Kim Carney / msnbc.com
By msnbc.com contributor
msnbc.com contributor
updated 6/7/2007 9:36:20 AM ET 2007-06-07T13:36:20

What should a wife do if she suspects her husband is thinking of another — and that other is a man? And is giving oral sex required in a relationship? Sexploration answers your queries.

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Q. My husband doesn’t want sex more than once or twice a week. Recently, I accidentally found some material on his computer that indicates he enjoys homosexual and transsexual/transvestite porn. Is it possible he’s gay or is this a normal thing for some men to be into?

A. I could tell you that maybe he is a closeted gay and maybe he is not and that the only way to find out is with professional help and leave it at that. But here is something to think about:

Men have much more rigidly defined signs of “straightness” than women do. We are supposed to want sex every day, not think other guys are attractive, and never, ever, be caught looking at another man’s gear in the locker room. Yet we create statues like Michelangelo’s “David” and the well-muscled works of the ancient Greeks.

“Men are not allowed to look at each other, and it is certainly taboo for them to touch each other,” explains psychotherapist Joe Kort, who treats both gay and straight couples at his practice in Royal Oak, Mich. “So that drives straight men to look at gay porn. Because it’s porn, it gives them permission.”

But why? According to Kort, maybe a man has sexual fantasies of a homosexual encounter, which does not necessarily mean he actually wants one any more than a woman’s rape fantasy means she wants to be raped. The sight of erotic male images, often good-looking men with large penises,could be a form of transference, that a man enjoys imagining himself so equipped and possibly an object of adoration by a harem of bikini models. He might enjoy the sexual power implied.

Maybe, Kort suggests, “he has fantasies about receiving anal sex (from his wife) but does not feel permission to tell her, or she shames him for saying so.” This could account for so-called she-male erotica (often advertised in the back of raunchy straight porn magazines, by the way). A person with breasts and a penis, speculates Kort, could be a way for a man to rationalize desires for anal sex.

Often “women get freaked out” by such requests from men, Kort says, “so men won’t talk to them.” Instead, they hide. While men may not be great at relationship skills in marriages, Kort says, often “women have not caught up on men and their sexual needs and desires.” In other words, women should understand that men can have more complex sexual imaginations than we are given credit for; we're not the one-dimensional characters we are so often portrayed to be.

By the way, have you ever thought about just asking him if he has homosexual feelings? Diplomacy, concern, empathy are called for, of course, and you might not want to say you were spying on his computer downloads, but a dialogue is a good idea. If he expresses confusion about his sexual identity, suggest a therapist with experience in this area.

Q. My husband of four years is driving me crazy about oral sex. I don’t like doing it and don’t want to. I think it is degrading and disgusting. He also wants to see me on “all fours” naked. This is also degrading to me. Any advice?

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A. Aside from doing it, you mean? Well, how about reading Joe Kort’s last comment above about trying to understand men's needs and desires and then making an effort?

You seem pretty quick to place limits on sex. No oral? No doggie style? Geez. Look, getting married does not mean you must accede to everything your spouse desires, but perhaps you should ask yourself why you think oral sex is disgusting and degrading. Religious teaching? Many religious experts like Joe Beam say it is no sin and can be joyful. You may benefit from seeking professional sex therapy, too, but meanwhile, try to understand that all sex, when it’s any good, is a form of surrender and intimate giving. (By the way, does he give you oral sex?) And realize that he has been brave enough to ask you, not a hooker or a mistress. If you want to keep it that way, you might want to try a little flexibility.

Brian Alexander is a California-based writer who covers sex, relationships and health. Alexander, also a Glamour contributing editor, recently traveled around the country to find out how Americans get sexual satisfaction for the MSNBC.com special report "America Unzipped" and for an upcoming book for Harmony, an imprint of Crown Publishing.

Sexploration appears every other Thursday.

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