A Reader Participation Post
Q: I struggle with being attracted to my spouse. When we met, it was his kindness, compassion, helpful nature, intelligence, and values that I fell in love with. We also had so much fun together. Even two kids and 10 years later, we generally get along and have a good marriage. I have never thought he was particularly handsome but, in the beginning, that didn’t matter to me. That said, because I’ve never been very attracted to him, sex has been difficult since day one. Sometimes I think he deserves better–to be with someone who desires him sexually. And I often have felt really sad at the prospect that I will never be with someone who I desire in that way. Am I being shallow? How important is attraction? Is it a ‘make it or break it’ part of a marriage?
– I Wish I Needed a Cold Shower
Okay readers, what do you have to say about I Wish’s predicament? Here’s my take. I have a theory (just a completely unproven theory, mind you) that you can’t get everything you desire out of marriage. If the guy knocks your socks off in bed, chances are he’ll make your skin crawl in other ways. A guy who is a great provider and father (and kind and loving and all of those other super positive things) might lack a certain charisma and sensuality in the bedroom.
Again, it’s just a theory. I invite any reader who managed to find the perfect mate – sexy, compassionate, kind, and all of the rest—to prove me wrong. I won’t be offended.
But it’s because of this theory that I sometimes understand why, in Europe, it is somewhat commonplace for married folks to take on a lover. The lover fills the desire for passion. The spouse fills the desire for just about everything else. I’m not saying that this is the way to go or that I don’t believe in monogamy (I do very much). I’m just saying that I understand it.
All of that said, you can definitely take steps to improve your sex life so that it will no longer be difficult. Step 1 would be meeting with a sex therapist and laying it all out on the table. Also, read everything you can about sexual techniques. Some of the art of getting your socks knocked off has everything to do with technique. You can teach each other how to be better lovers. It just takes an open mind and some practice.
I also highly suggest taking yourself out of your sexual comfort zone. A little mystery and adventure would do you well. Case in point: there’s a study out there somewhere that found that women felt more attracted to a man after riding a roller coaster with him than before. I’m not saying that you need to ride a roller coaster every time you want to have sex, but be creative. Maybe you leave the blinds open. Maybe you do it in the laundry room. Maybe you dress up like cat woman. Maybe you handcuff him to the bed. You get the idea.
Finally, I’ve found that the more I’ve been able to share my quirky secret inner self with my husband, the more attracted to him I’ve become. It’s a priceless feeling to know that someone “gets” you, despite everything he knows about you. Because I feel so close to my husband emotionally, I want to make love to him. This wanting isn’t necessarily the same thing as that lusty attraction that young couples feel. It’s different. It’s more of an honoring. It’s my way of saying, “Thank you for being in my life. You so deserve to have your socks knocked off. It’s my pleasure to make you happy.” To create a deeper emotional connection, tell him about those skeletons in your closet. Reveal those deep dark secrets that, until now, you’ve been too ashamed to talk about. You just might find that it generates a sexual spark that leads you both to the bedroom.
Okay readers, that’s how I see the situation. How about you? And, as always, I encourage all viewpoints—no matter how divergent. But I do not encourage nastiness and in-fighting. So be helpful, be you, and be kind.
A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.