How many women think they have to tolerate painful sex to preserve a relationship with a man who doesn’t abuse them physically in any other way?
Some men have a streak of sadism and/or a need to dominate, and some women enjoy pain and submission. But what about the others? How do men get pleasure out of something that hurts women they profess to love? If a man had just had surgery on his penis or had other health problems that made sex painful, can you imagine his wife coming to bed and then proceeding to jump up and down on him?
A friend told me about her mother, who has severe arthritis, scarring and abdominal adhesions that make sex extraordinarily painful. She and her husband aren’t adverse to alternatives to vaginal penetration, but he wants vaginal penetration, too. Sometimes she says no; other times she gives in because she knows that, if she doesn’t, he’ll treat her badly the next day. He told her that his doctor said sex was OK as long as he wasn’t “extra forceful.”
This reminded me of another story in which the husband would climb onto his wife, without any foreplay or lubricant, and his actions physically hurt her. At least in this case, their doctor told him to stop. This couple was in their 70s, as are my friend’s parents.
Some people may think the problem stems from a different era, in which husbands felt entitled to sex, and women were supposed to do their duty. On the other hand, I know a couple much younger than me that had similar issues. The woman had off-and-on physical problems that made sex very painful. When she didn’t want vaginal penetration, when she had no interest in sex, he would still expect her to satisfy him one way or the other. Eventually, she left him. None of these couples were religious conservatives who believed a woman should submit to her husband.
In addition to changing attitudes among men and women, I wish we could enlist more medical professionals to address this issue with their patients.