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Bored Husband

Question:

My question is: What do you do when you are married to wonderful woman, who is honest, kind and decent, but bores you to death in the bedroom? I love my wife and we married with the intent of obeying our Christian values not to fornicate. (It was tough) After marriage, I thought we would grow sexually together. Much to my disappointment, my wife is very naive of sex and inhibited. Does not like to talk about our sex life, and does not like to try new things. Born and raised Catholic, she is uncomfortable with this subject. She is easily offended with my "unconventional" request. Please help me find proper ways to approach my wife.

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Answer:

I have to start out my comments by noting that I am not Catholic and therefore am not familiar with what it is like to be born and raised Catholic. I can only offer an outsider’s point of view. I hope that I do not inadvertently mischaracterize the Catholic experience. I’m aware that there are a variety of Catholic experiences as well, some more strict than others. I’m speaking here to the more strict variety. If any reader finds offense, please keep this in mind.

It seems to me that people who grow up in strict churches of many sorts sometimes end up with a conflicted sexual life. This follows from church teachings concerning sexuality and its association with sin. Many churches teach that this world and all it contains are little more than a temporary testing ground for the soul whose goal it is to resist temptation and thereby enter into an eternity of heaven. The penalties for failing to resist temptation are stiff and uncompromising: disqualification from heaven. Sexuality is one variety of temptation that can disqualify you from heaven.

It isn’t sexuality per se which is restricted. Sexuality in marriage for reproductive purposes is okay. It is more the idea of using sexuality as recreation; sexuality as a pleasurable activity that is restricted. From this division between sexuality for reproductive purposes vs. sexuality for pleasure comes the "Madonna/whore" conception. It’s okay to be a wife and mother, but (if you believe the teachings literally, and are as a consequence uptight and afraid) it is most definitely not okay to ever take pleasure in sex. If you take pleasure in sex, you shift from being in the image of Mary to being in the image of a prostitute. There is no middle ground allowed. All of this, if taken literally, has the potential to set up a polarized sort of thinking system that is not unlike that characteristic of borderline personality disordered individuals. The world is either wonderful and welcoming or hateful, punishing and abandoning with no middle ground in between.

None of these restrictions stops people from wanting sex. Wanting sex is built into our genes and into the very architecture of our bodies. The pleasure of sex is the motivation for reproduction, at the simplest level. So it is not an option to not want sex, most of the time.

Your wife finds herself between a rock and a hard place (no pun intended) in dealing with your sexual requests. On the one hand, she is (probably) propelled forward towards you, and on the other hand she has to keep her distance, or risk becoming something horrible – a prostitute and a slut. These restrictions are not placed upon you with nearly the same force (there is no concept of a male slut really), so maybe this is hard for you to appreciate, but your wife is really trapped. Her reality is different than yours, and what seems to be a simple request from your point of view ends up having enormous and serious consequences for her self-image and perhaps her soul.

What your wife needs is permission. Permission to be a sexual person and to enjoy it a little bit and know that she is not in trouble with God. She cannot take that permission from you, however. She needs it from someone who can give her an assurance that she will not get in trouble with God for experimenting. Someone who can offer her an expanded set of boundaries for what the "Madonna" is allowed to do without crossing the line over to become the "whore". It seems to me that such permission should come from a Catholic clergy person. Perhaps a clergy person who is also a counselor. I’m not sure if this sort of thing exists. I hope it exists, but I’m not at all sure where to send you. If it exists, it will exist on the more liberal side of the church and not the more conservative side. At any rate, marriage counseling is in order, because this is a serious problem you two have. It may be best if you can cope with it in the context of church sponsored marriage counseling (because that will make your wife more comfortable), but if you can’t find that, you should still seek out marriage counseling. This problem needs to be addressed before your frustration starts tempting you away from your marriage.

While your wife seems to have coped with her dilemma by shutting down her sexuality so as not to deal with it much at all, other people in similar circumstances cope via an alternative mechanism, which is forgiveness. They cross the line into "slutty" behavior and then go to church and ask for forgiveness, which the church typically grants. They accept a self-identity of being a sinner and embrace the sin, only to be forgiven for it time and time again. This is a different strategy than your wife has embraced, which is more along the lines of defining themselves in terms of not-sin.

I’ve tried to reconstruct the mindset that your wife must feel in order that you might appreciate it and have some compassion for her position. If you are to make any headway with her, it won’t be by making demands or forcing yourself. Instead, you will have to communicate to her your love and understanding. With that communicated, and some permission from higher-ups, you both may start to grow the sort of relationship you desire.

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Comments
  • Manny

    Thank you Anne, I believe you "hit" something there.

    I didn't mention in the first letter, that my wife and I are no longer practicing Catholics. When we were dating and married, we were commited conservative Christians for 15 yrs.

    Two years ago we made a big decision to leave the church, and this life of faith (long story). I didn't think that some of that "guilt mentality" before I came was still with her. Her lack of creativity and interest, made me feel like I wasn't worth it. With much frustraton I tried to make her feel good about choosing to marry me. Although I struggled with this for a long time in our marriage, I haven't sought out an affair. I really do Love her and want to work this out. As for the part of "marriage counseling", I agree. I think it might take a bit of convincing for her.

    Anyway you gave me comfort, and incite. You gave me a new place to start the healing. Thank you again Anne.

  • Janet

    My husband expected that after 2 miscarriages, 4 C-sections, and total removal of all my internal sexual organs that I was supposed to still function "normally"in the bedroom and often accused me of sex hangups while your wife may not have had any of this, still, loving someone is at best accepting their limitations. If all you want is orgasm for yourself, try taking matters "into your own hands".Woman want to feel loved, not used.

  • Newt

    My wife and I are in the very same predicament that bored husband and his wife are. I could have written that letter myself, word for word. Anne and Husband, the reality is that nobody will find a priest or clergyman who will grant permission of any kind. The stance of the Catholic Church in regard to sex is that it is an open, loving, self-sacrificing act shared between two married people that must necessarily be open to the gift of life. Any form of foreplay (even anal sex) is permissible, but the act must end in the possibility of the creation of life. Masturbation is forbidden if it results in orgasm. This is very easily found in several places throughout the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, it is not supported by Scriptural teaching. In other words, you will find very few of the restrictions levied on marital sex by the Catholic Church anywhere in the Bible. Adultery, with or without mutual permission (swinging) is forbidden acts of homosexuality are forbidden (you will find reference to that in the Book of Romans). There are no biblical restrictions on oral sex (except during menstruation-the Book of Leviticus), there are no restrictions pertaining to sex for pleasure at all in the Bible. In fact, in 1 Corinthians, Paul gives the Christian reasons for marriage, as he does also throughout his writings, and Christ himself spoke thoroughly on the topic in the Gospel of Matthew. Where the problem comes is not from Scripture, but from confusion of those earliest Christian writers known as the Apostolic Fathers - and who they are. This is why the Catholic Church stands alone as the Christian Church who upholds ALL of Sacred Tradition. And in that the Church is correct (historically unequivocal). Sacred Tradition includes the books of the Bible, as well as the writings of the E These include Linus, Arenaius, Clement of Rome, and a host of others. But they do not give any mention at all to sexuality within a marriage. They are important because they described the earliest mentions of how the Mass was celebrated, the roles of the hierarchy of the Church (including the Pope), and in general the structure of the Catholic Church as it is today and has operated since the first century. Now, to heart of the problem: the writings of Augustine of Hippo, and Thomas Aquianus. It was Augustine who first wrote on the evils of the human body and its tendency toward sin (which in Augustine's view, was anything that distracted the mind from God). Although I am an orthodox Catholic and have been all my life, I disagree with Augustine on many levels, because there have been too many times when opinions simply stood in contrast to the Bible. His writings were his opinions, based on his experiences, much like many people's. For some odd reason (which space forbids me from going into here) the Church took Augustine's writings and ran wild with them, proclaimed him a doctor of the Faith, and places as much authority on him as they have on the writers of the Scriptures. This is sheer folly, because the writers of the Bible wrote under the authority of the Holy Spirit, and even Augustine as arrogant as he was, never claimed that about himself. Scripture, not Augustine of Hippo, must be the supreme authority on sexuality within the Christian marriage, and your wife and you can seek the answers to both your questions throughout the Old and New Testaments. God Be with you both. Newt

  • Anonymous-1

    My husband got bored with me after 18 years of marriage. I submitted to his "creative" requests just because I loved him and felt sorry that he was feeling bored and rejected. To no avail. We are now getting a divorce. I really really tried to smile through it and pretend to be into it just for his phyche. He was apparently looking for some one to blame for his boredom, and there I was! As fate would have it, my clumsy attempts at satisfying his appetite were too little too late, and then I got old and sick--doctor put be on blood pressure meds that totally killed any little bit of sexuality I had left. Now I'm "medically celebate" and trust me it's NOT just in my head because I'm all uptight. I truly would like to be able to enjoy sex, but now, it feels something like putting a round hairbrush in your mouth. Not tolerable, not pleasant. Poor man couldn't take anymore, and I can't blame hime for wanting out, but it's not as if I wanted it this way, either! Sometimes things just are what they are, regardless of all the self-help hooey about controlling your own destiny.

  • Dina

    We have been married for 26 years with two daughters 18, and 20. My husband recently had an affair with someone he met over the internet and even though I discovered it he still went along to meet with her for the first time. They spent 1 week away together whilst all the while knowing that I knew about it. The agony I felt I just can't begin to describe. I actually had physical pain in my heart and stomach and lost 1 stone in a week. Didn't sleep for the whole week and constantly called him and emailed him.

    He said that he was bored with his life, everything in it and the future as it holds and he wanted something to change but didn't know what, he needed to do this for himself and his own selfish needs.

    Everyone told me to throw him out when he got back, but I couldn't do it. I was so shocked and devastated that he would do this to me and so afraid that he was going to leave me. He hurt me deeply and has shattered something inside me which I never thought I would ever feel. Betrayal is the most painful experience i have ever had. It is worse than death.

    It has been 5 months now and he is still with me, but I can't help feeling that he is just biding his time. He ended it with her on my insistance, (he even had the balls to say he wanted to continue chatting to her on the internet!) but I really don't know if he is still talking to her. She lives in Canada and we in UK so meeting up is not so easy. I even gave him the option to go if he felt he was so unhappy in our marriage, but he says he doesn't want to go. He said he was bored of life and wanted a distraction and internet chatting was easy and cast him into a fantasy world where he could escape and be someone who he isn't. This woman fell for him and I believe he fell for her,(he said he didn't think he was in love with her but that he had warm feelings for her? what does that mean?!!

    I don't know if he really has but my question is, if he really has ended it and says he doesn't want to leave me, and I can see he is trying to be more attentive and affectionate which is something that I have always complained about him, how have things changed as he put it and why is he staying, how can we make it different and not boring. While he was away I forced myself to start latin dance classes and when he came back he wanted to join me, which was do now every week. We have started going out on dates as in on our own to pubs, theatre, dinner, cycling, walking. So we are trying, but is that going to be enough? I have already told him that I will no longer tolerate any more infidelities, even on the internet, he used to do cybersex (probably still does to alliviate the boredom) and he has had physical affairs with women from work (this he owned up to me on his own!) I accepted it that it was just a bit of fun and no real threat to me. But this last affair went deeper as he talked to her about how unhappy he was for the last 10 years and how we didn't click, connect, but that he loved me in his own way, but no passion, spark there. He told her that he loved her (this was even before the met!) Can it really be true, I told him that he was just infatuated by the compliments and flattery that he said made him feel so good about himself and that once that initial feeling goes (love is a feeling after all and feelings change) that life would be just the same as it is with me.

    My other problem is that he will not accept that he feels regret about what he did, only that I found out and that he hurt the children and me. He said that the ironic thing was that if I hadn't found out, he would have had this romance, fizzled out and I would have been none the wiser and not hurt and at some point in the future he wuold have told me about it as he has done so in the past and it would have been a different story.

    He has offered to go because he can see how hurt I am and that it was not doing my health any good. But I told him that I didn't want him to leave, I asked him if he wanted to and he said No, he doesn't want to leave.

    So I don't really know what to do. I am stuck, in a vulnerable place, not knowing whether he is really just sticking around until something better comes along, who is more accessible, or maybe he is still making plans with her.

    Please someone give me some helpful advice?

  • Jesus Christ

    Tell your wife there is no God or other diety who has time to worry about how people screw. In fact I think the opposite would be true.

    If you can't get her to unerstand this then maybe switching to a baptist church would help. I know several baptist preachers and all are pretty open about the joys of sex in marriage.

    consider chaning religions. Seriously. The catholic church is a abonmination on the human spirit and is oppressive only to serve itself in a form of bizzare self deprication.

    Sex should be fun and enjoyed. All manners and varietys and frequencys. Buy your wife a vibrator. Shove it somehwere.

    Nature knows whats best and if you belive in a god or supreme being do you think sex would be enjoyable if it wasn't by design.

    Think of it this way. why would a God or Gods etc not want sex to be so enthralling and fun.

    Challenge your religion and yourselves.

    Either that or get a divorce and find a women who wants to f*ck.

  • Anonymous-2

    There are two purposes found in the Bible for sex irregardless to religious affiliations. The first is for procreation. The second is for pleasure. It is impossible to miss this if one reads the Songs of Solomon. The two lovers represented compare their bodies to architechture, to fruit, to anything and everything known to them that is beautiful and admirable. They even compare the passion that a stallion feels for the female horse when they are bridled together.

    I am a Baptist Minister and I can assure you that sex in marriage is supposed to be both for procreation "Be fruitful and multiply" and for pleasure as found in the Songs of Solomon. I would suggest that the couple read the Songs of Solomon and note that the relationship between the couple in the dialog are also to be representative of Christ the groom and the Church - the bride. Much could be said here.

    Lastly, I have personally experienced an amazing turnaround in my wife after she read Dr. Laura's book - "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands." I don't always agree with everything she has to say in her radio shows, but I have experienced a great improvement in my marriage due to her reading this book, not to mention the Bible. She is my Proverbs 31, woman!

    May God grant you the wisdom you need as you seek to do His will in your life.

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