A riddle: What do perimenopause, a long-term relationship and Mike Huckabee have in common? Answer: They're all libido killers. Actually, the effects of the first two are brinks from which there is a return; Huckabee, on the other hand, will Napalm anything resembling desire.
I'd been reading about women of a certain age and libido, and I came across a recent Huckabee speech about 'Merican ladies thinking they can't control theirs without free birth control from "Uncle Sugar"—Huck's nickname for the nickname for the government. Should we tell him that "sugar" is a euphemism for "sex"?
It's not just his incomprehensible arguments that shrivel my innards into a dry-roasted truffle. It's his blown-capillary, hangdog face that shuts down my entire anatomy all the way from my toes to the tip-top of my imagination. Mamas: Don't want your daughters to have sexual feelings? Tape a poster of the former governor in their bedrooms. Include a map of Arkansas. They'll feel dead inside in no time.
I won't be doing that to my kid because I want her to have and enjoy her sexual feelings. Much more important at the moment, though, is that I want to have mine back.
Aging, hormones and—according to a study in the American Sociological Review last year—my 16-year-old egalitarian relationship have conspired to Huckabee my sex drive. Gone are the days of breath-stuttering lust, of the insatiable can't-keep-my-hands-off-you hunger that is the hallmark of youth and new love. That time is over, and there's no going back.
Researchers have been racing to find a female equivalent to Viagra, but I've already found it. It's called Change of Partner®, and while it's available without a prescription, it will cost you.
The painful truth of Together Forever is that, regardless of who folds the laundry or brings home the bigger pay check, the sex routine becomes just that, without any jazz hands. No expensive studies are required to tell us this. Familiarity has a lot of upsides, but in bed? It amounts to an often predictable sequence of events. So, I say no more than I say yes, he never stops trying but feels like he's got no game and we have ourselves a sorry little feedback loop.
According to The Kinsey Institute, roughly 46 percent of married women age 40 to 49 report having sex a few times each month (almost exactly the same amount of poking being done by married 20-somethings). Thirty-six times a year is not awful, but it's also not two to three times a week, which is what 20 percent of married women in the same age range report doing. And then there are the Valedictorians, the 9.8 percent who are riding the hog four times a week or more. The hell?!? Inquiring minds want to know how they do it.
Because I'm determined not to be the middle-aged Frigidaire with matching sweater sets and a flock of feral cats like my evil dead father's eviler widow, I turned to some very smart girlfriends to find out what's going on in their bedrooms. How, I wondered, do I fight my way into that two-to-three-times-a-week cohort?
Out of 1,039 women I surveyed, all of them had the same not-tonight-I-have-a-headache feelings that I do. They're not particularly interested, they're exhausted from work, they prefer yoga pants to lingerie, a movie on the couch. But it's what they do about it that's different.
Though not revolutionary, I've relied on a few methods of sex-life CPR (stepping out and swinging are not among them). A little bondage and hair-pulling can go a long way; some good porn or a new Kama Sutra position works; and getting out of the bedroom is paramount. Sex in the car, sex at museums, sex at parties—basically anywhere you might get caught but can likely get away with it are all big hits in my marriage. Costumes and dressing up can be useful, too.
But this takes time and effort, and as one of my survey respondents astutely noted, some of that stuff—while popular in women's magazines—is not exactly sustainable or practical. More accessible and immediate is dirty talk, a useful tool in her boudoir. Another emphasized the importance of fantasy in her sex life and how, whether shared or kept to herself, it can keep things interesting and frequent. I'm on board with that.
The real rock-star survey respondent, and inspiration for the 2014 Fuck-A-Palooza that will have commenced in my house by the time you're reading this, is a sexual marathoner of the 9.8-percent variety.
This gregarious, brilliant, sexy woman doesn't initiate sex with her husband of more than 20 years ("Never!" she said, laughing the hearty laugh of a sexually fulfilled woman. "Never!"), but she says yes more than she says no. In fact, she never says no. She sets the ground rules and they amount to this: Whenever he wants it, she gives it, even if she isn't exactly feelin' it. "Bring me my coffee, first," she might instruct her husband. Or, "You have 10 minutes and you have to do all the work." I think bossy is hot.
Ultimately, she reminds herself that even if she might not want to do it initially, she gets into it and never has regrets in the afterglow. "Doesn't seem like we get many of those guarantees in life—the ones that come with little chance for regret," offered my fantasy-having friend. True that.
Three times a week is daunting, and it means I'll have to deny my I'd-rather-read impulse every time my husband wants to grind. But orgasms are always worth it, and if I keep opting for articles on Mike Huckabee, I'm likely to never have another one.