A healthy sex life in a stable relationship is said to be a key ingredient in the recipe for longevity. Not only does it supply protective physical activity and release, but it is also a powerful source of affirmation and emotional closeness. While some couples nurture this valuable asset, some let it slip away.
This is a cautionary tale about a couple in Perth who almost lost it but didn’t know why. Rage and frustration got in the way.
All Arthur G. knew was that he was angry. Most evenings he would come home grumpy and explode at the slightest irritation. If the car was parked askew in the garage, he would blow his top. He didn’t have a short fuse: he had no fuse at all.
What baffled his wife, Jackie, and his son, Gavin, was that he had become like this in a matter of months. He had gone from being relaxed and very easy company to being a virtual monster. There was no accounting for the transformation. Gavin, who was in his final year at school, found his father unapproachable and aggressive. He assumed he was under pressure at work.
Jackie assumed she was the problem. The long-standing and once solid intimacy between herself and her husband had seemingly vaporised, and he wanted very little to do with her. If she reached out, there was a gruff rebuff.
‘I thought I was unattractive or that something was wrong with me. He never came around, so to speak, and from being very close, a gap grew between us.’
Arthur, then in his early 40s, did not have a grip on his behaviour either. ‘To tell the honest truth, I was cranky as hell. I became a kind of verbal dinosaur and would lumber around and bite their heads off. Apart from my mood I had a personal problem I couldn’t discuss with Jackie or anyone. Sometimes she would intimate that she wanted to be close and I would say, “Not right now.” I was very defensive.’
The situation deteriorated until Jackie could take no more and insisted he seek help. Sitting opposite the family doctor, Arthur was lost for words. It was the mid-eighties and he was coy about discussing sex. He did not have the vocabulary to explain that in the past months his libido had dwindled, he had been unable to perform and this issue preoccupied him. In fact, it had taken over his life.
Arthur had known the doctor for years, and eventually the comfort of their relationship enabled him to blurt out the problem. He first became aware of it after taking medication for hypertension. Although this medication is known to dull libido, he worried about it, and the more he worried, the worse it got. Eventually his anxiety levels were so high that lie could no longer function sexually. But he did not connect this with his foul mood. In his mind they were totally separate issues.
When, however, the doctor referred him to a special clinic where trials of penile injections were being conducted, the two issues came together. He had to discuss the trials with Jackie. It was the first she knew of his problem, and while sympathetic, she was relieved it was not her fault.
With Jackie’s encouragement, Arthur used the injections, and the results were splendid. As he continued to have success with the injections, so life in their household gradually returned to normal. Arthur became his old self again. His self-esteem rose, his mood improved and the world seemed fine … except when visitors arrived unexpectedly.
After an injection it would take 40 minutes for his erection to subside, and occasionally he would have to scramble for a big floppy shirt to cover himself.
Being such a responsive subject, Arthur was later asked to join a trial of a new injection called Caverject. No sooner was he using this successfully than he was offered a place on the trial of a revolutionary new pill for potency. He became ‘No. 9′ in the first Australian Viagra trials. Viagra too was effective for him, and because of the way it works, there was no embarrassment when people turned up at the door.
With unrestricted access to the pills, Arthur took one every day for 3 months. He didn’t have intercourse daily but took a pill in case anything should develop. ‘Having my problem treated saved my family. I was causing them pain and turmoil and I didn’t know why’
Arthur, now in his late 50s, has retired and gives talks to other men about anger and impotence. His advises men to summon up courage and take the difficult step of disclosing their problem to their local doctor. ‘It is going to be one of the most important steps you ever take.’