Sex: When He Has a Headache
The image of men as continual and shameless seekers of sexual gratification has worked its way into society's consciousness. The trouble is, it's badly out of date. Among other problems, it doesn't reflect the new dynamic at work in relationships.
In a touching twist on gender roles, it is increasingly the man, not the woman, who is experiencing anxiety--or alternatively apathy--concerning sex, reports Janet Wolfe, Ph.D. She cites a survey by a major women's magazine showing that nearly 40% of the time, the complaint that one partner has sexually fizzled-out comes from the woman. Wolfe's experience as a psychotherapist bears this figure out.
And so, Wolfe has done what any self-respecting shrink would do. She has written a self-help book, What To Do When He Has a Headache (Hyperion)--not for the ailing men, but for relationship-deprived women.
Wolfe sees several causes of the role reversal:
* As women become more aware of their capacity for sexual fulfillment, they are less inclined to accept a partner who remains oblivious to the needs.
* Men, in turn, feel increased pressure to perform. They may response by avoiding sex altogether, rather than risk finding themselves failures.
* To make matters worse, men report they are simply too exhausted for sex after a long day's work of 10 to 12 hours. They are in the grip of near-catatonia that barely gives them the stamina to sit and watch TV.
* With the increase in performance anxiety, sex becomes another job... another responsibility...another reason to be afraid.
How to get the guys back?
* Wolfe suggests that emotional honesty does not come easily to most men, but both partners must cultivate it if physical honesty is to have a shot.
* Men need to be reintroduced to nonsexual contact, such as handholding, and made aware of just how pleasing and powerful it can be--and how easy. And it just might act as a non-threatening invitation to more full-bodied contact.
With lots of patience and some care, a little more joy can be returned to the bedroom...and the TV set safely returned to the den.