June 09, 2020 8 min read
An unconsummated marriage or relationship is one in which the couple has been unable to perform successful sexual intercourse.
The most common cause of an unconsummated relationship is vaginismus. There can be other causes like erectile dysfunction or psychological distress and fear or past trauma.
In some cultures, not being able to consummate the marriage may still be a reason to annul the marriage. Even if the marriage or relationship survives, non-consummation can lead to loss of connection and closeness.
Being able to consummate a relationship and have healthy, satisfying sex is vital to the health of an intimate relationship for most people. Sex serves to foster wellbeing and connection as well as to procreate.
Unconsummated relationships can be very painful emotionally and it can be very destructive to the relationship and to your own sense of self-worth. It can lead to resentment and emotional distance and can damage the fibre of the relationship.
Unconsummated relationships are often consummated if you just give it a bit more time, but seeking professional help can be very valuable. It can save you so much stress and heartache if you just get the right help sooner rather than later. At My Sexual Health, we have a whole team of specialist people who can help you! The sooner you seek professional help, the better. The worst thing you can do is pretend there is no problem and try to ignore it.
This depends on you and your partner. The sooner you seek help the easier it is to help you, because there is less emotional damage done. With the right help, it is often a rich journey towards healing that can be faster than you think.
Almost everyone has a fantasy at some stage of their lives about having a beautiful wedding. A wonderful celebration with everyone there just to honour their happiness and joy. A day in which they marry the person of their dreams and start a lifetime of endless happiness and love. This is such a beautiful fairy tale story filled with childhood hopefulness and optimism.
Then the big day arrives and the whole marriage begins to unfold very differently from the fantasy. This can be extremely heart-wrenching and can create bitter disappointment. It's not that weddings aren’t wonderful or that marriage isn’t fulfilling, it's when we have unrealistic expectations that we often set ourselves up for terrible disappointment and sadness. Weddings are real and so is marriage and that means they have good parts and not so good parts. They have thorns as well as rose petals.
One of the most disappointing parts of a wedding can be the first night, especially if you are a virgin bride or groom and have waited for that perfect night to consummate your love and your relationship. This hope can be dashed horribly to the ground if one or other partner, or even both partners have put too much pressure on this moment being incredible, in their minds. Sometimes women’s and men’s bodies just won’t co-operate with the plan. The hope, the vision and the pressure can make the autonomic nervous system get ready for fight, flight and freeze. In this state, the sexual organs cannot respond appropriately.
You can easily understand this if you understand that the brain’s job is to keep you alive. If the brain, and therefore the body, is prepared for an emergency, then it cannot allow you to be having sex, which requires your focus and absolute relaxation, because then you would be unable to protect and defend yourself from whatever emergency is about to occur. You need to be able to relax to have sex and you need to feel safe to allow consummation to occur.
What ends up happening, sadly too often, is that the first sexual encounter is disappointing. Maybe even worse: consummation does not happen. Either the man cannot get an erection, because he is putting too much pressure on himself to perform and is afraid he may not get it quite right, and his penis responds by going flaccid. Or, the woman finds that her pelvic floor muscles tighten and her vaginal opening becomes like a wall instead of an open entry point. She may experience pain and find that it is simply too painful to allow her husband to penetrate her, or she may feel pain and then retreat and shut down and start to dread sex instead of awakening to the wonder of it.
Sex is hard to talk about. Often, we feel ashamed or embarrassed when we need to talk about it and so we sweep it under the carpet and build a wall around the subject. Sometimes in addition to avoiding talking about it, we avoid thinking about it as well, driving it underground and placing it in the darkest place within ourselves. While this is human nature and so easy to understand, it is what I call ‘fear avoidance behaviour.’
Avoiding what we fear usually makes us get far more of what we fear, rather than helping us get less of it, in the long run. We avoid talking about our disappointing sexual experiences, because we feel afraid of feeling ashamed and embarrassed and in the end the shame and embarrassment get bigger and bigger. When we sweep things like problems with sex under the carpet, we land up being unable to walk over the carpet because there is so much under it. Or if you prefer, there is a big elephant in the room and you can't move, because it is taking up all the space.
Here are some tips and ideas on what to do if you haven’t been able to consummate your marriage or relationship, or if you are afraid that this may be a problem for you when you are finally married.
As a physiotherapist who has specialized in pelvic function, chronic pelvic pain and sexual dysfunction, and as a life and relationship coach, I have a very special interest in helping people who have been unable to consummate their marriage or relationship. I have developed a protocol, by which we work systematically to restore the brain-body awareness of the region, learn to relax the region and learn to relax and effectively contract the pelvic floor muscles; we work to stretch tightened structures in the vagina with dilators and we work with enhancing intimacy and communication about intimacy. If you are struggling because you have been unable to consummate your relationship, there is help available and it is easier than you think to bring healing to this part of your relationship. I wish you wonderful, healthful sex and am available to help you on your journey towards this if you need my help.
Sue Fuller-Good – Physiotherapist with a special interest in the pelvis, sexual health and chronic pain.
011 463 0229/1
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