Love and Relationships

[Two Pronged] Sex with my husband hurts, and he wants to leave me because of it

Margarita Holmes, Jeremy Baer

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[Two Pronged] Sex with my husband hurts, and he wants to leave me because of it
'I just endure the pain when he is doing it to me, but sometimes I cannot take it anymore. I just want him to finish.'

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 three 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 have a vaginismus problem. My husband of seven years wants to break up with me because of this problem. He is the only one I’ve had sexual intercourse with. However, I want to cure my sexual problem not for my partner, but for myself. I’ve never felt satisfaction when I have sexual intercourse. 

Every time we have sexual intercourse, I can feel pain; my vagina tightens every time he inserts his thing into me. I just endure the pain when he is doing it to me, but sometimes I cannot take it anymore. I just want him to finish. My husband keeps telling me to relax, and he’s also told me that maybe my vagina tightens because I don’t want him.

But I really want him. I did not take things seriously at first, but after several years he got tired of it. He doesn’t want to have sex with me anymore, and I found out that he was on a dating app recently.

We got to talk about it, and and one thing he told me was that he wasn’t happy anymore because of my vaginismus problem. He also denied that he’d created a profile on a dating app; he said the profile I saw was not new; rather it was old and he never got to delete it.



Dear Rita,

Thank you for your email.

Dyspareunia (difficult or painful intercourse) is not uncommon and is generally treatable. It can be the result of a number of causes, and consultation with a gynecologist should both identify the problem and indicate the appropriate treatment. 

However, in the interim, you are faced with a husband (let’s call him Paco) who apparently no longer wants to have sex with you because of your dyspareunia. This implies that he equates sex solely with penile/vaginal intercourse (PVI), which is of course to suggest that he is either not considering or rejecting the alternatives (oral, anal, masturbation, etc.). 

While he may think that after seven years of trying it is now reasonable to break up, it is equally reasonable to suggest that 1) a visit to the doctor could be the way to resolve the problem; 2) there is more to a seven-year marriage than just PVI; and 3) there are plenty of alternatives to PVI  that could keep you both sexually satisfied in the interim.

Perhaps it is time to talk to Paco, schedule that visit, and try out some of those alternatives to see which works best for you both. It should be a worthwhile, satisfying, and exciting quest.

All the best,
JAF Baer

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[Two Pronged] My husband still wants sex, but I’m 62 and have vaginal dryness

Dear Rita:

Thank you very much for your letter. Vaginismus that leads to painful sex can be so disheartening, especially if you feel you have tried everything to alleviate it, to no avail. However, if you have not yet tried therapy, there’s every likelihood this could help resolve your problem, with or without Paco.

Frankly, I am not convinced involving Paco in your therapy will help unless…unless…

  1. He still wants to make a go of your marriage; and
  2. He is willing to be honest and tell you the truth.  This may be difficult not because he is a natural-born liar (rather, not necessarily  because he’s a liar who wants to deceive you) but because people often find it difficult to tell the entire truth since they don’t want to hurt their partner.

Perhaps you can tell him he has already hurt you tremendously, with the discovery of his having a dating app, and with your realization that he doesn’t want to be married to you (simply?) because of the pain you experience during intercourse. I hope my encouraging you to tell him all that doesn’t make me come across as merely asking you to sound churlish, even if you may have every reason for being so.

However as an “advice columnist,” I realize I shouldn’t have gone that (churlish) route.  

BUT as a clinical psychologist, strongly feeling that there are more issues involved than vaginismus, AND having spoken with Sam Siat, an LA-based psychotherapist whose wide knowledge and emotional IQ about sexuality often takes my breath away, here ARE some avenues I/we think would be a good idea to explore the possibility:

  1. that a medical/physical condition may affect your sex life now; and/or
  1. that a previous experience/trauma may affect how you feel about sex now (this may involve something in the distant past or may involve your husband); and/or
  1. that he is using your vaginismus as a reason to fool around; and/or
  1. that Paco may have his own sexual problems. Sometimes, men who are aware they have problems with premature ejaculation may try to insert their penises into their partners’ vaginas way before she is ready, thus causing pain.

I hope Paco is not really as mababaw (superficial) as he comes across: not willing to give your marriage a go simply because he thinks your marital problems are all YOUR fault. If he isn’t, then I hope he will give therapy a chance. And if he is, then I am glad that you feel/wrote: “I want to cure my (sexual) problem, not for my partner but for myself.” Attagirl!

Please tell us if there is anything else we can do for you.

All the best,
MG Holmes


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