Jessica was escorted to the sexology clinic by her husband, Andrew. Andrew complained that his wife was depriving him of sex.
“Ask her. She no longer sleeps in our bedroom. She has relocated to the kitchen,” Andrew lamented. “Why would a married woman opt to spend cold nights in the kitchen and leave her husband in the bedroom? Is she not sleeping with other men?”
All the while Jessica remained quiet and avoided eye contact. She fetched a handkerchief from her bag and blew her nose. I noted her eyes were wet with tears. I took to leading the conversation to get to the root of the matter.
Jessica was 40 years old. She was a high school teacher. Andrew was 42 and a pharmacist at one of the national hospitals. The couple had been married for 11 years. They had three children.
“So what is going on in your family Jessica? You seem to be quite troubled,” I asked. But Jessica broke down and cried uncontrollably. After one hour of attempting to calm her unsuccessfully, I cancelled the session and booked her for a solo session. I have noted that when there are emotional strains in the family, individuals only open up when their spouses are not in the therapy session.
And so Jessica was back in the clinic the next day. She was more composed and apologised for the premature ending of the last session.
“My husband is a beast, I do not know who has bewitched him. He behaves like a wild animal and that is why I abandoned my bedroom,” she explained.
The problem started when Andrew found a love message on Jessica’s phone. Her male colleague had fallen in love with her and sent her the message. “As a married woman I respect my status and I am not about to be unfaithful,” she explained. “That does not stop men from making advances on me.”
Andrew then insisted that they have sex three times every night. He wanted to be sure that Jessica was too exhausted to sleep with any man. This happened continuously for a week. Jessica was sick with bruises and pain in her pelvis. She ran away from the bedroom and started sleeping in the kitchen. This only served to upset Andrew further.
I needed Jessica to understand how differently men react to infidelity compared to women. There are two types of infidelity. One is sexual infidelity and the other, emotional infidelity.
Scientists have found that men are more agitated by sexual infidelity. This is because men want to commit their time and resources to a family that they believe belongs to them. Men therefore do anything to prevent their woman from engaging in sexual infidelity.
Women on the other hand are more hurt by emotional infidelity. It is not that they do not mind sexual infidelity. If anything, one of the two types of infidelity can lead to the other. Women however value and invest in building emotional intimacy. Naturally, they know that that is the sure way to remain safe in a relationship, and expect the man to do the same. Scavengers of emotional fidelity not only rob families of emotional but also material resources making families vulnerable to poverty, and women are subconsciously aware of this.
“But I warned my colleague to leave me alone and he has never disturbed me again,” Jessica explained.
It took two more meetings with the couple to rebuild their broken trust. Andrew was quick to learn the behavioural dynamics that follow suspicions of infidelity. He readily apologised for his overreaction.
“And I promise that I will trust you my wife so that we do not go through such an experience again,” he said, looking directly into Jessica’s eyes, “so come back to our bedroom. I am sorry.”
I nodded as Jessica turned her head to look at me shyly.
“Tonight, yes I will tonight!” she said in a soft tone as they hugged, held hands and walked out of the consultation room.