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.
Hi Good morning Doc Margie and Mr Baer,
I really need your advice about what’s bothering me.
I’ve been married for 16 years now, and have 1 child who’s also turning 16 years old. My husband is a widower with 4 children from his late/first wife.
I am 49 years and my husband is 57 years old.
What bothers me is that when we’re having sex, my husband always asks me to imagine somebody (he always request me to imagine a particular person, which is his nephew) having sex with me so that he has an erection.
Sometimes I follow (even if it’s against my will) what he asked for so that I can satisfy him.
This happens, if I may not be mistaken, after 5 years of our marriage.
I hope you read my email and advise me on what I will do about this.
Dear Bothered Wife (BW),
Fantasy has been part of the human condition since time immemorial. It pervades our daily lives – we dream of being rich, marrying the girl/boy otherwise beyond our reach, getting an improbable promotion/bonus, getting rid of the boss when the promotion/bonus fail to materialize etc.
It is therefore no surprise that sexual fantasies play an important part in our sexual lives as well.
The most common reason for sexual fantasies is to fuel arousal, which is certainly how you describe your case, BW. Fantasies themselves may vary widely: multi partner, S&M/BDSM, gender bending, sexual fluidity, novelty and adventure etc.
The first category, which seems to apply to your situation, has several possible variations: fantasies which are secret, fantasies which are shared and fantasies that are actually acted out.
This raises some interesting questions: why has your husband (let’s call him Carlo) shared his fantasy with you? Why has he chosen his nephew to “join” you in bed? Does he think you two are attracted? Does he wish he still had the body and stamina of his nephew?
The possibilities are myriad but unfortunately we have almost no information to work with.
BW, you have been living with this for over 10 years yet the only thing you tell us is that you are “bothered,” which suggests (?) that this is not a serious threat to your marriage. If you can continue treating the fantasy for what it seems to be – just a fantasy – well and good.
If there is more to it than this, please write again.
All the best,
Dear Bothered Wife (BW):
Thank you very much for your letter. On the whole, I agree with Mr Baer’s answer, though I wonder if the reason it took you 10 years to share with us is not because it was not a major concern of yours, but because you didn’t know how (or were too embarrassed) to share your concern with anyone (including Carlo).
Mr Baer agrees with your observation that the reason for Carlo’s request is to fuel arousal. In addition, Mr Baer hypothesizes several questions you may have had about Carlo’s requests; e.g., Why did he choose his nephew to “join” you in bed? Does Carlo think you and his nephew re attracted to each other? Another might even be: Will he ever ask you to act out his fantasy?
I can only guess how (as it is perfectly understandable why) Carlo’s request was terribly upsetting for you. I can imagine your wanting to ask him, “But why? Why?!!? Am I not enough?” which would be in most wives’ minds. I can also imagine (and admire) your keeping these questions and your fear/anger in check because you didn’t want to hurt him or your marriage.
However, dearest BW, enough is enough.
Eleven years is perhaps enough time for you to have quelled some of your fears and minimized any strong desire to avenge your anger. BUT your questions remain, and rightly so.
That is the reason it would be best if you ask Carlo about them. Asking him will encourage you both to open up about other aspects in your lives.
True intimacy means allowing yourself to be vulnerable in a way you do not with people you do not feel safe with. Sharing that his sexual requests have been hurtful and/or made you sexually insecure is a good start. Usually, making oneself vulnerable encourages the other to trust you as much. If neither is purposely hurtful, this mutual trust leads to more confiding of one’s deeper self and even more trust – a trust that cannot be broken by anyone else.
I know, BW, that what I suggest is far easier said than done.
Perhaps, asking about something that’s already there, like his sexual request, would be a good start, especially because your asking is also a sharing of sorts – about how surprised you may have been initially (which shares something about your childhood and previous experiences) and/or about how it still upsets you to do what he asks (which shares how much you love him because you are doing it nonetheless).
I hope your non judgmental attitude and taking risk (that he won’t trivialise or stonewall you) encourages him to be as open as you or, at the very least, be more open to being more open with you.
If you shared more about what you truly feel, not just about his request, but about other things he may have done or said, this will not only make Carlo aware that who he is matters to you, but, hopefully, encourage him to share more of his true self and want to know more about your true self.
THIS is what true intimacy and closeness means. It is not something marriages guarantee; but when it happens with one’s spouse, oh me, oh my, it is a well earned prize only few marriages are blessed enough to treasure.
Please write to us again if one (or both!!) of us can share anything else that may be helpful to you.
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.