need to begin with a question does love create sexual desire
or does sex create a feeling of love? For me, the answer lies
in why people get married in the first place.
One would assume that
every marriage is sexual but you might be surprised to hear that
it's not. In the early stages, most couples can't get enough.
Everything else in their lives is fitted around love-making
but, after the first one to two years, the intensity of these feelings
inevitably dies down, hopefully to be replaced by friendship, trust
and respect, and other deeper connections. That's not to say
that romance and sex should take a second place, but they fall into
a more balanced perspective.
As the years go by, however,
if partners don't work at it, they can grow further and further
apart until there's nothing much left. Couples then either
play up, split up, or endure 'dead' marriages.
A few actually decide,
quite deliberately, to give up sex to be asexual partners
and live on together for the sake of the children, for financial
reasons or out of habit. I think many just drift into these
arrangements because they're too lazy to find a solution, or because
repair's been left too late.
Is no sex better than
bad sex? My view, and that of experts in this field, is yes.
It's the same as the debate over breaking up or staying together.
Breaking up is painful but not as much as staying in a hurtful
marriage. Yet millions of people around the world live in
hurtful marriages and have poor sex constantly. Too many of
us forget that sex is not a mindless, physical activity it
engages the whole body, the heart, the imagination, not just the
To be sexy, we need to
feel sexy, think sexy and act sexy. There's a tendency for
married people to assume their partners are always there, ready
and available to them, or that they are permanently responsible
for their sexual needs. A case in point came from a man who
would complain that he had a constant erection (not most people's
idea of a problem!) and his wife was sick of it. He said she
would groan every night when he entered the bedroom with his hard-on.
It was a lighthearted problem but raised an interesting issue.
I told him to reassure his wife that she's not responsible for dealing
with his erections, that just because he's hard doesn't imply an
obligation on her.
There's usually less
preamble in a marital relationship. Couples lose or neglect
the art of seduction. Apart from the stresses and pressures,
each partner also brings all the disappointment, disillusionment
and hang-ups from the past into the current alliance. This
extra baggage gets in the way of present-day attempts to enjoy unhampered
closeness. None of us has a perfect childhood or a perfect
sex education. Overly prescriptive, guilt-ridden backgrounds
are common and they create uptight, control freaks who are too scared
to break out of their conditioned responses and find a new, better
way to be happy and to relate.
It's not hard to understand
why sex turns sour in so many marriages. Male attitudes still dominate,
I'm afraid, and women are often not encouraged to initiate or take
an active role in love-making. Later in the marriage, men
get tired or bored with doing all the work but, by then, women cannot
break out of their passive roles. Conversely, women who enjoy
initiating can sometimes threaten their partners' masculinity and
this causes a different set of problems. Men who lack finesse
and tenderness, women who lack sensitivity and participation
these can never make ideal bed-partners. The relationship
itself dictates the success or failure of the love-making between
If individuals feel unhappy,
let-down, unloved, vulnerable, put-down, used and so on, they're
unlikely to enjoy sex fully. Spontaneity is impossible under
these conditions, as it opens up the possibility of rejection. Partner
response is a spicy ingredient in the love-making stew, and only
the most egocentric or cynical lover would ignore or underestimate
its importance. Without it, you may just as well masturbate.
Uninterested or unfeeling participants are cheating themselves,
as we saw in the section on libido, but they're also denying their
partners the greatest pleasure of all to see and feel another's
Foreplay is vitally important,
not just to achieve orgasm for the woman, but for closeness and
mutual pleasuring. It isn't just the half-hour or so of touching,
kissing and fondling that goes on in bed before intercourse. That's
a very limited view of foreplay. I believe that sex is merely
an extension of the good feelings generated between people during
the day, an extended form of communication. If that rapport
is positive, positive, loving feelings will be taken into bed. If
communication is negative, negative energy in bed will result.
Dr Michael Clarke speaks
of the 23-and-a-half-hour foreplay, in other words, the whole day
leading up to the half-hour of actual love-making. It doesn't
have to be a big deal just a wink, a touch, a glance, a cheeky
smile, a light touch, gestures that say 'I love you and I can't
walt to make love to you tonight.' The sexist thing in the
world is love. Feeling desired and knowing that you turn another
person on is the most exciting aphrodisiac.