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Man’s Marriage Problems Spark Thoughts About Monogamy

The other day, Salon ran an article about a man who wants to explore sexually, but he claimed his wife was at a different sexual stage than him. He wrote about problems this has caused in his relationship:

In my marriage, we have an ebb and flow in a pretty consistent fashion. Inside I begin to build up a large amount of sexual tension that is craving to be released in a manner that is not easily obtainable. I begin to push for something that will amount to that release and when it doesn’t happen it’s like sticking a cork in a volcano. I will spend a few days getting edgier and edgier until finally there is some blown-out-of-proportion conversation that ends up with everyone feeling inadequate and generally bad. We will then promise to work on it and things will go well for a few months until life gets in the way and the cycle starts again.

I don’t necessarily disagree with the advice that was given. Most of it was about being clear about what he wants, and effectively communicating that with his wife:

So this is funny: You’ve written such a smart, interesting and lengthy email, but I have no idea what you actually want. I see only amorphous sexual wanting. You don’t list a particular desire, like wanting to have more sex or to explore a specific kink. Instead, I’m left trying to read in between the lines in search of what’s missing from your sex life. […]

If you use the same abstract language when talking to her about what you feel is missing, it’s very possible that she is picturing a different goal than you are. Your strap-on fantasy might be her dream of bubble bath cuddles — or vice versa. There’s a tendency to expect our partners to know what we want, to intuit what we mean when we say, “Let’s explore” or “Let’s get kinky!” In part, that’s because the idea of our partner wanting exactly what we want is a compelling fantasy, right? But it’s also just damn hard to talk about these things. You gotta do it, though.

What I realized (again) when reading this piece was how monogamy and marriage, the way it’s thought of in our culture, is a little absurd. Or almost impossible. I mean, you have to find ONE PERSON who is a match financially, religiously, sexually and more, for life. That’s a tall order. And it’s no wonder divorce rates are so high and non-traditional relationships are becoming more common. In this case, it may very well be that the couple is miscommunicating. But maybe they ARE at different sexual stages, like the writer suggests. That’s entirely possible. He also suggests his wife is afraid of where her sexual desires lead, while he is not. So, maybe they have differences in sexual morality.



About Jen

Have been a jack of all trades. I'm a former philosopher who specialized in ethics and political philosophy. I'm a sex positive feminist.

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