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Here’s the scenario!
It’s early morning, the guy rolls over, kisses his partner. She gets the message and starts to cuddle into him. Next thing he is on top of her and 3-5 minutes later it’s all over. As he gets up and starts walking out of the bedroom she says, ‘Where are you going?” He replies, “To make a cup of tea!”
Which leads me to ask the question. Is there a link between many couples separating and what I would call the basic human needs of sex and intimacy, either through ignorance, selfishness or lack of interest not being met in a relationship or does it go much deeper than this?
What part does ‘sex,’ and the difference between how men and women view and feel about sex, play out in the number of couples who started out together in loving and caring relationships and end up becoming yet another statistic in the divorce courts? Or is this just another piece of the relationship puzzle that was left unattended and pushed away rather than being dealt with head on.
We all know that there are significant differences between the male and female brains which I think is just another part of ‘the grand design’ – when you put the two together it really should make for a very powerful combination from my perspective.
In most cases, men and women do not behave, feel, think, or respond in the same ways, either on the inside or on the outside.
What if a major difference with men, unlike women, was their inability to express their emotions, worries, sexual issues, and problems to their friends, family or colleagues and never to their partners?
What if some men stopped seeking sex from their partners because they felt furious, criticised and insignificant in their marriage but would not or could not talk about it with their partners?
M. Gary Neuman found that 48% of the men he interviewed reported emotional dissatisfaction as the primary reason for cheating. They reported feeling unappreciated and wished that their partners could recognise when they were trying. They did not talk to their partners about this.
- They fear talking will only cause more anger and rejection
- They anticipate that if they start talking about issues in the marriage, their wives won’t stop talking–a reality that may simply reflect the clash of gender differences in handling stress
- They fear hurting their partner with their honest feelings.
- They feel self-conscious about performance issues and unwittingly send a message of avoidance, disinterest or rejection.
- They silently blame their partner for boring sex but don’t consider verbalizing ways of enlivening the love life.
- They don’t read the non-verbal cues or consider the cues they are sending.
- They see the defensive posture their partner takes—not as a cover for her feelings of rejection; but as anger and accusation.
- Paradoxically, they see themselves as protecting themselves, their partner, and their marriage with silence.
As such, many married men are emotionally alone. Unlike women who turn to other women to vent, garner support, and hear other perspectives and feelings— men too often “ suck it up”, remain locked in their perspective and can’t find a way to speak about what they need. This leaves them vulnerable to the attention, affirmation and complication of an affair.
Based on interviews with 200 cheating and non-cheating husbands, M. Gary Neuman, author of The Truth About Cheating, reports that only 8% identify sexual dissatisfaction as the reason for their infidelity.
A Rutgers study reports 56% of men who have affairs claim to be happy in their marriages, are largely satisfied and are not looking for a way out.
- Sometimes affairs result in divorce. Statistics from 2004 suggest that 27% of divorces are due to extramarital affairs.
- If both partners want their marriage, however, a marriage can survive an affair. Many partners have journeyed through the guilt and pain to mutually repair and renew their marriage.
If a man can find the feelings and words to engage with his partner in a process of apology and forgiveness, if he can speak and listen, reconsider the mutual rejection and anger, clarify the sexual needs and trust the love —he may well have a marriage he can speak about.
I have often been asked if I have a Divorced Men’s Club – and I see that like the Members Lounge I have for women, something like this for men would also be an incredibly valuable resource.
RECOMMENDED READING: Married Men Don’t Talk by Tony Hawkins
RESOURCE: An Unrecognized Reason That Married Men Have Affairs By Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D.ABPP
To share your comments or personal story – send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
With love and gratitude
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