Intimacy problems are shared problems


Connie’s complaint when she came to the sexology clinic was that she had not had sex with her husband for eight months. She could bear it anymore and wanted an immediate solution.

“I hear you; but I really need to understand why sex is not happening before I can give a solution,” I insisted.

“Maybe I should just divorce, I am tired of this celibacy, I am too young to be subjected to this kind of life,” she said, as if she had not heard a word I had said. I realised that there was no communication happening between us; she was preoccupied with her own thoughts. I called the situation to order by asking her direct questions to help me make a diagnosis.

Connie was 34 years old and a marketing executive with a big company. Her husband, Tony, was 35. He was a lawyer with a famous law firm. The couple had been married for three years. They had one child aged one.

“So he lost his erections one year ago,” Connie explained. At one point, she thought she was the one not showing enough love and that this could have caused Tony’s problems. She therefore did everything she could to improve intimacy and romance in the relationship. The situation however only worsened.

In her own wisdom she went to a pharmacy and bought Tony some Viagra. This led to a big quarrel between them. Tony refused to take the medicine.

“So doctor what does one do when your spouse has an obvious sex problem but [won’t] seek help?” she asked.

Well, there are many such cases. The first important thing to realise is that sex problems are a couple’s problem, not an individual one. Sometimes the person accused of having a problem may actually be reacting to a problem in his or her partner, who may be the one requiring treatment. Even if the problem arose from one party, it affects both parties. Whenever sex fails, therefore, do not accuse each other; seek help together. 

“I think you do not understand what I am talking about,” Connie interrupted. “The man has no erection at all! He is the one who needs treatment but just won’t seek help!”

I could understand Connie’s frustration. The truth, however, is that both parties should seek help when sex fails. It is true that sex problems can be embarrassing. If you are a proud person you probably do not want to go to a doctor to talk about your inability to have sex. This can expose you as a weak person and you really do not want that. Also, many people assume that the only thing a doctor will diagnose is an end to their sex life, and they cannot bear such bad news.

Further still, some people are in denial. They do not believe that their sex lives can fail. They also do not think that sex problems need medical intervention. In fact, most people are simply confused when things fall apart in the bedroom.

“So what am I supposed to do when my husband won’t come for treatment?” Connie asked, getting impatient with my long explanation.

The first thing to do is to avoid accusing him of causing the bedroom problems. He is also going through emotional torture and needs your support. It is important to reassure him that you still love and care for him. Let him know that you miss the good old days when sex was perfect and wish that a solution could be found. Let him know that visiting a doctor is an option. Do not force him and do not give up on him. Do not threaten him with divorce or infidelity. These will only worsen the situation. Further, do not show him disrespect. He has a medical problem and disrespecting him is being unfair.

Since sex problems are shared, go ahead and seek medical help anyway even if your spouse has refused. You will definitely get tips that can help resolve the problem. More important is that your spouse will realise that you are committed to getting a solution and will most likely mellow.

Connie remained deep in thought as I gave my advice. She then suddenly stood up and said she was leaving and would get back to me. Two days later she called and informed me that she had decided to quit the marriage. It seems their marriage was beyond repair.


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