April 16, 2008

The Sex-Starved Wife

sex-starved wife.jpg

On the one hand, you have articles in the Economist saying people are spending less time at work and more at home, on the other hand Time writes about the sex-starved wife.  If they're both home more and at work less, why aren't they naked?

The answer isn't porn.

Sex is a good proxy for a lot of things.  The Time article offers a number of explanations for why a man might have a lower libido than his wife, but not the correct one: narcissism.  In women, narcissism manifests itself as a greater libido, and in men, a lesser one.

You might think this is backwards, but it isn't.  The wife is more involved with every part of the relationship-- the money, the jobs-- his and hers-- the troubles, everything-- that the man has no way to construct an artificial identity she'd believe.  He can't pretend he's anything-- suave, a major force at work, a successful investor, whatever-- because she knows his reality in text message speed.  She talks to her husband not once, but four or five times a day.  What's he going to say she doesn't already know?  Even legitimate successes are subdued because they are not at all surprises.

Here's the mistake: women say, "but I get turned on by him anyway, he doesn't have to impress me, he has me."  And my unscientific poll of... some... women suggests they are more sexually open and experimental than ever.  So what's wrong?  And so maybe the wife thinks she's not hot enough?  And catchers his glances at the waitress, the porn on the computer.

Well, the problem with his libido isn't how hot she is.   He's a narcissist: the problem is his libido is that it depends on how hot he is.

It's what women used to go through.  He looks in the mirror, sees a gut-- he doesn't feel sexy, he can't imagine she would find him sexy, so the libido falls.  In the past he could at least draw confidence from the fact that he has a good job; but now he doesn't have a "good " job, it's an okay job, one that pays the bills, but not something that you can build an identity with.  And anyway she has one just as good.  What's his appeal?

The woman, by contrast, might actually feel better about her deteriorating body because she's attained value in other ways; and so she figures, "we are aging together."  A narcissist does not want to hear that, ever.  He can still penetrate you if you become old, fat and ugly; he can't do it if he becomes old, fat and ugly. 

It's a double whammy of feeling emasculated, while his narcissistic personality structure demands that he be hyper-male, ideal male.  He can't attain it.  So he thinks you see him as less than masculine.  So he doesn't bother with you.

So the wife asks, "is he picturing himself with other women when he has sex with me?"  No; he's picturing someone else with other women when he does you.  It's masturbation.  It's not sexy if it's his bloated body underneath Sports Illustrated's Marisa Miller.

It's what the relatively recent fascination with MILFs is all about.  The fantasy isn't that your wife is with another man; the fantasy is that your wife is hot enough that another man would want her.  But this fantasy has nothing to do with how hot your wife actually is, it's about your identity: I'm so great that such a woman would want me.

Consider the cover of the book, The Sex-Starved Wife.  She's not starved because she's ugly.  Get it?

And so, to the diversions.  If you're married and your husband plays WoW, forget it, he's lost to you.  He's playing it because it rewards him with the kind of validation only successful daytrading might give him (and it won't.)  The online porn; the glances at the younger women around him.  It's not (just) that he finds them attractive: their real appeal is that they do not know him, and with them he could be the man he thinks he should be because they wouldn't know it's an invented identity.  And the younger and younger ages of the women isn't about pedophilia-- he's just unconsciously dutch auctioning in on the age naive enough to believe his created identity.  He starts at 30, goes to 20, maybe 18, then 16...?

Interestingly, articles about the sex starved wife are in the current environment of declining, not rising, divorce rates.  For a number of reasons, couples are bonded together more tightly than before.  Divorce is somehow out of the range of options; commitment means something again.   Parents spend more time together and with their kids.  Sounds great.  Still: no nakedness.

They are staying together, but they are less emotionally connected than ever.  Narcissists cannot connect.

Let me be clear that I am not using "narcissism" as a pejorative term, I'm just describing a personality structure and its consequences. 

By the way, don't think you're not a narcissist because you're 30 and having sex every day; the involution, the self-absorption gets unmasked as natural aging slows you down.

And so, too, kids, the saddest generation of the past 100 years.  Why?  Because even though Dad is around more than any other generation, he is less emotionally involved.  Sure, he's home five hours a day; but three of them he's irritable, short, or outright yelling at them.  Kids don't think, "what the hell is wrong with Dad?  He should get himself a drink."  They think, "oh my God, I must suck.  I'm going to get a drink."  Alcohol use among teens is going to rise substantially, you heard it hear first, because alcohol is the drug of the lonely surrounded by everyone.

Oh, you want a solution?  Here it is: have sex.  Even if you're not in the mood.   It seems like strange advice-- force yourself to have sex-- but it's the correct advice.  The problem is unrealistic expectations of yourself, sex, marriage, etc.  Instead of fantasizing, pretending, teasing, silly text messages that come to nothing, whatever, just do it.  If nothing else-- and this is nearly unimaginable-- you will both feel better that you did it, that there's nothing wrong with your marriage.  

"But I'm tired."  Jesus Christ, have a shot of rum, and get to the penetration.


More: what happens to boys when girls are too hot, and A Quick Word On Porn's Effect On Your Penis