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Woman’s orgasm leaves man baffled

Welcome to Relationship Rehab, news.com.au’s weekly column solving all your romantic problems, no holds barred.

This week, our resident sexologist Isiah McKimmie tackles a woman who thinks her husband is gaslighting her, a man unsure if his partners are orgasming and a husband baffled at why his wife is depressed.

I SUSPECT I’M BEING GASLIT — WHAT DO I DO?

QUESTION: I think my husband might be gaslighting me. We’ve been together for 30 years but in the past year I feel like I’ve had a realisation of who he really is. We met when we were young and he was so confident and capable that I felt in awe of him. Soon enough, he was making all of the decisions and I started sinking into myself. When we had kids he put me down for how much I “gave into” their demands and how I’d lost my figure. Every time I made new friends he’d put them down and make it difficult for me to see them, so in the end I stopped making them. Recently our last kid moved out of home and it’s just me and him. He criticises everything I do, from how I cook to my driving. What is gaslighting and how do you know if it’s being done to you?

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ANSWER: Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation where the victim questions their own perceptions and eventually, sanity.

There are different ways gaslighting shows up:

• Your partner frequently disagrees on your version of events

• Your partner questions your mental health

• Blatant lying

• A contradiction in their words – they tell you they love and care for you, while also undermining you

• Telling you you’re being too sensitive or overreacting about something

• Telling you you’re seeing something that isn’t there

• They may even get your friends and family involved under the guise of ‘caring for you’.

Gaslighting usually happens slowly over time – once you’ve built trust with the person.

Gaslighting often isn’t the only form of control and abuse that happens in these relationships. There can be other forms of manipulation and control happening too, like physical abuse, intimidation, stalking, control, financial control or humiliation. Alienating victims from their other support networks is also a part of this abusive behaviour.

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When it’s being done to you, you might:

• Feel confused

• Doubt your own reality

• Doubt your own sanity

• Become alienated from your support networks

• Constantly tread on eggshells

• Be afraid to share things with your partner

• Doubt yourself and your worth

• You struggle to remember things – especially things that happened in your relationship

If you’re in a relationship where you’re being gaslit, my only recommendation is that you get out as quickly and safely as you can.

From what you’ve described so far, your husband’s behaviour isn’t necessarily gaslighting in and of itself, but it does sound like somewhat abusive and controlling behaviour.

Without seeing the two of you interact and doing a thorough assessment, it’s difficult for me to tell whether this is abuse or if it’s criticism, bad communication and a build up of negativity in the relationship.

I suggest that you begin seeing your own therapist to get support for yourself and clarity about what’s going on. A good therapist will help you feel stronger and more confident within yourself, help you change your part in the communication you have with your husband and advise you on whether you need to get further support for the relationship (such as seeing a couples therapist or seeking domestic violence support).

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HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN A WOMAN HAS ORGASMED?

QUESTION: I’m a 19-year-old guy and I’ve only had sex with three girls, all of which were casual flings. I’m just wondering how you know when a girl’s had an orgasm? I’ve heard lots about faking it and want to make sure that isn’t happening to me.

ANSWER: The challenge is, that there’s almost no definable way to tell whether a woman (or man) has had an orgasm.

There’s no single physical indicator that defines orgasm (yes, even for men, as ejaculation and orgasm are not the same process).

Honestly, the best way to find out whether a woman is enjoying herself is to create a sense of safety and good communication between you.

Of course, women can and sometime do lie about this, largely because we’ve been conditioned to protect men’s egos and not ask for what we actually want. But if you can communicate well, be genuinely interested in her pleasure and let her know that there’s no pressure for her to reach orgasm, she’s much more likely to be honest with you.

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I EARN GREAT MONEY – SO WHY IS MY WIFE DEPRESSED?

QUESTION: Why is my wife depressed? We’ve got a great life, two beautiful kids and she doesn’t have to work as I get a good wage. Still, she’s always down and it makes me feel helpless and a little bit annoyed. What can I do?

ANSWER: Depression has nothing to do with what our lives look like on the outside. We can suffer depression (or anxiety or other mental illnesses) regardless of how much money we have, how loving our partner is or how wonderful our kids are.

Your wife not needing to work may actually be detrimental to her mental state – going to work can give us purpose, confidence and a sense of self (aside from being a parent).

There’s a difference between being ‘depressed’ and being ‘down’. How we treat this, is therefore different.

I suggest you reach out to a therapist to get your own support. This will help you deal with your feeling of helplessness and frustration and allow you to better support your wife.

Your wife may need to seek her own support for dealing with her mental health. It may be helpful for you to speak to her about her mood and express your concern.

Isiah McKimmie is a couples therapist, sex therapist and sexologist. For more expert advice follow her on Instagram

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