Delusional funks

My husband has decided his penis is too small and he can't stop obsessing about it. It's hurting our marriage!

By Cary Tennis

Published July 29, 2003 7:47PM (EDT)

Dear Cary,

My new husband thinks his penis is too small to please me and has been going into extended funks about it that are affecting every part of our life together.

He does appear small physically when he is "at rest," but when he is erect, what God has given him telescopes into a perfectly normal-size, hard, firm cock that, when he is not obsessing about his size, he has used in a very pleasing, energetic and loving fashion. But when he gets in these black moods, nothing I say or do will convince him that I love him, that he will ever reach "those places" that fulfill me and that our new marriage will not last out the year. We were lovers for three years before our marriage and there would be times (especially after a few beers) when he would lament his size, but because he was such a good lover to me, I guess I never took him seriously enough, or understood the depth of pain that must be behind that.

I have tried everything I can think of to do -- being pornographic (I have held his erect cock in my hand and asked him to watch me as I stroke him, telling him that I love his cock), I have tried teasing him out of it with humor, I have talked to him as sincerely and lovingly as I can to convince him that he pleases me in the many ways he shows me he cares, as a lover and as a friend and companion, but this impasse is only getting worse. Now he has added to his obsession that I am not having an orgasm every time we make love (I never did every time) and when he reaches for me, instead of being tender and loving as he has been in the past, all he is about is manipulating me in a way that he thinks will make me come, and quickly. The effect this has had on me is just reinforcing his fear, because I am getting to the point I dread when he reaches for me because sex has become loaded with all these other issues.

I expected "ohmygodwhathaveidone" moments after we made it official and married, but I really didn't expect this. We have lost everything that was fun and spontaneous and satisfying from our lovemaking and the distance is growing between us in every way because of it. I love him very much, I married him because I have never been with a man that made me feel so safe, so loved and adored. And you know what else? I had never had a lover who could make me come like he did, maybe because I felt so secure and safe, but since he's been on this thought binge that's all gone. I feel like all that is special about our relationship is disappearing; I'm afraid it's all going to disappear, he's so down and unhappy over this.

Sometimes I get tired and impatient hearing the same rant about how small he is, of this mood, of my litany of how I am pleased, of baby what's wrong. I'm starting to get scared he's going to use this as an excuse to give up and leave me. It hurts that he can't believe me, in my love, that he seems to have so little trust in me and that I can't find a way to reach him about this.

If you have any thoughts about how I can break through this mess of chaotic and wrong-headed thinking and how I can get him to hear (and, more important, believe) what I am saying to him. What I'm doing isn't working. Is it as bad as I think it is? Thanks for the comfort your words to others have had for me. I hope you can respond to this and have some words of wisdom for me.

Needing Comfort

Dear Needing Comfort,

Let's put that small, limp penis aside for a moment. Just push it over to the left there. Good. Cover it up. Out of sight, out of mind. Let's talk instead about what is occurring in an abstract sense.

Your husband claims to believe something that is demonstrably not true. He claims to believe that you are thinking something you are not thinking. He seems to believe that he can peer inside your head, that he knows more than you do about what is in there. He seems to think he has powers far greater than mortal men, and yet is cursed with an imaginary small penis. In other words, he seems to have gone nuts.

What do you do when your husband goes nuts? You call a brain doctor, a head shrinker. The men in the white suits come with butterfly nets, capture him in all his raving glory and drive him away in a sparkling white van to a sunny, grassy, peaceful old hospital up in the hills. There, a kindly but stern old doctor with a goatee, pince-nez, tweed jacket and Eastern European accent prods him, coaxes him, cajoles him and pleads with him to tell him what's the matter. And after a great deal of cajoling he blurts it out: I'm not crazy! he says. I know my penis is big enough! I just want out of the marriage!

And then the doctor calls you and you drive up into those rolling hills and meet your husband and the doctor in his sunny, spacious office, and the doctor explains to you that your husband has had a breakthrough. And then you break down and cry and ask why? The doctor shrugs and says, "Tese tinks hoppen."

Or perhaps your husband's breakthrough sounds more like this: I'm not crazy, I was sexually abused by a priest! Or: I had sex with a prostitute at 13 and she laughed at my penis! There may be some serious, sad, painful dysfunction ahead.

But suppose when you call the nuthouse and ask them to come with their butterfly nets, they tell you they don't do that anymore. Or suppose your HMO doesn't pay for inpatient small-penis delusional therapy. You and your husband may just have to work it out between you two.

You have to find out why he is doing what he's doing before you know what your options are. If he subconsciously wants out of the marriage, it will be best for all concerned if you divorce. But if he really loves you but is struggling with some other problem, a childhood trauma, priest sexual abuse, some painful and frightening event encroaching on the edges of consciousness and threatening to blow his world apart, he's going to have to face it. You can't do that for him. At the very least, he needs some kind of expert help.

Certain delusions, long after they are understood, still persist like harmless ghosts. For instance, long after one stops drinking, one might still believe that the wine in a bottle is going to jump out of the bottle and go down one's throat when one is not looking; or a victim of family violence may still fear that his mate is going to smother him with a pillow in the middle of the night. You know these things aren't actually going to happen; you know they're delusions. But still they arise of their own accord at unexpected times. Once he comes to understand why he thinks his penis is too small, he may still have the delusion but be able to laugh at it. And then maybe you can laugh along with him. Just make sure that when you laugh, you're looking into his eyes.

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Cary Tennis

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