Recently, you published a letter from a married man complaining about his wife’s letting their two young children sleep in their marital bed with them. They’d gone from being a couple who didn’t have much sex to a nearly sexless one. You seemed to suggest that the guy bargain for sex from his wife: “Talk about how much sex you’d like, and how much she’s willing to provide, and work out a compromise.” My question is, “Why bother?” Since they’re married, it’s unlikely he’s a sex object or love object to her. It seems more likely that he’s just a trapped meal ticket. If that’s the case, he should get his wife to sign an OK for extramarital activity. Life is too short to put up with people who don’t appreciate you.
— Take My Advice
The extramarital sex treaty. Brilliant. A man need only ask his wife to sign on the dotted line, and she’ll start rummaging through her purse for her favorite pen. Before long, he’ll be stumbling through the door all skanko at 11:30 p.m., and she’ll look up from her Sudoku and chirp, “Did you have a nice night with the hookers, dear?”
Yes, life is too short to put up with someone who doesn’t appreciate you — until you and that someone say to each other, “Wouldn’t it be totally cute if we made little people who look just like us?!” Divorce eats children and only seems to be the step to take if the parents’ marriage is chronically and intensely ugly. In reviewing the body of research on divorce, Dr. Paul R. Amato found that children of divorced parents “score lower … on measures of academic success, conduct, psychological adjustment, self-concept, social competence and long-term health.” On the bright side, they’re usually able to play their parents against each other so they can get more sugary snacks and much cooler toys.
Of course, on a pure fairness level, you don’t get to be married to somebody and be all “I’m retiring from sexual activity” — not unless you answer “That’s nice, dear” to your spouse’s “I’m just running over to borrow a cup of sex from the lady next door.” Fairness aside, sending the husband out to shop elsewhere for nookie is a bad idea. Sex between people in a relationship isn’t just a day in naked Disneyland but a way they cleave to each other emotionally and even biochemically and maintain a relationship that goes deeper than a roommate situation with a lifetime lease.
Was I suggesting that they haggle over sex like it’s a scarf in a bazaar? Well, yes, but it sounds better when you call it “coming to a marital compromise.” By talking about how often he’d like to have sex and how often she’s willing to put out, they may stem the resentment that builds up when needs go ignored and find out whether there’s anything she needs that he isn’t providing. I wrote recently about Dr. Rosemary Basson’s breakthrough work on female sexual desire — how women in long-term relationships sometimes have to start fooling around for desire to come. Even if these two don’t know that, if they start scheduling sex dates, they’re likely to find out. In the process, they should develop conflict resolution skills beyond simply refusing to put up with anyone who doesn’t appreciate them. That idea’s great in concept, but take it to its inevitable conclusion and, well, who’s going to take care of the millions of children who get dropped off at the fire station with a bag lunch and a note?
Sex and the cellar
I’m 26, and I’m trying to start my own business as an events photographer. To save money, I’ve moved into my parents’ house. I have been dating some and get the feeling that girls aren’t so keen that I live with my parents. But then, part of me thinks, so what? I’m saving and doing the right thing.
— Basement Dweller
Living at home puts a certain crimp in sexytime. A woman can’t help but picture getting it on with you only to have your mom interrupt with “Hey, you kids, just lift your feet while I vacuum.” In this economy, moving in with your parents is somewhat more acceptable than it’s been, but 26 is kind of pushing it in many women’s eyes. Women look for a man to show potential — and not just the potential to mooch off his parents for the next five decades. You’ll improve your chances with the ladies if you present your current living situation as part of a serious business plan, which suggests that there’s light at the end of the basement, and not just from the furnace pilot. That’s right; you’re a man who’s going places. Just as soon as your mom pulls your laundry out of the dryer.
(c)2011, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com www.advicegoddess.com)
Read Amy Alkon’s book: I See Rude People: One woman’s battle to beat some manners into impolite society (McGraw-Hill, $16.95).