Just do it

Keeping the flame alight

In her book 365 Days: A Memoir Of Intimacy, Charla Muller charts the year she had sex every day with her husband, which she gave him as a present for his 40th birthday. The book touched a nerve for many married couples, women in particular, when it was first published in the US five years ago.

Muller, now 44,  admits that, like many women of a certain age juggling work, children and domestic chores, she’d become an expert at dodging sexual contact with her husband – dreading the wandering hand in the bed at night.

“My husband was constantly thinking to himself, ‘I wonder if today’s the day?’, and I was thinking, ‘I wonder if I can hold off till tomorrow?’

Muller considered herself happily married but admits, like a lot of married couples with kids, sex had got lost along the way. “Its absence becomes a presence in the marriage, a silent tension hanging in the air. It certainly was in mine,” she says.

Sex and intimacy

Although they didn’t actually manage it every single night for a year, Muller says the effect of doing it nearly every day had a great effect on the intimacy of their marriage. Though she admits it did sometimes feel like a chore,  having to find the time for sex meant it stopped becoming a big deal. Her husband, Brad, put it this way: “Sex every day is not a long-term sustainable model, but neither is sex hardly ever. The key was to land somewhere in between.”

Just do it

A controversial suggestion but it seems that sometimes it’s worth women just getting on with sex even when they don’t particularly feel like it.

It’s worth admitting that men and women are wired differently sexually and that it does tend to play a bigger part in men’s lives since they are more easily stimulated by imagery and touch.

This means that men tend to start having sex already aroused but, even if a woman doesn’t particularly feel like doing it, at least if she starts, she gives herself the chance of warming up half way through.

Psychologist Janet Reibstein suggests seeing it a bit like exercise –  it can start off as a physical effort but gets better the more you do it. “It’s not wrong if it’s not erotic from the start. Men should never blame women for that difference between them.”

Why it’s worth it

Reibstein says that men code intimacy via sex, it’s the way they express love. So if their partner goes off sex, they feel rejected and unloved.  They might think the solution is to have sex outside the relationship, but that won’t stop them from being upset by the lack of intimacy in that relationship.

Women are more likely to create intimacy by talking and then feel like having  sex through that created intimacy. It’s often hard for men to talk, which makes it hard for women to want sex, which then becomes a vicious circle.

What to do if you don’t feel you’re having enough sex

It’s probably not helpful to expect the same level of libido and there’s little point getting angry about that if you feel there is not enough sex in your relationship.

Women are more likely to recognise that they’re withdrawing from sex, that it’s closing down in their relationship. So although the onus is on both people to recognise each other’s sexual language, it’s usually up to the woman to begin the conversation about what to do about it.

The onus is on the man to recognise and accept the difference between male and female desire and, rather than seeing that difference as rejection, to enter into their partner’s language. That means talking and creating a mood of intimacy.

References

  •  Suzi Godson:   http://www.moresexdaily.com
  • Donnelly, D., and Burgess, E. (2008). The decision to remain in an involuntarily celibate relationship. Journal of Marriage and Family 70(2):519-535.
  • Sex and the Psyche: The Truth About Our Most Secret Fantasies, by Bret Kahr, Senior Clinical Research Fellow in Psychotherapy and Mental Health at the Centre for Child Mental Health in London, and Honorary Visiting Professor in the School of Arts at Roehampton University
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