Orgasm/arousal may not mean enjoyment

What science can tell us about sex.
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Orgasm/arousal may not mean enjoyment

Postby Job29Man » Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:05 am

I'm linking this article called "What Science Says About Arousal During Rape" here in the Science of Sex section because I'd like to start a discussion about the science studying the connection (or not) between arousal and actual enjoyment. The article is not a study, and not actual "science." It's more anecdotal, very "soft science" if anything, in Popular Science magazine.

This article claims that rape counselors report that a surprising number of their clients report that they experienced arousal and sometimes even orgasm during non-consensual sex.

CAVEAT #1: The article has a very anti-rape, pro-consent point of view. The article's purpose is to look at the disconnect of arousal and enjoyment. Please don't read anything "pro-rape" into the article, or into this discussion.

The reason I bring up this subject and article is to discuss the very common comment on TMB by frustrated husbands that goes like this...

I have a difficult time getting my wife to have sex with me. :( She seems to avoid it and make excuses. She says "I could take it or leave it" :| "meh!" or "If I never had sex again, that would be fine with me." But then when we finally do have sex she really enjoys it, has multiple orgasms, and even really gets into it. So I know she likes sex! What's up? :x ::arg


This article puts forth the idea that arousal, even orgasm, can occur during an unenjoyable sexual act. They liken it to being tickled. The body WILL tend to respond to stimulation during tickling; you laugh uncontrollably, but you are hating it!

CAVEAT #2: I'm NOT saying that unenjoyable sex in marriage is non-consensual, or even an imposition.

I'd be interested in hearing about comments from women and men (who read the entire article) about this disconnection.
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Re: Orgasm/arousal may not mean enjoyment

Postby MayDayGirl » Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:48 am

It's hard to imagine for those of us who have never been through that kind of trauma, but scientifically, it makes sense. So many parts of the body have involuntary responses/reflexes, including during intercourse. I thought the mention of adrenaline was interesting, and also explains why people sometimes mention being able to orgasm faster under pressure (chance of getting caught, etc.)

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Re: Orgasm/arousal may not mean enjoyment

Postby seeking perspective » Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:56 am

I will read the article a bit later today and then will come back to comment more.

I do want to say that I've been doing a great deal of research (looking at actual studies in peer reviewed journals) on female sexual response and the role of orgasm in sexual satisfaction for women, and what you describe of this disconnection is absolutely consistent with my research. My personal experience (not rape-related) bears this disconnection as well.

Every single time I see a husband express his confusion about his wife not wanting sex despite orgasms, I want to shout out, "What the heck does that have to do with anything? Why do men insist on thinking that orgasm is what makes the sex enjoyable?"

I'll come back again after I've had a chance to do more than skim the article.
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Re: Orgasm/arousal may not mean enjoyment

Postby poetess » Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:56 am

I really "get" the tickling connection. I was so ticklish that by the time I was 10 or 12 older family members enjoyed wiggling fingers near me (not even touching me) just to see me erupt in giggles. But it was such a horrible experience that to this day I see someone tickling a baby and my first instinct is "Don't hurt that child!" My husband looked forward to being able to tickle me (lovingly) after we married. He tried it just once. Though I wasn't aware that I disliked the experience (I certainly didn't consciously express displeasure or disgust) something in my reaction made him tell me he would never tickle me again.

I have long suspected that the orgasm is a major mis-communication issue between men and women. To men, most of the time sex is incomplete without it, and the orgasm itself is fun enough he can bypass sex altogether and jump straight to the orgasm (going to his wife for a "quickie" when she herself is longing for actual sex). Meanwhile, if a wife says she doesn't need/want an orgasm, he sees it as "rejection" and works all the harder to convince her, pushing a bigger wedge between them because he's insisting on her having an orgasm because he wants her to, and ignoring her own wishes in the matter. He often can't fathom that other aspects of sex are a bigger deal. So perhaps, for at least some of these women whose husbands insist "she had an orgasm, and therefore she enjoyed it," she had an orgasm she didn't actually want or need because he wanted her to have it, but she felt unheard in saying "I don't need or want an orgasm, but what I would like out of sex is this other thing." He's seeing "Orgasm, success" and she is thinking "Lack of cuddling, yet another sexual encounter that leaves me feeling disconnected and not connected." Or whatever.

I don't like crying in front of someone with whom I feel unsafe (I resist crying in front of someone who says something mean that makes me feel like crying, for example), and I can imagine that the vulnerability of an orgasm with someone with whom one doesn't feel intimate might be like that, only "more so." Especially if she senses that he says to himself "Aha! She had an orgasm!" and she suspects she just experienced the "competitive, control and conquer and win" side of him and not the "tender, make her feel loved and desired" side.
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Re: Orgasm/arousal may not mean enjoyment

Postby doug-h » Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:40 am

poetess wrote:
I don't like crying in front of someone with whom I feel unsafe (I resist crying in front of someone who says something mean that makes me feel like crying, for example), and I can imagine that the vulnerability of an orgasm with someone with whom one doesn't feel intimate might be like that, only "more so." Especially if she senses that he says to himself "Aha! She had an orgasm!" and she suspects she just experienced the "competitive, control and conquer and win" side of him and not the "tender, make her feel loved and desired" side.


Poetess,

Your comments are insightful, and for me, carry more than a little conviction to do better. I have come by that conviction because I have tried to understand things that are not in my own nature, and because thru this forum, I have sought out areas that I didn't even know I had problems in.

There is an alternative reality to your remarks tho, for lack of a better description. One that says that a man desires to give his wife pleasure in that manner, not because it is his intent to compete or control, but simply because it is an inate part of every generally good willed man. You can't fault the man for not understanding what he isn't even aware of. We all could learn to listen better, but I think that an even greater challenge is to honestly speak our feelings. Women are better than that, as a rule, but even the most fluent in that language are pitifully inept at translating it into a language that both can understand. You can not fault a man for conquering and controlling in this case, when his only desire is to please. There is the old saying that "ignorrance is no excuse". Well, sometimes it is a very valid reason.

This is probably the most open forum ever in existance, and even here, in all but a few cases, only one spouse is actively working on better understanding. Only one is looking to communicate better.

There is a lot of talk that one spouse should accept duty sex with genuine gratitude, even tho it was not really what was desired. I have to ask, exactly how is this different?

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Re: Orgasm/arousal may not mean enjoyment

Postby SeekingChange » Wed Mar 22, 2017 11:02 am

I don't have much to add to the original post or article. I have looked into this topic along with arousal/orgasm from childhood sexual abuse. It makes sense to me. It has given me a better understanding of how those who have suffered SA have a distorted view of sex. Many survivors, even claim and struggle with, having to mentally recall the abuse or the rape, so that they can come to the point of orgasm with their partner in a "safe" relationship. That's a hard battle to fight, and one that isn't so easily to be open about to a husband. Can you imagine....the battle and tug-of-war going on... the pulling from one side, a loving husband wanting and desiring you to orgasm and "enjoy", while the pull from the other side, the only way to show "enjoyment by orgasm" is to go back in your mind and relive abuse. No wonder many victims have sexual issues and become what we call refusers/gatekeepers.


eta: I absolutely do not believe just because a wife is a refuser or gatekeeper, or even may have "signs" of CSA, is actually a victim of abuse. In my reading and study, someone could easily try to say I have been abused by the "signs", and I know I haven't.
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Re: Orgasm/arousal may not mean enjoyment

Postby beekeeper » Wed Mar 22, 2017 11:54 am

I have thought about it for years. To be violated, attacked, and to be forced into arousal and orgasm, must be extremely traumatizing.

Any rape is traumatizing, but I would think that if you were aroused to orgasm you would feel doubly violated. On one level by the rapist, on a second level by your own body.

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Re: Orgasm/arousal may not mean enjoyment

Postby poetess » Wed Mar 22, 2017 1:00 pm

Doug,

I'm not precisely sure what you mean by how is "that" different. But what I'm envisioning is something I see on TMB from time to time that goes something like this: "My wife tells me she doesn't need an orgasm every time, but she doesn't understand that the biggest pleasure for me is her pleasure! It hurts so much when she won't allow me to give her this exquisite pleasure!" It would be similar to a wife saying, "I love cooking for my husband! I make really wonderful desserts, but half the time my husband says, 'No thanks, honey. The steak and potatoes filled me up, and I don't really need dessert today.' He doesn't appreciate how I spent hours in the kitchen just thinking about how much he would love this special cake! And when he doesn't want it, it tears my heart out! Eventually he'll usually eat some and he always tells me how good it is. But I wish he could realize that the only thing I care about when I cook is his pleasure! He doesn't seem to get it."

When a man insists his wife must have an orgasm because he can't imagine sex without an orgasm, or because her orgasm brings him pleasure even when she doesn't want one, he is reinforcing that sex is on his terms and primarily for him. He is also doing so if she wants an orgasm and he rolls his eyes and says no, there isn't enough time for that, or he engages only reluctantly. But insisting that he be the one to decide whether or not she has an orgasm--whether his choice is that she does or she doesn't--is putting sex on his terms. And after a while it may feel enough like "his thing" rather than "our thing" that she begins to withdraw.
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Re: Orgasm/arousal may not mean enjoyment

Postby doug-h » Wed Mar 22, 2017 1:34 pm

And the question I am posing, is "why I the opposite not equally valid?" If it is as you say, and it is "on his terms" and therefore somehow diminished, then why I it not equally diminished when it is "on her terms"? If the man gets pleasure from her response/orgasm(we'll stick to your food analogy, and call that dessert) and she is instead feeding him on a diet of offering herself only out of duty(meat and potatoes).

I am not saying that every encounter has to be fireworks and symphony, but shouldn't both try to provide that experience at least some of the time, and if his preference is to experience her orgasm, then it seems to me that should be the experience she tries(as opposed to being obligatory) to provide.

I'm not picking a side here, but instead am legitimately trying to better understand, so don't take it that I am calling you out.

From my perspective, I see more misunderstanding (from both men and women) than I do anything else, and the best way to defeat that is honest dialogue.

The question stands. All things being equal(she is able to attain an orgasm), and his desire to provide one is equal to her desire to forgo, and only provide for his, then what is the difference? If there is no difference, then why is his desire somewhat selfish, and hers is not.

I am not speaking of a case where one is insisting, because I don't think that should ever be an aspect of the MB. I am only talking of the desire.

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Re: Orgasm/arousal may not mean enjoyment

Postby poetess » Wed Mar 22, 2017 2:03 pm

Doug, notice the examples I provided: the man enjoyed the meat and potatoes (he was sated without dessert) and the woman enjoyed the sexual encounter (she was sated without an orgasm). The woman who says, "I made this for you" and guilts her husband into eating it didn't really make it for him at all. The man who says, "I get pleasure from your pleasure, so you need to have an orgasm" doesn't seem focused on her pleasure at all, if she has told him "No, I'm already full." When the man says, "Sex isn't complete without an orgasm, so you must have an orgasm," he is putting female sexuality on male terms. She will feel more respected and more loved if he believes her that it really is enough. If he cares about her pleasure, then he should care about what her sexual pleasure looks like to her, not what it looks like to him. If she is never interested in an orgasm, that may well be a different matter. (This example is totally outside my own marital experience.) But insisting that every sexual encounter must include orgasms for her, whether or not she wants them, is akin to insisting every meal must include dessert, whether or not he wants it--it isn't loving. If even her orgasm is for him, not for her, then it's likely to begin to feel that sex is all about him--in which case she may say (or feel), "Fine, it can be all about you. But I'm tired of feeling like your sex toy. Masturbate when you're interested in sex, but leave my body out of it."
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Re: Orgasm/arousal may not mean enjoyment

Postby doug-h » Wed Mar 22, 2017 3:11 pm

Why can't her orgasm be about him sometimes? Both my wife and I do things quite regularly outside of sex, that are specifically about the others pleasure, but that doesn't mean we can't take pleasure in doing them only for that reason.

I enjoy digging and planting flowerbeds, only because I know that it means something to her. I take no particular pleasure in the act of digging them. I think it would be pretty selfish of me to say that it is all about her, so I'm not going to do that. At the same time, it would be selfish of her to insist that I do so.

Aren't we supposed to do things for each other? What makes this so different?

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Re: Orgasm/arousal may not mean enjoyment

Postby seeking perspective » Wed Mar 22, 2017 3:29 pm

I'm coming back to this after having read the article. I think it is absolutely on-target. I've read several studies that address this comment:

Recent experiments suggest that vaginal lubrication in women may be an adaptive response designed to reduce injury from penetration. The body is not enjoying itself – it is trying to protect itself.


The woman's body can respond to sexual stimuli through lubrication, regardless of whether she is thinking about sex or not. The disconnection between her physical response and her sexual desire serves a purpose--but it also can be confusing (to men and to women). The fact that her body can respond to sexual stimuli and produce lubrication makes quickies possible. It also makes rape easier for a man.

This article (the link is to the abstract, although I have the full article) looks at the experience of women CSA survivors in marriage--specifically at how they experience marital sexual relationships as a revictimization. Trust is an important factor in a woman's ability to actually experience her sexual response (as opposed to having physical symptoms of sexual response without mentally experiencing it). The disconnect she experiences from her own body and the difficulty she has trusting her husband work together against her having a positive sexual experience. That is compounded by any shame she feels from having had an orgasm. This same study finds that this revictimization is not as common in men who experienced CSA.

Although rape ("regular" sexual assault as opposed to childhood sexual assault) is a less severe experience than CSA, some of those same principles can apply to sexuality in marriage. Although I did not have an orgasm as a result of my rape, I did experience arousal. On one hand, I was glad of that--because it made the experience less painful physically. I was not left with internal abrasions, so the physical healing was minimal. On the other hand, though, I felt extremely betrayed by my own body. I thought it meant that I liked it, even though I didn't think I did. That messed with me for a long time.

Much early sexuality research was done using a male paradigm for sexuality. Specifically, Masters and Johnson looked at a fairly linear excitement-plateau-orgasm-resolution paradigm. Applying this to women's sexuality, women were frequently diagnosed with female sexual arousal disorder--simply because their sexual response didn't work like men's sexual response did.

Female sexual response tends to be quite different from men. In 2000, Rosemary Basson proposed a different paradigm for female sexual response--one that has been embraced by others who research women's sexuality. This cyclical paradigm is described in this article in Psychology Today (written by a woman who has herself written about this in peer-reviewed journals). She lists three significant lessons that can be learned from studying the cyclical paradigm of sexual response in women:

1. Sexual pleasure and satisfaction aren't reliant on orgasm...though orgasm may certainly be a nice bonus.
2. Sexual desire doesn't always have to come before sexual activity or arousal...sometimes getting physical and experiencing arousal will elicit desire.
3. External factors such as relationship dynamics, intimacy, and weighing rewards and costs of sexual experience may play an important role in sexual response.

This is all consistent with other research I've read as well as with my own experience.
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Re: Orgasm/arousal may not mean enjoyment

Postby poetess » Wed Mar 22, 2017 4:04 pm

Doug, I get the sense that the male norm is so much a "norm" to you that you can't really understand any other paradigm.

This is a rabbit trail from the point of this thread, but it's also important, so I'll try to answer this and then leave it alone:

Why can't her orgasm be about him sometimes?


I never said it can't be. If both husband and wife are OK with the knowledge that she neither needs nor wants an orgasm but is willing (and able) to have one anyway, that's their choice. For me personally, I don't understand why a husband would want his wife to have an orgasm under those circumstances, and I suspect it may be because he misunderstands female sexuality--he thinks she is "missing something" if she doesn't have an orgasm.

But my experience is from the other side of this equation. Sometimes I want sex and my husband willingly accommodates me, but he tells me I'm going to have to be the one doing the work because he's tired. So I'm enjoying playing with his body, and I look over and see he's struggling to stay awake. So I ask him, "Do you want me to continue?" Sometimes the question itself is a reminder to him "Focus here" and he will say, "Yes, go on." Other times he will say, "I'm pretty tired" and I'll thank him for letting me play with him, kiss him, and let that be the end of it for that session. I know that I could keep going, and going, and going, and wrestle an orgasm out of him . . . but I don't know why I would want to!
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Re: Orgasm/arousal may not mean enjoyment

Postby Job29Man » Wed Mar 22, 2017 6:26 pm

poetess wrote:This is a rabbit trail from the point of this thread, but it's also important, so I'll try to answer this and then leave it alone


And we'll let you have that last word on the rabbit trail. :D
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Re: Orgasm/arousal may not mean enjoyment

Postby Learning1 » Wed Mar 22, 2017 6:51 pm

I agree with the article. Physical stimulation during rape could cause orgasms and arousal even if it is against the person's will. It could apply to both sexes being raped.

In terms of consensual sex during marriage, I've had sex where my enjoyment comes from DH's enjoyment. My DH has done the same (similar to Poetesses' husband). He would never turn me down, but I don't push when he is tired. I know he will orgasm but how can I enjoy myself when I know he would rather sleep.

I always wonder about peeps that post something similar to the below quote. How do they know their wife is really enjoying it ? They are not her. Does she state she really enjoys it ?

random TMB member wrote:I have a difficult time getting my wife to have sex with me. :( She seems to avoid it and make excuses. She says "I could take it or leave it" :| "meh!" or "If I never had sex again, that would be fine with me." But then when we finally do have sex she really enjoys it, has multiple orgasms, and even really gets into it. So I know she likes sex! What's up? :x ::arg

For a time, I was not happy with DH, as he had been really inattentive outside the bedroom, (I've posted about it). We have sex most mornings. I can have arousal & orgasm(s) and somewhat enjoy the physical sensations but i don't really enjoy sex with him because it was like he was sending messages of "I only want to spend time with you for sex and ignore you outside the bedroom". So it may have seemed to him like I was physically into it and enjoying it. But I only was to a degree. And it really caused me to be very angry and bitter with him afterwards. So I had to confront him and call him out on his outside of the bedroom behavior.
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Re: Orgasm/arousal may not mean enjoyment

Postby Kilarin » Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:50 pm

Physical arousal can be an automatic response to stimuli. The proper current applied to the prostate can trigger ejaculation and is used in gathering semen samples in animal husbandry. Any guy can tell you that the penis often seems to have a mind of it's own and gets erections at times and places that have nothing to do with our ordinary ideas of being aroused.

So it seems obvious to me that physical arousal is not ALWAYS connected to mental assent and enjoyment.

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Re: Orgasm/arousal may not mean enjoyment

Postby wolfsphoenix » Thu Mar 23, 2017 7:44 am

I read the article, and sticking to the original topic at hand, it makes a lot of sense to me.

Well, it surprises me, but not once I stop and think about it.

Some examples of how/why we can know this to be true, that the body does not always match or reflect a person's actual felt desire:
*a man may see his naked wife, or even feel her caress on his body, and he may feel a great deal of desire for her....yet his body may fail to respond. Does the experience of ED in this instance mean that he does not desire her and is not aroused by her? We read over & over again that, no, lack of erection does not mean lack of desire.

*a couple may engage in PIV or other sexual act, only to have one or both of them not reach orgasm. Does this mean they aren't enjoying it? Usually not. More often, this might be due to being tired, or perhaps in a series of close-together sessions and the male has not fully recovered yet (able to have an erection again, but not yet another ejaculation), or perhaps for a female (or male), they used a position that is enjoyable but not conducive to orgasm. The intercourse, if you asked the non-orgasmic spouse, was still enjoyable, still pleasurable, just lacked orgasm..

*a man may see an image, a person, either in a movie or TV or real life, and his body may respond with an erection. Does this mean he actively desires to have intercourse with that person on that screen, or that lady on the beach? Does this mean he's actively "lusting after" someone other than his wife? Or does it simply mean his body responded to an outside trigger? For the most part, we would say the latter, it's an involuntary response, and there's no conscious thought connected. (We can flip this and say the same of women, I'm sure, just that oftentimes the physical signs of simple arousal aren't as obvious to a woman as to a man, as mentioned in the article).

*as mentioned in the article, both men and women can & do experience orgasms in their sleep, often not even connected to/as a response to a "sexy" dream, but just as a biological reaction to something. Again, no connection between the orgasm/arousal and actual felt/known desire.

In most/all of the above scenarios, we're able to easily admit that there's a disconnect between the physical signs & the mental state of arousal. Especially when we are the one experiencing the disconnect; for example, women the world over are likely to feel insecure, doubt, etc. if or when their spouse has an episode (or episodes) of ED, especially if she or they are not knowledgeable about male biology, effects of aging, etc. It can take a great deal of reassurances (or a bit of reading on biology) to convince her that his unresponsive penis does not mean he, himself, isn't still aroused by her, attracted to her, and desirous of her.

Some women, and some men if they were aware of their wife responding similarly, would feel jealous & insecure to know that their husband had an erection every time (insert name of whatever actress, or whatever level of dress) came on the screen, convinced it must mean he prefers that body type/hair color/style of dress over her own....yet those same husbands would honestly report that their desire for intercourse & intimacy is for their wife, period, no matter what their body might be doing below the belt. Even a wife who might feel a similar reaction herself when (insert name of actor, style of dress, etc) is viewed still might not quite believe it when her husband says the same. Why? Because we are insecure creatures. Here again, the overall health of the relationship can go a long way to alleviating such mistrust/disbelief, along with knowledge of biology. A husband who is attentive to his wife, compliments her, spends time with her, seeks her out, will likely find it easier to convince his wife of the disconnect than one who spends all his time at the office or out late, never notices or says a word if his wife cuts her hair, tries out new makeup, gets a new dress....yet if the 2 make themselves aware of the biological responses (such as reading an article like the one linked, or the many articles on TMB front page links) it goes a long way to understanding....biological response does not equal mental arousal.

So...I guess I suggest that the "problem" of disbelief does happen, in both directions, such as in the above scenarios, even while the "problem" of explaining our side of things to the disbeliever frustrates us to no end. Why then, when we as women know full well that we can enjoy sex with or without orgasm (and that orgasm does not automatically mean we enjoyed the encounter), do we still succumb to insecurity, doubt & distrust if our husband experiences ED, or inhibited ejaculation, or erections he didn't ask for in response to someone else?

Why, if a man can & will argue passionately that his ED or IE do not mean he doesn't desire his wife, greatly, does he still succumb to insecurities and doubt and dissatisfaction in the marriage bed when his wife doesn't orgasm every single time they're together....and why does he, knowing that his body responds with erection even when he does not consciously want sex, at all, still argue that if his wife did experience orgasm, she must therefore love sex a lot more than she implies/states, and thus he succumbs to confusion when this orgasmic wife of his doesn't desire sex more often, isn't more willing to engage, etc. Flip it around...a man may experience erections in response to various things, yet still be a low drive male. Or, heck, "every time" the couple does come together, he probably does have an orgasm...yet he can still be low drive.

Why then are we so one sided in all these things, able to see & understand how we, ourselves, respond but not always able to translate that to our spouse? Does the man in the hypothetical, who argues his wife "loves" sex because she orgasms, yet she has a low drive....has he himself never experienced that disconnect before? Never had an erection that wasn't driven by actual sexual desire? Never had sexual desire that didn't have an accompanying erection? If he has, perhaps that is the way to start understanding his wife. If he hasn't....perhaps that is the thing we ought to remind him of.

I do think, though, in the end our understanding of our spouses goes back to overall marital health. At some points in my marriage, I'd have been a lot more likely to be the jealous, mistrusting spouse if I noticed my husband with an erection in response to, say, a nude sunbather on the beach. Now, I'd recognize a biological (not emotional) reaction and ignore it. At similar points, I'd have been hurt, confused, insecure, doubtful, etc, if he'd had trouble getting or maintaining an erection, or reaching orgasm. Now, again, I'd realize the biology behind it, and enjoy the intimacy without the intercourse (or try again later, etc). LIkewise, at various points my behavior in the marriage was such that if I'd been unresponsive to him, avoiding sex even though my body responded favorably, he likely would have had serious insecurities about that. Maybe even more so if I avoided sex (or willingly gave "duty sex") but failed to respond. I believe now, though, he too would understand biology as the culprit, nothing more.

That's the key, I think.....how do we convince ourselves, and our spouses, that sometimes biology is the only culprit in these disconnect situations. That a lack of response is merely a biological glitch of the moment, not a judgement or statement on how much we did or did not enjoy things.....(in those cases when that's true), or that a biological response is not always indicative that there was a simultaneous mental enjoyment/arousal.

Is it because, in the latter, it means we must need to work on the relationship outside the marriage bed, which is a heck of a lot harder than just having more sex? Is it because, if there is a physical response (the wife orgasms, but never initiates sex despite this "obvious enjoyment"), yet no emotional enjoyment...we must admit that perhaps we need to correct some of our own behaviors that might be impeding our spouse's emotional connection/enjoyment? Ouch. I don't want to do that, I want you to tell me (if I'm the hypothetical person) that my wife must be a gate keeper, or a refuser, or somehow or another the problem must lie with her. That's so much easier. I don't want to have a role to play here, to fix things. I don't want to be at fault. Clearly I'm doing great, since she does "obviously enjoy" it when we do have sex!....yet.....hmmm. Maybe not. Maybe we have to do some hard searching and see what the root of the problem is, after all.

But, maybe by thinking of all these other areas where we *know* there's a disconnect (if anyone remembers what I started this monsterously long post with..), maybe that can help each of us to understand when our spouse claims there's a disconnect, but we're hesitant to believe him/her. I'd venture a guess that most of us have experienced one or the other of these various disconnects, ourselves or our spouse, and can understand and acknowledge at least some of them as being "Oh, yes, that's clearly a physical only response, not a mental one..." and then if we can acknowledge that, we can extend that understanding to the other problematic areas of disconnect, and begin to at least believe our spouse...and then recognize that maybe that means there's more we need to work on to bring about change (or to accept these differences, depending which one we're talking about).

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Paul B
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Re: Orgasm/arousal may not mean enjoyment

Postby Paul B » Thu Mar 23, 2017 12:11 pm

This isn't new information, but it's not something that has been discussing much. Talk to anyone who deals with rape survivors and they will tell you arousal and orgasm are all too common. For men, it's very high, probably the norm. For women, it may be a quarter or more. And this is not just "date rape" - it happens in violent situations where the person fears for their life. Lori and I have heard this first hand from several men and women.
It's a horrible trick the body can play on a person, and it makes shame worse and recovery even more difficult. I'm glad to see this getting some discussion because it will help those who suffered arousal or orgasm during rape.
Beyond that, Job's bigger point is excellent. Orgasm is a physiological respond to stimulation. The mind can help or hinder that, but not nearly as much or reliably as we think. Some women learn to orgasm because it's expected of them. Others do it on occasion when they had no interest in the sex and were not enjoying it emotionally.
I would think it feels like your body betraying you to have an orgasm when you were not emotionally or relationally into the sex
The bottom line for men is orgasm is not proof she wanted sex, enjoyed it, or is glad it happened.
Paul
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Re: Orgasm/arousal may not mean enjoyment

Postby seeking perspective » Thu Mar 23, 2017 12:32 pm

Paul B wrote:I would think it feels like your body betraying you to have an orgasm when you were not emotionally or relationally into the sex


This ^^^. The times my husband pressured me to have sex when I was genuinely upset ended up compounding a problem that ended up taking us years to sort out. :(
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Re: Orgasm/arousal may not mean enjoyment

Postby Learning1 » Thu Mar 23, 2017 1:35 pm

^^^^

This is were we could have ended up. My DH doesn't pressure for sex, as we have sex nearly everyday and when he was emotional checked out, unavailable and inattentive outside the bedroom, it definitely impacts sex inside the bedroom. When I wanted tell him he can go jump in a lake if he thinks he is getting sex, (even when I physically desired and wanted sex and would enjoy it) was during this time. I will have to credit all the stories & histories on these boards & a few marriage books for getting us through this time and taking us to a greater place in our marriage.
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