By the Sexy G
A strange phenomenon is taking hold in our society — marriages that survive without sex or very little of it. Pornography is rampant, books on the topic everywhere, sexy billboards abound and sexual innuendos are everywhere. Yet, lovemaking in the bedroom is on the decline and is sometimes totally missing for years. Although images of sex are replete throughout our society, couples seem to be losing interest.
Now, on a casual stroll down any city street, or stepping into a bar, restaurant or movie you will find one to several couples kissing passionately right out in the open. No hiding in corners. I am tempted to tell them to get a room (kidding, of course – don’t really mind).
So, what is the issue here? Why the huge decline of interest in sex? Part of this dilemma is that women and men are tired and out of fuel. Resentment is the locked gate to good sex.
Years ago, before it was respectable for women to work, women performed their prescribed duties in the domestic realm and the bedroom. It tended to be perfunctory and many times without much erotic play and enjoyment for her; it mostly meant being as still as possible until it was over. Unspoken but in the air like smoke she knew not to display enjoyment as he might interpret that as her being a nymphomaniac or an indication she was cheating on him. This didn’t apply to all couples, but it was a thick vein running through society. Then the feminist revolution occurred and along with it the need or the perceived need for a second income.
Men and women saw this as a positive move as they were able to buy more goods and live more comfortably, but essentially, not much changed in dividing domestic responsibilities despite many claims. There are surface attempts for the man to pitch in, but usually each of his tasks involve the woman of the house. If he cooks often the dishes, pots and pans remain in the sink. If he bathes the children, towels and dirty clothes hit the floor. If she has to nag him about these situations he is annoyed and she is furious. The man feels he’s done some domestic things and that his wife is ungrateful. She fumes when she has to clean up after him. And that can be after both have had a grueling workday.
As Caitlin Flanagan wrote in an article online for the Atlantic magazine, entitled, The Wifely Duty, “When a professional person crosses the threshold at the end of the day, the commute hasn’t provided a transition from work; it has been a continuation of it, thanks to the array of pagers, phones, and even Internet connections available to the modern driver. And—here’s the kicker—there isn’t just one spouse who has had such a punishing day, there are two of them.”
It is no wonder that couples don’t feel very seductive after work. And then it’s a rush of preparing food, cleaning up, perhaps homework for the children and getting them off to sleep. By bedtime for the adults, exhaustion sets in and it’s off to dreamland. Yet, the shadow of who is responsible for each task and if the person performing them did so creeps into the bedroom and seems to have been one of the major reasons for shutting down the libido.
Another complication has entered the sexual picture. As opposed to an earlier time and perhaps with the advent of Women’s Liberation, many women feel they have the right to be pleasured sexually just like a man. The ideal is having both partners seducing and stimulating each other willingly and happily. But either resentment, fatigue or both enter the picture.
Another issue that Flanagan brings up is, “For many couples child-rearing has become not merely one aspect of marriage but its entire purpose and function. Spouses regard each other not as principally lovers and companions but as sharers of the great, unending burden of taking care of the children. And make no mistake about it: American middle-class families have made child-rearing a dauntingly complex enterprise. My children are still small, but it has been made abundantly clear to me by friends and acquaintances that I had better get in the market for an SUV or a minivan, because I am soon enough going to be shuttling the children and their friends to a bewildering series of soccer games, soccer parties, soccer tournaments.”
There are many concerns for this child-obsessed generation. With two people working hard and nearly totally focused on their offspring there is still shopping, cooking and cleaning. Something has to go on the back burner and it appears to be sex. The other worry is what happens when the children leave home? Do these couples still have things to talk about outside the world of child-rearing? Many divorces happen at this point for that very reason – the partners have grown so far apart and have had such little physical contact that they can become virtual strangers.
If the major source of conversation revolves around children, it’s hard to feel sexy. From what I have observed, today’s parents are the most child-oriented population of all times. I thought I did a lot of car-pooling and was devoted to children, but my husband and I went on some vacations without kids and did many Saturday nights by ourselves. I think the answer to this issue is being a concerned and good parent but making time each week to converse with your partner about each other to the exclusion of the kids.
There is no question in my mind that the dearth of activity in the bedroom feeds into the epidemic of media/computer pornography. No doubt it is a substitute for the real thing. Is it easier for two weary people to use porno to avoid expending the energy needed for mutual eroticism and pleasuring? Do men become addicts with their wives approval as an easy way out? Avoidance may be the path of least resistance, but we can see what it does to a relationship – wives pointing a finger at their men as being perverted and men saying their wives are frigid.
Are we in a spiral of defeat? I don’t believe so. We can make changes. The responsibility for each task in the domestic arena have to be worked out up front and perhaps even put in writing. If she needs her husband to clean up after performing a domestic task – do it for heaven’s sake. Do you like her to resent you and then hate the sight of you? It’s not much to ask to cement your relationship. If a man asks his wife to make time for him one night a week exclusively, do it. It’s vital to have those precious moments together. Put those kids to bed early and insist on no calling out. Spend that time together by yourselves. Catch up and find out what it is your partner needs, is thinking and would like to talk about. Touch, kiss and then have a glass of wine. Talk some more. Play music. Take a bubble bath together. Soon, the mood will change and the only porno you’ll want is in your own bedroom between your own sheets.
The sexy G, Fran
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