Why do people use sex as a tool in marriage?

Last Saturday I was invited to be a guest commentator on Joy Fm’s “Home Affairs” programme, hosted by Araba Koomson. The topic was “why do people use sex as a tool in marriage?”

One of my opening gambits was that for the majority of women, sex is not enjoyable; research such as that documented in the Shere Hite Report has indicated that 70% of women generally do not orgasm during sex. If you follow that logic this means a lot of women are having sex purely to please their husbands/partners/lovers so if for any reason your husband/partner/lover upsets you then your reaction is “No sex, until you have done x, y, or z”. If women were having earth shattering sex with their partners it is highly unlikely that they are going to say “No sex”.

Of course there are a whole host of other reasons why women will not want to have sex with their partners. They may be feeling emotionally disconnected from their partner; they may not want to get pregnant; in a traditional patriarchal relationship, sex may be the only bargaining chip they have; they may just not want to have sex…

What I really want to discuss in this post is a question posed by a caller who called into the show and I paraphrase her below:

Caller: I don’t enjoy sex with my husband, I have told him several times but he doesn’t change, I only orgasm when I masturbate

Now this was a hard question in some ways and an easy one in other ways. The hard bit is my initial advice to anyone having sexual problems with their husband/partner would be to communicate with their partner. She has already done this with no luck.

The other angle is to look at this situation from the perspective of the man. In a context where men have not been brought up to see women as sexual beings with a right to sexual pleasure and orgasms it can be a challenge for the man to recognise the needs of his wife/girlfriend/lover. In a context where men believe they are sex gods, it can be really hard for them to believe that they are soooooo far from being sex gods, in a context where men believe thrusting alone can give women multiple orgasms it can be so hard for them to believe that all it leaves you with is a sore vagina.

What would you advice be to this caller?

14 comments On Why do people use sex as a tool in marriage?

  • sex = intercourse?

    enjoying sex = orgasm?

    not enjoying sex with husband = husband is at fault?

    having told husband several times = communication?

  • I think I will side more wit h Kofi Ametewee on this one.
    Communication is not just saying something. It is also the manner in which it is done, the context in which it is done. She may have told him – but if she told him starkly – i don’t enjoy sex with you, or she told him as a way to get back at him when she was angry with him – then it’s probably not going to work. Then again, she may have couched it in nice terms, told him gently, and it still didn’t work, so……

    And also, it is true that just because she doesn’t enjoy sex with her husband doesn’t mean the husband is at fault — if her husband wasn’t enjoying sex with her, it wouldn’t necessarily be her fault, would it.

    And as for sex – I am guessing orgasm is not always the only goal in mind?

  • PS – non-married people use sex as a tool, too………….

  • You have said it many times, and, still, he doesn’t change? Keep masturbating, woman.

  • @Kofi, isn’t sex and intercourse the same thing? I thought so. Please correct me if I’m wrong. I know there are plenty of people who claim that you can enjoy sex without orgasming, to me that’s a bit pointless though and in my opinion a myth perpetuated my women who want their partners not to feel guilty that they are unable to orgasm with them. No of course not if you do not have sex with your husband it doesn’t automatically mean he is at fault and neither does speaking to someone mean you have communicated effectively. I did however get the impression from the brief phone call that the husband is a selfish lover – that of course may be my personal bias

    @Darian – Please say more…

    @NY – My sentiments exactly!

  • Nana, far be it from me to correct anyone, especially you. You just brought to mind the conundrum Bill Clinton found himself in when he declared that he hadn’t had sex with Monica Lewinsky because it hadn’t gone in there, he didn’t quite put it that way, but something like that.

    I often have to make a conscious decision to have an orgasm because delaying it is so pleasurable. Sometimes I forgo the orgasm. But that is a choice. I am a man, so I don’t know how all women feel, but I don’t get the sense that the entire experience is write-off if a woman doesn’t have an orgasm. I have never heard a man say that he feels guilty because a woman didn’t have an orgasm. Maybe my friends are unfeeling brutes.

    I wonder what the rest of the relationship woman who called has with her husband is like.

  • Not to belabour the point, but any contact, act or behavior meant to provide sexual pleasure is sex in my book, so it could be vaginal intercourse or whatever fetish one likes.

  • @Kofi – 🙂 Oh please feel free to correct me anytime, although my ego doesn’t always take it well. Hmmm, me thinks we may need a post on “what is sex?”, care to write it? I agree with you that sex is far broader than intercourse but I would hate to think that I’ve had sex with someone because I’ve stroked their chest in a particularly sensual manner.

    I think its very interesting that you sometimes decide to forgo the orgasm, somehow I don’t think women tend to have that option a whole lot, I’m very interested to know what the women think so ladies please answer this question, “do you consciously choose to forgo an orgasm”…

    Yes, it would have been good to find out more about the woman’s relationship with her hubby

  • Nana, I wish I had the time to write “What is sex,” but if I did, i’d go to http://www.sex-and-blogs.com to start doing the research. It’s a sex-friendly, slightly kinky, slightly arty blog that features interesting views of sex. But the topic is so vast that I’d probably be summoned by the grim reaper before I could pen the last line.

    No, women, when they have the choice, do not have to postpone or forgo an orgasm, as their having one does not signal an end to the proceedings. You lucky people!

  • Interesting topic but I wanted to address the question of what sex is. To me, sex is intercourse between a penis and vagina/arse period. Any other form has its own name and not sex. Examples are oral, hand, foot, scissors or whatever else there is.

  • society has a lot of right to do, until then, if my woman uses sex as a tool against me, i will be upset even though she may be right in her demands.

  • This sounds like an issue from lack of communication and/or lack of common ground to talk about their sex life.
    I’d advice the caller to initiate sex with her husband more often. This should lead to them having sex considerably more times than they do now.
    That is one way to get the husband to recognize & pay more attention to her sensuality. A lot of sex, initiated by her will get his attention. This will put her in a position to tell him what she likes, what works etc for him to actually listen.
    I like to think that some selfish lovers can be taught to be unselfish.

  • If I were married and my husband was selfish in bed, I’d deny him sex every time to starve the selfishness out of him. That’s one communication medium I’m sure will have great impact and trigger some reaction.

  • That’s just the way life is.

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