We had just left the house party- a rowdy band of teens loudly making our way to the beach in the dark. The atmosphere was electric, this feeling of being part of something, even if it was just artificially fuelled by alcohol and testosterone.
His warm hand was a surprise as it slid down the back of my pants. I was startled. I spun around to see a goofy grin on the face of a boy I barely knew. Swiping his hands away with a nervous and half-serious, “don’t”, I continued on down the street.
I never told my friends that day. In fact, I never mentioned it to anyone as it didn’t occur to me that anything was necessarily wrong.
Thankfully, the conversation about consent is becoming more common nowadays. The message is clear: men, listen to women when they say no. Don’t try and persuade them. You have no entitlement to their bodies. Don’t touch them unless they give permission
But something very strange is happening once the vows are exchanged. The storyline is morphed into something more like, “my wife’s body now belongs to me.”
It took 10 years of marriage for me to finally understand this reality.
Don’t get me wrong, my husband is a kind, compassionate kind of dude who walked through a woman’s folk festival with a t-shirt that read “Wake up to Equality” before we met.
And yet every time I bent down, he thought it was funny to slap my butt and ignore my repeated requests for it to stop.
He insisted on called me “sexy” even when the words made my skin crawl.
Ooogling at my breasts when I got undressed was a common occurrence.
Even pressuring me to perform certain sexual acts when I was clearly uncomfortable wasn’t enough to have him let up.
Let you remind you, he’s a good guy. The kind who stops to help a stranger on the side of the road and takes his equal share of all the household and parenting responsibilities.
But good men have been taught unhealthy patterns and even powerful women don’t even know that they have a right to say “no”.
Now that I’ve worked with hundreds of married women as a Marriage Sex Coach, I know that this is a common issue in otherwise happy and healthy marriages: consent seems to have stopped at “I do.”
The implications of this are far-reaching but the main effect I see is that almost 50% of married women don’t want or enjoy sex.
The lack of proper consent in committed relationships is leading to a systemic issue – less genuine intimacy and connection in marriages.
The reasoning is that when women do not feel safe, are always on the offensive, and are experiencing pressure and guilt – their sexuality shuts down.
Makes sense when you know that feeling safe is an essential ingredient of desire in women.
When I started to implement radical consent in my marriage, our intimacy increased tenfold. Now, I’m the one to initiate 90% of physical touch in our relationship because it’s a wonderful way to ensure that I always feel safe.
We’ve learned that if I’m always having to say “no,” or push his hands away, my desire significantly decreases.
Sometimes I find that men get upset about this new arrangement, worried that “it’s not fair.” But here’s the deal with equity: everyone gets what they need to feel safe and comfortable.
Here’s what I’d love to leave you with: your body, your rules no matter how long you’ve been married.
Proper consent will 100% lead to the long-term health of your marriage.
If you find yourself WANTING to want sex with your husband but just not (for whatever reason), I have a free class this week only. “The Real Reason for a Lack of Desire and the 6-Step Solution to Connecting Again”.
Janna Denton-Howes is a Sex Coach who specializes in helping married women want and enjoy sex more with their husbands. Known for her popular course, The Wanting It More Program, Janna empowers women to create boundaries, trust their intuition and prioritize their pleasure in the sexual experience. After getting married as a teen and struggling with low desire, Janna spent many years trying to increase her libido with no long-term results. She eventually developed her own methodology for healing this, first for herself and now for hundreds of other women.