[Two Pronged] A brother-in-law's temptation
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 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.
Dear Dr Margie and Mr Baer,
I am Anna, 53 yrs old, single, no children.
May I refer to you the personal problem of my brother in law, an OFW in Saudi for 6 yrs now, who comes home every two years? His problem is about his sexual desire when he needs it and wants to but he is far from his wife. Sometimes he talks about it to me. He says he can be assured that I understand. How can I understand when I have never been into the sex activity and he wants to show his genital through picture but I refuse to see it? His wife doesn't know he talks about it to me and told me that he will resort to masturbation just to release his sexual desire.
Dr. Margie, please help me. What will I tell him? I don't want to tell his wife/my sister that he confided to me to refrain trouble though I told him to talk to his wife. Is it normal for men to have this frequent sexual desire?
Dra I told him to divert himself from being alone in the room, to go out, be with friends and take time to enjoy the outside of his room or do some reading but seems he does not listen. Does masturbation have negative effects on our health?
Hope for your help on this.
Thank you very much.
Thank you for your email.
The problem of long distance relationships and sexual desire is of course very common and different couples deal with it in different ways. The blind eye is much favored but now technology has advanced sufficiently to accommodate cybersex in its various manifestations. Chastity is another alternative, particularly espoused by those who do not have to embrace it. A belief in a higher power can also help, especially if that power is prone to smiting sinners and thus engendering a strong sense of fear.
Your situation is however a little different. Your brother-in-law (let's call him Al) has been discussing his sexual needs not with his wife but with you, his sister-in-law and a self certified middle aged virgin who has never been “into the sexual activity”, and he now wants to expose himself to you.
Why would Al ever have imagined that he could start such a conversation and how has it reached the point that he feels free to suggest what can only be described as cybersex? Clearly you have not dissuaded him, or not forcefully enough, even though your computer has an on/off button just like everybody else’s. You, perhaps sensibly, avoid telling us about these matters and so we can only guess at the degree of your complicity and your possible betrayal of your sister.
As for your final questions, masturbation is not harmful to a person’s health unless it interferes with their ability to love (sustain relationships, sexual or otherwise) and work. This does not appear to be Al’s case. As for suggesting that his sexual needs can be diverted by going for a walk, reading a book etc., that might work for a person with low libido but is unlikely to succeed other than for a short time with anyone else. After all, just how many walks/books can a man take/read per day?
In conclusion, Al’s problem is not yours to share and you would be doing him and your sister a favor if you leave it to them to resolve.
All the best,
Thank you very much for your letter. I agree with Mr Baer when he says: “In conclusion, Al’s problem is not yours to share and you would be doing him and your sister a favor if you leave it to them to resolve.” In other words, the next time Al emails you, refuse to answer, should he call, hang up on him, should he invite you for a meal etc in real time, refuse…until it is clear to him that you don’t want to have anything to do with his sex life.
Of course that is easier said than done, so perhaps it is best if we try to understand why it may be difficult for you to disengage from your relationship with Al. Since you wrote us and not Al, I shall not spend too much time hypothesizing about his motives except where it intersects with how difficult it may be for you to stay loyal to your sister, ok?
Perhaps the only thing I want to say about Al is what I would say about anyone who initiates talk about his sexuality wants you to be interested in it.
When he chooses a relative of the significant person in his life, the way your brother in law, Al, chose you, then his behavior is not only about sex, but at the very least, about secrets from, betrayal of, and extreme hostility towards, your sister, his wife.
Why extreme hostility and not mere run-of-the-mill aggression?
Because, while your sister may be hurt and angry when she finds out that her husband has been telling other women about his sexual problem, she will be devastated when she discovers that his betrayal of their relationship was with you, her sister.
It is not so much that Al chose you but that you, her sister, allowed him to continue to such an extent that he wants to send you pictures of his genitals.
Some men find great pleasure in “shocking an innocent.” After all, there aren’t many more things that suggest sexual power over you than leaving you flustered, hot and bothered, simply by his saying things to you. Al has not yet shown you his pictures and yet here you are, bothered enough to write to us.
To men who are not used to such seeming power or to men who have become dependent on ego boosting experiences like this, cyber-sexing with you can be thrilling and, yes, damn sexy.
It is very difficult to respond negatively to Al, even if you know, cognitively, that he should not be saying all these things to you. Gut levelly, it is lovely—very, VERY lovely-- to hear them. And up until this point, you are innocent of any betrayal. Because Al has done these things unbidden, and, in your mind, without any sort of encouragement.
But being scared/flustered/shocked are encouraging to a man like Al.
I have no doubt you told him to stop: stop talking about (or actually sending) such racy pictures of himself, etc. But even without your meaning to, such appeals to him are probably really sexy to him.
And to you.
Not in the same way, and certainly not in the sense that you meant this to happen. But it is difficult to resist a man who finds talking to you sexy. It is heartening to know that your brother in law, who you never had an inkling harbored sexual feelings towards you, actually does. You are not a harlot or a slut for finding this complimentary, you are just being human.
Still, the longer you allow Al to behave this way, the longer you are playing into his fantasy and thus, the longer you are allowing him to betray his wife. Your complicity in Al’s behavior is tantamount to your stabbing your sister in the back.
I hope knowing this will help you tell Al in no uncertain terms to stop being sexual towards you. This means not pleading for him to stop, but actually demanding (in a no-nonsense tone) that he does. If that doesn’t work, then do NOT (merely) threaten that you will not have anything to do with him should he continue to try, but actually do it.
You may feel uncomfortable with behaving “so harshly” towards him, pero tama lang (it’s all good, he deserves it).
To stay the course, just remind yourself—no matter how often--that you love your sister far more than you love Al. Remind yourself that you keeping your sister safe to the best of your ability is much more important than assuaging Al’s sexual longings.
If the above is true, you may not find it easy to stop Al sharing such stories with you, but believe me, you will find it less difficult to do so.
All the best,
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