I was fortunate to be invited to a private preview screening this week of the comedy Sex Tape with Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz. No spoilers here!
I thought they captured the most common pitfalls couples find themselves dropping into and that continue from one generation to the next. Early on in the film the Cameron Diaz's character Annie announces her upcoming marriage to Jay and her father quips: "Well, goodbye sex." Most jokes about marriage regard the inevitable deterioration of a couple's sex life. As if the act of marrying and joining as a couple in and of itself cuts off one's libido. Although I have treated couples in which this has actually happened dramatically, this is far from the realistic situation.
In Sex Tape, the first hurtle seems to be the labor scene in which Jay watches his son's head crowning and comments more about the size of his wife's vaginal opening than on the miracle of his child entering the world. This issue of witnessing birth by a father is an issue for some partners in that they can't seem to simultaneously hold the image of a vagina as an erotic playground as well as a reproductive instrument.
The movie realistically depicts the couples' efforts in scheduling sex in the midst of making lunches, carpooling kids to school and work life which depletes their energy frequently. Once they figure out that they need a night without kids around and ship them off to their grandmother for the night they're off to the races to great sex, or so they think.
They make several attempts at fun playful sex that doesn't quite get them turned on. Roller skates on Cameron Diaz is a great seductive initiation but they both soon get stuck by ruminating thoughts that lead to performance anxiety with one another and the sex feels mechanical. This is also a fairly common problem with long-term couples, and while funny on the screen can be experienced as boring and debilitating in a relationship, leaving many couples avoiding sex entirely so as not to feel inept, emasculated, or self loathing about their body.
So out comes the alcohol, downing shots as Annie exclaims: "I need to be drunker." The idea of sober sex seems to have gone by the wayside with college students so that by the time they find someone they want to get more serious with, they have had literally no experience seducing, building up sexual tension and sharing an emotionally connected, erotic experience with a partner. No wonder many couples once they settle down don't know how to sustain an erotic life.
So are couples with kids destined to be sex free for years? I'll be writing more about some tips about this in upcoming blogs and in my groups this fall. I'll be running groups for women to discuss how to jump start their libido and for parents on how to talk to their school age children about sexuality so that they have a better understanding of relationships and sexuality in a healthy, age appropriate way.
Enjoy the movie, there are some hilarious scenes and wonderful cameos. No spoilers here!