A bond with my bestie is biggest prize
I was thrilled to be highly commended in this year’s Diversity in Media Journalist of the Year award at the Hilton Waldorf in London.
I had to pinch myself when I realised I was in the same room as big names like Lily Allen and Diane Abbott.
My best friend Joanna was my ‘plus one’. We met when we were 11 and, while I loved all the glamour of Friday’s do, my highlight was getting ready in the hotel room with my bestie. We had the music blaring as we did each other’s hair and make-up – it took me back to our teenage years.
Jo and I come from different ethnic backgrounds and religions, but when we look at each other we never see colour, race or religion.
Our schooldays, our sense of humour and our undying love of Duran Duran bonded us for life. And our friendship is enriched by our differences. So I couldn’t think of anyone better to help me celebrate diversity.
Let’s talk about sex. Yep, I thought that might grab your attention. A blog by Samantha Rodman titled “Women Should Have Sex When They Don’t Want To. No, That Wasn’t a Typo” certainly grabbed mine this week.
In it psychologist Dr Rodman argues that women (and men) should have sex when they don’t want it, to be loving partners.
She says that part of being in a relationship is doing things you don’t feel like doing, adding: “Sometimes these things are: watching a TV show you don’t like, interacting with in-laws you don’t like, cleaning up your partner’s vomit or watching the kids while your partner works. Sometimes these things are sex.”
So, she suggests, whether in the mood or not “both men and women should suck it up and have sex when they don’t want to, for the good of their marriage”.
Is this woman for real? I take her point that if you don’t prioritise sex, it will whither and die and ultimately hurt your marriage.
But speaking as someone whose mojo moved out in her mid-40s, I think Dr Rodman fails to understand all the issues.
For years I had a fantastic sex drive and then – without even realising it had happened – I was finding excuses to avoid my husband in bed. It happens to so many women. We struggle to juggle the demands of work, kids and running a home and most of us are knackered and stressed when we finally hit the sack.
Before long we are coming up with excuses to go to bed at different times so we can avoid the showdown which starts with: “Why don’t you want it? Don’t you love me any more?”
This was my life for a long time. I felt guilty I wasn’t able to satisfy my husband even though I could see that, as a result, we were drifting apart. I felt like a failure.
But the thought of having sex just to please my husband did not enter my mind. Why would I do something I didn’t want to? Why would my husband want to have sex if he knew I wasn’t enjoying it?
He started to see my problem as a sign of me wanting to control our relationship. He was wrong, but I couldn’t tell him what the real problem was because I didn’t know. It was only when I finally spoke out that I found some answers. A mix of medical advice and therapy helped me understand that my age, my hormonal imbalance and my failure to properly address childhood trauma combined to block my libido.
It took six months for me to get back on track and I’m happy to say I have my mojo back.
If you are in the same boat, here’s my advice. First, what you are experiencing is normal, so don’t feel guilty.
Second, get your hormones checked. For women, a lack of oestrogen and/or progesterone will hit your sex drive. Likewise, a lack of testosterone for men.
Last, if you were sexually abused or have buried trauma, talk about it, or you will never truly like yourself, and that will impact on your sexuality.
What got me through was having a supportive partner, who didn’t pressure me and never hinted he would go elsewhere for what he wasn’t getting at home.
So if you’re struggling, don’t take Dr Rodman’s advice to just grit your teeth and submit.
Check out nhs.uk/ conditions/loss-oflibido. I heartily recommend it.
AWARDS NIGHT Jo and me