Hoa’s dreams are regularly filled with cuddling and intimate moments with her husband, but things are not going so well in her waking life.
Nguyen Thi Hoa, 34, from HCMC, went to see a psychologist in a state of confusion and frustration. Her husband is two years older than her and for the past few years, their sex life has not been good. Many times Hoa tried to initiate intimacy, but her husband just turned away. After being rejected many times, she got offended and now sleeps in her own bedroom instead.
“I often get frustrated, grumpy and wonder if my husband is having an affair?” Hoa said.
Dang Viet Trung, 40, from Hanoi has also been rejected by his wife in bed for a long time.
“Every night she says that she’s tired and sleepy. When I hug her, she doesn’t feel comfortable,” Trung said.
Now anything seems to frustrate the couple and they often fight. Life has become so stressful that Trung’s wife has proposed a divorce.
“I don’t want a divorce, but I don’t know if she still wants to be with me,” Trung said.
Understanding is the key to a fulfilling sex life for married couples. Illustration photo by Pixabay
Deep down, both Trung and his wife know that the root cause of their problems comes from their declining sex life, but they’ve been unable to talk to each other about the matter. Even though they want to, they don’t know how to start.
In a VnExpress survey of nearly 1,000 readers, 49% of respondents said they are going through a phase without sex in their marriage, like Hoa and Trung, while 30% said they had experienced this phase before.
Hanoi sexology expert Dinh Thai Son said that the cause of this kind of phase is usually due to people’s lack of knowledge about sex.
“Everyone knows what sex is, but not everyone understands it. Therefore, many couples became cold in their marriage and start having affairs,” Son said.
Experts say sex life plays an important role in marriage because it creates inspiration and motivation to foster better happiness.
Economists David Blanchflower of Dartmouth College, U.S., and Andrew Oswald, University of Warwick, UK, analyzed data from 16,000 people who reported on their sexual activity and happiness levels. The results showed that sex positively affects the balance of happiness. They estimated that increasing the frequency of sex can create happiness equivalent to a $5,000 increase in salary.
Psychologist Nguyen Thi Tam from Ho Chi Minh City said that biologically, men have a higher sex drive than women because of they have more testosterone (which creates desire). Many wives don’t understand that and think that their husbands are selfish. They believe their men are only interested in satisfying their own needs and have no sympathy for the wives who have to take care of the housework and children and earn money all at the same time – which explains why after a long day, most of them just want to rest.
Moreover, the old thinking of “sex is taboo and it should not be discussed” still exist in the mindset of many Vietnamese women. Therefore, when they are too tired or uncomfortable to have sex, or even when they want to have sex, they are shy to tell their husbands.
“Sex is a gift of nature to humans, but now for many, it’s a terrible thing,” Tam said.
Hoa admitted that she has never once spoken with her husband Duc about their sex life. In therapy, the couple opened up for the first time. Duc, who works in the construction industry, has gone through two rough years due to Covid-19 and his company almost went out of business
“I’m always tired physically and mentally, because of work, but my wife keeps stressing me out, so I don’t want her,” Duc said.
Thuy, Trung’s wife, says she is fully committed to her husband even though he doubts her.
One day after a big fight, Thuy, who runs a sidewalk eatery, tried to explain herself: “I have to get up at 3 a.m. and go to the market and cook. I don’t get a break at noon and I continue to work until late, but he [husband]’s aggressive every day.”
She said that she’s often tired and therefore doesn’t want to have sex, but the more she tried to escape it, the more grumpy her husband becomes. When she resists, he gets jealous and accuses her of being promiscuous. This cycle has made both partners feel as though their marriage is heading toward a dead end.
According to a national survey in 2021, 32% of women experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of their husbands, but 90.4% of them didn’t seek help and 4.8% brought the problem to the police.
“It’s already so difficult for a husband and wife to talk to each other, let alone express it to outsiders,” Thuy said.
There are also times when Duc or Hoa want to get intimate, but the spiteful and suspicious behavior of their partner drains their daily desire.
Sexpert Thai Son said that sexual needs and the way married couples treat each other every day are both two-way streets. If sexual needs are met, the couple will get closer in daily life. But on the contrary, if they are frustrated and irritable with each other, they will lose their desire in the bedroom.
According to psychologist Tam, sex is related to health, psychology and love, and it’s a form of expressing affection between husband and wife.
So, if couples can break down the barriers blocking them from discussing sex, they will gradually understand and empathize with each other and overcome mental obstacles. Couples should seek knowledge through books and classes to have a better understanding, said Tam.
Tam also said that young couples from the new generation are more open about sex. They read and even go to classes together to learn about sex, so they have more knowledge and understanding, which makes it easier to express their wants and needs to each other.
“Sex is a gift that many people don’t know how to enjoy. When you receive a gift, learn how to unwrap and enjoy it,” Tam added.
After understanding each other’s problems, Hoa and her husband sympathize with one another and love each other more. For Duc, he also realized that his inability to balance his life has negatively affected his wife. Now that he’s recognized the problem, he’s been able to change. After endless days of frustration, Hoa and Duc now have great nights of intimacy together and wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and full of inspiration.
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