Thirty-two-year-old Matthew has not been happy with his wife, Funmilola, 29, in recent times.
Matthew works at a new generation bank on Victoria Island, Lagos, while his wife works at a real estate development firm in Ikeja.
Both had met as students at one of the university in Oyo State and had got married in 2014. Since then, things had been going pretty well for the duo.
But in the past three weeks, Matthew told our correspondent that his wife of three years had been “stylishly” avoiding to have sex with him, a situation that had got him thinking whether she was having an extra-marital affair.
“I’m just insinuating because her behaviour these days is strange to me. Although I trust her, I don’t want to rule it out that she’s not been seeing someone else,” Matthew complained bitterly. “Does she want me to beg her for sex? I just don’t understand what’s happening to her these days. If not that I love her, wouldn’t I have started having an extra-marital affair?”
Matthew’s lamentation is not unusual, according to an American sexologist and author of Getting the Sex You Want, Dr. Tammy Nelson, “When you suspect that your partner is avoiding sex, it can leave you feeling rejected and confused.”
Nelson, in a research with her colleagues published in the Psychology Today, found out some possible reasons your partner might be avoiding having sex with you:
Arguments, fights, disagreements and hurt feelings all interfere with intimacy in any relationship, Nelson noted. Also, your spouse could be harbouring resentment towards you and in order to find out what the problem is, it’s inevitable that you’ll have to open up better communication. Couples must work to resolve these issues before expecting their sex life to go back to normal. This may require the assistance of couples’ counselling, so be willing to take that step if it’s necessary. However, there may be relationship issues you’re not even aware of.
Life can be stressful. This is true throughout college, early adulthood, parenthood and hectic mid-life careers, Nelson noted, adding, “Stress will make your spouse uninterested in sex.”
The sexologist said chronic stress could cause the adrenal glands to produce large amounts of the cortisol hormone, which then hinders the adrenal glands from producing adequate amounts of other hormones such as testosterone and oestrogen (sex hormones responsible for libido).
She said, “It’s important to relieve stress in a healthy, sustainable way in order to keep your hormones and your sex drive where you want them to be. Examples of great ways to reduce stress include exercise, massage, taking a luxurious bath, outdoor leisure, and yes, even sex.”
Sex researchers, Masters and Johnson, said your spouse might be avoiding having sex with you because of a bad attitude that you’ve developed. For example, they said suddenly becoming hot-tempered or snappy could affect your spouse’s attraction to you.
Masters noted, “Whatever the problem is, if your spouse decides to tell you, be willing to keep an open mind. Although it may hurt your ego, don’t get defensive and consider that reversing negative changes may turn your sex life around.”
Letting days go by without touching
When last did you passionately and intentionally touch your spouse? According to Nelson, sex is a process and it’s about the slow build-up — the kiss you exchange at the beginning of the day and before going to bed, the holding of hands at the supermarket, the touching of lips and cheeks and so on.
“Focus on physical touch and affection every day and don’t jump into sex too fast,” Nelson advised.
“Sit next to him/her on the couch. Hold his/her hand. Rub his/her neck. Do all these even when you don’t plan to have sex. The touches make you feel emotionally connected to each other and foster intimacy. In addition, quiz each other about the three things you both enjoy about having sex.”
Sex has become routine
Over time, your sex life may have gone from hot to humdrum. If you or your spouse feels that sex has become too predictable — same time, same place, same positions — it may be time to mix things up, said an author and sexologist, Dr. Dawn Michael.
She said, “Change the scene, make the bedroom sexy and romantic by adding candles and soft music — really set the stage for romance. Use your imagination to role play with each other.
“Most of all, have fun; it’s okay to giggle and tease each other. Allowing yourself to let go and enjoy the moment and the person you’re sharing it with can be intimate and sexy.”
When it comes to sex, there are a lot of expectations that can be involved. If you feel insecure or tend to be anxious, these expectations can produce performance anxiety. According to Nelson’s colleague who is a marriage counsellor and psychologist, Susan Whitbourne, when you are worried whether you would be able to satisfy your spouse in bed, it could produce undue anxiety.
Sex researchers, William Masters and Virginia Johnson, suggested that all that’s necessary to maintain a satisfying sex life and eliminate anxiety is to be “interested” in sex.
“Explore your personal interests and reconnect with the person you once were,” Johnson said.
Performance anxiety is about you and is internal while low libido is about your spouse and is external. Nelson noted that the reason your spouse might have been avoiding sex could be due to your performance in bed, which could be caused by a wide variety of physical issues and ailments, including obesity, diabetes, thyroid issues, hormonal imbalances and chronic pain.
To solve the low libido problem, the sex experts recommended lots of sleep, plenty exercise, good diet and scientifically-proven dietary supplements like ginseng and maca to boost sex performance.
Speaking to our correspondent, Lagos-based marriage counsellor, Dr. Olaide Babalola, advised couples to always “stay connected” in terms of communication.
She said, “I believe what’s most important is for couples to always talk about any problem they might be experiencing. It’s not good to keep quiet and think things would be alright. Discussing issues brings solutions.”