Earlier this week, I saw a Buzzfeed quiz that aimed to help the taker decide whether or not to spend Valentine’s Day with his or her significant other. Useful or useless?
It seems like there are posts on the Internet designed to mock our every move and make us second-guess every decision.
On Thursday, the New York Times Magazine published the appropriately titled article, “Does a More Equal Marriage Mean Less Sex?” A subtle title like this immediately lets me know that everything I believe about marriage is soon to be challenged.
The article refers to a study from the American Sociological Review that concluded that couples tend to have less sex, and less-exciting sex at that, when men take on the kinds of chores that are usually relegated to women.
And we’re off.
“No matter how much sink-scrubbing and grocery-shopping the husband does, no matter how well husband and wife communicate with each other, no matter how sensitive they are to each other’s emotions and work schedules, the wife does not find her husband more sexually exciting, even if she feels both closer to and happier with him,” said author Lori Gottlieb.
This sentiment, and the following accounts from married couples, proved to be thoroughly disturbing. The narratives were meant to reinforce the initial thesis, that equality in a marriage proves lackluster in the bedroom; however, their words merely came off as foolish and self-serving.
“It’s not superhot all the time, but it’s really nice,” said one husband of his sex life. “I’m attracted to her, and I like being with her, and I’m very happy with our sex life.”
The main issue I take with this article is the extreme importance placed on gender norms in the first place; why must the de-masculinization and feminization of men be the reason for a perceived “decline” in sexual activity?
It seems to me that scrutinizing the individual “roles” that husband and wife are meant to play is really what’s to blame for the less-than-exciting interpretation of their sex lives. But if we instead focused on the strengths of the marriages, as confirmed by the partners themselves, there would be no story to print.
Gottlieb writes, “Couples in which the husband did plenty of traditionally male chores reported a 17.5 percent higher frequency of sexual intercourse than those in which the husband did none.”
Not only are we irresponsibly representing this “statistic” out of context, we disregard entire facets of these couples’ marriages that would render the study ultimately pointless and frivolous.
It’s ludicrous of us to hold these couples’ relationships up for examination when they already report being happy, regardless of our probing.
Instead of racking our brains for the next way to make readers doubt their lives and choices, let’s curb the relationship-shaming and try to keep an open mind when it comes to love and sex.
Reach the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @lolonghi