The Secret To A Happy Marriage?

happy marriage
Love, Sex

Sex. And the absence of a healthy sex life can lead to its dissolve. Bettina Arndt, an Australian sex therapist of 35 years, noticed an ongoing trend. The married couples lining her waiting room were mainly complaining of the same marital gripe – the disappearance of sex. She then set about doing research to figure out what was happening, reports Jennie Curtin in the Brisbane Times.                      

The result: the book Sex Diaries, which comprises the candid sex-life diaries of 98 married couples, who chronicled daily activity with their spouses for up to a year.

It reveals what happens when one partner, more often the male in this book, is consistently refused sex by a spouse.

"The problem is where there is one person who wants it, yearns for it, physical intimacy, and is being rejected," Arndt told Michael Lund in a Courier Mail article."Listening to these men tell me about how miserable it makes them to never feel wanted by their partner, to never feel desire, to never feel like a real man and to be constantly rejected – 'she makes me feel like a thief' one man said – is just so heartbreaking."

In her research, Arndt found that male spouses tended to have higher libidos than their female counterparts which often led to the unraveling of what were once intimate relationships. She did also report that 10 of her female diarists were the ones in their marriages whose sexual advances were being denied. (Over the course of her study, four of those women left their partners, reports Lund, signaling that females may more readily leave an unsatisfying marriage, whereas males may be more apt to stay.)

"The problem is that in long-term relationships men are far more likely to retain their sexual drive than their partners. The number one sexual problem plaguing women is low libido which means couples everywhere are struggling with a mismatch in desire. Women lie in bed worrying the hand will come creeping over. Men spend their lives groveling for sexual favors. The gap between them in bed becomes a chasm. This night-time drama is the source of great tension and unhappiness," Arndt wrote in an editorial for the Canberra Times.

Arndt went on to say in the same editorial, "The new rule was that sex must wait until women are well and truly in the mood. But that was where we went wrong. The assumption that women need to want sex to enjoy it has proved a really damaging sexual idea, one that has wrought havoc in relationships for the past 40 years."

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Um, wait a second. Is she really suggesting that women (or men, for that matter) should just go through the motions and have sex with their partner when they don't want to? Interesting to note that the words "foreplay" and "appreciation" weren't mentioned. Arndt does suggest at the end of her editorial, though, another solution: talk about the problem. More communication with a partrner? Now that's advice with which we can agree. Or, there's always TiVo therapy.