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The Difference Between Male & Female Sexuality

22 July, 2022
Q As-Salamu'Alaikum. I am going through some problems in my life related to my happiness. I'm currently married to someone who is genuinely sweet and pure person. When I think of her, I feel that I do not want anything to happen to her, I love her and want to make sure she is okay. I wouldn't want to do anything to hurt her purposefully.But when I married her, I think it was a case of “it’s so hard to find anyone else, and that this may be my only chance". I also took the saying "marry the pious among you for that is better for you". I was hesitant even from the beginning and even with my Istakarah seemingly favorably answered. I have never been physically attracted to her (I had to mentally brace/numb myself for the intercourse sometimes, and I can't really bring myself to show her the actions/words that would make her feel desired that way).With time I realized that we've very little in common lifestyle wise, and she also isn't intellectually on my level. I ended up feeling empty and unhappy. It's almost like we're just two people living in a house. It's been so for a while now, and I have spoken to her about the issues on my side (some of them before marriage even), but it is not really something that can be addressed easily. We've even decided to go counseling.Problems worsened when I met another young non-Muslim woman whom I have to associate with through work. She is very similar in a lot of aspects to me, sufficiently similar and dissimilar at the same time, and she is strongly spiritual. Talking with her (not about the problems) helped me put a finger on a lot of why I was feeling unhappy or feeling gaps in my marriage. Being around her helps me feel and see certain things. A'uthu bilah, this woman admits that she has love for me, and I know that I have love for her, but we try to fight this because we fear of doing wrong to cause harm to each other as well as my wife.I'm confused as hell. I don't want to hurt my wife because I still deeply care for her even though I have all these problems with her, but I see so much with this other woman that it makes me feel willing to start afresh just to court her within the limits to see if we can be successful at being married. I even accept the potential that it may not work out and I could lose everything relationship wise (and I do have a material future with my wife).As a man, can I successfully live without that deep emotional/sexual satisfaction, without getting into trouble, or without endangering my eman? Can I live without that intellectual connection? I am so scared of adultery. I am frightened. I need advice.



Wa ‘Alaikum Salaam my dear brother in Islam,

To answer your last questions first: only few men can live without sexual satisfaction; it is very rare!

It has been known to happen, on occasion, that a man is not interested in sex, but it is extremely unusual.

More to the point is: Could you live without sexual happiness? I think not.

NOT that you would commit zeena. I don’t think you would because you are writing to us to avoid it, and, from your words, you clearly fear Allah a lot.

So, the most Shaitan can do to you (apparently) is torturing you internally by such thoughts.

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I hope I can assist you by helping you see a way to some other ways to find happiness when you find yourself in a situation which is not giving you fulfillment, and you see another situation close at hand which you think could make you happy, in sha’ Allah.

But, I will address that in a minute after I finish responding to your last questions.

A man living without “intellectual connection” is another thing all together.

Many men do it—most unfortunately. Men have been designed by Allah to be the “providers/maintainers and protectors of women and children”.

Thus, Allah equipped them with an emotional make up which provides for that form of service; i.e.

The ability to work when you don’t “feel” like it, going to war, which means hurting, and even killing, others—which absolutely demands that you not let your emotions get in the way of that hard task.

Thirdly, men are supposed to satisfy women sexually which means not letting your emotional needs get the better of you before you take care of your wife’s sexual needs.

All those things demand that men have the ability to shut off their emotions when need be “enough” so that their emotions don’t take over and they can do their jobs (for which they were created).

In other words, men have within them the ability to not respond emotionally to things.

In fact, I have come to believe that the more unemotional a man is behaving, the clearer it is a sign that he has tons of emotions, and his only way of coping with it is to not feel it or not let on to others (and himself) that he is feeling it.

Perhaps you are asking: what does emotion have to do with “intellectual” connection.

The ability to understand what we are feeling and how to respond to it is called “emotional intelligence” in the field of psychology.

So, when a person “shuts down” their emotions, they also shut down their intelligence and become intellectually “challenged”, because the only reason we think is to figure out how to deal with our feelings (considering that Shaitan whispers into our hearts, i.e., our feelings as it’s mentioned in Surat an-Naas). So, that means, if you don’t feel, you don’t have to think.

In addition, thinking takes time and that is not a useful option in war (assuming that the strategies of your warfare are decided by your commanders instead of you) and work and sex when your “job” is to get through it all without failing, i.e., when work is a grind, war is painful, and sex demands staying power.

However, the ability to not feel is very destructive when it comes to things which are not work, war, and the sexual act; things which require “sharing”, like partnership, egalitarian interaction, or problem solving (so that you end up with a win-win solution, or respect or positive thinking/solutions, etc.)

Now, while what I just said may be true, it does not appear to be your problem.

You seem to be in touch with your feelings—at least that one that is telling you that you are not “happy” in your marriage.

You so care that you are not happy, and maybe it is mostly because you are not getting your sexual needs met.

However, I am happy to hear that you want intellectual satisfaction, too!

There are two ways which I can think of to solve this problem.

One, divorce you wife and go get what you want. That could be a blessing in disguise for your wife because no woman wants to be unloved in marriage. Freeing her from that situation could be the best thing you could do for her.

However, before you do that, perhaps the second option might be better for your soul in front of Allah to at least try (and, as you so aptly pointed out, because we don’t know the future; a new relationship for you may not work out either): see if your present wife can change.

Now, we cannot change our “personality”, i.e., our temperament. Abu Bakr (radiAllahu anhu) was mild tempered and Umar (radiAllahu anhu) had a fiery temperament—and we all fall somewhere on that continuum/spectrum of “energy” and way of responding to life.

However, what we can change is what we know, what we do, and even how we respond.

For instance, a fiery tempered person can learn to manage their reactions to things, i.e., they can learn how not to be quick or impulsive.

And, in fact, we see in the biography of Umar (radiAllahu anhu) this sort of development.

When Umar (radiAllahu anhu) was new to Islam (and for a very long time after that) he often reacted quickly and aggressively, only to find that he had made a mistake and then, in his extremely good Muslim character of humility, he would “cover his head with dust” in repentance.

From that point, he grew to be one of the greatest leaders in Islam, spreading our beautiful deen over a quarter of the globe.

He could never have accomplished that (by the help of Allah, of course), unless he learned to manage his energy by channeling all that fire within him for good (instead of flying off the handle).

All that to say, have you tried to educate your wife to see if she can learn new things which would make her more “intellectually” compatible with you?

As far as your wife not being sexually stimulating to you, THAT is a bigger problem—but, perhaps not insolvable, In Sha’ Allah.

To solve such a problem, it is important to understand the difference between male and female sexuality, which includes understanding the differences in our roles (that are 39887904-256-k694512epitomized in our sexual relationship).

While a man’s role is to provide and protect (described above), a woman’s role is to need those things (because she gets pregnant, needs to nurse/feed helpless infants, and needs to care for, raise, and teach defenseless and inexperienced children—all of which frees the men to provide and protect the family and society).

Thus, the thing that stimulates a woman sexually is primarily not a man’s naked body but what is “in” him, i.e., his “character”.

In other words, she is subconsciously asking herself: does he understand what she needs from him (provision, protection, and sexual satisfaction)? Male muscularity does make women react, no doubt, but it only does so because it could potentially mean that might be a good provider/protector.

However, and more to the point here in terms of what goes on in the bedroom, muscularity can end up meaning absolutely nothing if the man does not have the good sense to fill his wife’s sexual needs.

That is hard for (most) men to understand because we, humans, usually understand things subjectively (according to our own experiences of them).

Since men’s sexual response is physical predominantly, i.e., shape, sight, sounds, touch, etc., they expect women to think the same way.

However, women do not think that way. A man only needs from a woman her “permission to access” her body in order to fill his sexual needs (because her body already stimulated him), i.e., he takes care of his own orgasm needing only to see and/or touch a woman.

Women, on the other hand, to have an orgasm, need a man to “serve” their needs. These are two very different paradigms and two very different roles.

The point I am making is: do you understand your wife’s sexual response? If not, you may need to remedy that problem first, i.e., stimulate her in a way which gets her “going” emotionally, and then see if you discover that you already have a treasure that you did not know you had.

Remember, not only do men get stimulated sexually by a woman’s body, they also get stimulated by feeling like a “man”, i.e., by a woman getting excited by them! When a woman gets “hot and bothered” by a man, it makes the man feel good about his self.

If you find that your wife simply does not excite you sexually, do both of yourselves a favor and divorce her, (assuming that there are no children to this marriage.)

She deserves to be loved (from how you described her character, In Sha’Allah), and you, too, deserve to feel love, based on how you appear to be a very righteous man, In Sha’Allah.

I hope this helps. May Allah make it easy for you, In Sha’Allah.


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About Nasira S. Abdul-Aleem
Nasira S. Abdul-Aleem, an American, has a BA in English from UC Berkeley and is about to receive an MS degree in counseling psychology (Marriage and Family Therapy - MFT) from the Western Institute for Social Research. For over ten years, Nasira worked as a psychotherapist with the general public and in addiction recovery.For the last few years, she has been a life coach specializing in interpersonal relations. Nasira also consults with her many family members who studied Islam overseas and returned to America to be Imams and teachers of Islam. Muslims often ask Nasira what psychology has to do with Islam. To this, she replies that Islam is the manifestation of a correct understanding of our psychology. Therapists and life coaches help clients figure out how to traverse the path of life as a Believer, i.e., "from darkness into light", based on Islam and given that that path is an obstacle course, according to Allah.