My wife and I have been married for 21 months, Alhamdulillah. Aside from her having to relocate and difficulty adjusting, things have been okay, Alhamdulillah. There are times where you know it goes up and down, but for the most part, we have an understanding.
My wife recently gave birth to our first child about a month ago. While she was pregnant, she insisted that I be present in the delivery room. To be honest, I wasn't very keen as she knows that I have a weak stomach and it was just something I was not completely comfortable with. I felt pressured as she wanted me to be there to show support so I didn't want her to think otherwise.
Fast forward to the delivery day, it was an amazing experience to watch a child enter this world. On the other hand, I felt that I was left with a psychological effect as to what I witnessed (and I'll keep that to myself to maintain her honor and dignity). Women are in such a vulnerable state during labor and I can't just wrap my mind around as to why they would want the husband/partner to see them like that.
The problem now is I don't feel the same passion or physical/sexual attraction to my wife as I did before. It's really bothering me because I can't get those images out of my head and it's like I was just turned off completely by what I saw. I am not sure how long this feeling will last or if it will even go away, or if I will even be able to look at my wife the same anymore. I feel terrible and don't know how I can bring myself to tell her this. I don't even know if I can. It will certainly ruin her and damage her self-esteem.
For a while, I thought I was crazy for feeling this way and that I'm a horrible person. Since then, I've done quite some extensive research about how I feel and what other men have gone through and found a lot of supporting articles. Many of the articles mentioned how it ruined their marriage and how couples end up getting a divorce.
Divorce is the last thing on my mind, but I know myself and I know that I won't last a long time pretending to feel like this. And once she starts wanting to be intimate, I don't know what I will do. Please, advice on what I should do.
In this counseling answer:
• It is important that fathers get prepared for witnessing their child’s birth beforehand. Being prepared may have included going to childbirth classes with your wife, watching videos and asking questions about childbirth.
• Spouses do and will see each other in all situations in life. Think about marriage, attraction, and love in a deeper context.
• I kindly suggest dear brother that Insha’Allah, you try to accept these “leftover images” in your mind as a transit part of life – a beautiful part that brought your child into the world.
• Seek counseling.
Thank you for writing to us with your concerns, brother. First of all, congratulations on the birth of your child, what a blessing, indeed! I can imagine it is a time of great joy in welcoming your new little baby into the home. May Allah guide, protect and bless your child.
A Blessing and a Trauma
Brother, you stated that you were present for your child’s birth. What a wonderful opportunity to see the miracle of birth, especially that of your own child. As beautiful as childbirth is, I can imagine it must have been quite an experience for you to see live for the first time. Your wife was probably very grateful that you were there for her to show support and share in this most blessed event.
Often time, when a couple goes through the birth process together, it strengthens their bond. It can also deepen the man’s knowledge, appreciation, and respect he has for his wife as he sees what she endured to bring their child into the world.
On the other hand, a birthing experience may be shocking as well as gross (blood, etc.) if a man is not prepared beforehand.
As a new dad, seeing the birth of your child may have been more than what you expected. It may have even been frightening at some points. A lot of men do look forward to seeing the birth of their child and being a part of it. Some even assist with the delivery and cut the cord. It can be an amazing experience if you are well prepared.
Check out this counseling video:
Being prepared may have included going to childbirth classes with your wife, watching videos and asking questions about childbirth. I am wondering if you participated in any classes to prepare you, brother? If not, this would have given you the opportunity to experience a live childbirth on video prior to see the real thing in actual life.
Without preparation, watching or participating in learning the birth of a child can be traumatic for some.
Sexual Attraction: Is there a Deeper Level?
As this has affected you in a negative way in regards to your sexual attraction to your wife, perhaps you need to look at your feelings a little more closely. You stated that it was positive because you saw your child being born. You said it was an amazing experience, but left you thinking and wondering that “women are in such a vulnerable state during labor and I can’t just wrap my mind around as to why they would want the husband/partner to see them like that”.
Brother, if we examine a marital relationship, it is a very close one. Spouses do and will see each other in all situations in life. Yes, women are vulnerable during childbirth, but they are also strong! The vulnerability is not only based on the possibility of complications or death, but it is also based on trust. Your wife trusted you with an experience that she wanted to share with you – the birth of your child.
While it may not have been pleasant in that there are blood, pain, and struggle, we must keep in mind that there is often beauty and joy after a struggle. This is surely the case when a couple gives birth.
On the other hand, what if your wife had an injury and was sick in the hospital. Would you lose your sexual desire for her? If you were in a car crash and left disfigured, would you expect her to no longer be attracted to you?
As the years go by, brother, and you and your wife age, are you going to lose your sexual desire because she gets wrinkles, grow old with gray hair or may need assistance with personal needs? What if you, as you grow old, need assistance with personal needs, should your wife refuse as “you are invulnerable state and she can’t just wrap her mind around as to why you would want her to see them like that”.
Brother, the point of these questions is to think about marriage, attraction, and love in a deeper context. There will be many experiences (both positive and negative) in which you and your wife will see each other in “vulnerable” states. This is life and this is the tests of commitment.
Analyzing Your Feelings
Dear brother, I do understand the trauma you must feel. It is a real and documented issue. Some researchers classify it as a form of PTSD. Some researchers feel that a small number of men become traumatized and lose sexually feelings for their wives. However, most regain them within a few months to a year.
Whether you have true PTSD or not is not known. However, brother, by analyzing exactly why it is that you are sexually turned off may help you understand how to regain your desire for your wife.
Was it the pain she went through? Did you feel helpless? Do you feel your wife’s private parts are now ruined? While it may not help, please do know that your wife’s body (vagina) will heal and go back to its original form and shape.
The human body is an amazing work of art and Allah created women’s bodies to endure childbirth and then to return to pre-delivery status. You may still see the process of birth in your mind – with all the stretching of the vagina and blood. However, in reality, her body will/has self-healed.
I kindly suggest dear brother that Insha’Allah, you try to accept these “leftover images” in your mind as a transit part of life – a beautiful part that brought your child into the world. When you start visualizing parts that make you uncomfortable, tell yourself that it is in the past, it is over and creates a new image in your mind of your wife. In reality, your wife’s body most likely is “back to normal”. Often times, after childbirth women are eager to get into fitness and often end up with better bodies than before childbirth!
However, a women’s body and beauty should not be a sole reason for the attraction. True and lasting attraction is deeper than that. It is built upon a foundation of intense love, closeness and harmony of two hearts for the sake of Allah. Focus on this and the beauty and sexiness she does possess that attracted you to her. Focus on the here and now of her essence. Try to take some time alone with her to do romantic things such as going for a walk holding hands; going out for a candlelight dinner, etc. You may be surprised at how doing little romantic things with her may change your feelings insha’Allah.
Love, Desire, and Investment
At the beginning of your question, you stated “As side from her having to relocate and difficulty adjusting, things have been okay Alhamdulillah. There are times where you know it goes up and down, but for the most part, we have an understanding.” I am wondering what you mean by “difficulty adjusting” and “we have an understanding”.
Every marriage has its ups and downs, but I guess I am wondering how connected do you feel to your wife. Do you love her? You have been married for 21 months now. Is the marriage one of love and closeness? Is this something you wanted or was it arranged?
The reason I ask is that if you really are not invested emotionally with your wife, it may be more difficult to see her in a romantic way.
Insha’Allah, dear brother, please do your best to see your wife in a romantic way. Ty to increase your closeness and love. If the trauma persists, please do seek out counseling to address your issues as well as save the marriage.
We wish you the best,
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.