Tuesday 20 February 2018

Dear Patricia: Rejection after son's birth has left me incapable of sex

Patricia Redlich

My wife and I have been married for nearly two years. At first everything was going great and when she got pregnant, we still had very happy sex.

But after having our beautiful son, she decided she didn't want any more children as she already has two from a previous marriage. So she began rejecting my sexual advances.

That went on for a while. Then she started to approach me for sex, and I found I can't seem to be ready.

Can you tell me what I need to do? I'm afraid she'll leave me.

Patricia replies:

Contraception can be dodgy after child-birth, especially if the woman normally took responsibility, like being on the pill. Not to mention the fact that sex can be dodgy for a while too. Women may not feel like it. Or still be recovering physically.

All that is normal, par for the course, the sort of stuff that every couple goes through. Yet it sent you into a tailspin of terror. All you heard, or saw, or felt, was rejection.

Why? Why did you see such normal stuff as scary? She may not have engaged in an in-depth discussion with you, but your wife did explain that she felt she had enough children. Why did that make you feel so helpless?

Wasn't that an opportunity to talk about alternative methods of contraception, or whatever?

Instead you just got scared -- and probably angry at your wife too. We don't like feeling scared, so we get angry at the person who is central to our fear -- even though our fear is not their fault.

When we don't talk, our bodies do the talking for us. You now can't get an erection when your wife approaches you for sex.

That's your body expressing your fear -- and like I said, your anger too. Most importantly of all, it's a clear statement about your distress at being so hopelessly vulnerable.

It seems you feel that your wife has all the power and you have none. You're married, you have a baby together, you're raising her other children together, yet you believe you're only hanging in there by the skin of your teeth. No one can live like that.

This isn't a physical problem. It's an emotional one. You're going to have to start feeling more secure in your marriage. Talk to your wife, or to a counsellor, or both.

Until you do, your body will continue to do the talking for you, with the obvious unhappy consequences.

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