What you need to know:
Performance skills deficit is a situation where a relatively healthy person has no clue what to do sexually.
There are many causes for this: lack of knowledge is a major cause.
If nobody taught you how to have sex, how on earth would you know?
It is rare that a couple walks into a clinic and asks to be trained on how to have sex. People always assume that they know even though many may be wallowing in the dark.
I was therefore pleasantly surprised when Mary and John walked into the consultation room and declared that they were in dire need of help.
“I don’t want to pretend, I do not know what to do and my wife has told me for months that I am boring in bed,” John said. “But then she is a dead log in bed and I do not know what she wants me to do.”
“He comes to the bedroom and orders me to lie down flat. I respect his command and do not to move my body,” said Mary, John’s wife.
“I like taking charge, that’s why I say that, but you don’t have to completely remain still like a dead cockroach," John shouted back.
John was 27 years old. He was a teacher. Mary was 25 years old, and a secretary at a government office. The couple had been married for a year. They did not have any children.
Both Mary and John came from conservative families. Sex was demonised. Their premarital classes did not include discussions on how to have sex. They were both virgins at marriage.
After a detailed interview, I concluded that the couple had performance skills deficit. This is a situation where a relatively healthy person has no clue what to do sexually. There are many causes for this: lack of knowledge is a major cause. If nobody taught you how to have sex, how on earth would you know?
But skills deficit is not just a preserve of the newly married. Couples who have been married long sometimes accumulate anger and resentment after repeated conflicts. As people relate, they begin to discover the undesirable sides of each other.
Unless their love is strong, this results in anger and resentment. Once love is overcome by anger and resentment, sex is no longer an expression of love and intimacy. The result is an utter display of poor skills.
But there are also couples who are just lazy and find sex demanding. They choose not to be active during sex. Some complain that the nature of their work makes them too tired and by the end of the day, they have no energy for anything else.
In a few cases, poor sex skills can be the result of illness such as back pain, and fear of infection or unwanted pregnancy. It can also be an expression of shame.
Whatever the cause, couples should proactively seek help for performance skills deficit from sexual health professionals such as sexologists, sex therapists, sex coaches and sex educators.
“I think for us it is lack of knowledge. We just do not know what to do. Please help us,” John interjected.
John and Mary went through a month’s worth of sex coaching. They also learnt to give sex the attention it deserves. Sex is important in relationships and should not be taken for granted. Laziness is not an excuse to be boring in bed. Giving it your best is fulfilling and can save a struggling relationship.
To avert fear of pregnancy, we had an open discussion on timing of pregnancy and use of family planning.
“We take your advice on managing our emotions seriously so that we do not harbour anger and hatred and use sex as a tool for punishing each other,” John said on their last day of coaching. I nodded in affirmation.
“And you did well to seek help before things ran out of hand. Continue in that way and your marriage will flourish,” I said as they waved goodbye and walked out of the consultation room holding hands.