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
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Dear Dr. Holmes and Mr. Baer,
I am in my late forties but I find my sex life wanting. This mess started when my wife kept on rejecting me when I ask her to have sex. She would always say she was tired from her work.
That was way back early 2000. She worked as office administrator in one of the offices in our city. That forced me to watch bold films and masturbate. I sometimes peeped on our working student when she took a bath and found myself aroused.
As far as I can remember, since January 2012 up to now, we haven’t had sexual intercourse. So I continue to watch porn and masturbate, once or twice a week. I no longer like to have sex with my wife because I fear I might be rejected again. I won’t ask for it anymore.
I have found for myself a little consolation: if I like to have arousal by watching the porn in the internet, though every time I saw beautiful women I would always wish that I could have sex with them. But I don’t like it because I don’t like to betray my wife. I find myself very pitiful when it comes to this need. I really like to have a very healthy sex life with my wife but I fear I might be rejected and I don’t like to have sex with her anymore.
I want to get rid of this habit of masturbating once or twice a week but I like arousal. I am sharing this experience to you because somehow this is disturbing. Please enlighten me about this problem.
Thank you very much and am looking forward of your wisdom about this.
Thank you for your email. Your starting point is that your wife began avoiding sex with you, saying she was too tired from work.
You unfortunately say nothing about whether you believed this, or wondered if you were in some way (partially?) responsible, or thought she might be having an affair, or had lost her sex drive, nor do you even mention whether you sat down for some serious discussions with her on this important issue. Instead, you simply state that the situation “forced” you to watch bold films and masturbate, suggesting that somehow she was the villain and you were the victim.
Of course, porn and masturbation are by no means the only possible response to your wife’s embargo on sex, though admittedly they are an easy option. Exploring the reason(s) for the embargo and the possible solutions with her, with or without the intervention of maybe a counselor, would however have been a more likely route to the “very healthy sex life” with her that you claim to want.
But you decided that you would accept the status quo, not ask her for sex for fear of rejection, just stick to porn and masturbation and be "pitiful." Now you find your situation disturbing, but without stating why. Is it that your chosen solution is merely inadequate, or perhaps contrary to some religious edict (strange how many religions love to involve themselves in our private sex lives)?
Perhaps it’s time to decide whether you really want to resolve your problem or just luxuriate in your supposed misery. Take the risk and try to sort it out with her. Communicate!
Success is by no means guaranteed but maybe enough progress can be made for you to stop living this half life to which you have condemned yourself. Maybe together you can find common ground but whatever the outcome you will at least have tried your best.
Thank you very much for your letter. First, let me say that I can relate 100% to what you’re feeling. If I had experienced all you had experienced, I too, would hate to be rejected yet again and thus convince myself that giving up (like you have) is better than beating myself over the head over and over again.
But then I would ask myself if continuing with this attitude is a wise idea –– after all, hasn’t insanity been defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?
Somehow, the risk of rejection seems a price worth paying for the possibility of achieving your goal. I agree with Jeremy that even if “success is by no means guaranteed but [efforts]… to stop living this half life to which you have condemned yourself” might be worth it.
If the result you want is, indeed, to “have a very healthy sex life with my wife,” then why not go for it?
Yes, going for it is not as easy as it sounds or you would have done it already. Why not ask yourself if risking rejection is worth having a shot at a more fulfilling sex life?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with masturbating and many sexually fulfilled men who enjoy meaningful fulfilling and fun sex lives with their partners still masturbate, sometimes as often a twice or three times a week.
However, if you enjoy being aroused and want to complete this arousal with sex with your wife instead of masturbating, why not try something you haven’t done in 9 years and open up about your sexual concerns and your sexual desires?
Why not ask about her own sexual concerns/disappointments and any desires for sexual fulfillment she might have?
Sharing and listening is the first step to emotional intimacy. While being close emotionally is not a sufficient enough to guarantee great sex, its presence is certainly when it comes to your present marriage.
There are many things we can suggest which might be helpful to achieve this closeness, but you have to be willing to take the risk. Once you are ready, please write us again so we can (hopefully) listen and help you more.
All the best,
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email email@example.com with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately, the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.