For those going through a divorce; you didn’t ‘fail’ as a couple, you were set up to fail by society’s unrealistic expectations.
In a time, long before we began fetishising weddings and relationships on social media, marriage had nothing to do with having a ‘sex life’ in contemporary terms.
Married couples had sex, but mainly to create offspring to carry on the family name and property ownership line, not because they found each other desirably hot.
Somewhere during the last few decades however, we have taken marriage and turned it from a very practical arrangement, into a highly romantic one. In her book The Meaning of Wife writer Anne Kingston describes how an orator named Demosthene from the fourth century B.C, categorised the married wife’s one and only role.
“As he (Demosthene) put it, ‘We have mistresses for our enjoyment, concubines to serve our person and wives for the bearing of legitimate offspring.’ By the end of the twentieth century, the wife was expected to be omnisexual – to stimulate, to serve and to bear children.”
Modern marriage, as portrayed by newlywed celebrities or on aspirational Instagram profiles, might seem like a blissful happy state, where great sex and companionship combine forever in a perfect package. But trying to create this ‘happily ever after’ mirage with one person, now that we are living longer than ever, is incredibly difficult, if not impossible. For women in particular, being a ‘wife’ as Kingston writes, is a heavily loaded term that can impact on how we see ourselves as individual, sexual beings.
Statistics from the American Psychological Association show that around 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, with one of the most common reasons for separation cited as infidelity. Yet so many of us still insist on committing our minds and bodies to one person in marriage: why?
When we get together with a new partner, those first few wonderful months and sometimes years of a relationship, often referred to as the ‘limerance phase’, are a lot of fun and for most, include plenty of hot sex.
Fast forward through the honeymoon period however, to the daily pressures of modern adulthood and having great sex is not the first thing that comes to mind at the end of another chore-filled day.
According to philosopher and writer Alain de Botton, it is not that we don’t think about sex enough, it is that we don’t think about it in the right way when it comes to sex as part of married life. In a talk about sex and relationships for The School of Life, de Botton says: “The person we try to do too much with, such as; put the bins (trash) out, raise the children, do the accounts or decorate the interior of our house; is also the person we choose to have sex with. When we are busy, sex is often the thing that takes a hit first.”