Performance Issues

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have been married to my husband for 28 years. Sex has never been good. He is a sex addict with a propensity towards compulsive masturbation. He has been in recovery for eight years and wants to have sex with me but he is not aroused by me. We go to bed and I try everything he will allow me to, but nothing seems to stimulate him. He remains flaccid. We tried Viagara and that helped with the erection, but he did not have an orgasm. He wants to have a “normal” sex life, but we seem to be stuck. Every sexual experience with me ends up frustrating him because he just doesn’t get turned on with me. He is so focused on his arousal that he offers me very little in the way of stimulation. We even tried non-sexual intimacy (kissing, caressing and massages) for two years to try to experience closeness but he feels inadequate when he doesn’t get an erection so he avoids intimacy. Honestly, it’s painful for me, too. Can you help?

A: I’m sure this is painful for you both. Twenty-eight years together without the closeness and intimacy that most couples enjoy is sad and frustrating. I think you pinpointed the problem: Your husband is focused on his arousal. He’s so used to having sex with himself that he doesn’t experience sex with a partner as being as rewarding. He knows how to give himself an orgasm predictably and quickly. If it takes longer (and it certainly will with a partner), he ends up impatient and feeling like something is “wrong.”

This isn’t a problem that can be addressed by a letter. I think you two need to talk to a therapist who is experienced in helping couples where there is sexual dysfunction. I hope your husband will consent to seeing someone with you. You two are in your 50s. You still could have several decades together. From my point of view, it’s worth it to invest in yourselves with some intensive treatment so that those years can be sexually satisfying for you both.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 Sep 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Performance Issues. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 16, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/09/15/performance-issues/