Keeping the Erotic Charge in a Relationship

Monday, April 21st, 2014

A few weeks ago I read this article in the New York Times, “Does a More Equal Marriage Mean Less Sex?” Equality in the bedroom–could be the culprit in creating tremendously boring sex. There is a cultural belief and accepted “norm” that long term relationships eventually lose their erotic charge–but is this inevitable? Or is how we think about long term relationships killing the passion?

I want an equal marriage in terms of division of childcare, money and housework. For years I felt this also meant having politically correct sex with my spouse. I imagined that the only “proper sex” was respectfully gazing into my husband’s eyes, murmuring how much we loved each other then climaxing in unison.

But does this “politically correct” balance create hot sex?

For a feminist, exploring power roles in the bedroom—can seem all wrong. Haven’t we battled for equality? Isn’t it degrading to act out roles we’ve fought hard to eliminate? But forbidden roles and taboo content can be exciting to play with. When my husband is very masculine and dominant during sex—I love it. At first I was a little worried that dominant impulses made my man untrustworthy. There is a male version of the Madonna/whore diad: The good feminist man and the sexist bad boy—who can be pretty hot in bed.

But can we have a caveman during sex, and an evolved spouse post orgasm? This is a more complex relationship dynamic than our mothers or grandmothers had the luxury of exploring. It was culturally acceptable not too long ago for a man to be a big ole pig—everywhere. But who knew how fun it could be to have that same vintage pig in bed.

To create erotic charge, allow for these elements in the bedroom:

1) Compartmentalization (see above) he-man in the bedroom, equality minded feminist man in the kitchen (who can be guilt tripped when he doesn’t do the dishes).

2) Objectification Being objectified can be great. Forgetting that you’re a responsible wife, mother, executive and just being a bad girl.

3) Lowering the stakes Ever had a short term fling where the sex was steamy? Maybe this was because there was not much investment in the relationship. Marriage is high stakes. You don’t want to lose your spouse. But this pressure can take away the fun and spontaneity. Not every sexual interlude with your spouse can be the perfect politically correct expression of your union—nor should it be! Can you have quickies, make out sessions, groping in the bathroom, wrestling matches to resolve a fight—and allow sex to be playful, and filled with variety.

4) Passion Letting carnal pleasure rule allows for more passion. A man who’s an animal in bed—greedy, aggressive, urgently pleasing himself—can be fantastic. Now it goes without saying (but needs to be said) a man actually hurting a woman for real— is not okay. Have a “safe word” that creates a timeout to check in.

These four elements are part of what keeps the erotic charge in long term relationships. A husband who is equalitarian but masculine is a turn on. There are ways that the magic potion testosterone works differently that the blushing flower estrogen. Appreciating the difference—keeps the erotic charge.

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