Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes. Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he enrolled in and subsequently gave workshops in work-life balance and gender sensitivity training. He has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years, as co-lecturer and occasionally as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives. Dr Holmes needs no further introduction.
Dear Dr. Holmes and Mr Baer:
My friend and I share the same concern so I’m emailing in her behalf as well. At first we thought that we’re the only one who is like this, but when we started to share some kwento, it’s a relief to know that we are the same. We’re both married na to men we love very much. But the thing is we’re not sexually active, aggressive, adventurous. Parang minsan (It’s like it only happens) once in 2 or 3 months that we have sex.
When I gave birth and my baby is growing, I don’t recall doing it. But after 7 months? Not active at all. But it doesn’t affect our relationship naman. We’re very happy too. And even our husbands are not demanding when it comes to that too.
For my case, I have a high demand baby now, who’s turning 1 year old and he sleeps with us. I’m always next to my baby, or he’s between us because our baby is he sensitive. He wakes up when I leave him and can’t sleep without me. So my husband on his part too would tell me when I ask him about why we’re not doing it, which in truth I don’t mind, and he’s very understanding kasi that because of the baby. You get what I mean Doc?
My friend and I would like to know if there are really women like us? If there are relationships like this? If it won’t badly affect the marriage? If this should not be a big concern?
Respectfully yours, Sheila and Maribeth
Dear Sheila and Maribeth,
Thank you for your message.
The famous Dr Kinsey once said that the definition of a nymphomaniac was anyone who is having more sex than you and we humans are well known for devoting an inordinate amount of time to comparisons. Is my car a newer model than yours? Is my house bigger than yours? Has my child started talking earlier than yours? And so on.
Comparisons can of course be useful but often they are merely symptoms of some of our less attractive traits like vanity, envy or arrogance. In addition, they can lead to terrible insecurity or worse, especially when the comparisons are in fact false.
Men are often fixated on the size of their penises. “Is it big enough?” is a common worry. Yet when it comes to size, the penis and vagina are no different to the nut and bolt. It isn’t the size of one or the other that is important; it’s whether they are a fit when they are together.
Frequency of intercourse is the same. Poll 10 random people and you will get differing answers as to how often they would like to have intercourse. You can derive a statistical average but that does not reflect the desire of a real person and is of no help when discussing relationships between two people.
What is important is that the two people actually in the relationship have a mutually satisfactory combination of desires. So if person A is highly sexed and in a relationship with equally highly sexed person B, that’s fine, as it is with persons C and D who like sex once a month/year/decade. Problems can arise however when there is a mismatch and couples normally find a way to cope by discussing the matter and weighing the options.
It is at this point that perhaps a difference appears between a short term, even casual, relationship and a more committed and longer term one that may or may not include marriage. While sex is often central to the beginning of a relationship, a longer term relationship will usually have evolved into something more multi faceted, where sex is still a significant element but not the sole element
In your two cases there seems to be no problem of sexual mismatch. You say you have discussed the matter with your husbands and they accept the situation. In these circumstances it would be wise to forget about comparisons with other people and to go with that old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” My only caveat would be to suggest that you periodically check with your husbands that they continue to be ok with the status quo.
All the best – Jeremy
Dear Sheila and Maribeth:
Thank you very much for your letter. In answer to your questions in your last paragraph, yes, there are many women who feel as you do; yes, there are definitely other relationships similar to yours; no, it need not necessarily affect your marriages badly, and yes, this should not necessarily be a big concern.
All you have to do is make sure you have enough discernment to determine if the reassurances your husbands have given you are 100% in support of your marriage.
Jeremy has it right when he said: “What is important is that the two people actually in the relationship have a mutually satisfactory combination of desires.”
Thus, it doesn’t matter how frequently or how seldom the couple makes love, as long as both are fine with it…which reminds me of an experience a fellow psychologist had not too long ago.
Some asked him what the average number of times Filipinos made love. He asked the audience, “Why don’t we find out right now, with you as the respondents? Who makes love every day?” No one raised their hands. “What about once a week?” A few hands went up.
“What about at least once every fortnight?” Even more hands…“at least once a month:” “once every two months,” and the questioning went till no one raised his hand at “once every 6 months.”
Just for good measure, however, the speaker asked, “Is there anyone among you who makes love once a year?”
A hand quickly shot up from the back of the auditorium. The speaker called him: “Sir, do I understand you correctly? You make love only once a year?” And the man grinned, nodding his head vigorously.
But I don’t understand. If you make love only one night a year, why are you smiling so much?!!?”
“Because tonight’s the night!”
There are so many more things I need to share with you: how the Madonna-Prostitute dichotomy may contribute to both your and your husbands’ responses, how important it is to get at your — and their — true-blue, deep-down, most close-to-the-bone feelings about love and sex.
That is because sex is invested with so much, too much, in fact, that oftentimes we accept the first answers our loved ones give us because these are what sit most comfortably with us and allow us not to examine ourselves and our relationships more deeply. Sometimes, husbands give the answer they know their wives want to hear, because it is partly (but not entirely) true and they know these are the answers that will make all of them feel safe enough not to explore things more deeply.
How do we distinguish between a completely honest answer and one that is partly honest? This and the other above issues are what we will discuss next week.
All the best – Margie
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email email@example.com with subject heading TWO PRONGED.
Image of two pairs of feet under the bed from Shutterstock.