Question: My husband and I are in a constant power struggle when it comes to sex. I feel like I always have to initiate sex and that I always have to perform oral sex on him before I get any attention. It has gotten to the point where I have to masturbate to turn myself on just so I want to perform on him. Any advice or resources?
Communicating as a Couple
Every sexual relationship between two people involves power. Sometimes couples handle power struggles effortlessly, but those couples are rare. Many couples have to deal with issues related to who initiates sex, how often they have sex, which positions they engage in, who orgasms first (or at all), or whose fantasies they get to act out.
The choice to be monogamous or to be in an open relationship also often requires that couples work through their power dynamics and feelings of control.
The Use and Abuse of Power
I would encourage you to bring this issue up with your husband if you haven’t already. Sometimes couples engage in power struggles without talking about it. People may withhold sex, or types of sex, from one another as punishment or perhaps they may give in to sex, but act as if they’re not enjoying it as a way of getting back at their partner.
People may harness power in other ways. They may specifically taunt or tease their partner with the possibility of sex, or they may act in ways that are more submissive.
Power dynamics can greatly enhance a sexual relationship or they can be at the root of difficulties and drama. Letting your partner know how the power dynamics make you feel may help you both to focus on them in a constructive way so that you can feel more satisfied.
If your husband is open to it, consider reading For Each Other by Lonnie Barbach together. It features exercises that couples can try doing together to enhance their sexual intimacy, communication and sharing. It also encourages couples to talk about a range of sexual issues and relationship issues that may help you two to deal with some of the power struggle issues in ways that work for you.
If you would like additional help, you might consider meeting with a sex therapist. Find one near you through The Society for Sex Therapy and Research or The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists. Many couples’ sex problems stem from relationship issues, and power dynamics, and you might find it useful to talk with a professional about this.