"I Can't Turn Him On"
The Counselor's Turn, continued
"Next we moved on to Angela's habit of pressuring Lane for sex and threatening to leave him if he couldn't overcome his lack of desire. The more she pushed, the less he felt capable of performing. 'It's a vicious circle,' said Lane. 'You tell me you're disappointed, and then I'm afraid to let you down again.'
"Angela, who hadn't realized how demanding she had been, burst into tears. 'I thought you weren't attracted to me anymore,' she said. Assuring her that he still found her beautiful, Lane slipped his arm around Angela as she put her head on his shoulder. This tender moment was exactly what they needed to start reestablishing intimacy.
"I saw the couple again the week after Angela's birthday. Lane had thrown a big surprise party for her, and she thanked him later that night with a soothing backrub. The next day, they woke up relaxed -- and in the mood. 'Let's just say we had a very good morning,' Lane said.
"From there, I explained that it was also important not to pressure each other to perform if they weren't in the mood. Nonsexual forms of intimacy, such as massages, showering together, and simply hugging and holding hands, would go a long way toward keeping their sex life active and loving.
"The last time I saw Angela and Lane, they were enjoying a richer love life. 'Once in a while, we get started in bed and it doesn't happen,' said Lane. 'We don't make a big deal out of it. We snuggle and say "I love you," and then the next time, we're fine again.' Angela agreed: 'I used to feel rejected and even ugly when Lane couldn't perform. Now I just chalk it up to his being tired or stressed.'
"Things were much better on the job, too; Lane had just closed a particularly profitable deal. Both he and Angela enjoy spending time with their friends again now that she doesn't envy anyone's love life or family plans. And Lane couldn't be happier that he no longer feels like a failure in and out of the bedroom."
"Can This Marriage Be Saved?" is the most enduring women's magazine feature in the world. This month's case is based on interviews with clients and information from the files of Flo Rosof, Ph.D., director of the Life Development Center, in Huntington, New York. The story told here is true, although names and other details have been changed to conceal identities. "Can This Marriage Be Saved?" is a registered trademark of Meredith Corporation.
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal magazine, September 2002.