What is The Question, you ask?
Let’s start with some backstory!
The Origin Of The Question
My wife and I have been married for 39 years. Many of our friends also have long-term relationships, although some are on #2! Trust, respect, and intimacy are key factors in keeping a relationship strong. And intimacy–let’s call it sex for the purpose of this article knowing full well the multi-faceted nature of intimacy–is just as important for an individual’s mental and physical health as it is for a couple’s.
As we get older, there can be many reasons why sex becomes a problem in marriage. I want to rule out the obvious ones that don’t apply to The Question. Medical conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, neurological problems, and others can affect not only the ability but the desire for sexual activity. Mental health issues, like depression or anxiety can also affect sexual ability, but these can generally be treated.
In many instances, The Question is irrelevant. There are high rates of infidelity and divorce in American society for reasons known and unknown. But there are still many long-term relationships, whether marriages, partnerships, or cohabitations, and if these extend into the manopause/menopause years, sexual issues will inevitably arise.
The Question, though, arose from a not entirely uncommon scenario: loss of interest in sexual activity in the absence of an underlying medical condition. This has been called many names, including “frigid,” and has led to many a relationship disasters. And although it is more common in women than men, it is by no means exclusive to one gender.
So, in the absence of the aforementioned caveats, the question is:
If one person in a relationship decides that they do not WANT to have sex anymore, is it permissible for the other person to have intermittent sex outside the relationship to satisfy the biological urge?
I have asked many couples and individuals this question. I leave out the religious implications, because that brings up a plethora of other arguments that are not always practical in the real world!
In a purely anecdotal review, I found that about 75% of women said yes to The Question, providing it was purely for sexual gratification and not for finding an emotional replacement. They would be happiest if said trysts were paid for and safety precautions taken. That number was actually shocking to me. I would have expected more of the attitude I got from the remaining 25%, who argued in favor of masturbation and also concluded that “you married me for better or for worse,” suggesting that the man just has to shut the sexual urges down.
Even more interesting was when men were asked the same question about the woman in the relationship having a normal sexual desire instead of the man. The majority of the men said no, it’s not permissible for the woman to engage in sex outside the relationship.
There was a significant level of male bravado in the responses, including “a man would never lose his sexual desires” and “men can have sex without emotional attachments and women can’t.” Seems that this group agrees with the 25% of women who said no! Only a small percentage of men said it would be reasonable for their spouse to seek sex as defined above.
So, what do you think? Some might say The Question is stupid or unrealistic. It’s neither, in my opinion. But, it’s something to ponder, and there is no right answer. You might be able to answer it quickly, without hesitation. But think about this: what would your spouse say?
FYI, my wife said yes regarding me. I’m still mulling it over for her!
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