This is a follow-up article to my last post entitled "Sex After Marriage: What It's Really Like". I just can't stop talking sometimes.
You know that final scene in The Notebook when Allie and Noah are lying there in the hospital bed, and Allie asks, "Do you think our love is strong enough to make miracles?"
And Noah answers, "Our love could do anything."
And Allie says, "I love you."
And Noah says, "I love you."
And then they both go to sleep and die in each other's arms. I cried so hard at that part. I've seen it about 50 times.
The thing is, I also loved the movie Lust, Caution -- the one starring Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and directed by Ang Lee -- especially when Mr. Yee is having crazy "this isn't my wife but I just want to rip her clothes off, slam her down on the bed, and thrust my naked body into hers with such force that my head almost pops off" sex.
I covet both of those scenarios. Inside of me, there is a loving wife and a wanton lover. If I'm being honest, I think and desire things that don't necessarily fit neatly into the model of marriage as it stands today.
This is the way I see it:
We are born, and we grow up -- trying not to get killed by doing something ridiculously stupid as a teenager -- until one day, we meet someone whose company we enjoy and with whom we'd like to have ongoing sex.
After being together for a while -- it could be two weeks, two years, whatever -- we contemplate spawning a child (or two or three) with that person. Obviously, we don't want to do this parenting thing alone because kids can be uber-bratty sometimes, like when they scream bloody murder at the grocery store because you won't buy them a sucker. Enter the marital agreement.
Naively, we then think that our relationship will never change. It does though, and years later, we find ourselves considering things that don't exactly follow the marriage rules, like can we get a little vacation from it all -- alone -- even if it's only for one night?
You might not feel this way, but I do. I also have no trouble expressing my thoughts, as you can probably tell. You see, I was raised in a very liberal household. Growing up, there was no topic that was off limits, and that included sex. Like everything else, it was open for discussion anytime, anywhere.
Now, as an adult, I feel quite comfortable with my own sexuality -- surprise, surprise. Of course, this carries over into my married life as well. I tell my husband everything. And why wouldn't I? I'm a normal person with normal thoughts. I'm not a psycho.
So if I'm attracted to another man or woman, or if I want to do something sexual that may not be deemed "typical" -- like if I want two people wearing tiger-striped onesies to whisper dirty limericks into my ears -- one on each side -- I don't berate myself over it. I figure that if I'm thinking it, somebody else out there must be thinking it too. (Maybe not the tiger-striped onesie part, or the dirty limerick part, just the rest.)
Who says what's normal anyway? Besides, it really comes down to action. That's what matters. And whether you think so or not, I don't want to hurt anybody. I wouldn't just run around having sex with people willy nilly.
I have a conscience, and a heart. I do however want to be true to myself, and I don't enjoy feeling guilty. This marriage thing -- it makes me feel guilty. Why? Because it requires me to say that I only ever want to be with one person. That's a lie, and I'm a really bad liar.
By admitting this though, I feel sorry... for myself, and for my husband. I feel like I'm letting him down, which is stupid, because I'm not. I love him very much.
I'm not implying that I think people should be able to do whatever the heck they want with any old Pamela Anderson/David Beckham. I strongly believe in living by the golden rule. I always treat others with the respect with which I would want to be treated. To say however, that there's only one standard way of living -- that's ridiculous. Everything evolves -- people, relationships, Nikki Minaj's hair, even marriage.
Life has changed so much in the last century. There are some places where women aren't sold for cows anymore. Imagine that. We live longer too -- both sexes. That's another big one.
As my good friend Alan always says, "When the rules of forever were made, most people only lived to be 40. Now people can live to be well over 80. Forever with one person becomes a whole lot longer then. Maybe it's time we rethink some of these rules."
I say, you're damn right Alan.
We have this model for marriage that's so romantic -- you're supposed to meet someone, fall in love, and stay together forever with no problems or deviations from that path, yet half of us can't seem to make it work.
There is a definitely a disconnect between what we do for real, and what we tell ourselves we should do. Although it's obvious that humans pair bond, why does it have to be with only one person forever? We seem to accept serial monogamy well enough, but what if someone still loves his/her partner? What if they simply want to explore other avenues at the same time? Why can't there be overlap? What's the reason? Because we "said" so?
Am I suggesting open relationships for everyone -- polyamory/swinging/orgies across the board? Certainly not. Stephen Baldwin could never handle something like that.
The model I propose is simply one where honesty and open-mindedness are the foundation, whatever that means for a particular person or couple at any given moment in time. Add to this, I think it's important to take other people's feelings into consideration, to be responsible for one's actions, to cultivate an internal sense of self-worth, and to work hard and do good things. Did you hear that Charlie Sheen? I said stop being an asshole.
Where does that leave me then? Is my husband ever going to speak to me after he reads this? I told you, I tell my husband everything. He's known exactly what's been swirling around in my brain for decades. Besides, if he gets mad, I always have my cats. Unlike humans, they give unconditional love. They also scratch the hell out of my furniture, but that's another story.
After what may be decades of commitment and teamwork in a marriage, couples often reach a point when they stop viewing sex as a necessity in a relationship now built upon the strong tenets of trust, friendship and love. A lack of sex in a marriage, however, can turn couples into buddies or quasi-roommates and make that special spark even harder to ignite.
Despite the effects that hormonal changes can have on the libidos of older couples, rest assured men and women can enjoy sex at any age. It might not be as easy to become aroused in your 50s as it was in your 20s, but you can increase your sexual stimulation with frequent exercise, healthy changes in diet and, yes, those little blue pills. Here's a tip: the more you have sex, the more you will want to have it.
Though oft repeated, this claim is not necessarily true. By now, you should know what you like and dislike and be able to shed any sexual inhibitions that you may still be holding on to. Sex after 50 is no longer about exploring foreign terrain, it's about feeling good in your own skin. For these reasons, many women find sex after 50 to be more emotionally and physically satisfying than at any other stage in their lives.
Though diminishing hormone levels can increase the chance of erectile dysfunction in older men, it shouldn't prevent couples from having healthy, fulfilling sex lives. Apart from Viagra, Cialis and a host of other medical options, men can increase their ability to become aroused in the bedroom through exercise, masturbation and increased foreplay with a partner.
Many couples tend to sweep problems they have in the bedroom under the rug with the assumption that sex and romance in their marriage will thrive once the kids leave for college. Unfortunately, without curfews and defiant teens to discuss, couples can often find themselves struggling to make conversation with one another. Such disconnect will create further problems in the bedroom. If the state of your union isn't as strong as you'd like, confront the issues head on and don't make excuses.
The common narrative goes that a midlife crisis will wreak havoc on the stability and romance of a marriage and may even lead to infidelity and divorce. To combat feelings of boredom and wanderlust, couples should take advantage of the midlife crisis to explore each other sexually in new ways. Incorporate fantasies, toys and roleplaying scenarios in the bedroom to spice things up and turn a midlife crisis into a catalyst for adventure.
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