Love Lingers Here: Intimate Enduring Relationships–VI. The Complex Nature of Sexuality
What does it mean to affirm the differences and resulting interdependence of men and women? Clearly, enduring, intimate relationships (by the very definition of the word “intimate”) are assumed to be “consummated” with some sexual act. This sexual act, in some regards, affirms the interdependence of men and women—and the interdependence of men and men and women and women in gay and lesbian relationships. In this set of essays, however, we have chosen not to devote much attention to sexuality, per se, in part because so much has already been written about the subject. Furthermore, we found in our interviews that while sex was very important for some of the enduring couples that we interviewed, it was rarely the sole or even primary reason for these two people staying together.
The Second Myth
In our interviews with long-term, enduring couples we found that it is not all about sex. This is the second myth to be debunked. Usually, good sex is assumed to be at the heart of long-term enduring relationships. Sexual relations are often identified as the main problem cited by both husbands and wives when requesting help from a counselor or therapist. Yet, we found some many dynamics operating that were no specifically about sexuality. In part, this lack of attention among our couples to issues of sexuality may have come from their reticence to talk about such “personal” parts of their relationship. It also comes from the fact that sexuality is a very complex phenomenon that extends far beyond the act of sexual intercourse.