How can I last longer with my wife?

Dear Dr. Milrod:

I am a very fit 42-year-old male. I’m also married and have a rather mundane sex life: lights out, similar positions, she won’t swallow, won’t do doggy, etc. I have tried and tried gently, roughly, tenderly, pleaded, everything over the years. I also find I shoot very quickly with her in the dark, and now I wonder if some of her lack of interest is my lack of timing in my sexual performance. Is there something I can do with my wife to help me last longer, or am I dreaming that more time in the saddle is going to change her lack of interest?

Bored in Boston

Dear Bored in Boston:

I agree with you – you probably do shoot in the dark a lot quicker! Studies have shown that men and women process visuo-sexual cues differently. When the lights are on, literally speaking, a man will have a stronger sexual response, due to the visual stimuli he is receiving from looking at “bit parts” of the body, such as breasts, vagina, etc.

A woman is a little different. For one, not all women like it when the lights are on. Thanks to our relentless media images, many women have shame about their less than ‘perfect’ bodies. Particularly when women hit middle age, or after a few kids, some women feel downright bad about themselves, which of course contributes to shutdown sexually. Also, most women respond more to sensual touch, even in non-erogenous zones, rather than to sharp, visual cues. Just looking at a penis – particularly a penis that she’s seen 100 times over – generally doesn’t excite a woman. Not the same way a man is primed to look at a vagina and get hard. Women need tactile and sometimes even verbal stimulation – even completely non-sexual at times, in order to get sexual.

It seems to me that your wife isn’t refusing you as much as she is content with doing things the same old way. I really believe you need to discuss this with your wife in a very open and frank manner. You’re 42; unless she’s much older than you, she’s at least grown up in a fairly modern sexual climate. So ask her the same question you’re asking here: ‘How can I last longer in bed, with your help, since I love making love to you, and it’s too quick for me?’ Let her feel that she is very, very appreciated and that she’s the person you would most of all wish to hit the sexual stratosphere with. Also, ask her what she wants. What would make her have a more interesting sex life?

These are simple questions, but you’d be surprised to find how many couples do not discuss sex openly and without emotional hangups. Talking about sex should be no more traumatic than having a discussion about who gets to take out the garbage. But many people hem and haw, even when talking to someone with whom they’ve been partnered with for years. I say, get it out there. Talk freely about penises and vaginas, where they go, how they get there and what you can do to make the journey more interesting. It’s almost like having a ‘sexual conference.’ And finally, don’t forget to talk frankly about your feelings as well. How frustrated you feel, and how you think it’s impacting your sex life. Try not to blame, but try to engage in both people building something constructive, almost like a better “frame” for your sex life.

I realize this is all very difficult. Many women do check out, sexually, after childbirth, or even just a few years into a relationship. Let’s hope that she gives you some frank answers. As to your dreaming about more time in the saddle, let her know that it’s one of your top priorities. Unless you get divorced, you’ve got at least another 20-30 years together. That’s a long time to be writing a sexual script. Let her know that she can be the director for all eternity – if the movie could just be a little more action-packed and graphic.

Christine Milrod, Ph.D.

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