The reason I have time to write this blog post is that I had sex with my husband last night. Choosing writing rather than sex is a calculated risk for me, because it’s really me saying that I don’t want to pay attention to him that night. I did that a lot in my first marriage, and I’m pretty sure that contributed to my divorce.
In the beginning of my first marriage, we had sex a lot. Then I had a baby, and I breastfed, and really, the last thing I wanted in a day filled with twelve feedings was to having someone else touching my body. So I just said no. And he said okay. That was it. During the last six years of our marriage, we had sex twice: once to conceive when I miscarried, and once to conceive when I had my second son.
Later, my ex-husband would tell me he thought my second son was not his. I understand why he would think that. My ex and I have stunningly terrible social skills, awkward everywhere, but our second son is the life of every party. Everyone loves him. But the idea of me having sex with someone else while I was married to my husband and had a two-year-0ld and a job is laughable. I had absolutely no time for anything, let alone finding someone to cheat with.
After our marriage ended, I discovered that most married couples have sex. Even if the woman has young kids and is exhausted, they have sex. Or they get divorced. Millions of statistics support this conclusion.
So in my second marriage, I try really hard to make sure we have sex regularly. I keep a schedule in my head. We can’t really have sex during the day because we work from home and we homeschool. The kids are too old for us to sneak it inside, so all that’s left is a quickie in a white hoop building. Which we have done. But it’s hard to coordinate it during the day. Which leaves the evening.
But the evening is the only time that I can work without the kids interrupting me. I love the evenings. There is quiet and it’s just me and my words.
It’s also the only time my husband and I can be together. It’s the time we talk about schedules, we watch TV shows on Netflix, and sometimes, if everything goes well, we have sex.
Really, though, I would rather write. I mean, I hate how much effort it takes to have a good marriage. I like sex. I like my kids. I like my job. I like my marriage. It’s just that I can’t do it all. It’s just not all fitting, and the thing that is easiest to give up is sex.
We timed sex a few times. I was curious. Even good sex when both of you are caring and inventive and patient takes about ten minutes. Welcome to married sex. If you are married and you think you take a lot longer, try using a stopwatch.
So the truth is that ten minutes is not that much time. Of course I have ten minutes. But I gave all my emotional energy to my kids during the day. And I want my mental energy to go toward my work. It always seems like sex will be there next time but work is time-sensitive.
Of course, it’s not like that. We are human. We die. All relationships are time sensitive. And I would never even be writing this if it weren’t that my friend who is single and says that she has no time for men because her son and work take up all her time, sent me an article from the Harvard Business Review by Hermenia Ibarra.
I feel like Hermenia is my friend too. She’s not. But I interviewed her about ten years ago about her social skills research, and I loved her. She told me that people would rather work with someone they like than someone who is good at the job. People don’t mind incompetence if they like the person. Incompetent people sometimes even make teams stronger because of emotional synergy. It blew my mind. So Hermenia made me try much harder with my lame social skills.
And now, again, she rocks my world. She writes:
At one of the companies with which I work, the firm’s most senior line woman was asked to join a newly constituted high-level diversity committee, which included the company CEO. One of the hurdles that was holding women back, everyone agreed, was the high degree of transcontinental travel required of executives in the uppermost echelons, who had to attend a variety of global and regional and meetings. Asked about her experience, she told the high-level group: “Let me tell you what diversity means to me. My husband told me ‘there will be sex in this house at least once a week, whether you are here or not.’ “
This says so much to me. It tells me that other people are having the same problem. That sex and work and kids don’t go well together because the only time that’s left over for sex is the time when you are done taking care of kids and have to make up the lost work time. There’s a reason that you have a lull in your email during dinnertime and then it picks up after kids go to bed: it’s all the parents of the workforce fitting in family time. And not sex.
So tonight I wrote this post because I knew if I didn’t write one tonight I’d be upset. I wanted to write it last night, but I told myself that I should do TV night which will lead to sex, because there has never been sex after I spend all night writing. And there has never been good sex if I ask if we can do it fast so I can go write.
But there’s always good writing once sex is out of the way. Once I know that I’ve taken care of the marriage. I don’t want another marriage to fall apart because I work all the time. But really, I don’t want anything to fall apart. And sex is the canary in the coal mine – it’s the first thing to go.