For all of my adult life, I have shared a wonderful marriage with a wonderful man. We are successful at demanding and respected professions; our children are launched at good universities (which means we once again have the freedom to have sex on the stairs and under the dining-room table whenever the urge strikes); we are healthy and happy, and we love each other endlessly. I have no desire to change any of that.
The one teensy flaw is sex. My husband is, shall we say, a little speedier than I -- not a lot, mind you, but consistently ahead of me. When we were both in our late teens, I had faith that would someday change. Now we're in our mid-40s, and it's clearly not going to. I am a serene person, so for more than a quarter century I've accepted our sexual divergence as something that couldn't be changed. Lately, at my sexual peak, I'm not quite so serene.
He's a wonderful partner, a generous lover. We have an active sex life that would surprise many of our friends, and I enjoy every second of it. We've read thousands of pages about premature ejaculation, tried all the techniques, and rejected most of them. I don't want to render him numb and bored. I'm not inclined to bring us both to a screeching halt in the middle of intercourse by "grasping the base of his penis and squeezing hard." I love everything about his headlong rush to orgasm: the urgency of his movements, the expression on his face, and the fact that I can make him feel that way. I want that for him.
The problem is that I want it for myself, too, and it's within reach. I'm not anorgasmic. If I've had the day from hell and two glasses of wine with dinner, I might need 10 minutes of focused stimulation. Most nights, I need about two minutes, which unfortunately puts me a minute and a half behind him, unless he's had the month from hell and the whole bottle. (I admit, privately, that I cherish those nights, but anesthetizing one's sexual partner is not the done thing.) He's perfectly willing to stimulate me orally or manually to orgasm, either before or after intercourse, but I want context with my orgasms. Last night as we were lying there, I realized that I greatly resented the fact that he very well could have been asleep except for the (admittedly right-on-target) motions of that single finger. It didn't seem fair, since five minutes before he'd had a rather tight hold on both my breasts as I rocked above him and tossed my hair back from my face.
I ask him to talk to me during the second act; he replies, "What do you want me to say?" He'd say and do anything I wanted, if I just scripted it for him, and if it were just possible. Every time we reach that point, which is several times a week, he asks, with all sincerity, "What do you want?" It wouldn't be fair for me to say, "I want another two minutes of hard cock; that's all. Is that too much to ask?" It is; he hasn't got it. There's no point in talking about it.
I'm not going to leave him, cheat on him, or even nag him about it. But I want ... oh, I want. I want sex for both of us to include the kisses, the desperate gropes, the growing need. I want my orgasms packaged in sex, dammit, not sexual favors. I don't want to resent him. Life is short, and we're growing older.
I suppose the job of an advice columnist is simply to help people fix the things they want fixed. But the way I do this job, whatever fixing gets done always starts with some murky moment of raw encounter, of naked wonder, of gut reaction. I may respond to the question as the letter writer frames it, or something on the periphery may catch my attention, and I may have trouble answering the question as it is asked. Sometimes this encounter leads to a prescription for action, and sometimes it leads me to be very still and try not to break anything.
Right now I just want to be very still and not break anything. Because sometimes we're living in the realm of the sacred until our sense of wonder fails us and we get cranky and decide to fix it and then it turns on us because we doubted it and it gets really shitty really fast all on its own. So I'm a little hesitant.
I have thought and thought about this thing you ask, this thing that is haunting you. Since, as you may or may not know -- and you are free to disagree with me on this point -- I am no mental giant, such thinking and thinking has been rather arduous. But slowly a notion has begun to form.
And the notion is this: Let the truth be your guide. If this longing that you have is really the truth for you, let it be known. If you are wary of speaking the truth for fear that the truth will not have the effect you want, remember that the truth is an end in itself. The truth is the one thing you and your husband have that cannot be taken from you. So if this thing has come to dominate your thoughts and desires, the only relief I can see for you is to simply speak the truth to your husband. Abandon, for the moment, your practical goal. Do not weigh the truth against its empirical value. Simply tell your husband that this thing, this desire, has come to dominate your thoughts, and you are looking for a solution, and you believe that he may have it in his power to provide that solution, but you do not know for sure.
Tell him that you want his help and his support, and that you will work with him, and you will be patient, if he is willing to try to give you this thing that you so desire. Tell him that all you want from him is his willingness to try. Once you have delicately negotiated this tricky psychosexual terrain, then, in cooperation with him, begin doing all those things you have read about and see if anything works.
Once you have made it clear to him what you want, once you have made yourself vulnerable in that way and are actually trying to achieve this thing you so desperately want, you are going to need to protect yourself from the corrosive effects of your own desire; despite your selfless protestations to the contrary, you may find yourself feeling that if he really loved you he would give you this thing you so desire; if it doesn't pan out, you may find yourself hopelessly mired in stubborn resentment.
Luckily, of all your concerns, this is one that you actually have some control over. While you have very little control over when your husband ejaculates, you do have control over whether you come to resent him because of it. So let me suggest a couple of exercises. The first, because you have so many wonderful things in your life, is just to sit down and write out a gratitude list. Just make a list of all the things you're grateful for today. Pay attention to what happens to your grating hunger as you make out this list.
Also do this: Write down this resentment you have. Be as specific as you can; write down 1) who you resent, 2) what he did to you, 3) what area of your life it affects, and 4) what part you played in the matter -- that is, what action you are taking without which this thing you resent could not occur. For instance, if you did not have sex with him, this could not happen. That's your part. So it might read something like this: I resent my husband because he ejaculates before I have orgasm and I want him to remain hard until I have an orgasm. It affects my self-esteem and my sense of sexual well-being and satisfaction. The part I am playing in this is that I continue to have sex with him.
Then take this one thing, this one resentment, and simply ask to have it removed. Ask who? That's up to you. Ask anybody or anything that might conceivably have the power to remove it. Ask the president. Ask a tree. Ask the void. Ask God. It's up to you. Just ask.
Oh, one other thing: Do you think Viagra might help? I'm no expert, but it might be worth looking into.
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Want more advice from Cary? Read yesterday's column.