Although fear of rejection is rampant, rejection happens. Even in relationships. Amy’s story was testimony to this.
She came to the clinic with what she called evidence of ‘abnormal behaviour’.
She said she had statistical evidence to show that her observation was not just hearsay.
“I have been tracking the number of times I have asked my husband for sex against the number of times he has refused,” she explained. “In three months, I asked for sex 30 times and it was rejected 28 times!”
I wondered why Amy would go this extent. Her explanation was that she needed evidence that things were not working in her marriage.
She would then present the evidence to her family, pastor, sexologist or sex therapist for help. She said her previous attempts to discuss this sexual rejection with her husband had been met with harsh reactions and defensiveness.
At some point, she decided to avoid making sexual advances but this only worsened the situation.
She told me her husband would complain of being tired – this was his most common excuse. Sometimes he’d had a difficult day, or was expecting a taxing next day, which required adequate rest.
Amy was not convinced of these claims. “All of a sudden his job is now stressful that he cannot spend energy on our marriage. Unfortunately for him I can tell when he is being mean with the truth,” she lamented.
The next common reason he gave was lack of interest. “He just says he is not in the mood, that he is not in the psychological state to have sex,” Amy explained. According to her, this amounted to selfishness.
Even if one is not in the mood, they should make sacrifices for someone they love, she theorised. “Is it possible that he could be having an affair?” she asked.
Another common reason was that the man was busy watching his favourite TV programme. “He keeps away from the bedroom until I fall asleep then comes in quietly” she explained. “I feel the TV is just a facade.”
I explained to Jane that whatever the reason, sexual rejection can be damaging; I totally understood her concerns. She was undergoing serious psychological torture.
Turning down sexual advances by a sex partner seriously damages the self-esteem of the rejected person. You begin to wonder whether you are no longer attractive to the person you love.
Maybe you are not important to the person anymore. You get hurt, and bitterness brews. You begin to act harshly towards the person you once loved and look for ways to hurt them in return.
Sexual rejection can be perpetrated by both men and women.
“You know what? I now understand why people kill others or even themselves,” Jane said.
“Making sexual advances to your spouse is the most vulnerable thing you can do and if rejected, the hurt is massive. Many times, after being rejected, what follows is two days of not talking to each other.”
I agreed with Amy but asked her if she had ever let her spouse know how hurtful it had been for her. Beginning such a conversation is hard but it is the first step in attempting to resolve the issue.
The point should be neutrally put, not phrased in an accusing manner. It could be something like: You know I really get hurt and frustrated every time I make sexual advances and things do not work out. Put it in a way that it is not an accusation and open up a discussion. Ask him what you can do to get him interested.
During this delicate conversation, listen to what your partner has to say. Remember that sexual satisfaction between couples is contributed to 50/50 by each party.
Sometimes your spouse keeps off sex because of difficulties that you are part of. You will need to work together to correct the problem. Avoid the temptation of pointing an accusing finger. Aim to support your spouse through his difficulties. Hopefully he will reciprocate.
If this fails, seek help. Sometimes loss of sexual interest results from a disease or relationship problems. An expert may to step in. “That is why I am here. Tell me how we are going to sort this issue. I am quite stressed,” Amy explained.
The first step was to rope in Amy’s husband. After a thorough sexological assessment, it turned out that the couple had deep-seated relationship problems. They were referred for relationship counselling.
Six months later, I got a call from Amy: “We have decided to call it quits. Our differences are too huge to be resolved.” This was sad.
However it was a reminder that whenever sexual rejection happens, it should never be taken lightly.