One of the most common problems in sexual therapy is differing sexual appetites .
This often causes arguments and resentments. It can mean the beginning of the end if not dealt with appropriately . Often there are resentments about other issues that play out with retreating from bedroom activities. Intimacy is not sex, intimacy is about closeness and vulnerability .
“In to me see ” (intimacy).
Of course there is sexual intimacy as well but it’s best not to confuse the two. At times sex ends because the sexual relationship is not satisfying , the woman missing out on orgasms or men developing erectile dysfunction because of ongoing rejection or put downs. Often children coming along changes the dynamic, and whilst being the most wonderful thing that we have happen in life at one level, it can develop other issues on another. Unfortunately some woman lack the insight and sensitivity to see the all-consuming nature of motherhood can make a man feel left out and superfluous to the household . Sometime a woman’s affectionate needs are met by the children further alienating the male.
It is often crisis driven when a call comes to deal with this in therapy. An argument brings things to a head as they say and then the real work begins. Most situations are resolvable if the couple commit to a process of recovery. I would see the two components of the relationship separately and together as we weave the journey to recovery. If this issue is left untreated indefinitely it can lead to infidelity, excessive use of pornography or non sexual attachments to a third party meeting the emotional needs of one party. I have also encountered situations where childhood abuse has not been dealt with and then when the sexual requests start to wrongly be seen as a demand and then a toxic pattern gets put in to place.
There is a model used in modern sex therapy that describes a sexual menu as:
- Desire driven sex
- Decision driven sex
- Mercy sex
- Transactional sex
Desire driven means you feel “horny ” and wish to act on it . This is a healthy approach.
Decision driven sex where one partner decides it would be a loving act to initiate sexual intimacy because they would both enjoy the closeness or the partner would or ” its about time we connected again” . This is a healthy approach .
Mercy Sex I better come across or I won’t be able to live with his behaviour and grumpiness. A very toxic approach .
Transactional Sex “If he looks after the kids and mows the lawn I’ll come across. ” A very toxic approach.
I am often surprised by the behaviour of one party completely shutting off sexual contact in the relationship and expecting acceptance . I feel it’s unrealistic to block a river and not expect it to spill over in to another outlet. Of the the hundreds of men I have treated in couple counselling almost without exception the men seeking pornography , prostitution services or a liaison with another woman have said how their heart aches for the loving advances and availability of their wives. While woman are worried about cellulite and weight gain husbands long for the enthusiasm and passion of the past .
Bettina Arndt in her fabulous account of 97 couples in her book the Sex Diaries and later What Men Want In Bed describes men longing to look and touch the aging somewhat ” hail damaged” body’s of there beloved wives in preference to the air brushed images of on screen sirens . Woman keep the basket of resentments beside the bed is a comment I often make to couples and when those resentments are worked on and misunderstandings resolved and healed, many old wounds are laid finally to rest once and for all.
Some useful links that you may find appropriate: