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Anger and Sex: Part 1- Sexual Frustration

Posted Mar 19 2010 1:13pm

sexproblems

As a practicing psychologist and marriage therapist, I often encounter clients who are angry because they suffer sexual frustration in their marriage or relationship. As we teach in our anger classes , anger is sometimes a secondary emotion, meaning that there is something underneath it which triggers it. Often that “something” is sexual frustration.

The most common type of sexual frustration is what sex therapists call “low libido” which means that one partner just isn’t interested in sex often enough to satisfy the other partner. Persons with low libido enjoy sex once they get into it, but rarely want to get into it. Their partners often complain that they never initiate it, or show lack of enthusiasm about sex. To use a metaphor, persons with low sex desire are like a car that has an engine that runs fine, but the battery is often dead.

My experience has been that persons with low sex desire love their partners very much, and are still attracted to them, but feel guilty that they no longer desire sex as often, rarely think about sex, and usually don’t know what to do about it. Their partners often take it personally, feel rejected, and sometimes need to find an explanation for why their sex life has dwindled. Unfortunately, they often come to the wrong conclusion such as their partner is having an affair.

Sexual frustration in a relationship is the elephant in the room. Often, the couple stops talking about it because they have learned that it just leads to conflict. Yet, the problem invades almost all aspects of the relationship, even if nobody talks about it:  A couple may go to bed at different times to avoid having to deal with sex; watching your partner talk to other men or other women is interpreted differently; one partner may start withholding favors (like cooking a favorite meal) out of sexual resentment; partners stop touching each other at all to avoid sexual arousal or potential rejection; sleeping with a scared child in another room is seen by the other as a method to avoid intimacy.

There are many causes and reasons for low sexual desire. People just have different sexual desires, just as they have different appetites for many things. These sexual desires often change at different ages and different life circumstances. Having periods of low sex desire is normal, and often related to events such as recent childbirth, normal marital stresses and demands that cause fatigue, and work demands.

Contrary to popular opinion, low sexual desire is distributed about evenly among men and women. Many times the problem is not so much the level of sexual desire, but the discrepancy between your desire and your partner’s desire. This means that “low desire” is a relative term, depending on who you are with.

That said, sometimes  low sex desire is caused by relationship issues, especially anger or resentment. What this means is that sometimes  anger can be the cause of low sexual desire (especially in women), and anger can also be the result of sexual frustration (in both genders, but probably  more often in men). In my experience, many women lose sexual  desire for partners they resent or feel anger toward. Likewise, many men are constantly nasty and emotionally withholding toward their partners because they are sexually frustrated.

While sex therapy with a professional therapist is sometimes required to deal with sex problems, the tools that we teach in our local anger management programs as well as our distance learning anger program can help with your sex life in many ways. Tools learned in our programs include dealing better with stress, developing more empathy for your partner, communicating assertively with each other, adjusting marital and sexual expectations to a reasonable level, and learning to let go of past resentments and grievances.

The bottom line is that learning to deal with anger can improve your sex life. And, improving your sex life can help with your anger!

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