Fear of Being Overheard.
I suppose that among men this is a minor consideration, or even possibly a stimulant, but there is no question that among women, the very thought that someone might overhear during sex play or the sex act itself can be enough to drive all sexual feeling far, far away. There again, being overheard or the possibility of being seen may excite men and women alike, and in men may induce such excitement as to cause premature ejaculation! If so, then careful discussion is needed between the man and the woman about how to deal with the different attitudes that exist within the sexual partnership towards this tendency to voyeurism and exhibitionism on the part of the man and woman!
Secrets of non-verbal communication to help you understand your partner better
It is reassuring to know that this kind of fear on the part of the woman is likely to be only temporarily destructive. However, in a marriage that is already vulnerable, there can be serious consequences. I recall the case of a young couple who were guests at the country home of a friend. Many houses are not constructed as solidly as they might be. On the first night, the wife refused to have intercourse because, she said, “the walls are too thin”. This dismayed the husband, but he complied. On the second night, he had convinced her that no one would overhear. Or at least, he thought he had.
During intercourse itself, with its special motions, rhythms and sounds from husband and wife, the wife suddenly sat bolt upright in bed.
“We’re making too much noise,” she said in a stage whisper. “We are not,” the husband said, in loud disgruntled tones.
Then there ensued an argument, which increased in intensity as it proceeded. The host and hostess did overhear the argument, although they had heard nothing beforehand. The couple brooded for the rest of the visit and had a miserable time and, needless to say, no sex.
Now, such a temporary dislocation of emotions would have little effect on a solid marriage. This one was not solid, however. The husband and wife never had made a good adjustment to each other and the episode was simply another straw added to the camel’s back. Later on, that couple separated for several months. Fortunately, they consulted a marriage counselor and are back together once again. As yet, the marriage is still not out of danger. It will take some time for the couple lo work out their problems, among which the sexual aspect looms large.
The examples of fear of being overheard could themselves fill a book. I know of a couple who live in a sprawling apartment project in which the walls are not too thick. In the quiet the late evening, you can actually hear the people talking next door. In bed, these muffled voices sounded to the wife as if they actually were in the room. When she heard the voices, she refused to have intercourse.
This disturbed her husband from time to time and finally had a frank, open discussion of it. “I feel as if our neighbors are in the bedroom with us,” she said. “That’s why I act the way I do.”
So some weeks, the husband and wife discussed this little thing, and finally they worked it out by playing soft radio music to mask the voices, but mostly by laughing at the whole thing. Fortunately, the wife’s sense of humor prevailed in the end.
Another couple told me that they had never had intercourse when they stayed overnight in a motel because of the wife’s fear of being overheard, so recently, they have stopped in hotels. Her fear has dissolved. It sounds simple and it is simple. Very often the source of sexual tension will diminish in importance as a result of some such simple act on the part of one or both partners. This can be true in almost any case of tension caused by superficial reasons, and there are a great many of those.
Another couple encountered trouble when, on several occasions just as they were about to have intercourse, the phone rang. “I’ve completely lost my desire,” the wife would announce, when her husband returned from the phone. “Don’t ask me to tell you why. That’s just the way I am.”
The unhappy husband gave the matter a little thought. Take the phone out of the bedroom, put it in another room, tone down the bell, and let it ring its fool head off, he said to himself. Simple, you may think, a little mechanical thing, but it worked. One point: countless tensions in marital sexuality will yield to even-tempered, well-considered thinking. A second point: they will not yield if the situation is being used as an excuse to avoid intercourse.
Fear of Giving Oneself Completely.
This is a deeper kind of fear than that discussed in the previous case. This fear involves a feeling that if you give yourself totally in every phase of the relationship as well as the sexual one, you may lose your identity as a whole person. I suspect this fear is much more common among women than among men.
Obviously, this kind of fear is related to suspicion, distrust and perhaps to ulterior motives. It probably stems from a feeling of lack of safety in the other person, a feeling of being threatened. I recall a young wife who once said to her doctor: “I never allow myself to be so carried away in intercourse that I approach the point of orgasm. I would not be able to control myself, I’m sure. I’m afraid to face myself in this kind of primitive situation, or to let my husband see me so uncontrolled.”
What a tragic attitude! Of course, this woman needed medical counseling. Her remarks reveal a great deal about herself. Perhaps the most interesting thing they reveal is that she lacks genuine faith in herself as well as in her husband. She lacks ability really to participate not only in marital sex but in any intimate relationship. Obviously, if she remains unchanged, she will make herself and her husband miserable.
Certainly, the attitude, “I refuse to give myself completely,” is not a sound basis for marriage. How to handle it? That’s the key question.
Overcoming the Fear
First, you must take a good look at your partner. You must determine whether your partner is such a questionable and untrustworthy person that you cannot trust your own reactions in his presence. You must seek to determine, honestly and forthrightly, whether your lack of faith in your partner is real, imagined, or an excuse.
If you do this, and I mean really do it, not just go through the motions, I think you will often be surprised. A good deal of the time you will be startled to discover that your partner might also have misgivings and fears concerning your reactions.
What a strange situation! Here are two adults, married (mature’?) people playing a game which leads to stress and emotional pain. “I’ll trust you,” each seems to say to the other, “if you will trust me. But I cannot start trusting you until you start trusting me. You make the first gesture, then I can make the next gesture.” The mature, grown-up way is to discuss the problem.