Why can't my husband orgasm when we're having sex? Does it mean that he secretly doesn't love me or find me attractive? All my girlfriends complain that their men finish too fast. Lucky them. I can't get mine to finish at all. What do I do? I mean, I'm getting sore!
— Drumming Fingers
Is he having Root Canal Sex? You know, where you have to shut your eyes tight and brace for impact? Because that would tell you if he's not attracted. But it doesn't matter, because attraction has nothing to do with it.
Shrinks used to call your husband's condition what we now call Sarah Palin's speeches: retarded ejaculation. Then they changed it to ejaculatory incompetence, but BP objected. Finally, they started calling the problem what it should be called: ejaculatory inhibition.
The National Institute of Health reports that 1 percent to 4 percent of men suffer from the inability to orgasm with, or more specifically, in their partner. Only 30 percent of ejaculatory inhibition cases are caused by medical factors. Taking high blood pressure pills, anti-depressants like Prozac or anti-anxiety meds like Xanax are at the top of the list. If he's on any of these, he needs to talk to a doc.
But the most likely reason your husband can't burp the baby is what I like to tenderly call "Issues." Note the capitalization. It's my way of saying THERAPY without having to type out the word.
The Issues are pretty typical: Growing up in an overly religious family that teaches you sex is dirty (subconsciously you think, "As long as I don't come I won't go to hell."), or experiencing deeply shaming events like having a nun walk in while you're whacking off or, worse, getting caught reading this column. But the big one is a fear of intimacy.
Now, does anybody else hate that phrase, "fear of intimacy?" It's such a cloying, unctuous — and did I mention fatuous — phrase. Like, "Think positively and positive things will happen." Right. Everybody on Wall Street thought positively even as they took us over a cliff.
But I digress. In this case, "fear of intimacy" is actually a fear of losing control. Most sex therapists will tell you that your husband can't orgasm when he's making love because he's subconsciously afraid he'll lose himself. To you, that is. Which will leave him unacceptably vulnerable to hurt, betrayal and abandonment.
His subconscious dialogue goes something like this: "If I let go, I will be consumed by her. She'll be in control and I'll never get myself back. She'll own me."
Really, it's lousy self-talk when you're making love.
Most guys suffering from ejaculatory inhibition actually find it quite easy to orgasm with their partner — as long as they're self-servicing. It's the power of their partner to make them orgasm (through hands, mouth and orifices) that makes their subconscious put the orgasm trigger in a headlock.
The solution, as Atlanta sex therapist Jeanne Shaw told me, is to bring your subconscious thoughts to awareness. "Understand you are in charge of your ejaculation," she said, "Even if you're not manually controlling it. Reframe your thinking from, 'I want but I can't,' to, 'I want but I won't.'"
Here's Shaw's point: There's a big difference between can't (an inability) and won't (an unwillingness). Can your husband orgasm? Yes. Is he willing? No. By acknowledging this fact alone, he's well on his way to delivering the long-sought deposits.
The best way to get through this is with the help of a kind, caring therapist. Meaning, not me. They'll help him create a new subconscious belief that says, "When you ejaculate, you will be whole, you will not lose your identity, you will not lose yourself to somebody else."
Here's a list of sex therapists in Atlanta. With sky-high success rates, it won't be long before your husband starts ladling the macho gazpacho into your soup-hungry bed.
Mike "The Sexorcist" Alvear hosts HBO's "The Sex Inspectors," blogs at mikealvear.com and teaches monthly blogging workshops with Hollis Gillespie. Got a burning or a why-is-it-burning question for the Sexorcist? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.