Dry spell: I can't remember the last time we made love

Capital Feature

When engineer Tony Obuya married his now ex-wife, Betty, everything was bliss. A perfect couple. A perfect home. Just what he had desired and dreamt.

The sex was fantastic. Sometimes, he would rush home over lunch hour to get some. The couple was entirely compatible and had similar tastes.

However, after a couple of years, all that changed. Sex vanished from their marriage menu. And the union came crumbling down. Sex was more like a task than a time to bond.

Initially, Obuya says he thought it was just the natural ebb and flow of marriage and life’s stresses that were getting in the way. But when their once peaceful home was turned into a wrestling ring, he knew his marriage was on its deathbed.

“Women have strange ways of stifling sex in marriage. She might ask for something and if you turn that request down, she feels there’s no need for her to meet your needs either,” Obuya said,  adding that what follows is criticism and comparisons to a man’s ego.

“African men don’t thrive on conditionalities. Whenever there was an altercation between us, my ex-wife would sleep in the guest room for months. She never bothered to talk things out,” he told The Nairobian, adding that his wife’s strange behaviour started after she got a promotion.

“It got to a point when I could initiate sex, but she would claim she needed rest to prepare for a busy schedule the next day. We could stay for five months without lungula,” Obuya revealed. “I was forced to look for a side chick, I mean, I am a man, how do I survive without sex?” he said.

Eventually, the two parted ways and are currently processing their divorce.

Sexless marriage

Obuya is not the only man trapped in a sexless marriage. John Njoka, a Nairobi-based accountant revealed that for the past two years, he has never had sex with his wife.

“We’ve been together for 13 years. We continue to live together, but we have separate rooms and have had a sexless marriage for over two years. We have tried marriage counseling. Currently, we are co-parenting our two boys,” he said.

Does he miss her?

“Oh yes. So many nights I wish I could turn back the hand of time. I’m a feminist at heart, but I have to admit that sex did help as a gateway to intimacy, conversation, and candour. That’s all gone now. She could be critical of so much of what I did, and the criticism would make me withdraw,” he added.

Njoka says his effort now is to have a workable non-sexual, non-intimate, functioning relationship where their kids can grow up loved and secure. But it is not the men only who suffer from dry spells. Take the case of Joan Wambui for instance.

The accountant based in the city blames family planning pills for killing her sex drive.

“After having my firstborn, I decided to use family planning pills. I would get monthly periods after one week. We would do it once in two months or even three months,” she said.

“And when my husband noticed my reluctance for sex, he started cheating and diverted all his attention to his mpango wa kando,” says Wambui who added that she lost morale completely as anger took control of her feelings.

This triggered incessant confrontations between them. Her hubby became violent and abusive, accusing her of denying him his conjugal rights.

“Our marriage was broken beyond repair. Our effort to seek a relationship expert didn’t bear fruits and that’s how we separated,” explained Wambui. She was 29 years old.

However, for some women, the reason they deny their husband's sex is because of ‘poor bedroom skills’.

Hazel Shamim, a teacher, revealed how she avoids her husband since he “hurts me during sex and sometimes he behaves like a beast while at it. When I tell him he is hurting me, he brushes it off. How I wish he could be a little bit gentle and make love to me. I have bruises around my Miss V and the mere thought of sex sends shivers down my spine...”

According to psychologist Truphenah Wakaba, sex in marriage comes with lots of emotions and requires a “prepared mind”.

She urges couples stuck in sexless marriages to find out the underlying issues and sort them out before it is too late.

“As a couple, you should have an honest, candid discussion. Sometimes, it is past anger, which leads to resentment. Women should not withhold sex from their husbands since that is the oil that lubricates a marriage,” she says.

Wakaba observes that contraceptives can affect a woman’s libido. She advises that in such cases, she should find a plan B. She advises men to be understanding because some of the family planning methods leave the woman feeling ‘ugly and dirty’ and when that happens, she will need assurance from her husband.

Last October, a man petitioned the court seeking to terminate a six-year-old marriage after accusing his wife of cruelty, refusing to cook for him and denying him sex.

The man, who filed for divorce on October 12, accused the wife of being abusive and disrespectful. “This has irretrievably broken down our relationship,” he said.

High divorce cases

City lawyer Steve Ogalla told The Nairobian that a majority of divorce cases are a result of couples withholding conjugal rights.

“Grounds for divorce include desertion, adultery, cruelty, and insanity. Those grounds presuppose that in marriage, there is general warmth and affection and consortium in conjugal rights. If somebody denies their spouse sex, then desertion or cruelty may be interpreted broadly to mean denial of sex,” he explained.

So serious is the matter that Reverend George Ochieng of ACK Kariobangi revealed that he has dealt with so many cases of couples demanding divorce due to lack of sex in marriage.

“Sex is not worldly. It is sacred and God-given. It should be handled with respect and care. Couples should always sit down and discuss the root cause of the problem before they decide to walk out,” he advised.