The search string, “married sex is lame” led someone to my neck of the blogosphere yesterday. I’m not sure why that combination of words led to me because even though I’ve written a little about sex and more about lame duck marriages, I’ve never written that married sex is lame.
Because I don’t think it is.
Or at least, I don’t believe it has to be.
I guess it starts with a dissection of what is meant by “lame.” Since the Googler isn’t here to explain him-or herself (don’t assume it was a man typing that; I’ve actually heard from more women dissatisfied with their sex lives than men!), we’ll have to make some assumptions.
First, a diagnosis of lame could come from a deficit of either (or both) quantity or quality. A dissatisfaction with the frequency of sex (by one or both partners) could be further broken down by external causes – children, time, illness – and internal factors – resentment, shame, aversion. This may be the entirety of the problem, or it may coexist with a qualitative unhappiness with sex, where physical intimacy is described as boring, predictable or uninspiring.
And sex is important to a marriage.It separates the romantic relationship from friendship. It nurtures a physical and chemical (thanks to our good friend, oxytocin) bond between the partners. The best sex transcends the physical act and becomes an expression of vulnerability and a gift of shared pleasure.
When sexual satisfaction wanes (especially when it decreases unevenly between the partners), it’s something to take seriously. It’s either a sign that something is amiss or it’s a factor that can contribute to the erosion of a marriage over time.
Sex in a marriage is important.
(And please, please, please consider sexual compatibility before entering into a commitment with somebody. If sex is very important to you, be honest about that and find somebody who matches your needs. If you tend towards the asexual, don’t try to be someone you’re not. And also refrain from marriage until after the initial sexual energy of a new relationship has settled. The honeymoon phase is just that – a phase. Not a time to make life-altering decisions).
And you don’t have to settle for the stereotype that married sex is lame sex, becoming more crippled with each advancing year. Of course, you also have to accept your sphere of influence – it doesn’t extend much beyond you. In sex, as with any other endeavor, you can only control your actions and reactions. But even that can be pretty powerful:
Because if you believe married sex is lame, guess what kind of sex your marriage will have? If you accept that sex inevitably declines over time, guess what will occur in your bed? If you expect your sex life to continue to be the way it was in the beginning, when you had your oxytocin and dopamine boosters filled to the brim, you will perceive the inevitable ebbs as a sign of impending doom.
Expect sex within a marriage to be good (and even great) and accept that, as with anything, perfection is only illusion.
Think back to the early years of your sexual explorations – Could you imagine having to schedule sex at that point? It practically scheduled itself into every waking hour, at least in thought.
That emphasis on sex will change. Which is good. After all, would you entrust your health to a surgeon with the pervasive sexual fantasies of a 17-year-old boy? I didn’t think so.
Marital sex takes intention. It takes creativity and persistence (and often a calendar and a door lock) to fit it in to the nooks in our busy lives. That’s not a sign of impeding doom. It’s a sign you have a life.
Anything worthwhile in life requires effort. You won’t have a great sex life if you don’t nurture a great sex life.
And be careful of habit. When external pressures require a decrease in sex for a time, it’s easy to simply allow inertia to carry you along that path. Once the external circumstances allow, make an effort to climb back up into bed. Or the counter. I’m not judging:)
Sex in a relationship will wax and wane. There will be periods of more sex and times of less. There will be phases of fireworks and spans of quiet coupling. Ride the waves. Trust that ebbs will be followed by flows. And allow the troughs to help you appreciate the crests.
And don’t blame those dry periods on the marriage. They would happen if you were single and on the scene too – you just wouldn’t have a convenient scapegoat.
There’s a reason that people are generally not sexually attracted to family members (with or without a blood connection). When someone is too familiar, they are no longer sexually attractive. We gravitate towards and over-familiarization of our spouses. Partly from time and proximity and partly from a desire for a feeling of security. But security and passion are mutually exclusive. See your partner as he or she is – an independent person that can still surprise you.
Release of Negativity
If you allow it, a marriage can create quite a collection of perceived hurts and wrongdoings. If you carry those stones of displeasure throughout the relationship, you will begin to resent their weight. And bitterness is certainly no aphrodisiac. Instead of sleeping with the partner who has disappointed you or bruised your feelings, try having sex with the person you fell in love with. They’re still there.
Understand the Role
One of the truisms about gender differences in marital sex is that women often have sex because they feel close to their partner, whereas men have sex to become close. We all too often reduce sex to its mechanical components. And yes, the physical act and release is important. But it’s not everything. Sex is a shared experience, bringing closeness. It is an opportunity for vulnerability and acceptance. It is a time to give and share pleasure.
One of the most common reasons you hear for an affair is, “It felt so good to be desired again.” That’s sad. We all have a need to be wanted and accepted. That’s perhaps the biggest gift you can give your spouse -the continued and open expression of desire along with the temperance of judgment.
“I see you. I accept you. And I want you.”
It’s not just your partner you have to accept – it’s also yourself. It always makes me sad when I hear people (usually women on this one) bemoan their “fat” bellies and expanding hips and assuming that their husband finds them repulsive.
Another truism comes to mind here – “Confidence is the sexiest thing a woman can wear.” When we love ourselves, we invite others to see us in kind. Don’t give society the power to define what is sexy; you create your own sexy. And then own it without apology.
Curiosity and Openness
We become bored when we are boring. Harsh, I know. But true. It’s easy to build boxes and then live within the walls. Through away the recipe. Mix up the dance steps. Play. Explore together. Be curious rather than conclusive.
And I leave you with…
Top ten reasons married sex is the best sex:
- Practice makes better. And you’ve had plenty of opportunity to rehearse.
- You can help someone you care about feel wonderful. And they can return the gift.
- You don’t have to decline an invitation for sex just because you are wearing the underwear with holes in them or you forgot to shave your legs.
- Sex is better when you’re relaxed and comfortable being open and vulnerable, both of which come easier when you’re with somebody you know and trust.
- You’ve already been accepted by your partner so you can put away the worries of does he/she like me.
- You have a shared sexual history. So not only can you engage in fantasy, you can also engage in memory.
- There is less pressure to appear perfect, either in appearance or performance, since you’ve seen your partner both at their best and at their worst.
- Vacation sex.
- You have opportunities to explore and refine, selecting what works and discarding what doesn’t.
- Because everything is better with love. Even the naughty stuff.
And I hope the Googler in seek of help can discover that for themselves.