Dealing With “Duty Sex”

Reader:  Okay, two more quick questions and then I promise I’ll ease off.  (-:

1.)  Duty sex.  Those times when she’s just not that into it but you wind up doing it anyway, and she doesn’t wind up getting that into it during.  Maybe it’s just leftover Nice Guy “she comes first” programming, but I’ve always found it vaguely depressing.  It satisfies me in only the most literal, biological sense.  It doesn’t make me feel attractive or Alpha or whatever, it just makes me feel… empty.

Because of that, I used to avoid it like the plague, and I know the down sides of that (lots of mutual submission deadlock “do you want to have sex?” “I don’t know, do you?” crap mostly, and, paradoxically, less good satisfying sex in general).  So I’m resigned to the fact that, yes, sometimes I’m going to be into it and she’s not and that’s okay.

I guess what I’m asking is, how do you deal with it?  How do you frame it in your mind as something that’s okay?  Or am I just neurotic for even asking?  (-:

And on a related note,

2.)  There’s this whole chapter in the Primer about rewarding good behavior and punishing (through lack of attention) bad behavior.  Should this sort of duty sex be rewarded (because she did, after all, lay you, if perhaps not as enthusiastically as you might have wished) or punished (because, sure, you got sex, but it was half-hearted, unenthusiastic, resigned sex instead of the hot “do me you Alpha stud” fuckfest you wanted)?

Athol:  There’s a scale between “no sex at all” and “crazy hot sex”. “Duty sex” is somewhere just below the middle of that scale.  There’s also a sexual fitness where you need to get into more practice to get to the good stuff. You just can’t go from bad sex to crazy hot sex overnight. The more you have sex the better at it you get together. After the duty sex comes okay sex. After okay sex comes better sex. After better sex comes good sex. After good sex comes great sex.

The trouble is you are wanting to experience the feelings associated with great sex… with duty sex. You can’t. If you were having those feelings associated with great sex with duty sex, you’d actually be experiencing great sex. Great sex being defined as feeling great.

And now the cold clinical behavior modification section of the post where I treat women like lab rats….

If duty sex is the sexual behavior baseline, any time she does something better than duty sex, you should positively respond to it. Any time she does something worse than duty sex, you should reduce attention to her. Not actively punish her, simply reduce attention.

In time as her pattern of behavior improves to where you guys are having okay sex, then that becomes the new baseline. Once you’re up in the consistently good to great sex realm, the sex itself is a major reward so it’s very reinforcing of keeping that level of sexuality going. There’s not all that often that I specficially reward Jennifer for being good in bed, watching her arching her back and trying to tear the corner off her pillow as she orgasms being indication she’s getting a prefered reward anyway. It’s like a mouse that runs a maze to get to the cheese. When it gets there, you don’t pet it and tell it that it’s a pretty mouse, you just let it eat the cheese. Otherwise you can accidently end up with a mouse that doesn’t have interest in running mazes to find cheese, but a lot of interest in being petted and told it’s a pretty mouse.

Okay I think I abused that metaphor enough… moving on.

If you turn down the duty sex, she will interpret that as a display of weakness and become less interested in you. Men turning down sex are generally viewed being the complete opposite of Alpha by women. Guys are meant to be able to have sex with any opportunity available. Your wife. The co-worker. The drunk friend. The passed out woman behind the dumpster. Men are meant to be able to opportunistically whip their dicks out and stuff them into available vagina. That’s why “available” is the sexyest thing a woman can be to a man. Every time a married guy cheats on his wife, it’s because amongst other things, the other woman was available.

So when your wife makes herself available to you, and you don’t avail yourself of her, that’s sending her a highly negative response. Most wives have near zero ability to emotionally handle their husbands declining sex to them. If you do turn your wife down for sex, you should have a really good excuse like, “I have a gunshot wound and want to go to the ER.” Though obviously don’t use that if she has just shot you, because she’ll just think you’re blaming her for everything. Plus she has a gun. So comply.


Reduced sexual frequency also further establishes a pattern of lower sexual interaction. You want more sex, not less. So have more sex.  So I would keep having the duty sex and view it as a stepping stone to better sex. Sometimes you have to learn to walk before you run.

Also I get the vague sense that you’re trying to get the warm-fuzzies from having sex that you’re missing elsewhere in the relationship. Experiment with just fucking her. What you want is for her to act like she’s really into it… like she’s being fucked. So that won’t happen until you actually act a little harder edged and just fuck her. You’d be surprised how how cuddly women get after getting well and truly fucked.

I know this is a terrible paradox to come to grips with if you are a Nice Guy, but the greater the need of emotional connection you bring into bed with you, the less likely it is she connects to you emotionally. I really like Jennifer. We get on great and not only is she my best friend currently, she’s the best friend I’ve ever had. We kiss and cuddle and are warm and fuzzy with each other during the day and in bed. But there are also times when I don’t care about any of that. She’s just a woman in my bed and I’ll get what I want from her. I pump… but don’t dump.

The frame I tend to run with is that I’m like Dr Bruce Banner, walking around holding myself under control to avoid turning into a giant green rage monster called The Hulk that I can’t control. Except instead of rage, it’s horny. And to be quite honest… it’s not much of a frame, because this is pretty much the reality of the situation. So… available-pussy-I-can-unleash-on… fuck yeah!


Jennifer:  Every night isn’t crazy hot sex, but ever day is something sexual together so we never lose the connection. The more Athol is into it, the more I’m into it. And if I’m tired or cranky or whatever, I’ll say so and offer him what I’m in the mood for.  This makes me more likely to be into it because I’m giving him a heads up as to what I’m going to be receptive to that night.  (he he…heads up…he he) 


  1. FeralFelis says:

    I read somewhere that a man’s orgasm is actually a big spur to a woman’s excitement. Hence, this article was turning the whole “woman’s orgasm first” theory on its head. So if you get duty sex and YOU are really good, it’s possible that at some point in the proceedings, SHE’S going to get into it. Even if it’s as your head is ready to hit the pillow.

  2. some guy says:

    @FeralFelis – Completely true, and a huge reason for guys to learn how to stay hard after orgasm!

  3. I just recently had a conversation with my partner where I asked him to initiate more often, because if he waits til I’m 100% ready and wanting sex (about once a week except around ovulation) then he doesn’t last long enough for me. I’m more than happy to have sex or service him more often, but he feels bad about asking for it when my body isn’t going to respond with maximum interest. He’s been doing very well recently and we’re both reaping the benefits :) To the OP, do you find it any easier to accept a “duty” bj or hj during her period? I think my partner feels less guilt about accepting bjs during my period because he knows from the get-go that I’m not expecting any physical pleasure in return.

    If I felt that I were being punished for duty sex, that would encourage me to either say no outright when I wasn’t feeling it, or start faking interest. I can’t force my body to have more orgasms or get wetter, and feeling pressured to do so might make me less able to respond at all.

  4. pdwalker says:

    ( hee hee, “gunshot sex”. Too funny )

  5. Athol, you are mostly a genius and I agree with what you say the vast majority of the time, but not on this one. Let’s use food as an analogy for the sex your wife has to offer on a given day, and let’s break the scale down into three choices – Surf and Turf (hot sex), a cheeseburger (ordinary sex), and plain Saltiness crackers With nothing to drink (duty sex). Now if you’re starving (very horny) and she produces surf and turf, wow, that’s awesome, and the cheeseburger is still pretty damn tasty, AND if all she has available is the crackers, well you eat them too, because you’re STARVING – so you’d eat pretty much anything.
    BUT… If you weren’t all that hungry and she offered you those dry Saltine crackers (because that’s all she has and she wants to make sure you’re not going to bed hungry), I think it’s ok – and perfectly alpha – to say that
    you’re not interested and will just wait until she does the grocery shopping tomorrow and picks up your favorites.

  6. gardenoflove says:

    Duty sex to me means that for some reason you aren’t quite up to a complete and orgasmic sexual experience but are concerned and want to care for your spouses needs. If intercourse is involved I like the feeling of noticing his masculine need overriding his nice guy “after you dear” being set aside for “must have sex” must have you” no matter what. It is an interesting feeling to being taken in this way that plays a little sub-dom in nature. I don’t think one should be cold acting during it but as if you are serving your husbands needs a la geisha girl.

  7. horseman says:

    Totally agree with the behaviour modification aspect. reward good sex to get to better sex.
    However its when its just duty sex or rejection women are also doing behaviour modification and accidentally reinforcing beta. he begs gets duty sex rather than nothing so responds with beta. vicious cycle.
    also there is somerhing i call quota of rejection. its like ian flemings concept of quantum of solice. the book not movie. everyone has a max of rejection after which it is either learned behaviour or selff defense kicks in. you slowly care less with each rejection. its why so many here say they run the map she responds but they just dont care.

  8. horseman says:

    both parties need to be aware early in the relationship that both have a quota of rejecrion amd actively avoid it. waking up after 20 years to run the map boy or girl and you might find the partner doesnt respond because they may be sexually attracted but so emotionally rejected they no longer care. And as we age the old hormones slow down so sex is not the trump of emotion it once was. hence all the divorced people wondering p.s sorry

  9. horseman says:

    hence all the people wondering why divorce at 45 is a desert. p.s. sorry for the spelling its this phone

  10. winter66 says:

    Great post, it is one that I have struggled with lately. My wife and I have two kids (8 and 5) and we live away from family and therefore do not have much of a support system. That said, while I do get sex once a week (or 1.5 weeks) that is good, there are times that I want it and I get “We just did it..”, or “ok, I’ll do it, but only because you want to..” I feel some guilt from this and like the poster said, if I do it, I feel great biologically, but emotionally, I feel guilty.

    My wife does like to cuddle in bed. I have, on occasion, after being denied from sex, just turned over instead of cuddling. I am still not sure how to react when denied sex. She can sense the frustration. So, pre-emptively, she might say “I’m fine if you just want to turn over..”. Giving me some guilt. So I cuddle.. I guess you could call it “duty-cuddling”.

    Any tips on how to handle the rejection properly in a fashion that uses “sexual judo” as described in the 2011 MMSL Primer? I think this is a similar topic.. I don’t mean to threadjack..

  11. Athol, in an effort not to leach your traffic to one of my old posts, I’m going to put the Ironwood Restaurant Scale of Married Sex here, for the amusement of your readers.

    Here are the stages of Married People Sex, via the metaphor of eating out:

    1. McDonald’s Drive Thru – This is the bare bones maintenance sex, the “lie back and think of England”, “Honey, I’m too tired but you go ahead and do your thing”, “If you really need it I’m here for you but try not to wake me up” kind of sex. Vibrators are suggested. Emergency sex. Sex when it’s not necessarily about anything other than tearing one off. School-night sex. Eye contact is optional. So is consciousness.

    2. Golden Corral – Implies no-frills sex, usually no more than one or two positions, without more than token foreplay but with eye contact, kissing, a sweet nothing or two. Expectations are low for both of you. Orgasms are often optional, but pleasantly received. Post-coital pillow-talk beyond the basics is unnecessary.

    3. Pizza – Light to medium foreplay, oral but not necessarily to orgasm, kissing, intercourse with at least two and up to four positions. Moderate to heavy pillow talk afterwards, then fall asleep drooling and sticky. Comfortable, pleasant, “was it good for you, too” sex. Friday night sex, not Saturday night sex.

    4. Chinese – Medium to heavy foreplay, oral usually to orgasm, major kissing, intercourse in three to five positions, moderate pillow talk afterwards or between the first and second course. (It’s Chinese . . . you’re usually horny again an hour later). Usually you can’t consider Chinese or above with kids in the house. Not if you do it right.

    5. Italian – Saturday Night sex. Sex after a genuine date, usually casual, but you definitely got a sitter. Maybe a few drinks or a concert. Public displays of affection, hand-holding, suddenly pulling her into a corner for extended smooching, making out in the car, maybe a little light foreplay on the way home. Sex in at least four positions, likely twice (or once but for an extended period of time), with mood music and appropriate lighting. Toys beyond basic vibrator and lube are suggested. Light fantasy play is also a possibility.

    6. Continental – High Fantasy sex. The kind of sex you have when the kids are at the grandparents for a three-day weekend, you have the house to yourself and access to soundproofing. This is where you experiment with cosplay, advanced toys, BDSM, a bunny suit, trapeze, sex swing, you name it. Consult local statutes to ensure you aren’t breaking any laws.

    7. Four Star – Hotel sex. It’s in a class by itself. You put even the most demure wife in a nice hotel room and the possibilities of invoking her inner slut are limitless. Hotel sex is a fine art, and like fine art it’s ridiculously expensive. There are countless ways to cut down on the expense for a creatively-minded couple, but unless you’re fulfilling your cheap hooker fantasy at a local hot sheets rooms-by-the-hour motel, you’re going to spend a couple of hundred bucks on this. It’s worth it. Two or three nights of Four Star hotel sex a year can go light-years in keeping your marital relationship fresh. There’s only one tier higher than this: Hotel Sex In Vegas After Winning Big.

    So that’s the scale. When I ask my wife “what she wants for dinner” and she tells me “I’m feeling like Golden Corral tonight”, then we have subtly communicated a) a desire for sex, thus controlling the frame and b) a way to respond with an appropriate level of potential interest. Similarly, if she texts me “Going to be a long night — looks like drive-thru”, I know that my chances for anything elaborate are remote, but she might be up for a quickie, if I’m so inclined. And if I say “Hon, we need to plan a four star trip soon”, she knows precisely what that entails.

  12. FeralFelis says:

    I like your analogy!
    The important thing is that it helps ya’ll communicate in a way that allows expectations to be stated and then (hopefully) met, which makes both partners happier.
    And in a nod to the “shy wife” post, it also gives some shorthand so shy partners don’t have to say, “oh, one to two positions and maybe some light oral but not necessarily to orgasm” .

  13. I too am a “nice guy”, I am in the literal sense and the sexual sense. It is tough to break old habits.

    I do want to echo what Athol said about just “fucking” her. It sounds harsh, especially to the “nice guy” but it can be good for you and good for her too. When she is just offering you “duty sex”, I would take that as an opportunity to fuck her and not worry about her. You might find that she responds positively to it and it would be good practice for you.

    I wrote a post once on how I never refer to it as “making love”. I always say “fuck”. If that word is too strong then you can say something else, but the term “making love” has a lot of associations with it that don’t necessarily lend itself to crazy monkey sex. So I avoid that term to keep that association out of her head and mine. There is a time for “making love” but most of the time, I just want to “fuck”.

    Lastly, I do want to kind of disagree with Athol on one point. It is around a comment the reader made that was never really addressed. She is not “into it during”.

    To me, I think you have to be careful about continually having sex with her if she is not into it during. It could lead to resentment down the road cause she may not feel her feelings are being respected, I also think it potentially rewards her for giving bad sex – if it is continual. Lastly, you are kind of putting her pussy on a pedastal if you have to have it, even if she is not playing along. She will feel like a hole in the mattress over time.

    Just my thoughts…

  14. “Duty sex” and its attached issues just make marriage seem like such a trap and a chore.

  15. To reiterate something Athol said, one thing that counteracts duty sex is being in charge. You can’t just expect women to go from a standing start to throwing themselves at you like porn stars. Being confident and taking charge will not only make you feel better during the act, but will also turn them on and intrigue them. They’ll be much more likely to want more later.

    Meanwhile, initiate, be confident and happy with life, and for goodness sake don’t act like you need her to respond a certain way to make you happy.

  16. Just rambling a little more on my last point.

    When you’re dating (or equivalent), if you come across as needy in any way you’ll repel women. This is especially true if you lack confidence or are depressed about things**. I think it’s because women are so feeling-driven that they are automatically put off by a guy who has issues with his feelings. They have enough trouble with their feelings, so they subconsciously desire a guy who can handle both his own feelings and also theirs. I don’t think women truly want to be in control over men in any way. When they seek this it’s only because they desire stability from the man and it’s a form of fitness test, albeit a huge one and one that can be very ingrained in them.

    Anyways, this is just as true within marriage. Being an “alpha male” is about confidence. Even things like negging (which I’m not a fan of, but anyway) are just displays of confidence. It shows you are not needy and are okay enough with your life that you don’t require them to make you feel good about yourself through their responses. This is very sexy. In marriage you have to be the leader. Leaders don’t wait for the approval of followers. But it also means you need to be leading in a clear direction. No one wants to follow someone who says they’re a leader, but has no clear direction or goal.

    ** Some women are attracted to weak men. These women are trouble. Also, they’ll be pretty much guaranteed to not put out once married. They have issues that need fixing.

  17. A reader says:

    In “Women’s Infidelity I” by Michelle Langley, she uses the analogy of receiving a protcologic exam for how a woman feels being entered when she’s not aroused. It’s a necessary evil and you want it to be over. If you were forced to undergo it frequently purely because the doctor enjoyed doing it to you, that wouldn’t increase your comfort with the experience; it’d feel like a violation, with the discomfort escalating into full-blown dread and revulsion. On top of that, repeated encounters that result in an orgasm (dopamine/oxytocin release) for the man but not for the woman lead to a one-way emotional bond. The husband becomes progressively more bonded while the wife becomes more indifferent/repulsed.

    This seems to speak directly against the “fitness/practice” idea. What do you think?

  18. comming from the womans side – it HONESTLY is enjoyable to have sex and not orgasm. I swear. I LIKE touching my husband, feeling his weight on top of me, watching his enjoyment. I actually put this kind of sex in the “making love” catigory. It’s part of affection and wanting him to get his needs met. Enjoying him being happy is part of LOVE not part of sex. And doing things you don’t neccessarily feel super enthusiastically about just because the other person wants to is part of loving someone and wanting to spend time together. You go visit her mother because it’s something SHE needs right? To the nice guy – a woman who wants to make you happy is a nice girl! Take it the same way you take a back rub, she doesn’t neccessarily get PHYSICALLY anything out of it, but it really does create emotional bonding.

    Also – just wanted to echo that watching my guy cum IS a HUGE turn on for me. There are times when I’m feeling kinda lackluster or exhausted and then AFTER he’s done, then I’m left wanting to get off! We’ve luckily worked out serveral good options to achieve that…

  19. It seems to me there are two kinds of duty sex.

    The first is when she is not really in the mood, too tired, hard day, stressed, whatever, but is willing to accommodate his needs. Sometimes it will result in her getting excited and into it, other times she won’t necessarily get into it but will be glad she can do this for him without the pressure of having to receive or react. I think this is occasionally reasonable and to be expected when you live with someone every day. It shouldn’t happen often or even regularly (and if it is maybe you should look at what triggers it).

    The second kind is when he isn’t doing things in the relationship, isn’t running the map, isn’t making changes, he just wants hot sex with none of the responsibilities to create a dynamic where she desires hot sex too. This kind of duty sex is given because it’s easier to go along to get along and not make waves. It won’t make her aroused or into it, she’ll just be relieved when it’s over and the quicker the better. This kind of sex builds resentment, probably in both of them, but for sure for her. If all he wants is sex and he isn’t willing to do anything to change the dynamic, why should he expect anything different that duty sex? All it becomes is a transaction. He gets to fuck, she gets whatever keeps her in the relationship. It’s just another form of payment.

  20. OP here. Thanks again to Athol for his continuing help and support.

    There are a couple of circumstances particular to our relationship that make this a tricky subject for us. (Which I probably could have mentioned to Athol in the original email, but I was trying really hard to keep it from turning into one of those “Life story -> Well? What do you think?” things.)

    With us, it hasn’t been that progression from “little to no sex -> occasional duty sex -> mostly duty sex with occasional great sex -> mostly great sex” that seems fairly common to a lot of people running the MAP. Thing is, the sex between us, when it happens, has typically always been pretty great (with a big exception that I’ll get into later). It’s been the frequency, not the quality, that’s been the problem. So it’s only now that I’ve been running the MAP, getting my Alpha on, and pushing for sex even when she’s not pushing right alongside me and giving me clear go-ahead signals that I’ve even had to deal with the issue of so-so duty sex.

    The Big Exception: There was a period in the middle of our relationship, about five years ago at this point, where she had some health problems that made intercourse very painful for her and we had to give it up more-or-less altogether for between six months and a year. I think we’re only just now starting to come to terms with the effect that’s had on both of us: her in a sort of tensing up “Oh-God-is-it-going-to-hurt-this-time” way, and me in that it makes me very hesitant about the sort of rough pounding that gets talked about ’round these parts for fear that I might hurt her, unless I’m getting a clear and unmistakable verbal request from her to do it harder. And it gets even more complicated by the fact that when she IS into it and she HAS gotten past that initial hesitancy, she very much DOES like it very, shall we say, vigorous.

    It’s also worth noting that, while it wouldn’t be accurate to say that she doesn’t have ANY submissive streak to her at all, it’s much less pronounced than seems typical judging from the comments around here. Missionary position makes her claustrophobic, and “rough” isn’t in her vocabulary. Spanking? Hair-pulling? Ha! I have to chuckle when I hear y’all talk about such things, because that’s the opposite of what she’s into. Which is fine by me, because I don’t have any particular need for such things either, but it does mean that when applying the sort of advice Athol tends to give, I have to mentally ratchet some of it down a few notches. The general gist still applies– keep pushing things in a me-Tarzan-you-Jane-me-fuck-you-you-take-it direction until she says stop– it’s just that the point where she says stop tends to come earlier with us than with most.


    “To the OP, do you find it any easier to accept a “duty” bj or hj during her period? I think my partner feels less guilt about accepting bjs during my period because he knows from the get-go that I’m not expecting any physical pleasure in return.”

    That’s the thing: in most cases, I’d much RATHER be getting a BJ or HJ when she’s not into it, and I’ve told her as much. When it’s something like that, it’s something nice that’s she’s doing for me without asking for anything in return, and I can appreciate that. When it’s intercourse, I’m suddenly in this situation where I’m expected to get my rocks off into the most personal place on her body when I can see in a very direct and immediate way that it’s not comfortable for her. It’s not a matter of her expecting or not expecting physical pleasure in return: I’ve pretty well gotten past the expectation that there needs to be a 1:1 ratio of my orgasms to hers like marks on a scorecard. It’s dealing with the cognitive dissonance between the sexy feelings than are coming to my brain from my dude parts, and seeing her obviously not enjoying herself and just wanting to get this over with, which is the opposite of sexy.

    TL;DR version:

    Girl going down on me, not getting any direct sexual pleasure from it but enjoying the fact that something she’s doing is making me feel good = sexy.

    Girl passively getting fucked by me, not having any fun at all and wishing I’d finish up already = not sexy.

    We’ve talked about this, since in my Nice Guy phase I used to play a lot of head games where I’d try to guess what she wanted and then say that I was what I wanted so that I could give it to her (since what I really wanted was for her to be into it because that’s what turns me on). Which in turn has understandably lead her not to trust that what I said I wanted was what I really wanted, which has just lead to a fucked-up communication vibe generally, which is very much at odds with the rest of our relationship in which we tend to communicate very well.

    So I had to kind of sit her down and tell her, “I know I’ve done this guessing game thing in the past, but from now on I’m going to make a real effort to be honest with you about what I want in bed, and in return I need you to be equally honest with me when something that I want is not going to be good for you, and ESPECIALLY if it’s going to be painful for you, because I’m going to be interpreting a lack of a clear no as a yes, instead of interpreting a lack of a clear yes as a no.” But sometimes I think that really hasn’t sunk in very deep yet.

    All right. Rambling again. I’m-a shut up now. (-: Thanks to everyone for your input.

  21. Red, good point and is the same one that Ponyboy made above.

    I actually posted today about duty sex last night that was fun because it was different than normal. Wife was tired, and she didn’t get turned on (sometimes that does happen) but we had fun anyway because we mixed things up a little. I didn’t ask for it, I told her it was happening even if she was tired but knew she’d be responsive to the idea and needed a good drubbing. Ponyboy and Red make great points above about not having that be the norm. It’s ok to have this be a once in awhile thing, but if you aren’t flirting, having “fun” sex at other times and this is the norm, it is sort of sad and probably can lead to resentment from one or both partners. She’s not a fleshlight, so make you’re doing something to make it worth her while both in and out of the bedroom.

  22. ” It’s been the frequency, not the quality, that’s been the problem. So it’s only now that I’ve been running the MAP, getting my Alpha on, and pushing for sex even when she’s not pushing right alongside me and giving me clear go-ahead signals that I’ve even had to deal with the issue of so-so duty sex.”

    It happens. You may have to compromise on the frequency to get to somewhere where you are both satisfied. For me – if you’re at say 25% duty sex, and 75% good to great sex that’s not a bad ratio. If you’re 50/50 I’d start to be bothered by that as you may start to come across as selfish. Sometimes it’s better to wait and fight another (better) day than to deal with the ramifications of pity/duty sex. Then attack her in the bathroom in the morning or mix it up in other ways. Anything to vary the routine.

  23. FlyingDutchman says:


    Do you tell your SO which kind it is and what he needs to do to remedy if its the 2nd kind you described? When I get duty sex its with the eye-roll and “go ahead” and get on with it attitude and she gets no pleasure from it. I interpret this as the 2nd kind, but can’t get her to tell me anything about what I need to be doing better in the relationship. Any discussion about sex or our how to improve our emotional relationship is a turn-off for her. I am left to guess, experiment, try to read her mind and run the MAP while I am conscious and she isn’t. BTW, I have been running the map for almost a year and we do have spurts of very hot sex here and there, but then get back into a duty sex rut that will go on for 2 or 3 weeks.

  24. Christy says:

    Hahahaha!!!! I love seeing Jennifer crack the dick jokes.

  25. Ben…

    If she has overcome some health issues why not work with her on that as part of sex. You can be playful about it, try this position, try another, pound her, ease off etc… And continually check in or communicate about it.

    You’re right, not all women are into the same things. My wife likes getting pounded at times, but she doesn’t like feeling restricted by having her hands held down.

    I think you may just need to communicate with her more until she is feeling more comfortable.

  26. Addendum to what I was saying above:

    So when I talk about whether this duty sex behavior is something that should be rewarded or not, I’m thinking less of the sex behavior– punishing her for not being turned on when I wanted her to be doesn’t make a lot of sense because that’s not something that’s in her control– but more the behavior that she went ahead and offered up intercourse anyway, which winds up not being much fun for either of us, instead of offering something more fun for me / less work for her like an HJ or BJ. If that makes sense. Yeah. (-:

  27. Like Flying Dutchman, I have run the MAP. Duty sex is the norm. It isnt that she is not concious. She consciously reverse plans what I do. Its as if she were saying “I will have more sex with you but I want you to know I think its a shit idea, and no matter what you try I am going to go out of my way to NOT enjoy it.”

    It isnt lay back and think of England its lay back like a sack of shit and think how to be more negative next time.

  28. Ben – so, because you’re horny you want her to act horny for you. If she’s not turned on, though, which is the problem in this particular situation, it’s a lot of physical and mental work for her to give you a BJ/HJ. Yes, giving one is hot when you’re turned on by a man, but (as long as your body can deal) when you aren’t it’s a heck of a lot easier to lie back and do nothing. Sure it’s nice for her to just want to do something to make you feel good, but if she wanted to naturally she’d be doing it. And from what I hear, men don’t enjoy it when they can tell the woman is Totally Not Into It. Now if you don’t mind a “duty HJ/BJ” without any apparent emotion or interest, you can probably have that.

    In short, to get the sexy vibe you want, your woman has to WANT to do whatever it is, or at the very least pretend convincingly. If she’s not turned on enough in the moment for that to be her motivation, you could always trade non-sexual favors–maybe she wants a backrub. Otherwise, you are the one who wants the sex, so have the sex. Or don’t. Or turn her on.

  29. “Coming from the womans side – it HONESTLY is enjoyable to have sex and not orgasm.” Jane: speak for yourself. I see no point in having sex without an orgasm. I’m sure men feel the same. (Think about it, guys. Would you enjoy sex if half the time she climbed off after she got hers and went off to the kitchen to make herself a sandwich, leaving you laying there with blue balls?)

    That said, I’m pretty vocal about what it takes so he’s not spending half his time guessing. And I have a high libido, which certainly helps. Staying fit, wearing sexy undergarments, and dressing in heels and dresses pretty much keeps me primed all day. Sleep naked, too.

    Then again, I don’t have kids, so this is probably a lot easier for me to make living sexy a lifestyle, rather than having to work myself up into it for “showtime.” I understand that moms have difficulty making the transition, so I guess that’s an entirely different topic/problem.

    I don’t believe in duty sex. Just cuddling if I’m too tired. But then, I don’t partner up with people who aren’t great in the sack, or who have loads of hangups that prevent variety and openmindedness.

  30. jklm:

    Maybe I expressed myself badly. Let me try again.

    Let’s assume for the moment that her getting turned on tonight is simply off the table. I’ve performed my due diligence, but for whatever reason beyond either of our control– she’s honestly too tired, she’s at the wrong point in her cycle, she’s just plain not in the mood, whatever– she’s simply not up to getting the juices going tonight. No big deal, it happens.

    In a purely physical, biological sense, I need my dude parts stimulated to orgasm before I’m going to be able to go to sleep tonight. I’m not going to get the mutually-satisfactory fuckfest that’s what I really want, so beyond that it’s not particularly important to me how it happens, except insofar as I’d like her to be involved, because she is my lady and I do love her and she does tend to feel a bit rejected if I just go off and take care of it by myself with the help of some porn.

    In a case like that, I’d tend to think that the best course is a quick, functional HJ that gets the job done, because the alternative is intercourse that’s not particularly satisfying for me, and is actively uncomfortable for her. Am I wrong?

  31. Ok, fair enough, I think you’re right actually. No doubt it comes down to personal preference, but personally if full-on intercourse is actively uncomfortable, you’re right, I’d go for the HJ option. The one relevant part of my previous comment remains that it’s still effort if she’s completely tired/not in the mood, so offering something she does want in exchange might help.

    Actually… if she knows you need *something* and will just handle it if she’s not interested, it should work out fine. Maybe she’s not feeling rejected so much as guilty and/or concerned that you’re mad at her for not stepping up. If you aren’t, make that clear and just go take care of yourself and that will be a relief. If she really does feel rejected and would rather be involved, then I would think she’d get involved. Certainly feel free to suggest that it doesn’t have to be sex, you’d take a HJ. (I’m sure Athol and the boys can tell you exactly how to phrase that in the appropriate frame.)

  32. Jaz – In your flip example, the guy has a hard-on and blue balls. What if he never got hard at all? For instance, a guy with a medical problem that does not allow him to get an erection or keep one long enough to achieve orgasm. Or a guy who is on a medication that makes his libido nonexistant. If you were in a relationship wiht a guy like that, would it be wrong for him to go down on you or use a vibrater on you when he’s not being turned on by it?? You make the assumption that the wife WANTS to get off. I for one am OCCASSIONALLY just too exhausted to keep my eyes open and I KNOW that I ussually take an a half hour or so when my guy can be done in 5 minutes or 4 hours, whatever. There are absolutely nights when I say “hey, I can’t stay up another half hour, we can just do a quicky for you, or I can wake you up in the morning, or we can bag it, but I just can’t comit to MY BODY”S timeline…That being said, we do tend to get to bed at a reasonable hour….

  33. @FlyingDutchman
    We have talked at length about the dynamic outside the bedroom that gets me hot for him in the bedroom as well as hot for him period. I have shared this blog with him thinking it might appeal to him because it speaks directly of ways to get a woman interested that result in more hot sex for him. He isn’t interested enough to make changes. So no, I don’t say this is duty sex #2. We pretty much have sex whenever he wants because I rarely turn him down. I’m just not interested in receiving anything. Sometimes this bothers him, sometimes it bothers him a lot and we fight. Most times, he just accepts the sex the way it is.

    I can’t speak for your woman, but I’ve long since realized he’s not a mind reader. What I think I’ve finally come to realize is he just isn’t interested enough to make the changes that would, well…change things. It takes too much effort and attention on his part. So it looks like he’s willing to live with regular ho-hum sex or service sex. The last time we talked about changes he got angry. He said I wanted him to be an Athol Kay or an Ian Ironwood and that I didn’t love him for who he is. What do I say to that? When is changing ones self a good thing and when is it not loving someone for who they are?

  34. @Red:

    It sounds like that’s a pretty rough situation you’re in. I’m no expert– wouldn’t be here asking Athol and all you helpful folks in the comments section for advice if I were– but it seems to me that if the promise of better sex that you’d be more into isn’t enough to motivate him, the prospect of losing the sex he already gets (i.e., losing you to another man) might be what it takes. It’s all well and good to tell him what you want, but if you keep giving him what he wants, you’re training him that you don’t really mean what you say.

    Unless of course you’re also comfortable enough with the status quo that you’re not willing to make an ultimatum. Only you know what your breaking point on this one is.

    Note: Yes, I’m fully aware of the irony that I’m on the other side of this, complaining about the quality of sex *I’m* not getting from my own S.O. All I can say is that at least I’m here on this site, running the MAP and looking for advice on how to do it better. And complaints above to the contrary, most of our sex really is rather good. I’m just finding myself unprepared to deal with it when it’s not up to our usual standard. That’s where you nice people and your excellent feedback come in. You guys are awesome, keep it coming.

  35. @Ben
    It’s not the ideal situation by far and resigned is a better description than comfortable. We have children and right now, keeping their home intact is more important. My husband is a great guy and has many good qualities. I know there are plenty of women who would be glad to have him. I’m just not them and I need something different. It’s a hard pill to swallow knowing you’re not worth the effort.

    I applaud you Ben, for coming here and looking for change and answers.

  36. horseman says:

    Remember you are not alone. several of us stay for kids after playing the ultimatium and getting no.response. its not forever. kids grow up. mortgages get paid off. do the map or for yourself and be ready when rhe time comes. its not you. some people.are just too lazy or unmotivated to change and iif the love is gone they have no motive to. good luck from one who is there too.

  37. Anonyhere says:


    what about running girl game that is not about really leaving him, just about making him nervous? You are most definitely worth it. I have been thinking about this a lot. There are certain changes I need my man to make, not in regards to sex, which for me is good, but in regards to that attraction factor outside the bedroom. We just need to see our men being men outside the bedroom. The whole Captain thing. My dude is not a natural captain, and he already knows about MMSL, and is not paying any attention at all, because sex is taken care of. I personally don’t wanna start mind games about withholding sex, but I am definitely stepping up my appearance (just making sure my hair is nice, working out just for the good feeling of it, not with any specific fitness goal in mind, and I went though my closet and got rid of everything that does not flatter me to the max) and I am trying my best to be first officer even though there’s no captain: I am staying on top of my stuff that I am in charge of, and I am constantly asking him for input (not telling him to do it, but just asking his opinion and saying things like “it would be so helpful for me if you…” on what he is supposed to be in charge of. It’s starting to get his attention a little. We’ll see where this goes. —

    But don’t think about that word “resigned”! It’s your life, you can step up your game (without telling him about it, just doing it). Fingers crossed that some part of it starts to sink in for these stubborn men!

  38. @ Red etc;
    I am just wondering that if your man is unwilling to make changes for you….are you meeting all HIS needs? Both men and women have their own love languages, and both need these languages met. In my realtionship my husband is a natural alpha, so the captain, first officer thing has always been. But on top of that my primary love languages are Physical Touch (most) and Quality Time (close second) . I NEED my husband to cuddle, carress, touch me often. This makes me feel loved. I NEED my husband to spend time with me – even just cuddling on the couch. This makes me feel appreciated and valued. When either of these things goes by the wayside for long periods, I feel unloved, unappreciated and begin to feel used – cue duty sex #2. My husband’s love languages however, are Acts of Service (most) and Words of Affirmation (second). If I don’t meet his needs, he is less inclined to want to meet mine.
    I would recommend you read the book ‘The Five Love Languages’ (Athol has mentioned this book before) and find out your partners love languages and make sure you are meeting them.

  39. @girl4
    There have been periods of our almost 20 years together where I have acted as if it were so hoping he would be motivated to make changes. There have been many periods in our relationship where we have had sex 6-10 times each week for 3 or 4 months and it still hasn’t motivated him for change. From day one we have slept naked so I went to bed for 3 weeks in a nightgown and not only did it not motivate change, he made no response at all. I have been reading and re-reading about girl game. I work in a shop and pretty much wear work boots and jeans all week so nights and weekends I dress up in matching undergarments, dresses that show cleavage because he likes that, sweet smelling lotions, painting my nails.

    We read the 5LL years ago and found it helpful. His is physical touch and mine is quality time followed by a strong acts of service. I try to touch and hug but any contact results in sexual touches. It gets old. Mostly I feel like he’s happy as long as we have sex and I don’t bitch or moan overly much.

    I’ve thought about buying the books for me…to see what I could learn. I know he’ll see that as me trying to get him to change.

  40. horseman says:

    @red et al
    As a boss of mine used to say “there will be a change…or there will be a CHANGE.” Sooner or later it will be decision time. after 20 years you have spent 1/2 your life with him. are you going to spend the last third of your one life in this situation. he has to change or you will make a change.

  41. Red, what do you want from him? Your relationship sounds just like mine, except from the other side, and except that my wife won’t tell me what she wants.

  42. Red

    It sounds like your husband is laid-back and you are more of a go-getter. Is that close? Perhaps he would take charge more if he was encouraged to do so. And by encouraged, I don’t mean you tell him, “Take charge for a change!” It has to be gentle, subtle, and from a position where he naturally takes the lead. You have to constantly defer to him, trust his decisions, and not over-ride him.

    Men need to take charge, but when faced with a woman who takes charge sometimes the only way they feel (subconsciously) that they can take charge is by resisting you. So if you prompt him by saying, “Here, read this blog and do what it says,” it leads to him feeling that the only way he can be his own man is by going against your wishes, regardless of how beneficial they may be.

    I’m assuming a little bit, but I’ve seen this sort of situation a lot—as in most modern marriages.

  43. @Red
    I’m really sorry for your situation. I had a friend that started to cheat on her husband do to similar circumstances. I hope you never get to that so I will tell you some unsolicited advice and if you find yourself avoiding sex in subtle matters like going to bed before him, or waiting for him to fall sleep is kind of the prelude to BIG troubles (and trust me women cannot stand mediocre sex with a man they think is not attracted to them enough for long they rather not have any) please seek counseling, IME.
    So do whatever it takes even if you have to do an ultimatum and move out of the house for a week or so he can actually see what is life like without you (and trust me some people need a strong reality check to get out of their rut) and also pay attention to yourself if you find yourself attracted and flirting with men this is another red flag, don’t think is innocent and you have it under control, you will be in another man’s bed without you even noticing, cut it out and do whatever it takes to make him open his eyes. I wish you luck with life and love. My prayers for you.

  44. enlightened1 says:

    “When is changing one’s self a good thing and when is it not loving someone for who they are?”

    Excellent question…and one I’ve pondered myself. Very sticky place this one. You have to finally not care what other people think and say to yourself, “I matter”. And, if you choose to leave then get accustomed to the fact that there will be people who will say you left because “you weren’t haappppy!” No one knows what is between two people and the relationship that they share. Rarely does a relationship look bad on the outside to casual observers (even intimate friends). If someone is unwilling to make changes that could make you happy then they don’t love you. But, you already knew that. That’s the part that hurts. And I am very sorry because you deserve to be loved. When I finally made the decision to get a divorce (and it was a long, hard decision 15+ year decision, married for over 20) one of my concerns was that finally, when my spouse truly knew that it was over if they didn’t change, that they would finally change and then I would be obligated to stay (children etc.) as they would have then “put in the effort.” I needn’t have worried. My ex still wants to be married to me (or at least to someone!). Wanting to be married and willing to be an active participant in a marriage are two distinctly different things. People with generous hearts frequently get stuck with these kinds of situations. Word of caution; lazy people don’t change. Your husband has NO motivation to change. His life is going great. You are the one with the problem. You have to make it so his behavior is HIS problem. Unfortunately it will require you setting some standards for yourself and drawing a line. Loving yourself first is the only way to truly give and receive love. Please recognize you are very vulnerable. You are also a prize. Anyone who could be faced with the rejection you receive (he flipping didn’t notice that you wore a gown to bed when he was used to you being naked?!) and still wear matching undergarments is an amazing woman. You rock!

  45. enlightened1 says:

    You could just tell ‘Red’ if she were just a little more submissive he would be a better leader. I’m sure she’s never heard that one before….yeh, it’s her fault that he’s not taking charge because she is such a go-getter!

  46. Mark~You’re not just close, but dead center. He is very easy-going and laid-back and I am rather intense and strong-willed. I know telling him to take charge for a change doesn’t work, and I’ve tried to be subtle and defer. I’ve even tried to reward him with hot sex that I initiated as well as verbal praise. He seems so paralyzed and unable to make any decision. I get frustrated and resentful that I have to reduce who I am so he can lead. I am a problem solver by nature, and when one is in a setting where no one will take responsibility and make decisions, I’m the one who stands up and makes the decision. A democracy doesn’t really work. At some point, responsibility has to be held by someone. I have been steering our boat our whole relationship, bearing the brunt of what the world throws at us and our children. I have been trying to change this dynamic over half our marriage.

    Anacaona~When our children were small I moved down the hall into the spare bedroom for a couple months. It was very difficult for them and didn’t produce a lasting change in our dynamic. I’ve thought of moving out for a while, but I know that wouldn’t be a good move for our children and I can’t put what I want above what’s best for them. If things won’t change, then I’ll just keep trying and wait it out.

    enlightened1~I understand what you mean. Sometimes I think he would be happier not married to me, but that would mean change, and he hates change, and it would require him to pay attention to things. That’s why I think sometimes he would rather stay in a mediocre marriage with ho-hum sex…that and that fact of course, that every day isn’t bad and sometimes the sex is really good. But when I come to bed with clothes on after sleeping naked our entire married life and he makes no comment it makes me think he feels our relationship isn’t worth it.

    And to complicate matters, we own a small business and work together everyday.

    Thank you for your encouragement and comments. I haven’t written directly to AK because I think I see my choices pretty clearly. I’m not willing to leave and I can’t change him. I’m changing some things about myself, trying to be the best me I can be. He’ll respond or he won’t. And I’m trying not to become bitter while I wait. It just makes me sad feeling like we don’t fit so well together anymore and he isn’t interested in making things different.

  47. Red –

    I feel for you. It’s a tough dynamic. And I’m certainly not saying that you should change the core of who you are just to make your marriage work. A personality overhaul is not necessary, you’ll be pleased to know. However, I think that for it to really work and for you to achieve the goal of him leading more and you not having to initiate everything there will have to be a tough transition period. Hopefully, you’re up for it! It seems that you have put in enough effort thus far, so I’m sure that you are determined enough, if you want to be. ;)

    “I have been steering our boat our whole relationship, bearing the brunt of what the world throws at us and our children. I have been trying to change this dynamic over half our marriage. “

    These two sentences are contradictory in the sense that you can’t do both at once. That should be obvious to you, because otherwise you’d have the marriage you want. But clearly, what you’ve been doing has not fully succeeded.

    My parents actually had a similar relationship. I don’t know much about their sex life, thankfully (lol), but I saw every day how their other interactions went. And it sucked. My dad was stubborn and inert and my mom was frustrated and dynamic. There was constant tension. From my own life experiences I have to say that marriage tension is a huge turn-off for a guy, regardless of how hot and ready the wife might be. My mother finally not just allowed him to lead, but actively refused to lead herself, regardless of the circumstances. If things failed, it was on him, not her. It was a difficult thing to do, but once through to the other side their relationship thrived unbelievably. I have not lived at home for many years now, but from what I’ve seen when we visit and from what mom has told me, they are really in love and enjoying life together. And mom is not a doormat, by any means. Dad comes to her for advice all the time, but their is no struggle for leadership anymore.

    So, that’s my opinion. And I have to say, it’s been weird posting about sex and my parents at the same time. Lol! Anyways, I’ve seen this in other marriages, too. You gotta just kinda lay down for a while. Once through that, he’ll pick you up and life will carry on much better. You might wanna warn him first. :) “I’m going to let you take the lead. If things crash and burn sometimes, that’s okay. I won’t hate you for it. I’m with you all the way, for us”.

  48. FlyingDutchman says:


    Its so interesting to see the reverse in your situation as mine. I know I need to lead and I do. I am very dynamic, a go getter in every way. My wife is also the same, we are both dynamic take the lead type personalities. When I try to take the lead with her, she actively resists and kicks up major drama. For years this was the tension in our marriage. The opposite of your situation – me trying to lead, and ultimately getting into dominance deadlocks. My wife would win these by getting angry and refusing to talk about it. I would react and try to talk her out of being mad all the time. Then the sex was the opposite as you, I wanted it all the time and she hardly ever wanted it. So this became a big sticking point. And even though I was alpha, I became beta in regards begging and scraping to get sex.

    The solution for us was for me to finally learn to completely ignore the drama and anger and lead anyway. This did wonders for our marriage and sex life, but its still hard as she continues to fight me for the lead (she does not submit easily or naturally). And sometimes trying to take the lead over a dominant women can become very exuasting over time. I think its instinctive for a spirited woman to put up some fight for leadership (ie. fitness tests) but at what point can the women just become conscious and stop fighting so hard against what she really needs?? Sounds like you have done this as you are vocal about getting your husband to lead you. Wow, if my wife was offering me up hot sex to try and get me to take the lead, that is fantasy land for me.

    I think you are a rare exception because every guy I know who’s wife wears the pants, she is also drip feeding him the least amount of sex possible. And she doesn’t want him to be in charge at all and she wonders why she isn’t horny for husband who is really a great guy.

    How did you know early on that your husband needed to lead you for you to be hot for him? I’m telling you that most women do not know or even accept this.

  49. FeralFelis says:

    Mark: “I’m going to let you take the lead.”
    Actually, you’re not LETTING him take the lead, you are FORCING him to take the lead by abdicating it!

    If during the entire marriage, the woman has been the leader and there hasn’t been a power struggle or tension because she is the natural leader and he is the natural follower, is there really a problem unless she finally decides she wants HIM to lead? That is the question I’m struggling with, and I’m wondering if the answer isn’t, “yes, there IS a problem, because that’s not the natural order of things”.

    I am a woman and have been in two marriages and one LTR. There was no tension, no power struggle. I thought they were incredibly hot and we had good sex almost every night, great sex many nights (and most times I was the one who initiated). We had shared interests (baseball, football, hunting, fishing), great companionship, fun times, very few disagreements, and were poster children for what appeared to be great relationships. But ultimately, the men left. They left without being able to tell me why they were leaving, although I see now they left and ended up with women who were more submissive than they are, so they are finally able to be a leader in their own home.

    In each relationship, I had tried abdicating; I couldn’t wait out the crashing and burning for more than a couple of months. I had tried waiting for them to initiate sex; we fell into a once-a-week pattern (YUCK!!).
    I finally decided I would rather drive the relationship, as long as it was harmonious and fun, than settle for letting it fall to their level of desired action. At some point, many years into the relationships, they weren’t willing to go along for that ride anymore, so they left. Their new partners are women of lesser action, less intelligence, and less drive (libido and accomplishment). I’m still friends with all of them, and know enough about their current relationships to know I would not be happy living those ways. I also loved them just the way they were, was happy with the relationship dynamic we had, and would never have left. But they did, and they all left for relationships which (to me) were much less exciting, interesting, fun, or sex-filled. But they’ve been with those women longer than they were with me, so that’s clearly what they want.

    I’m on this site, trying to figure all this out so I don’t repeat the same pattern if I should find someone else. I read that it is the natural order of things for men to be the leader, but I am a dominant female and I see that if I keep choosing submissive males, we are subverting the natural order of things and that may be what is causing these relationships to fail.

    As I’m listening to Red and reading to the other posts on this thread in particular, I think I am seeing some truths emerge. This is most illuminating!

  50. FeralFelis

    I think the short answer for you is to find someone who is already a strong natural leader. If you end up with guys who are not natural leaders and then try to get them to lead, you’re fighting a steep uphill battle.

    But, yeah, I’ve seen this a lot, too: a man marries a woman who wears the pants and is also often critical of him (not saying this was the case with you). Often the guy is laid-back or fun-loving and the wife is more serious. Sooner or later, some other girl will pay him attention, enjoy his jokes, and make him feel like a man, emotionally. And, bang, he’s gone.

    I’m not entirely blaming women for this situation. I’m just highlighting one particular side of things.

  51. @Red:

    Full sympathies. Looking back on my pre-MMSL days, there were definitely times when my lady was sending me very clear signals that she wanted me to do something differently in order to be more attractive to her, and I was receiving those signals and consciously disregarding them. There’s a certain stubborn mindset (not limited to the male mind by any means– what originally started my convo with AK that lead to this post was me asking how I could get her to wear a damn skirt now and again, ha ha) that believes that if you do one thing just because she tells you to, that will let her know that she can control you, and then there’ll be another thing and another thing and before you know it she’s running your life. This is true even if the thing you’re telling him to do is to take charge! (-:

    Sometimes people need to be faced with a clear crisis point before they’ll make the decision to change. In my case, it was a couple things happening at once. First, I found myself in a situation where I was faced with a clear opportunity and temptation to cheat on her for the first time in my life. I was on a trip across the country without her and met another woman who was clearly attracted to me (which was more than mutual) and clearly willing to indulge in a fling. (In her defense, she clearly had no idea I was in a committed relationship.) My personal Rationalization Hamster was going into overdrive trying to invent reasons why this would be a perfectly okay thing to do, and the only way I could find to counter it was this: whatever I was considering doing with this other woman, I imagined my lady doing with another man. Wham! Temptation averted!

    So thankfully I managed to prevent myself from doing such a stupid, stupid thing, but through no fault of her own, the idea of my lady fooling around on me was already on my mind. And around this same time, she started telling me that she was feeling less attracted to me in a much more direct way than she ever had, and I was motivated to listen to her in a way that I never had before. And what I realized was that I really had no idea how I’d attracted her when we were first dating or how to bring that attraction back. Cue some Internet research that led me to Athol’s books and then here, and the rest is history.

    Obviously our sex life wasn’t fantastic– not nearly the dead zone I’ve read about from some of the other poor guys discovering the Manosphere for the first time, but not fantastic either– or I never would’ve been tempted by another woman. But notice that I wasn’t motivated to change until I was faced with the possibility– in my own mind if not necessarily in reality– of losing the sex I was already getting from her.

    If giving him an “I’m leaving if you don’t shape up” ultimatum isn’t realistic because of the kids, I still think you should strongly consider cutting off or at least drastically cutting back the duty sex. His accusations that you’re not loving him for who he is might sting, but the response is that you do love him, but that love and sexual attraction aren’t always the same thing and while he has the one, he has some work to do before he has the other (and that giving it isn’t something that you can just decide to do). And in the meantime, it’s not fair to you to keep putting out for him when you’re not getting your sexual needs met in return.

  52. FeralFelis says:

    What you say has a lot of truth. I have searched my soul and can honestly say I didn’t nag or criticize or even THINK about them being anything less than wonderful. I was so grateful to have them in my life; I was 40 and divorced before I found my second True Love, and when my first True Love came back into my life, after having dated him in college, I felt lucky beyond imagination. I loved those two men truly, madly, deeply, just the way they were.

    There was one experience with husband, shortly before he left, which stands out in my mind. It was his job to take out the trash, something he oftened postponed. When the trash bag got full, I put out another bag and began using it. Then another one. Then another. There were literally 4 bags of trash sitting in the corner waiting to be taken outside. Oh well…that’s the way it goes sometimes, right? I didn’t want to make him feel like he couldn’t do that job, so I didn’t do it, and I was OK with it. Then the once-a-week trash pickup happened, and the trash hadn’t made it out to the curb. More bags accumulated. The night before the trash man came the NEXT week, I asked, “Hey, Baby…are you going to have a chance to put out the trash this evening?” And he blew up. “I know it’s my job! I can handle it! I’m not a child and you don’t have to remind me!” “OK, I agree. You’ve always handled it in the past and you’re DEFinitely not a child and I’m sorry if me saying something upset you.” Still, he did not do it. The next morning, he was in the shower as the trash man was coming up the street, and I ran the trash out to the curb. He was furious at me and said, “See, I KNEW you thought I wouldn’t take care of it and you’d have to do it yourself. You should have left it for me no matter HOW long it took for me to do it!”

    Was that a shit test? Did I fail? My mindset about chores has always been, “if I lived alone and had to do this for myself, I’m not going to ask you to do it just because there is someone else in the house.” So I took the trash out. Big deal. Since he’s been gone, I’ve taken the trash out every week and I STILL don’t resent it! It’s just a thing. Whatever. I want a partner for Touch, Sex, Companionship, Fun, Play, and to work with as part of a team (Captain/First Mate). I don’t need someone to do chores and I’m certainly not going to nag or be upset if he doesn’t do one; I’ll just do it.

    I don’t mean to hijack the thread. If it’s just a matter of finding a stronger, more alpha partner, I have to figure out a way of upping my sex rank enough to attract one. At 54, that might be tough to do (especially when I’m fundamentally a Playstation 3 with a few modifications like nice clothes, long hair, makeup and pedicures. But I’m still a Playstation 3. And I have never given duty sex. I have no idea where that leaves me in terms of being able to find a male more Alpha than me, who finds me attractive.

  53. Red
    I admire you commitment to your marriage “for better or worse” and this has been worse for while, you are doing a great job and hopefully waiting the worse out will change him or change you.
    Do you feel better after talking about it?
    I lurk many marriage forums and I noticed that the first thing they do once they talk about their problems is egging the woman to divorce, cheat or leave. I had been thinking on opening a forum for wives and husband’s just to vent, let go some steam with like minded people and go back to the “good fight” knowing they are not alone with the promise of never telling anyone to leave just listening and support, we Latin women do that a lot and it seems to be at least soothing. In case you are interested write me to
    Good lukc in life and love.

  54. FeralFelis –

    Hmm. From your example it sounds like you were reasonable and he wasn’t, so I’d say that it’s just the fact that humans are flawed and there were probably deeper, seemingly-unrelated issues. It could be that there was something you were doing wrong; it could be he was just a jerk. The truth is probably somewhere in between those two points, all mixed up in several years of entangled bits and pieces of interactions.

    Chances are, with the right mediator, you could have done enough untangling to figure out the best ways to communicate with each other. Sucks when things don’t work out. That’s life sometimes.

  55. FeralFelis, I might be grasping at straws here, but it sounds like maybe he felt that you were mothering him. I have a tendency to do the same and only in recent years have understood how emasculating it is. I had to select someone who hates being fussed over and takes care of his own business most of the time in order to quiet those instincts in me.

  56. “What if he never got hard at all? For instance, a guy with a medical problem that does not allow him to get an erection or keep one long enough to achieve orgasm. Or a guy who is on a medication that makes his libido nonexistant. If you were in a relationship wiht a guy like that.”

    @Jane: I follow the Golden Rule. Duty sex is just plain wrong. I would never force the issue. If the situation is only temporary, I have Mr. Electric Man.

    @Red et al: At some point a reasonable person will admit that they are no longer compatible with their spouse, despite all efforts to change. If he is acting like he’s just not that into you, and has been for years, well, then, actions speak louder than words, don’t they?

  57. Mark ~ You’re right that I can’t steer the ship and have things change. I hoped that it would be a gradual shifting or that he would just step up and start doing it. If it were just me his inattention and inaction affected I would be able to lay it down until something changed. Because our children would be adversely affected I have a much harder time doing that. Telling him I’m going to let him lead will just make him angry and feel forced into it. He can be passive-aggressive though he’d never admit it.
    Flying Dutchman ~ I’ve been know to get pissy with him but it’s not over the wrong decision, but because he makes no decision. He avoids conflict with everyone, but especially me, except when he shows anger about a situation where I’m right and he doesn’t want me to be. I hate to say it and hate even more to feel it but I’m finding it harder and harder to respect him when he avoids everything.
    I’ve often felt that I’m “too much” for him; too intense, too vocal, too passionate, too opinionated, too much effort and trouble. He has implied in the past that “being in charge” is a lot of work. No joke. Who does he think is in charge when he’s not?
    Giving him sex and giving him great orgasms isn’t the problem. I don’t dole it out in the smallest amounts possible. I rarely ask him for sex and rarely tell him no when he asks. I just don’t look to him for a sexual release. I find it difficult to relax enough or quiet my mind enough to enjoy receiving those things from him. My sexual attraction is directly related to our relationship outside the bedroom. I am not sexually excited by him when he consistently shows his lack of regard or attention in all other areas of our life, including business. Curiously, the last 3 times I’ve tried to initiate sex, he hasn’t been willing. So it just reinforces the feelings that he isn’t very interested in what I’m thinking/feeling as long as I fuck him when he wants and don’t complain overly much.
    These feelings have been an ongoing development as I’ve come across a few blogs and books that gave voice to feelings I’ve had for so long but couldn’t put to words. At one point several years ago he refused marriage counseling as he thought the problems were only mine, so I went alone and sorted through personal issues. I did a lot of growing during that time. I’ve been a little surprised at how exciting, on so many levels, to be submissive. But I can’t just hand my submission because it’s been requested. I posted HERE about that.
    His extended family dynamic is so different than mine. If someone in my family does something that angers me, I’m able to say directly to that person when you did ABC I was hurt/pissed/whatever. In his family, you’re not allowed to do that because it makes people uncomfortable. I don’t blend well with his family though it took me 20 years to be ok with that.
    I see where we are repeating the same patterns of his parents who are a dominating mom and severely beta dad. I don’t want to be that way. I have been critical of him I know. I’ve hurt him with my words born out of frustration to many times. I don’t want to be on a pedestal, I don’t want him to have oneitis, I don’t want him to do anything at the cost of his self respect.
    Ben ~ I probably read the paragraph about cutting off the duty sex about ten times. I think I don’t because we end up fighting about everything else except what the problem really is. This is terrible, but sometimes I think he can have my hole but he can’t have my heart because I’ve been hurt too many times. So he has use of my body, but I don’t want to receive him. I don’t know if that makes sense.
    Anacaona ~ Thank you for your encouraging words. Talking about it a bit is helpful but there comes a point where it just adds to the frustration. I am a problem solver by nature and I’m here because I can’t find a solution on my own. Venting is okay, but I don’t think I’d visit a site to just vent.
    Jaz71 ~ “: At some point a reasonable person will admit that they are no longer compatible with their spouse, despite all efforts to change. If he is acting like he’s just not that into you, and has been for years, well, then, actions speak louder than words, don’t they?”
    Yes. I agree with you. Your actions speak so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying and all that. I came to this conclusion about a year and a half ago. It didn’t go over very well. I relented because things were so tense for our children.
    Some posters have suggested I look into depression, ADHD, and mental health issues. I really don’t think he has any of those issues. I’m not sure how I’d go about it either. Ask him to see the Doctor? A counselor? Suggest he may be depressed? I’m not sure how to broach that with him.

  58. @Red:

    “Ben ~ I probably read the paragraph about cutting off the duty sex about ten times. I think I don’t because we end up fighting about everything else except what the problem really is. This is terrible, but sometimes I think he can have my hole but he can’t have my heart because I’ve been hurt too many times. So he has use of my body, but I don’t want to receive him. I don’t know if that makes sense.”

    It may sound cold, but maybe you need to have those fights. If his situation with you right now is above his minimum threshold for “acceptable,” if he’s comfortable enough with where your marriage is at that he’s not willing to put in the effort to change it, then the only way for you to introduce that change is to make him uncomfortable.

    It will be painful. He may say and do hurtful things to try to get you to go back to the way it was, and the only thing you can do in response is continue to clearly and patiently repeat the message that you still love him and you want things to be better between you, that you are not doing this to punish him but because you are honestly no longer attracted to the idea of sex with him, and that the only person who can change that is him. That you are open to any suggestions he has for ways he might do that, that you will continue to love and support him throughout his efforts to do that, but that first and foremost he must agree to make that effort because without it, there is no hope for change.

  59. @ Ben
    There was a change in the way we related last night. I’ve been wondering all day if what I did was the first step in destabilizing the relationship. Let me explain.

    I left work at 5:50 to stop by the food store before going home. Got home at 6:40 which is around his usual time to get home. He called home at 7:40, spoke to our daughter, and said he was locking up and leaving. I took a shower and got dressed. I found 2 DVDs he was supposed to return Monday and didn’t, so when he wasn’t home by 8:25 (we live 10 minutes from home) I took the movies back. After I was out, I went to Starbucks and killed and hour and 45 minutes. I got home and was pleasant, slightly talkative, interactive with the kids, but didn’t overly pursue conversation with him. He was irritated and I knew it, but I didn’t respond to his body language. I figured if he had a problem he was going to have to bring it up, I wasn’t opening the door. He asked me a couple of questions about being out, where was I? Alone? Did I see so and so? I answered politely and moved about like nothing was wrong and he wasn’t giving off this vibe…

    It may seem like no big deal, but this is very different than the way it usually goes. He seemed a little off kilter last night and this morning. He was kind of short and a wee bit withdrawn today. I realized at lunch time that so many of our conversations start because he gives off body language and I respond (what’s wrong? do you have a problem with that?) and then he talks about it. But if he has to bring it up (I was angry you weren’t home last night when I got there) we never talk about it. I hate that kind of tension and have a hard time pretending it isn’t there. Like the big white elephant in the room everyone pretends not to see.

    I guess my point is he was expecting me to act a certain way (last night, at lunchtime, and going home) and each time I acted differently. I posted under this article “Undesired Outcomes Happen When You Are Undesired” and asked questions. I read one of AK’s posts about expectations in the relationship. I guess I have a hard time applying them to me because what I want starts outside the bedroom. It’s not more sex I want, it’s the desire to have it more that I want.

  60. @Red:

    This may be starting to get more in-depth than I’m qualified to comment on– I’m still learning all this stuff myself, and my situation is very different from yours– but it seems like a positive step as far as it goes. When you react to him, you frame the issue as “your” problem. You wanted him to do something and he didn’t do it, and you have a problem with that so you reminded him or nagged him or whatever.

    When you force him to react to you, it reframes the issue. You wanted the videos returned. You returned the videos. Problem solved. If he has a problem with the fact that you did it yourself instead of waiting around for him to do it (or reminding him to do it or nagging him to do it), all of a sudden it’s HIS problem and it’s on HIM to bring it up if he wants things to change.

    Likewise the duty sex thing. If you have sex with him and then complain that it wasn’t good enough, that’s your problem and he resents you expecting him to fix it. If you refuse to have sex with him unless you’re honestly turned on and ready to have sex and enjoy it and he has a problem with being refused sex, now it’s HIS problem and he’s motivated to fix it. You don’t complain or nag or sit and mope and wish the sex were better. You give him a firm “no, I’m not in the mood tonight” and go do something else fun instead.

    Ultimately, in a healthy relationship, most of your problems are “our” problems and you go about fixing them together, with one or the other of you taking the lead depending on who’s best equipped to fix it and not on who’s most affected by it. That’s the goal, but you’re not there yet, and you won’t get there until he’s motivated to take at least some of the burden on himself (as opposed to having it put there by you).

    That’s my two cents, anyway.

  61. @Red
    I think Ben is right about destabilizing the relationship. I think some men are trained to respond to negative (fear of loss, not so nice actions) than to positive (encouragement, support and nice actions) and this is something I think is cultural coming from the third world the level of fear of being unPC and make people uncomfortable here deserve psychological studies.
    You mentioned that his family dynamics had made him a conflict avoider and that you already tried “talking” to him. I know it sounds cruel but I believe on trying everything before divorcing/cheating if you force him to take the lead by breaking his “comfort zone” then it looks like this is the way its going to be. You tried the nice method and failed as a fellow problem solver I think you can have peace of mind if you try not to be so nice. Good luck!

  62. @Red: I agree with Ben here that the videos were your problem, not his. Quit babying him. He needs to learn to take care of himself before he is going to be of any use to you or the kids. I’m unsure why you married someone who is so dependant, but you do have the power to fix some issues now.

    Start by removing his name off of things that you are responsible for. Begin by canceling the video store membership and just get it in your name. Ask the store to put a note on your account requiring ID. If he wants to rent a video, he can open his own account, and thus be responsible for his own late fees. Let the store yell at him, not you.

    Time for tough love, chickie.

  63. How to broach Treating ADHD or depression? For me it was having an appointment with a psychiatrist…for the first time ever. I’d seen many psychologists and counselor types to help with my anxiety, memory lapses, mood swings, defensiveness etc but none saw the adult ADHD, even though they all knew I’d been diagnosed with ADHD as a child. My daughter got diagnosed a few months ago and her psychologist suggested that I get re-evaluated. I did, got medication, and have been sorting all sorts of stuff out…I am so much happier.

    Some mental health practices focus on children and adolescents, but then add in the adults when they are clearly suffering from the same issues that are the primary focus of the doctors. I guess I’m suggesting a psychiatrist because I have found the experience much more focused, helpful and efficient than my prior experiences, and they can prescribe, and much more precisely than a primary care doctor. I hope that helps!

  64. Recent “duty sex” anecdote.

    Playing cards with wife, getting late so I told her I wanted to go up for some weeknight nookie. She smiled and basically said she wasn’t feeling it. I told her “but Monday night is making nookie night” (even though it isn’t). She laughed. Then I immediately changed the subject and started talking about something totally unrelated for a good 10 minutes. We went back to playing cards. 5 minutes later she gave me a “Well, I guess if you make me a drink I will.” So I made her a drink and 15 minutes later we were doing it. Alpha style. We came at the same time. Afterwards she was cuddly and the next morning she was in a great mood.

    Initiate, act like it’s no biggie when turned down but be ready to go at all times. And then by all means gentlemen, when the time comes, you DELIVER!

  65. I just wish I could get a straight “no.” A straightforward, no-nonsense “not tonight” I can deal with. My lady’s problem is she feels like she has to let me down gently, and sometimes it gets pretty tough to tell the difference between a “maybe, but I need some convincing first” and an “I’m trying to say no without actually saying no.”

  66. Man, more duty sex last night but this one was, can I say, below average?

    Afterwards she apologized for not being into it…said she was trying but was just not on her best game. She clearly felt bad and it’s great that she’s trying. Still, not the best way to end a weekend as I was physically satisfied but I think the both of us felt a little awkward after. Next move: shake it off, MAP it up, make the next time really, really good.


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