MR. MARRIAGE COUNSELOR – “MY HUSBAND HAS ERECTION PROBLEMS”
By Dr. Kurt Smith, LMFT, LPCC, AFC
Sex is a big part of most marriages. While it may occasionally take a backseat when there’s a lot going on, the connection sexual intimacy brings and reinforces is important to the health of a marriage. This makes sexual dysfunction, like erection problems, an especially painful and difficult circumstance.
At Guy Stuff we work with couples facing all kinds of challenges. And while we don’t address the medical issues that can be associated with erection problems, we do help with the psychological factors, as well as the emotional fallout that such problems can bring. In fact, many causes of erectile dysfunction can be better and more permanently addressed through counseling than through a pill.
How Erection Problems Can Affect Your Marriage
An example of how erectile dysfunction can affect your marriage can be found in the question below submitted by Ashley. My advice follows thereafter.
My husband admitted that he has erection problems. We have been married for six years and during this time we only had sex about 20 times. During sex he will lose his erection and blame it on his weight. But he is not interested in losing weight or using alternative medication to assist with his erection problem. I have suggested he go for counseling as I feel that there are emotional issues involved due to his previous wife’s cheating on him. I have never cheated. However, at this stage, I am even considering this as I am only human.” – Ashley V.
Ashley’s in a tough situation. Facing a sexless marriage and a stubborn husband who’s embarrassed and doesn’t want to discuss the problem, it’s not particularly surprising that the thought of cheating has crossed her mind. Of course, that’s not an acceptable solution on any level and would only compound her marital problems exponentially.
I’ve worked with a number of men with erectile problems. You’re correct in thinking that there may be emotional issues affecting your husband. Erectile dysfunction almost always has a psychological component — being depressed, feelings of guilt, worry, stress and anxiety can all be contributors.
The repeated loss of an erection also compounds the problem since most men worry obsessively that it will happen again. This pattern typically leads to chronic problems like the loss of sexual desire and avoidance of sex completely. This sounds a lot like your marriage with your having had sex only a couple of times a year.
Take a look at this article about a man who has no sexual desire for his future wife to understand more about what happens to men like your husband.
If your husband won’t take care of himself, either by losing weight, taking medication, or going to counseling, then you’ve got to find a different strategy to deal with this besides having an affair. After all, if you’re correct in your thinking that his previous wife’s cheating may be a factor, which is likely to some degree, the last thing you should consider is doing the same to him again.
Here’s what to do:
- Find some things that motivate him. Obviously, it’s not sex. How about food? Do you cook meals for him, do the grocery shopping, or go out to dinner with him? These are privileges you can offer as rewards and consequences for his taking some action to deal with this.
- Tell him he’s going to lose the privilege if he doesn’t take some action. Give him a minimum action he needs to take, make it small to start, along with a deadline.
- If he doesn’t follow through, take away the motivator. Then pick another motivator and repeat the process. Keep taking privileges away until you get some action from him.
Other Considerations When Your Husband Struggles Having An Erection
Keep in mind that erection problems can be a touchy subject for any man. He will feel embarrassed and likely get defensive. He may also avoid any effort at sexual intimacy out of fear that he would only disappoint you. For this reason, it’s important to be as understanding and patient as possible when you’re working through this issue.
As a wife, you will also need to be careful not to take his erection problems personally. Many women understandably feel like they’re doing something wrong or aren’t attractive enough for their husband. However, it isn’t usually a matter of arousal or sexual response, as less obvious factors like porn can cause erectile dysfunction.
Erection problems are either physical (blood pressure, weight-related, etc.), psychological, or a combination of both. And although every man can occasionally experience a problem with getting or maintaining an erection due to stress or other unique factors, having regular erectile dysfunction isn’t normal.
If your husband is experiencing regular erection problems, you’ll both need to find out why and get the appropriate treatment. It can be tempting to avoid this issue but don’t. Addressing sexual problems is crucial for the health and happiness of your husband, yourself, and your marriage.