help me enjoy sex
May 22, 2006 5:49 PM   Subscribe

Help me enjoy sex with my husband.

If you do not want to read the long question, here is the problem in a nutshell: I am too uncomfortable with the whole sex thing and want to be more comfortable both in having sex and talking about it.

We have been together for seven years. I sometimes like sex (specifically: the act of penetration) OK, sometimes I really hate it. Almost never is it really good. My sex drive is good, I really look forward to it and I often get an orgasm after my husband stimulates me with his fingers. If the penetration lasts for more than a couple of minutes, I do not enjoy myself anymore and a while after that it becomes uncomfortable. I detach myself and start thinking about random things like what to cook the next day.

Some things that may be useful:
- I thoroughly love my husband and want to stay together for the rest of our lives.
- I am his first partner. He is my first long time partner, but I had some experience before him.
- His penis is small. Sometimes, after a while, I do not feel him anymore.
- We never talk about sex other than "did you like it" sometimes. It feels awkward.
- We have to use condoms as birth control at the moment, but it was not much better when we didn't.
- Our two year old sleeps on a mattress in our bedroom at the moment (there is no other option right now). Things were no different when s/he didn't, and the kid is sound asleep when we go to bed, but I guess it does limit us somewhat. I guess if I felt more comfortable we could have sex in the living room, but at the moment I really prefer the bed and the covers and the darkness of the bedroom.

I read previous threads and the advice that seems most applicable seems to be to focus on myself, but that's really hard for me. Advice on how to start doing that is welcome. Please realize that I am terribly inexperienced. I do not feel comfortable with oral sex yet, for example.

I realize a professional therapist may be helpful, but that's not an option right now.

Thanks in advance for any advice. If you do not want to reply in public here is a temporary e-mail address:
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (30 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

1. Force yourself to talk about it (in detail, and honestly) before you do it (any sexual act) and once you are able to do that, you'll be comfortable with doing it.

2. Is it an option to go on a vacation, even locally, to get some alone time with your husband? The kid-in-the-room thing seems like it could really prevent you from feeling comfortable.
posted by rxrfrx at 6:06 PM on May 22, 2006

Lubricant might help. KY Jelly or Astroglide are available at most grocery/convenience/drug stores. If you're dry, it could get kind of uncomfortable after a few minutes -- if it's not uncomfortable from the get go.

If talking about it is too embarassing, get up the nerve to buy it on your own and keep it next to the bed. Then, when things start moving toward sex, say "let's try this stuff, I've read on the internet that it's really good."

Use lots.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 6:15 PM on May 22, 2006

Yeah, the kid-in-room thing has got to go. If for no other reason, it can't be good for your kid.
posted by Afroblanco at 6:16 PM on May 22, 2006

You don't mention whether you masturbate or not. That's an important data point, too.

"If for no other reason, it can't be good for your kid."

Really? Why?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:17 PM on May 22, 2006

If the penetration lasts for more than a couple of minutes, I do not enjoy myself anymore and a while after that it becomes uncomfortable.

This is the first thing that jumped out at me, and leads me to think that using lubricant could help on this score. There are lots of different brands and types, but I think to start out you'd do fine with some Astroglide or KY at your local drugstore. (Note: if you go with KY, don't get the gel in the tube -- get the liquid lube in the bottle.) Extra lubricant can make a world of difference for both of you in terms of sensation and enjoyment.

Also, try different positions if you're not already -- the sensation of penetration is markedly different if you're on top or if you're spooning with him behind you, for example. And if you reach orgasm when he stimulates you with his fingers, why not incorporate that into intercourse as well (either he can stimulate you, or you can stimulate yourself while he's inside you)?

As for focusing on yourself: do you masturbate? Fantasize? If not (or if you do and feel guilty/uncomfortable), give yourself permission to see it as a self-loving, self-affirming act (especially as you say your sex drive is good). Feeling more comfortable with yourself sexually can be a great first step to feeling more comfortable sexually with a partner.

Good luck!
posted by scody at 6:18 PM on May 22, 2006

Start getting comfortable pleasing yourselves in front of each other. This will help with the openness, and have lots of other benefits.
posted by freebird at 6:19 PM on May 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

It must have been hard for you to write all this down. It's good that AskMe has the anonymous option and that you were brave enough to ask.

I recommend two things:

1. Even though you are a little afraid of oral sex, I think you should try it (on him). For one thing, your husband will like it a lot, which is sexy. Also, you might get more into everything by doing this for him. But most importantly in your case, it could get him closer to orgasm so that the actual sex doesn't last as long. Maybe someone bolder than I am will offer specific advice, or you could search online for "instructions" from others.

2. Are you okay with drinking? If so, maybe a couple of glasses of wine would help? (Probably the guys here will tell you not to let your husband get drunk, because that obviously causes more problems.) Weed helps some people, but I'm not sure that is your thing.

Good luck. Don't beat yourself up for liking one thing and not another -- lots of people have such a preference and I don't think you should feel too bad. I hope you do start to like it all more, though.
posted by theredpen at 6:23 PM on May 22, 2006

First off, try to figure out what you might like; positions, scenarios, kinks, what have you. Figure out what might satisfy you.

Second, tell your husband what you want. If he's never had another partner he's just an enthusiastic amateur. Chances are he'll be happy for (honest but nice) feedback. You're going to have to train him, more or less.

Third, try being in a different from than your child. Having to keep quiet can ruin the whole experience (I've been there too).

I have to wonder, though, how your sex-life was before you had a child. I know that a lot of things can change during and after pregnancy, and they don't always change back without some work.
posted by lekvar at 6:33 PM on May 22, 2006

Penetrative sex doesn't need to make up the majority of your sexual doings. In fact, it doesn't even need to be 25% of it. Oral sex (in both directions, and 69), masturbation, mutual masturbation, and 'talking dirty' are all forms of sex, as valid as penetration.

I get the impression that you might not feel it's 'really sex' unless it's penetrative sex, but that's just not so. "Good sex" is any sexual act that feels great and bonds you more as a couple, and if you can have good sex in any form, it tends to follow on in the other forms afterward.
posted by wackybrit at 6:36 PM on May 22, 2006

Um...before debating penis size and lube, how about starting with some oral sex for her. What's good for the goose is good for the gander and such. And for many women this is a lot more effective than the "usual" penetrative sex.

And the child has GOT to get out of the parents' bedroom!
posted by bim at 6:39 PM on May 22, 2006

First up, the secret no one tells you: having a child can suck the life outta you if you're not careful. They can be great, but they're a LOT of work, and it's easy to spend too much time concentrating on them as opposed to the very important relationship between you an your husband.

But anyway...maybe you two should spend some quiet sexual time toge3ther: like showering/bathing and just hanging out, quietly fondling and exploring each other. This would be a good time to talk more. You guys HAVE to talk, but it doesn't have to be sudden damn of talk, just slowly build up to i.

Get a little professional advice or a good friend or good pastor. Sounds like you need to talk.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:40 PM on May 22, 2006

I think it should also be mentioned that, although there are a number of women for whom this is emphatically not the case, the majority of women are not orgasmic from plain intercourse. If you're not one of the women who are exceptional in this way, then a little bit of foreplay followed by missionary intercourse can be pretty boring and it's not necessarily the case that it's unusual or abnormal for you not to be enjoying yourself.

However, because of your general emotional discomfort with sex, I think it's very likely you have some underlying issues that you're unlikely to be able to work out on your own. Whenever it does become possible for you to get some counseling, I think it may do you a lot of good, providing you are willing to talk to your counselor about sex.

But there are some things you can do now, if and when you feel comfortable enough to try. Things mentioned above by other commenters are good suggestions. I think the general thing you should try is to change how you make love, or at least change some things incrementally. If you are comfortable with your husband pleasuring you with his fingers, then perhaps you might try to emphasize that more with him. I get the impression that you and your husband do a minimal amount of foreplay and then you proceed to intercourse. If that's the case, then you might try to lengthen the foreplay period. Not to put too fine of a point on it, but there's no law, other than Hollywood, that says you and your partner have to have simulataneous orgasms from intercourse. In the real world, couples may have each of their orgasms at different times, because they may have different ways in which they are aroused to orgasm. With that in mind, there's nothing at all wrong with you having an orgasm first by way of manual stimulation by your husband (and, hopefully at some point, orally) and then proceed to intercourse where he has his orgasm. There's nothing wrong with that.

And that's the general theme of things you might be able to work out on your own...communicate with your husband (I know it's hard, but it can make all the difference in the world) and find different ways to make love. Try different things. Don't be locked into a dogmatic procedural approach to making love. There is no right way or wrong way. There's only what works and what you and your partner are comfortable with and enjoy.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:50 PM on May 22, 2006

I would suggest great website, full of resources. Her podcasts are usually good, frequently arousing. Her site may give you ideas of things to try. She also covers the whole "lubricant" topic.
posted by 6:1 at 7:12 PM on May 22, 2006

I'm going to advocate for going a step up from drugstore lube and getting some Slippery Stuff from some place like Good Vibes - the benefit of shopping online for sex supplies, if you're uncomfortable about the issue, is that no one will know you bought it. It's delivered in a plain brown box with a nondescript return address for maximum privacy.

I've had a lot of experience with lubes that caused more discomfort than dry sex (I guess I'm quite sensitive) and I've found Slippery Stuff to be among the best (Liquid Slik, though more expensive, is also quite good). It's even vegan!

Seriously, start by getting some lube.

I also use condoms for birthcontrol and my husband and I both prefer Durex Avanti to latex condoms. They're thinner and far more comfortable.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:42 PM on May 22, 2006

Having a child in the room is definitely a distraction (guys, take it from a woman, it doesn't take much to be a distraction, and this is definitely a major one.) Plus, if the child should wake up, it is way too young to process what it might see-sex to a child looks like daddy's hurting mommy.

You didn't say, but I wonder if there is abuse in your background, either as a child or as an adult. A lot of sex is about between the ears, not the organs.

(btw vegetable oil is good for more than the kitchen, hint hint.)
posted by konolia at 7:43 PM on May 22, 2006

People write about sex on the internet all the time. Some of it is erotica; some of it is instructional. Chelsea Girl tends to be both. Here is a link to her posts tagged with "help." I think she has several Very Good Things to Say, particularly in the post from May 8 (presently the first post).
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:48 PM on May 22, 2006

Seconding lekvar: do NOT use vegetable oil with condoms, or you will soon have a second child sleeping in the room. No vaseline or hand lotion for lube, either -- even aside from the ways they can cause condoms to break down, they're bad for vaginal tissues.

Speaking of condoms: lambskin is a great alternative to latex as well -- far more pleasurable for both partners, I fiind. They're expensive, but (in my experience) very much worth it.
posted by scody at 8:30 PM on May 22, 2006

Keeping the focus on the mechanical:
- if he takes a long time, and you're his first, he may be too acclimatised to the rough stimulus of Mrs Palm and her five daughters, no matter how delightful the sensations you provide are. So assuming he is masturbating regularly, he should be using lots of lube when he does so. Perhaps if you can't talk about this, providing a well-lubed handjob might give him the idea.
- the size issue goes both ways - he might not be getting the stimulation he needs, explaining why it takes a while. Going for different positions can make a huge difference in this department. Again, if you are worried about his ego, you can just say "this works for me" or "it feels more intense like this" without going into details.

And do do do nuke your browser cache and history if you share a PC or I predict a high risk of unpleasant conversation.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:40 PM on May 22, 2006

PS: re my second suggestion, if you like penetration there's benefits for you in branching out from missionary too.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:42 PM on May 22, 2006

at the moment I really prefer the bed and the covers and the darkness of the bedroom.

No one else noted this, but I am wondering if there's a looks issue here on someone's part. Not that you have to get down with bright lights on, but if this need for darkness means what it might mean, perhaps you've got to think about diet and fitness for yourself or both of you as well.
posted by zadcat at 8:56 PM on May 22, 2006

diet and fitness? maybe. another path is to not care...

Seriously, a lot of men (or at least me, to be honest) are eager to see their partner naked - what with the eyes being important sex organs for us - and a modest or insecure insistence on the dark is removing a major stimulus. Which might be another factor in him taking a long time.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:01 PM on May 22, 2006

Talk Sex With Sue Johanson has a good book list, and try to catch the show if available.
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 10:32 PM on May 22, 2006

If penetration is difficult to find pleasure in (and I know you're shy, but...) maybe you should get a dildo/vibrator. Explore on your own how penetration works for you. One of my biggest pieces of sex advice for women is take control of your own orgasms...if you don't know 5 different ways to get yourself off, how can you expect him to know those things?

Maybe sex is too much're too worried that he won't enjoy himself, that it will be uncomfortable for you, that the kid will wake up...maybe have a few exercises that are strictly not about penetration.

My favorite game is each of you get an evening (or at least an hour) where your partner sits between your legs and looks, and prods, and explores. you watch his face as you find the circumcision ring (assuming he has one, but i'm just taking a long shot and guessing your religious and so he probably does), watch how his breath changes and you get to the point behind his balls, just barely touching it...and he gets to see the difference between touching your hood and touching your clit, he has the chance to discover that the nerves that control the clit actually extend down the lips and to that flap of skin at the very bottom...maybe make the first half hour hands and the second half hour try to use your mouth. BUT the point of this is learning, so NO penetration. find a new way to get each other off...take more of an active role in it.

you could also play a couples game of "I never". One of you say something you've never done but always wanted to...then you decide if you can do it. play this when sex is not what is happening...when you're just sitting around. maybe make it a drinking game to lube of the conversation, as it were...the keep his list int he back of your head and hope he keeps your list as well.

I am obviously not shy, but i know what it's like to feel out of your element...take control of your sexuality and you will have so much more fun.

and, you mentioned that you have a hard time thinking of yourself...maybe it's time to discover if you have any hidden kinks. i like to be tied and beat because i like to give control and trust another to give me the pleasure he knows i need. this rings true for many...or yours may be rooted else where.

remember most of all that he's your partner for life so he is hte perfect person to explore these things with you.

oh. one last thing. find music that makes you feel sexy. play it during your play. i think you might be suprised how adding a little rythym can make all the difference.
posted by nadawi at 12:54 AM on May 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

My suggestions: get a silicone based lube like pjur original which actually lasts as long as you need, and try the coital alignment technique (you'll find plenty of matches on Google) which is easy to do and will give you more clitoral stimulation.
posted by teleskiving at 2:33 AM on May 23, 2006

For many women intercourse just isn't very interesting. And if you aren't interested, then you will be bored, and then you will not be aroused and then it will start to hurt. Which can make you dread the next time you have intercourse. (All this is very bad for your relationship - your husband may not want to talk about it because he feels rejected, inadequate or unattractive).

Some advice:

- Manual stimulation during intercourse may be necessary, especially since (as you say) this is very pleasurable for you. His mind will be occupied, so try it yourself. Try moving your hand with his rythyms, as if your hand were part of him.

- lubrication is a very good idea - especially if you are too dry for manual stimulation. Even a little saliva can do the trick (and doesn't hurt condoms). Generally, you need lots of artificial lubrication if you are using condoms at all (some say they are lubricated, but it is never enough), because none of the lubrication your husband produces is getting to the important bits. (Also, Latex is just harsher than skin). You might also think about possibly getting a diaphram for birth control if possible - it's a bit of a startup cost (about $25 in Canada), but cheaper than condoms in the long run and much more comfortable, with similar birth control reliability.

You do need to talk about your needs - I'm sure your husband has noticed, and probably is as worried/upset about it as you are.
posted by jb at 8:45 AM on May 23, 2006

Check out a book The Five Love Languages and learn to speak each others' languages more clearly. After reading the five general types of ways people perceive/give/interpret love, I fully anticipate much more meaningful and deliberate intimacy of all kinds. It has completely changed my current relationships, even with my parents, to a degree that I understand them better, they understand me better, and love is expressed in ways that make more sense to each of us.

Once you discover yours and his love languages (and you both know how to speak them) keeping and holding your attention won't be a problem because you and he'll know just which buttons to push to keep you both eager.
posted by vanoakenfold at 8:48 AM on May 23, 2006

Response by poster: Are you not comfortable with sex, or with yourself as a sexual being?

My first inclination is to tell you to masturbate in front of a mirror. Get a lot of lube, rub it all around, and then start exploring yourself. Position yourself in front of a mirror so that you can see what you're doing and what's going on. Do this regularly. And when you're reading, or sitting, or being quiet in a private place explore--not to orgasm, just to explore your vulva and labia and whatnot to get comfortable with that whole area. I think a lot of women view their genitalia as an evil black hole of smelly disgusting doom, and they're really not.

Going to a counselor, talking with your husband about sex, trying dirty talk, getting a little drunk, having sex outside the house (like going to a hotel and leaving the kid with a babysitter to give yourselves privacy), these are all good things to help you guys loosen up and get comfortable. But you won't get comfortable with anyone else until you're comfortable with yourself.
posted by Anonymous at 9:34 AM on May 23, 2006

My sex drive is good, I really look forward to it and I often get an orgasm after my husband stimulates me with his fingers. If the penetration lasts for more than a couple of minutes, I do not enjoy myself anymore and a while after that it becomes uncomfortable.

You don't say exactly what the problem is. Physical pain? Boredom? Distraction due to the kid sleeping in the room? Anixiety about body image? Feelings of guilt?

Figuring out exactly what is wrong is the first an most important step to figuring out how to fix it. Based on some of the things in your post, it may be more than one of these factors.

One way to dodge a lot of these things is to discover what each of you find sexy. That doesn't necessarily mean x-rated talk; maybe you like the way he looks in a certain suit, maybe he thinks you'd look great in high heels. Wear 'em sometime, just because. Maybe instead of penetration, take a night and do nothing but touch each other everywhere BUT there. Find out what feels good for each of you.

Start small, build confidence, and then build on that.

I also recommend you read as much as you can - it'll get you thinking about things you both might enjoy, and often times, trying something new is half the fun.

Sex with someone you love is supposed to be fun. If you're not having fun, then keep trying new things until you do.
posted by mikewas at 12:21 PM on May 23, 2006

Size does matter; don't let anyone tell you differently. Vaginas come in all different shapes and sizes just as penises do. What's important for pleasurable intercourse for both parties is a good fit.

Sounds like you don't have a good fit. I've been there and i'm there now. There's nothing wrong with you. I don't think it means you have emotional problems-- even if you do like to be in the dark! And i don't think there's anything wrong with your husband, like that he "takes too long" or something like that. You're both perfect the way you are.

I agree that intercourse becomes unpleasant after awhile if it isn't pleasurable, and i'm experienced enough to know that lubrication isn't a problem for me. Relaxation is key for me-- but of course my partner notices this. I've been honest with him that intercourse doesn't do much for me. (You don't have to say anything about size unless you think he really wants to know.) It hurt his ego a lot but we've been able to get past it. We both acknowledge that it would be nice if intercourse were better for us but we can deal with it because we really want to be together. Now that he knows how i feel about intercourse, i can just relax and smile at him while we do it and i don't feel i have to pretend. If it's getting uncomfortable and i want him to finish up, i just say so. He knows that i love him and that we won't stop making love until we're both satisfied.

For me, being satisfied often means using a dildo. I've learned this over the course of my life because it seems that the general rule is-- if his penis doesn't reach, his fingers won't either. Sometimes my partner gets put out by this, feeling inadequate or uninvolved somehow. I tell him that if he doesn't feel happy about it, i'll stop. I don't want to do anything unless we feel connected. I just kiss him and put attention on him and tell him that i love him and that he has a very nice penis, and eventually he feels fine again. He enjoyes watching me please myself, and sometimes he uses the dildo on me, too. He likes to be able to please me that way.

It is unpleasant to always feel unsatisfied after intercourse. It gets to the point that it would be a lot nicer not to do it at all. There is nothing wrong with you if you feel this way. I hope you can learn how to please yourself.

I also have a problem called Interstitial Cystitis, which is a chronically inflamed bladder. I mention this in case it is a problem for you, too. A vagina has sensation in the outer third of its length and the inner third, while there is zero sensation in the center third. If a penis doesn't reach the inner third (where it is all so yummy), then all the pleasure has to come from the outer third. If your bladder has problems, then there isn't much pleasure in the outer third. I think the "G-spot" is basically a part of the bladder that gets stimulated through the wall of the vagina. Very sensitive!

Some women like a lot of width to their partner's penis, to better stimulate the outer-third, G-spot area.

You know, all of us could go on all day about different things to try. I think the keys are 1) love yourself exactly the way you are, and 2) communicate openly. If you endure unsatisfying sex for too long over the course of your relationship, it just makes you resentful.
posted by Ruby_Isis at 4:55 PM on October 30, 2006

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