful of comparing men's treatment of you when you have had such bad experiences with them. it's easy to find a guy who'd never say things like this, or things like your husband said. but "better than this" isn't necessarily good enough.
posted by queenofbithynia at 2:05 PM on October 8, 2020 [6 favorites]

Agree with other that your husband was insensitive and hurtful. Whether that was intentional behavior or not, is only something you can say.

The most important part of any sexual relationship is being able to communicate - about what turns you on, fantasies, insecurities, etc. That can be hard to do in the early part of a sexual relationship because it's a topic that opens up all kinds of vulnerabilities. That's why sex gets better over time with a partner because there is more trust and communication built up over time.

It's also important to understand that each of you will want things that aren't necessarily a go-to or top-of-the-list turn on for the other one. But part of being a loving partner is being GGG (good-giving-game) - being willing to try new things, give a specific sexual practice at least a few shots before it's taken off the menu. Being vocal may not come naturally to you, but with some practice you might find a way to do it that's also fun for you. Telling you how desirable and sexy you are may not be instinctual to your husband, but he can work on that.

That said, you just went through a hurtful experience and you both need to work through that first.
posted by brookeb at 2:11 PM on October 8, 2020

Also also, don't get pregnant until you get this sorted out. It won't get better after a baby, and you don't want to be saddled for life with a man for whom you feel no desire.

Lots of good advice here, but I just wanted to chime in to re-emphasize this point. There are few things that can do a number on your sex life like having a newborn. In my case, the damage to the relationship was permanent.
posted by SamanthaK at 2:22 PM on October 8, 2020 [10 favorites]

Mod note: From the OP:
From the OP. A few follow-up points, to clarify some comments above:

1) My husband and I are both Americans.

2) I understand that the therapist was maybe mostly at fault by pushing him to answer, but I'm hurt by my husband's answer specifically - especially the comparative element. It would have been so much less toxic to me for him to have said something like: "I'm happy with our sex life as it is now. I'd love to work on making it even better in the future." (This is what he later clarified/claimed that he meant, and I think I wouldn't have been hurt by that.) That seems very different to me than volunteering, in response to a question about how our sex life is, "I've had stronger sexual connections with other previous partners". Why did he have to volunteer that, and also why did he have to phrase it negatively and comparatively?

3) I think what's also weighing in here is that I have never felt very secure that he was into me. I was the one into him initially, and he wasn't sure (he said that at the time that he wasn't sure he felt a spark). He gradually fell for me over the next few months while we were friends. I had only ever been pursued by men before (and I think that feeling pursued/desired was pretty important to feeling sexy, for me). By the time that he was ready to be together, I had started to rethink the whole idea, believing that if he were only lukewarm about me, it wouldn't be a good idea for just this reason. He persuaded me that he felt strongly and passionately about me, but I have always had lingering doubts that he settled for me. I think part of the reason this is hitting me so hard is that it feels like it's confirming those doubts. He claims that once we got together, he has felt as strongly about me as the previous women he has been serious about, and that the sex thing is separate and it's been blown out of proportion.

4) Along with that, my husband had been in a few serious relationships where he had wanted to marry the women in question, but they hadn't wanted to. So I guess I have always, in my more insecure moments, wondered whether he actually chose me above other women, or just settled for me.

5) He has said that sex isn't that important to him relative to the whole package, and that he would have definitely wanted to marry me even if we had had sex before we had gotten engaged (so he had known what he was getting into, sexually), and that he wants to stay married even if I never want to have sex with him again. The thing is, frankly, I don't really care about how I am as a whole package. I mean, it's nice that he thinks I'm a thoughtful caring person and he enjoys watching Downton Abbey with me and he likes my cooking, or whatever. But what I want, and what I really need in order to feel turned on, is to feel sexy and desired, to think that he imagines me naked while he's at work, to think that he finds me irresistible and can't wait to come home and have me. And that's what he's just essentially said is exactly what he doesn't feel. In my moments of insecurity I had perhaps suspected that maybe that wasn't quite the case, but was able to allow the figleaves of uncertainty to prop up my fantasy and thus my desire, until this point.

6) In terms of the question about whether I am insecure about my husband's previous sexual partners, I think I wasn't especially insecure until this point. I was disappointed that he had had previous partners, and believed it to be wrong for him to have had premarital sex, but it didn't really impact me emotionally, as I guess I felt that each relationship is too unique to be able to be easily compared. It was only at this point, when I now feel like he's instinctively comparing me in bed to previous girlfriends, that I am feeling insecure. I feel like the ghosts of his old girlfriends are hovering around us now.

7) I take the point from some comments that sex often gets better with time, and we're inexperienced with each other, and that things might "improve". I'm receptive to this happening, but I am really leery of feeling any sense of pressure or performance, which I worry is what this might veer into. I just want to be able to enjoy sex in a way that feels natural, not like there's a really particular yardstick that I'm being measured against: for me, I feel most into sex when I'm able to let go of anxiety and be in the moment, and feeling self-conscious or judged profoundly takes me out of the moment. Even before my husband said this, he had several times expressed that I didn't orgasm like he expected, which just made me feel bad about my body. I want to feel like I can enjoy sex as myself, as much as I do or in the way that I do, rather than that I have to put on an act for his enjoyment. He said he would really like it if he made me orgasm during sex, and he could make all his previous girlfriends easily do so. I like orgasming but it just isn't that important to me and for me, feeling sexy and desired is much more enjoyable than the actual orgasm. The idea of working on sex to improve it makes me feel pressured, self-conscious, and deeply unsexy, like I'm on a performance plan for work. And although I waited until marriage to have sex, I'm not sex-negative and I don't have any shame about sex, and I've explored touching myself for years. I can confirm that my body only really responds to one very specific thing, with a very specific pressure. I enjoy other things but they're not going to make me orgasm. And I don't want to feel shamed or broken because of how my body responds. That was part of the reason why I had wanted to marry a guy who was also waiting until marriage as well - so there would be no comparison and judgment like this and he would just appreciate me as I am.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 2:35 PM on October 8, 2020 [10 favorites]

Why did he have to volunteer that, and also why did he have to phrase it negatively and comparatively?

Well, I wasn't there and I'm not him, but based on my life experience of dudes: almost certainly because he is a man, and some part of him - not the best part of him - had to make sure the therapist understood that "it wasn't his fault", ie that'd he'd been able to have "great" sex with other women. Never mind that these other women weren't there to confirm or deny. (Also: is your guy a talker? My guy's a talker, and some of the chatter that he comes up with when he's got a captive audience would turn your hair white. Therapists make some people wanna TALK.)

I gotta tell you, though, nobody's perfect. Even generally loving and decent partners occasionally can say something stupid and thoughtless. I totally understand everything you said, and I was the first person here to note that what he said was uncalled for and unkind, but... you need to decide what you want to happen. Do you want to leave him over this? I wouldn't encourage a friend to do that, unless his actions, overall, were showing you that he didn't love and want you.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:54 PM on October 8, 2020 [5 favorites]

5)..."But what I want, and what I really need in order to feel turned on, is to feel sexy and desired, to think that he imagines me naked while he's at work, to think that he finds me irresistible and can't wait to come home and have me. And that's what he's just essentially said is exactly what he doesn't feel."

I have to challenge you on this, OP. That is not what he said. Saying he had a "stronger sexual connection" with past partners is not saying that he doesn't think about you naked when you are apart, doesn't find you irresistible, or doesn't experience the feeling of "can't wait to come home and have you." What he did say and does think/feel bothers you, and it's something you two are going to have to work through, but extrapolating it into these bigger conclusions about his attraction to you and desire for you is not going to help.

7) I don't know what to tell you. You want your husband to have a different experience of your sex together than he's having, but you don't want to have to change anything or put any effort or work into it. Look, I get it that this was an immensely painful thing to hear. But it's also your husband opening up to you and being honest and vulnerable. You don't need to fake orgasms or fake noises. But do you want to try to improve your marriage or not? You can also walk away.

Also you say you don't feel shame or sex negativity, but right above you say that you were "disappointed that he had had previous partners, and believed it to be wrong for him to have had premarital sex" - sure sounds like sex-negative shame and judgement of him, to me.
posted by amaire at 2:59 PM on October 8, 2020 [26 favorites]

I don't think this is your therapist's fault, at all. It's completely possible to have extensive conversations about your sex life with a partner without making comparisons to previous partners. If sexual compatibility was that important to your husband, he also could have prioritized it, which is to say, he could also have married someone he had had sex with before. I'm sorry for the sadness and shame and you are feeling right now. I hope you are in individual therapy.

My husband said that in particular, he was used to previous partners orgasming more easily, and being more vocal. (I can only orgasm from a very particular type of touching - I think it is an anatomical difficulty, as I tried all sorts of ways when I masturbated as a teenager, and only one way ever worked. I could try to be more vocal, and I'm willing to, but I'd really like to feel like I can be myself and enjoy sex that way rather than focusing on putting on some sort of show for my husband.)

Oh, this is sad. First of all, please know that's very possible that some of those other women were faking orgasm. Many women do this, because they have learned it's important to please a partner by pretending to feel pleasure they do not. I hate that you think this is anatomical difficulty. It's perhaps a *difference* but that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with your body. It's totally fine that you have one way of reaching orgasm. You know what's awesome? You know how to achieve orgasm! Many people have one way to achieve orgasm, not just women, and I agree completely that sex should be mutual and you should not feel obligated to perform to make your husband happier.

Lots of folks on this website have recommended the book Come As You Are, and I think it would be great if you both read it. Women's desire is often responsive.

But it sounds like the bigger issue here is that this insensitive comment from your husband exacerbated existing insecurities. That's why I think individual therapy would be helpful for you.

Also, can you all take a break from baby-making for a while? Remove the pressure to have to have sex on a schedule out of your sex life, and prioritize healthy emotional and physical intimacy. This is a young marriage, and the stronger your bond and connection before you have a baby, the better off you will be after you have one. And, frankly, you are already in therapy for some communication problems, and you have some long-standing insecurities. I think a pause on baby-making will be a good idea while you get your own relationship sorted out.

I'm wondering if you believed that marriage would ease your insecurities, that you would finally know he wanted to be with you. That's not how it goes, so I think it's time for you both to focus on improving your marriage, not growing your family.
posted by bluedaisy at 3:07 PM on October 8, 2020 [27 favorites]

I think I need my partner to preserve for me the fantasy that I might be. My own desire very heavily arises from imagining myself to be irresistibly and uniquely desired, and somehow this kind of thing kills it.

The thing about marriage is that very few illusions survive the level of exposure required by modern marriage, unless you can afford one of those royal marriages where you only spend time together for fancy-dress occasions and generating heirs.

Part of the necessary work of marriage is coming up with ways to recover from all the small/medium/large unavoidable deaths of illusion, hopes, expectations, plans, and assumptions. Both of you are going to have moments where you are caught off-guard and say something that accidentally hits like a professional boxer and takes time to recover from; both of you are going to see the other in an unexpected light now and then - if you intend to have a baby you're signed up for a world of indignities that y'all are going to have to get past - and it doesn't magically go away. You have to talk it out, you ideally work as a team to turn the injuries into improvements and to find common ground even when it's incredibly hard.

Many people do need that super-extra-special feeling to feel sexy and wanted; I suspect the secret of most really successful partners is that they've found ways to actually set that scene mindfully and on purpose so that the next X minutes take place inside the illusion, in that headspace. It can be entirely true that he considers his wild oats days remarkable on a certain level and for long-haul thick-or-thin committed-family-relationship-sex to be a completely different planet from that other thing (which at this point is mostly all the experience he even has!).

He can also express that clumsily on his first try, which is too bad but statistically pretty realistic. Y'all should practice getting better at communicating about sex if you ever want to have an evolving, adaptive sex life despite a daily reality of bills and pandemics and parenting and whatever else is going to come at you in the course of a life.

Women get indoctrinated that if you have to talk about it, it ruins it. You're going to need to get past that. Don't have a baby if you can't, because if you think sex is fraught and delicate and heavily landmined, you ain't seen nothing compared to parenting with another person.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:37 PM on October 8, 2020 [36 favorites]

My husband said that in particular, he was used to previous partners orgasming more easily, and being more vocal.

Others have made good points about how it's possible for sex to get better over time, and how learning to explore your own pleasure can benefit your sex life together.

On top of that, I would like to make the point that if this is just how you are, that is FINE. You can be someone who doesn't orgasm "easily" for the rest of your life, and that would be fine. (Also, it's worth thinking about who defines what an "easy" orgasm is. Who does that definition benefit?) You can be someone who is quiet during sex for the rest of your life, and that would be fine. (Again, think about that expectation. Some people are louder and some are quieter; why is louder the "right" way to be?)

If becoming more vocal or reaching orgasm more quickly sounds like something you'd enjoy, go ahead and explore. But please don't push yourself into trying to be other, more, or different than you are.
posted by Lexica at 4:34 PM on October 8, 2020 [5 favorites]

And you know what, how quickly you orgasm is going to change over and over again your whole life long. Hell, it changes from day to day for me. Also, the quality of your orgasms. Your husband’s previous experiences are preserved in amber and will never change, and you should both understand that his memory of those experiences is just that, a memory of a specific point in time. Those women went on to change in ways that he’ll never know, and you’re going to change too. You never step in the same stream twice.
posted by HotToddy at 4:58 PM on October 8, 2020 [7 favorites]

So, my spouse and I have each only ever had sex with each other. We've been together for 20+ years, quite happily in the bedroom department, with (yes) things improving over time, as others have said. So I'm speaking from a place of considerable experience with the type of relationship you've idealized.

And the thing is, all of the things in your question and the follow-up that you think you could have avoided by marrying another virgin -- I'm here to tell you, sister, it ain't so. That's allllllllll still there. You would still feel judged and compared. You would still sometimes feel pressured, or like you had to perform. You would still feel mad that he didn't find you non-stop sexy, all the time. You would still manage to have fights about it! (Once I thought my husband's tone was a little too enthusiastic when he said he liked (the actress) Amy Adams, and we had a barn-burner of a fight about how I thought he thought she was hotter than me. (I was probably pregnant at the time, and full of hormones.) I was furiously angry about it for more than two weeks. It sounds ridiculous in retrospect but he's still afraid to suggest we watch an Amy Adams movie because I was so angry.)

The only difference would be, you'd be thinking, "He's wishing he'd had sex with more people before we got married, he's sorry he settled for me, I can never live up to his idealized vision, at least if he'd had sex with other women I'd be compared to a real person and not his imagination/porn/Amy Adams/whatever."

You have a very idealized picture of what your sex life would be like if you were both virgins, but all of the things that are difficult for you now would still be difficult in the type of relationship you're idealizing. Marriage is long, and hard, and especially if you're going to have children, there's going to be some real peaks and valleys in your sex life. There are going to be times you're convinced you'll never feel sexy or wanted again. There will be times you finally -- finally! -- feel like having sex after childbirth, and come on to your spouse, and your spouse is so exhausted from newborn care that he can't muster the interest, and you're going to feel AWFUL about that for MONTHS (with complicating post-partum hormones in the mix). There are going to be times you feel like a maid or a therapist rather than a sexy wife, because your spouse is dealing with work stress or a dying parent or something similar. You can't magically erase these times for your mind. He's NOT always going to "[imagine] me naked while he's at work, ... [find] me irresistible and can't wait to come home and have me." Sometimes he's going to be thinking, "God I need a nap so bad" or "WHY DO HER PREGNANCY FARTS SMELL LIKE SULPHUR?" or "I'm kind-of freaked out by worrying about whether my penis will hit the baby's head" or "I cannot even LOOK at her without getting angry while we're fighting over appropriate treatment for our child's chronic illness." Sometimes you're going to have sex because it's comforting and you're sad. Sometimes your bodies are going to change, sometimes in ways the other finds less-sexy. Sometimes you're going to have a human being emerge from either your vagina or a transverse incision on your lower abdomen, and boy is that going to change everything.

I think it's a mistake -- and I think by asking this question, you know this, on some level -- to put these problems on the fact that your husband has had prior sexual partners. These are complicated feelings about sex and relationships and desire that you would have to face regardless of your partner's sexual history or lack thereof. I don't think you're unusual at all, but I do think that blaming your partner, or your partner's past, or fixating on how you wanted to marry a virgin, is counterproductive -- these are things that you will have to come to peace with, yourself. And they're things that I think you would still be feeling if you had married a virgin. I can't tell you what to do or how to move forward, but I think you should start by realizing that these feelings would still be with you if you were in the type of relationship you're idealizing, and try to move forward from there.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:12 PM on October 8, 2020 [70 favorites]

To answer your first question directly, you are not unusual in your reaction to your husband's unnecessary, hurtful disclosure.

To answer your second question, how you move forward, I think you need some unpleasant information. You are not experienced sexually, so you are probably not aware of how the pornification of sex has infected the brains of American men. Your husband is expecting you to act out a porn script: scream with passion and pleasure at his mere touch, orgasm easily from P-in-V sex (while moaning wildly to wake the neighbors) and accepting him ejaculating on your face, all the while acting like you love every minute of it. The key word here is "ACTING".

Your husband is very inexperienced in having sex with women who are not acting (otherwise known as "faking it"). He didn't have stronger sexual connections with those women. He was with women who acted out the standard porn script because men have come to expect it, even demand it, and compare women negatively to other women if they won't do it. But after a while, it isn't very much fun for the women. It is tiresome. It breeds contempt for the man so dumb he thinks all women orgasm the same way, yell out with the same volume, etc. Smart women won't marry men they have to fake it with. The man isn't really there with you, exploring your body and your uniqueness together, learning and appreciating how you orgasm, what you enjoy, what he enjoys with you, etc.

Most men get this from watching porn, which is almost unavoidable in the US. But a man doesn't even have to have watched porn to have been infected by the porn brain worm. He catches it from pornified women.

I don't know how you get past this. You have a "love/desire/uniqueness of you two together" mindset toward marital sex. You husband has a "comparative/porn script" mindset. He actually compared you, and not just in the therapist's office, to the prior women he has slept with. (You didn't orgasm like he "expected" you to? And where did he get his bullshit expectations from? The fakers? Cause it wasn't from a book. You should actually ask him that.)

I am amplifying on a few comments above which mention women faking, men negging, and your husband spouting this crap about other women because it makes him look like he is great at sex, and the fault for the "fine" sex you two have been having lies with you. "Fine" in this context means inadequate, quite possibly bad, sex. As does repeatedly comparing you negatively to prior sex partners. Finally, if he seriously said "he wants to stay married to you even if you never want to have sex with him again", that bodes very poorly for your future marriage, much less sex life. I hope that at some point you begin to feel angry instead of hurt and inadequate. His behavior is not OK. It cannot continue if you want to have a happy marriage. I wish the best for you in figuring this out.
posted by KayQuestions at 5:54 PM on October 8, 2020 [22 favorites]

I've been with my partner for over 15 years, married for most of those years. We have a 3 year old, so we have lots of experience with no-kids sex, and a few years of experience with trying-to-get-pregnant sex, and a few years of postpartum sex.

Look, trying to get pregnant is a huge bummer when it comes to sex. Scheduled sex is not sexy. Goal-oriented sex when the goal isn't sex itself isn't sexy. Especially when you've been trying for months or years and you're wondering if your body is broken somehow. And add a miscarriage (or multiple) to the mix and it's just downright heartrending.

Then you get to pregnant sex, where it's either amazing or awful (roll of the dice!), but whatever it is it is NOT what it was before. Then postpartum sex which can hurt a lot for longer than you'd suspect (see your local pelvic floor physiotherapist!), combined with sleep deprivation, a new roommate who is listening in and often sleeping in your room, the wild and very unsexy ride of feeling your milk let down mid-fuck because the infant next door started crying, disagreements about parenting, your whole identity turned inside out until you acclimate to Self As Mommy... it's a lot.

In some ways sex goes back to normal, but the more truthful truth is that normal is a moving target. Sex changes year to year in a decades-long relationship. We get into rhythms and then change things up. Our bodies change. We see something and decide to try it. It waxes and wanes. Some days I'm not super into it or him. Some days we can hardly wait until bedtime. Some months. Some years. Some seasons. It's a long game and you need the relationship to be able to weather the ups and downs, the hot and the lukewarm.

Pause trying to get pregnant until you have a better conversation going about this. Every skill this conversation teaches you about talking through tough stuff and getting back on the same page will come in handy when you start growing a kid.
posted by sadmadglad at 6:49 PM on October 8, 2020 [11 favorites]

I can’t help contrasting a couple of things that appear in the follow up.

But what I want, and what I really need in order to feel turned on, is to feel sexy and desired, to think that he imagines me naked while he's at work, to think that he finds me irresistible and can't wait to come home and have me. And that's what he's just essentially said is exactly what he doesn't feel.


I am really leery of feeling any sense of pressure or performance, which I worry is what this might veer into. I just want to be able to enjoy sex in a way that feels natural, not like there's a really particular yardstick that I'm being measured against: for me, I feel most into sex when I'm able to let go of anxiety and be in the moment, and feeling self-conscious or judged profoundly takes me out of the moment.

I’d gently point out that you’re measuring your husband against a pretty rigid yardstick, and not allowing him the liberty of natural response and being in the moment.

Lyn Never has given you some good advice.
posted by Sublimity at 7:07 PM on October 8, 2020 [6 favorites]

Life is long, and hopefully, marriage is long too. Sometimes things that are out of line are said, but they're going to need to be truly forgiven and gotten over, even when they really hurt.

Sex isn't always effortless and easy for most long term partners - it can be good and bad and awkward and great and it changes over time on an overall rise for most marriages, but it can have some crazy ups and downs, too.

I've been married for awhile, and sometimes we have a great sex life. Sometimes we have a "fine" sex life. And I think if you asked either of us during those "fine" periods, we might say we've had stronger connections with other people. Because none of those relationships ever lasted long enough for the connection to crest and fall into a "eh" that you have to crawl out of together. I think we have a better sex life in toto than anyone else I've ever been with, but there's also a bit of unsexy trying that has to creep into martial sex - this is the person you're going to stay with, sometimes it takes effort!

Me and my husband alternate the recipes we use to make macaroni & cheese because our personal favourites are different. This is analogous to our sex life ;)

You're going to have to work on it. It's not sexy to have to do, but you're going to need to tell that guy of yours that you get off on the idea that he desires you like he's never desired anyone before, and he's going to have to try to convince you that it's true. And you know what? Occasionally you're probably going to put on a bit of a show if he wants to feel like HE'S desired by someone who his sheer magnetism is making crazy. Is it a bit silly? yes. but it's nice. It's the kind of things we all do for partners in other aspects of our marriages, and it's okay to do it in sex too.

You don't have to fake orgasms, that's not what I'm saying. But you CAN put in some effort to do a bit of a "performance" for your husband sometimes, because he likes that. Sex doesn't have to be the same script every time, and it doesn't always have to be about pleasing both of you to the same amount. People having simultaneous orgasms during sex mostly only happens in the movies! Sometimes I do things I find kind of silly and awkward because they're things my husband likes, and I'm 100% sure that he does things I like just because he knows I like them.
posted by euphoria066 at 7:08 PM on October 8, 2020 [9 favorites]

I've been having sex for 25 years. Here are a few thoughts:

- there is an ocean between "making an effort" for your partner (which you must definitely do if you want a happy sex life) and "putting on a show" for them (which you should never have to do unless you want to). maybe spend some time thinking about why you're jumping to this extreme. good sex requires both partners to ask for what they need. he seems to be doing that. are you?

- your sexuality is highly capable of evolving, and masturbation is often very different than partnered sex. for 18 years I thought I could only orgasm one way. that turned out to be completely wrong. you may know your body during solo play, but you haven't described anything that sounds like exploration between the two of you.

- it doesn't sound like either of you express any desire for each other. do you flirt with each other? touch each other? send sexy texts? you've said you want to feel like he thinks of you naked, looks forward to coming home to make love to you, etc. Well, how do you know he doesn't? And do you express these kinds of feelings towards him? I'm having a hard time sensing any sexual energy in your relationship. why do you think that is?

- you're focused a lot on what your husband said, but not on what led to him feeling that way. why do you think your sex life is just "fine"? have you asked yourself, objectively, if you're good in bed or if there are things you can improve? are you GGG? is he?
posted by puppet du sock at 7:36 PM on October 8, 2020 [6 favorites]

OP, you are a reasonable and normal human being whose most obvious flaw is being way too deferential and self-deprecatory in response to theorized insults, which has had the predictable effect of bringing actual insult down upon you. it always does. take what advice you find helpful, but don't take it from people who think you're stupid and don't mind letting you know it.

this may be bad advice, but I can promise you that I do not think you are stupid or naive. in your understanding of human sexuality, you are miles ahead of anybody advising you to alienate yourself from your sexual sensations to be a Giving and Game and Good Girl. you don't just know you're upset, you know why, and it all tracks. you don't have to get Good at following any rando's ideas of the sex commandments. but to have good sex with your husband you do have to be able to respect him again after he accidentally-on-purpose humiliated you. everybody knows that you don't rank your sexual partners against each other unless they are competing in the sex olympics and you are a judge. everybody knows this. the only exception is if you want to tell them they are the best you ever had, and this isn't understood as a factual statement, just a nice compliment. everybody knows this.

if it wounded you deeply for him to politely request technical adjustments in the way you handle him, that would be a problem with you and your brittle ego. but if he is uninterested in and unmoved by the real authentic sounds and sensations of his wife because they don't offer him a facsimile of some other woman's sounds that he imprinted on at some point--if he understands that he is asking you to sacrifice your real and valuable pleasure in exchange for his false and dissociated fantasy of it--well, that is a problem with him, and a really bad one. it is a problem that could maybe be fixed, if he wants to fix it.

in the meantime he could try out the kind of vocalizations he's into, himself, and see if they heighten his own passion without imposing an acting regimen on you. win-win.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:06 PM on October 8, 2020 [17 favorites]

Man I feel some sadness reading this.

I think you both deserve a connected, great sex life.

If I were taking to your husband I’d have a few things to say about how he handled the question both in therapy and in being asked for details. Because those were not ideal and lacked maturity and have hurt you and that sucks. Like, he had work to do.

But you’re the one posting so...hey, look, do you love your husband? Before this did you find him sexy? Is he the guy you want to be tied to through children forever? Is this just an aberration, that he said this very bad thing?

If yes then I say - these are big feelings you are having, legitimate ones. He said a dickish thing. But be wary of giving him the power to grade you on the universal sexiness scale.

It’s kind of like asking your friend if you’re the best friend ever, or your boss if you’re the best employee ever, or your editor if your book is the best ever. It comes to no good. First, there’s not a great answer. Second, it wrecks the relationship when you make the other person tell you you’re the best rather than invite them into a caring, warm, connected relationship where you can be both /awesome/ AND be taking about little tweaks and improvements and peaks and valleys.

So I’d focus on him not saying stupid stuff. He should never have compared you to others. You are his incomparable wife! Part of being married is dropping the comparison shopping, and committing.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:51 PM on October 8, 2020 [3 favorites]

If y'all are in counseling, there's a very good chance that this won't be the last time that one of you says something hurtful during an appointment, so it's a good idea to work through this now. In fact, I'd work through it at your next appointment - not the specifics of what he said, but how you, as a couple, can deal with something uncomfortable arising in the course of counseling.

If your husband were asking for advice, I'd have things to tell him about letting go of the idea that you should orgasm from intercourse alone. But he didn't ask for advice, you did. So instead, I'm going to tell you something similar about trying to let go of the idea that you need to be the best sex that he's ever had. It seems like a lot of your needs here center around what's going on in his head - you need him to think about you at work, etc. That's tough, because you can never really know what's going on in someone else's head, and also his brain is going to do what it's going to do. Is it possible to reframe this around behaviors instead? What can he do to make you feel the way you need to, rather than what does he need to be thinking and feeling?
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:03 AM on October 9, 2020 [3 favorites]

So a lot of people are jumping on your husband for apparently demanding that you come a certain way and make a certain noise, but that isn't actually what you said he is doing. He has said that he is used to a different sexual experience. That doesn't mean that he infinitely prefers it or enjoys only that experience. Just that he has had to learn new and different responses with you, and that he associates the idea of a "strong sexual connection" with a different set of experiences.

It is true, however, that our culture defines a "strong sexual connection" in pretty limited and specific terms that aren't always very good or healthy! Ultimately, your husband feeling like he has previously had strong sexual connections with people might just not be super meaningful in terms of your own relationship, you know? His ideas of what constitute strong connections may well change as your relationship with him develops.

Similarly, I don't know if it's useful to decide that obviously all of his prior partners were faking it and secretly miserable about his lousy lovemaking -- it might feel pleasantly vindictive in the moment, while you are hurting, but that's hardly a productive way to think about your beloved spouse, no?

Ultimately, he needs to be working pretty hard to restore your feelings of desirability, and to emphasize what he enjoys about you. But you may also want to do some internal work in redirecting your desire mechanisms (yes, it can be done, no, it is not inherently wrong to do so; there is nothing immutable and fixed about what gets you going) from depending upon someone else's internal state -- a thing you cannot control-- to responding to external cues and actions. This is something you could work on just yourself, but maybe ideally in a sex-positive individual therapy environment.

To be clear: I'm not saying you're wrong, or overreacting, or stupid, or sex negative, or anything. I'm just saying that you are a person currently unhappy with their sole sexual relationship and this is in part due to some narratives you have around sex and desire. So you can, if you want, examine those narratives and why they're there, and how they maybe can and cannot change, and how you can work with them as your husband's partner.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 1:36 PM on October 9, 2020 [4 favorites]

I felt sad reading this. OP I hope you and your hubby work it out - it sounds like there is a lot of love there.

My take, as a man who has been prone to say terribly insensitive things in situations like this, is that this could be the process of couples therapy working. Both people will be hanging onto some shameful stuff that is stopping the relationship progressing. In this case it sounds like your husband is super into you and wants to make you happy - happier than anyone else he's been with - but doesn't have the tools or experience to figure out how, which is worrying him and that worry is expressing itself in . . . undeveloped ways, that are much more about him than about you.

This is just the beginning of a journey for you two, and along that journey is a whole lot of opportunity for sharing, exploration and vulnerability, especially as it brings up some challenging stuff. If your therapist is good they will be all over this, and from here should grow some ability to trust in the process and move forward.

Good luck to you both!
posted by cogat at 1:30 AM on October 10, 2020 [3 favorites]

While there are several excellent answers over here by far more experienced people than myself, I sort of miss a more simple and positive viewpoint.

I'm 53, a man, happily married. My wife is my first sexual experience in every respect. She's had a lot of different sexual partners before me. She has told me dozens of times sex has been far better and deeper with other men than me. I have nothing to compare her with, but I must admit that our sex life has been "meh" from the beginning and is very low frequency and unfulfilling for both partners. But her saying I'm quite horrible in bed is maybe just her way of feeling there is room for improvement. Are we working on that? Not really. But I'm quite sure she doesn't say this to be hurtful. Just her way of stating there might be something better in the future. Your husband sounds similar. He is willing to open up in therapy, which to me is a big plus. He also seems to feel you are the one, regardless of the quality of sex. He even regrets having said what he said, which my wife would never say. So, maybe find in yourself what hurts you to be compared and move on with life. Good luck!
posted by hz37 at 4:28 PM on October 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

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