Intimacy and Commitment

Thomas a forty something labourer nervously presented to my offi given as he said what he had to confess.  Thomas had heard the ads for V-Love a new sexual desire gel and lubricant for women and figured I knew a thing or two about sex and relationships and so he booked an appointment.

Thomas has been married to Courtney for twenty years and together they have three children.  He is the principal breadwinner and and has a very stressful job.  For many years of the marriage, he was also the main parent as his wife struggled and suffered with major clinical depression.  Thomas explained that he was very much in love with and sexually attracted to his wife. However one major problem has persisted, the marriage was sexless.  A sexless marriage is defined as one where a couple has sex less than ten times per year.  It had been years since Thomas and his wife were intimate with each other by the time he presented to my office.

Thomas was bothered tremendously by this lack of intimacy due to lack of interest from his wife.  He repeatedly explained to his wife that he needed to have sex with her however it never seemed to happen. Early on in the marriage, sex was frequent and very enjoyable for both, according to Thomas.  Low sexual desire is associated with long term relationships, medical conditions such as depression and medications like antidepressants.

About two years ago Courtney told Thomas that if he so desired it would be OK for him to seek sex elsewhere. She said, “ I am giving you permission to have sex with another woman.” She went onto to say that she preferred if he sought sex from prostitutes as the chances of him becoming emotionally involved would be less. She also said she did not want to hear about it.

Thomas gave this considerable thought before he ventured outside of his marriage seeking sex elsewhere. He not only sought sex from prostitutes but also from women he had met on-line and one from his workplace.  He “cheated” about five or six times over a one year period.  He enjoyed the time he spent with his wife watching movies, boating and biking and was able to be intimate with other women. He was all set or so he thought until one night over dinner Courtney said toe  and was able to be intimate with other women.  The trouble was that one evening Courtney said Thomas “ I hope you never went and had sex with anyone else because I really did not mean that and if I find out, I am going to divorce you.” These words stunned Thomas and now he was overwhelmed with guilt and had no idea what he was going to do.

I explained to Thomas that living with a person with depression or any other mental illness may have its challenges.   Also, it is completely unfair for someone to hold another person’s sex life hostage. If his wife had low sexual desire, it was up to her to ascertain help as sex in an intimate relationship is vital. There are many treatments for low sexual desire including taking time for sex, self stimulation, mindfulness cognitive behavioral therapy and sexual desire gels and treating any medical condition like vaginal dryness.

There was no reason that Thomas needed to tell his wife about his indiscretions (although I hesitate to use that word as she had given him permission). He needed to take a look at his life and ask himself why he had allowed this to go on (being controlled by her)  and decide if this is the kind of life he wants for the long term. If he wanted a marriage where sex was a part then he had every right to that.  I suggested he have a frank conversation with his wife about how their sexless marriage was impacting his life, work and stress levels. 

After validation from research and what is acceptable in an intimate relationship, Thomas decided to speak to his wife and was up front with her about his love, commitment and desire. He said he wanted to be with her for the rest of his days unless the road ahead lacked intimacy.  He asked her to get help and to his surprise she finally agreed.  

Every relationship has its ups and downs and there are certainly times when sexual frequency diminishes but a lack of sex over a protracted period of time is not healthy emotionally or physically. Having confidence in a relationship to speak up about what is important is the first step to any successful relationship.


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