Handling Sexual Differences In Marriage


“Dear Olawunmi,

My wife and I have been married for 6 years. In this time, our marriage has been beautifully blessed in almost every aspect. I say almost because I would be lying if I said our sex life has been beautiful. I am more open to trying new things in bed but my wife is not. Something as simple as trying different sex styles is difficult for her. She would rather stick with the missionary position.

I am not complaining because I feel deprived in that area. My pain is that both of us are being deprived (even though, she may not know it!). I want to pleasure my wife in many ways sexually. I want her to experience wonderful sexual delights in my arms and vice versa but her rigidity in this area is a problem that I do not know how to address. I have tried talking to her about it but she doesn’t like talking about sex. The only time she ever spoke with me about sex, she said she believed sex was merely for procreation and not necessarily for enjoyment.

I am at a loss of what to do and we are missing out on so much because of this. Please help us.

This is a problem many married couples face.

How should we handle sexual differences between spouses in marriage?

First, it is important to acknowledge that as different individuals, each spouse has his or her own beliefs about sex. We have different mindsets about what sex in marriage should be, who should play what role and how often sex should happen.

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However, it could be a problem when a couple have radically different beliefs about sex, much like the issue above.

Sexual practices between married couples should be based on mutual agreement.

One of the important elements of sex is to bring mutual pleasure and being forced to perform certain acts that one person finds unenjoyable defeats the purpose of mutual pleasure.

If a spouse raises objections about a sexual act, it is up to the other person to understand what the real objection is.

  • Is the spouse saying no because he/she has little or no knowledge about the act?
  • Is the spouse saying no because of a faulty perception about the act?
  • Or is the spouse saying no because he/she is fully advised about the act and has drawn a line where that act is concerned?

From the narration above, the wife seems to have a faulty perception of what sex in marriage should be.

It is important that the couple sit together (in a relaxed atmosphere that encourages the wife to speak freely) and talk about their individual ideologies around sex. How did you learn about sex growing up? Where and who taught you what you know? Where there any life experiences that influenced your perception about sex? Do these beliefs hold true or are they false?

It is also important that the couple go back to the drawing board to teach other real truths about what in marriage sex ought to be. If the couple are of like faith, can their faith play a role in teaching the truth about what sex ought to be between husband and wife?

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If after the above, the couple still find it difficult to make head way, it will not be out of place for both of them to seek the services of a professional sex counselor.

The above counsel would also apply if the spouse has little or no knowledge about the sexual act or practice.

That being said. What do you do when your spouse says no to certain sexual practices because he or she is fully advised about the act and has made an informed decision not to engage it? (I get a lot of questions about spouses refusing to engage in oral or anal sex because they are fully advised but have decided that such practices are not for them).

The gracious thing to do is to be understanding. Understand the fact that you enjoying a certain sexual act does not mean that that your spouse MUST enjoy it as well. Forcing a spouse to engage in such would be unpleasurable for them and therefore defeat the purpose of enjoying sex in marriage.

Find your common ground as a couple and work on enhancing what you both already enjoy!

Clear communication and Understanding is key to defining what is sexually acceptable or unacceptable in our individual marriages.

I say “our individual marriages” because it is important to know that sex in marriage is personal to each couple. The sex life of another couple should never be the yardstick with which your sex life is measured!

What applies to another couple’s sex life, will not necessarily apply to yours!

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Understand that people are different and do what works for you and your spouse.

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The author olawunmiesan

Olawunmi Esan is Nigeria’s leading Sex Therapist and Coach. She is a trained Psychologist and certified Sex Therapist, who helps Couples and Individuals enjoy Mind-Blowing Sex.