[very explicit – husbands only]
As I mention at other places on this website, I think that, in general (especially in genuine marriages, not just sexual couplings generically), husbands tend to take the lead in “directing” the flow of the action in marital sex. And this direction of the marital act has important consequences for his experience of the act. Needless to say, this idea is very widely rejected today – search for it on the internet and you won’t find it – because the false idea that someone who “directs” is “superior” to one who is directed is so widespread and so ideology demands that natural gender differences be suppressed or ignored. Moreover, this is a generalization that admits of all kinds of exceptions. The fact that the husband, in general, directs the flow of action in marital sex doesn’t mean that every husband does this or that any husband does it all the time. But, most commonly, activity is the "major accent" of a husband’s role in the marital act and receptivity is the major accent in the wife’s role. This is built into human beings biologically, since the man must act to enter the woman and the woman must receive him into herself. Of course, it is possible, however, that the “social construction” of sexuality in a given society may suppress these natural tendencies, e.g., if women are taught or formed to act more like men. In the initial stages of marital relations, the husband is probably eager to “get on with it,” and he is waiting for that wonderful moment when she begins to “get into it.” As she does, the husband is likely to take the lead most of the time (not always, of course) in determining what path the relations take, the actions that move it forward. First, what sort of foreplay will they engage in? The wife is likely to communicate (it could be without words – just by her reactions) whether she is happy with what he is doing and he will likely have some idea, just from experience, of what she’d prefer. So, oftentimes, she may want to begin with kissing – a good deal of it, moving from simpler kisses to much deeper tongue kisses. The husband will caress her, and here too, she will likely have her preferences for different kinds of caresses and different places at different times during the act. The husband will be “looking out” for the right moment to switch from a primary focus on kissing the lips to other kinds of foreplay. It may involve a shift to caressing and kissing her breasts, for example, and, as he tries that, he is evaluating whether she likes it. Sometimes she does, and sometimes she just isn’t “into” that, and so he needs to shift the focus. He will also be thinking about their position (the one they’re in, another one they might switch to). They may start out side-by-side, and then change the position, e.g., to him or her on top. (For the more adventurous, even positions outside the bed – in a chair, against a wall, with him standing next to the bed – will be factors.) At each step, he will be evaluating how things are going, whether she seems happy with what they are doing. At some point, he is likely to shift his attention to her lower regions, especially the clitoris. The degree of pressure, the kind of movement (circular, back and forth, in what direction) will be things he decides and varies, always attending to her reactions and whether she likes what he’s doing. Her ongoing and increasing arousal, as I have pointed out, is a very large part of his own sexual satisfaction and pleasure. Part of the decisions to be made also include what she does to him – especially her attention to his penis. There often is a kind of alteration or taking turns (“passing the baton”), during lovemaking, in which the initiative in what they are doing may shift back and forth somewhat (though I think that the husband will have the initiative more often). When they are both aroused, there are decisions to extend the foreplay or end it and shift to sexual intercourse (penetration and union). The husband chooses a moment to enter his wife (perhaps at her instigation) and then has subsequent decisions to make about the way he moves inside her. It could be thrusting, at various speeds, angles, and depth; it could be moving up and down or around in a circle. (Again, sometimes the wife may take the lead, for example, getting on top of him, bringing him into her, and directing the motion.) The point of this survey of various decisions made during lovemaking is to emphasize that people don’t always (or even typically) just “do what comes naturally.” They evaluate how things are going, they make decisions to continue or do something different, to move on to the next step. And those evaluations and decisions usually require some thought. What is the impact of this “thought” on the experience of marital sex? I discuss at some points of the website what I think the most pleasurable moments during sex for a man are: besides orgasm (the biggest one), there is also her first stroke of a well-lubed penis, her taking his penis into her mouth, and the entry of his penis into her vagina). But that implies that there are other moments that aren’t so powerful, simply in terms of physical pleasure. One important part of the explanation for this is that when a man is in an “evaluation mode” or a “planning mode” during intercourse – as he often is, for much of the act – he’s less likely to be feeling physical pleasure. (Or, the reverse: when he’s feeling moments of intense pleasure, he’s much less likely to be in “planning mode” and his only “evaluation” is focused on his current pleasure.) What he’s experiencing, more commonly during much of the act, is sexual satisfaction rooted in the male pride that comes from creating a wonderful sexual experience for his wife. That is why I think that a husband is caught up in physical pleasure, strictly speaking, only at certain moments during the act – at other moments (perhaps even most moments?), he won’t be. For example, when he is thrusting inside his wife, he is constantly making decisions about whether and how to vary his movement. That is why, in my opinion, between the time of first entry into her and his orgasm (which are two ecstatic moments – the first because he sees his wife overpowered with sexual delight and the second because he is overpowered with sexual pleasure himself) – a man feels relatively less physical sexual pleasure, despite the constant stimulation of his penis during that time. The primary pleasure during this time will be the satisfaction of “directing” lovemaking that is successful in delighting his wife. If people have a view of marital intercourse that assumes constant physical pleasure throughout – or, more likely, ups and downs in the intensity of sexual pleasure that are related merely to certain physical actions – they misunderstand the ordinary dynamics of marital sex. The roles and action of the husband and wife, at different moments during the act, and what they entail (especially “thought” and “evaluation” and “planning”) are key determinants in the dual experiences of sexual pleasure (the sheer physical sense pleasure) and sexual satisfaction (a broader psychological understanding of sexual pleasure and delight).