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Love and Sex Advice

Conventional Wisdom: Ask a Film Professor

I am in a heterosexual marriage and have a reasonably satisfying sexual relationship with my husband. Every now and again, though, we butt heads on the same issue. He is horny and I'm on my period; he wants me to "help" him out. I'm exhausted and would rather roll over and go to sleep. I resent his question, but more than that, I resent that when I do refuse "helping" him out — he gets upset.

We end up arguing for at least 15 minutes, I don't get to sleep, and he doesn't get off. Neither of us wins. If I say "yes" just so I can get back to sleep, I secretly resent him. He says that if I asked for a back rub, he'd give me one. (If I could rub my own back, I wouldn't ask for one.)

He doesn't feel comfortable getting himself off, because he believes it is bad for a marriage. I, on the other hand, do not have a problem with it and feel it is unfair to pressure me. You see now where we're stuck. I feel he is being selfish; he feels I am the one only thinking of myself and my precious sleep. Help!

— Please or No Please?

To read a film professor's answer,

Hi Please or No Please,

I definitely see your dilemma. On the one hand (no pun intended), when you are not in the mood you are not in the mood (and that includes “helping out”). That needs to be respected by your partner and not subjected to extensive discussion if you generally have a healthy sexual relationship. On the other hand, it sounds like for him it is really hard (OK, now the pun is intended) to just relax when he is turned on and either forego sex that night or give himself a hand.

No wonder men are not super comfortable masturbating, especially when their partners are aware of it, if you take into account the myriad humiliating masturbation scenes from films that these guys have to watch (think There’s Something About Mary, American Pie, or even Fast Times at Ridgemont High).

It seems to me that a lot of the problems in relationships are as much, if not more, about the way people communicate about that problem as they are about the original problem. As the famous media theorist Marshall Mcluhan once said, “The medium is the message,” which is a fancy way of saying in this context that the conversation about this trouble spot is as much the problem as the issue of what to do when you’re not in the mood.

I would suggest that the best starting point would be to try talking about the problem somewhat differently, and not in the moment when it comes up in the bedroom (my god, I can’t stop with the double entendres!). Maybe you could ask him why he thinks masturbation is bad for marriage. Or ask him to suggest some different ways you could incorporate masturbation into your sex life in a way that doesn’t feel so irritating to you.

Above all, try to have a bit of fun experimenting with the situation. When conversations about sex make sex seem unsexy, use communication about the issue as a way to increase, not decrease, your intimacy. 

Hope this helps! Signed,

A Film Professor

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JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 8 years
I agree with Vsugar. No one should ever feel obligated to do anything sexually that they don't want to do. This is especially true if you have a legit reason for not wanting to. It's something that the couple need to discuss amongst themselves and come up with a resolution to. If you can't tell your husband to F*ck off because he's pressuring you to do something you don't want to do you should consider other problems in the marriage.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 8 years
I think this is more of an issue with respect rather than what she will or will not do. To me this is the same as not wanting to have sex. He doesn't pressure you to have sex when you're not in the mood so he shouldn't pressure you for anything else. He clearly doesn't respect that she just doesn't want to do it and he is capable of handling it himself so he should. It would be nice if you did it once in a while but only if you feel like it and he doesn't expect it every time. I think some posters are being really disrespectful and aren't really being helpful.
cvfabmama cvfabmama 8 years
I totally get what this poster us saying .I get up for work @ 3:45 am and sometimes at the end of the day ALL I want to do is fall asleep. It seems her husband needs to subscribe to playboyTV and let her get some sleep, and be more understanding. Skigurl you seem a little harsh.
Allytta Allytta 8 years
i wonder how the poster feels now as everyone analyses her life and says stuff like "he has respect issues with you". anyway, i don't think this even will help. first, if he is a spoilt brat as a lot of people mentioned - he will not take "the talk" easily, he will get into a fight with the poster again. you have to deal with it or play a game - make him understand like we do with dogs (when they poop and you put their nose in their own poop so that they dn't do it again). cause he doesn't sound like a rational person to me.
jazzytummy jazzytummy 8 years
The OP's husband sounds like a tool. If he can't learn to jerk himself off without guilt, HE is the one with the problem. It's rotten that he is projecting his hang ups on his wife and making her feel badly about it. Agree with others who said she shouldn't have to be at his beck and call sexually when she is feeling like crap, and that he is a jerk to make her feel terrible. What a fucking baby.
princess_eab princess_eab 8 years
I think I'd have more respect for a man who wants to help pleasure *you* on your period (yes, some of us actually are horny during those days!) than one who expects you to pleasure *him*.
tatsauce tatsauce 8 years
I loved that response. It was dripping with puns.
Captivate Captivate 8 years
Whoa skigirl, isn't that first comment a bit harsh? The women writing the letter doesn't say that she never gives BJs or handjobs. Actually, she says their sex life is overall good, except for this particular problem, and implies that she does help him out, but resents him for it. Furthermore, BJs are not just 5 minutes for everyone, and all women suffer differently on their periods. A man won't die if he goes a a week without sex. This faulty belief that a women are obligated to keep her man sexually happy is the same attitude of husbands who rape their wives. I think we need more respect for different women's circumstances, and that husband needs more respect for his wife. Pressuring your SO to engage in sex or foreplay when they don't want to is straight up wrong.
oohsexypenguin oohsexypenguin 8 years
This behavior would not fly with me. Would. Not. Fly. It doesn't look like he respects you or how you feel. You in no way owe him anything when you're on your period - to expect you to "help him out" is disgusting and arrogant. And to continue to pressure you and make you feel guilty after you've said no? Inexcusable. The film prof gave you some good advice, but I would go one further and suggest couples therapy. Sounds to me like there are other issues that go deeper than sex.
sham28 sham28 8 years
He needs therapy for his shamesterbation issue.
merie33 merie33 8 years long does your period really last? He can't go without it for a week??? If you don't want to do it, you don't want to do it. There's no reason why you should HAVE to do something you don't want to just because your lady parts are slightly out of commission for a few days. He'll survive. And if it gets that bad for him he'll go in the bathroom and fix it himself. And the backrub nonsense is crap. He's just trying to make you feel guilty about not doing whatever he wants...a back rub and period sex/bj are two totally different things..
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 8 years
Yikes! That was "Without sex".
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 8 years
A few days with se, oh, the horror! OP, don't let his issues with his sexuality affect you and yours. Talk about the issue, but don't let him pressure you into what he wants. He's a grown a$$ man!
Beauty Beauty 8 years
Vsugar, your husband sounds like a good guy. :) To me, it sounds like the OP's husband has some respect issues with her and some issues with his own "solo efforts." And it concerns me whenever a person expects his or her partner to be sexual when sick, in pain, or just not interested.
Chrstne Chrstne 8 years
I think it's normal to not want to have any kind of sex on your period. A lot of women just feel too tired or sick to do anything other than eat chocolate and sleep. I also don't think it's abnormal to ask for something you want -- but it's not as if you can always get it. I don't think the asker is being a bitch -- she just does not feel up to it. What's weird is that her husband even for however many days he wants sex can't take it upon himself to masturbate...and then continues to pressure his wife. That is so lame. My boyfriend would never be that much of a pig to pressure me. And he has never thrown a fit because I refused to have sex. God forbid my boyfriend went 3 days without sex (in my case)
Vsugar Vsugar 8 years
Um, ok - skigurl - I don't know what world you live in or if you are married, but in a marriage, any husband who thinks that his wife should set aside her cramps, fatigue, or feeling just plain GROSS so that he can have a few seconds of satisfaction a few days a month is total DICK and needs to recognize that his partner has needs as well. Is there really something wrong with him setting those needs aside for a couple of days a month? My husband and I have sex sometimes when I have my period and it's really no big deal for me. He asked me once, and it happened to be that one day a month when I feel absolutely like HELL, and I said - you know, I don't want to have feelings of dread and disgust associated with you and I being intimate - I would feel like that now, so let's wait until tomorrow. And his response was "Oh honey - I'm so sorry you are feeling so bad - can I make you some tea or bring you a heating pad or something?" I think that there are some women who reject their husbands' advances a LOT simply because they "aren't in the mood" and I think that's a big mistake - I think "being there" for your partner even if you weren't headed in that direction on your own is a great thing, and really good for a marriage and intimacy, but that's not the same thing as saying, "Well, ok honey - I feel like I'm going to throw up and I'm having cramps, and intestinal distress, and overwhelming fatigue, but I'm going to put your normal daily needs ahead of my own, once monthly needs because your DICK is obviously more important to our marriage than my well-being." I'm sorry, but that's ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS. This husband sounds like a spoiled brat who needs a reality check, and needs to step up to the plate and put his wife's needs first a few days a month. If other than these few days a month his needs are being met and they are both working at having a mutually satisfying sex life, then I think he can deal, or the person who posted this needs to tell him to SHOVE OFF - seriously. I'm angry on her behalf.
dm8bri dm8bri 8 years
I don't see bjs mentioned anywhere in the question - I think we're talking about actual intercourse here. I think it's weird that the husband doesn't feel comfortable masturbating. Talk about the issue when it's not happening. The bedroom is not a good place, and you're not in a good frame of mind while on your period. If the two of you can't come up with a workable resolution, see a counselor.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
If my significant other wasn't in the mood, for whatever reason, for a couple days, I certainly wouldn't ask him to go down on me and then get all pissy when he said no, to the point that it turns into an argument and neither of us can sleep. That's why I own a vibrator. I just don't think it's such a hardship to hold out for a few days when your partner isn't feeling it. She says they're sex life is pretty satisfying, so it doesn't seem like either of them is missing out on a regular basis.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
I meant can't deal with *not* getting what he wants...
skigurl skigurl 8 years
i'm totally not joking...a) your period lasts for more than one day so you'd be expecting him to hold out for like 4 or 5 days, and b) she says she's tired not sick or hurting or uncomfortable...personally, my periods arent that bad so i dont feel like a wounded soldier when i'm on it...c) i am not saying you should give out BJs everytime your husband asks...but you should be giving them enough that he doesn't HAVE to ask....that's all i'm sayin
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
Wow, skigurl, normally I agree with you, but why should she do something she doesn't feel like doing when she feels like crap anyway? Poor hubbie, can't deal with getting what he wants for a night. God, he sounds like a freakin' toddler. He has two hands, use 'em.
Pistil Pistil 8 years
I think we're missing some details necessary for giving the best answer to the couple in the question...
Pistil Pistil 8 years
I was hoping you were kidding skigurl. Seriously, he can't go without for one night? That's the way I read it, anyway. I was in a relationship where I did what I was asked whether I felt like it or not. Most of the time I didn't and my actions were rarely reciprocated. I resented it so much. So glad that ended. Didn't this issue ever come up prior to marriage...?
mondaymoos mondaymoos 8 years
I'm a little confused by the question and responses... is it really that common to NEVER have sex when you're on your period? The consolation BJ never came up in my marriage because sex soothed my cramps anyway.
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