Alice and her husband James came to the sexology clinic for the first time three months ago.
Alice was 34 and James, her husband of three years, was 30. They had one child. "So what brings you to the clinic today?"
I asked after the introductions. I realised that they were both hesitating to talk. I asked Alice directly what the issue was to which she asked if James could leave the room. I nodded as James obliged.
"Have you seen couples who come to see you and end up divorcing?" Alice asked. That was a rather strange question. I nodded in affirmation.
"Good, I believe ours will be one of such; I see no other option!" Alice said. For a moment I was at a loss. The sexology clinic does not exist to assist people with divorce.
To the contrary the mission is always to mend relationships and build intimacy by solving sex and related problems.
I told Alice as such and went ahead to interrogate what the problem was in her marriage.
Alice was unhappy with the way her husband treated her. She felt that James had little respect for her and had insulted her severally, telling her that her reasoning capacity was below par and that she was unable to engage in intellectual discussions.
Because of this they rarely had productive discussions about anything, and James was moving on with his life as if he was single without much regard to her aspirations for the family.
"He makes me feel like trash; he demeans me; my self-esteem is at its lowest. He never appreciates anything I do and says it was a mistake for him to marry me," Alice explains.
James, she said, spent most of his time with his male friends and comes home late and drunk.
"He comes home when I am already asleep," Alice explained. And despite the insults demands to have sex, she no longer had sexual feelings for him and she told him as such.
That enraged him and he threatened to get another woman as he dismissed her as being too old for him, capitalising on the age difference between them.
It had been six months of no sex when the couple visited the clinic.
I requested to have a session with James separately to understand his side of the story. He came alone to the clinic the next day.
I noticed that he was rather tipsy. "I am frustrated; I cannot lie. My wife is no longer interested in me," he explained.
According to him, Alice was insensitive to his sexual needs. So he resorted to threatening her about having another woman.
He accused her of being petty and unable to reason. "Despite all this, I love her and want our marriage to work," he said. "But first she must allow me to have sex with her as my wife."
I met the couple together the following day and summarised their situation: Alice felt disrespected and demeaned and this killed her self-esteem.
As a result, she lost sexual feelings for James. James, on the other hand, was more concerned about having sex to confirm that Alice still loved him.
He did not seem to realise that his hurtful words and behaviour had damaged his wife.
He instead got frustrated due to the sexless marriage and drowned himself in alcohol.
I explained that moving forward, the couple had to commit to resolving the conflict and enrol for sex and couple therapy to save the marriage.
"Not for me doctor, please excuse me," Alice interrupted. "There is no way I am going to bend too low as to continue living under such circumstances. Let James get a wife who matches his status and who can earn his respect."
"So you will not have sex with me?" James shouted back to which Alice nodded vigorously. He stood up and stormed out of the room.
STATE OF MIND
There was palpable silence in the room for close to two minutes, none of us sure of how to proceed with the session.
Alice fetched her handbag, fumbled to open it and removed her handkerchief. She blew her nose and wiped tears which were already rolling down her cheeks.
"I came here not to mend this abusive relationship, but to let James know that it cannot work, that the vibe is gone. I don't want him in my life," she said, thanked me and walked out of the clinic.
A week later, Alice called and informed me that she had moved out of the marriage. She had rented a house for herself and her baby.
It was yet another testimony to the fact that unless a woman's state of mind is at peace, her body will not yield to sex.
For a woman, reconciling mind and body is at the core of sexual desire, response and satisfaction.