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Wifey Wednesday: When Sex Causes you Pain

It's Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post! Today I want to talk about something that can cause many women an incredible amount of loneliness.


Photo by Cia de Foto

Fibromyalgia. MS. Migraines. Chronic fatigue. Chronic pain. Back problems. Even pregnancy. All these things can cause us to feel horribly, and definitely lower our libidos!

So what do we do if we're honestly feeling horribly, and yet our husbands still want to make love? He wants to get pleasure from something that seems to be causing you pain. That just seems wrong, and slightly disgusting. You want to be honoured and loved; and he wants to feel loved in a sexual way. But how can sex be good if it results in you feeling pain?

Unfortunately, you're essentially at loggerheads: he wants something that you feel that you can't give him, and so you don't feel loved; and you don't want to give him what he feels he needs, and so he doesn't feel loved. Both of you have legitimate problems, and neither is going to win by getting into an argument as to whose needs are paramount. Both of you require the other to give something that seems too large to give.

What needs to happen is not that someone gives in and just gets rid of their needs; what needs to happen in order for true oneness to occur is that a big mindset change happens.

First, let me give a little background on women's sex drives. We are largely in our heads. In order for us to become aroused, our heads have to be engaged. Men aren't like that. Men are very body-focused, so for them to be ready to go, they don't have to think much at all. But because we are mostly in our heads, we're also extremely distractible. If a stray thought comes into our heads, we can lose any amount of arousal we feel. Thus, the "not tonight, honey, because I have a headache" is very real for most women. When we are feeling pain, it's supremely hard to get in the mood because something else is intruding.

Nevertheless, that's often the best treatment. Researchers have found that one of the best cures for migraines is sex. The sudden release and euphoria often stops the pain, and frequent sex seems to prevent them. So even though it's counterintuitive, sex often helps with headaches.

The same is true with other kinds of muscle pain. Sex allows muscles to relax, and is a tremendous physical boost. And it helps you sleep better!

I know it's hard to see it like that when you're in pain, but pray that God will show you that sex can be something that helps with pain and exhaustion, not something that can contribute to it. When sex becomes all about something you do for him, it's a chore, and it's only going to contribute to your pain and your exhaustion. When sex, on the other hand, becomes something you can share which can help you relax and help you feel less pain, then you've got a stake in it, too.

The key is to get to the point where you can actually physically enjoy sex when your body itself is in great discomfort and very tense. Instead of looking on it as a chore, though, why not look on it as a challenge as a couple? It may be that you need to spend a lot of time relaxing first, in a hot bath together, or with a massage. You may need to work at finding a position that feels the most comfortable for you. You may even need to work at achieving orgasm for you some other way than intercourse (even if he achieves orgasm through intercourse), since it's orgasm that's most likely to help you relax.

Explain to your hubby that you want to see if you can start connecting physically and sexually so that you feel better together, but also so that your body finds new ways to relax and get some sleep. That means that sex has to be something, for you, that is gentle, drawn out, and low-pressure. But it also means that, for him, it is something that should be rather frequent. It means that he's going to have to learn a lot of foreplay, and learn to do a lot of massage. But the good part is that you get to connect a lot more and feel a lot more intimate.

Maybe with this being a new year you can try to turn over a new leaf and pray that God will help you see sex differently, as a potential to make you feel more physically safe and comfortable, and more intimate with your husband.

And perhaps, instead of sex being something you fight over, sex can become something which helps both of you feel better!

Have you ever struggled with pain? How did you resolve it as a couple? Let's talk!

This post was cross-posted at Adding Zest to Your Nest.

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At 7:34 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

This is a great post and so encouraging. I would like to say more but do not feel comfortable in this forum however; I appreciate your post and am truly considering buying a few of your books. I need to be re-educated on this subject as a whole.


At 9:39 AM , Anonymous Brent said…

You had a fantastic ringing line in this post. You were talking about how "he wants something that you feel that you can't give him, and so you don't feel loved; and you don't want to give him what he feels he needs, and so he doesn't feel loved," then here was the line: "Both of you require the other to give something that seems too large to give."

I don't think I've ever thought about it in these terms before. But certainly I can see how being in pain, or being tired and worn out, can really leave someone feeling like they "just can't" tonight, even though their heart may really want to (of course the sad part is when this happens so often that the heart stops "wanting to" after a while, but that's another topic).

And as a man, knowing how important sex is to me (something I never comprehended as an unmarried dude) I certainly see how sacrificing making love feels like it equals sacrificing love itself (the two are that connected) And because I am so enamoured with love for my wife, I am not going to sit idly by and let the love go out from my marriage. Not on my watch, Jack! Not if I have anything to say about it. It's too important, too big of a thing, too large to give. Pain or not, it's not worth sacrificing the love itself for.


At 1:49 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

You make a strong point about the diametrically different ways that men and women view sex. Brent's comment backs you up, as does my own experience. Most men equate making love with love. As a female, I can not understand that in any way. I have read a lot about the male point of view and of course, observed my own husband but I don't believe I will ever understand it.

The question that arises in my mind is: why would God make the sexes this different? I mean, we are at such opposite ends of the spectrum, that it actually makes love and connection very, very difficult. I wonder why God would not have created in us more similar reactions to sex (or at least stronger empathy for the other view) that would in turn make it easier to truly love and bond with one another.

Anonymous Two


At 2:24 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I have had pain during sex for the last 6 years of my marriage and it was only in the last 6 months I found out through a sex therapist that is was a condition called Vaginismus. This physical pain has lead to emotional pain as well. A love for my husband but never for sex. A feeling of being raped by my own husband because of the intense pain but wanting sex so bad. Through the website I have started a program that is working and I finally after 6 years have hope that the end is in sight. But, along the road of hurt there have been many times I have felt hopeless and given up on making love. When I complete the program. I am praying that after 6 years without sex it will be amazing and pain free and then the emotional healing will begin.


At 2:45 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Great thoughts. A lot of the time we end up saying that we were glad that we came together even though we weren't particularly amorous to begin with. Anything for us preggos though? I know my husband misses me and I feel badly about that but I literally throw up every time he touches me during this part of pregnancy. Fortunately, things will flip over during the second half of the pregnancy so we are both looking forward to that!


At 4:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Last year I was having a problem where I would get a bunch of little external tears during intercourse. Nothing wild, just very gentle intercourse with lubrication. I think it might have been a hormonal issue. This was making things very difficult at our house. Either way, I discovered after extensive online searching, that emu oil makes skin heal faster and thickens it to prevent more damage. I moisturized with it multiple times a day and I think within a couple weeks I was having serious improvement. Now things are wonderful. I still moisturize with pure emu oil after taking a bath just as a preventative. This made such a difference in my quality of life I wanted to share on the off chance it could help someone.


At 4:34 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

anonymous 3, I just wanted to encourage you. My SIL went into her marriage with vaginisimus, and they assumed they would never be able to have intercourse (or children). After some therapy (I don't know all the details) they were able to consummate their marriage and have 4 children to show for it. All this to say, you can find a cure/relief from this condition.


At 6:24 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I can really relate to this post. I have a chronic pain disease which means that sometimes when my husband wants sex its become really hard for me to please him because I can't move my legs at all.

He has been amazing through this and has NEVER pressured me to do anything that I can't do but the hard part for me has been ME.

I constantly feel bad after attempting to please him and finding out that I can't do so. I feel bad and sometimes I get really mad at my body and at this disease.

I've found what has helped the most is just being honest with him and talking with him about what is going on.

Other than that I just try not to beat myself up too much about this and take the rest of my feelings and journal them or spend some time in prayer.


At 3:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

This was a great post! I am very new to the world of chronic pain. Not mine, but my husband's. He has a ruptured disc that has been giving him tremendous amounts of pain and sometimes he can't even walk.
It is so incredibly hard to just watch him go through this, and yes, it effects our sex life at times; although he is determined to not let it.
Really, it has effected everything. I'm still kind of processing the whole thing. So, this was thought provoking and comforting to know we are not alone.
Oh Lord, I cry out to you on behalf of all the people who read this who are in pain. Please bring your healing hand upon each one. Amen.


At 4:50 PM , Blogger Melissa, Multi-Tasking Mama said…

Thank you for tackling this important topic. As a wife living with chronic illness I was thrilled to see you address this and wrote my Wifey Wednesday post here:


At 5:45 PM , Anonymous Bridgette said…

beautifully's a wonderful thought that, yes, we CAN take our time with things and that will benefit both husband and wife. i love the encouragement that you give in that it's not purely about "giving the other person what they need", but also about getting needs of ours met through the giving of ourselves to our spouse. Isn't God wonderful the way He created us; when we give of ourselves when we least feel like it, it still benefits us in the long run :) He is always looking out for us :)


At 5:44 PM , Blogger Sensuous Wife said…

I've also experienced the emotional pain of being a wife with chronic pain. Intercourse used to be very painful for me. I know from experience that it's difficult to experience pleasure and oneness when you're sorting laundry in your mind to distract you from the pain. My healing journey lasted longer than would fit easily in a blog comment. I wrote my story here:

I wanted to comment and say THANK YOU and ATTAGIRL for posting on such a sensitive and important topic.

You have inspired me to be creative and think of some ways that couples who struggle with chronic pain can connect and orgasm together. Loving each other in that special sweet way is so important.


At 6:42 PM , Blogger Sensuous Wife said…

Girl, you inspired me!
My new post is here:

Giving Each Other Connection and Relief When She Has Chronic Pain


At 12:05 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

Thanks for all of your comments! Sorry I didn't respond right away, but I was away from my computer on vacation last week and I'm just getting back now. I know this is such a sensitive topic, and I wish we could talk about it a bit more! Then maybe people wouldn't feel so alone. I'm glad you all liked it!


At 8:43 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

To anonymous who posted about having Vaginismus. It's been a few weeks since this was written, so I don't know if anyone will ever read this, but I went into marriage with this problem too.

It was so bad that having intercourse was physically impossible for us for the first several months of our marriage. God, in His mercy brought us to a book by a Christian author who gave the issue a few paragraphs in his book. I remember thinking, "That's it! That's our problem!" and crying tears of joy that it had a name. We too found and thus answers.

My husband and I went through the program, and now have 2 precious little boys to show for it. I won't say that all the problems in our sexual relationship are solved, but we have a good start, considering 3 1/2 years ago, we couldn't have intercourse at all.

Keep working on it. There certainly is light at the end of the tunnel. :)

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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