In my years of working with couples, there is one question that couples are most afraid to answer than all other questions, bar none. Whether it is in pre-marriage coaching (where it comes up the most), or in regular couples coaching, this particular question has sparked way more confrontations, arguments and even caused some individuals to walk away from the discussion refusing to even talk about it.

The question is: If you or your partner were to suddenly be unable to ever have any sort of sex, what would your realistic expectations in that situation be? The question covers the situation from both sides for each individual.
Each person must answer, if the person (him or herself) was not able to have sex, what would they realistically expect and accept of his or her partner, as well as answer the question if his or her partner stopped having sex, what he or she would realistically do to handle that predicament.

There are a number of things that can happen in the course of the life that could cause one of the partners to be unable to have sex without warning. These examples include when one partner has an accident (car accident), a war wound, victim of a physical or even sexual assault, a medical condition such as recovering from surgery or treatment of disease, side effects of new medications, chronic physical pain, and reduced mental capacity from mental diseases (such as a partner with depression, or Alzheimer).

So, if your partner suddenly was no longer able to have sex, what do you think you would realistically do? Would you consider divorce? Would you stay faithful to your partner regardless of the consequences (which for a younger couple may mean the inability to have children)? Would masturbation become a replacement for intimacy? Would you seek out sex outside of your coupling and would you get your partner’s consent ahead of time, or want your partner more involved in that process? Would you do it behind your partner’s back in secret and lie about it? Would you adopt a do-not-ask-do-not-tell policy towards your partner and aim to not let your partner come face to face with it?

What if it was you that was unable to have sex? Would you expect your partner to leave you? Stay with you and go without? Would you feel cheated on if your partner self satisfied through masturbation and watched porn? Would you just leave your partner? Would you allow your partner to have other sex partners? Would you want to be involved in helping your partner find sex partners? Would you opt for allowing your partner to hire sex workers to minimize the risks of getting into emotional pair bonding?

This is not about what you and your partner HOPE you both would be able to handle. It is about, what you both realistically believe you could handle given your past behaviors and your level of sexual drives and interests and to plan accordingly as much as possible. The fantasies of hope and the realities of sexual practicality are often dissimilar.

When a couple reaches an impasse and is simply unable to have an honest and calm discussion about their expectations, coping means and what they would realistically do in those cases, then it is a sign that the couple may not be ready to get real with each other. In cases where it is a couple that is in the pre-marriage coaching process, it can suggest that they may not be ready to get married.

As my practice tends to point out, many couples who got serious, married and some who had children together, turns out, never had this discussion until it become an issue. Now, how scary is that?

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