Talk about amazing experiences. My wife woke me the other morning with a "Happy Anniversary Dear" and then did exactly the same thing the next day. Exactly how this happened to occur is that the first time it was in Tokyo and the second time it was across the International Date Line in Los Angeles. So technically there were two days of celebrating nine years together... even though I didn't buy two presents. This came at about the same time one friend was off having an affair with a girl he'd met in a bar in Singapore and another friend called from Detroit to say her husband had just asked for a divorce. If you want to include Howard Stern's marriage of twenty plus years being on the skids, then I guess the national average is something like three out of four couples parting prior to death. So how does one account for such odds?
Perhaps the Sterns, Howard and Allison, should be taken as an example since they're a whole lot better known than me or my two friends. From what has been said, it would seem they fell in love during their 20's, got married and had two daughters. So far this is a fairly typical story. They built their lives together and, I would not doubt for a moment, had the greatest regard for each other. Anyone who has ever listened to Stern's daily radio broadcasts, and that's an enormous number of people, knows he is anything but secretive when it comes to his personal life. From his marital couplings to his masturbatory habits the guy seems completely candid when on the air. Indeed, it would be hard to imagine him having a good enough memory to be so very consistent and yet be making all that stuff up as he went along. Furthermore, I tend to believe that being sexually faithful, despite the many opportunities for dalliances that his celebrity status provides, was something he considered important. I know it's true that he benefited from listeners believing he was looking and not touching when all that firm flesh trooped through his studio (cutting him slack for being as frustrated as they were) but I still don't think he fooled around. So what went wrong? Nothing at all!
Marriage as practiced here and now is a sham; just another way of making people feel guilty and thus that much easier to manipulate. It is perfectly natural for humans to be attracted to other humans in a sexual way. It is then perfectly natural for them to get it on and get it off. Indeed, something like a million years of evolution is not to be set aside easily. Those couples that do stay together in the one-vagina-one-penis-50-years mode should hardly be taken as the gold standard for relationships. No matter how hot the initial coupling, it's not so hot as to not cool down in a few years.
One friend told me he has two kids, a station wagon and an enormous mortgage... when all he ever really wanted was to get laid. His life, he lamented over a beer, would be over before it began. That line about men leading lives of "quiet desperation" is more than just a line.
So why all that desperation? Let's look at another radio personality - Tom Leykis. Don't get me wrong. I like Leykis but he's way off base when he promotes no fooling around during marriage which is, perhaps, why he's been married four times. What he's really advocating is serial monogamy. If only he would understand that a night out for strange sex is as natural a desire as a night out drinking with the boys or shopping with the girls, his Leykis 101 Philosophy of Life would be a lot closer to the mark. My friend in Singapore (the one who met the girl in the bar) is having a great time but he'll pay. He's going to have to deal with one hysterical woman who will want to get married and another hysterical woman who will want to get divorced. "Do you love me?" and "Do you love her?" will be repeated ad nauseum when all the guy ever really wanted was to get laid. And my other friend in Detroit, the one whose husband is leaving, admitted to me that the sex has been almost nonexistent for the past ten years. That 'till death do us part line, it would seem, is really just another way of saying forsaking all sexual passion 'till death. I love my wife but I'm sorry, after nine years of marriage, a roll in the hay is about as exciting as watching Martha Stewart bake brownies. My honey agrees and we both marvel at - and are thankful for - the intense love we share; a love that is definitely not just for the sex. It started that way, all hot and heavy, but so does adolescent masturbation. Eventually, unless you're fixated, it simply ceases to thrill and delight as much as it once did. That's just the way it is - call it human nature.
But the 'till death admonition continues to confuse and torment couples. One in three men are now sexually dysfunctional and the number is up over forty percent for women. More than half of the marriages end in painful, expensive divorces. More than half of the wives and almost eighty percent of the husbands admit to cheating on their spouses at least once. Get with the program folks. Love everlasting has nothing to do with sex everlasting. You love lots of people with whom you'd never want to have sex and vice versa. The marriage councilors who advise sexed-out couples to buy crotch-less panties and try it in the back seat of their car are asking for an unbelievable suspension of disbelief. Personally, I would seriously question the mental workings of anyone for whom such Pollyanna advice actually worked.
The bottom line here is that while love and marriage may go together, love and sex may not. In fact, all the statistics tell us they usually don't. Our bodies are designed to produce some very powerful chemicals of passion and pleasure - phenylethylamine, oxytocin and an assortment of hormones to name just a few - when new sex presents itself. It's perfectly normal! Accept this one simple fact of life and even though your marriage may still not last 'till the end, at least that sense of quiet desperation won't be so much a part of it's latter years.
Dr Mason is a psychologist, radio talk show host, syndicated columnist and a Director of the Lifestyles Organization. He is a member of MENSA and a former comedy writer for Joan Rivers. Contact him directly with comments and/or questions at DrSBMason@aol.com