Sex ad­vice with Mrs Sal­is­bury

Sunday Star-Times - Sunday Magazine - - ADVICE - Robyn Sal­is­bury is a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist. Email ques­tions to MrsSal­is­bury@sex­ther­apy.co.nz

I’m 28, my hus­band of eight years is 35. We have no chil­dren yet. Years ago, when I was 19, I was sex­u­ally as­saulted by some­one I knew very well. It was a hor­ri­ble point in my life and for years I bot­tled this up. I avoided any­thing at all that might be a trig­ger and suf­fered emo­tion­ally but al­ways had a good and sat­is­fy­ing sex­ual re­la­tion­ship with my hus­band.

Re­cently I made the de­ci­sion to work through th­ese is­sues and told my hus­band what hap­pened. He has been won­der­ful and sup­port­ive but he hasn’t been able to have sex with me since. We have tried, but he al­ways loses his erec­tion. At that point he tends to say some­thing along the lines of: “It’s not go­ing to hap­pen tonight. Sorry.” Up to when I told him, we had sex four or five times a week. I asked him if it’s know­ing what hap­pened that is caus­ing this and he said: “I don’t know, maybe.” I have as­sured him that he’s not go­ing to hurt me, and it’s not go­ing to be trau­matic in any way for me. I just want him. Our at­tempts at sex are get­ting more awk­ward with time. What do we do? It’s not un­usual for a part­ner to be deeply dis­tressed on hear­ing their loved one has been sex­u­ally as­saulted. This dis­tress can be anger or sad­ness, which are pretty un­der­stand­able and straight­for­ward, but still give rise to arousal prob­lems and sex­ual with­drawal if the part­ner is not emo­tion­ally open and skil­ful at ex­press­ing and re­leas­ing emo­tions. More com­plex re­ac­tions can in­clude re­pul­sion; to­wards him­self for be­ing male (and thus as­so­ci­ated with the sex­ual of­fender), to­wards his sex­ual urges which may now feel tainted or an­i­mal­is­tic (as if that is bad), or to­wards you for be­ing “dam­aged”, not the pure young woman he be­lieved he had mar­ried. Sorry about hav­ing to write that last bit – it’s not at all log­i­cal or ac­cu­rate, but it can hap­pen, con­sciously or un­con­sciously.

I trust you’re aware of ACC Sen­si­tive Claims coun­selling for funded pro­fes­sional help? ACC could re­fer you to sex ther­apy, as a cou­ple, to help your hus­band re­solve what­ever is go­ing on for him and get the two of you mov­ing for­wards into the pow­er­ful erotic con­nec­tion pos­si­ble with two emo­tion­ally open lovers.

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