Ask A Sex Therapist: Does Commitment Kill Your Sex Life?

by Cay L. Crow

Help With Dead Bedroom After Marriage

Dear Cay:

All my adult life, I’ve had a very healthy sex drive. But since my first marriage, something odd happens after a commitment has been made.

“Roger” – husband #1: We were married for 17 years, had 2 kids, pretty good union, friends. I blame the split on middle-age craziness.

“Joe” – husband #2: Sex was great until we got married. Then he was too busy, too tired, or too mad at the world. He had unpredictable and scary moods. I found out after we married that he was a batterer. But I still wanted sex. He didn’t. Because he wouldn’t have sex with me, he accused me of having sex with any man I knew. I was perfectly faithful until I divorced him.

“Jerry” – live-in: Sex and affection were fantastic! I was the other woman. He was still married. As soon as his divorce was final, I saw less and less of him. We mutually called it quits but got together for sex. A year after his divorce, I got a call from his WIFE telling me to stop seeing her husband! He’d gotten married and didn’t bother to tell me.

“Tom” – live-in: Sex was great. After living together a few months, the sex stopped. He was too tired, too stoned, or just not interested. He accused me of sleeping around but I wasn’t. I should have had him arrested for battery and sexual assault. Instead, I kicked him out. He was a sweet-talking hustler who likes to play with firearms. He is the scariest guy I ever met!!!

“Travis” – husband #3: He was brilliant and talented. Sex was fantastic and the friendship was amazing. He had no bad habits. Once we were married, he ignored me, preferring to have his way with the Playmate of the Month while locked in the bathroom. The friendship dwindled. He accused me of sleeping around. I was absolutely faithful, supporting him while he tried to write the great American novel. I eventually divorced him. That was 14 years ago.

Is there something wrong with me or them or both?

Jenny

Dear Jenny:

Relationships problems are the result of the dynamic between two given people. There does seem to be an abusive cycle at work here. Some women are drawn to the drama created by abuse while others associate the abuse and drama itself with being loved. You are placing the responsibility for each relationship at the feet of these damaged (and probably addicted) men. It is time to get curious about the origin of this pattern in your life. It is time to learn the early warning signs of potentially abusive relationships and be very deliberate about your future relationship choices. Check out The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker or Dangerous Relationships by Dr. Noelle Nelson.

I do hear a common thread of using sex as a measure of love. How early in each relationship were you sexually involved and how important was sex in your decision to stay? The sexual intensity of the honeymoon phase can become a backdrop on which you project what you want to see in the guy rather than what is really there. So, next time go slowly. Get to know the guy from the inside out rather than the outside in. What happens for you when you are in a relationship? Do you disappear or maintain some sense of self? Or does everything revolve around him? There are elements of handing over power in your willingness to tolerate even one physical blow, much less other threats and deception. I encourage you to explore these issues with a qualified therapist before you pursue another relationship.

CAY L. CROW, LPC, AASECT-CERTIFIED SEX THERAPIST

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