Blame it on stress

For many couples, sex is becoming a distant memory—all because of the various stressors of modern-day life

unhappy coupleIt is unbelievable how many sexless couples we come across these days. And more often than not, the reason for their situation has a lot to do with the 21st century lifestyle.

Career stress

Annie and David were newly weds. David was ambitious and had a job he loved. He was determined to rapidly move up the ladder of success, and was willing to give all of himself to achieve this goal.

He virtually had one foot at home and the other out of the door, as he accepted every assignment his superiors asked him to. Whether in the country or abroad, at any hour of the day or night, whatever the cost in terms of allocating time and energy—he did it all to get promoted. And he was amply rewarded; his career graph was rising steeply.

However, the graph of his sex life was dipping steeply too. Annie was relegated to second place and she did not have a woman to contend with, but David's ambition was obviously his first love.

David conserved all his energy for his career, leaving very little enthusiasm and drive in him for sex. As Annie's frustration built, it soon created a rift between her and David.

The modern-day man is constantly engaged in competitive strivings with stars in his eyes. He aims for 'the good life' with more and more material comforts and luxuries. He aspires to be on the 'page 3', and emulate role models like Donald Trump.

He is thus driven to have more, more and more of the world. This ambition, inner demand causes stress hormones like adrenaline, noradrenalin and cortisol to be released in the body continuously, building pressure on the body-mind mechanism and affecting sex life.

Work stress

Mina was angry at her husband Chirag because there was no sex in her marriage. Chirag was always stressed out at work but she refused to accept this as a valid reason. All men worked and Chirag was no exception, she argued.

Chirag worked in a call centre. He was often asked to change shifts and this took a toll on his sleeping and eating patterns. He also had to commute long distances to and from work and was constantly subjected to performance evaluations. The high-pressure work environment and sleep deprivation took a toll on his body-mind in the form of anxiety and fatigue. He was mentally and physically drained. As a result, his sex life suffered.

Employers that exploit you, performance evaluations, a high pressure environment [with many colleagues clamouring for the same promotion], tight deadlines and targets, and the fear of being laid off….are huge stressors that can hamper your sex life.

Most people today are increasingly finding it difficult to maintain a work-life balance, not just because of career aspirations but also because of the intense pressure and insecurity in a competitive work environment.

Men are caught between performance evaluations at work and performance evaluations at home, when their work stress spills over to their sexual performance in bed.

Performance anxiety

Chandni aggressively confronted Suraj on their honeymoon about his love-making. Her accusation—he could not satisfy her. This left him feeling more anxious and nervous. Fortunately, sex counselling helped him relax and free himself from psychogenic impotence.

Performance stress, or anxiety related to one's sexual performance, causes psychological impotence. Men worry about whether they will get an erection and whether they will be able to sustain it to satisfy their partner.

Such thoughts stress a man out, and ultimately affect his sexual performance. Moreover, if the woman is aggressively demanding and taunts a man about the lack of sex, his anxiety levels and the subsequent psychogenic impotence only worsen.

Financial stress

Other stressors include the modern day evil of living beyond one's means. Loan repayments, credit card debts, subscribing to 'enjoy now pay later' schemes, the explosion of consumerism and a growing need for instant gratification, are all a fallout of a modern, materialistic life.

Wanting to possess the latest and most expensive gizmo 'now' without any financial planning often results in financial stress.

When the credit card companies knock on your door and banks ask for loan repayments, when those who are financially dependent demand that you provide for their needs, when financial doom stares you in the face, then sex is obviously the last thing on your mind.

Life stress

Life, even without the pressures of work, career-building, and finances, brings its own set of stressors that can take a toll on one's sex life.

If there is unresolved anger and resentment between the couple, if the man feels caught between family squabbles—a strenuous relationship between his mother and wife for instance—or if the health of parents or children is a matter of concern, it takes up your mental and emotional space, leaving little or no space for sexual feelings.

Other physical stressors like chronic illnesses, obesity, fatigue, insomnia, excessive drinking and smoking and a general lack of fitness also affect one's sex life. Regularly following a eating out and drinking and smoking culture deposits junk in the body in the form of bad cholesterol.

It sits on the inner lining of nicotine-damaged arteries, clogging them and restricting the blood flow to a man's sex organs, which affects sexual performance.

Pornography is yet another evil, which results in a fantasy sex life. Those who engage in fantasy sex, which takes place in the controlled conditions of one's mind, find reality extremely disappointing.

For such people, real sex does not measure up to the over-stimulated pornographic version of their minds. Hence, they abstain from it.

Since sexual intimacy requires the body and mind both to be in harmony, it is imperative to take adequate care of both. For loving and intimate feelings to arise naturally, the body requires appropriate diet, rest, and fitness, while the mind needs to be relaxed, and be free of anxieties, fears, and other preoccupations. Only then can both partners experience fulfilling intimacy.

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