Dr. Howe: How frequently do you and your husband have sex?
Unhappy Wife: Not very often
Dr. Howe: Once a week? Once a month?
Unhappy Wife: I don’t know–maybe 8 times a month; but it’s not like every week or anything. Like maybe we’ll do it 3 nights in a row or something then we don’t do it for a while, then we do it 3 times in 24 hours — like he’ll do it in the night, then he’ll wake up in the morning and do it again, then he’ll want to do it when night comes again. Then we’ll do it the next night and the next morning after that and then we don’t do it for a while
Dr. Howe: you sound like that bothers you a little bit
Unhappy Wife: Well it kind of does
Dr. Howe: In what way does it bother you?
Unhappy Wife: Well I don’t really like to have sex in the night and then wake up in the morning and have sex again and then have sex again later that night. I’d prefer if we could sort of have a schedule. Like we could try to have sex 2 times a week. I think that’s reasonable don’t you? I mean, we’d still be doing it 8 times a month but it will feel like it’s more frequent because it will be happening every week. And that seems like a good thing to me.
Dr. Howe: Have you ever suggested that to your husband?
Unhappy Wife: Yes, of course; but he doesn’t really seem to be interested in working together to make our sex like healthier and more enjoyable for both of us.
Dr. Howe: Why do you say that?
Unhappy Wife: Well, we only managed to try the scheduling once and he didn’t make any real effort to respect the schedule. He still took sex on days when we weren’t supposed to have sex and he still did the same things that I told him I didn’t like, waking up the next morning after we’d had sex the night before and having sex with me again. It was like he didn’t care about anything other than being able to have sex whenever he wanted it. He didn’t have any concern about our sex life together. He just cared about him getting sex.
Dr. Howe: You sound like you feel some hurt about that
Pauline Of course I feel some hurt about that. No woman wants to feel like she’s just an object with an accessible hole that her husband uses to get his rocks off
Dr. Howe: Do you always feel that way?
Unhappy Wife: Most of the time
Dr. Howe: Have you expressed your feelings to your husband?
Unhappy Wife: Many times
Dr. Howe: And what has he said in response?
Unhappy Wife: Of course he’s going to deny that all he cares about is the sex and that he’s just using my body
Dr. Howe: Of the 8 or so times a month that you and your husband have sex how many result in you having an orgasm?
Unhappy Wife: I had an orgasm with my husband for the first time in a long time a few days ago. Before that I’d say it was months since I’d had an orgasm with my husband.
Dr. Howe: You say “with your husband” as if you’ve had orgasms but just not from sex with your husband.
Unhappy Wife: Well, yeah, I have an orgasm every time I masturbate.
Dr. Howe: And how often do you masturbate?
Unhappy Wife: Not as often as I used to. Maybe a handful of times a month.
Dr. Howe: You prefer to masturbate over having sex with your husband?
Unhappy Wife: I don’t know. I mean, I would love to be able to enjoy sex with my husband. I think I would prefer healthy, enjoyable sex with my husband over masturbating; but I don’t think there’s any hope for that.
Dr. Howe: You say you had an orgasm with your husband a few days ago?
Unhappy Wife: Yeah.
Dr. Howe: Was there something different in your sex a few days ago that hasn’t been in your sex for some time?
Unhappy Wife: Not really
Dr. Howe: How do you think you managed to have an orgasm the other day when you haven’t been able to have one in months?
Unhappy Wife: Well, I kind of wanted it a little bit so I made myself think about things so that I could get stimulated enough to relax. And once I was able to relax then my body got turned on and then I was able to get into it enough to work myself up to where I could have an orgasm
Dr. Howe: So you’d say that the reason you don’t usually have an orgasm is because you’re not able to relax enough for your body to get turned on and you can’t get into the sex if you’re not turned on?
Unhappy Wife: pretty much
Dr. Howe: Why do you suppose you have difficulty relaxing?
Unhappy Wife: Well, my husband’s approach is always so crude. There’s never any romance you know? I mean, I’m not saying I want music and candles or anything like that; but I want to feel like we have some kind of connection and it’s me he wants, not just that he wants sex and my vagina is the only one he has immediate access to. My husband will speak like two words to me all day and then at night I’m supposed to get on top of him and ride him like it’s the thrill of my life. I just feel like I’m nothing but a convenient hole and that’s not a good feeling. It doesn’t make me want to have sex with my husband. It doesn’t make me feel good about myself and I can’t relax while I’m lying there feeling like I’m compromising my self respect. I can’t relax while feeling like I’m letting myself be used–like I’m worth nothing and all I am is just a thing to be used for f***ing
Dr. Howe: Have you ever expressed any of this to your husband?
Unhappy Wife: Yes, of course; but like I said before it doesn’t seem to make any difference to him. He’ll just speak the usual empty words, tell me that I’m always wrong; but he never changes the way he does things so everything stays the same. He figures he tells me I’m wrong he’s done all he has to do and it’s up to me to say to myself, ‘okay you’re wrong because he says you’re wrong so don’t feel the way his actions make you feel because the truth is in his words not in his deeds’. Words don’t mean a damn thing. He handles me like I’m not even a real person–like I’m just this object that he’s manhandling and positioning just right so he can penetrate and do his thing and then go off to sleep or whatever. I mean, look, he’s not like a selfish lover once the sex gets going. He does care if I’m enjoying the sex or not and he will usually try to give me pleasure; but the problem is, he’s not connecting with me before the sex starts in a way that makes me want to have sex with him; so he’s busy trying to please my body but he has turned my mind away from wanting to be intimate with him; and if my mind is turned off from sex it’s nearly impossible for my body to become turned on.
Dr. Howe: Nearly isn’t quite entirely. So you’re saying there is a possibility that your body can become turned on even while your mind isn’t?
Pauline: Well, I don’t think I’m saying I can simultaneously be mentally turned off and physically turned on. I think what happens is that I sometimes feel guilty that I’m just lying there rolling my eyes and thinking about what I’m going to cook for dinner the next day or thinking about work I have to get done or stuff like that while he’s working so hard trying to get me into it. And sometimes I want to get rid of some of my own frustrations. So I chose to make a harder effort to shut off my mind and fill my head with images that turn my body on. This way I can force myself into it.
Dr. Howe: Like the other day when you had an orgasm?
Unhappy Wife: Yeah. Like the other day
Dr. Howe: If I suggested that your lack of frequent orgasms has more to do with your choice not to make an effort to shut your mind off from your thoughts about your husband’s crudeness in his approach to sex with you–that you chose to hold your anger in focus and punish your husband for not handling you the way you want to be handled, and punish yourself for doing what you perceive to be compromising your self respect by allowing the sex to happen anyway, how would you respond?
Unhappy Wife: I’d ask you why it should be that I have to shut off my mind and think vile, dirty thoughts to make myself get worked up enough so that it can become okay with me that my husband is just using my body? I don’t need orgasms that badly. I want my husband to treat making love to me as if it’s something meaningful. I don’t think I should just accept to feel like it could just as easily be some other woman he’s having sex with–like it’s my vagina that matters and not me and for that matter any vagina would be welcome as long as the owner of it was attractive enough to him. I don’t think I’m trying to punish him or punish myself. I’m just trying to protect myself. If I wanted to be used for sex I wouldn’t have gotten married. We get married so we don’t have to be out there being used for sex by men who don’t really give a crap about us. Why should I be okay with feeling like a convenient hole instead of feeling like a woman whose husband loves and desires and cherishes her?
To be continued…
Note: Dr. Howe is not a real person. She’s a character created for entertainment purposes and the series Sessions with Dr. Howe has also been created for entertainment purposes. Some of the Sessions with Dr. Howe content is based on real interviews with real people while other content is entirely fictionalized.