Husband's sex bombshell after affair
Welcome to Relationship Rehab, news.com.au's weekly column solving all your romantic problems, no holds barred. This week, our resident sexologist Isiah McKimmie tackles a man who can't get aroused with his partner after having an affair, a woman who's suddenly stopped orgasming and a girlfriend struggling to get her boyfriend to open up to her.
HE HAD AN AFFAIR AND NOW WE DON'T HAVE SEX
QUESTION: My partner had an affair, it hurt me and we are trying to get through it. He is unable to have sex though, he can't keep it up, he told me last night he associates sex with pain and can't get that out of his head. What do we do?
RELATED: Man floored by wife's sex secret
ANSWER: Firstly, congratulations on having the courage and determination to work through this. It is possible to work through infidelity to have a stronger relationship than ever before.
I know it won't be easy. There are going to be many layers of this to work through for both of you and this will be a journey that takes some time.
When you say your partner equates sex with pain, I'm assuming you mean emotional pain from the fallout of the affair. If it's actual physical pain, my answer would be somewhat different.
I'm guessing that your partner is struggling to maintain his erection because his sexual desire/turn on reminds him of the ways he hurt you.
Try changing your focus to sex being about pleasure and intimacy between you.
Don't worry about him not having an erection for now. Focus instead on rebuilding your connection and your physical intimacy. Even without him having an erection, it's possible to enjoy physical and sexual connection that brings you closer together. Do things that are possible and that you both enjoy. Focus on your pleasure right now too.
As your partner re-associates sex with closeness between you, it may help change the connotations in his mind.
Have him explore whether there are certain aspects of sex that he finds more strongly associated with pain right now. It might be helpful to explore some of his current underlying sexual beliefs with a therapist by himself, so he can voice more of what's happening for him without worrying about hurting you.
Erectile dysfunction medications may be helpful as a short-term support. The short-term use of medications, while a person works on the underlying psychological/emotional causes of erection difficulties can help build confidence and positive associations with sex.
RELATED: Why husband wants wife to cheat
HELP! I CAN'T ORGASM WITH MY PARTNER ANYMORE
QUESTION: For a while with my new partner, I was experiencing great orgasms. Then all of a sudden, they disappeared. Any idea what happened to them?
ANSWER: There are a lot of reasons women can struggle to reach orgasm.
My first question for you is: What happened right around the time your orgasms disappeared?
Was there something happening in your life, like a changed job, stress at work or another major life event? Did something change about how you're feeling within you? Stress and your feelings about yourself can inhibit desire and orgasm.
Or, did something change in the relationship? Did you suddenly feel closer to your partner than ever before? Sometimes when this happens, it can actually trigger anxiety and we consciously or unconsciously pull ourselves away.
Are you still spending as much time in foreplay as you were in the beginning of your relationship? As couples get into a routine together, they can spend less time in lovemaking and in foreplay - kind of skipping over the 'warm up' to get to the main event. Inadequate time in foreplay is one of the most common reasons women struggle to experience orgasm.
HOW DO I HELP MY BOYFRIEND WHEN HE WON'T OPEN UP?
QUESTION: My boyfriend is going through a rough patch. He has lost a large portion of his income due to coronavirus and has found it difficult being at home all the time. I think he's depressed and I'm not sure how to support him. Every time I bring it up, he doesn't want to talk about it. I don't want to pressure him, but how can I still be supportive?
ANSWER: I'm sorry to hear he's having a rough time. These last few months have thrown up extremely difficult circumstances.
It can be challenging for men to open up and reach out when they're struggling due to the persisting stigma around mental health. Men are more consistently given the inaccurate message that it's 'weak' to be struggling mentally and emotionally. Your boyfriend likely feels shame about it, making it even more difficult to talk about.
Let him know that you're concerned and you're there if he does want to talk.
You can't fix this for him, but you can be there in support.
Be supportive when he does open up about emotions and challenges.
Try not to jump in with 'fixing' - just be there to listen.
Take care of yourself.
Being with a partner who's down can be draining - and this time has been challenging for us all. Take care of yourself through this too.
Encourage him to get help.
Gently encourage him to seek support.
I recommend him reaching out to The Banksia Project, Beyond Blue or a therapist or psychologist that he feels comfortable with.
Originally published as Husband's sex bombshell after affair