“My husband is bewitched by a tramp, the former receptionist at his architectural firm,” says a tearful Bobbie, 38, a soft-spoken, self-effacing woman who’s been married to Rod, her second husband, for seven years. “I blame myself for his affair. Maybe I’m not as seductive as I should be … maybe I should be more attentive … maybe I should spend more time trying to get back to my old weight. But for goodness sake, these days, with two children and my part-time job at the library, who has the time?”
Bobbie is baffled by women she reads about who seem to know precisely what they want in bed. “I can’t even say the words,” she admits.
Bobbie met Rod 10 years ago at a crowded office party. Though she’d heard he was a playboy, at the time that didn’t bother her since she was still reeling from an acrimonious divorce from her alcoholic first husband.
“Rod gave me the attention I desperately needed, and the first five years of our marriage were wonderful,” she adds. But then Rod changed. “I can’t figure out why he’s become so cold and critical of me as well as my two sons,” she says.
Rod was always more of a father to them than their own father was, Bobbie explains. “They’re terrific, wholesome kids who worship Rod,” she says.
When he’s not complaining about the boys, he’s complaining that Bobbie is spending money he doesn’t have. “That’s irrational too,” she says. “First of all, Rod’s business is thriving. And second, I don’t throw money away. I learned the value of a dollar from my parents, who were both highly principled, strict, honorable and conservative about everything.
Miserable as she is, Bobbie loves Rod and doesn’t want a divorce.
Forty-two-year-old Rod knows he’s being a heel, but he’s tormented and confused. “Bobbie is a wonderful mother and a genteel, dedicated wife,” says Rod. “But for her, sex is a grim duty. “I want to try new things with Bobbie, but I know she wouldn’t stand for it,” he explains. His mistress, on the other hand, is not ashamed of her sexual feelings, Rod reports.
What’s Holding You Back In Bed?
“In many ways, the decades-old sexual revolution, which freed many women to enjoy their sexuality, has created new worries about lovemaking for others,” says Jane Greer, Ph.D., a marriage and sex therapist in New York City. “In years past, it was acceptable for a woman to lie back and be passive.
While Bobbie and Rod need to talk to a trained professional - and Rod must end his affair, if he has any intention of salvaging his marriage - Bobbie owes it to herself to break the habit of denying her own pleasure. Recognizing, and then defusing, the three main inhibitions that hold most women back in bed is critical:
Like Bobbie, many people have such a high level of anxiety in general that they fear the loss of control so necessary to giving and receiving sexual pleasure. These people have learned to function well in society by staying in control, and it’s hard for them to switch gears in the bedroom.
Bobbie also suffers from unrealistic expectations regarding what she should be doing and feeling in bed. When she thinks she’s not measuring up physically, she shuts herself down. She needs to take small steps before she attempts the bigger ones. Taking the time to do things that make her feel good physically - enrolling in a gym so she can get her body back in shape; pampering herself in small ways, such as with a pedicure or manicure - will help her feel better about herself.
Fear Of Being Vulnerable:
Saying what you want in bed is always difficult because we’re exposing our deepest, most private secrets. This is especially true for women like Bobbie, who were reared to believe that good girls don’t make requests of any kind.
Once Bobbie and Rod were able to speak more freely about what was not happening in their bed, the spillover was immediately apparent in other areas of their relationship. Rod became much more accepting of his wife and her children and less focused on money issues. He hasn’t seen his mistress since.
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