How to Pick a Lover

Posts tagged ‘sexualtiy’

A Deal Breaker: The Sexless Marriage

Living with impotence is like sleeping in a shroud.
—Jadah Vaughn

In discussing why husbands stray, it is common to observe that they are looking for something they need which they do not get at home. One hears homilies such as “nobody encourages adultery more than a wife who consistently refuses her own husband’s advances.” While this may well be true, it is only one side of the coin. Worse than a husband who is sexually incompetent or sexually apathetic is one who has become impotent.

A great deal of impotence, perhaps most of it, is psychogenic in nature. That is, it does not occur because of illness or hormone deficiency but because of depression or some other negative state of mind. It may relate to a loss of self-esteem due to business failure or to the aging process or to a midlife crisis. Fortunately, most impotence that is psychogenic can now be easily overcome with Viagra or Cialis.

Marlboro warning impotence

Marlboro warning impotence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Often, however, impotence relates directly to unsatisfactory and unresolved dynamics between the husband and wife. In these circumstances, it is not very useful to tell the wife not to take it personally. It is personal. A sexless marriage may be especially galling to the wife whose husband is impotent with her but who, under her suspicious and watchful eye, appears to be quite potent with other women, which may very well be the case. Impotence may be only an occasional occurrence; even when it happens frequently, it is not usually a permanent condition. In the meantime, however, the disruptive effects for a particular couple may be pervasive enough to permanently affect their relationship.

Almost all couples fight, and some fights are worse than others. After apparently irretrievable things have been said and done, being able to have sex (which under those circumstances can hardly be called making love) does not mean that everything is restored to where it was: it only means that restoration may still be possible. The erotic communication does not solve the problem; but it does keep open, at least, some avenue of communication. If the sexuality itself can be gratifying, the bond of emotional rapport is strengthened, and the reassurance of your own attractiveness is maintained. But when a couple can no longer depend on or use sexuality as a palliative to their conflicts, then the marriage is indeed in big trouble.

Impotence breeds bitterness and insecurity. The wife may need reassurance that she is in fact still attractive and feels quite justified in seeking sex elsewhere. The rejecting and frigid wife triggers much the same reaction in her husband. If neither husband nor wife is particularly sexually oriented, then perhaps the two of them can disregard their impasse and settle for mutual apathy. Refusal to make love is something else. The wife who is bored stiff ends with a husband who is bored limp.

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Brothers and Sisters: The Last Taboo

The incidence of incest is much higher than we thought, and its consequences are much less pernicious.
—Simon Van Velikoff, sexologist

You can learn what is really taboo by looking for those things that nobody jokes about. There are endless raunchy jokes about premarital sex, about adultery, about homosexuality. There are comparatively few about incest. Only two jokes are in common circulation. One defines an Appalachian virgin as “any girl under six who can run faster than her brother,” which may be more of a comment on the fragility of virginity than about brother-sister incest. The other defines incest as “the game the whole family can play.” Most of the books of jokes or quotations do not even mention it as part of the folklore. It is the last taboo.

Lemon Incest

Lemon Incest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although there is no one universal incest taboo, some kind of prohibition against some kind of incestuous behavior is found in almost all societies. The most stringent taboos are against mother-son incest, followed by father-daughter relationships. The emotional saliency of mores and laws prohibiting these kinds of relationships has two sources: in part, they stem from the fact of incest per se; and in part, they stem from norms against the sexual involvement of any adult with any child.

There are many theories of the origin of incest taboos. One important element in their perpetuation is the perception that a child born of a union between persons in too close a blood relation to each other would have an unfortunate genetic structure and would run a higher than average risk of being deformed or retarded or at least of having some kind of congenital defect.

Taboos about incest are beginning to change. One source of change is more effective birth control so that unfortunate genetic consequences can be prevented. A second source of change is the changing nature of the family. As long as a man and a woman married once and only once, it was very clear who was related to whom. Biological parenthood coincided with legal parenthood; and that, in turn, coincided with social parenthood as manifested by living together and by assuming the roles of mother and father, son and daughter.

However, with today’s high rates of divorce and remarriage, who is related to whom and why is no longer so clear. Suppose a woman is married and has a daughter and then remarries a man who has custody of his son by his first marriage. If the remarried couple then has a child together, we can imagine a family of five persons. The three children grow up together as if they were siblings, but there is a girl who lives with a man who acts like a father but is biologically unrelated; a boy who lives with a woman who acts like a mother but is biologically unrelated; and a boy and girl who
seem like brother and sister but are genetically unrelated and have a half sister in common.

This kind of hypothetical family can become even more complex when you add in such ordinary possibilities as children who are adopted and parents who marry more than twice. It is made more ambiguous when such unusual arrangements are made when the children involved are no longer babies but are becoming miniature adults. If boys and girls have been raised apart for some time, they do not necessarily feel like brother and sister just because their parents marry. If a man remarries a much younger woman, his son does not necessarily feel that the new wife, who is close to him in age, is exactly like a mother.

What all this means is that what used to be an absolute and taken-forgranted taboo that clearly designated certain people ineligible as lovers has now become a relative taboo open to interpretation in each new and unique situation.

The kind of incestuous relationship which is least objectionable is that between brother and sister who are approximate age mates. Some research on incest suggests that, perhaps, one in ten of all people have, at some time in their lives, had sexual intercourse with at least one sibling on a least one occasion.

Ask yourself: Who do you love and why? And is one of the young and handsome and affectionate men who you love your own brother? Philosophers using quill pens in silent rooms readily draw the line between Agape, which is spiritual or platonic love, and Eros, which is sexual love. It is not so clear in the real world of the flesh and the psyche.

You cannot marry flesh of your flesh for many good and sound reasons, nor should you have children with them for other reasons that are good and sound. But to love them, that is something else. And if on occasion that love is expressed as men and women tend to express it, then lie down in silence and discretion.

In some cultures, opposite sex twins are allowed to become lovers because it is believed that they have already been intimate in the womb. How could two people be more intimate than that? Brothers and sisters of the ordinary
kind do not have that much in common, but they have been sharing many of life’s circumstances for years. They may understand each other exceptionally well in that they completely relate to one another through their shared background and upbringing. The brother-sister love may be the ultimate kind of self-love in that each sees in the other a reflection of his or her own eyes and features and personality.

A liaison between a bother and a sister is not to be advised as the best choice of a lover relationship—but neither is it necessarily as traumatic or as unfortunate as is commonly believed.

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