The Curse of D.I.N.S* (That's Dual Income, No Sex - and Doctors Fear It's Ruining the Health of Ambitious Young Couples); Health & Fitness

By Appleyard, Diana | The Evening Standard (London, England), June 10, 2003 | Go to article overview

The Curse of D.I.N.S* (That's Dual Income, No Sex - and Doctors Fear It's Ruining the Health of Ambitious Young Couples); Health & Fitness


Appleyard, Diana, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: DIANA APPLEYARD

IT may not be a new condition but it certainly has a new name - for DINS syndrome has become one of the most common sociological problems suffered by couples. Dual Income, No Sex will strike a chord with many hardworking, gym-going, professional couples.

It's one of the hazards of modernday living - the pressure and stress of running two hectic careers as well as a relationship mean there is practically no time or one of the most important things that hold a partnership together - sex.

When 33-year-old Ben Ruse gets home from his pressurised career as a PR manager at around 8pm, he gives his children a goodnight kiss. Then it's time for a glass of wine and a couple of hours playing computer games while his wife, Charlotte, a 32-year-old book editor, watches "girlie" television.

Then they fall into bed - and Charlotte says they are usually so exhausted that making love is the last thing on their minds. Their lifestyle, which sees Ben regularly working a 10-hour day and Charlotte (who works from their home in Stoke Newington) juggling domestic duties, children and career, is typical of other young London professionals.

But now doctors and psychiatrists are warning that DINS syndrome has become one of the most prevalent and potentially destructive social conditions in Britain. A quarter of all men and one in eight women suffer from some form of sexual dysfunction in their lives, and dualincome couples are putting themselves increasingly at risk of similar physical problems.

"It is all about stress," Charlotte says. "Ben in particular works really hard - he often leaves home at five or six in the morning, and then isn't home until seven or eight at night, having held endless meetings, taken people out for working lunches and stayed late to finish reports. Often he has to work a full Saturday, although I've recently started putting my foot down and saying we have to keep the weekends free for the family. It is very hard to feel sexy when you're so tired."

In the past year they have made a concerted effort to find more time for each other, because not doing so was having a knock-on effect on their marriage.

"Things did get difficult and we found we were arguing about silly little-things that don't matter to us, just bickering, really, and at the heart of it was a lack of intimacy," says Charlotte. "We were even arguing about sex and how we should have it, rather than having it. It was just so destructive-You can put most of those frustrations and irritations aside if you make love often, but that tension can surface in all kinds of other ways.

"So we sat down and decided that we had to make more time for each other.

It has really paid dividends and now we do see light at the end of the tunnel. What we've learned is that you have to grab opportunities whenever you can. You can't stick to the pattern of three times a week when you go to bed - often we're both too tired. So you have to be much more inventive, and make time during the day. Recently Ben came home at lunchtime just for an hour - that was very nice!"

Dr Petra Boynton is a sex-and-relationship expert who says there are two main issues affecting DINS couples. The first is the fear that they genuinely have a sexual dysfunction. If they haven't made love for weeks or even months, many people fear that their sex drive has gone for ever.

So a problem that may be due simply to stress and lack of effort manifests itself as a false physical imperfection. "Just because you don't make love, doesn't mean you can't make love, so stop worrying,'' says Dr Boynton.

ALOT of people panic and think that a dip in desire caused by their hectic lives is, in fact, a sexual dysfunction," she adds, "but it rarely is. It's simply that if you work long hours in a stressful environment, you possibly have young children at home and you're juggling all the different demands of work and family, then that is bound to have a knock-on effect on your sexual energy. …

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