What you need to know:
- Sex during this crisis stage of the relationship is not satisfying. Men easily lose erections during the act.
- The ability to self-regulate and negotiate for what matters to you while prioritising the common good is paramount.
Do you ever feel suffocated sometimes in your marriage? Do you feel that you lack the freedom to be yourself?
It is a complaint I frequently get at the Sexology Clinic. I was therefore not surprised when James gave the same reason for his inability to have sex with his wife when I saw him in the clinic last week. He was accompanied by his wife, and they told me that they had been off sex for eight months.
“It is not exactly eight months,” James interjected, “We have had sex three times in the last eight months.”
“Not true,” his wife, Winnie, objected, “You lost your erection three times in the last eight months, you don’t call that having sex.”
The couple, in their late 30s, have been married for seven years and have two children. They had been having conflicts for close to two years, which explained the sex failure.
Nature has a way of forcing us to come together and start a relationship because, humans beings, being what they are, cannot raise children without social support, hence, obsession with love and burning with sexual passion is a normal feeling when you meet a stranger that you are attracted to.
The initial days of a relationship leave you with no chance for self-control and you can elope and disown your parents, relatives and friends for this new-found gem.
Nature pushes you to have sex severally with the person and even bear children before reality dawns on you that you let go of your autonomy, privacy, individual identity and many things that would have fulfilled your self-interest for the sake of this person.
You start feeling like you want to break loose again and be yourself. At this point you realise that society expects you to stay put. The law, religion, culture and social structures are all baying for your blood should you disengage. You start seeing the person you once loved as the cause of all your troubles.
It is at this point that you turn your frustrations to your mate and conflicts erupt. You are unlikely to see anything good in the person. Everything they do is irritating. You want to be let go, you want to be free, to feel you are in charge of your life again; to make decisions without consulting anybody.
The only thing that saves the marriage at this point is your relationship skills. People who lack relationship skills escalate conflicts. Normally at this point, nature has withdrawn the unnatural obsession and the unrealistic feelings that your mate is a gem incomparable to anything in the world; that if they are not there your life stops and you would rather die.
Sex during this crisis stage of the relationship is not satisfying. Men easily lose erections during the act. Women feel hollow when it is over.
“But then, doctor, if you are saying that these are natural stages in a relationship, what can one do to redeem themselves?” Winnie asked, stealing glances at James who sat still staring into space.
“It is about creating a balance,” I replied, “the relationship needs to recognise individual identities as it fosters interconnectedness of couples.”
Be keen to serve the interest of your partner. Have the mentality that says, ‘I am because you are’.
At the same time, do not lose your identity, which is what drew your partner to you. The ability to self-regulate and negotiate for what matters to you while prioritising the common good is paramount.
“I am not sure though, that you have answered the question of how to have sex again after eight months of not doing it,” Winnie said.
“Well, when you are caught up in this roller-coaster of conflict, failed sex and feeling enslaved in the relationship, you are a candidate for couple and marriage therapy.”