My husband and I have been married for 2 years and together for 6. He has always said that he has thought sex was “yucky” and that he never wants it. When we are intimate I feel like he is just going through the motions to make me happy. I am generally unable to help him achieve an erection, nor can I help him come to an orgasm. I am a psychology major working on my Bachelor’s of Science, so I understand that there are some underlying psychological issues at play here. However, he frequently watches porn and is more than happy to play with himself (sometimes while I am lying in bed next to him). Is it me?

Mark A. Michaels and Patricia Johnson
Profile | Website

If your husband has always thought sex is “yucky”, many of the issues clearly existed before you got together, and it’s likely that his choices of viewing material and method of masturbating have little or nothing to do with you.

That’s not to say you play no role in the dynamic that exists between you – you presumably chose to marry him with knowledge of his feelings about sex, and you have accepted this pattern of interacting (or not interacting) for some time.

Beyond that, it’s very hard to offer any opinions without a lot more information about him and what he means by “yucky”, among other things. As you point out, his apparent discomfort with actual sexual contact suggests that he may have a number of underlying sexual/psychological issues. These issues would be best addressed by a sex therapist, and it would probably be wise for that therapist to do at least some work with both of you, since the dynamic is something that has been built up and reinforced over several years. Be sure to find someone with training in sexuality – preferably someone certified by The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT). Also be sure that the person you choose displays compassion and a non-judgmental attitude toward both of you.

If therapy is not an option (although we really think it’s the best way to go), but your husband is willing to work on this with you, we’d suggest taking small steps and trying to find areas of sexual common ground, so that you can experience pleasure together and develop a more positive way of interacting. This might involve making it a point to watch the porn with him, engaging mutual masturbation, or your watching him while he masturbates and then perhaps interacting with him more directly when he’s really turned on, so that he can start to associate engaging with you physically with pleasure.

It’s encouraging that he’s not concealing his masturbation and porn viewing from you. This suggests that he’s not burdened by shame. In addition, the porn can provide you with a starting point for exploring together and might provide you with an opportunity to communicate about his issues more deeply and honestly. If you can manage to be genuinely curious and non-judgmental about his sexuality, you can gain a better understanding of what’s going on and perhaps find ways work around and/or incorporate his sexual interests into your shared erotic life.

Patricia Johnson & Mark Michaels
Co-authors of Partners in Passion, Great Sex Made Simple, The Essence of Tantric Sexuality, and Tantra for Erotic Empowerment
www.TantraPM.com

Dick of Dick-n-Jane.com
(layman with a website)

I’m going to start this reply with the easy stuff.

Much of the pleasure in sex is giving pleasure to your partner, at least that’s how it should be, and this is precisely the reason you contacted us; you don’t feel like you are able to please your husband sexually. You mentioned that he tries to make you happy and this speaks loudly that he cares about you and wants to give you pleasure. I would bet good money that he gets satisfaction from giving you pleasure and your embracing this might help you cope with some otherwise disappointing evenings between the sheets.

Regarding difficulties achieving erection or orgasm with you, there could be practical explanations that you have not explored. If he is taking any medication (like an SSRI) it may interfere with his sexual response. Or if he is masturbating excessively his body may not be able to keep up like it did when he was 18. You could be getting limp leftovers.

However, I think the most likely explanation, the one that fits your description best, is a problem with porn. There is an interesting article in New York Magazine which details one man’s struggle with real sex in the wake of excessive porn consumption. The “science” referenced in the piece was debunked later by a neuroscience journalist on Time.com but the simple fact it is being discussed at all means that there is an issue common enough to hit the radar of popular media.

I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest something for which I have absolutely no facts to back up. Your husband spent his adolescence as a curious kid in a home with unrestricted Internet access and his sexual education was on par with the American norm of sub-standard. How am I doing so far?

For decades people have been debating the affects of television, movies, and video games on the mental outlook of their consumers. The cornerstone of the argument against ill-affect is that we are grounded in the real world and our minds are fully capable of distinguishing reality from fantasy. We understand which context to process information in because we are surrounded by real world references.

Now imagine a curious 13 year old virgin who stumbles into an endless reservoir of hardcore porn. Without any references in the real world, or personal experience to balance the imagined scenarios playing out on-screen, what type of impression might this leave about what sex is and how people relate to it? Moreover, human brains take in excess of 20 years to develop fully, even in late adolescence we struggle with things like abstraction and self centrism which make externalizing what we experience difficult.

You say your husband has always (in the time you have known him anyway) found sex “yucky”. It sounds like he may have formed an immature opinion early on and is having a hard time shaking it. As Mark and Patricia mentioned, your best option may be to seek the assistance of an AASECT certified therapist to guide you through this. It may be tempting to view the reliance on therapy as sign of decline but that view is not warranted. It is highly likely that new doors will be opened and your marriage will step into an arena of intimacy you had not previously imagined.

We wish you the very best on this journey and have confidence your young marriage will grow and thrive as it should. Please come back and let us know how things are going.

– Dick

If there are any parents reading this who have concerns about their kids’ access to everything the Internet holds, I highly recommend researching OpenDNS which is an easy, complete home network solution and totally free. I did a short write up on it a few years ago, you can find my recommendations here.