There are a couple of big things I can't speak very well to: first, the impact of young children on your sex life. We've never had children, and I don't want to presume anything by giving lame advice. Also, we have never been through marital counseling, so I can't give any insight on its helpfulness, but I feel like it would be wrong not to at least mention it. Without further ado, here's the scenario:
I love your Tweets and blog. I have a question for you...My wife and I have been married for nearly 13 years and been together for almost 18. We have a 2 1/2 year old son of which I am a stay-at-home dad with my own successful business. My wife works full time. My wife has a pretty strong body image problem and because of this we only have sex twice a month sometimes more, more often than not, less.I will admit that yes, she has been overweight for a long time but it has never bothered me even though when she needs encouragement I will give it but I have made it know that her physique doesn't turn me off. She has amazing breasts and such a pretty face and I let her know this as well as letting her know that she still turns me on.How can I help her get past this and have sex more often or to be more kinky and more into things like porn, talking dirty, initiating more, etc? I've told her before that I would like her to do all of this but it doesn't seem to register or matter. I'm always the one that has to initiate things but I don't like to do that much any more because to be honest, I'm tired of getting turned down and I don't like when she is not into it and is just going through the motions (which is about 80% of the time.).Friends of our just went through a vasectomy and the doctor told them they needed to have sex 30 times over the next two months to be sure everything is as it should be. When she told me this I was going to make a comment to the effect of we don't do that in a year let alone two months... but I didn't :-)Any advice?
First off, great job on being a husband who is so clearly in love. And second, great job on NOT making the comment about having sex fewer than 30 times in a year. The bottom line is communication, and until you can open up with each other about what's going on sexually, you may find your dynamic continuing.
There are so many things in this message that ring bells for me. D and I had mismatched libidos even in the earlier years of our relationship, and his was always stronger. I didn't always feel attractive, especially if I'd put on a few pounds, or if I was going through a rough time in school or work that made me feel badly about myself. D was the primary initiator and decided that he really wanted me to get it started from time to time. All of these things, compounded with the later chronic pain, eventually led to a virtually sexless relationship.
The first thing I notice about your post is that it's mostly about you--what you want, what you're not getting. And that's OK. But clearly something is missing for your wife (as it was for me), and I think you've got to do some work to figure out what that is and try to find some ways to get back on the same page together (assuming you were on the same page at one time?).
Is your wife currently on hormonal birth control? If so, is it different from what she used before getting pregnant? Does she take any other meds that can fuck with libido? Those are things to consider. They don't necessarily bring desire to a screeching halt, but they can make it harder to get over the hump of inertia.
So what to do about it? It sounds like your wife is bit closed off when it even comes to talking with you about sex. Let me start with the push to get her to initiate/ talk dirty/ watch porn, etc. STOP. DOING. THAT. Or at least, stop doing it the way you've been doing it. It took a long time for us to figure out that D pressing me to initiate and "do things differently" was when I really started to pull (or push) away. I was not comfortable with it at the time, and even though I told him so verbally and non-verbally, he continued to press. Looking back, it was a pattern we had elsewhere in our relationship--he would pursue an issue or a question to the point that I felt badgered and harassed. When I felt pursued I also didn't want to acknowledge or talk about whatever the issue was. It literally never occurred to us that the same thing was happening in our sex life.
Eventually we learned how to manage the pursue/ recoil dynamic. When I was feeling pushed or harassed, I would say so. D had to stop it immediately, and we would agree to a neutral time and place to discuss the issue. This ended up working very well for us, and after a while we changed the dynamic and our habits. However, we really should have put sex on the table and tried to deal with it this way. If we did, I don't remember doing it, and we must not have tried very hard.
Now, onto some of the practical matters.
Porn (videos, I mean) may not get her off the way it does you. Or she may like different things in porn but not feel comfortable saying what they are. Or she may have no idea what she wants out of porn. What really began to turn things around for me so that I started to feel sexy and sexual again was reading smutty stories and sex blogs. I joke that I'm an intellesexual, but it's really quite true. My mind has to be turned on before my body follows suit. Here are some suggestions:
- Read her a sexy bedtime story. This may sound corny, but you're doing a few things that put her at the center of attention without any pressure or expectation on her to do anything except lie back and listen. As a working mom I suspect she will like this very, very much. Literotica is online and free, but you get what you pay for. A little hunting will find some good stories, though. Get comfy in bed, maybe with a glass of wine, just the reading lamp on, and go for it. There are also some stories with audio recordings of the author reading. Some are sexy, some are lame.
- Check out Sonic Erotica, where very sexy audio files are posted. Some are just straight up sounds of fucking and orgasm. Others are pieces of fiction, or descriptions of fantasies. Regardless, there's so much hotness, your speakers will melt.
- Find a few blogs you enjoy (hey, like this one!) written by couples more or less like you and bookmark a few posts to read together. Maybe choose something a little racier than your usual sexy time fare, or something that puts you in mind of great moments in your relationship from the past. Check out my blogroll and links page for some other sexy couples' blogs. In particular I suggest Tales From Under Our Covers, Reed and River Unplugged (they have kids, too), Reed's previous blog Reed and River Are Fucking, Frisky in the 916 (who also have a young child), Sexual Life of a Wife (also kids!), and Uncommon Appetites. And rather than watching whatever's on the DVR some night, peruse a blog together.
Massage is an obvious option, whether you rub her down or send her to the spa. There's something to be said for both choices. The spa is completely non-threatening, but she's still going to get physical pleasure from the experience. And as a result, she may be more open to feeling your touch. Massage can be a lot of work on you, and she could feel like you're doing it just to get into her pants, but if it succeeds in getting into her pants, then WIN! Not knowing your relationship, I can't guess how this would go.
Washing her hair is another lovely, sensual experience. If you already have at least an occasional habit of showering or bathing together, then get on it. If not, this may be harder to wrangle. However, I think most women love the 5-10 minutes they spend in the shampoo chair at the hairdresser, especially when they do a little extra scalp massage with the conditioner. It feels so good. I would have welcomed that from D even in my most withdrawn days.
Magazines like to recommend orchestrating romantic evenings and complex scenarios. Personally, I never reacted well to those because I felt like there was an overt expectation of sex. I'm not saying to quit romantic gestures, but a big evening of music, rose petals, oysters, new lingerie, candlelight, and wine may feel overwhelming. Whenever D went to great lengths like that I always felt pressure to perform, and then guilt if I didn't succeed. And that is not sexy.
So, those are my thoughts. I hope that together you can find a way to open communication about sex, which is really the only way to work on this concern. As a woman who perhaps felt not so differently from your wife, I had to get over a huge roadblocks. Reading smut and masturbating got me primed and ready to jump back into sex with D, and once I started feeling more comfortable with sex again, I was able to talk about it more freely. And to D's credit he has never once expressed anger or blame over the sexless years. He's expressed regret, but only regret. Now we can talk about everything, without judgement or shame.
I really hope this gives you some food for thought, and maybe a few ideas to start strengthening the intimacy in your relationship!
*The regular Formspring Roundup will resume next week