Friday, September 2, 2016

A Divergence On Matters Sexual

     First, for those who’ve been asking: Yes I have stopped prefixing my shorter pieces here with “Quickies.” It came to seem pointless. Second, for general information: Yes, I expect to produce more short pieces in the foreseeable future, as the number of things I find comment-worthy has recently increased substantially. Now, on to the main event.

     Today, the worthy Ace of Spades declaims on the phenomenon of freely available porn and its influence on our sex lives. Ace is his own man and his own thinker, so it should come as little surprise that he has some off-axis thoughts on the matter. I’m in agreement with some, but in one particular I must register a quibble:

     Any married feller knows how hard it can be to get a wife (especially a working wife) into the mood for sex. And then the guy decides he doesn't feel like putting that much work into it, and a sexual chill descends. Sex doesn't stop when the woman stops making it easy; sex stops when the man stops asking at all.

     There’s some truth to this, but it’s incomplete. It’s presented without the causal foundation that really matters. And no, it doesn’t have a direct application to porn. Rather, it’s about the duties, responsibilities, and expectations that pertain to the married state. These things have special significance for those of us who regard marriage as a life commitment.

     Why does any man want sex with his spouse? More to the point, why would he stop wanting it, or stop wanting it enough to “do the work?” A number of possible reasons come to mind:

  • His spouse has become physically unattractive.
  • His spouse has become emotionally unattractive (e.g., bitterness and resentment have polluted the relationship).
  • He has suffered a physical ailment that makes sex painful or hazardous.
  • His spouse has suffered a physical ailment that makes sex painful or hazardous.
  • Sex with his spouse no longer fulfills his expectations.
  • He has lost the required desire and / or vitality.
  • She has lost the required desire, and has let him know it.

     There may be other reasons, as well.

     The decline of vitality that comes with age, pain, the diminution of physical attractiveness and libido, and the mushrooming of responsibilities that many of us experience as we grow older certainly matter. And there is some truth to the assertion that porn has greatly influenced our expectations of sex and its fulfillments. But the changes to our sense of the responsibilities that attach to marriage are seldom addressed.

     The sexual gratification of each partner by the other is not merely an opportunity to be exploited or not as one sees fit; it’s a responsibility of each spouse to the other and to the marriage itself. That concept, at one time universally understood, has fallen into obscurity with the rise of the “self-esteem” cult and the demise of the premise of marital loyalty.

     The red thread running through the matter deserves exploration.

     Do my Gentle Readers remember the “Me Generation?” You might need to be on the older side. It was a meme of the Seventies, when obnoxious excess was flowing from virtually every spigot in American culture. The central idea was a toxic variety of individualism: the notion that one should do whatever one chooses to do solely for oneself. It provided an accelerant to heedless promiscuity and marital instability, which surged threateningly as the decade neared its end.

     Many commentators are in the habit of blaming “The Pill” – i.e., cheap, easy contraception – for the explosion of sexual indulgence and its dismissal of the norms of previous eras. While that was surely a stone in the foundation, there were others of equal or greater importance. One of them helps greatly to explain the sexual difficulties being experienced by contemporary married men, especially men whose wives have passed through menopause. In brief, it’s this:

If she sees sex as something she does solely for herself, then when her physical desire wanes, for whatever reason, she will regard her husband’s desire for her as of no importance.

     It could hardly be more obvious. Sexual self-centeredness ignores the appreciation of sex’s role in binding the couple together and, as time passes, reinforcing the bond. Indeed, the bonding aspect increases in importance as carnal desire fades as a motivator. This is the case even as sexual contacts diminish in frequency and orgasmic intensity.

     But wait: there’s more! Should she make it plain to him that she no longer desires him, he will be inclined to view whatever amount of effort it requires to prepare for, initiate, and consummate sex as wasted. For his desire for her is in large measure a consequence of his desire that she desire him. A man sincerely devoted to his wife desires her for more than the pleasure available from her loins. He wants to gratify his woman, to make her happy, and to know that he has done so.

     Contemporary American women generally fail to grasp this, but then, contemporary American women are among the most coddled, overindulged, generally spoiled creatures the human race has ever produced. One spate of what passes for “women’s rights” blather today should be sufficient proof.

     Much of the inclination to stray (to say nothing of the actual adultery) indulged by today’s married men stands thus explained.

     When wives regarded their husbands as more than just instruments for the wives’ happiness, comfort, and pleasure, this problem was far less frequent. Other phenomena such as the “practice marriage” and the “birth dearth” are also explained in part. However, it cannot be separated from the wider cultural degeneration Americans have experienced, so much of which arises from the dismissal of community as an important ingredient in our lives.

     Community – broadly speaking concern for and involvement with one’s neighbors – is the most important of all reinforcers of norms. Indeed, a norm cannot exist without a reinforcing community. When marriage was both the entry point to and the adhesive that bound an American community, the failure of a marriage was regarded as a failure of the individuals involved. They were deemed to have failed one another and the community in an important way. Parents told their children to regard them in that light.

     In my estimation, porn as a negative influence on the sex lives of Americans is of considerably less importance.

     I could go on from here. I could cite any number of “fulfillment gurus.” I could talk about the pernicious effects of “no-fault” divorce. I could ring in the “same sex marriage” movement and demonstrate its negative impact on both marital stability and on fertility. But I trust the point has been made.

     How do you see your spouse, Gentle Reader? As one to whom you’re bound by love and a sense of mutual responsibility, or as an occasionally useful adjunct to your pursuit of your personal desires?


Anonymous said...

I have seen all this in the church, and more so; when, after 30 years, my wife left me for a younger man. I marriage was not perfect - there is no such thing. Even after the final decree last November, she did not move out until July this year, knowing well that despite everything; here with me was her security. Many have counseled I should move on; even she has said "we're divorced, I'm not your wife any more." Yes, I've seen the paperwork, I know what the state says. But, years ago, I stood before family, friends, and God; and I entered into a covenant between my Lord, and my wife - and said "til death do us part". I don't see, nor have I heard from the Lord, that the covenant has an exit clause. So, I pray. The fall of western society and civilization began when we turned our back on God. And, He is gracious enough to tell us the way back..."if My people, who are called by My Name; will turn from their sin...

Anonymous said...

Hhhmm-almost too much information for one who has several times been through the no fault divorce regime currently operating in most Western countries and added to which is the subliminal thought processes of the family law judiciary that it must be the man's fault. My advice to my offspring both male and female is don't get married and if you do don't get divorced.

Anonymous said...

I truly believe the Bible has an answer for all of our problems. The issue is, are we willing to listen to God's solutions. First we must admit that God created marriage, and therefore, God understands marriage and sexual relations. How many times have you heard a pastor speak on 1st Corinthians? I suspect never, in 65 years of sitting in church, I have never heard a single word spoken on the chapter. The two most difficult issues for a married couple is sex and money. If both husband and wife wholeheartedly followed 1st Corinthians chapter 7, I suspect their sexual issues would go away. God is right all of the time and all of the time God is right.