Not long ago I was reading article after article on women my age who thought sex with their partner was something to be devotedly avoided. They were simply not interested in physical intimacy. Explanations abounded. Low libido. Exhaustion. Emotionally empty relationships. But the bottom line was that many of these women seemed okay with the idea that they weren’t having much or any sex. Some of them even felt that this was the way marriages went after a time. Every time I read one of these pieces in the paper or magazine, I would ask my husband, “Who the hell are these people? Do I know women like this? Do I have friends, relatives or acquaintances with marriages like this? Underneath contented exteriors are there lifeless relationships swirling all about us?” And then yesterday, I ran across a review of a new book by Bob and Susan Berkowitz about middle-aged married men who would also rather not have sex to the point where they weren’t. Of course, that explains how women are getting away with not having sex. Their husbands are not interested either. They are impotent from all manner of medication: anti-depressants and Rogaine to name just two. Or they are angry with their wives for all manner of things and are with-holding sex – though I am wondering if their wives notice. And, of course, they are too busy with all manner of Internet porn (honestly, you should see some of the google searches that bring people here of all places -the ultimate in yuckiness) to bother with their fat wives. Yes, one of the top three reasons men shun their wives sexually is that they have gotten fat (the women, although I see a great number of men who should spend more time minding their own BMI’s). I could gloat and feel vindicated about my weight pieces from last week, but it would be a hollow victory given the overall orgasm drought. It almost makes climate change a less pressing priority.
When I read about the lack of sex in marriage these days, I am tempted to write about my own experiences. Why not? I hint about them enough. But I won’t. It’s just not my life alone. (And sometimes my step-daughter reads this blog and she would need a mind’s eye scoop after.) I will say that I have found marriage more sexually satisfying than my long ago single girl days. You remember those free-wheeling 1980’s? But there is nothing that compares with intimate sex. Making love should be more than a euphemism. It is the kind you can only have with someone who knows the real you. Can make you laugh. Finish your thoughts. Have in-depth conversations that range from the grocery list to string theory. In a single sitting. How can you truly let go with someone who hasn’t folded your underwear, endured the smell of your farts or understands that even though you can’t say the word “clitoris”, you definitely want him to give it his full attention?
According the Berkowitz’s, somewhere between 6 months and 3 years, sex goes bye-bye. It has to, according to them. But why? And what do they mean that sex “goes”? Does that mean it slows down? Becomes less frequent? Goes on a long holiday? Gets really bad? My personal opinion is that too many people buy into the notion that sex is spontaneous. A gesture. A glance. Ignition to blast off. People put more thought into where they are going to eat out, and what movie they should see than to what will go on in their bedroom (or on the sofa, maybe the kitchen counter, or in the shower).
Mr. Berkowitz remarks as well that most people spend only 3% of their time thinking about sex. I am going to assume that this includes people who are not having any. I wonder, how this can be measured? The Berkowitz’s apparently interviewed a multitude of therapists and surveyed 4000 couples who weren’t having sex. Kind of a skewed demographic, I think. I spend way more than 3% of my time having impure thoughts, middle-aged as I am. And withholding old farts hunched over their computers gawking at women who are much less likely to have sex with them than their wives are probably devoting more than 3% of their brain cells to the subject as well. What an irony that in a country that is sex obsessed, those legally and morally sanctioned to have sex – in accordance with Holy American Family Values as preached at us – aren’t getting any.