Friday, December 12, 2008

Let's Talk About It

Stealing a move from my homie Deacon Blue, I'm going to broach a topic that typically drives up the blog statistics.


Ooohwee, I can already feel it getting hot in here.

Actually, don't get your hopes up. Today we won't be discussing the best positions to use in the back of a pickup-truck, (those damn ridges in the truck bed are a beast on the back), instead I'd like to talk about a sexual marriage.

No, that's not an oxymoron although this story and this one might make you think differently.

Now I don't want to get into trouble, but those two articles really made me think about the state of marriage today. Sadly, several of the points raised in those pieces reverberated with me because I've seen them in my own relationship.

Marriage is a complicated dance. One wrong step can ruin the mood, and a string of missteps can leave you searching for a new partner. But, when two people learn each other's moves, it can an awe-inspiring thing.

New couples are typically warned that the three biggest obstacles between them and a successful marriage are money, family and sex. No matter how much two people love each other, those three issues will cause an amazing amount of heartache. And sex, which seems like an area of smooth sailing before you get married, is probably the trickiest issue.

As both of those articles point out, it's not that unusual for marriages to turn into "no-sex" zones. Outside pressures combined with the wide range of problems that arise from trying to meld with another human being can kill many married people's libidos. Particularly women.

That's right ladies, those articles seem to deal mainly with the ways your libidos can disappear once you say "I do." I have to say that I read with baited breath to find out what it is that causes y'all to lose your desire for loving. I don't want to alienate my female readers, but trying to understand a woman is like trying to appreciate George Bush's presidency.

What I discovered is what I always suspected. Today's society, despite its focus on all things sexual, is really not set up in a way to facilitate sex between married people. Our schedules are too busy, our lifestyles too extravagant and our children too important. It's an unfortunate byproduct of all the different movements that have attempted to establish equality in our society. Change often makes things more difficult, and marriage is no exception.

So, I'm curious, what do my readers, married and single, think are the best ways to maintain a healthy sex life when you're dealing with a crying baby, two working parents and vagaries of a relationship? How do you get it up or keep it wet, if you want to be a little vulgar. It's an open forum for advice because it's obvious that quite a few people out there need it.

(This will be my only new post until Monday or Tuesday of next week, so I'm counting on some good discussion.)



Anonymous said...

well, I dont think its fair for unmarried people to talk about sex in the context of marriage. Aside from the complication of legal issues, that couple has made that mental jump (well, should have) that divorce isnt an option.

Even me and my girlfriend, fact of the matter is, its very much an option for both of us to dip out when we feel it going stale whether it be the sex aint good or otherwise. for married couples that really aint the case.

But I will say this about relationships in general: if both parties are okay with the lack of sex no problem, the issue comes when shes wet and he's not hard or when he's hard and she's not wet. Relationship 101 (i.e. common sense) would or should issue a Creep Watch for the local area because conditions are favorable for infidelity to occur.

Ferocious Kitty said...

I've only read the Nehring article so far (I have Issues with Caitlin Flanagan), and it really affirms my experience in my current long distance relationship. The distance keeps things fresh, even though we both have kids. I agree too that couples with kids have to be purposeful about keeping an eye on each other because having kids can drain all the life and passion right out of your grown-up relationship if you don't vigilantly mind the intimacy store.

Ferocious Kitty said...

You're a miracle worker! You found an article in which Caitlin Flanagan wasn't outright bashing working woman. I'm actually mulling over some of her points. She still needs to caveat that she's writing primarily about the experience of white middle-class women and not "women" as a whole, though.

D C Cain said...

In the midst of living your day to day life you can NOT slack up on how you look around your mate. If you are looking real screwable (clean enough?) and he is too...then you WILL find the time and desire to get down to it.

For instance, I like to be comfortable in the house, but I won't just wear anything. I have to at least wear a NON FADED jogging suit that keeps the azz looking right for my husband as I'm moving through the house. I wear lip gloss at home. It's not hard to throw on some lip gloss at home! I threw out the non sexy underwear. You can wear comfortable sexy stuff. For me that is the the first step to keeping the fires lit--how we physically look. He keeps his hair cut, keeps something like a six pack, wears a nice sexy shirt and shorts when he's chillin in the crib. Hits my azz as he passes by in the kitchen, etc.

Little things count. When my husband and I do something as simple as watching a movie on the couch, I rest my legs on his or just give him a kiss on the neck for the hell of it. I think all the little things add up. We hug each other every morning and say "have a good day, baby" before we leave for work. We hug when we get home. You have to maintain the physical contact on a regular basis and not just touch when it's time to have SEX.

Also, I think you have to spend time flirting. You really do have to aim for that and just don't allow yourself to get caught up in the hum drumness of life. Do things solo, without the kids. THAT IS CRUCIAL. It does not make you a bad parent if the kids go to mama's for the WHOLE night.

And if all else fails, have a glass of wine, smoke a blunt, play cards together, laugh, and end up in the bed.

Anonymous said...

I've gone and corrupted you, Big Man. Shame on me.

Dealing with this a lot right now in my own home, primarily because there are big time money/bill issues (lost two key clients at the same time not that long ago, and replacing them is easier said than done). Mrs. Blue is the CFO of the family, she does most of the cooking (by choice) and she handles most of the day to day business of the home, even though she also works part-time. For my part, I do a lot of the work of keeping Little Girl Blue busy and I do my fair share of cleaning and I cook when I am allowed to do so.

But the end result is that while me, being typical male, is horny enough at least a couple times a week to do something wet and wild, the wife has neither the energy nor the libido these days.

We had some strategies that were working well for a while, though.

One was to spend at least 5 minutes of intimate time with each other each day. Didn't have to be anything as serious as necking, though it often was (it could also be as tame as cuddling). Typically, that 5 mins would last 10 or 15 minutes. It was good to make the connection. That's fallen by the wayside lately because even when the wife isn't feeling too frazzled, that's typically the time I'm stuck interviewing someone or meeting a deadline or the daycare is closed for some reason and the little girl is home. Which sucks. Big time.

I think looking decent around the house is a good idea. Again, not doing enough of that ourselves around here, often for very legit reasons, but it still hurts the situation. Looking generally presentable and "doable" even if you are actaully doing it, matters a lot.

If there's something you know your spouse finds sexy (a nibble on the neck, a foot rub, a pat on the ass, whatever), do it. At least every couple days if not a few times a day.

Be willing to give a "just for you" quickie. Blowjob, licking her out, handjob, frigging, whatever. Be willing, even if you feel like you're not in the mood for a full session of sex, to spend 10 minutes or so bringing your spouse off. It shows love and appreciation and takes away a lot of stress. Don't expect anything in return, but also don't be surprised if such things end up with you getting something you didn't ask for (in a good way).

Make dates. Whether a date night (if you have child care) or just grabbing lunch or breakfast when kid(s) are at daycare or school. Whatever you can get. Time together with no one else in the way and something to sip or eat while you're together.

Take one for the team. Sometimes, you just DON'T want to have sex, but it's been a while. If the other person clearly wants it, and it's been a while, just do it. Don't bitch or moan. Just do it. It might take a while to warm up, but if you love the person and you're pleasing that person, chances are that you will warm up at least a little. It might not be great sex, but it can still be good sex.

But whatever you do, if you're handing out sexual favors, even if you're viewing it as a chore in your mind, don't act like it's a chore. If you can't keep the attitude out of the situation, don't bother at all. Nothing kills sex for me faster than someone who essentially tells me, "I'm here. Just do it and get it over with." In fact, that just pisses me off, and when I do climax, I tend to have nothing but a sick, empty feeling to show for it.

Anonymous said...

I think being so keenly aware about the perpetual hypocrisy of Racism in America is a Gift and a Curse...

Anyhow your previous post on Uncle Thomas Clarence got me thinking about his skewed view on Affirmative Action on how it is not needed today in America. Unfortunately, more legions of people will join his fallable view on the issue pointing to the achievement of people like Brother Obama and yourself to state that racism is over in America. But they fail to note the other side of the equation on what is better know as "White Privilege." The article below makes this point:


The Mother of All Racial Preferences: Reflections on Affirmative Action for White Folks

By Tim Wise

Ask a fish what water is and you'll get no answer, and not only because fish can't speak. Even if they were capable of vocalizing a reply, they wouldn't have one for such a question. When water surrounds you every minute of the day, explaining what it is becomes impossible. It simply is. It's taken for granted.

So too with this thing we hear so much about called "racial preference." While many whites apparently are convinced that the notion originated with affirmative action programs, intended to expand opportunities for historically marginalized people of color, racial preference has actually had a long and very white history.

Affirmative action for whites was embodied in the abolition of European indentured servitude, which left black (and occasionally indigenous) slaves as the only unfree labor in the colonies that would become the U.S. Affirmative action for whites was the essence of the 1790 Naturalization Act, which allowed any European immigrant to become a full citizen, even while blacks, Asians, and American Indians could not. Affirmative action for whites was the guiding principle of segregation, Asian exclusion, and the theft of half of Mexico for the fulfillment of Manifest Destiny.

In recent history, affirmative action for whites motivated racially-restrictive housing policies that helped 15 million white families procure homes with FHA loans from the 1930s to the '60s, while people of color were mostly excluded from the same programs. In other words, on balance, white America is the biggest collective recipient of racial preference in history. Such preference has skewed our laws, shaped our public policy and helped create the glaring inequalities with which we still live.

White racial preference explains why white families, on average, have a net worth eleven times that of black families: a gap that remains substantial even when only comparing families of like size, composition, education and income status; and it also helps explain, at least in part, why a full-time black male worker in 2003 made less in real dollar terms than similar white men were earning in 1967. Such realities do not merely indicate the disadvantages faced by blacks, but indeed are evidence of the preferences afforded whites: the necessary flipside of discrimination.

Indeed, the value of preferences to whites over the years is so enormous that the current baby-boomer generation of whites is currently in the process of inheriting between $7-10 trillion in assets from their parents and grandparents: property handed down by those who were able to accumulate assets at a time when people of color couldn't. To place this in perspective, we should note that this amount of money is more than all the outstanding mortgage debt, all the credit card debt, all the savings account assets, all the money in IRA's and 401k retirement plans, all the annual profits for U.S. manufacturers, and our entire merchandise trade deficit combined.

Yet few whites think of our position as resulting from racial preference. Indeed, we pride ourselves on our hard work and ambition, as if we invented the concepts; as if we have worked harder than the folks who were forced to pick cotton and build levees for free; harder than the Latino immigrants who spend ten hours a day in fields picking strawberries or tomatoes; harder than the (mostly) women of color who clean up messy hotel rooms, or change bedpans in hospitals, or the (mostly) men of color who collect our garbage: a crucial service without which we would face not only unpleasant smells but the spread of disease.

We strike the pose of self-sufficiency while ignoring the advantages we have been afforded in every realm of activity: housing, education, employment, criminal justice, politics and business. We ignore that at every turn, our hard work has been met with access to an opportunity structure to which millions of others have been denied similar access. Privilege, to us, is like water to the fish: invisible precisely because we cannot imagine life without it.

It is that context that best explains the duplicity of the President's critique of affirmative action at the University of Michigan, during the recent court battle over so-called "racial preferences" at that institution. President Bush, himself a lifelong recipient of affirmative action -- the kind set-aside for the rich and mediocre -- proclaimed that the school's policies were unfair. Yet in doing so he not only showed a profound ignorance of the Michigan policy, but also made clear the inability of yet another white person to grasp the magnitude of white privilege still in operation; an inability sadly ratified by the Supreme Court when it ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the Michigan case, in June 2003.

To wit, the President, and ultimately the Supreme Court, attacked Michigan's policy of awarding twenty points (on a 150-point evaluation scale) to undergraduate applicants who were members of underrepresented minorities, which at U of M means blacks, Latinos and American Indians. To many whites such a "preference" was blatantly discriminatory. Yet what Bush and the Court failed to mention were the greater numbers of points awarded for other things, and which had the clear effect of preferencing whites to the exclusion of people of color.

For example, Michigan awarded twenty points to any student from a low-income background, regardless of race. Since those points could not be combined with those for minority status (in other words poor blacks don't get forty points), in effect this was a preference for poor whites. Then Michigan awarded sixteen points to students from the Upper Peninsula of the state: a rural and almost completely white area.

Of course both preferences were fair, based as they were on the recognition that economic status and geography (as with race) can have a profound effect on the quality of schooling that one receives, and that no one should be punished for such things that are beyond their control. But note that such preferences, though disproportionately awarded to whites, remained uncriticized throughout the litigation on this case, while preferences for people of color become the target for reactionary anger. Once again, white preference remained hidden because it wasn't called white preference, even if that was the effect.

But that's not all. Ten points were awarded under the Michigan plan to students who attended top high schools, and another eight points were given to students who took an especially demanding AP and Honors curriculum. As with points for those from the Upper Peninsula, these preferences may have been race-neutral in theory, but in practice they were anything but. Because of intense racial isolation (and Michigan's schools are the most segregated in America for blacks according to research by the Harvard Civil Rights Project), students of color will rarely attend the "best" schools, and on average, schools serving mostly black and Latino students offer only a third as many AP and honors courses as schools serving mostly whites. So even truly talented students of color would have been unable to access those extra points simply because of where they live, their economic status, and ultimately their race, which is intertwined with both.

Then up to twelve points were awarded for a student's SAT score, which is itself directly correlated with a student's socioeconomic status, which in turn is highly correlated with race in a way that favors whites and disadvantages most students of color.

Four more points were awarded to students with a parent who attended the U of M: a kind of affirmative action with which the President is intimately familiar, and which almost exclusively goes to whites.

In other words, Michigan was offering twenty "extra" points to the typical black, Latino or indigenous applicant, while offering various combinations worth up to 70 extra points for students who would almost all be white. But while the first of these were seen as examples of racial preferences, the second were not, hidden as they were behind the structure of social inequities that limit where people live, where they go to school, and the kinds of opportunities they have been afforded. White preferences, by being the result of the normal workings of a racist society, can remain out of sight and out of mind, while the power of the state is turned against the paltry preferences meant to offset them.

To recognize just how blind so many white Americans are to the workings of white privilege, one need only consider the oft-heard comment by whites that "if I had only been black I would have gotten into my first-choice college." Such a statement not only ignores the fact that whites are more likely than members of any group, even with affirmative action, to get into their first-choice school, but it also presumes, as anti-racist activist Paul Marcus explains, "that if these whites were black, everything else about their life would have remained the same: that it would have made no negative difference as to where they went to school, what their family income was, or anything else."

But this ability to believe that being black would have made no difference (other than a beneficial one when it came time for college), and that being white has made no positive difference, is rooted in privilege itself: the privilege of not having one's intelligence questioned by books like The Bell Curve, or one's culture attacked as dysfunctional by politicians and so-called scholars; the privilege of not having to worry about being viewed as "out of place" when driving, shopping, buying a home, or attending the University of Michigan; the privilege of not being denied an interview for a job because your name sounds "too black," as a recent study discovered happens often to African American job-seekers.

So long as those privileges remain firmly in place and the preferential treatment that flows from those privileges continues to work to the benefit of whites, all talk of ending affirmative action is not only premature but a slap in the face to those who have fought and died for equal opportunity.

Unknown said...

Do I get to talk since I am SERIOUSLY single? I don't know - but whenever I hear or read about marital sex/intimacy issues I think about the 'grass is greener' thing. Maybe this won't help at all, but I thought that telling you all some of the things I miss about being in a relationship might help...

Mostly it's physical contact and knowing that someone cares about me. My married female friends seem to have some of the same loneliness that I do. So married men:
1. Do everything Deacon Blue tells you. That man is the TRUTH.
2. Touch your wife during the day in a non sexual way. Hug her. Rub her shoulders. Hold her hand. Find ways to keep making a physical connection the way you did when you were first dating. Eventually it'll pay off in the bedroom, but studies have shown that physical contact reduces stress, and since stress can reduce sexual appetite...

And I know everyone is busy...but since when is a spouse too busy for a loving/flirty/sexy text message from the other spouse? Give her something to look forward to when she comes home.

One more thing - every married friend I have (and they all are) says that one of the sexiest things a man can do is take something off her plate around the house. Do some chore that she usually does - but do it RIGHT so she doesn't have to go back after you. Tell her to go take a bath or shower while you do the dishes and take out the trash... that's how Carmen and Simon got pregnant :-)

As for the things women should do? I don't know. But my best guess would be this: figure out how what makes your spouse feel loved (which is not necessarily what makes you feel loved) and then commit yourself to love them that way.

That's the best advice this single girl can offer.

Anonymous said...

Flirty messages...nice suggestion, WNG. Hadn't thought to mention it. Much of my wife's time (work or otherwise is spent at home). All of my time is because I'm fully self-employed. But I tend to be upstairs and she's downstairs, and I know it gets my motor revving when she teases me via IM on the computer. I don't know how she feels about my flirty/naughty/downright filthy sometimes messages do for her, but she hasn't been complaining so far.

Anonymous said...

Thanks I really liked that essay by Tim Wise' those were words I need to be able to say.

For the rest of it...Oh my God don't get has the awfullest effect on sex. Gotta keep trying....

Anonymous said...

That was supposed to say Thanks JC.

Anonymous said...

I suppose a lot of good advice was given: relationship development, setting the mood; affection, genuine attachment. I think those are good things upon which to focus.

As an advanced offering, I like to draw a lesson from the unschooling movement. This movement believes in self-directed education. When I had to switch gears 13 years ago to figure out a new manner of coupled connection, I made intimacy my hobby. I researched.

(And no, my research did not involve self-help books. I went straight to the source of psychological male desire neatly catalogued and demonstrated. So, I sat back, watched and took notes. Sometimes, I brought my research to my husband. We discussed and dissected it.)

My research period lasted three years. We haven't needed to do any more study since that time. And I learned a lot about what works and doesn't work. And we've had some great discussions along the way.

But, my attitude is that this is my primary hobby. It is far more satisfying than knitting or scrap-booking or making the house pretty.

So, we don't get out very often... but...well we've found an activity to do together which we both enjoy. And every time a babysitter cancels, we smile. One one hand there's the movies....on the otherhand...we can perfect my hobby.

This comment has been removed by the author.
This comment has been removed by the author.

Hello there!

I have NO intentions of having sex before marriage.

If a man is interested in marriage, then he will have to accept that the courtship will be no-sex and no-petting.

If he doesn't want to deal with that then he can step.

After the wedding rings are on, then he can install a trampoline in the bedroom, put a swing over the jacuzzi in the bathroom, nail a pair of hand cuffs on the bed post, or buy a leather whip and bra for me for Christmas....I don't care what he wants to do...once we are married, he can have all of the sex he can physically and mentally handle because wifey shall be in top shape to go the distance. *chuckles*


Christina Springer said...

That's a great attitude Lisa.

Anonymous said...

Well, Lisa, I DO hope that any decent suitor that comes your way will at least get to have some serious kissing/necking during courtship.

Relationships, after all, do need chemistry.

And as we all know from high school science, chemical reactions need some kind of catalyst.


Big Man said...

Yo, thanks to all of y'all for all the great comments and discussion. I had a guest the past few days and haven't been able to get involved in my blogging.

Anyway, these are some great suggestions. I particularly liked the reminders about physical contact. That's definitely something I forget since, as a man, it takes much less for me to "be in the mood." I wake up in the mood.

Christina, I can't figure out if your message was incredible freaky or not. It seemed like you were hinting at some sort of hobby that every man would appreciate, but you didn't come right out and say it. I like that, it leaves some mystery.
Oh yeah, here's some advice my pops once gave me. If you want your wife or women to look sexy, you should buy her the stuff you want her to wear. Just a thought.

Christina Springer said...

Nothing - all that - freaky. But, mystery is good. I guess what I was trying to say is that intimacy and sex are like any other skill set. First, you get the basics down. You learn about what it takes to create a trusting, mutually supportive, loving and committed relationship.

But, the second stage is something people often overlook. And that is the study of how to physically demonstrate those feelings in a relationship. It goes both ways. Men need learn about the emotional and physiological necessities of a woman. Same goes for women. Except - correct me if I am wrong - women seem to have a steeper physical learning curve. So, to unveil the mystery, women need to accept and seek out good "tutorials" about how to make "it" happen in the bedroom, kitchen, 1/2 bath, basement, or room farthest away from where the children are. Advanced study regarding technique is not often found in a book about the kama sutra.

And finally, the third stage. If you are successful, the positive reinforcement of practicing the fine art of intimacy becomes an incentive to seek it out more frequently. That's when it becomes a hobby.

Or what Lisa said.

Raving Black Lunatic