There was quite a maelstrom over my recent articles What Men Think About Sex... And the Reality and What Women Think About Sex Vs The Reality. Some of this I think was misguided, because, for example, I am pro-porn! I am just against excessive porn used alone, to the point that it is addictive and desensitizes you to the delights of sex with a partner. I am extremely enthusiastic about porn as a relationship enhancer! Yippee for porn! If you use porn and your partner likes it, is okay with it, or uses it with you, more power to you! But if you are using it as a substitute for sex with your partner, I believe that hurts the relationship, and I don't think this is wildly controversial (if you want controversial though, just keep reading, I will not disappoint).
And sure, if your partner refuses to sleep with you at all, or makes you jump through ridiculous hoops for tepid, passive-aggressively crappy sex, use porn! Obviously! I thought that went without saying. But hopefully in that case, you're using porn while you're making the appointment for a couples therapist, because nobody should be in a relationship where they want sex and never get to have it, or at least never get to have sex that feels close and connected.
Moving on, some people were offended that I was telling women to have sex when they don't want to. I still cannot see where I wrote this in my article. But maybe you are mind-readers, because I REALLY DO THINK THAT. No, that's not a mistake. I truly believe with my whole heart that women should have sex when they don't want to. Pick yourself off the floor and get ready to faint with shock again, because I THINK MEN SHOULD ALSO HAVE SEX WHEN THEY DON'T WANT TO. Well, that is really just ridiculous, you're saying. Now you're not just an anti-feminist, setting the entire equal rights movement back a hundred years, to be conservative, but you're also anti-human rights in general. You probably pillage villages for fun, with fiery torches. And yes, yes I do, in between couples counseling and preschool pickup. I do it while I breastfeed my 1-year-old. He likes fire.
So truly, I am Satan incarnate, because I feel the following:
a. Within a loving marriage, both people should do things they don't want to do.
b. Sometimes these things are: watching a TV show you don't like, interacting with in-laws you don't like, cleaning up your partner's vomit when they are sick, or watching the kids for extended periods while your partner works.
c. Sometimes these things are: sex.
d. Unless a partner has a history of sexual trauma and abuse (sadly, this is common, but it is certainly not every single person), I believe that sex can, and even should, be another thing you do because you love your partner, even if you're not in the mood.
e. I am not advocating non-consensual sex. I am advocating CONSENTING to sex because you want to be a loving partner.
f. Both men and women deny their spouses sex. I am, for the record, saying BOTH MEN AND WOMEN SHOULD SUCK IT UP AND HAVE SEX WHEN THEY DON'T WANT TO, FOR THE GOOD OF THE MARRIAGE.
g. Just like how you don't yell and curse and moan if you have to clean up your partner's vomit, because if you're already doing it, you might as well make the best of it, you should make the best of sex when you're not in the mood. It's got to be better than vomit.
h. Further, this means that you don't get to lay around during the act like you have recently died, without even the possibly exciting novelty of rigor mortis. You are supposed to try to at least be loving and nice. When you're interacting with your disliked inlaws, this means you put a smile on your face during the visit. During sex, this means act like you're not about to be beheaded tomorrow morning and someone just pissed on your specially requested last meal.
If you are the partner with zero sex drive, you should investigate the following:
1. Do you have hormone issues? When breastfeeding, your hormone levels change, and for many, sex drive tanks. For older women and men, testosterone often plummets, also leading to barely any drive. Get some blood work done.
2. Are you secretly very unhappy in your marriage? Do you feel resentful and angry, and is this stopping you from feeling desire? If so, schedule couples therapy, tomorrow.
3. Are you suffering from depression, anxiety, or any other issue that prevents you from feeling sexual, including the aforementioned sexual abuse or trauma history? If so, schedule individual therapy, tomorrow.
However, do you, if you're honest, enjoy sex once it starts, but never ever feel the urge to initiate, and rarely if ever have sexual fantasies? Well then, you're like a lot of women (and some men, but men have higher testosterone levels so this usually happens only when they are older). These are the people to whom I am speaking. You are the partner who can turn your sex life around, merely by thinking about sex as another way to express love, and sometimes you just suck it up and smile and go for it.
You may enjoy sex once it starts, you may physically not enjoy it but emotionally feel happy that you did this for your marriage, or you may can enjoy some of it and tolerate the rest. But if you categorically refuse to have sex unless you specifically feel a definite sexual urge, you will likely be refusing your partner frequently. This will likely make him or her feel awful and rejected, and generally contribute to a lack of closeness in your relationship.
Finally, here are some concrete suggestions to try in order to enhance your sex drive and make you more receptive to sex:
1. Porn! You knew I was going to say it, right? That first paragraph was foreshadowing.
2. Erotica. Erotic stories are arousing, especially for people who are more verbally than visually inclined. I would link you to some but I don't want to be responsible for messing up your work computer. Even Satan thinks about others sometimes.
3. Exercise. This releases endorphins and puts you back in touch with your body.
4. Get an overnight sitter. Many women, in particular, just can't relax when their kids are in the house, even asleep. So either get an overnight sitter, or schedule a rendezvous back at the house after your drop the kids at daycare a couple times a month before work, or drop the kids at their grandparents for an afternoon here or there.
5. Let your mind run wild. Many of my female clients feel guilty thinking of other things during sex besides their husbands. (To my detractors who love porn: I know this isn't you. It's other women.) But here is your blanket permission from an actual psychologist: think about whatever you want that's going to help you get in the mood. If this is your husband's best friend, cool, just don't tell him (at least not at a climactic moment).
Thank you for reading, as I feel that if I am going to be the object of controversy, the controversy should at least be about what I actually think. Now go, have sex with your spouse, and even try to enjoy it. And tell me if your marriage doesn't get just a bit closer and more connected, in spite of yourself.
Till we meet again, The Blogapist Who Has Nothing Against Porn But Everything Against Treating Sex As Something Distinct From Every Other Area in Which We Have To Suck It Up Sometimes To Be A Good Partner.