I’ve read numerous books on sex and relationships. I could give you the list if you’re interested. Some of them I’ve enjoyed immensely. Having been in a relationship for the past 26 years, I think I’m qualified to discuss those subjects with some degree of expertise even though I’m not an expert and I have no credentials.
I read this article by Susan Pease Gadoua; “Sex in Marriage Causing You Problems? You’re Not Alone!” There are as many reasons for not having sex as there are types of relationships; probably more. Here’s one.
“You feel neglected, ignored, dismissed, alone, frustrated, tempted, beaten down emotionally, you feel like roommates instead of spouses.”1
And then you hear the complaint about “withholding sex”. It’s not withholding sex. Why should a woman submit to having sex just because her husband wants it? I’m sorry, but if I feel like I’m being used just so you can get off I’m not going to be “in the mood”. I don’t know about you, but I need more than sex. I need kissing, intimacy, passion. I need to feel wanted; desired. If there is none of that, I don’t want to have sex. It’s not about withholding, it’s about feeling like you want sex and I just happen to be there. It’s not me you want. You just want someone.
We’ve all heard that the best relationships have open and honest communication. Couples need to discuss their desires and their need for intimacy. Intimacy means different things to different people. So, what happens when you try to have this discussion and it’s one sided? What happens when you tell your partner what you need to no avail? You become disappointed.
“So what people do to avoid admitting and feeling that level of disappointment is either become angry or shut down, both of which eviscerate intimacy in a relationship, cause burnout in a job, or cause depression in themselves.”2
I think Maslow got it wrong. According to his hierarchy, there are five stages of needs –
Biological and Physiological needs – air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep.
Safety needs – protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, freedom from fear.
Love and belongingness needs – friendship, intimacy, affection and love, – from work group, family, friends, romantic relationships.
Esteem needs – achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, self-respect, respect from others.
Self-Actualization needs – realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.3
Maybe it should be called Maslow’s hierarchy of male needs. I think it would look a little different for women. Or maybe it’s me personally. I think the order in which the needs are to be fulfilled is wrong. Or the items on the list are in the wrong group. What I’m trying to say is that intimacy, affection and love, romantic relationships, and respect should come before sex on the hierarchy of needs.
It seems like a hopeless cycle. At some point in the relationship, you start to feel these emotions (neglected, ignored, dismissed, frustrated, tempted, beaten down emotionally), so you quit having sex which leads to accusations of withholding sex. This leads to communication, preferably discussions about wants and needs as opposed to arguments, which sometimes goes nowhere and, once again, you feel ignored and dismissed which leads to frustration. Then you shutdown. Why? Your need for intimacy, for physical contact (hugging, kissing, sex) aren’t being met. You’re no longer communicating. You don’t want to feel the way you’re feeling. It’s no wonder so many women are on antidepressants.
Sex is not the problem. That’s just a symptom. Why you are no longer having sex? That’s where the problem is.