Wife and mother-of-three Sara Collins says sex is no longer important in her marriage and has in the past offered to pay for her husband to visit a sex worker, if sex was “that important to him”.
Now that’s a loaded statement if I’ve ever heard one.
Sara, 46 says she and husband Graham, 47 no longer have sex and sleep in separate bedrooms. She say sex petered out after they had children – Ella, 15, Jude, 11 and Jake, seven – and they don’t have any interest in having sex, even though she still fancies him.
They used to have a healthy sex life however things then became complicated. “I had a number of miscarriages so when I did get pregnant Graham didn’t want to touch me for safety reasons,” she told UK television show This Morning. “Then when I was breastfeeding he found it inappropriate for us to have sex.”
Sara and Graham began sleeping in separate bedrooms a decade ago, with Sara saying it was to ensure they each got a restful night’s sleep.
“‘I snore and he snores and I get fidgety in the night as I have ME so it seemed logical to have separate rooms.” ME/CFS stands for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which is inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.
Sara says sex is not “at the forefront” of her mind but she still fancies her husband. She says they are in agreement that they can have a happy marriage without sex.
Here’s what concerns me about this, and I say this as someone who spent over a year in a sexless marriage after the birth of my first child. We also slept in separate rooms.
When Sara said she’d offered to pay for Graham to visit a “prostitute” she added, if sex “was that important to him”. To me that was a loaded statement and I’d suggest Graham tread very carefully if he considers taking her up on her suggestion.
To say, if sex “was that important to him” it sounds as though she is really saying, “if sex is more important to him than our marriage”.
If I said this to my husband, that’s exactly how he’d take it. He’d see it as a dare, a taunt, a test, not a generous offer to have his sexual needs fulfilled outside of our marriage.
Then there are the consequences of looking outside of your marriage for physical intimacy. Turning away from your partner for sex could be just the beginning of looking outside of your marriage to have your needs fulfilled, with sex just being a dangerous first step.
Sara read a comment from husband Graham where he says, “I have gone past caring, I don’t bother asking anymore.” That to me shows they aren’t exactly on the same page when it comes to being in a sexless marriage.
Sara says she doesn’t desire sex at all and has no inclination where as Graham sounds as though he has had to make a choice not to care about it for the sake of his marriage. His statement that he doesn’t bother asking anymore sounds like someone who used to ask to no avail.
I used tell my husband I didn’t want to have sex every now and then and more often after the birth of my first child. My husband said at first he understood but then he began to feel hurt and rejected. He explained that sex to him wasn’t just about the sex but about connection and intimacy.
“I miss you,” he used to say.
Sara Collins told the panel on UK TV show This Morning that she offered to pay for her husband to visit a prostitute after she suffered postnatal depression after giving birth to their second child. Article continues after this video.
Sara said she is not worried that he may have an affair as this is something they have discussed. I’ve heard couples say this rather flippantly however they clearly aren’t considering the consequences. “We are very open about having an affair. If either of us felt the need to go and have an affair and be intimate with someone as long as we have had that conversation if it fine, we have had that agreement all our relationship,” she said.
When you have an affair it is never just about the sex. There is a relationship, a connection with someone outside of your marriage and no matter how much you think you are okay with it, it will have an effect on your marriage, regardless of any pact you have made.
Clearly there are other issues here.
Sara says after the birth of her second child she suffered from postnatal depression. “‘After I had my second child I had bad postnatal depression and I felt like I was pushing him away. I said to him if the actual sexual act was that important to him I would pay for him to go to a prostitute because it is just sex.” This is when they decided to sleep in separate rooms.
It seems as thought he post-natal depression was the final nail in the coffin of their waning sex life and fair enough. However this doesn’t mean it needs to be the status quo or that they can’t re-establish a healthy sex life.
Sara says she and Graham believe their ability to communicate makes their relationship stronger than having regular sex. Why can’t they have both – good communication and a healthy sex life?
Many Australian relationships are suffering from a lack of sex, with a 2014 study into Australian sexuality finding that 14.6 per cent of women in heterosexual relationships hadn’t had sex in the past month and most weren’t okay with this. 68.3 per cent of participants said they wanted sex more often than they got it and 84 per cent wanted to have sex two or more times a week. The study was conducted by The Australian Study of Health and Relationships.
Relationship expert Annabelle Knight – who participated in the panel discussion – said it is natural to experience lower libido as we age however we should still put in an effort. She said, “It is like going to the gym, you might not feel like it but when you are there you will be glad you went.”
Australian Relationship Counsellor and Sex Therapist Matty Silver said if the couple both decide the husband should see a sex worker it’s their choice, “but I would think the husband would like two things – sex and intimacy – otherwise he may as well masturbate or have a massage with a “happy ending”.
“For now the husband’s relationship/marriage is important – and will say he is happily married – but years without sex at all may change that. Of course he has given up asking for sex – nobody would like to be rejected all the time.”
How important is sex in your relationship?