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Sex and Marriage:  Can You Have Both At The Same Time?

by Ilana Angel

May 16, 2010 | 1:15 pm

In speaking to different people, both friends and new acquaintances, both single and married, it’s always interesting when the conversation turns to sex.  The single people are clearly having more sex than those who are married.  The married couples are not having a lot of sex, but they are happy, and seem okay with it.  Or so they would have us believe.

There are a lot of excuses being made by the married people.  When asked why they don’t have sex as much as they used to, if at all, it was all about the kids, work, house, and lack of time.  That’s a lot of excuses, none of which make that much sense long term.  I mean I get it, for a few weeks, but we’re talking months, and in some cases years, without sex.

There’s an underlying frustration, and clear lack of communication, happening in the marriages.  The wife would like sex more often, but does not say anything because she wants to be desired, and not the aggressor.  The husband figures he will get turned down, so why bother?  The most interesting thing, is how willing people are to openly talk about their sex lives.  It’s healthy, but also rather sad.

As someone who is single, but searching for love, and eventually marriage, it poses the following question: can you have sex and marriage at the same time?  I’ve written about this before, but it came up again this weekend, and I’m fascinated by the lack of sex in otherwise healthy relationships.  Perhaps the issue is that I have an unrealistic view of what marriage is.  I’m not married, and when I was, I was in my 20’s, but now, in my 40’s, when women are supposed to be in their sexual prime, sex should be a joy, a pleasure, and a requirement, not a burden.

It seems to me, that sex is a chore in a lot of marriages.  Part of what makes it great, is that as adults, we can have sex without guilt.  I appreciate that life happens, and planning is sometimes required and necessary.  If you need to put it on the calendar, then do it.  Whatever it takes to make it happen, do it.  Isn’t one of the best things about marital sex, that you don’t have to feel guilty?  When you are single, sex is riddled with guilt.  Are you sleeping with the right person?  Will it be good?  Will they respect you?  Are they sleeping with other people?  It’s a brutal process.

There are aspects of these sexless marriages, which are really appealing.  A partner, friend, someone to always have your back, knowledge about someone, and a comfort with a person, that no one else has.  A witness to your life, and a body next to yours at night, are all fabulous, and compelling reasons to get married.  That said, can human beings go without sex? If people are not having sex with their spouses, are they having sex outside of their marriages?  If you have a spouse, and a life together that is good, but sexless, would you not work hard to ensure you don’t have sex outside the relationship?

When I recently wrote about Tiger Woods and Jesse James, I said I thought sex addiction was lame.  I got one email from a man who has a sex addiction, who assured me it was a real condition, and one from a woman, who told me her husband had it, and they were working on their marriage.  Are we to believe that some humans are wired to want lots of sex, with lots of different people, while others are wired to not want it at all?  I think sex is a privilege, and that sex within a relationship, marriage or otherwise, requires work, dedication, and commitment, but not necessarily a lot of time.

You can be intimate in a few minutes, in random places, and create a bond that is required in a healthy relationship.  The thing that trips people up, is thinking there needs to be a fluffy bed, flowers and champagne.  People get caught up in the pressures society puts on sex, rather than just the sex.  Sex is not always a romantic skip through the garden.  It is hot and sweaty, and can be taken care of rather quickly.  Not every time of course, but in a pinch, it can be fast, and fabulous.  You have to want it, and not think of it as a chore.  If marriage means you stop having sex, then why get married at all, unless sex is just not that important to you? 

Sex changes with each generation.  It used to be the only thing you had to worry about, was getting pregnant.  As people became more open sexually, STD’s and AIDS changed everything.  Marriage became more appealing, because you were only sleeping with one person.  Or so you thought.  With the porn and adult toy industries thriving, and generating billions of dollars, it would appear that sex is happening.  The problem is that people are taking care of business on their own.  What happened to the good old days, when people had sex with each other?

Is it just too much of a bother to shave your legs, suck in your stomach, fix your hair, sit through dinner, and change the sheets?  Is it too late to wait for the kids to go to bed, so you’re exhausted?  Is it too weird to meet at home during the day, for a few minutes, while the kids are not there?  Sex is not the most important part of a marriage, but it’s got to be up there.  It is the part of a marriage that should be nurtured.  If sex is taken care of, everything else will fall into place.  Without sex, you are just living with someone, which I suppose is also really good.

Can you be married, love your spouse, have a completely happy life together, and not have sex?  I’m not sure.  If you are not having sex at home, will you eventually have sex outside of the marriage, or spend more time than is acceptable, in front of your computer finding some kind of satisfaction online, for what is missing at home?.

There are many books, theories, and scientific studies that talk about sex.  How much you should have, how it makes you live longer, have better skin, and relieve headaches.  There are literally a million and one things you can read about sex.  Instead of reading about sex, we should all be having sex.  I’m not a doctor, a scientist, or a sex therapist.  All I know for sure, is that in my circle, single people are having more sex than married couples, and a lot of the married people I spoke to, are having sex outside of their marriages.  It’s sad, and troubling, but also a wake up call, to those of us who are searching.

If you are married, but not having sex, make an effort.  If you are single, and not having sex because you feel judged, snap out of it, be safe, and have all the sex you want.  If you are single, about to get married, and having sex, don’t let it stop once you’ve tied the knot.  Maybe some people don’t need it, or miss it.  I think it’s unlikely that two of those people are going to find each other.  If one person wants it, and is not getting it, they are going to look outside of the marriage.  If someone is dating, and more into it than their partner, it’s not a match.

Sex should not be something that we are afraid to talk about, or engage in.  When there are two consenting adults, it should be a great thing.  One that is enjoyed and celebrated, not forbidden, and a cause for stress, or bad feelings about ourselves, or each other. When my son is older, I will teach him to respect sex, respect women, and respect marriage. For myself, I hope I meet a man that respects sex, respects women, and respects marriage.  For my part, I will make sure that I respect him, our relationship, and most importantly, myself.

Relationships are hard to find, and harder to keep.  They take love, time, care, respect, attention, and thought.  They require a sense of humor, a sense of self, and an open mind.  They need patience, compromise, determination and trust.  All attainable, if you keep the faith.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Ilana Angel writes two blogs for JewishJournal.com. KEEPING THE FAITH is about her worldview as a single Jewish mother, and KEEPING IT REAL is all about reality television....

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