Erotic Love

In an excellent article in Salon,  author Esther Perel argues that marriage and family as they are formulated in American culture are not hothouses of erotic love.  Friendship, managing children and household needs, and a literal and figurative intrusion of kids into the parent’s bedroom, spells doom for excitement in the marital bed.

Not news to most of us, surely, yet I always appreciate an honest discussion of the struggle to find eroticism in monogamous-kid-filled marriages.  How does one account for the supposed sexual peak that occurs for most women in their mid- to late-30s and the concomitant decline in some men’s appetites?  Regardless of who wants what, when, and how, the issue boils down to managing differing levels of desire.

More than money, in-laws, and differing religious beliefs, sexual desire has always been at the core of most of my relationship conflicts.  And I don’t mean mild disagreement, either. All the loud door-slamming and yelling and crying has been committed by me during discussions of sex.  And these fights have usually occurred because I have a higher level of sexual desire –talk about feeling out of sync with the mainstream!  My first marriage more or less crashed and burned over this issue.

Assuming one is committed to staying within the bounds of monogamy, that one loves and desires one’s spouse and loves one’s children, what is one to do to rekindle erotic love, passion, and desire amidst the prosaic reality of laundry, dishes, vacuuming, and diapering?

Perel argues (and she seems a good authority, she’s been married over 20 years) that part of recapturing eroticism is to carve out a space that is kid and chore-free.  I can appreciate the idea that some of one’s house should be kid-free, but I don’t need to tell you (because you know) how totally off putting it is to be the little french waitress and have one of the kids yell out that they have an itchy bottom.  And yes, we can employ babysitters and run away to hotels far far away (which my hubs and I do occasionally), but I don’t want to have to spend $200 just to get my freak on.

What I’m talking about is something more revolutionary… imbuing the every day with the sparkle of the erotic.  And no, goddammit, I haven’t figured out how to do it yet.  But it can be done, I know it can.  Meanwhile, all I have is the bad late 80s album by Bruce to keep me company in my quest… 

Well it ain’t no secret
I’ve been around a time or two
Well I don’t know baby maybe you’ve been around too
Well there’s another dance
all you gotta do is say yes
And if you’re rough and ready for love
honey I’m tougher than the rest….


13 Responses to “Erotic Love”

  1. 1 Darci McGrath
    October 9, 2006 at 11:37 am

    This is a topic near and dear to my heart. With 2 teenagers in the house even disguised enuendos are picked up. How do you keep that going until you get your own pad again when all the birds have left the nest…that is the question. We smile a lot and sit really close to each other and yes have a lock on the door…but it still can be a chore.

  2. October 9, 2006 at 11:47 am

    Do you have my address? No. Let me send it to you.

    Pack up your stuff, come here for coffee and coversation, and let’s dish about this hot topic that is near and dear to MY heart as well. Imbuing the world around me with eroticism is difficult and if there’s a book to be read about it, I’ll all about the book.

    Great post. Anything on Salon.com is worth a read, though. I’m going to spend the rest of my day there now probably. So. Thanks a lot.

    There goes the eroticism in MY house for the day. šŸ˜‰

  3. October 9, 2006 at 11:52 am

    When you do figure out how to add the erotic into everyday life, please don’t forget to post about it! I know I could sure use any advice I can get!

  4. October 9, 2006 at 12:18 pm

    I barely remember what that is. For us it’s usually something like this: “Hey honey…. The kids are in bed.” Wink. Wink.

    Not exactly romantic, but if I wait too long after they go to sleep, I’ll be asleep too.

    My hub actually asked me if we could maybe have a glass of wine first, snuggle on the couch, talk or something. I think he’s a chick. šŸ˜‰

  5. October 9, 2006 at 2:19 pm

    I also think it is more difficult to talk about sex issues after you married. When you are single and dating, talking about sex is… sexy. Once you are together, it takes on more “meaning” about the relationship, which takes some of the “fun” out of it.

  6. October 9, 2006 at 4:15 pm

    I really don’t think there’s a good solution to this problem, especially when the kids are small. It’s just so restrictive. You can’t do some crazy fantasy thing in the living room with props as you say, because one of the kids will probably come out of their bedroom wanting a glass of water. I have read a bit of Perel’s book and am waiting to see if she comes up with any answers, but for the moment even the couple with an open marriage have a so-so sex life with each other.

  7. 7 MeL
    October 9, 2006 at 8:07 pm

    Oh the dirth of freaky freaky that comes after the babies… Most of the time, it’s the old “just too damn tired” excuse. Every now and again, though, the wild hare strikes and there is a week or so of unbridled, exuberant lovemaking. Followed by a few weeks of recovery, since necessarily this involves using up time that would normally be filled with heavy duty sleeping.

    Everything in life is a trade-off, isn’t it? And then, there is the unavoidable embarrassment of having your preschooler suddenly come upon a pair of handcuffs and some rather difficult-to-explain items of clothing. That’s always fun, too. “Yes, baby, sometimes mommy needs to dress up like she’s going to school…”

    But, alas, I fear I have said too too much….

  8. October 10, 2006 at 7:52 am

    OY! You know it’s bad when you’re child has a two-hour drop-off birthday party, and there’s no suggestion by either adult to make a mad dash home for a little “mommy & daddy time.”

    We need a solution, and we need one NOW! :O

  9. 9 jen
    October 10, 2006 at 8:41 am

    Grab asses randomly during the day…touch touch touch…whisper dirty little thangs in each others ears whilst cooking up dinner…flirt…kiss each other often and with passion (nothing too gross out but it’s OK to kiss in front of your kiddos…this way…they learn now to imbue passion into their lives when older)…fight about sex and then go make up…flirt…give a massage with no “goal” in mind…kiss…look each other in the eye…breathe…FLIRT…

  10. October 10, 2006 at 1:32 pm

    This is tough, trust me. Much more for a guy. I think a husband’s greatest fear about having kids is more about not having sex as often.

  11. October 12, 2006 at 6:12 am

    French maid’s uniform? That’d be a bitch to launder and iron. Now, SaranWrap – *that’s* disposable.

    Efficiency in all things, people.

  12. October 13, 2006 at 6:14 pm

    I can relate to the “I’m just too tired” thing. By 8 PM, I’m wiped out! šŸ˜¦ And my hubby’s overtures are more annoying than anything else.

    If anyone has any advice, I’d like to hear about it too.

    Annie šŸ˜‰

  13. October 22, 2006 at 5:47 pm

    How well do I feel your pain! It only takes one time of being busted by your child and pretending to be wrestling that the magic is GONE! How refreshing to know I am not alone! You may want to consider sending them to their grandparents’ house to visit and staying in! We have done that a few times and it is refreshing and quite affordable! I enjoyed your blog! Thanks!

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