The Struggle to Stay Sexy In Marriage

By Ian and Alicia Denchasy

No matter how young or old, fit or fat, stressed out or carefree, a couple’s sex life will inevitably suffer a downturn. The arrival of kids, changes in jobs and work hours, unexpected crisis, or just plain lack of chemistry can conspire to turn the bedroom into the bored-room and leave us struggling to climb back into some semblance of passion — and that’s for strong relationships. Many couples we know simply give up and either divorce or resign themselves to finding other ways to connect that don’t require the effort of sex.

And let’s be frank here; sex does take effort. Sure, you’ll hear television “sexperts” spitting out all kinds of simple solutions, such as “Fake it ’til you make it,” or “Just do it,” as if forcing ourselves to engage in sex no matter the mood or circumstance will magically kick start us back into our younger selves and ignite lost desires. As a couple who’ve been together longer than a great percentage of our readers have been alive, we can tell you without reservation (or BS) that there’s no “faking” your way back to sexual satisfaction. Unfortunately, physical connection isn’t something that can be regenerated without serious commitment to the relationship underneath.

Now both at or near the half century mark in age, and over half that time married, we’ve managed to muddle our way through some serious sexual droughts and come to terms with where we both stand on what constitutes acceptable intimacy, whether measured by frequency and/or intensity. Countless conversations, debates, and outright fighting has resulted in both of us taking stock of what we really expect out of our relationship, given physical changes such as menopause, and where the balance point of sexual fulfilment is, currently (1–2 times per week). There are variances, of course, but we’re talking averages here and both of us are pretty content with where things stand. We realize that no two couples are alike and our standard should have no bearing on yours; indeed, we are simply illustrating the point that every couple needs to find the level that suits them, individually, and compromise a tad to get as close to an agreement as possible and work to keep it.

The real trick to working toward this ideal is honesty, mainly toward yourself as an individual in your particular relationship. An example is what you want, sexually, as opposed to the reality of what you need. Most men believe in the ego-driven belief that sex is not only a right in their relationships, but a necessity that defines their own manhood. More sex means your more of a man, perceptually, thinking three times daily is not only desirable but achievable over the long term. The reality, however, is that the majority of males cannot perform anywhere near this level — including the most physically gifted not named Wilt Chamberlain. In fact, if most women had the courage to call men’s bluffs and actually challenge them to live up to 3–4 times per day of intercourse, they’d run them right out of the bedroom! It was only societal propriety that trapped women in the slut category for being overly sexual that kept men in power and allowed boorish behavior to rule the roost. Now that women are emerging from their cocoons — mostly thanks to the internet — they’re discovering their true desires and power when it comes to sex in their relationships. Women, at least, are more honest about not desiring sex at such a high frequency, though they could more than reach it if need be.

In the end, every aspect of marriage must evolve and change over time to be successful. Sex is just one, albeit difficult beast, a couple must reckon with to survive long term. Putting on lingerie for her when she doesn’t feel sexy, spending 20 minutes of foreplay to satisfy a two minute craving, reaching out to grasp your partner’s hand when you don’t feel the former urge; all these little things get lost as we lose our patience over time, lose our fitness as we age, and lose our libidos as we get overly comfortable. It’s a struggle, certainly, but one just as rewarding with its mutually satisfactory levels as its unrealized excesses. We wouldn’t have it any other way.