Ask the married girl #10: On intimacy

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  • June 25, 2010 at 10:25 pm

I know the typical comedian says “You know I haven’t had sex in a while because you can see that I have a wedding ring.” And that the typical movie portrays married couples as not really liking each other very much.  Well, you know what?  If this is your marriage, then guess what?  You don’t have a spouse; you have a roommate.  How sad is it that a loss of intimacy is the expectation for most marriages?!

Now, I don’t classify intimacy as solely being sex because it is soooo much more than that, but sex is an obvious place to start.  Keep in mind that there is no rule on how often you should be having sex and no one can say what the right amount of sex is after 10+ years of marriage, but I think I can safely say that if you don’t remember the last time you had it, then it’s been too long.  I have been married for a lot of years, and yes, it is true that typically the frequency of sex will diminish over the years, but it shouldn’t go away altogether.  If this has happened to you, then you need to have an honest conversation with yourself and with your roommate, oh I’m sorry, I meant your spouse.

A really close friend of mine used to refer to her fiancée as a “sexual camel”.  She said that he could have sex once every 6 months and be completely cool with it.  He would rarely initiate sex and it drove her crazy!  And not the good kind of crazy!  After she talked to me about it I suggested that she speak with him, but she wasn’t comfortable with it.  She said that she just didn’t think it was important to him and that she didn’t want to make him feel bad and wind up having even less sex than their current twice a year level.

One night after several beers, she was sitting outside having a cigarette with my husband and I was standing in the kitchen with her fiancée.  We could see them out on the patio talking and he turned his back to them, looked at me, and said “You know, I love her so much I don’t even have words for it but I don’t think she even likes me anymore.”  This completely took me by surprise.  I knew that “Alice” felt his way but I didn’t know that “Bob” felt it too.  I asked him why he thought that she didn’t like him and he said it was because they were rarely intimate anymore.

You see, they had been together since their sophomore year of college, had lived together for about 5 years, and over time their level of intimacy had dropped into the roommate realm.  He didn’t want this to be true, but it was.  I asked him if he had tried talking to her about it and he said he hadn’t because he was scared that it would lead into a break up.  Now obviously, I didn’t want to say “Yeah, I know.  Alice has told me all about it.”  But at the same time, I didn’t want to lose the opportunity to help out my friends because they both really wanted this relationship to work.

Right about this time I saw Alice starting to get up to come back inside but when she looked at me I just shook my head and gave her the sit down hand signal to keep her from interrupting mine and Bob’s conversation.  I then asked him why he thought it had changed.  His answer was because he was boring.  “Wrong” I said. And then he said it.  Well, when Alice and I first got together, she was pretty aggressive in the intimacy department but now she wasn’t.  “OK” I said “What do you mean?”  He looked at me awkwardly and said that she used to touch his shoulder all the time and give him quick pecks on the cheek.  She would hug him every time she saw him, and yes, occasionally “pin him down.”  He then said “Lately she won’t even look at me when I enter the room and I want to be intimate but I don’t want to get rejected by my fiancée so I just don’t even try anymore. “

I really felt bad for the guy.  He was so paralyzed by the fear of losing her that he wouldn’t even do what he needed to save the relationship.  Of course he didn’t know what I knew about why she was acting this way but he was too scared to even try to find out.  I suggested that he start by making the small intimate gestures for a couple of days and then he needed to step-up and be the one to “pin her down.”  He blushed.  “Trust me.” I said. “She’s my best friend.  You’re not going to lose her unless you both keep doing what you are doing.”  With that, I turned and walked to the patio door and stepped outside to join Alice and Andrew.  Now I can’t say that this was the conversation that saved them, but I think it was the start of it because the next week she came in to work very happy and saying that her “drought” was over.

You see, sex in a relationship is going to ebb and flow like the tide.  It’s totally natural for you to have less sex as your relationship progresses.  Why you ask?  Well, let me explain.  When you first meet your expectations are pretty low.  As far as the girls go we expect you to call, meet up with us, and show us that you like us (listen, be polite, give compliments etc.) and for the guys, according to my hubby, the girls are expected to say yes to a date request, “look nice” whatever that means to you, and to show him that you like him back (laugh at his jokes/stories, touch his shoulder, kiss him etc.)  Over time, as your relationship progresses your list of expectations increases.  Now he/she has to buy gifts (and not the crappy kind!) fulfill your “fantasies,” get along with your family, and be attentive while also giving you your space.

If you make it through this stage, which most relationships do not, then you move in together and/or get married and the list gets even longer.  Now you have to go to work, take out the trash, wash the dishes, clean up the cat sick, raise the children, and still do the other expectations like calling, giving space, laugh at stories, buy gifts, and oh yeah at the end of the day when you are both already mentally and physically spent, now you have to have to have sex, which without the proper mental engagement is likely to not be that great anyway.  Gee, I wonder why sex diminishes in long-term relationships.  It’s really not hard to understand, once you think about it.  This is why it is so important to show affection to each other, and maybe have a weekly or monthly “date night.”

I used Alice and Bob (names were changed to protect the innocent) as my example because it’s a good example of how it’s really easy for us to mis-read the relationships we are in and often it is the small gestures that lead to the big ones.  As I stated in the opening paragraph, intimacy is so much more than sex.  The roommate situation for Alice and Bob came about because they had stopped showing affection for each other.  There were no more soft stokes on the shoulder, back scratches at the grocery check-out, quick pecks on the cheek, hugs, and tushy pats.  The loss of affection led to a loss of sex which led to a loss feeling loved and appreciated which almost led to a loss of their entire relationship, and they actually wanted to be together.

I bring this to you, dear reader, because I hope that you can take it, look at your relationships, and see if you are showing each other the proper affection, or not.  It’s not about sex, it’s about appreciation.  Say thank you, and I love you and give each other a long full body to body hugs that last just a little longer than you think it should, because without it, you just may lose a good thing.

Thanks for reading and good luck out there!


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