I think my husband is faking impotence to avoid having sex
Q I believe my husband is faking impotence. He’s very fit, healthy and a totally fanciable man in his 40s. I’ve put on a bit of a spare tyre, but that shouldn’t matter when a couple has a back story as long and deep as ours.
Yet over the past six to eight months he’s made every excuse to avoid physical intimacy. Too tired, too stressed, headache, had a few drinks, needs to be up early, etc. At first I feared the dreaded ED (erectile dysfunction). Maybe even came to terms with it a bit, and was beginning to accept it as inevitable physical change as we get older.
Then I began to notice that there were times when there was lead in the pencil. So if the plumbing is still intact, why would he be pretending to be impotent? I’m confused, deeply frustrated and hurt. I’ve been afraid to bring it up with him as it’ll expose my sneakiness and, worse, may prompt him to admit what I really fear – that he’s having an affair.
I could accept him being turned off by the saggy boobs and flabby tum, but that started long before the drought began. Outside the bedroom, he’s still as affectionate, communicative and fun to be with as ever. Should I hope it’s a phase that blows over? Or confront him head-on?
A It’s horrible to feel rejected when you crave the touch, intimacy and the sort of loving that makes you feel like a woman. It’s cold comfort, I know, but at least one in five marriages has become a non-sex relationship (defined as sex 10 times a year or less). That doesn’t mean you should stoically live with it.
Has your husband suggested that it’s ED or is it unspoken? If he has blamed ED, he needs to see his GP to rule out physical issues or seek a remedy. But, you may be surprised, if not reassured, to learn research shows that ED is often used by men as an excuse when, in fact, there is something deeper going on.
Your greatest fear is that he’s having an affair. I’m sure you have heard the Oprah truism that if you suspect there’s an affair, there is an affair. But don’t confront him, advises Pat Grange, counsellor with Relationships Ireland. “If your suspicions are groundless this can further damage the relationship, so it’s probably best to consult with a relationship expert before making your suspicions known,” he says.
You question your own attractiveness, perhaps because your husband’s rejection has you feeling unattractive. Research into the male perspective on sexless marriage shows that one-third of men blame their slumping sex drive on their wives having gained too much weight (two-thirds say their partner is not sexually adventurous enough). These are just excuses. “In our experience many men use these explanations as excuses for more deep-seated reasons and you are right not to buy in to simplistic explanations based on popular misconceptions of what men are supposed to find sexually attractive,” Grange says.