The uninformed wife’s reaction to a husband with an established problem of premature ejaculation also is relatively type-cast. During the first months or years of the marriage the usual response is one of tolerance, understanding, or sympathy, with soft-voiced expressions of confidence that the problem will be overcome with patience, love, and mutual cooperation.
With due passage of time and with her husband’s rapid ejaculatory tendency not only continuing, but frequently becoming worse, the wife’s sexual frustrations rise to the surface. She verbalizes her distress by accusing her husband of just using her as an object for sexual release; in short, of being selfish, irresponsible, or simply of having no interest in or feeling for her as an individual.
These wifely complaints are legion, couched in individually self-expressive terms but reflecting in general rebellion at being used sexually rather than loved sexually. The “just being used” is the part most difficult for wives to accept.
Although they complaint of premature ejaculation have been referred to the clinic after as brief an interval as one year of marriage, generally this particular syndrome is not presented for therapeutic reversal until after five to twenty years of marriage. Usually the problem is ignored or tolerated by the wife until children are born.
With distractions provided by the demands of the new family, the prematurely ejaculating husband is accepted. But once a family of desirable size has been achieved, and the youngest has reached some level of independence, the wife’s sexual frustrations, enhanced by her increasing psychosocial freedom as the children mature, reach the breaking-point.
She spotlights the problem by insisting on professional guidance for herself, demanding that her husband seek professional help, enjoying sexual release provided by another partner, male or female, or any combination of these three potentials.
Psychotherapeutic support for the wife of a premature ejaculator is palliative at best. There is no way to alleviate the main source of irritation when dealing professionally with her sexual problems in a one-to-one method of psychotherapy. Nor has psychotherapy directed specifically toward the problem of premature ejaculation been particularly successful, because there has not been widespread professional knowledge of clinical techniques available to teach ejaculatory control.
The wife, by seeking other coital partners, can only double her levels of frustration, if she realizes comparatively through successful sexual experience with other men the inadequacies of her own husband’s sexual performance. Conversely, she may find herself unresponsive in extramarital coition, possibly from feelings of guilt or from conditioned repression of her own sexual responses through years of contending with her husband’s rapid ejaculatory pattern. Many women have sought psychosexual release in homosexual experience under these circumstances.
Before acknowledging loss of all hope of successful sexual functioning, the members, of the couple individually or together try any number of physical dodges to avoid the usual rapid ejaculatory termination of their sexual exposures. The most consistently employed homemade remedy is the “don’t touch” treatment. The husband requests that his wife not approach his genital area during their precoital play.
Instead, both partners concentrate their attention on stimulating the female partner almost to the point of orgasm.
Of course, there is concomitant male stimulation coming from observation of his wife’s obvious “pleasure response” to his sexually stimulative approaches. Finally, if and when the wife attains a high level of sexual stimulation, there is an episode of hurried penile penetration with the husband vainly trying to distract himself from the sexually stimulating experience of intromission.
Various procedures for distraction are employed by the anxious husband. He fantasies such non sexual material as work at the office, an unbalanced family budget, an argument with a neighbour, a fishing trip, counting backward from one hundred, etc.
When the fantasy material has been proved ineffectual, the next step is to initiate some form of physical distress. The husband may bite his lip, contract the rectal sphincter, pinch himself, pull his hair, or use any other means of physical distraction.
All techniques, subjective or objective, are designed, of course, to enhance ejaculatory control by reducing the level of the sensate input during the coital process.
The wife meanwhile is thrusting frantically in a vain attempt to achieve orgasmic release before her partner ejaculates. The rapid transition from the mutually agreed upon “don’t touch” approach in precoital play to a rushed mounting episode and immediate contention with a demanding, thrusting, highly excited woman usually provides sufficiently forceful stimuli to initiate ejaculation before the wife possibly can obtain sexual release.
Premature Ejaculator Frustration
When all distraction techniques fail, the warmth of the couple’s interpersonal relationship slowly ebbs away. As the wife’s level of cold personal disinterest reflecting her sexual frustration increases, and denunciations (verbal or silent) of her husband’s sexual dysfunction continue, the next step taken by the now anxious, self-effacing husband, “the man who just can’t get the job done,” is one of slow but definite withdrawal from the unit’s established frequency of sexual contact.
Usually this action is temporarily acceptable to his frustrated wife. His withdrawal from sexual exposure continues despite the fact that the one thing the premature ejaculator cannot tolerate and still maintain any semblance of control is increasing periods of sexual continence.
He frequently sleeps on the sofa or in another room; she visits her family and stays longer than planned, or simply refuses sexual contact for increasing periods of time.
The longer the periods of continence, regardless of source, the more rapid and severe the husband’s ejaculatory response on those rare occasions when sexual contact is permitted.
Granted that the premature ejaculator may exhibit little significant control at the usual once or twice-a-week rate of exposure, yet he certainly will have no control at all when the coital exposures are reduced to once, twice, or thrice a month.
Over a period of years with no obvious improvement in her husband’s sexual performance, the wife loses confidence in her partner’s consideration for or appreciation of her as an individual, and concomitantly some degree of confidence in herself as a woman.
For effective sexual performance are continuously verbalized or acted out by the female partner over an extended period, the complication of erective inadequacy may appear. The husband, questioning his own sexual prowess time and again, abetted in this frightful concern by his wife’s specific verbal derogation of his masculinity, frequently is enveloped by anticipatory fears of performance whenever sexual expression is imminent.
Fears of performance
Combined with techniques for avoiding direct penile stimulation during precoital play and his wife’s obvious disinterest in active sexual functioning, not only make the man increasingly conscious of his inadequacies of sexual performance but also raise psychologically crippling questions as to his very maleness.
In short, all these factors plus his fantasy patterns of trying to distract himself from subjective pleasure during active sexual functioning finally place the man in the spectator role in his own marital bed. There is a slow transition from the role of physical self-distraction during coition to that of a fear-ridden spectator at his own sexual performance.
Thus, the husband assumes the psychological stature of a secondarily impotent male with all of the well-established concerns for sexual performance and the constant retreat to a spectator role. Time and time again premature ejaculators of many years standing not only lose confidence in their own sexual performance but also, unable to respond positively while questioning their own masculinity, terminate their sexual functioning with secondary impotence.
This stage of functional involution is, of course, the crowning blow to husband and wife as individuals and usually to the marital relationship.