Is There Something Wrong in My Bedroom?

“The memories of ‘good’ sex are still fresh. After all, it wasn’t that long ago. It isn’t exactly ancient history, which makes it all the more puzzling. How did we get to this point?”

How many of us struggle with our sex lives? I would say that most of us have at one point or another. We live in a culture that doesn’t openly speak about what is actually going on in people’s sex lives, which is why I thought Tom Matlack’s piece, Is Sex Dead?, on The Good Men Project, was refreshing. Tom openly shares with us his take on the struggles he hears from men about the lack of sexual passion in their marriages. And now here is mine.

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Whether it’s because of long hours at work, a kid in the bed, a spouse that “just doesn’t seem that into it,” or that pesky infant dangling from her breast, it all results in the same uncomfortable stare at the ground and shrug your shoulders, awkward kind of moment. As Tom points out, men who usually don’t open up about their sex lives, are now heard expressing their disappointment about the waning passion in their marriages. The memories of “good” sex are still fresh. After all, it wasn’t that long ago. It isn’t exactly ancient history, which makes it all the more puzzling. How did we get to this point?

If our memories of good sex weren’t enough to make us miserable, we also have images of hot women, and cool, muscular, tight ass guys shoved in our faces constantly by the media. We have sitcoms about fat guys with hot wives that get laid regularly. That means that any average looking guy who hits the gym a few times a week should be getting fucked at least twice as regularly, right?

Between our sepia-colored memories of steamy nights and the junk fed to our imaginations on television, in magazines, and on the internet, we spend a lifetime playing Comparison. It’s kind of like Monopoly, but instead of competing for property, we are competing for sex. How much, how often, and with whom. That is the name of the game.

The comparison game makes our lives a living hell. The judgments about how much sex we should be having and how “good” it is make us miserable and contribute more pressure to an already tense situation. The lack of acceptance we have about how our sex lives are going to evolve doesn’t allow us to be honest about how our sexual relationships have changed. We seem to want to be 50, fucking like we are 21. Is that really a reasonable expectation? It is reasonable to be 44 and expect our wives to exhibit the same passion they exhibited when they were 22? Is that really possible? And yet, how many men and women do we all know that try to do it, with lies, with drugs, with surgery, with a smile fixed on their faces unable to accept the inevitable?

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We tend to think that the age when our sexual relationship will change is somewhere in the distant future, like when we’re 80 and can’t even get an erection anymore, but what if it isn’t? What if right now is the time to start taking a very honest look at sex? What if right now is the time to evolve past the sexual understanding of youth and grow into being an adult who has a full understanding of passion and sex?

Passion is wonderful. Sex is wonderful, but they do not have to go together? What if just wanting your partner was enough? What if we could be happy that we want that person, still desire her body, still want that closeness? What if we could just appreciate that but didn’t have to act on it? Wouldn’t that take a lot of pressure off the situation? What if we suddenly started exhibiting that kind of openness, understanding, and maturity instead of pitching a sex tantrum. “I want more!” our inner 18-year-old screams. “Give me more. It isn’t fair!”

What if we stopped putting pressure on our partners to have sex? This pressure makes them feel as though whatever is going on currently is wrong and if this little thing could be changed, or that little thing could be different, then all the passion would return and we would have an awesome sex life … just like we used to, but how can we be sure?

Without pressure, who knows how the sex may evolve, how the passion may change us. We really have no idea because we have such a strong vision of how our sex lives are supposed to be. Are we sure we know, or is our vision based on a childhood, comic book, Cosmopolitan fantasy crafted by a teenage boy masturbating under the covers? Most of the time reality does not match what our imaginations, magazines, friends, fathers, or the internet tell us is right.

But we will know what is right when we experience it. If we allow a natural rhythm to unfold in our sex lives, we may find that much of the passion may return, or that something far more profound than we could have dreamt up in our sex fantasies as teenagers is actually available to us. It’s up to each of us how we want to proceed, but if the current understanding is making us miserable, perhaps it’s time to give a new approach a shot. After all, what do we have to lose?

—Photo jafsegal/Flickr

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About Michael Rosker

For the past thirteen years Michael Rosker has counseled thousands of people to help them release their negative emotions and reconcile their past experiences in order to live more full, free and successful lives. You can read more about Michael's work and his insights at http://michaelrosker.wordpress.com/. Michael is also a husband and a father to three children.

Comments

  1. Um, excuse me, but what’s wrong with wanting a decent amount of sex? Especially if we’re married and the sex we want is with our significant others? That’s not a “childhood, comic book, Cosmopolitan fantasy crafted by a teenage boy masturbating under the covers,” it is a healthy drive to be physically intimate with the person we love most in this world.

    Your suggestion not to “pressure” our partners into having sex is problematic at best. If one person wants to have sex but the other doesn’t, the first thing to do is obviously look at the specific situation. Is one of them not contributing to the relationship yet still expecting sex? Is it a time issue? If there is a problem and that problem is spotted, they can work on fixing it.

    But what if it’s the all-too-common problem of one person just being “not that into it.” There’s nothing wrong in the relationship per se, but sex isn’t a priority. Yet for the other person it’s very important. However, your advice is to just do nothing. No pressure. But to me, that would only make the problem worse since the person who wants sex is simply ignoring his/her own needs and sweeping the problem under the rug.

    And it’s important to remember, telling your partner you crave more sex is not necessarily “pressure.” That’s called communicating.

    • Lindsey says:

      I think that you’re missing the point of this article. He never says that wanting sex is wrong.

      What he is saying is that some people want sex because they feel like their “behind”. The desire from sex comes not from an organic place, but from expectations set by the media. In some situations, it’s pressure that’s making them feel deprived. He’s not advocating one partner getting to decide everything, he’s just encouraging people to find their “natural rhythm” – regardless of whether that falls in line with social expectations or not.

      It’s okay to want sex. It’s also okay to not want it. It’s okay to understand that sometimes sex isn’t realistic (such as directly after a pregnancy). Obviously, a healthy sex life is important to a relationship, but just because you’re not getting what everyone else seems to be getting doesn’t mean that your sex life isn’t healthy. I agree that both partners should work towards having a sex life that’s satisfying to them both. But what this focuses on is the male side of that. Specifically, the pressure that men face.

  2. This is something I am dealing with at the moment. Nothing wrong with the marriage at all, it’s just sex is nearly non-existant, especially since a baby came along.

    A couple of weeks ago I stumbled across an article in The Times (UK) by a woman who, a couple of years ago, was experiencing a similar thing. Together with her husband she set out on a year of 52 Seductions to get their sex life back on track. She blogged graphically and frankly throughout.

    I was inspired by this and decided that if a woman could talk so openly about her sex life in a blog then a man could too. I’m hoping by exploring the various issues in my blog and then trying potential solutions, I too can put my sex-life back on a healthy track. My blog is called The Tantalus Agenda (so named because it explores unfulfilled desire) and is on blogger at thetantalusagenda.blogspot.com – it’s a new and nervous project, but I encourage people to go along to it and start a debate on the comment pages… I’m hoping that together we can help each other out! It’s all anonymous too, to encourage as much feedback as possible.

    • Joe, I’ve just finished reading your four blog posts and all the comments. I’ll continue to follow for a while. Here’s wishing you well and hoping for the best for you and your wife! ~Dan

      • Joe, I just now read your “Au Revoir” post. Like others, I’m sorry to see you suspend your blog, but I thank you for the effort. I saw one man’s reply to your observation: “I was getting plenty of female opinion but no male contributions.” Here’s mine. First, please think hard about writing a synopsis for submission to The Good Men Project, maybe revolving around your 10 points. Surely you’ve demonstrated your manly-goodness credentials! Secondly, if you haven’t already done so, please scan the many, many writings by frustrated men at Julia Grey’s site “Why Your Wife Won’t Have Sex With You.” In your current frame of mind and with whatever you’re working through “behind a closed bedroom door,” you might be well ahead of most!

  3. bizriak says:

    All of these issues and more are addressed in great detail by the eminent marriage and family therapist Dr. David Shnarch. He has a presence on the web and several books to be found on amazon and all the usual places.

    His stuff is in depth and VERY hard to do, but only because it asks you to be as honest with yourself as you can be, then it asks you to be as honest and adult as you can be with your partner.

    I am currently working through one of his books and it has proven challenging and rewarding. My life will never be the same as a result of his work.

  4. A few quick thoughts: sex is the barometer for the relationship; while not true across the board women have sex when they feel loved and men feel loved when they have sex (in a marriage more so than in a relationship); and, if you cannot have a mature and open conversation about sex with your partner you (not YOU) shouldn’t be having sex – or complaining about your sex life. I share all of this as my experience in my marriage and that of many men I know and have worked with

  5. …we all have to grow old and ideally grow up (which don’t necessarily happen together) sex at 50+ is not like sex at 22. thank goodness! what this article seems to be pointing to is the difference between sex and intimacy. at the end of it all, what we want as humans is deep connection, sex is wonderful but it doesn’t always mean real intimacy. apes can go through the motions. most humans, unless they’re sociopaths want more than the mechanics. sex without intimacy is gymnastics. and don’t get me wrong gymnastics are fun! but if we’re talking a committed relationship, most folks are looking for more than cirque du soleil in and out of the bedroom~

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