Welcome to Sessions With Dr. Howe. In this session Dr. Howe talks with Patient A1 whose husband has suggested that he might consider divorcing her over her refusal to fulfill his need to receive oral sex.

Touch points

  • Patient A1 and her husband have had no oral sex during their marriage. Her husband desires it and is threatening divorce
  • Dr. Howe agrees that no oral sex should not be grounds for divorce but takes the position that a wife should not be willing to put her husband in the position where he has to threaten divorce because she refuses to please him orally
  • Patient A1 says that performing oral sex makes her feel dirty
  • Patient A1 doesn’t think a wife should have to do things that make her feel like a whore in order to try to keep her husband’s love
  • Dr. Howe thinks the fact that Patient A1 was willing to perform oral sex on her husband when they were dating because she felt like she had to do it to please him means she should be even more willing to do it now that they are married.
  • Dr. Howe thinks that if Patient A1 could get over her aversion for the act when her husband was just someone she was dating, she can and she should want to get over it even more now that he is her husband.
  • Patient A1 thinks oral sex is an “extra” and not a necessity and therefore should never be made such a big deal over that divorce is threatened
  • Dr. Howe suggests that even if oral sex is an extra and not a necessity, it is a normal sexual desire and it is perfectly reasonable for a husband to expect that it is a desire his wife will fulfill. She does not consider it fair for a husband to be deprived of the reasonable sexual pleasures he desires because his wife will not accommodate him

Dr. Howe: So you say your husband is threatening to divorce you because you won’t agree to use your mouth to pleasure him?

Patient A1: Basically yeah, that’s about right. He says that he has his needs and he has a right to have them met, and if it means he has to divorce me to get his needs met then that’s what he’ll have to do.

Dr. Howe: And how do you feel about that?

Patient A1: Well, honestly, it’s–it’s pretty insulting. I mean, I thought I had more worth and value to my husband than just for what I could do for him sexually. But apparently I was wrong. I mean, if he’s willing to divorce me over a blow job he obviously never really loved me. So it’s–it’s been eye opening to say the very least.

Dr. Howe: Let’s talk about your reasons for refusing to perform oral sex on your husband. What’s behind your refusal?

Patient A1: I just don’t like doing it. It makes me feel dirty.

Dr. Howe: Have you ever given your husband a blow job before?

Patient A1: When we were dating I used to. But I haven’t done it not since we got married.

Dr. Howe: Why were you willing to do it when you were dating but you’re not willing to do it now that you’re married?

Patient A1: Well, it wasn’t so much that I was willing to do it then but I’m not willing to do it now. I didn’t want to do it then either; but you kind of feel like you have to do certain things to please a guy when you’re just dating.

Dr. Howe: And you’re saying that once you’re married to him you don’t have to be concerned about pleasing him anymore?

Patient A1: No, I’m not saying that. Of course you still have to be concerned about pleasing him. But you shouldn’t have to do things that make you feel like a whore just to try to keep his love.

Dr. Howe: But this is obviously important to him if he’s threatening to divorce you over it. So if you’re concerned about pleasing him why would you refuse to do it?

Patient A1: Because I just don’t like doing it.

Dr. Howe: But when you were dating you did it even though you didn’t like it. And at that time he was only someone you were dating. Now he’s your husband. Is it not even more important that you do what is necessary to please your husband, within reason of course.

Patient A1: I do a lot of things to try to please my husband. We’re talking about just one small thing that I’m unable to bring myself to do. Just one thing! And he’s willing to divorce me over that?

Dr. Howe: It should tell you that, though you consider it a small thing he does not. And as his wife who wants to please him, you should at the very least be willing to make an effort to overcome your aversion to the act.

(At this point Patient A1 is silently staring at Dr. Howe. She has an expression that suggests incredulity over what Dr. Howe is saying.)

Dr. Howe: Let me ask you this. If your husband refused to perform any act of sex that you enjoyed because he doesn’t like it how would it make you feel?

Patient A1: I wouldn’t have a problem with it. I mean, there are plenty of ways people can share sexual pleasure.

Dr. Howe: So you wouldn’t be upset if you asked him to make love to you a certain way and he refused?

Patient A1: No. I wouldn’t be upset. Why should I be upset? It’s just sex.

Dr. Howe: Do you like to receive oral sex yourself?

Patient A1: I guess so. Yes.

Dr. Howe: Does your husband perform oral sex on you?

Patient A1: No, he doesn’t. He did a few times when we were dating but it was obvious he didn’t like doing it. He was awkward and obviously uncomfortable and that made me self conscious so I started refusing when he offered and eventually he just stopped offering and the subject never came up again.

Dr. Howe: And how do you feel about that?
Patient A1: I’m fine with it. I have no problem with it. It’s not something he likes doing, and I don’t feel good knowing he’s not feeling good. I don’t want us doing anything in bed that’s not enjoyable for the two of us.
Dr. Howe: And you don’t feel deprived of that particular pleasure?

Patient A1: No I don’t feel deprived. Our sex life is great. Well, at least I thought so. But I guess it must not be so great if he wants to divorce me. It’s just—well–I mean—I don’t get it you know? If he’s been feeling so not satisfied why has he wanted sex so frequently? We have sex no fewer than four nights a week. And he always seems to enjoy himself. I don’t understand any of this to tell you the truth. Because to me this doesn’t seem like the way love is supposed to work. I love my husband. My love for my husband is greater than my need for oral sex. I’m not going to subject my husband to doing something he doesn’t like just so I can achieve an orgasm. I need my husband to be happy and comfortable more than I need an orgasm.

Dr. Howe: But your husband will be happier and more comfortable if you are fulfilling his need for oral sex. If your personal pleasure does not take priority over your need to make him happy and comfortable, shouldn’t you then be willing to fulfill his need for oral sex?

Patient A1: But I don’t like doing that any more than he does. He should feel the same way I do. He shouldn’t be willing to have me doing something I don’t like. If he loved me he wouldn’t be willing to divorce me just because I won’t perform oral sex on him. That makes no sense. That invalidates everything between us. It tells me that nothing else really matters. Nothing means anything. All the ways in which I show love to my husband every day—because I don’t do one thing he likes he’s willing to leave me? The countless things I do for him are negated by the one thing I don’t do? Taking his penis into my mouth is the only real proof that I love him? I can’t accept that. It doesn’t make sense to me. It’s—it’s a huge load of crap.

Dr. Howe: Whether that is the case or not, it’s what your husband is saying to you. My question to you is, is it important enough to you that your husband feels sure about your love for him, that you are willing to do what he asks you to do to please him and prove your love for him?

Patient A1: I’m really not sure what you want me to say here. I mean—so—if he requires me to jump off a cliff to prove my love for him I’m supposed to do it?

Dr. Howe: Naturally we’re not talking about requests that endanger your life. Asking you to perform oral sex is not like asking you to jump off a cliff.

Patient A1: But don’t you get the point Doctor? I prove my love for my husband over and over every day; but he chooses to focus only on this one thing that I don’t do. He has decided that nothing else will satisfy him as proof of my love except for me routinely sucking him off. In a way it’s like my husband is trying to bully me into giving him blow jobs. He’s threatening to divorce me because he has decided that if a woman won’t give her man a blow job then she can’t possibly really love him, and it sounds to me like you’re agreeing with this BS.

Dr. Howe: I am neither agreeing nor disagreeing with it. I’m trying to help you save your marriage if that is what you want. And it seems to me that if all your husband is requesting is that you add fellatio to your repertoire of sexual practices, this shouldn’t be such a difficulty given your previous statement that his happiness and comfort take precedence over your pleasure.

Patient A1: But should I be willing to make such a compromise for a man who is willing to divorce me if I don’t? What kind of marriage do I have in the first place? Why should I care about saving my marriage when my husband is willing to throw it away over this? Obviously I don’t really mean anything to him. I don’t have any value in his life if he’s willing to divorce me just because I won’t give him a blow job. Like I said, I do pretty much everything else. It’s not like we’re not having sex. We have sex all the time. And it gets pretty wild and crazy. So I just don’t get how just because I won’t do this one thing he can act like his sex life is so unsatisfying that it warrants divorce talk.

Dr. Howe: It almost sounds to me as if you’re mainly just outraged at the idea that your husband would consider divorcing you for this trivial reason. And it’s certainly understandable that you would be outraged and even hurt at the thought; but it’s highly unlikely your husband would actually leave you for just this reason. If he’s threatening divorce and he’s serious there’s got to be more going on than that. So if you’re saying to me that your marriage is perfectly fine in all other areas, I suspect your husband is just desperately trying to get through to you the message that this is really important to him. He really wants you to do this for him. And you’ve said that his happiness matters more than your pleasure. So why can you not find a way to endure whatever discomfort you feel in performing the act knowing you are making him happy and giving him pleasure? Surely if his happiness matters to you as you say you can make the effort even to research ways that the process can become less of a chore and an unpleasant experience for you. If it will make him happy—is it not worth trying?

Patient A1: But just the same way I don’t ask him to go down on me because I know he doesn’t like to do it, shouldn’t he also love me enough not to want to make me uncomfortable and ask me to do something I don’t like?

Dr. Howe: Let’s say you did ask him to go down on you even while knowing he doesn’t like to do it, would he?

Patient A1: He probably would.

Dr. Howe: And why do you suppose he would probably go down on you if you asked despite the fact he doesn’t like it?

Patient A1: Well, obviously because he wants to please me. But that’s not the point. Why should I be so selfish to request it? It’s not a necessity. It’s an extra. I don’t need it to achieve sexual satisfaction. I might enjoy it; but it’s not like that’s the only way I can achieve sexual climax. So why should I subject him to the discomfort? After it’s done I’m lying there reveling in the afterglow of my orgasm and he’s feeling like he’s just done something icky and disgusting? How is that a good thing? We should both be reveling in the afterglow of our shared pleasure. It shouldn’t be that one person is feeling good because they got what they wanted while the other is feeling bad because they had to perform a sex act they find disgusting and vile.

Dr. Howe: Maybe what you and your husband both need to be doing is examining what lies behind your attitudes towards oral sex. Perhaps that is the starting point for finding a solution that is less preposterous than divorcing over this. I hear what you’re saying about it being an extra and not a necessity. But anything that can enhance your sex life, even if it is an extra and not necessary for orgasm, can potentially save your marriage.

Patient A1: I don’t know how I feel about that. The idea that giving my husband blow jobs could potentially save my marriage and not giving him any could cost me my marriage is insulting to my intelligence.

Dr. Howe: Well what I would recommend is that you sit down with your husband and talk about it. Have him explain why it’s so important to him that he would consider divorcing you over it. And try to listen to him with an open mind. Your intellect might want to rebel against the notion, but sex does have the power to hold a marriage together or weaken the ties that bind and cause it to fall apart. What you need to understand is that you’re attempting to spend the rest of your lives being the only lover each will have. You can’t afford to maintain your attitudes of disgust at the thought of pleasuring each other orally. And even if you argue that you’re able to put your husband’s comfort above your desire for him to go down on you, you can’t expect him to take the position that you take. You’re two completely different people.

Patient A1: But if he loved me he wouldn’t be so selfish to put his desire above my comfort.

Dr. Howe: Is it not just as selfish of you to expect him to put your comfort above his desire? And at the end of the day what are we talking about here? We’re talking about a disinclination to do something based on a thought that it is a vile thing to do versus a real physical need. Your husband’s needs are real. Your fears and discomforts are triggered by thoughts that can be overcome if there is a willingness to overcome them. The argument that if he loved you he wouldn’t ask you to do something you find distasteful has no place in this discussion. He desires this act to be performed on him. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a perfectly normal desire to have. And it’s perfectly reasonable for him to have an expectation that his normal sexual desires will not have to remain unfulfilled fantasies for the duration of his marriage.

Patient A1: So you’re basically saying that I’m obligated to do this? That it’s my duty as his wife?

Dr. Howe: No. That isn’t what I’m saying at all. What I’m saying is that your husband has needs and desires. And it is not fair that he should be deprived because you don’t want to do certain things with him. If his needs and desires were unreasonable that would be one thing. But these are not unreasonable needs and desires. Now you’d be right to say that you should not have to do something you find distasteful if you don’t want to do it. The dilemma here is that your husband can’t just go and get someone else to take care of his needs. That would probably create some serious problems in your marriage. So he turns to you because you are his wife. You made him vow to forsake all others until you die or he dies. So what is the expectation here? That for the rest of his life, unless you die before he’s too old to care any longer, he will go without?

Patient A1: Is that really such a huge crisis?

Dr. Howe: Hmm. Well. I can see that you have very strong feelings of opposition to the idea that oral sex should be as important to your husband as it is. I think we’re going to need to get over that hurdle before we can hope to make any headway with this. So why don’t I send over some literature for you to look over during the week. And we’ll talk about your these feelings of opposition in our next session. Is that okay?

Patient A1: Yes, sure. That’s fine.

Dr. Howe: Great. So I’ll see you next week then.

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 stories of  real couples while other content is entirely fictionalized.