What you need to know:
- Research shows that girls whose parents are divorced tend to yearn for more affection in adulthood than others.
- They may, as a result, get into intimate relationships early. Some also marry young.
- This could be because the parents’ disagreement and divorce denied the girl a chance to grow their affection through a relationship with their fathers.
As a child, you have no control over whether your parents stay married or not. When they decide to divorce, however, you are likely to experience lifelong effects. We now know that adult children of divorced parents may not have normal intimate relationships, and that their sexual experiences may be different.
That was my conclusion to Eve following days of counselling at the Sexology Clinic. Eve and her husband Andrew had come for consultation because Eve was averse to sex.
“My husband blames me for refusing to have sex with him,” she explained, “The truth is that I have no desire for it.”
The couple had only been married for three years. They were in their late twenties. Eve was a lawyer while Andrew was a finance manager in an NGO. They did not have children. They had sex twice per month on average despite the fact that they lived together. Andrew was the initiator of sex and many times, Eve declined.
“It is very frustrating to say the least,” Andrew lamented. “My friends tell me that they have sex even three times every day.”
I examined Eve and did a number of tests but could not put a finger on any health issue that could have led to low libido. I could also not find any lifestyle stresses that could have led to her situation. The only significant thing I found was that her parents divorced when she was nine, and thereafter she had grown up under the care of her mother. She met her father a few times each year, mostly when he visited her in the school where she was boarding.
At the university, Eve co-habited with a male colleague.
“I cannot say I was married,” she explained. “We lived together and had sex for two years but after our graduation, we parted ways.” Andrew was aware of this co-habitation. They had talked about it and agreed that it was not going to affect their relationship because it happened before they met.
“So what is your diagnosis and what is the treatment?” Andrew asked, anxious to know if the problem could be solved. I requested to have a session with Eve alone before I could answer the question. Eve came for the next session alone and I took the opportunity to explain my diagnosis.
“Well, we are dealing with the effects of your parents’ divorce,” I said. She frowned in disbelief, making me explain in detail what I meant.
Research shows that girls whose parents are divorced tend to yearn for more affection in adulthood than others. They may, as a result, get into intimate relationships early. Some also marry young. This could be because the parents’ disagreement and divorce denied the girl a chance to grow their affection through a relationship with their fathers.
Men whose parents divorced, on the other hand, are likely to be aloof. They find it difficult expressing affection. This could be a way of guarding against disappointment, just in case the relationship fails.
Both men and women of divorced parents commonly find it hard to fully trust and commit to their partners. In fact, sometimes they create an environment where conflict thrives.
Research shows that they may try to recreate a conflict environment in their marriages that reflects the circumstances they were in when their parents divorced. At the same time, their ability to manage conflict may be low, and they are likely to have unrealistic expectations of the marriage. This situation breeds hard feelings that make coexistence difficult.
“Doctor, you are profiling people whose parents divorced and that is not fair,” Eve interjected. I nodded with understanding, realising that the information I had shared was rather negative.
“I think what I wanted to share is that you should be self-aware because if you understand your vulnerabilities, you can manage them,” I said.
“So, how are your theories on this subject related to my low desire for sex? Would I be right to say that you could also be wrong?” Eve asked. She was getting agitated.
Well, a dysfunctional relationship is not good for your sex life. Understanding your past and making the best out of it can be very important in developing a constructive intimate relationship. Everyone has their vulnerabilities. Get to know yours as the first step in managing your intimate relationship. You need to know your blockers to full vulnerability to someone you love, and work towards releasing your spirit to them because true love is where you have fully committed your mind, body and spirit to your partner.
“I have my reservations on some of the things you have talked about,” Eve said. “I trust my mind more than my soul and spirit and I would like to give room for any eventuality in this marriage. No need to be a slave and so if your therapy is to enslave my mind and subdue it in the name of marriage, I am out of it.”
And with that Eve left the office never to return. Her husband never returned too.