Mating in captivity
May 28, 2013 § 1 Comment
Listening to: Radioactive, Imagine Dragons.
Frequency of sex seems to be such a hot topic in the media at the moment.
How Much Sex is Normal? “We love each other but we don’t have sex”. Sex Life? What Sex Life? Health Benefits of Regular Sex. How Much Is Too Much?
Sex continues to sell as it always has. Women continue to moan about wishing their husbands didn’t want so much sex. Men continue to wish their wives would give them more sex and jerk off in between. This is not a new issue and all it takes is a quick Google to see how many hundreds of thousands of couples are struggling with their less than satisfactory sex life.
My husband and I are not special or unique in this respect; we are plodding along with the hordes. He told me last night that I show more affection to my cats than I do to him.
As you flick through the countless forums that exist on “how often should you have sex”, I am pleased to note we are on or around “the average” which is 1-2 times a week. In fact, for 26-29 year old women living in the US, the average is LESS than once a week. However, how much sex you “should” have is not based on statistics but the dynamics of your relationship.
The first time Adam ever brought this issue up was about two years ago. It was one of the most horrific conversations-turn-arguments we’ve ever had; in fact, I think I ended up sleeping on the couch for a couple of nights.
When Adam and I first met we were, like many other new couples, at it like rabbits. Hardcore rabbits. That lasted for about three years – eighteen months of which was while he was still married, the other eighteen months was when we were finding our feet in our “new” relationship. It would be convenient to go back in time and pinpoint the exact moment where our sex life went from perverted to passive, but that would be far too easy. The reality is that as our intimacy developed, our desire for each other dwindled (when I say “our”, I mean “my”). After all, as sex and relationship guru Esther Perel quips, love is about having and desire is about wanting. How can we want what we already have?
I, like my husband, maintain some level of realistic expectation about our sex life. It is never going to be what it once was – it’s just not possible; you can’t un-know each other. Our situation is exacerbated because not only were we a new couple once, but we were an illicit couple which brings with it all kinds of additional excitement, fear and uncertainty. Perhaps this means the fall was further for us.
I am a selfish person by nature – more out of need than choice. My emotional fragility demands a lot of attention and nurturing and no one can provide either of those things like I can. Day-to-day living is a constant balancing act for me. Everything I do, I do with the intention of keeping myself afloat, keeping my chin above water, keeping the black dog at bay.
I come home after a relentless day at work and I have three hours before I’m in bed. That’s three hours to do any food shopping needed for that night, try and do some exercise, tidy up the house, cook dinner, listen to inane non-stop drivel from the kids, clean up, shower Elizabeth, do some relaxation, get distracted by the TV, try and do some meaningful writing, catch up on Facebook and Twitter, listen to some music, have a shower and try and read for more than half an hour. Amongst all that I am trying to be affectionate with my husband. When I crawl into bed at 9pm, I want to sleep. I want to collapse. The last thing on Earth that I usually want to do is have sex.
For some completely illogical reason, my husband thinks that this means I do not find him attractive. Truthfully, this makes me want to stab my eyes out in frustration.
Every night when we go to bed I know that he wants to have sex. Some nights the air between us is less tense than others. Other nights, I can feel it pressing down on me like a heavy board. Sometimes I relent and this inevitably ends up with me enjoying myself (and my husband). When we do have sex, I almost breathe a sigh of relief afterwards knowing I have at least one or two nights before he will start feeling antsy again. Other nights, I think to myself NO, I do NOT feel like having sex tonight and that is PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE, regardless of what my husband thinks. It is a daily battle trying to assess his mood and how much it will hurt him if I say no tonight. It eats at me constantly.
Naturally, this cycle wears me down and inevitably causes more of a rift between us. The more pressure I feel, the more resentful I feel; the more I recede, the more unhappy Adam becomes. This cycle goes on and on until we reach a breaking point which seems to happen every few months. We argue, we each end up incredibly hurt and somehow nothing gets resolved. We continue to perpetuate the cycle without relief.
Adam also said to me last night that he feels unappreciated. He made some horrific comment about how he works so hard and would like to get something in return for it. I was so gobsmacked that I was lost for words. When I tried to clarify what he said, he denied saying it at all, cracked the shits and ended the conversation by swearing at me (my pet hate and cue for instant tears). I rolled over into my pillow afterwards feeling loathsome, disgusted and confused. Last night he had obviously forgotten all the times I have bought him a donut (his favourite snack) and left it sitting on his desk, all the times I have offered him a glass of wine or have said thank you for doing all the dishes tonight, when I have said well done the brick paving looks great or the lawns which he just mowed look amazing, the night only a couple of weeks ago that I bought him a fishing magazine because I had been thinking about him and knew he’d love one. Yes, he is definitely unappreciated and I am just using him for his money. I never cease to be amazed of how little he thinks of me sometimes.
Our libidos are severely mismatched and we cannot seem to find a solution for this. It’s such a deeply personal thing that it becomes so hurtful for us to talk about it, to be criticised about it by someone we love and treasure. I suggested to Adam this afternoon that we rethink the way we are communicating to each other about it because arguing like we do is only making the whole thing worse. I had resolved that we would discuss it calmly tonight, like the two mature, loving adults that we are.
Yet after he invites me to sit on his lap at the dinner table this evening I flinch when he kisses me on the neck because it tickles and do the same again when he strokes my bare ankle. “Go then,” he says, fed up. “Everything tickles”.
My insides are crushed but without batting an eyelid I get off his lap and retreat to the study to write, and a canyon spans between us as I walk away from him.