Pleasure on pause

A man's financial problems directly affect his sex life. The relationship then hinges upon how the woman handles it

unhappy coupleWhen a sexual advance by a woman is turned down by her man, she tends to view it as her inadequacy as a lover, as a spouse, as a partner and even as a person. She believes that her 'loveability' is defined by the affection she receives from her man.

Most women take sexual rejection personally, especially if their sense of self-worth is linked to acceptance by their partner. The current trend of sexless marriages, due to the lowered self-esteem of men facing a financial crisis, is witnessing varied reactions from women.

Missing it

Some women add to their husbands' woes by being confrontational, demanding, aggressive and derogatory in their demeanour. They blame the men for the lack of both money and sex and launch a direct attack on the their manhood.

Such confrontations put a huge wedge between the couple. The woman, who has shoved a guilt-trip down her husband's throat in such an insensitive way, can be sure that the Sensex may bounce back and her husband may make profits but the sex in her life will never rise again.

Women need to understand that a healthy, relaxed and happy frame of mind is a pre-requisite for mutually satisfying physical intimacy.

Sex≠self worth

When the sex stops suddenly, some women get confused and anxious. They feel depressed and sometimes even suspect that their husbands are engaged in extra-marital sex and/or are satisfying their sexual urges in other ways.

Such women need help to de-link their sense of self-worth from the affection and physical intimacy in their relationship. They have to be educated about the phenomenon of temporary psychological impotence stemming from increased stress and possibly even depression.

This is required so that they stop making it all about themselves, and be more supportive towards their already stressed spouses.

Bottled problems

Sometimes, men facing financial crisis get together with other men facing the same problem and drown their sorrows in alcohol. This worsens matters and takes a toll on the relationship.

The woman finds it difficult to empathise with and be supportive of a husband who comes home drunk every night, whining about his problems, and who does not want to sanely address the crisis with her.

Working women tend to be more aware of the global financial crisis and hence show greater empathy towards their spouses. They do not blame the men for either the financial situation or the subsequent lack of interest in sex.

Instead, they become a friend, confidante and sounding board, and also attempt to raise their partners' spirits. They motivate the men to be optimistic and deal with the crisis 'together'.

Women can be a great support to their husbands, and the 'emotional intimacy' during this time of crisis, can strengthen their relationship, and there can even be some surprising moments of physical intimacy, emerging from such emotional intimacy, despite the financial crisis.

Coping tips for the couple

During such an important juncture in life, marriage counselling can help the couple understand each other's emotional needs.

Men can be taught to reach out and be vulnerable to their wives, and women can be educated about their husband's situation and helped to not make it all about herself, and to be 'emotionally available'.

  • The couple should remember that though it is a crucial phase, it is also a temporary one, which both can handle 'together'. This then sets the stage for the future status of the relationship.
  • The woman could use this time to build emotional intimacy and companionship with her husband, listen empathically to the technicalities of his financial crisis and try to educate herself about the finer details of his problem. She can engage him in small joys such as sharing an achievement of their child.
  • She could engage in non-sexual touching like offering a back rub or head massage to relax him and bond with him, and not begrudge his wanting to spend time with colleagues who can enlighten him on ways to deal with his crisis.
  • She should also avoid unreasonable material demands and offer to help in any way possible. She should tell him that he's not alone in this and can count on her support as and when he wants it. She needs to reassure him that they will get through it 'together', and that she believes in his abilities. More importantly, she must tell him not to blame himself for any of it. Instead, tell him that everyone is in the same boat. This could help him accept uncertainties and forgive humans errors, if any.
  • She could create little moments of joy for him—prepare his favourite food, go for a movie with him and invite his best buddy for dinner. And during the times when is relaxed, she could take the lead in sensually touching him with no pressure to perform, and see if he wants to take it from there.
  • This, of course, is a tall order for a woman who has her own emotional and physical needs. In the meanwhile, the woman could divert her own energies and sexual urges in creative pursuits, meditation and find some release in self-pleasuring.

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Minnu Bhonsle
Minnu R Bhonsle, PhD, is a Mumbai-based consulting psychotherapist and counsellor. She conducts training programmes in Personal Counselling [Client-centred Therapy] and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, and also workshops in Stress Management, Art of Listening, Couple Therapy, and Communication Skills. Minnu has co-authored the book, The Ultimate Sex Education Guide along with Dr Rajan Bhonsle.
Rajan Bhonsle
Rajan Bhonsle, MD, is a consultant in sexual medicine and counsellor. Along with his wife Minnu R Bhonsle, PhD, who is a consulting psychotherapist and counsellor, he runs a unique therapy centre

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