What you need to know:
- Mental imagery of sex with someone else while with your partner is a common occurrence, but one needs to watch out
- "I keep imagining sex with our housemaid whenever I am having sex with my wife; it feels good when the imagination happens but as soon as we are done, I feel guilty that I do not want to be intimate with my wife again lest the imagination recurs."
Jacob suffered a few episodes of erection failure last year. He, therefore, came to the Sexology Clinic to seek help. He came with his wife, Lydia. The couple was in their either year of marriage and had generally been happily married by standards of these days. They had two children.
I did a full assessment of the couple and took hormonal and other tests to determine the cause of Jacob's erection failure. I could not put a finger on any specific cause of the failure.
"Maybe life has been stressful during these times of Covid-19," I said as I prescribed medicine, "most men experience erection failure when life proves hard."
I realised that Jacob did not want to leave the consultation room as Lydia walked out. In my experience, I have noted that people find it difficult to share deep sexual things when their spouses are in the room. I asked that Lydia waits for him outside the room.
"I do not want Lydia to know this," he said nervously, "I keep imagining sex with our housemaid whenever I am having sex with my wife; it feels good when the imagination happens but as soon as we are done I feel guilty that I do not want to be intimate with my wife again lest the imagination recurs."
I nodded with understanding. The cause of Jacob's erection failure was unfolding.
Fantasies of sex with someone else while with your partner is a common occurrence. The imagery is known to happen in almost half of people in long-term relationships at any given time. Men and women are equally affected. In many instances the fantasies are spontaneous. Other times, it is based on thoughts and experiences that you have previously had.
The fantasy can be a one-off occurrence in which case the imagery comes after a long time and is not of the same person. Research shows that this is a normal occurrence and if taken positively it adds value to sexual experience.
The problem comes when the fantasy is consistent; when you keep imagining being with someone else whenever you are with your partner. It is even more sinister when the imagined person is the same one throughout. Even worse is when you make attempts to actualise the fantasy. This can mark the beginning of the end of your marriage.
"So that is where I am," Jacob interjected, "whenever I have sex with my wife my whole mind is with the maid even though my body is with my wife." He stared into space absent-mindedly, avoiding eye contact with me. The distress was palpable.
"So when you realise that your body is not in tandem with your mind then the erection fades off?" I asked to which he nodded. He was distressed.
There are instances when the fantasy is negative. Assume you have faced raped; or that you have had rough and painful sex at one point or that you had sex that led to infection; when such negative images cross your mind while in action, they can put you off, making you push your spouse away. Fantasies can therefore be pleasurable or painful. Painful fantasies need to be treated.
"That's really not the issue for me," Jacob said, anxious to hear if there are solutions to his situation, "what should I do, Lydia is waiting outside and must be wondering what we are discussing."
"Would you be comfortable having Lydia as part of this discussion?" I asked to which Jacob shook his head vigorously. He feared that the situation could turn explosive. This was however a setback in the treatment plan. Just like in managing infidelity, Jacob's situation needed spousal involvement and support to help him refocus his mind during sex. It also needed further interrogation of the relationship to find out if deep-seated tensions were blocking the emotional connection.
"I will get back to you, let me go before she comes back to the room," Jacob said and left hurriedly without a clear way forward. I never heard from the couple for close to three months when Lydia reappeared in the clinic.
"The medicine you gave my husband restored his erections and in addition to being intimate with me, he got entangled with our housemaid," she said, "I walked out of the marriage when I caught them red-handed; I just thought I should pass by and let you know."
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