I have done a lot of work on jealousy. I no longer envy my friends their high-profile book deals or television options; instead, I work hard on achieving my own goals, understanding that no one else's success detracts from my own. And I've never been the type to be envious of some women's seemingly beautiful lives, with their gleaming Restoration Hardware kitchen tables or whatever.
But when I read an article in this month's Marie Claire entitled "The Honeymoon Is(nt') Over," I realized that I still harbor quite a bit of bitterness when it comes to women who purport to be having chandelier-swinging regular sex with their spouses.
The author writes, "Barring an occasional bad mood or a particularly nasty fight, my husband and I have sex almost every single day. I've even done it with the stomach bug."
This makes them, as she points out, a sexual anomaly. Remember when we found out the average cohabitating couple is having sex 2.4 times a week, and that seemed ambitious? Especially if you watch "American Idol," which is on several times a week? Or have a baby! Oh but wait:
"Eight months after we met, I got pregnant unexpectedly -- but the sex didn't stop. We did it through my entire pregnancy, during morning sickness, and even on the day I gave birth (prior to the blessed event, of course). Postpartum, we eagerly hit the sheet again two weeks earlier than the date recommended by my doctor."
"...We have three young children, and we both work from home, often putting in 10-hour days. But every night, after we tuck in the kids and get into bed...we turn to each other."
Y'all, I can seriously not stay awake for an hour-long TV drama after the kid goes to bed. Even fast forwarding through commercials. And I know It's not like we're all drawing from some zero sum sex pool and if she slurps up all the hot fucking there'll be none left for me and I'll have to get into "Dance Moms" or something, but after reading this article I felt horrible.
I'm reminded of a conversation during a recent girl's night, in which a friend recounted some problems she's been having in a fairly new relationship -- namely, they argue a lot.
"It's not supposed to be that hard, especially in the beginning," I said. Another girlfriend, newly married, disagreed. "It was that hard for my husband and me at first," she said. "We had to learn how to communicate."
"It's different when you both have issues," someone else piped in, meaning: when you are both alcoholics, not just one of you.
I had been sure that I was right, but suddenly my confidence seemed like arrogance -- who says my own conflict avoidant tendencies are the gold standard? Who, for that matter, gets to decide how a relationship is "supposed" to be?
But marriages and partnerships are so opaque from the outside, so amorphous and fluctuating from the inside, that many of us are looking for some indication that we are doing it right, or wrong. We all have our private doubts, our soft buttons that activate insecurities when it comes to the secretive and subjective terrain of romantic relationships.
For me, if only because a huge part of my pre-monogamy identity was based on being super down to bone, it's sex. Good sex, to me, is something filthy and taboo that you do with a thrilling stranger. Relationship sex, at a certain point, becomes a simple act of maintenance, like scrubbing your shower curtain to prevent mold build-up. It doesn't get me high in the same way, but it's a fair trade-off for true intimacy, like how you get big boobs or perky ones but not usually both. That's just the way it is, I tell myself.
But then women like That Lady Who Has Sex With Her Husband Every Day come along with their smug sexy sex lives and suggest that maybe that doesn't have to be true. And worse! She used to be in a boring, unsexy relationship just like yours! But she got out of that hellhole and bought a one-way ticket to Humptown USA, where the diner is serving daily.
"Six years ago, we were both married to other people with whom we had little sexual chemistry. It's not that we didn't want to have sex; we had just lost interest in having it without our spouses, and the feelings were mutual."
Would I like to be having sex every day? Theoretically, yes. But I'd theoretically like to go to the moon and see Earth as a crazy little ball of water and humanity, but I haven't made becoming an astronaut a priority in my life.
And ultimately, sex, especially the fun but unsustainable kind I once tried to define myself by, isn't my top priority either. I just hate to admit it. Which is why it gives me a twinge of jealousy and shame to read about someone who is actually walking the walk and making sacrifices to make sex a daily part of her relationship, to the extent that she left a husband even though they "loved each other's company and had similar careers and worldviews" over a "lukewarm sexual attraction." I still love sex when I have it (on a less than daily basis), but I guess I'm more concerned with the former than the latter these days.
It's not you, lady who has sex with her husband every day, it's me! Let's not judge each other's choices, but I really want to know: Did you/will you hold out for the kind of insane sexual chemistry that keeps you sexing daily long into your marriage? Or have you accepted as inevitable a certain loin-cooling over time?