Love, Marriage and Sex
Sammy Kahn, lyricist and Frank Sinatra, singer, said it all in this wonderful old song:
Love and Marriage:
Love and marriage,
Love and marriage
Like a horse and carriage
This I tell you brother
You can't have one without the other
Love and marriage, love and marriage
It's an institute you can't disparage
Ask the local gentry
And they will say it's elementary
Try, try, try to separate them
It's an illusion
The problem is that, when it comes to sex, love and marriage do not always go together. Based on surveys it is estimated that couples have sex approximately 65 times a year. Naturally, there is always variation in that number, with some having relations more or less frequently. Then, there are those whose rate of love making drops very, very low.
Many people mistakenly believe that men complain about not enough sex from their wives. Surveys show that 60% of husbands and 40% of wives complain about not having enough sex. What is it that happens in marriage that both men and women stop having relations with one another?
What causes or husband or wife to no longer want sex?
There are several sexual dysfunctions that can shut down what was previously active sex life. For men it's erectile dysfunction and for women it's vaginal dryness. Erectile dysfunction, or difficulty getting and maintaining an erection can result from disease. A change in testosterone levels, diabetes, severe anxiety and deep depression, certain types of medication, drugs and alcohol abuse, and are among some of the problems behind this dysfunction. Feelings of frustration, anxiety about performance on the next occasion and damaged self esteem that arises because of this, all make it difficult to perform the next time, resulting in both partners avoiding sex.
For women, vaginal dryness is similar to erectile dysfunction in that it impairs the ability to enjoy sex and leads to avoidance. Vaginal dryness causes painful intercourse with this additional factor causing the wish to avoid having sex. Here, too, there are very similar problems that cause vaginal dryness, such as disease and physiological problems such as a drop in aging, drugs and alcohol and etc. Either a drop in hormonal levels of estrogen and progesterone, an imbalance of these hormones interferes with libidinal wishes and drive. Especially for females, the sudden drop in estrogen and progesterone as a result of menopause.
It is equally important to address the fact that marital tensions can cause a drop in the frequency of sex. This is usually the case when men want sex and their wives react with the stereotyped responses, "No, I have a headache, feel too tired, not now, later." Husbands react to this with the proverbial, she's holding out, being selfish or doesn't understand his need for sex because she's a woman.
In actuality, many women complain that their husbands don't help out enough with the kids and house work. Another stereotype that men have about women is that they are good at multitasking. Women complain that they can multitask up to a point but then need help and their husbands either refuse or make themselves unaware. More than one study and magazine article discusses the fact that wives are in a rage at their husbands. It is not that these wives deliberately withhold more frequent sex but, rather, that they just feel too tired, resentful and overwhelmed to want to make love.
Frank Sinatra was right that "love and marriage go together," but only if husband and wife mutually nourish their relationship.
More, later, on how to do that nourishing.
Your comments and questions are encouraged and please see our new forum, the "Marriage Corner," in which you are invited to discuss you marriage difficulties in an atmosphere of anonymity and support.
Allan N. Schwartz, PhD