I got the call initially from the wife, let’s call her Emma. “My husband and I would like to come see you about some sexual problems we are having,” she said flatly with clear detachment. Emma did not seem particularly eager to give me more details and with my busy schedule, I could wait until our meeting.
At the appointment time, Emma arrived before her husband Dominic and sat erect on the couch. Once again, I sensed her great hesitancy in answering any questions. To describe Emma as a woman of few words would have been an understatement; her replies consisted of the bare minimal. She explained their problem as “he wants is and I don’t.” As far as Emma was concerned, she had no desire to have sex at all. Dominic apparently had told her that “something was wrong with her” and at his urgings, she had made a trip to her gynecologist to get “checked out.” She relayed to me that the female physician had told Emma that she had not found any biological reasons for her disinterest in sex. As far as Emma was concerned, it was not a problem for her; it was only a problem for her husband. Apparently her gynecologist had suggested that Emma begin to masturbate to help increase her libido. Emma confided that she has less interest to do that then to have sex with her husband.
The minute Dominic came rushing into my office, I witnessed Emma’s polar opposite. He was nonstop chatter. He conveyed his frustration in being late. “I had to listen to the baby sitter gripe about not getting paid on time.” The sarcasm was clear and cutting. “Miss Brilliant here apparently forgot to pay the babysitter on Monday like she’s suppose to.” Emma let out a nervous laugh. She tried to explain that on Monday with three small children in tow, Emma had left later than usual and in her rush to work, had forgotten to pay the babysitter. Dominic interrupts, “what kind of dumb f*ck can’t even remember to hand over a check? Even a third grader could do that.” His tone didn’t sound particularly angry but rather ended with a bit of a chuckle. Emma let out a muffled giggle as well.
Though this verbal exchange provided much information, I changed gears and asked about their relationship. Once again, Dominic controlled all spoken dialogue. Emma sat mute. He reported that they have been together 5 years and have been married for almost four. They have three children. A son who is 4 1/2 years old and two daughters — one 3 years old with a baby about to be 18 months.
As Dominic begins to ramble once again, I point out that I have not heard much from Emma and would like to get a bit of her personal history, specifically, her sexual history. Apparently Emma became sexually active in college and through those four years had numerous sex partners….”more than she could ever count.” This pattern followed for about three more years until she met Dominic. As she explained, most of her lovers were just “one night stands” and the few that were not, well, “there was not any depth to the relationship.” Curiosity drove my next question, “did you enjoy having sex ever with any of them?” Her answer rapidly fired, “No!” It turns out that Emma has never had an orgasm. I suppress my surprise that she would keep on having sex with anyone.
I explain the often unheard of truth of the sex hormonal differences between a man and a woman. Both seem quite astonished with this new information. Feel free to learn more about that in my blog posted under the PHYSICALLY category. Dominic conveys the true picture of their sexual intimacy. “I bug her and bug her until she finally gives in and then she just lays there while I do my business. It’s clear she can’t wait until I’m done.”
Then I lean in and ask Dominic gently, “when you first arrived, you referred to Emma as ‘Miss Brilliant’ and ‘dumb f*ck’ and even ‘third grader.’ Do you speak to her like that at home?” Dominic defends with a subdued laugh, “that’s just the way I talk — she knows I don’t mean anything by it. She knows I’m her big bear.” Then I ask Emma, “How do you like being called those names?” Her voice is quiet — the laughter gone. “I don’t.”
Now Dominic’s voice bellows, “What’s that got to do with it?”
What does relationship have to do with female orgasm? — that is a good question. I explain how in all my experience there are two things that can utterly wipe out sexual desire. One is Unspoken Frustrations which lead to Resentment piling up. Resentment is a killer of passion. For a woman especially, Resentment has a profound effect since two of the organs involved in female orgasm reside in the brain. The second enemy to satisfying sexual intimacy is the presence of Control in a relationship. If either partner (or both) feels like the other is trying to change or control them, well, over time it seems sexual desire does not stand a chance of surviving.
Of course, in this couple’s case there is a little more involved. The pattern of sexual “performance” existed in Emma’s world long before she met Dominic and that pattern would need to change. To get an idea of how that looks, check out my blog under the MENTALLY category. Also with the natural design behind female orgasm, Emma would need to share with Dominic what feels good to her and what doesn’t when they are having sex. Female orgasm is complicated and there is no one-size-fits-anyone of how to get there, not even with the same woman from day to day. Obviously, Emma has never really paid attention to herself or the sensations within her body or shared this with any of her lovers. And it would seem Emma has chosen a spouse who does not take the initiative to ask and explore her pleasures. He expects her to take that initiative and she expects him to take that initiative. Actually, both need to be able to speak out of their own hearts to one another. Emma is not the only one with the probable build-up of Resentment. Undoubtedly, Dominic also has years of frustration that his wife repeatedly gives him the message that “she simply does not need to have sex.” That would sound a lot like she does not need (or want) Dominic as a lover. That would hurt. Not to mention how bad it would feel to make the effort over and over again to initiate sex only to be turned down repeatedly.
Where we started that day was to take a tiny first step for change. Prior to our session, it had not really registered with Dominic that his “teasing” was painful to Emma and might be resulting in ever-increasing Resentment. Of course, that would mean that Emma needs to speak up more. Dominic vehemently insisted that he “would love for that to happen. She just won’t talk.” I pointed out that things were a bit lopsided and Emma had gotten very comfortable to allow Dominic to dominate the conversations. Obviously she felt some insecurity (actually probably more like unfamiliarity) with speaking and like most of us, stayed in the place of what’s comfortable. In order for Emma to talk more, Dominic would need to listen more. I asked him how he could help Emma feel safer to want to open up to him. Would calling her names — even if just teasing help her feel safe? A light went off in his head. “Well, then, I guess I just need to shut up more and stop calling her names.” I point out that just being aware of what he is doing with her would be a more reasonable first step.
However, Emma has a part to play in whether things change or not. Is she ready to begin to pay attention to her own feelings? That would be a feasible first step for her. Once she can tune into her insides better, then she can learn to start sharing these with Dominic. There would be a couple of other steps as well to get this couple’s relationship to a place favorable for lasting ongoing sexual satisfaction for both. If this couple chose to take those steps, then the possibility of Emma coming to sexual climax might stand a chance of blossoming.
What do you think?