Sexual health matters

Marriage is like a hot bath – once you get used to it’s not so hot anymore. Did you know that 50% of brides experience low sexual desire after just four years of marriage? And 12% of married people have not had sex for three months.

Infidelity is the curse of a sexless marriage and low sexual desire is the culprit.

And about 27 to 52% of women experience low sexual desire depending on their time in life. And that is dangerous. Why, you ask? Because if you’re not having sex with your husband someone else will.

Now women have not cornered the market on low sexual desire. Men have it too and it’s worse for women when men reject them. You see we link masculinity with virility just like we link sexual desire with femininity. So when a woman is rejected by her husband it hits hard and fast at her self-esteem, and she internalizes it. Besides, society says all men want is sex. Just not with you.

Maggie’s husband rejected her sexual advances, and she internalized it. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not smart enough. I said enough. It’s not about you. So why would a man not desire sex with his wife? Conventional wisdom tells us he’s gay, he’s having an affair, or he’s just not that into you.

The reality is the reasons men experience low sexual desire are very commonly the same reasons that women do: fatigue, hormones, performance anxiety, medical conditions: diabetes, depression, erectile dysfunction, body image issues, medications, sleeping pills, anti depressants, anti psychotics and a history of sexual abuse which has the potency to ruin the intimacy in any loving marriage.

Also, men who are chatting online, who see escorts or have happy endings may exhibit low sexual desire in their marriages because of guilt or satiety. We remain mum on sex matters in our marriage because, that’s quite interesting, because one of the highest risks of infidelity is once the children are born. The sex stops because of diminished sleep, heightened stress, hormones, and a change in the romance. And couples don’t talk about sex. They’ll bring up the children but never the sex. And women cheat too almost as equally men: 19% versus 25%. It’s the only area where we’re gaining gender parity ladies, and we gotta take what we can get. Keep going.

Disconnection, especially long-term, leads to feelings of anger and resentment in marriages and that can lead you to temptation and deliver us to evil. And technology tickles that temptation which is why cheating is so easy today. This is when you go on Facebook and you change your status from married to Wi-Fi looking for connection. So you go online, you’re chatting with former lovers because not only is the internet there to soothe your soul, so is your high school sweetheart. So you’re there talking to strangers and other lovers. You get aroused because dopamine was released in your brain. You feel great. And this is why you say things online to people you have never met that are very seductive.

Ann was a beautiful and accomplished architect. Married, the mother of three she had no idea why her husband didn’t desire sex with her. She put everything into her career and credited the personal pain in her marriage to her professional success. And then she found that her husband was actually online viewing porn.

You see Ann was raised, as many people were, to make everything look pretty and perfect, so she didn’t know what to do. Everything looked perfect on the outside but Ann was screaming on the inside. Her extramarital affair was the only way she thought she could survive her sexless and painful marriage. It was a drastic, extreme measure not without risk.

Her lover’s wife hired a private investigator, downloaded tracking software on his phone and sent all the evidence to Ann’s husband. Ann’s husband was enraged he was so upset. Understandably so. But he took his power, which was unhealthy, and he held it over her, and he refused to get help for their sexless marriage or his porn use. Ann immediately ended the affair with her lover and learned that she had to grieve that loss alone which is how she felt in her marriage, alone. Because there’s no place on Google that will support the cheaters.

Andy was in a sexless marriage for five years. Desperate for the touch of a woman, a former lover ran into him in his office, asked him how he was, and he said that was all it took. They ended up in the sack.

His wife found out about it and immediately filed for divorce. His lawyer reached out to me on Facebook, and she asked me to be an expert witness on sexless marriages in his jury trial, because divorce by jury trial is still a sad reality in many parts of the world. And adultery is the cardinal sin in those courtrooms.

The deposition read like a sordid novel. I read it on a plane on a night flight and couldn’t put it down. There was deceit, lies, jealousy, drunken brawls, lesbian liaisons, and even murder but none of those life tragedies had the power to end the marriage like Sam’s infidelity, his one-night stand. The lawyer decided not to put me on the stand after all because she felt the jury wouldn’t get it. I thought the jury would get it because I figured half of them weren’t getting it. And this is what I would have said: “Disconnection leads to infidelity and pain until death do you part”. I think it’s time that we looked at infidelity not only through the eyes of those who’ve been betrayed but through the lens of those who have strayed because quite often they have been betrayed for a long time before their indiscretion. So your spouse doesn’t want to have sex with you but doesn’t want you to have sex with anyone else either.

Is it fair to impose fidelity on a person who is deprived of sex from their spouse and when that spouse has an affair must we call it cheating or is it merely survival. I am not condoning infidelity. It is arguably the worst pain in the world, but I will say this: the reason it hurts so much is that it’s an affront to your self-esteem. You play the victim. Why did they do that to me? How could they do that to me? When the better question might actually be: what did I do to contribute to the infidelity in my marriage? It’s a tough question.

Treatments for infidelity, for sexless marriages, range from conflict resolution to couples counseling, to pills and patches and pushing injections and even the placebo effect and mindfulness – being at the moment – has been proven. Focus on your partner or your pleasure, not necessarily in that order, but focus on your pleasure and your partner as opposed to the paint color on your ceiling. Be at the moment.

Roseanne came to see me. After 17 years of marriage and three kids, she felt she had low sexual desire with her husband. And she did. More women report boredom in the bedroom than men. But on a girls weekend she met a guy and hooked up with him and had amazing sex and realized that there was nothing wrong with her sexual desire. So, instead of pills and patches and the placebo effect, perhaps it’s a new partner, even if it’s just at the moment. That’s mindfulness. Today 90% of people believe that infidelity is wrong versus 40 years ago were only 70 percent felt that.

Yet today, many people remain in marriages where someone has strayed. This is the new shame. Betty’s husband strayed. They hadn’t been sexual for five years, and she realized her contribution. And they both decided together that they were going to work on this. But her mistake was in telling her family and friends because they judged her husband mercilessly and made their healing that much harder. Keep your affairs to yourself. Work on your marriage instead. So, you might be out there thinking: my goodness, how do I find Mr. Right? How do I not have a sexless marriage when my biological clock is ticking and my parents are putting pressure on me to find the one.

Don’t marry for money or status and never settle. Sexual attraction is critical. Sex is very important in a marriage and for the intimacy. You want to be with somebody who is kind and humble and compassionate. You love their scent and you yearn for their touch. Sexuality is a complex interplay of medical, psychological, situational and relational status. Understand that sexual desire does not come first. In fact, it’s more likely responsive.

So, you don’t feel like so having sex. Who hasn’t been there? But it’s been a while. You’re in a loving relationship and you accept your partner’s sexual advances. And you enjoy it. You’re like, hey, I like that. Why didn’t I do that last night. Have sex in the morning when testosterone levels are high and you’ve had a good night’s sleep.

Have your breakfast, turn off your computers, turn on your spouse and go back to bed. Awaken your inner lover. Pay close attention to your fantasies because they are fueled by love. Your deepest wishes can power intimacy in your marriage like nothing else. But if you find yourself in a sexless marriage, understand the risks. In addition to infidelity, it’s a lonely place. It affects people’s self-esteem. It will increase peripheral vascular resistance and elevate your blood pressure, lead to the increased risk of a stroke and even early death.

So if the sex in your marriage has died get the help that you need and you deserve, because it’s really important. The challenge in any marriage is to keep the sex sizzling hot and that’s not always easy, because life happens. It runs hot and cold. There’re finances. There’re kids. There’s in-laws. There’s friends. There’s work. There’s so much.

Make sex a priority and should you be in a marriage where somebody has strayed and you feel betrayed, face fidelity with facts. And I want to leave you with a bang: always be a hopeless romantic and settle all marital arguments in the hot tub, naked. Thank you.

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