Most women take sexual rejection very personally, especially if their sense of self-worth is linked to love and acceptance from their partner.
When a sexual advance by a woman is turned down by her man, she views herself as being an inadequate lover. She believes that her ‘lovability’ is defined by the affection she receives from her partner.
Meltdown in bed The current trend of sexless marriages, due to lowered self-esteem of men facing a financial crisis and resultant stress, is leading to varied reactions in women. Some working women who’re aware of the global crisis, show greater empathy and do not blame their partner for the financial situation, or the subsequent lack of interest in sex. Instead, they assume the role of a sounding board, and also attempt to motivate them to be optimistic and deal with the crisis ‘together’.
On the other hand, some women add to their husbands’ woes by being demanding, aggressive and blaming them for the loss of both, ‘money and sex’ and launch a direct attack on their partner’s manhood. This only makes matters worse. The woman, who has shoved a guilt-trip down her husband’s throat, can be rest assured that the financial crises may end, but her sex life will never improve.
Women need to understand is that it’s a healthy and relaxed mind that’s important for mutually satisfying physical intimacy.
Self-worth factor Some women get confused by the sudden withdrawal of sex, get depressed and might suspect that their husband is having an extra-marital affair. Such anxious women must de-link affection and physical intimacy, and be educated about ‘temporary psychological impotence’ stemming from increased stress.
In some cases, over-consumption of alcohol can be a problem, especially with those who try to deal with stress via alcohol. This takes a huge toll on the relationship, as the woman finds it difficult to empathise with a husband who gets drunk every night, whines about problems, and doesn’t wish to address the crisis in a logical manner.
In such a condition, marriage counselling helps the couple understand each other’s emotional needs. Also, stress counselling helps the man deal with the financial and sexual lull in life.
A man can be taught to reach out and be sensitive to his wife’s needs, and the woman can be educated to not make it all about herself, be ’emotionally available’ and not use the husband’s vulnerability against him.
The two must remember that this a temporary phase and how they handle it decides the future of the relationship. Moreover, the ’emotional intimacy’ during this time can strengthen their relationship, and there can be some surprising moments of physical intimacy, emerging from such emotional bonding.
Coping with it A wife could use these troubled times to build emotional intimacy and companionship, educate herself about the finer details of her man’s problem and engage him in the small joys of life, such as sharing the child’s achievements in school.
She could engage in non-sexual touching like a back rub or head massage to bond.
She shouldn’t mind her husband wanting to spend time with his colleagues who enlighten him on ways to deal with the problem, and tell him he’s not alone.
Tell him that both of you will get through it ‘together’, and that you believe in him.
Ensure that he doesn’t blame himself. Help him accept uncertainties and forgive himself for human errors, if any.
She can help de-stigmatise seeking professional help. If he is depressed, accompany him to a counsellor.
She could identify what brings him joy. Small things such as cooking his favourite meal can help him.
At times, she could take the lead, touch him sensually, with no pressure to perform, and see if he wants to take it forward.
The woman, of course, has her own emotional and physical needs. She could channelise her libido into work or creative pursuits.