Shocker: Tales of men, women seeking divorce over sex starvation

THE PUNCH Newspaper- Gbenro Adeoye

The marriage between Tajueen Olalekan and Modinat was four years old when he asked the court for a divorce in September 2015.

Olalekan’s reason: he was being denied sex by Modinat and it was time to set the records straight since he could not understand why he was being denied his “rights”.

“Anytime I propose love making to Modinat, she shuns me as if I am not entitled to it,” he had told a Mapo Customary Court sitting in Ibadan.

“All my efforts at making her agree with me failed. Her parents and relatives that I reported the incident to could not pacify her to change her attitude of starving me of sex. Although, I love her, I am now heartbroken, frustrated and completely disillusioned. Since we got married, I have always given her royal treatment by providing all her needs.

“In fact, I invested in a business worth N1.6m for her.”

But defending her action, Modinat said she was sexually starving Olalekan to punish him for mismanaging the fund she gave to him to construct a house for her.

She had said, “I was staying in Abidjan, where I was prosperous before I moved to Nigeria to marry him.

“Before then, I had sent Olalekan huge sums of money to construct a house for me, but he somehow mismanaged the fund and did not construct it to my taste. That was the reason why I started starving him of sex.”

Marriage is a bond between two persons that is expected to last a lifetime, but in reality, it is increasingly cut short by divorce. Couples often come up with various reasons to break up with their partners, and of them is over sex starvation.

A cross section of customary court registrars in Lagos who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity could not prove that the number of persons seeking divorce was on the increase in the state because of the absence of adequate data, but said there were indications to suggest that more couples are seeking divorce over issues related to sex.

One of them said more people have been approaching the customary court where he works to seek dissolution to their marriages over sex starvation.

Speaking about some of the causes of sex starvation in marriage based on his experience, the registrar said, “Some of the excuses some women give for depriving their husbands of sex is that the man does not take care of his responsibilities.

“Some spouses use sex as punishment; some will say that they stopped having sex with their partners when they discovered that they were cheating on them and that they didn’t want to contract sexually transmitted diseases.

“Some other women would say that they stopped giving in to their husbands’ sexual advances because they didn’t want any more children and their partners did not like using condoms. Some others fight frequently and so, there is no room for sex in their marriages.

“Then of course, there is the issue of poor economical condition, which also affects sex in marriages.”

Also, a customary court in Lagos recently dissolved the 20-year-old marriage between Mr. Adetoro Onipede and his wife, Olubunmi, because she starved him of sex.

The Court President, R.I. Adeyeri, said “all efforts to reconcile the couple had proved futile as the petitioner insisted on divorce.”

Onipede, 50, had filed a suit seeking the dissolution of his marriage on the grounds of sex starvation by Olubunmi.

He said that Olubunmi had denied him sex after giving birth to their last child 14 years ago.

“She always starves me of sex and will not even allow me to touch her. Anytime I try to force myself to do it, she will pick up a dangerous weapon to stab me,” he had said.

He described his wife as spiteful and in the habit of bringing him down in the presence of friends, family and neighbours, saying “anytime I am short of money and my wife paid the children’s fees or bought food in the house, she would tell our neighbours, her friends and even inform her family.”

Olubunmi, 42, however, told the court that she denied her husband sex because he was treating her like a sex worker.

“I am a wife and not a girlfriend or sex worker, so I stopped him from making love to me.”

Another husband, Femi Ajayi, a legal practitioner, who had approached the Igando Customary Court in Lagos to dissolve his 12-year-old marriage to his wife, Modupe, got a shocker when she told the court that she stopped sleeping with him for over a year because of his waywardness.

Modupe, a businesswoman, described her husband as a “womaniser’’, who had also slept with her best friend.

She said, “My husband runs after anything in skirt; I caught him making love to my best friend in her house. I refused to employ any house help again as he has turned them into sex machines.”

Claiming that she always had infections whenever she slept with her husband, Modupe said, “I stopped making love to him and I stopped washing his clothes when I discovered I always see and smell semen on his boxers.”

Other cases

Memories of his wedding and the events that played out on that day are still fresh on the mind of John Ogunwale (not real name).

Ogunwale can remember everything at the wedding like it was yesterday. In his mind, he still plays back the dancing; the kissing; his wife throwing the bouquet at her friends; and the honeymoon.

He had big fantasies about marriage but today, Ogunwale does not recall his wedding day with nostalgia. Rather, he remembers the day with regrets. Sometimes, his wish is to turn back the hands of time and undo some of his actions, one of which was not to have married his wife of five years.

Ogunwale used to indulge in fantasies about being sturdy on his wedding night while performing his first conjugal duty to his virgin bride. However, his marital problems started at the moment he had most fantasised about.

From the moment he and his wife kissed and undressed, everything seemed perfect up until when they got down to the real action of the night.

“That was when she cried out and said my manhood was too big for her,” he said, looking confused.

“I would persuade her and we would continue but soon, she would cry out again that the pain was unbearable for her. Eventually, I got frustrated and we stopped but both of us were not satisfied.”

Ogunwale thought the situation would gradually change between them but he was wrong. His wife started finding one excuse after another to avoid sleeping with him as their marriage progressed.

He said the few times he slept with his wife, she would complain of stomach ache for days and make him feel like the devil responsible for her incessant ill health.

“She would say she could feel my thrusts in her lower tummy and then complain and nag about it for days after that,” said Ogunwale with a tinge of frustration.

“Even when I try to do it slowly, my wife would still complain. I have come to the conclusion that she just does not like lovemaking and she’s using that as an excuse.”

Ogunwale knows that he is large but does not think he is too large to sleep with his wife regularly.

She is full of excuses

Reeling out a list of some of the tactics his wife has adopted and excuses she has given whenever he initiated sex, he said, “There is no time we don’t get into an argument anytime I initiate sex. She would sometimes rush to bed early to avoid having sleeping with me at night. On nights when I want us to go to bed early, she will find a reason to delay coming to bed so that I will have to keep vigil for her to come to bed.

“Her excuses include ‘I’m too tired;’ ‘why do you want to always have sex, is it food?;’ ‘I’m still sore from the one we had the last time;’ ‘I have tummy ache;’ ‘I’ve not yet recovered from the last one we had;’ ‘Why can’t we just talk, must you always have sex, ashewo (prostitute)?;’ ‘You are too immoral, I need to sleep.’

Ogunwale has since grown tired of the marriage and is contemplating getting a divorce but for their daughter, who he does not want to put through the pain and pressure of growing up out of wedlock.

However, the reasons for sexual dissatisfaction in marriage vary from couple to couple.

My wife just doesn’t like sex

A 49-year-old lawyer, Mr. Ebenezer Agofure, who is also toying with the idea of getting a divorce from his wife of 18 years, said that his sexual frustrations have turned him into a bitter husband at home.

The couple have three children but according to Agofure, they were products of the few times they ever made love.

Even after many years of marriage, all Agofure could say was that his wife, who he described as more pious than he is, does not like sex; but the reasons still eluded him.

“I’ve tried everything I can to make it work but all she says is that she does not enjoy sex,” he said.

“She won’t kiss or do anything to initiate sex. It does not seem like she has any desire for me. She just goes about her business daily like everything is normal, whereas, I am dying inside. When I complain, she would deny it but when I try to initiate sex, she would find an excuse.”

Even the few times Agofure could remember that he and his wife had sex, he said she was never fully participatory.

“She would lie on her back and ask me to go ahead with what I wanted to do without showing any desire,” he said, adding that the frustration has pushed him to the verge of asking for a divorce.

Agofure said he would rather seek a divorce than cheat on his wife.

Experts claim that one in three couples has a sexual desire gap, but say sometimes the causes of low sexual desire exhibited by a partner in marriage can be complex and deeply rooted.

A sociologist with the University of Lagos, Dr. Franca Attoh, who described sexual pressure in marriage as being on the increase, however, attributed much of the blame to the poor state of the economy.

“It is on the increase but it is not deliberate,” she said.

“When people are hungry or when the husband is unable to provide for his family, they won’t have time for sex.

“So sex starvation cannot be a stand-alone factor as there are other factors which cannot be visible. When there is economic depression and husbands don’t have a means of livelihood, invariably, it will impact on their wives because the wives will not be happy with the husbands. So there will be conflict all the time.

“Even when the husband has a job and salaries are not paid, the man who has not eaten will not be thinking of sex. So there are various factors that could be responsible. If a man has a job and not being paid like most civil servants have not been paid now, he will have a lot of things he needs to do with money.

“So you can only talk about sex starvation when the situation is ideal. But this is not an ideal situation and so there are a number of things that may be responsible for it.

“Sexual intercourse can happen when people are happy, but not when the man or the woman is not happy. If there are things bothering someone, the last thing on their mind will be sex.”

Attoh said people in poorer urban and rural communities tend to have a lot of children in spite of the economic situation because sex is their only leisure.

She said, “Rural communities have food because they engage in farming. There is no leisure for them, so the only leisure they have is sexual intercourse and so they will have more children. In places like Mushin and Ajegunle too, they don’t belong to Ikoyi Club and many of them are operating an informal sector.”

Meanwhile, some studies show that men’s sex drives are not only stronger than women’s, but less complex. Sources of women’s libidos, for example, are described as more complex and difficult to understand.

Women are said to place more value on emotional connection as a spark of sexual desire and also appear to be heavily influenced by social and cultural factors as well.

A professor of sociology at the University of Chicago and lead author of a survey of sexual practices, The Social Organisation of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States, Edward O. Laumann, said, “Sexual desire in women is extremely sensitive to environment and context.”

A 2005 cross-cultural internet survey done by the BBC using over 200,000 participants from across 53 countries found out that “men across all cultures reported higher sex drives and less restricted sexual attitudes than women, but women were consistently more variable than men in their sex drives.”

However, despite the complex nature of women’s sexual drives, there are cases where they have also exhibited sexual frustrations in marriage.

For example, an Ikorodu Customary Court had to dissolve an 18-year-old marriage between Mr. Olive Omoletu and his wife, Toyin, over sex denial for nine years.

Toyin, a 38-year-old nurse, said she was starved of sex and wanted a divorce.

She said her husband had not slept with her in the nine years and always complained of tiredness anytime the issue of sex came up.

“Since we had our last son, my husband has refused to perform his `duty’,” she had told the court.

Also recently, an Igando Customary Court in Lagos dissolved the 14-year-old marriage between Mrs. Adeola Adelani and her husband, Olajide, after the wife said she had been starved of sex for eight years.

Adeola, 39, accused Olajide of refusing to make love to her even though she wanted another child. The couple only had a 12-year-old son.

“My husband refused to make love to me for eight years. I want to have another baby because our son is 12-year-old and I am not satisfied with only one child,” she had said.

She described herself as sad and that neighbours referred to her as a “rejected and abandoned property.’’

Olajide, 45, a businessman, however, said he had refused to sleep with his wife because he did not want to risk her life to having another baby.

He said their child was delivered through Caesarean Section and that he didn’t want to put her through a similar ordeal.

Experts react

A psychologist with the UNILAG, Prof. Oni Fagboungbe, said sex in marriage could be affected by economic factors which could instigate psychological causes.

Fagboungbe said the attitude of some couples could also change to each other with time, which could diminish their sexual desire.

He said, “These days, the economy is depressed and people are frustrated. Sex is something that is enjoyed enthusiastically, but when you are weighed down by other problems, such as ‘how to pay school fees, rent and other things like that’, it hampers enthusiasm and excitement about it and it will result in low sexual performance.”

While identifying cheating as a factor that can also make married persons lose interest in their partners, Fagboungbe urged couples to be wary of peer pressure which could lead them to cheat on their partners.

He, however, described effective communication between husband and wife as an effective tool to deal with the problem.

He said, “With effective communication, the husband can tell the wife his problems and vice versa. That way, their body will be prepared to accept the situation. But without communication, cognitive consistence theory will allow them to find reasons for whatever problem they are confronting.

“If the husband tells the wife that irregular salary payment frustrates and affects him, she will know the reason and will be prepared to cooperate with him. But when she suspects that there is another woman, her behaviour may be instigated by revenge and she will cheat too. It brings bigger problems that may lead to divorce.”

However, a nutritionist, Mr. Okunola Oladimeji, blamed the problem on dietary changes and the economy, saying, “The things we consume these days are more of processed sugary foods and junks like doughnuts, carbonated drinks, and sausages which can affect sexual performance.”

He said adequate exercises can improve the sex lives of couples, while identifying food items like beans, vegetables, fish, nuts, fruits, especially water melon, as also good for improved sexual performance in both male and female.

He said, “Instead of asking for sausage, ask for an apple or banana.”

Pastor Seyi Adeyemi of the Worship Centre (An assembly of Sons and Daughters of Christ Apostolic Church), who doubles as a marriage counsellor, said the problem of sex starvation in marriage could be as a result of emotional or economic problems.

“Maybe either of the parties is going through an emotional trouble which could affect sexual performance,” he said.

“Economy could be a factor because when a man is broke, he is probably not going to be thinking about sexual relationship, he would be thinking of how to make money.

“It could be a situation where either party is using sex as a tool to negotiate for something from the other which is absolute blackmail and evil.”

He, therefore, described sex as a “very vital aspect of marriage that should not be taken for granted because it can destroy the marriage”.

However, speaking from the Biblical perspective, Adeyemi said, “The Bible makes it clear that the husband should render onto the wife due benevolence and likewise the wife unto the husband. So the wife has no power over her body and the husband has no power over his.”

According to him, sexual abstinence is only permitted in marriage if both parties have consented to it, which could be during fasting.

Describing the modern day church as doing more to break off from the cultural barrier that saw sex, including in marriage as dirty, Adeyemi said, “I think more than ever before, there has been an increased awareness created by the church.

“A lot of churches have marriage seminars and various programmes, where these issues are major discussions. We pastors are making it clear that God has ordained sex within the confines of marriage. It is a legitimate act that is supposed to be enjoyed and not endured, so the perspective and attitude towards it must be positive.”

According to Sheikh AbdulRahman Ahmad of the Ansar-ud-deen Society of Nigeria, Islam considers marriage as a sacred covenant and family as the most important unit of the society.

He also blamed the problem on a number of issues, saying that “tension in the society from various angles, declining economic fortunes, sociopolitical and environmental problems combine to add tremendous stress on the society and the health of men and women and the family.”

Blaming the media for promoting single parenthood and disintegration of the family, Ahmad added, “Imagine a man that has been in traffic for close to six hours in a day and returns home and the wife is also tired. It is not a good condition. These are the realities of what we are dealing with.”

He said, “Islam is not saying that the women should only stay at home and make babies. It is not assigning the role of bread winning to the woman; it is the primary role of the man. But when situation calls for it and the woman is compelled to earn a living or advance her career, Islam allows it but then, the society must consider the cost because everything comes with a cost.”

He, therefore, canvassed for communication, compassion and cooperation between married partners to deal with the challenges identified.

He said, “Love is not about a lot of money or material things but more often than not, people need help but will not admit as a result of self pride and ego. Religious institutions must intervene to save the family because all other things are cosmetic.”


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