Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
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Always Put Out! I Think?

I always pay close attention to any kind of stats about how often folks are having sex. Not because I particularly care how much action you're getting, I just want to compare myself.

I'm certain I'm far below the average, if the world can be said to have an average. My husband can assure you I'm far below the average. Just what exactly average is - well - I don't know. Can there really be accurate sex stats? Doesn't everyone lie about how much they do it? I hope so.

Sex stats or no, I definitely need to put out more. That, I can say with certainty. But I let too much get in the way. Not just our separate work schedules and exhaustion from baby wrangling, I let my emotions get in the way. If I'm pissed Serge didn't take out the trash, cycle a load of laundry or even if he just made a rude comment I let it get all up in my head and then I'm grumbling under my breath like Yosemite Sam, which, I think you'll agree, is not conducive to Sexy Time.

I find it hard to separate daily annoyances from bedroom action. Is that stupid? Dudes probably think it's stupid. What does emptying the trash have to do with sex, they want to know. A lot, fellas. A LOT.

But, couple my inability to get horny after Serge leaves his beard clippings in the sink with the exhaustion of being a new parent and still feeling freaked about the violent tearing of Lady Parts during birth and there ain't a lot of horizontal dancing underway Chez Bielanko other than some obligatory ass scratching during sleep.

I remember walking with a friend in New York City once. An old friend who dates back to my elementary school days. This friend is quite religious and, to my knowledge, didn't have sex with her husband before they married, so her advice on marriage shocked me.

"ALWAYS put out. Especially when you don't feel like it."

This, coming from a garment-wearing, daily-praying mother of two, surprised me. But maybe it shouldn't. The Mormons gals, they're notorious for obeying their fellas. But she's right. I think. Shit, I don't know. My husband - for the most part - is the bees knees, but sometimes I've excused him in my mind if he should happen to cheat on me because I neglect my bedroom-ly duties. I know, I know. There's no excuse for cheating but, if Dr. Laura is to be believed, I'm the one causing the problem by not properly caring for and feeding my husband. But should sex be considered a duty? The longer I've been married (nearly a decade!) I think it should. Which takes the sexy out of marriage, I know. But the sexy is kind of taken away when you listen to someone gargle phlegm and fart all night long anyway, no?

This all sounds like I'm not attracted to my guy. I am. He's right up my alley, just not in my alley... Heh heh heh. Okay, bad joke. Seriously though, he's this dark-haired, bearded sexy boy who's all the time grabbing at me while I giggle girlishly but rebuff him with very manly karate chops.

And I don't know why.

Can someone scream-whisper SEX ISSUES and point in my direction? Maybe. Or maybe I really am just pissed the motherfucker didn't take out the trash? I can't really figure myself out here. I kind of waltzed ignorantly into marriage, so in love I couldn't imagine not wanting some action all the time. But various factors in my upbringing (Mormonism, I'm casting the Stink Eye in your celibate preaching, chastity belt promoting, guilt-inducing direction) leave me feeling all shameful-like whenever I decide to heed Marvin Gaye's legendary advice.

What I'm saying is for various reasons including religion and humans tunneling out of my vagina, I've spent my entire marriage trying not to have sex so I know how badly not having sex affects a dude. During the course of this first-hand research I've concluded that they need it to function. Yes, need. A lot of women can take it or leave it and don't really even think about it unless their man forces the issue but a lot of guys need sex like they need water. Okay, maybe not water but they need sex like they need a shower. They don't require a shower to live but if they go a week without it they start to feel icky, itchy and dirty. Take a shower and they're refreshed and ready to take on the world!

My very non-professional but Dr. Laura approved advice? Hook your dude up. Not only does sex inspire intimacy but you just might notice he's a little more tender with you even when he's not trying to get you to give it up. Think of it this way: you giving your man a little sexy time makes him feel the same way you feel when he reaches out to hold your hand while you're riding in the car and tells you how beautiful you look in the sunlight. It feels nice, right? Right.

Reader Comments (38)

FUCK!! The guilt that goes along with not having sex with your husband....seriously. It will be five years of marriage for Rob and I in a October too and he always tells me that I will be SO annoyed if we become old and grey and he isn't grabbing my ass and tits in public anymore. Do we have sex a lot? No. Every week - yes.......but sometimes I still feel neglectful. Sometimes I tell myself that I could really use the calorie burn so just have sex already.....whats the problem? I like it....but sometimes, I just don't want to. I'm with you Monica - what is with us?

September 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRichelle

Wow, I cannot wait to read the comments on this. I can relate to you a lot on this, and I think about it a lot too. But do I talk about it with my husband? No. And that makes me worry. We go loooong stretches without. Long. But we both seem fine with it? Or not, I don't know. Drives me crazy when I analyze this in my head.

September 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkds

I can really relate to this post...being raised in a strict religious home as well, i've come to the conclusion that i will always, ALWAYS be messed up about sex. I too think about this a lot in terms of my relationship with my boyfriend and same thing with us - there was once a time period where it was unthinkable that we would go days and days without having sex. a year and a half later - here we are. we dont talk about it except for the very seldom both-of-us-are-drunk and bring it up conversations where we end up either fighting about it or apologizing, depending on how the sauce has hit us that particular night. I wonder if its necessary to have an in depth discussion with him about it? Or do i just let it go? I feel that this is a topic that is taboo (at least for me, maybe you too?) even discussing with my closest friends. No one has a problem gossiping with the ladies when the sex is frequent but when the tables are turned, it almost seems to be a sense of guilt and shame that requires you to keep it to yourself. Would we all be better off having frank discussions with our respective partners? Or is it too emotionally risky to dive into?

September 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSara

I hear you. I try to put out even if not in the mood. I will generally try to get him excited about a quickie. I know he doesn't like it as much as if I was into it, but I think he appreciates the gesture.... maybe. Who knows. We don't really talk about it either. I do know that sometimes he feels guilty if it is quick. He will make comments saying he would go longer if I wanted. I am like, dude, I didn't even want to have sex to begin with. Just do your thing and be done. I worry too that we don't do it enough to keep him satisfied in the long run. I know I am fine with the amount of sex we have, just not sure he is.

September 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

I read in a book once that if you use sex as a weapon, it makes the man resent you whether he wants to or not. I am not sure how accurate this is, but I always, always put out. No matter what, if I am tired or anything. The problem with me is, my husband does not have a very high sex drive (since the vasectomy) and I find myself feeling like I am not attractive enough. I wish he would grab at me and want to have sex all of the time. It might annoy you, but take it as a very wonderful compliment, you are still sexy to him and he wants you. :)

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKAS

Just hit 40 and I have very little interest in sex but I put out almost all the time because I think that is the way couples stay connected. And in terms of the big picture, I do want him to want me and I do want him to be satisified with our marriage which for men means a reasonably fulfilling sex life. If I rejected him every time he pissed me off for his lack of involvement of household tasks-- we would never, ever have sex. Somehow, for me, I have to seperate the two. Quickies are the answer, like Liz's comment above. We spend more time on the weekends / when we've been drinking.

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersusan

Luckily, I don't seem to have that issue. I want it often enough that he's satisfied (not every day mind you, I get tired too). Angry sex can be fun "EFF YOU FOR NOT TAKING OUT THE TRASH!" lmao.

Let me know when you get the answer ;) I'm sure many women are wondering!

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarcastica

I have a hard time separating sex from emotions. I feel like if I have sex often, I lose control or make it seem like I'm some submissive waif. This is all me, in my own head. Because my husband is lovely and deserves better.

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCMarie

Whenever I've put out when I didn't feel like, I ended up enjoying it quite a bit.

I notice that if we go more than a few days without sex, we begin to really fight and get angry with each other over the most mundane of details. A quick roll in the bed and we're good as new. It's worked for 10 years so far.

My mother-in-law put it best, "you need something to hold onto during those times when you don't like each other very much." She's been married 50+ years.

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjeneria

don't use it as "a weapon," but if you're not into it, you're not into it. i don't think it's about intentional use as weaponry. women and men have feelings and women's feelings can affect their desire to have sex. men are the same way.

dr. laura may, may have some good points, perhaps, but she's generally cognitively impaired so it's difficult to truly assess.

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterleyla

I agree with jeneria...If we had sex when I felt like it, it would probably be once a month. However, if it was up to him, it would be daily (probably more). I do it when he approaches me, and although I may not start off being into it, I find myself into it pretty quickly. It usually ends up being a couple of times a week. My man is hot and I am attracted to him, but sex just isn't at the top of my list, I got other shit to do. It's funny, he asks me what I have for sexual fantasies and I'm all trying to make stuff up...Ha. I don't have any! They (men) think about it all. the. time. I do think it's important to talk about sex with our fellas, whether we're having it or not, it ain't healthy to bottle shit up and not discuss it, that's where we run into problems. Gotta talk it out.

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

Oh Amy! I agree about the fantasies. When he starts on that track, I get super stressed because the last thing on my mind most of the time is coming up with role playing, costumes, gadgets and all that. I tell him he's lucky cuz his gal likes it straight and hot and uncomplicated!

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjeneria

I don't have a comment about this b/c I am not married. But I do know that I am def more like a man when it comes to sex, if I had my wish I would have it everyday, several times a day.
But I am currently celibate.

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJen

First off, it's good to know that "I'm not the only one." One thing I will teach my child is not that sex is bad/don't do it, but that it's best to wait for the right person. Not the negative. Because yeah, it's in my head too. I tell myself I'll like it just fine once I get into it, but dang, it can be so much work I don't feel like getting into it. Fortunately, we DO talk about it, but I feel like I just end up feeling bad that I don't put out more or better or something. Not that he makes me feel that way, but it's just one more thing in my head.

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteranne

It sounds uberlame upfront, but if it's important to you both, you have to put it in your schedule, on your weekly checklist. (You understood you, not the bossy you.) It doesn't sound very romantic, but not much of life is, is it? There's no time for half of the things any of us actually want to do, so it's a good way to make sure you're still connecting. It's what my husband and I wound up doing, because we'd look at the calendar and ask ourselves...when was the last time??? Oh, that long ago? No wonder we're sniping at each other so much! It can be kind of fun to make it an actual appointment too and remind each other about it.

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterchris

I would be WAAAAAAAAAAY more into it if my boyfriend would spend more than the 5 minutes it takes to please himself to please me. But hell, sometimes it's just not worth the effort - because 9 times out of 10 it doesn't happen for me. But I'll give it up a few times a week to keep him happy (and it's not like I hate it, but ya know). Problem is - I usually want it at the most random and inappropriate times. C'est la vie. Whatever happened to "men peak in their 20s and women in their 30s"? Still waiting for my peak. Also - growing up Mormon does mess you up in the head, esp since I'm not married (living in SIN!!!) and had an abortion. But that's a whole other topic.

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCindi

An issue close to my heart, but for many reasons - oddly for me - I'm not ready to open up about on on-line... But - I too have been married 5 years this October and I through much research I have come to conclusion (along with a woman whose name I forget who wrote a book all about this topic) that sex is based on mystery and eroticism - and intimacy is based on love and knowledge - and the two are not compatable. Sounds weird to say - but is true - that sometimes it would be easier to go out and shag the brains out of someone new than try and muster sexual desire for my husband - after we have just come out of a heavy day of potty training....

I know many women who have a higher sexual libido than their husbands - and yet we are always made to feel that the man wants sex and the woman witholds. I think sex routined - can become just like another fucking household chore.... My tip is to get out together and try and spend a bit of time away from the house and chores and stuff - and 'date.' I have had long long dry spells in my marriage that swallowed me up with resentment and anger - feeling utterly rejected. This anger then manifests itself in many ways - and ends up with a slow burning rage constantly bubbling under my skin. You have to make time for each other as it is the one thing you only do together - that bonds you and ultimately is a release. But fuck me, excuse the pun, it is damn hard to sustain when life throws so much at you in parenthood.

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercrummymummy

PS My above post sounds like I go swinging weekly - I don't. I have always been faithful to my husband - who is classically handsome and I am still extremely attracted to - all I'm saying is - it is near impossible to sustain the early passion - as that is based on the discovery of someone - and once you have had kids, well, you kind of know all there is to know about each other, don't you?

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercrummymummy

"sex is based on mystery and eroticism - and intimacy is based on love and knowledge - and the two are not compatable."

This concept intrigues me.

September 23, 2009 | Registered CommenterMonica

Monica - info on the above quote - about the book etc:

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercrummymummy

Monica, have you seen my other work boots? I can't find them.

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterserge

That made me laugh.

September 23, 2009 | Registered CommenterMonica

Okay, at the risk of being branded the boorish male that I am, and also hopefully my English humour will come through without censorship....


If you are anywhere near Europe, can I have your number, as we seem to have mutually compatible attitudes....

And Monica, as for the post that started all this, from speaking to Serge after gigs around Europe, I honestly believe that you have nothing to worry about. Your husband is crazy about you. In fact, he loves you almost as much as he does history and fridge magnets!

again, I refer you to the disclaimer at the start of the comment!

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDamien

Okay, this post really hit home. You know, I am also afflicted with the girly guilt! I wasn't going to comment, though, but a couple of minutes after reading your post, I happened to randomly come across this quote: “We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection.” –Dalai Lama...another one to think about and kind of fits what you were talking about. p.s. - are you still studying buddhism?

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterchristine

Sorry Damien, not anywhere close to Europe! Sorrys! Remember I am CELIBATE! lol Going to see how that works for me!

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJen

Just wanted to comment on Amy and Jeneria's post- I totally agree that while I often don't start off into it, I do find that, more often than not, I get into when we get going. So, that ends up being good and what I remind myself of when he puts the moves on and I am feeling reluctant. Also, I hear you on the fantasies. In the middle of sex sometimes he will ask about my fantasies and I am like dude, can't we just have sex. Do I really have to make something up right now? I just don't have fantasies about sex other than wishing for more foreplay. He always just wants to get naked right away. I have told him over and over again that I would like to slow it down sometimes and be teased a bit more. Have the clothes removal take awhile. More kissing and petting like when we very first started dating. Funny- I don't think that is the type of fantasy he wants to hear about. ;-)

September 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

Hmmmm..interesting post. Count me among the throngs of people who find this topic fascinating. My huband and I are trying to get pregnant right now, so romance and recreational sex went out the window months ago, but I'll try to remember the time before TTC.

I would say that I pretty much always put out when my husband approaches me. I may not be in the mood but, since I love my husband so much, I want him to feel attractive and cherished. I know that probably sounds cheesy but I just figure the man works hard. He does right by his family. He deserves a little loving when the mood strikes him. I think this arrangement goes both ways for us. I am sure there are times when he isn't in the mood, but puts out just so that I don't feel rejected. (Apparently we are both pretty sensitive about rejection.) Oddly enough, this strategy can sometimes back fire because now I worry about approaching him TOO mcuh since I know that he would feel bad about saying no. I suppose it would be nice to have the type of marriage where you can say "not tonight dear" and not have it be a sign of some deeper problem. As it stands we always say yes, therefore, we inadvertently rarely ask.

September 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSuzie

Discloser - I am male

Common theme -
"i am not into it at first but then you really enjoyed it and I would like more foreplay. "

Lingerie will put you into the mood sooner and slow him down. You have more control then you think but yes it does take effort. Doesn't everything in life that is worth it.

When it comes to married sex. Men want the same thing as women do. I want to connect with my wife and feel that intimacy and every once in a while connecting with our her like we are porn stars is fun to.

September 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJL

What do you mean, "she's right. I think."? That girl is ALWAYS right.
Just checking in on you.

October 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdaily-praying mother

Wow... you still come 'round these parts?

October 9, 2009 | Registered CommenterMonica

At some point it comes back around. Once the babies have lives of their own you will relax again and rediscover sex as a recreational sport and not just an obligatory response to your husband's needs. Although if your husband is anything like mine he will never learn that sex can be initiated 1,000 ways other than diving his hand directly to your crotch! You know like maybe start with a kiss on the lips and work your way down!

My aunt once told me that the marriage has to come before everything including the kids. At the time I thought that was terrible because as a child I was not even in the top five of my parent's priorities. But once I was married with children I learned that a happy marriage means a happy family.

October 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterOld Married Mom of Two

If I may?

I have the similar "hm, my husband is actually hot" yet I can't seem to justify putting down The Economist long enough to do him.

I have a theory about recovering religious folks like us (for me, an extreme case of plain old Christianity): When you're married, and it's allowed, even encouraged, sex loses its appeal just a bit. Those of us who are always used to sneaking around about this type of thing, once liberated, that much less interested in said sneaky thing.

Or I could be (I am) totally making this up.

October 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBlondie

Serge loves you, and though he jokes around, doesn't demand sex every day. You call yourself a feminist, and have strong opinions, so wouldn't submitting to the man when you don't want to go against everything feminism stands for? Do it when you feel like it, but don't feel pressured, because I've been reading Serge's blog as well, and it doesn't sound like he is sex crazed at all. He loves you for who you are. Do what makes you happy, and what makes you both feel respected by the other. Also, the "Buddhist" quote is not a reason to put out all the time. "Human affection" can mean a kiss, a hug, a friendly gesture, or a compliment----not always sex. Besides, aren't Buddhist monks supposed to be virgins anyways?

October 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAdrienne

For me, this comes down to multiple issues that, while overlapping, are not as simple as "Yes, put out every time," or "No, don't put out if you don't feel like it." Of course, I'm older than you are (46) and a a woman married to a woman, without children, so take this all with the condiments the most appeal.

First, an easy consideration: ask yourself if, in a given moment, it's really just about fatigue and distraction. If so, the odds are that as you connect physically, your focus will increase and you will end up happier for going with it. You'll get a lovely endorphin kick, good flow of hormones, proteins, and other biochemical goodies, and your muscles will be happy.

Now comes the tangled part, which will now be improved by the fact that I have pneumonia and my brain feels like it comprises brick dust and damp cotton wool. (Talk about feeling sex-ah!) I warn you in advance that reading this may cause your brain to bleed a little bit, particularly because I can make no promises regarding how what follows will be organized.

One common mistake is to think that sex starts with the conscious engagement and/or touching. For me, that's not so. I require intimacy to find sex interesting, so if my beloved and I have been out of sync, wrapped up in our own stuff, or crabbing at one another, sex is off the table. It's not a weapon, it's a fact. It's a bit like cooking, right? Chomping into a frozen leg of lamb holds little of the promise conveyed by the reality of a succulent, herbed, roasted, leg of lamb served alongside an amazing French layered casserole of thinly sliced carrots and new potatoes, one of my patented knock-your-socks-off salads, and a gorgeous wine. What makes the latter so amazing is as much the preparation as the ingredients.

If Doc and I haven't played Here's Why God Made 400 Thread Count Sheets in a while, then I will find jumping right to it akin to an assault, or being whacked with the aforementioned cold, hard ovine appendage. Much more likely to bring me into happy land would be an hour of lying on the bed just shooting the breeze--with a committed pact to not spend said time problem-solving how to plan for the heating oil season. Dreaming about how to design our ideal living space, yes. Practical, and therefore stress-inducing issues, no.

It gets a bit wonky in that, for Doc, sex IS the path to intimacy. We're wire oppositely. But because she loves me when I'm fully present and alive in sex, she's willing to accommodate my way--mostly. I'm not above a quickie, for sure, but even that requires a preceding sense of connectedness. If it's just about physical release, my German vibrator and I can get things done more quickly, with less effort, excellent results, and less mess. Sorry, but it's true.

I think it's easy to conflate the easy early rush of confidences and the easy early rush of sex, such that we shortchange the former much more readily than the latter--and hardly notice. The idea of mystery v. what is known mentioned by others in these comments holds some merit, and (in my experience) is also a bit superficial. Among other things, it presupposes that one can wholly know another or be known by another, which I judge to be a false (and possibly lazy) assumption. Initially the mysteries are global. Most of us so long to be seen and to see that we strain toward on another, stacking commonalities and differences in piles and marveling at the points of connection and departure. Heady stuff. At the same time, just as one cannot step into the same river twice, one cannot know the same person wholly even once. We all grow, change, and have rich inner lives if we are at all engaged in the fact of being alive. For all that we have in common, we also have long-running themes and story lines that predate our making contact and which continue to develop.

So, even as what was once charming can become the fodder of resentments, and what was once believed pure can be tarnished by the vestiges of humanity, it's also true that we are complex creatures abiding with one another voluntarily. There is always room for mystery. Even our physical responses and needs in sex change. Fickle creatures that we are.

Further, don't shortchange the truth of the trauma that occurred in your body. A profound, wonderful, amazing, irreplaceable trauma to be sure, but still a trauma. A friend of mine and I commiserated over similar experiences we had from what seemed like crazily disparate experiences: she'd given birth, and I'd fallen 23 feet (with broken legs, back, and traumatic brain injury as souvenirs). What could these events POSSIBLY have in common? It was this: we each experienced moments of cell-soothing, world rocking, emotion-releasing healing from the same act. What brought the magic? I'll attempt to describe...

It had to do with a particular brand of holding and witnessing. A friend and bodyworker simply placed her hands on my left lower leg (the most grievously injured part of my body, which had spent 19 months being threatened with amputation) and kept them there, unmoving, cradling my leg near the ankle. Her presence was absolute--she wasn't thinking about what to make for dinner, or whether or not she'd left the garage door open--she was simply calm and present with me, holding my leg, matching her breathing pattern to mine. She wasn't requiring any change in the tissue, causing me pain, assessing, or bringing therapy. She simply held it. I fell apart from the tender strength of simply having my present moment, which was heavily suffused with the recent past, witnessed with no agenda, and the luxury of as much time as was warranted. What a gift!

Similarly, my friend, who had opted for a natural tear v. surgically administered one because they tend to heal better, etc., had an experience with her husband that brought them into an unprecedented place of alignment and provided her, him, and them a deep reclamation and adjustment to a new reality. She'd healed well, perfectly really, but so what? This event had occurred, independent of him, that had changed a part of her body with which they each and both had relationships. In her case, what he did was simply cup her naked genitals gently with his hand as they gazed into one another's eyes and simply talked and didn't talk. No sex, no movement, just presence. Later, he brought himself face to vulva with the scar and simply kissed it--again, not from a place of sex, but from a place of acknowledgment, love, and presence.

Both of us experienced dramatic "unwinding" if scar tissue and other fibers, decreased tension, increased circulation, and atomic reconnection with our own flesh in connection with, and drawing support from, the non-needy presence of a trusted other. It might sound like so much psycho-babble, but it's not.

Back when I was a professional manual therapist in a PT clinic that specialized in pain relief, I learned that the single most valuable thing I could bring to a session was the willingness to witness without needing to comfort, mollify, or distract. People were free to bring their strong emotions, ugly thoughts, etc., into the room and feel safe that I wasn't going to be hurt/rocked/offended and I wasn't going to try to fix, quiet, distract, or otherwise shut down that expression.

All of this said, you might look into some of the tantric practices--not to get all Sting and Trudie, but, rather, to draw from the wisdom of ages regarding different ways to connect in genuine intimacy. My sense is that a healthy flow of sexual communication will find its place naturally within that larger context. And I guess this brings me full circle, in a way: the context is larger than fucking or not fucking. The story of you and Serge will be different from mine, or anyone else's, but it's guaranteed that it will be larger than The Fuck.

Ease up on you and tune in. You'll find your way. If you let go of the uselessness of guilt and shame, you can get much closer to what is most true. Given what I've read about Serge, I suspect that the payoff from this course of action will be way more worthwhile than the sackcloth and ashes thing--unless you're into role-playing, of course. :)

Finally, there can be times when it will be a while. In my case, I tend to be someone who cultivates an environment safe enough that people who are close to me decide it's just the place in which they are free to fall apart and reconstruct themselves. A flattering, if somewhat inconvenient, blessing. Doc is no exception, having decided (subconsciously, of course) that 52 is the perfect age at which to give way to family-of-origin issues and previously under-managed depression. Often, I find that I'm living with someone who is experiencing delayed adolescent rebellion and casting me into the role of the parent against whom she has decided to rebel. Finally, she's in therapy--not because I persuaded her that our marriage would benefit from not having such revelations come from me, but because in order to get scheduled with someone to prescribe for her depression, she has to be in therapy (win!). I am clear that this will be a multi-year process, with some time periods more challenging than others. As of today, we've not had sex in a couple of years. Is that my favorite thing ever? No. But having sex with someone who is not in the space to be and feel equally enfranchised would be, in my opinion, exploitative and ethically suspect. I'm clear that it's temporary and that she's worth the wait. She, on the other hand, is struggling with whether or not she believes me at my word or believes that it must simply be that I no longer find her attractive.

I don't mean that to sound bleak: it's not. It is, however, a realistic depiction of how weird things can get when we really allow one another inside the morass of weirdness that each of us is. A sense of humor helps. Just as you have to deal with the programming of a Mormon upbringing and ongoing life in a Mormon-dominated community. (I've spent some time in SLC--marvelling that the band I was in at the time was so popular there. Holy paradoxes!) Doc, on the other hand, comes from "hill billy" stock, was born in Appalachian North Carolina and moved to Texas at 13, where she lived until she was 46. Then she went and married a Yankee. Yeah. It can get weird.

Anyway, this is QUITE long enough, I suspect. Hope it helps!

Wishing you well,
Grass Otter

October 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGrass Otter

Just my opinion, but I don't see why sexy time should not be affected by other goings on during the day. Unless you are two people-- the person who has an intimate emotional relationship with your husband, and the person who sets that aside to just be physically intimate... I dunno. I figure the two are connected. That's not say you couldn't improve, but maybe "not putting out enough" is just a symptom of something else that just needs a little work, and not the problem in and of itself. Does that make sense? I feel odd commenting on the subject, but if you put it out there for the internet to read and leave comments open, I suppose comments are not unwelcome, per se.

(I think I mean to say that I don't believe that "always put out" is a good philosophy. I dislike the idea that any spouse is entitled to sex, or that it's on the same level with hunger for food. I do think it's an important part of a healthy relationship and that you should get to the bottom of why, rather than just forcing yourself to do it. But then, that's just me and my little idealistic world.)

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersloanie

Female friends of mine often don't want to jump back in the sack, post baby (haven't had one myself, so can't speak from experience). One friend was out of the game for a year. Everyone reacts differently, and that should be okay. Time heals, as they say.

Interesting to read the responses above--those that consider it a duty, and those that want more foreplay. If I felt it was my duty to go there, then might it not be his duty to help make me want to?

Just sayin...

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTea

I've been married twice. My first husband never really wanted it after the first month or so, so I was always after him. My current husband always wants it and the roles have somehow been reversed. I have a hard time wrapping my brain around the idea that I now have a husband that is still dying to get my clothes off after eight years of marriage and I somehow don't appreciate it (he's helpful at reminding me of this). Sex is the only thing we fight about - and after a good airing of grievances, we'll have good sex again for a while and then, inevitably, slip back into the old roles of him feeling deprived and me feeling harassed. If he would accept "maintenance sex" we'd probably be ok, because I have no problem "helping a brother out". Unfortunately, he wants me to to be all the way into it every time or else he's not interested. Exhausting - but sweet. The first husband had no such etiquette about everyone leaving the bed with a parting gift, if you will. This is a long and rambling way to share my two cents, which are: don't do it if you're absolutely not in the mood but do work a bit harder at helping yourself be in the mood for him - whether that means reminding yourself to think sexy thoughts on the way home from work or whatever. And absolutely make time to date each other.

April 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHolly

In a healthy relationship like yours, Monica, by all means. I agree. But I am divorced and for a good reason. It came as a surprise, a shock to me in my marriage that sex in itself did not require emotional intimacy to be enjoyed. I knew the guy loved me and was not looking for divorce but he sure had a nasty way of showing it. Every day it was something else I was doing wrong. It was ALMOST impossible to please him and though I had known him as a friend for 20 years prior to our marriage. Still I never let it affect me in that other way... I knew about the male 'need; and had no problem with that. We had a form of intimacy but it was in that context only. Otherwise I had lost respect for the guy. The truth, men and women both need love. We need to be understood by our loved ones and it's REALLY really sad and a disservice to the relationship to become so used to separating emotion from the sex act by not healing up the grievances which occur both in isolated and ongoing incidences. The soul deserves to be wanted and needed and can be trampled upon by a lack of concern for feelings, hopes and dreams. I have come to the conclusion that problems need to be dealt with and as long as they are being dealt with in a constructive way, emotional health will continue and good sex will continue, But once you deny your own boundaries and permit continued emotional abuse for the sake of a good romp ( and sex can feel like loving to a woman), well, I believe you may as well be sleeping with a stranger.I was sleeping with the enemy. Storms are meant to be weathered together, and I am not going to be abandoned out in the raging storm and have the skipper requesting permission to board for a few minutes only to leave without saving the ship. Yeah! Next marriage will be a whole one.

April 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commentergina

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