What you need to know:
- As marriages mature, couples suddenly have serious issues to discuss like work stresses, investment and childcare. These issues are given more priority than the emotional needs of a spouse.
- Couples need to be conscious of these relationship dynamics and come up with new ways of sustaining romance.
Recently, chama members were at it again. In these difficult political times I did not imagine that they would be thinking about sex. As fate would have it however, they ordered me to attend their monthly meeting. Chama is a women’s welfare group of which I am the only male member.
“We have noted with concern a trend that we feel is dangerous for our marriages and for which we need your professional sexologist’s advice,” said the chairperson. “We rarely have sex in our marriages these days and the trend seems to worsening. Is it normal? How can we solve it?”
I asked a number of background questions: It turned out that that nearly half of chama members, all living with their husbands, had sex less than three times a month. They reported that the deterioration had been progressive over the years and they feared that sooner or later, there would be no sex in their marriages. It appeared that the older a marriage was, the less sexual it became.
“Do you think these men are having extramarital affairs?” asked a member. “Is it normal for a man to have no sexual feelings towards his wife?”
Chama members were asking a very important question. The assumption has been that human sexuality thrives in stable, long-term relationships but that may be far from reality. From a sexological point of view, fulfilling sexual relationships thrive in playful relationships that are not value laden; a ‘sexy’ relationship is one without rules on how to remain dignified. It is a relationship where vulnerability has no consequences and so one can express their weird sexual behaviours without fear. Fulfilling sexual relationships are where couples do not mind being out of control in the confines of their bedrooms; where being out of control is actually fulfilling and people thank their spouses for leading them to the experience.
This is not what happens as marriages mature. Couples suddenly have serious issues to discuss like work stresses, investment and childcare. These issues are given more priority than the emotional needs of a spouse. Play and jest are out of the question. Even sex becomes serious business.
With the arrival of children, you start calling your husband daddy and he calls you mummy. Have you ever stopped to reflect why your honey, sweetheart, etc, suddenly took over the title of your parent?
Sigmund Freud, psychologist and sex researcher, says that people learn about love from their parents. The person you are most vulnerable to and do not fear being hurt by is your parent. Freud says this true love learnt from parent-child relationship came with a caveat: no sex! Hence, sex was not part of what we learnt as true love.
As we start love relationships later in life, we are subconsciously reminded to try to find an equivalent of the true love that we learnt from our parents. The only difference is that this time, the love comes with sex. Sometimes this brings a subconscious conflict within us, making us question how sex can be part of true love. The conflict gets more pronounced when children come into the relationship and we take up parental duties.
“Oops, that is so true, eh, what are we supposed to do?” reacted a member.
Couples need to be conscious of these relationship dynamics and come up with new ways of sustaining romance. Create time to be together away from the hustle and bustle of routine family and work life. It also helps to read romantic books and learn new skills of expressing love. Further, there are videos that you can watch together to increase your intimacy. If there are couple enrichment seminars, create time to attend them.
Couples that are committed to enhancing their romance succeed in doing it. Remember, if you invest in your relationship, the fire of the first love lives on. If you leave it to take a natural course, expect problems.