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Equal Marriage = Less Sex?

porn-for-women[1]Does an equal marriage mean less sex?

Maybe you’ve seen studies suggesting this unhappy possibility.

When men do feminine chores like laundry, cooking and vacuuming, couples have sex 1.5 fewer times per month on average, compared with more traditional couples. But when men stick to masculine duties like fixing the car and taking out the trash, women report greater sexual satisfaction, on average, according to University of Washington sociologists.

These findings disappoint progressives and cheer conservatives. And go against feminist expectations that men will get more sex when wives are less worn out.  Read the rest of this entry

Women Want Good Sex, Men Want Cuddling

What makes happy long-term relationships?

Everyone’s happier when touching, kissing, hugging, and sex fill our lives. Surprisingly, hugging and kissing are more important to men’s happiness. Men who snuggled were three times happier than non-snuggling husbands. So much for the stereotype that men don’t cuddle.

Psychologist, Aline Zoldbrod, talks of the importance of touch.

Touch from a person you love and trust is a major emotional resource and a way that people can regulate their emotions when they are upset. Couples who use touch to comfort, to compliment, and yes, to seduce and arouse, are bound to be happier.

Surprisingly, cuddling has less impact on women’s contentment, perhaps because culturally, women have a greater range of emotional outlets than men.

Instead, sexual satisfaction had a bigger impact on women’s happiness, and typically, the sex got better the longer a couple stayed together. Yet, as TIME put it, “a man’s happiness rose 17% with each additional point he rated the importance of his partner’s orgasm.” Caring husband, happy wife? Happy wife, happy husband?

Why would sex so often get better for women over time? Women often talk of the importance of love and connection to sexual enjoyment. With time, the couple can become deeply bonded. But they can also become more skilled. Safety and relaxation are important to a woman’s orgasm and long-term relationships can enhance both. Finally, over time the messages of a sex-negative culture for women can slip away in the security of marriage, where all agree that sex is virtuous.

Co-author and clinical sexologist, Michael Sand, said the study is important in showing that long-term relationships can be filled with “healthy, vibrant sexuality.”

In another reversal of stereotype, men were happier, overall, in their relationships
than women. Maybe it’s not so surprising. In modern marriages, men still have more
power and more say. Women are more likely to nurture and care for their spouses.

But both men and women felt greater relationship satisfaction the longer they stayed together. Are happier couples simply more likely to stay together? Or do the deep bonds that form over long-term relationships create the contentment? Perhaps it’s a bit of both.

Interesting, all. And hopeful.

These findings are based on a survey from the Kinsey Institute of 1,009 heterosexual couples from five countries who were middle-aged or older, and in long-term relationships.

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Why Hasn’t Open Marriage Caught On?

Open marriage, the sensible alternative to monogamy? With several high-profile men caught in sex scandal, the notion is being pondered.

On the plus side, a couple may enjoy a close-knit family and loving spousal relationship,
but with an exciting dash of sexual variety.

In a recent New York Times piece sex columnist, Dan Savage, acknowledges there are advantages to monogamy: sexual safety from infections, emotional safety, paternity
assurances. Still, he thinks monogamy brings boredom, despair, lack of variety,  sexual death and being taken for granted. Plus, society imposes monogamy on  men, who were never expected to be monogamous, he complains.

Men. And what about women?

The ground rules for sex with others run along the lines of “sex for fun without emotional involvement.” But for many, if not most women, the only good sex is emotionally connected. So it can be hard for men to find enough partners to enjoy just-for-fun romps.

New York University sociologist, Judith Stacey, says it’s easier for men to separate physical and emotional intimacy. Lesbians and straight women tend to be far less comfortable with nonmonogamy.

And therein lies the rub.

Asked if his view is male-centric, Savage admits it is. So open relationships may work best in partnerships between men. Luckily, Dan Savage is gay.

I suspect women’s widespread desire for emotional connection is more cultural than biological, and I’ll discuss why in a later post. Either way, that’s most women’s reality. While some want more sexual variety than their spouses, more often it’s the other way

But even when everyone’s open to opening marriage, jealousy can be a killer. Kate Spicer of the London Times researched the nonmonogamous community and said that everyone she spoke with had experienced fierce jealousy.

And likely for good reason. Sex so often leads to deep emotion that partners may be lost as a consequence of the intense involvement.

As one woman put it:

To be honest, neither of us was emotionally prepared for the realities of an open relationship. The first time I found myself not having sex with another man, but making love to him, I cried. I rang my husband to say I could never see this man again. Open relationships can be messy and exhausting.

Her husband eventually left her for a woman who would not tolerate nonmonogamy.

Psychiatrist, Judith Lipton, who co-authored The Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and
Infidelity in Animals and People
, says that monogamous lifestyles go against “some of the deepest-seated evolutionary inclinations with which biology has endowed most creatures, Homo sapiens included.”

Yet Lipton doesn’t think open marriage is the best answer for most. “Who can tolerate it?” she asks, “I have not met many people who can.”

Besides, animals have it easier. They lack the human capacity for jealousy or the deep emotional bonding that humans so often crave in relationship.

And is monogamy really so bad? Among the college-educated divorce and infidelity are both down. While the trend is turned around among the working class stress, and not sexual boredom, seems to be the culprit.

Meanwhile, married men are healthier and happier than their single brethren who are free to gain as much sexual variety as they can muster. Men are also quicker than women
to remarry after death or divorce.

In a world where so many of us seek soul mates to fill us with passion, joy, intimacy, transformation, and oneness, the dalliances of open marriage can seem both distracting and lacking.

Open marriage may work for some couples when they are lucky enough to find suitable others. But in a world of imperfect options, most of us seem to find monogamy the happier choice.

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Fatal Attraction: Relationship Killed By What Sparked It

When a relationship is killed by whatever had sparked it, that’s a fatal attraction.

Living in a culture that sexualizes male dominance, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that a friend of mine was once drawn to the “take charge,” male dominant qualities of one of her lovers. So attracted that she married him. A few years later she left him for the same reason. Many women romanticize male dominance only to find that it’s not so much fun to be bossed around and never get your way in real life.

Or, we might look for someone to balance us out. Another friend was attracted to the free-spirited artistic quality of his ex-wife. She seemed a nice counterweight to his ordered, mathematical mind. But after a few years her carefree ways morphed into chaos. Complimentary souls won’t necessarily complete us.

Some women are attracted to men who show a deep interest in them. A boyfriend’s obsession and jealousy makes her feel really loved. But after he starts beating her because other men looked her way, she eventually sees he has a possessive, abusive personality.

The most common fatal attraction involves friendliness. One 20-year-old found her boyfriend’s humor and sociability appealing when they first met. Now, asked about his least attractive quality, she points to his friendliness, saying “He often flirts with others.” 

Physical attractiveness can also become an unexpected turn off. A forty-one year old man had initially been drawn to his girlfriend’s sexy, exotic Asian looks. He had also liked her outgoing, flirty personality. But over time that all became a problem as he came to see her as “disloyal and mercurial.”

The list goes on. A woman is attracted to a man’s sense of humor but later complains that he’s never serious. A man is drawn to his partner’s nurturing nature, but comes to see her as smothering. A woman admires her husband’s ambition, but then sees him as a workaholic.

There is a real tendency to become disillusioned with qualities that initially attract us. I guess there can be too much of a good thing.

Be careful what you wish for.

Georgia Platts

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