A few weeks ago I came across an interesting piece on The Atlantic written by a married guy proudly claiming that his marriage was good, but his sex life was…boring. Judging by social media – where only the most accurate of information is available – when it comes to top 3 relationship fears, most men and women seem to fear a boring sex life; no sex life; and “settling.” A few excerpts from the article, What If Maintaining Desire Isn’t a Major Goal of Your Marriage? are below.
Daniel Bergner, author of What Do Women Want? Adventures in the Science of Female Desire, is asking readers to contemplate such questions at Slate‘s Double XX. Specifically, he asked, “How can women maintain desire within long-term committed relationships?” In response, readers have written in with a series of predictably titillating responses from the familiar grab-bag of shocking alternative lifestyles and fetish. You’ve got threesomes, you’ve got costumes, you’ve got group sex, and so forth.
Specifically…is it necessarily true that everyone, in every marriage, wants to maintain desire? Obviously, pretty much nobody wants their sex life to completely roll over and die. But, on the other hand, one of the things that’s great about marriage is that it frees you from the constant, incessant treadmill of sexual obsession. I was single for quite a while, and the worst part was not the lack of sex (since really you can have sex quite efficiently with yourself) but the waiting, the hoping, the crushes, the uncertainty, the self-doubt and self-loathing—in short, that thing that some religions call the wheel of desire. When Carrie Ichikawa Jenkins tells me that I could maintain desire by dating outside my marriage, all I can say is, hell, no. I hated dating. I was bad at it, it made me miserable, and I’m sure it wasn’t particularly enjoyable for the folks who had to share my misery either. My wife rescued me from that, bless her. No way am I going back.
If you want your marriage to be about an Olympics of kink, that’s fine—but making it mandatory seems like it has the potential to be as cruel, and as restrictive, as the monolithic monogamy from which we are supposedly being liberated.
Let me clarify a few points. The writer seems a bit jaded by the facts that he, “hated dating” and “was bad at it.” He might otherwise feel different if he was a successful-dater in the past. I wasn’t great at dating, but I wasn’t horrible at it either. All in all, I like to think I did ok for myself. Next, unlike the author of the book mentioned above, Daniel Bergner, I’m not advocating for open marriages. While I have nothing against open marriages and the people who participate in them (Full disclosure: I was in an open relationship once. I can honestly say it wasn’t that bad, but I probably wouldn’t do it again), I’m more interested in focusing on how does one maintain desire and sexual attraction within a committed relationship. Today, we will liberally define “committed relationship” as simply a long-term relationship or married.
I think most men and women fear losing their attraction to their wife or husband. I think we all expect to fall into a level of comfort with our partners, as this is one of the many benefits of being in a committed relationship. However, I don’t think we want to cross the invisible line between comfort and boredom, especially when our good friend Dr. Phil informs us that up to 20 percent of married couples have sex no more than 10 times a year, which is technically defined as a “sexless marriage.” I plan to love my wife, but physical impairments pending, I also plan to have sex with her more than 10 times a year. I hope she feels the same way about me! But, maybe I’m going about life all wrong?
In fact, I was surprised by the frequency or infrequency of sex men were reportedly having according to The Kinsey Institute. It should be noted that while Partnered/Married men have more sex than single men across the board, it is married men that have more consistent sex than single or partnered men. Although they have less sex overall, single men are the most likely to have sex with different women each time – whatever value you place on that. When it comes to good or bad sex, take from the following information what you will…
American men say the average length of an erect penis is 10 inches while women say it’s 4 inches. The actual average size is 5.1 inches
— OMG Facts SEX (@OMGFactsSex) June 21, 2013
Like many others, perhaps I’m too young and have placed too much emphasis on the importance of good sex within a relationship. I’ve never been married, so I really don’t know. Being unmarried, I have seen a pattern of good sex in most of my better relationships. Still, I am “only” 30. Yet, even at “only” 30, I don’t need as much sex as I did in my teens as long as the sex I do get is pretty good whenever I get it. As an FYI, a study found that older women, ages 27 – 45, actually have a higher sex drive than both men their age and younger women. Perhaps after a few years (or decades) of being with the same woman, whether we have sex a few times a week or a few times a year won’t won’t matter that much to me. I have no real way of knowing until that time comes or doesn’t come, if you know what I mean.
Married readers: Has your sex life improved or worsened since you got married (or got in a committed relationship)? What effect has the length of your marriage or kids had on your sex life? Is good, frequent sex still important to you when you’re committed to one person?