Monday, August 14, 2006

Sexual Standoffs and Marbles

On July 28, 2006, I wrote a piece entitled, "The House Always Wins." It was in response to a comment that Advisor, and I was sort of a pain in the butt. Since then, Advisor has only written one entry on his blog, some erotica, believe it or not.

And I have been thinking a lot about male-female relationships since then. Male-female? Sounds so scientific. Perhaps I should dawn a lab coat before continuing.

I am not going to recount what Advisor was going through, nor my cheeky response. But I am going to talk about something I have seen so often in marriage, something I call the sexual standoff.

It goes like this. In the beginning, not Bible beginnings when everything was dark but in dating beginnings, men and women are fairly well behaved. I am not talking about manners, per se, but that they look at what their dates want and cater to them. Women love romance, and men love sex.

How many times have men complained about taking his woman to dinner and a show, but you know what, it is romantic. Holding doors open, guiding me with a light touch in the small of my back. Almost enough to make me drip! Heck, who am I kidding, sometimes enough.

Women love romance, men love sex. One of those "duh" statements that we sometimes forget.

Okay, this is fine for the dating scene and the first couple of years' of marriage. And then we start thinking of other things. Maybe a baby is on its way, perhaps we are pursuing our careers. Maybe we just "drift apart."

I have a theory about this drifting. When I was married, a priest told us in Pre Cana counseling that for most, if you took a marble and placed it in a vessel each time you made love for the first three years of marriage, and then afterwards, took a marble out of the vessel for each time you made love afterwards, the vessel would still have marbles in it when you died. One of our jobs, to my husband's delight, was to make sure we had no marbles in our vessel. That, he said, would help us maintain our vows and stay married. Other than the strange feeling of getting a sex talk from a celibate priest, I now see his wisdom.

After the first few years of marriage, we had sex less often. And this drifting that I hear about from my girlfriends or have experienced personally, could start when we don't take out our marbles fast enough.

Women, when romanced, are much more open to sex. And men, when they are getting their share of sex, open their hearts and spend much more time on romance.

But after the first few years, we have this sexual standoff. Men want the sex, but forgot about the romance, and women "don't feel like sex" because the romance is gone. The net result – a sexual cold war. A standoff. Neither side feels like starting – either the men by romancing or the woman by having sex. Embarrassingly, I would say that it is perhaps easier for the woman to start the thaw. And I have had sex that I really didn't want to have. But the trick is that men love intercourse – heck, you can just lay down, do a little groaning and let him do most of the work. Not super-sex, but for guys, it doesn't seem to matter that much, especially if he has not been getting any at home for a while.

Men have it tougher, but since they are "sacrificers", they should be able to "suck it up" and be romantic. Then they can suck on something else!

I am so against this sexual standoff. Make love not war!


Edtime Stories said...

I think part of what goes on is that we fall into comfortable predictable patterns. In the first few years of a relationship there is a jolt of adrenelin when you expose yourself, your desires, and your interests both sexually and non-sexually. There is still a case, will he? will she? later you know each other so well that you don't even think about it. Sex and dinner and going to work become a ritual without meaning. You know where the lines are drawn and their is no excitement in what is the case. Bringing the case back would go a long way to breaking the stand=off. That is one thing that is exciting about lovers, it is all new. It is all about the case.

Prata said...

Well..hrm. I'm not entirely sure I agree with that fact that sex for the sake of sex for a man is necessarily the case. I personally would prefer to just not have sex if the object of my affection is not in the mood or is tired or otherwise not up for the task.

On the other hand, the object of my affection has on at least two occasions offered and given sex even though she didn't want to, because she felt like she should because it would please me. I did not enjoy it.

Tony said...

Sex can be weird at times. No, not weird sex. For instance, when my wife and I were dating, the sex was great, and then we got married and things cooled off quickly. Then we had kids and in the past couple of years (four or five) she's been "peaking" sexually and so our sex life as really picked up. Of course I'm so old now that it almost doesn't matter (JK) but it's weird how I was more sexually motivated in the beginning and now she's the sex-hungry partner. We still have our "dry" periods where we may go a week or two without each other but we've learned a lot about ourselves and each other since she started peaking and we recognize the signs of a standoff and each of us are willing to do what's necessary to nip it in the bud (no pun intended.)

JD said...

i agree in principle. but i disagree that men, at least not me, will take sex if she's not in the mood and just lays there. it becomes quickly apparent that she's not into it. i get off on the fact that she wants me as much as i want her. and sometimes no amount of romance can break the thaw. i think it may be a bit more complex than that, but you've captured the big picture. ;)

~gkw said...

I think that the everyday activities of life (especially with 3 kids) seems to sap out the energy of both the husband and the wife. I'm busy during the day with work and she with the activities of 3 daughters, one being a 2YO that wants CONSTANT attention.

To break that cycle we have made it a MUST that we take at least one trip per year away from our kids. We spend a weekend alone somewhere doing the things we did when dating. Meals, walking in the woods, lots of sex :) and we find that it really helps us through the rest of the year.

I do think we should find another weekend to celebrate about 6 months from our anniversary so we can keep the feeling alive even more!

Those weekends have become an important part of keeping the heat in the relationship...

Grant said...

I've grown to dislike the term "drifting" because too many people use it to describe what they consider a natural state of affairs. I've heard former "friends" tell others that we drifted, by which they mean I work for a different company and can no longer offer them an advantage in the workplace so they quit answering my e-mails and phone calls.

On the other hand, men in general definitely do have a tendancy to get comfortable and quit trying, especially when it comes to the daily gestures of affection. The problem comes in viewing it as a chore, a means to an end, and not something fun, an end unto itself.

Or, if the object of affection is not in the mood, the man can always club her over the head and drag her home by her hair.

Leesa said...

ed: I am much more excited now because my hubbie/lover knows my body so much better.

prata: when I suggested having sex even when I was less than interested, I did not suggest I would lie there like a wet noodle. Just quicker than normal. Less foreplay.

tony: please don't mention "dry" and "sex" in the same sentence, unless you are suggesting a type of lublicant.

jd: hard to capture the complexities in one page.

~gkw: once per year? Er, I think I want more than that.

grant: I hate the term drifting too, because no one seems to take ownership for being less interested. And the daily gestures of affection seem to affect me much more than the flowers and special date nights. Really!

Ian Lidster said...

Hear-hear. You make a good point, and I have found, through 3 marriages and a few relationships, that romance works wonders. However, as a male, I like to be romanced, too. If my wife approaches me in a romantic affectionate and touching way, then I get hard very quickly and definitely want to 'consumate' what is happening with us. But, she has already indicated that she too wants to go in that direction.
I like your analogy with the marbles, Leesa. Yeah, we don't want any marbles left at the end of it, either, and we're doing our best to make sure there aren't any.

~gkw said...

Leesa, That, I think is the main problem with romance in "family" life. Children and the responsibilities of raising them take more and more time away from the "togetherness".

We also have our "date" nights, but those are just one night away. I agree, once per year is not enough for a weekend together, but it's a start and it gives us several nights to get away from the regular life. Try finding someone to keep 3 kids for several nights! LOL

Advizor said...

I have to agree with Prata and JD. Contrary to male stereotypes, I really have a difficult time with "obligation sex." While I don't expect my partner to be as enthusiastic as I am at all times, I do want to know that she's at least enjoying some of it either for the emotional or the physical side. My wife and I have tried to do the sex schedule (i.e. every Monday night), so we have time together at least once a week, but if she's tired or if I'm in a bad mood or the scene just isn't right, it feels forced, and it's no fun for either one of us.

One of our biggest areas of disconnect, is the idea that I have in my head that I want her to want sex. I want her to want me. While she says that she loves me, and that she needs me, she rarely expresses that want or that need in a physical way. Perhaps it's just my ego talking, but I want her to find me attractive. I want her to find me desirable. I want her to find me sexy. I certainly see her in that way. I want her to see me in that same way. When it doesn't happen, it makes me feel unattractive, and at the risk of sounding too much like a woman, I enjoy the idea that she still finds me desirable.

As for the connection between sex and romance, I have found that if she thinks I'm being romantic only to get sex that it backfires on me and we get in an argument about my motives for being romantic.

Advizor said...

Leesa the phrase "Just quicker than normal. Less foreplay.", this is an approach to my wife and I tried for a while. "Going the way of the quicky." and there are times when this works really well, especially when we are both in a good mood, it's not too late, but she may not be in the mood for something that takes too long. She's also told me that I have to get over my hang up that she has a climax if I do. I guess it's an overdeveloped sense of fair play, but I like it when she finishes before me. But the quickie only works were both in a good mood. If I feel like it's just her way of getting things over with, then it is just no fun.

JD said...

advizor, couldn't agree with you more. you hit my relationship right on the head. it really is a very complex issue that isn't served very well by just dishing out sexual stereotypes.

Leesa, i know it's complex, that's why i said you hit the main points quite well. love this post, didn't want to sound like i was being critical.

Tony said...

I'm going way out on a limb and posting this comment to everyone who is currently having a problem with the sexual standoff. It's not intended to offend, but more to induce introspection.

How much do you and your mates talk about sex? Do you guys (gals) talk about fantasies, what you like or don't like (things change over time), what turns you on or off, when is the best time? I have 4 kids (4 to 12 yrs) and we still manage to find time a couple nights a week, if able.

We've found out so much about each other sexually just by talking about sex than by the actual act itself. The kicker is, you HAVE to be honest and you HAVE to be understanding that not everyone likes the same things. I've found that our best talks about sex come when there are no interruptions, usually after the kids are in bed and while we're horny or just laying in the afterglow. It involves a level of closeness that is so very powerful and so binding. There are things I've told my wife that I like that I'd never be able to tell another person, and the same for her.

Yeah, it's complex, but who better to trade sexual desirous secrets with. It's neat.

Advizor said...

Interesting thoughts Tony: Maybe part of my problem is that when I try and talk about sex with my wife, it becomes really clear that we are coming from very different perspectives. So instead of bringing us closer, it tends to highlight our differences. I think the reason that talking about sex is so difficult is that sex becomes a barometer, or a, mirror, for the rest of our relationship. The tensions, the compatibility, issues with self-image, all get tied up into the nature of our sexual relationship. It is difficult to move ahead in one area without addressing serious problems in the other area. Even simple questions, that appear to be purely sexual in nature such as where should I kiss her, how (and where) can I lick her, what turns her on; get turned into symbols of other relationship issues. Questions of self-image, depth of commitment, trust between partners, all get reflected in the mirror of our sexual relationships.

I think the complexity of some these issues is what drives people to have affairs outside their marriage. The relationship is simple, the sex is simple, and all the problems go away in the morning. Or at least that's what we think will happen when we start wondering about wandering.

JD said...

great comments from both of you. interesting debate.

nosthegametoo said...

If this post isn't the truth, then I don't know what is.

I've had this exact experience before. I'm gonna ask some people around me if they have too.

This is now my favorite post of yours. You need to teach a class.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

There is so much chemistry and biology for the arousal of sexuality to occur, and as we age, we need more TLC to get there.

And yes, my lab coat IS on as I answer this.

Leesa said...

ian: and why does Shikira make me want to get it on with hubbie. Strange. Good points, though.

~gkw: we have no kids. Want them, but don't have them.

advisor: I made a post today that broaches the "obligation sex" issue. I simplified a complicated issue.

jd: I continued the discussion this morning.

tony: well said!

nosthegame: thanks. That means a lot.

dr. ~deb: thanks, and I did not even think about the effect of aging on this topic. Thanks for your incite.

~Deb said...

Hmmm.... Interesting but I think there are men out there that are even more romantic than women sometimes! (heh) But, as far as initiating the sex, after 12 yrs (like me) a little wine does ya good.

Edge said...

I'm kinda with ~Deb on this. There are a lot of women who want romance, but have no clue what you mean. I think women want both sex and romance, but need to feel loved and appreciated before it's really an option. I also think a lot of women don't mind having sex with their husband even if they aren't totally in the mood because they love their husband. This is just like saying men will do the romance thing because their wife wants it not because they like it. Didn't you write something about men being pleasers? It's true men want to please their spouse and "scoreboard" during sex. That's being a man. Mentally he thinks, "I can make her orgasm at least 'X' times during sex."

Every man and every woman is different. And that's why it's difficult for either sex to have a script to follow.