This is a two-part post. Tomorrow’s will be about the importance of sexual compatibility to a relationship.
I hinted before that my marriage was sexually dysfunctional from the start. Aside from the fact that we were together some 5 years before having sex, we were definitely incompatible when we did finally lose our virginities to each other. That’s not to say that our sex life (what there was of it) was terrible, it wasn’t. We knew what each other liked and we knew how to please each other, but ultimately we both had the unnerving feeling that something was seriously lacking and that it wouldn’t end well.
It can manifest itself in many ways but it usually means that one or both partners in the relationship are not getting the satisfaction they desire.
- One partner may be happy with missionary once a month and the other wants to work their way through the Karma Sutra
- One likes something that the other dislikes / makes them uncomfortable
- One partner likes it rough and the other doesn’t
- One partner has a particular kink and the other – either having tried it or not – is actively turned off by that
We fell into the final group. My ex-wife is into pain, specifically spanking and though I tried it, it was not for me. I can be rough(er) but I was not comfortable with being as rough as she would have liked me to be; looking back, she has since told me that she would have been very uncomfortable with me being as rough as she would have liked me to be. We thought we could work around it, and to an extent we made do but that wasn’t enough and ultimately it was going to be the undoing of our relationship.
It wasn’t the total of our sexual dysfunction though. At the beginning she was clearly scared of having sex and I waited, I was patient. Later on, when it was clear that we had problems and they were getting worse and not better, she would have an excuse: too tired, not feeling well, we have work tomorrow, I have a headache, not in the mood etc…
I gave up trying to get physical with her and we became increasingly withdrawn until she had her online affair. She cited my lack of interest in her, completely ignoring the fact that my giving up was a result of being rebuffed 99% of the time. We should have done something about it then, like gone to a counsellor or broken up but the truth is that I didn’t know any better and neither did she.
As the realisation of our separation set in and our sexual incompatibility suddenly became the most important factor in our break-up, I suddenly felt inadequate and was made to feel that I wasn’t good enough, that I was incapable of satisfying her (and by extension any woman).
Sexual dysfunction is a major cause of depression for men. It can lead to any number of physical problems. I won’t go over them again, but they are here. Persistent inability to perform is one of the major causes of male suicide and amongst younger age groups, the rates are particularly high. Feeling inadequate in the bedroom and that you are less of a man leads to feelings of worthlessness too.
Both popular media and pornography paints an image of men always wanting sex, always being up for it and being the initiators of sex. With this persistent image, a man who has lost his libido will naturally feel that his reason for being has been reduced. Because of this stereotype, male sexual desire has received very little study but I did find this article on Psychology Today saying that men’s emotions are not that much different from women’s and that quality of sex is more important than quantity. A man’s mental health also has an immediate and direct impact on his sexual performance.
We are all too hung up on sex – men and women – and we’re not talking about it enough, or we’re not talking about it in the right way(s). I found it difficult both in one-on-one and group sessions talking to our therapist (who was a woman). Perhaps I felt embarrassed because she was a woman but I don’t know if I would have been any less embarrassed talking to a man. She asked me some frank questions that I found uncomfortable answering, after all this was private stuff and I was laying out bare (pardon the pun) what I think about sex, my body and our dysfunctional sex life.
In an ideal world we would be free to discuss it without feeling “slut shamed” or that our tastes and preferences were abnormal and that’s tragic when it is clearly having such a detrimental effect on our mental health and the quality of our relationships.