Finding a Cure for Marital Boredom

Donald NorfolkHuman beings are programmed to fall in love, but it seems there’s nothing in our genes to help us stay forever in that blissful state. Statistics reveal that the longer couples stay together the less often they make love. If they have sex six times a month in the first two years of their relationship – a typical tally for 40-year-old British males – the likelihood is that they’ll be down to five times a month by the end of six years.

Scientists are not surprised by these figures. Animal passions generally cool when males and females stay together in long term pair bonds. A male rat becomes aroused the moment a new female is placed in its cage. To begin with the pair mate frequently and ardently, but within a few days the excitement wanes and the level of sexual activity falls. Allow them a change of partner and the old enthusiasm returns. The same pattern occurs in monkeys, who show a fifteen-fold increase in sexual activity when they swap mates. This link between monotony and sexual behaviour is so universal that biologists have given it a specific name, the Columbus Factor, since it’s linked with the excitement of discovering a new world.

The American sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson claimed that boredom was ‘probably the most constant factor in the loss of the ageing male’s interest in sexual performance with his partner.’ Staleness is an equal turn-off for women, who find it difficult to be excited by a man who is always doing the same thing, in the same place, in the same boring way. ‘If a man cannot afford distinct and different pleasures to the woman he has made his wife on two successive nights, he has married too soon,’ claimed Balzac. One common way to overcome sexual boredom is to experiment outside marriage, but a far simpler solution is to experiment inside marriage. When Madame de Pompadour found that the passion was going out of her long term love affair with King Louis XV she asked her doctor for advice. His reply was brief. ‘Change is the greatest aphrodisiac of all.’ Variety is without doubt the finest aphrodisiac. What’s more, unlike Viagra, it’s cheap, readily available and free of all known side effects.

Here are five simple ways to revitalise a flagging sexual partnership:
1. Whenever you have the chance, try making love in the middle of the day, when you’ll feel fresher than at the end of a fatiguing day, and when the blood level of sex hormones normally reaches a peak.
2. Take a vacation. A study of holiday makers visiting Brampton Island, near the Australian Barrier Reef, revealed that 12 per cent were suffering a ‘loss of sexual interest’ at the start of their vacations. Four days later that figure was halved. The holiday had given them a chance to rest, and also to recapture the ‘the first, fine, careless rapture’ of their early love affairs. It’s never too soon to take a second honeymoon, nor can it ever be too late.
3. Variety is the spice of married life; boredom the kiss of death. Too much sameness in a relationship can lead to a state of holy deadlock. If you find your present life style boring, change it. Dare to be different. Follow the advice that therapist Ellen Kreidman gives to the women attending her marriage enrichment classes. ‘Do something unpredictable, spontaneous and different. Don’t worry that you’re not the type – everybody has the ability to be creative and exciting. It just takes time, energy and the willingness to try something different.’
4. Don’t reserve your love making for the bedroom. Try it in the garden, in front of the fire or while you’re out for a country walk. President Kennedy enjoyed it in a cupboard; Josephine Baker on a train; Gary Cooper on the beach, and Mussolini on a staircase. One sex counsellor interviewed three hundred couples and found that many were in a rut and longed to be more adventurous. ‘A surprising number of middle-aged couples with comfortable homes and beds think it’s the height of erotic stimulation to make love in a car.’ If that’s what turns you on, why not drive to the nearest lay-by and make your dreams come true.
5. Some people keep their love fresh by sending amorous messages to their mates at unexpected moments. They may phone them at work and whisper words of endearment, or leave love notes under their pillow when they are forced to be separated for a night. Sir John Mills made a point of slipping love notes to his wife at public gatherings. ‘You have to work at marriage,’ he said. ‘You have to keep it fresh.’ Long after they’d celebrated their Golden Wedding he was still sending her billets-doux at formal dinners saying: ‘Do you remember me? I love you’

Key Words: Marital boredom, Sexual vitality, Celebrity sex life.

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