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 Sheila (and Maribeth):
Thank you very much for your letter which was published in full and partially answered last week. I shall answer as if just one of you wrote the letter, since it makes for easier reading, okay?
I know you and your husband love each other. But it isn’t just love we’re discussing here; and, alas, love is oftentimes different from sex. You feel he is 100% truthful about being okay about your sex life and you may well be right.
However, there are also other possibilities:
He’s only 70%-ish truthful about being happy with your sex life, but it’s only because he’s convinced himself that meeting his sexual needs elsewhere is the best way to show love for you. To him, maybe saying he’s okay with no sex in 7 months is because he knows to say otherwise would pressure you, make you feel inadequate, and stress you out. But if he had his druthers, he’d rather you had sex more often.
Or he could be 100% truthful not because sex in general is no longer a need, but because sex with you isn’t. But this hasn’t changed his love for you; this has merely confirmed that he is a card-carrying embracer of the madonna-prostitute dichotomy that we supposedly inherited from our Spanish colonizers.
Love and lust
You know, the belief that there are only two kinds of women in this world: one whom you put on a pedestal, respect, marry and have babies with; the other whom you lust after and have raunchy, enjoyable sex with.
So it’s possible that both of you are comfortable with your low sexual activity since, underneath, you are both having exactly the same kind of sex you want; be it hardly ever (yours) or with women who are more desirable (his).
Take note please, Sheila, that other women are more desirable not because you are less objectively alluring, but because they are not his wife. In other words, walang personalan (please don’t take this personally); I am merely a product of my cultural legacy.
But before the above scenarios plunge you into a deep depression, please remember they are merely hypotheses yet to be explored (should you be willing to).
It is just as likely that Jeremy, who tut-tutted me for being so cynical, is right. In our column last week, he concluded that “there seems to be no problem of sexual mismatch. You …have discussed the matter with your husbands and they accept the situation…My only caveat would be to suggest that you periodically check with your husbands that they continue to be okay with the status quo.”
The only way you will find out whether your husband is “100%-ly” happy with the sexual status quo of your marriage is to ask him in a way that reassures him that you really and truly want to know the answer.
But ask yourself, please, if you really want to do this; if you are really willing to find out how he feels about your sex life together. Because that could really hurt, you know.
It could even be devastating. For example, what if you find out that he’s been seeing someone even if “it’s just for sex.”
At the moment, things are okay the way they are now, and I doubt if anyone in your barkada, Church, and among your school friends could accuse you of being selfish or unsolicitous of his needs. After all, you did ask him.
But getting more and more intimate with your husband is like peeling an onion. There are layers galore, and you can only do a good job if you’re not afraid to cry.
Now the pilosopo [cynical troublemakers, J] among you may say: “But you can find ways to not cry when peeling onions, so isn’t this a false analogy?”
To which I would answer: “You’re right, damn it. So let’s change the onion to an artichoke: to get at what’s best in an artichoke you have to work at it, graciously accepting all the sharp bits that hinder your progress, until you reach the heart.”
Any man can have a wife whose sexual ardor has diminished since the baby but who loves him as much as when they first got married. Any man can also have a wife thoughtful enough to worry that their sex life may be unsatisfactory and who asks him directly…but when he says it’s okay, accepts it as is and doesn’t probe because she may uncover something she’ll have to do something about. Many would congratulate a man for having a wife that is “good enough.”
But to have a wife with whom he can share his deepest thoughts, most frightening fears, most ambitious dreams without worrying she may break? To know he can explore anything and everything – even severely devastating issues because she is not a baby to be protected but an equal partner in all they do? Priceless! All the best- Margie.
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email email@example.com with subject heading TWO PRONGED.