As a Christian, I Thought I Owed My Husband Sex—Even if It Was Violent
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Despite being a Christian, I didn’t go into marriage as a virgin. So I knew the sex with my husband wasn’t great—but it had never felt this bad.
In bed, I turned away from the man I’d been married to for 15 years and curled my knees up into my stomach, wrapping my arms around them. He rolled onto his back beside me and fell asleep almost instantly. Tears slid down my cheek and made a little wet patch on my pillow. The longer we were married, the rougher he got during sex and the less he cared if I was enjoying it.
There was something mechanical about it. I wondered if he thought of it like servicing the car—replacing the oil or some other necessary function. It was all about what he needed, what he said he had to have to feel loved, what I owed him as his wife.
Somehow, those old-fashioned ideas had slipped into our marriage, and he seemed quite happy with them. To me, it was starting to feel more and more like rape.
“I can only get it from you! What do you expect me to do?” he’d asked that night, after I’d said I wasn’t feeling up to it. It had been a long day with the kids, and I was exhausted. He’d expected sex every night that week, and things were starting to hurt down there.
I should have said, “You can sort it out yourself, you know.” But he didn’t like masturbating. Why masturbate when you have a wife right there?
Forcing myself out of my fetal position in bed, I blinked the tears away and headed for the bathroom. I winced as I carefully wiped toilet paper between my legs. I’d felt the rip when he’d entered. Foreplay was nonexistent, as usual, and I hadn’t been anywhere near ready. A spot of blood came away on the toilet paper. I knew from experience that rips like that hurt for weeks. It was in the same spot as last time. With his incessant need for sex, it never got the chance to fully heal.
I sat on the toilet seat, dropped my head to my chest and took a deep breath. How much more of this was I expected to take? As a Christian, I had certain beliefs about sex and marriage, but was this really what God expected of me?
Against My Plan to Wait Until Marriage, I Had Sex at 21
I’d planned to be married before having sex. I knew some of my Christian friends had already broken that rule, but I was determined to do it the “right” way. Then, at 21, after too many drinks at a party, I found myself in one of the back rooms with a stranger between my legs. I barely remember any of it, but it was my first experience with sex, and it put me at a moral crossroads. If I couldn’t be a virginal bride anymore, why hold on to the virtue at all?
When my next boyfriend came along, we jumped into bed straight away. For a year, I experimented and allowed him to explore my body in ways I’d never imagined. He was older than me and enjoyed making me feel great in the bedroom. In fact, he enjoyed making me feel great in lots of places.
The sex was fantastic, but we weren’t in love, and I knew I wouldn’t marry him. He lived a wild, thrill-seeking life, taking a lot of risks fueled by recreational drugs. He wasn’t interested in growing a family or settling down like I was. I’d momentarily turned away from my faith, but we both knew it was temporary. We broke up and, a few months later, I met my husband online.
My Husband Was Different—in Some of the Right Ways
Right away, this felt different than my last relationship. We had all the same values, goals and beliefs, and we’d talk on the phone for hours. He lived in a different city, so our relationship wasn’t physical at the start. Being forced to talk without touching—without sex—fast-tracked the relationship and, by the time we met in person three months later, we knew we’d be getting married.
Neither of us were virgins, and although we’d talked about waiting until marriage, we ended up in bed that first night we met. Initially, sex was good; the three-month build-up probably helped. But I’d also never made love to someone I cared about so much. Even though it wasn’t the mind-blowing sex I’d been having before, it was sweet and fun. Still, we tried to behave ourselves, and I never stayed the night at his house while we were dating. We got married quickly and, only then, moved in together.
Once we were married, I noticed a worrying change. My new husband wanted sex every day, sometimes more than once a day. I would have been OK with that, but he didn’t seem interested in turning me on anymore or making sure I was enjoying myself. If I turned him down, he’d spend the rest of the night sulking.
Did Being a Christian Mean I Had to Endure Torturous Sex?
Sex wasn’t talked about a lot in the churches I went to, but I’d started to believe that I should never turn my husband down. It was my role as a wife to be available for his sexual needs any time he had them. I still enjoyed sex sometimes but, in my mind, whether I enjoyed it or not didn’t matter: It was all about the guy.
There are many warped interpretations of Bible verses about submission in Christian circles, but I’m not sure why I believed them. The churches I went to weren’t especially conservative or legalistic, but I desperately wanted to be a good wife. I didn’t want to divorce like my parents, so it made sense to keep my husband satisfied.
Initially, I worked hard to make sex good for both of us. “Could you do that a little more gently?” I’d ask when he used his fingers on me. “Even more gently?” Eventually, I’d move his hand away and shuffle down to give him a blow job or skip foreplay altogether.
Whatever he did, it was always too rough and painful. Even kissing felt invasive: his tongue too deep, the pressure of his lips too hard against mine. I started to forget how good it had been once and decided I was the problem. Perhaps I’d become fussy?
Saying no caused too much conflict and made me feel guilty, so instead of turning him down, I aimed to get sex over with as quickly as possible. That meant letting him do it roughly from behind, but the quicker and rougher it got, the less consensual it felt.
I sat in the bathroom with my underwear around my ankles, dropped my head into my hands and prayed. “Is this what you expect from me as a wife, God?” An invisible band around my chest tightened until I was gasping for breath. This was all too much. Sex wasn’t the only aspect of our marriage that was becoming tough. Things were falling apart.
I pulled my underwear back up, feeling the pain of the tear between my legs as it brushed against the fabric. I knew then that this wasn’t what God wanted for me at all. Sex is meant to be an expression of love. It’s not meant to leave me ripped apart and heartbroken.
Shortly afterward, I left my marriage.
Starting Over Showed Me That Sex Could Be Orgasmic Again
When I started dating after divorce, I knew sex would be an important factor. I wanted someone who had similar Christian values and family goals, but I also wanted great sex again. Could I have both? Was I kidding myself?
A year later, I found a wonderful man. It took a while to get to know him, but once I felt comfortable, I decided I was ready to let him into my bed. I wasn’t expecting much, but afterward, I held him against me and blinked at the ceiling over his shoulder in disbelief.
“Wow,” I giggled. “I never orgasm that quickly!”
“I aim to please,” he said into my neck.
Four years later, he’s still aiming to please. Sex is exactly how it should be: gentle, consensual, loving and incredibly enjoyable—for both of us.