Marriage and Sex Life
Anastasios D. Kalantzis, Surgeon Urologist-Andrologist
How many of us, after a few years of married life, can’t help but wonder where these moments of sexual desire and pleasure have gone, these moments when we could not get enough of each other and could not wait until we get together again with our mates? Nowadays, sexual life does not have to wait for marriage in order to exist and it is highly ironic that, in the era of sexual emancipation and liberty, sex is merely non existent within the marital frame. Communication, emotional cover, even the parental role steal the performance of yesterday’s lovers for the sake of the fulfillment of married life and family.
According to a large-scale research conducted in Greece by EMAS (Society for the Study of Human Sexuality) in which participated 18,000 couples of reproductive age, a marriage is considered inactive when the couple has sex less than 10 times a year. Similar researches have shown that the same applies in Europe and the USA. The researchers reached the conclusion that “sex, today, is the great absent in the everyday life of marriage”. According to 50% of the married couples questioned, their relationship is more friendly than erotic/sexual and they no longer feel the same attraction as before.
So, may this mean that marriage is a condition which, although a dominant constitution for centuries, is dying today, in the era of individuality and equality of the sexes? Is it possible that marriage has been diminished to a mere contract, financial and social, within the frame of which emotion and passion are absent or even futile? In other words, is marriage a lost dream?
After a few years of marriage, women appear complaining that their husbands neglect them, do not participate and do not help with the kids and household matters, romance and sexual interest are long lost and there is no communication between them. Men, on the other hand, claim that they feel oppressed and ask for more time and space for themselves, and sometimes express their annoyance roughly saying “I want my peace and quiet finally!”
According to EMAS as well as international data, although without any scientific justification, the 7th year is a crucial turn for the sex life of married couples. As a matter of fact, in 2007 in the German Parliament it was suggested by a female Member that there should be mandatory dissolution of marriages on the seventh year, and their continuation be allowed only upon consent of both spouses.
A few decades ago, absence of sex in marriage did not cause any problem to the couple; on the contrary, it was considered “normal”, especially as women were concerned, who had the burden of household and children care. Nowadays, however, things have change, and if modern couples do not have a normal sexual life, marriage suffers multiple and serious problems. Psychologist Esther Perrel very characteristically said “my grandmother gave birth to ten children without ever finding out what an orgasm is”.
In her book “Sexual Intelligence”, Esther Perel expresses the following interesting views:
- Stress is not the real cause for the failing course of sex in marriage, as everyday problems and stress existed also before marriage. The problem starts from the fact that sex in marriage gradually becomes un-erotic.
- It is not the lack of love, but the lack of the erotic element. Besides, the commonest phrase expressed by couples that get divorced is “I love you, but I am no longer in love with you”.
- For the sexual boredom, great intimacy and lack of lack of originality are to blame. In her book she mentions as an example of great intimacy the man being present during child delivery. Some psychologists initially thought that the presence of the man in childbirth would create a stronger bond between the spouses but, according to Perel, the question is whether this is good or bad for sexuality and whether it has a negative effect on the sex life of the couple.
- Care and protectiveness block the free spirit of sexual pleasure. The man need not be a protective lover and always care for the woman, because too much tenderness and protectiveness goes against the wild spirit of lust. The woman, on the other hand, does not need to be an example of morality in sex, and to support this, she includes the case of a couple whose sex life was suddenly revived when the woman had the inspiration to ask from her husband $100 in order to give him the perfect oral sex.
- See sex as a kind of love with flesh and blood.
- You don’t need to know your partner as well as you know your pocket, because then there is nothing left to discover.
- Instead of making your relationship more safe and secure, make it more vulnerable. “A certain bluntness may help in expressing sexual desire”, says Perel and quotes one of her patients: “gentleness makes me feel safe and secure, but when I think of whom I want to have sex with, I don’t care about security.
- “I question the spread opinion that infidelity is always a symptom of deeper problems in a relationship”, writes Perel. “Many who commit adultery are relatively happy in their relationship but take risks for sex”.
- What the couple should do is plan sex. Planning may seem prosy, but in reality is purposeful and intentional, which adds value to sex. You prepare and take care of your self and push back any negative thought that may ruin the atmosphere. In this way we can keep alive the feeling of impatience and expectation.
And she reaches the conclusion that after 20 years of discussions with numerous couples, the relationship can be improved but without this having no effect on sex.
Dr. Minnu R Bhonsle, psychotherapist and counselor, imputes the sexual problems of couples to two major factors:
- The emotional alienation caused mainly by the accumulated issues that have remained unresolved and consequently the partners do not feel any bond and stop responding to each other’s openings.
- The physical fatigue coming from work, the exhaustion from the constant effort to maintain some balance between work, the family and the children. The result is that fatigue and exhaustion impede our sexual life.
Dr. Rajiv Anand, marriage counselor, claims that it is not the sexual action itself that loses novelty or attraction after marriage, but it is rather the approach of the two partners. 62% of the people questioned stated that they don’t feel any sexual attraction towards their spouses.
According to Dr. Anjali Chhabria, psychiatrist and psychotherapist, poor sexual life is a symptom, only the tip of the iceberg and concludes that it is more important to deal with the root of the problem than seek rapid corrective solutions. The couple should find answers to the question “why sex is non-existent?”
- Because there is no chemistry in the relationship, or there is no relationship at all?
- Are they too tired or stressed out?
- Does one spouse considers himself/herself not attractive to his/her partner?
- Does one of the partners is sexually attracted to a third person?
- If boredom is the problem, sex must be set as a priority.
- If the partners are too tired to have sex in the night, they should have it in the morning.
- If the problem is lack of privacy, the couple should find time for their relationship.
The most important thing of all is that the two partners tell each other what they want, and explains that “your partner is not a magician who will understand, in a magic way, what your wants and needs are”.
The issue of “marriage, love and sexuality” has not been the concern only of specialists. Oscar Wilde specifically said that “one should always be in love, and for this exact reason they should never marry”. Do you think that these words are the solution to the problem?
There isn’t one and specific answer, as there isn’t just one cause; the causes are multiple and individualized, different in each case and for each one of us. The solution to the problem lies within us, and all we have to do is search and decode experiences and memories, better exploit the elements of our personality and character, clarify our wants and rate our needs. The specialist will guide us so as to find the path in order to face and resolve our problems; however the path is always lonely and difficult.
1. Esther Perel, Psychologist - Author – “Sexual Intelligence”, 24/02/2011, www.healthyliving.gr
2. Rania Malliou – “Why Marriage kills Sex?”, 26/12/2010, www.men24.gr
3. “Marriage – Sex: 1-0”, 15/01/2011, www.blog.gr
4. Sophia Neta – “Marriage: After the 7th year go fising… Eleftherotypia Newspaper – 23/11/2007, www.enet.gr
5. Thanos Askitis, Neurologist-Psychiatrist - “Why marriage “kills” sex”, 29/01/2010, www.psychology-blog.gr
6. Thanos Askitis, Neurologist-Psychiatrist - “Marriage”, www.askitis.gr
7. Amina Moskov, Counceling Psychologist – “Couples without sex life”, 01/03/2004, www.vita.gr
8. Irene Tzelepi, Counselling Psychologist-Psychotherapist – “Couples without sex life ”, www.iatronet.gr
9. Irene Tzelepi, Counselling Psychologist-Psychotherapist – “How sex life changes after marriage”, www.iatronet.gr
10. Argyris Theodoropoulos, Psychologist-Psychotherapist – “Less sex after marriage”, 04/05/2010, www.myself.gr