by Em & Lo
Before all the married people out there take offense, we should note that we are both married, and happily so. We’re not curmudgeons; we already listed the 10 Best Things About Married Sex — and for the record, those 10 things were way easier to come up with! — but we believe firmly in looking at both sides of the picture (not in a Fox-News-climate-change-denier-“scientists” way, but in a realistic way). Also, the stuff below is just plain true, at least sometimes. In reality, though, there’s no contest: we’ll take married sex every time. So consider the list below a warning not about how bad married sex is, but about how bad it can get if you don’t pay a little attention.
1. It’s Sex with the Same Person… For the Rest of Your Life
We suppose we may as well get this one out of the way with first, seeing as, for many people, this is the only thing you need to know about married sex. Even if you’re in an open relationship and get to throw other people into the mix, you’re still sleeping with one person — your spouse — over and over and over again. All the chemistry and communication in the world can’t match the occasional boredom this will cause.
2. It’s Easy to Go on Autopilot
As we noted in our list of superlatives about married sex, marriage means having an advanced degree in each other’s bodies. It’s great to know each other’s sweet spots so well, but this also means that it’s all too easy to check out during sex and go on autopilot. You get lazy about paying attention to the way your partner’s body responds to something, and you get lazy about staying in the moment. Sure, it’s great not to have to concentrate so hard during sex, but it’s not so great when you find yourself thinking about what you’d like to eat for dinner.
3. You Rely On Old Routines
When you find something that works in bed, it’s easy to turn to it again and again and again. For example, if you’ve figured out how to have simultaneous orgasms in bed, then it takes a team effort to agree to try something else that might not have such a happy ending, at least not the first (or first 100) times. When you first start sleeping with someone, every sex session feels like an opportunity to learn more about your partner, but with married sex, it’s easy to plateau and not realize it (or simply not care).
4. You Put Off Trying New Things
Remember Scarlett O’Hara’s famous quote at the end of Gone with the Wind? Well, when you’re married, tomorrow is always another day. And you can find yourself putting things off endlessly because you figure, hey, we’ll be having sex for decades, there’ll be time later. Time later to try a new position, time later to try something kinky, time later to work on living out that fantasy together.
5. You Hold Old Grudges
The longer you’ve been with someone, the more things they’ve likely done over the years to annoy you. Perhaps it’s the way they spray the mirror with toothpaste every time they brush their teeth, or the way they load the dishwasher or the way they sneak glances at their phone during mealtimes. Big or small, these grudges can pop up when you least expect them — and being reminded of one of them right before — or even during sex — can seriously spoil the occasion.
6. You Know Each Other Too Well
We’re constantly saying that communication is the key to good sex, but the problem with all that communication is that it develops a real bond. Don’t get us wrong, bonding with your spouse is pretty awesome — that’s the essence of modern marriage, after all. But intimacy can be at odds with eroticism in the bedroom. Desire requires some kind of distance, which can mean that the closer you get to your partner, the harder it is to step back and truly desire them. We burp, we fart, we might even poop when the other person is in the room. We ask each other to check our bodies for tick bites, or apply ointment to a hard-to-reach mole that the dermatologist removed. Having someone around to check your butt crack for tick bites is one of the many advantages of marriage — who else is going to do that for you, after all? — but these things do tend to eat away at the mystery, which can lead to sex that feels companionable rather than steamy. Comfort sex like this, at the right time, can be just what the doctor ordered — but it’s hard to transition from comfort sex into, say, Japanese rope bondage or role-playing doctor and nurse. It’s too easy, in this mode, to resort to laughter rather than taking the kinky scenario seriously — you’ll be more likely to crack each other up than turn each other on. Of course, cracking each other up in bed is one of the benefits of married sex, but it’s nice to get kinky every now and then, too.
7. Everything Is a Quickie
If you can climax quickly together, sometimes it’s hard to see the point in taking the scenic route instead, especially when sex ends up at the very bottom of your to-do list — after taking the kids to dance class, packing their school lunches, watching some awesome new show on Netflix, etc, etc. So the quickie ends up becoming your new baseline. Which can sometimes feel like you’re nothing more than a human masturbatory aid for your spouse.
8. You Have No New Material
Unless you commit to learning new things together or decide to open your marriage, once you stop sleeping with other people, there are no new partners to bring new ideas to the table (or, rather, to the bedroom). So, your repertoire is now permanently limited to the things you two knew when you first met.
9. You’re Not Always Particularly Attracted to Each Other
It’s simply not possible to be hot and heavy for your partner, every day, til death (or divorce) do you part. Attraction between spouses waxes and wanes over the years, and this is totally normal. You might find yourself stuck for months in one of these valleys and wondering if you’ll ever desire your partner again — and then, suddenly, you do. But when you’re stuck there, having sex with your mate can feel a lot like homework (or worse).
10. You Take the Sex for Granted
One of the great things about getting married is that you’ll never again have to stay out ’til three a.m. drinking vodka-Red Bulls and hoping that your creative dance moves will get you laid. Sex is right there waiting for you two, even when you’re both sitting on the couch in sweats. Besides, the level of obsessive primping and polishing you do at the beginning of a relationship cannot realistically be maintained 24/7 over a lifetime together, when kids/illness/aging happens. So, it’s easy to take married sex for granted and stop trying to impress each other, which only exacerbates the lack of mystery. And, of course, the more often you take married sex for granted, the more likely you are to turn around one day and find yourself suddenly no longer able to take it for granted after all.