Sunday, 11 February 2007

"Sex and Middle Age" published February 11

There is nothing more annoying than being told what you should be doing in your life. It is for this reason I detest those surveys which announce that “most” people have sex less than once a week. How can they possibly tell who is having sex with who and how often? I haven’t noticed any statisticians in my bed lately, have you?
So I was less than enthused to read the findings of New York psychologist Esther Perel who tells me that married couples have no sex at all. We’re in the midst of a sex drought leading lives which can no longer muster the slightest hint of eroticism and “many” of us go for a whole year without turning to our husbands and suggesting a root.
How can this be? Were we not the first generation to dip our eager genitals into the well of sexual freedom and emerge triumphant, if a little scarred by the accompanying herpes, Chlamydia and crabs? Our lives were always going to be rich and diverse in the area of sexual gratification as long as erectile dysfunction kept its limp tentacles at bay. We’re the ones who sit and watch those old couples in restaurants who have not only forgotten the art of conversation with each other but you just know Dad hasn’t been near Mum for a cuddle in years. You observe and rather smugly think that will never happen to you. You’re far too enlightened and motivated for that carry on.
But as it turns out the sexual revolution was a total waste of time. Sex has no place in the modern middle aged marriage.
But help, and a bestseller is on it’s way with Perel writing a book Mating in Captivity – Reconciling the Erotic and Domestic in which our sexless selves are encouraged to email our partners filthy billets doux in the hope of getting each other interested again. Personally I would set up your own web based email account in which to do these smutty pieces of creative writing because the last thing you want is the IT nerd at work bouncing the email he just read about he size and resilience of your husband’s member and what your are planning to do with it. Or mistakenly sending it to your boss. And I’m sure once you got started it could be quite fun pausing between staff announcements to whip up a frenzied piece of sexual erotica, but how long before the domestic interfered?
Dear Sex Ogre
I can’t wait until you get home so that I can strip you naked, cover you in oil and rub myself all over you.
Get milk on the way home and where did you put the scissors?
Love you long time
Pop Tart
Then Perel suggests a bit of motel room sex and sex in alleyways. Well, hello doesn’t everyone do that on a Tuesday night after Coro Street? Grey Lynn is teaming with smug marrieds ravaging each other behind Foodtown and hasn’t everyone noticed the kids sitting in the back of the Holden sipping their pink lemonades while Mum and Dad are in the Quality Inn getting their ends away?
Her suggestion that we turn up at parties and pretend not to recognize each other is just silly. What would your friends think? I doubt they would nod sagely and quote Mating in Captivity, instead they’d put it down to yet another crippling bout of the silent treatment.
What Perel fails to tell us is what to do with our other lives while we’re rekindling the eroticism. There’s a reason we spent our youth bonking our way through the alleyways and flats of Ponsonby and it had to do with the absence of a mortgage, a job to pay it and children. Screaming, demanding, exhausting children, and that’s jus the teenagers.
As we collapse into our marital bed, soft and well worn, sleep has become the most important activity in our well run lives. We become obsessed with getting at least eight hours because any less and we just can’t function. And sex has become the enemy of sleep because it takes time, and sometimes wakes us up.
So if one of us in the marital bed should be overcome by a nostalgic and usually subconscious grope in the dark, we’ll be met by a slap and the most unromantic or erotic words known to man: “I can’t believe you woke me up for that!”

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