no, that’s actually a rutabaga


A very good friend of mine has been involved in research covering THE SEX LIVES OF MARRIED PEOPLE – and since this is a work in progress, I can’t say who it is. But she did give me some details, some juicy, some demoralizing, that came from the extensive panels, questionnaires, and polls she helped administer over the last five years.

The one thing she said, something that has always stuck with me, is the absolute mind-numbing drudgery many of the wives felt about having sex with their husbands. To drive the point home, one scenario kept coming up again and again:

“I’m tired after a long day, finally lying in bed to rest, and then I feel his erection against the small of my back, and all I can think is ‘GO AWAY’.”

This exact same image and description was repeated by many different women over the length of the study, often enough to be more than a statistical fluke. Apparently guys are doing this across the board.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with a little non-verbal communication, and god knows nothing says “I crave your Netherlands” better than a stiff braunschweiger in the small of your consort’s back, but en masse? It really does give the impression that we might talk a good game, but deep down, guys are still one hand axe away from Homo heidelbergensis.


ancestor to us AND the Neanderthals

I have never attempted the “oh by the way here’s my cock” method of wooing, and after hearing about this study, I might buy bunkbeds just to show my heart’s in the right place. But I simply must ask: does any of this ring true to you, faithful readers?

Either gender can answer, but ladies, have you been the recipient of such a calling card? And how often do you find yourself sighing, lying back and thinking of England whilst he flails about?

(please be anonymous animals to ensure candor!)


18 thoughts on “no, that’s actually a rutabaga

  1. Meelyknon

    I’m sorry but I don’t understand what the fuss is all about. I haven’t been married for twenty years or anything, but leaning into someone in bed and feeling the erection of someone I love or lust for in the small of my back excites me. Usually it’s there because I’ve back-ended my tush into his crotch in an attempt to feel closer. I don’t think of the erection as a demand so much as a compliment. It usually makes me excited if I hadn’t been already, and if it doesn’t make me want to have sex, I’m glad it’s there and encouraging of him to finish himself off while I turn around and touch him and purr in his ear. I think it’s a sad time in someone’s life when the sexual response of a partner has grown to induce an eye roll. I hope i never find myself there.

  2. Sexually Frustrated Squirrel

    My husband has ED and we sleep in separate beds. I would be thrilled if he wanted to spoon, let alone had an erection to press into the small of my back. For the statistical sake of the other couples out there, I hope we’re atypical. But then, we’re probably also splitting up soon.

  3. wildebeest

    I would like to have sex more often and the kind of approach you describe would not bother me at all. I’d like it, because it’s kind of goofy, horny, and adolescent. I probably wouldn’t like it all the time or as the main way of my husband telling me he wants to have sex, so I can see why some women might be bothered. My husband does not initiate that way, he usually kisses me in way that means he is interested in more than a good night smooch.

  4. Hi, my name is

    To be kind, between genetics and pharmaceuticals, people have very different libidos.
    To be noted, some women can be just as depraved in their pursuit of financial security as some men are in their pursuit of sexual conquest. ( and vice versa)
    So Ian, I have a question for you. How do you think respondents and their answers would fall on Maslo’s hierarchy of needs? Sometimes self-actualization is replaced with self- absorption. Too tired or too bored to fuck? Who is having better sex, the couple out on bail or the couple decorating their second home in Vail?

  5. WTF

    My name, you are making a huge and wildly incorrect assumption that most women trade sex for financial security. I make more money than my husband and do not rely on him for financial security. What if he died unexpectedly? Or we got divorced someday, though I hope not? I need to be able to support our family. We’re a team, equal partners. We have sex because we like fucking and each other, not because I am willing to barter sex for financial support.

  6. Hi, my name is

    Dear WTF,
    I’m not sure how you saw the word “some” and heard the word “most”. You should be furious at anyone who made such an assumption about most women, or about most men, but such an assumption is an eternity from my thoughts or feelings.
    There will be many comments in a discussion of human sexuality that do not pertain to you and your husband. I doubt your husband is depraved OR in pursuit of sexual conquest, but some men are. My point was, humans sometimes get married for fucked up reasons that translate into lousy sex lives. I am sorry to have given you the impression that I thought so poorly of women. It’s humanity in general I think poorly of. :)

  7. puddin tane

    1) Family Bed takes care of that problem.
    2) Co-sleeping also means that both of us have turned into international superspies when it comes to finding other times in the day/week when we can have privacy and opportunity. Luckily we both have somewhat flexible work times.
    3) I think I have been “too tired” like ONCE and it was pre kids and probably I was coming down with something. Do not understand the levels of resentment I hear from other women about the “obligation” to sustain physical intimacy w/their chosen partner. Would make me wonder if she dislikes him & wants out.
    4) However, I have a dear friend who though she adores her husband, cycles in and out of this mode: AGH WHY DOES HE KEEP TRYING TO HAVE SEX WITH ME WHEN I AM ALREADY DOING EVERYTHING ELSE FOR HIM?? So I get that this happens. Suspect she might want to stop doing so much “everything else” and he might like that better too.
    5) More than one previous relationship of mine has ended because the guy completely shut down sexually and wouldn’t talk about it. Could give a girl a complex, but I haven’t broken this one yet after 10+ years; I think I finally stopped picking Very Angry Insecure Guys. (brr.) But I think that’s a different dynamic from Exhausted Wife.
    6) Anyway that may give me a bias in favor of how nice it is when my actual husband still actually wants to do it. Which is about as often as we can schedule it. Which is not as often as either of us would like. #modernlife

  8. anono

    Used to have that problem, then we talked and agreed that something that we both enjoyed and thought was important shouldn’t be the LAST thing we do for the day. Rejuggled our priorities and have a lot more sex – and fun at sex.
    She also has a couple of boyfriends and I have a girlfriend which does wonders for taking the pressure of feeling obligated to satisfy our partner. Now we only have sex when we want to, which is awesome.

  9. You'll *never* guess...

    The premise is absurd. Women like sex just as much as men and as we all get older, they tend to like it a lot more. I’m sure there are outliers, but the idea that sexual availability is a men-centered, and that sexual obligation is women-centered is just *crazy*.
    Everybody likes sex, and people who don’t and who complain almost immediately mention *all the other stuff* that they hate. Yes, there have been couples where the entire relationship was absolutely perfect in every way except they were sexually incompatible, but that’s a bit like a dairy farmer marrying someone lactose intolerant – I’m sure it happens it certainly isn’t the *norm*. It’s a sitcom premise.
    Also, I don’t know why I’d use a pseudonym, everyone can always tell it’s me when I write.

  10. Hi my name is

    How does that Mark Twain qoute go?
    “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
    I expect that I will never have it figured out as well as some, but I’m OK with remaining curious and confused.

  11. Mittens

    So everyone here as a rocking sex life. Good for you. I don’t. We don’t have enough sex and we both agree it’s a problem, but have not been able to fix it. Long story that I frankly don’t have time for — becuase I feel like I do everything! There is not a single mom I know who is not over-functioning.
    My advice to men: The EARS and the MIND are highly excitable female sex organs. Talk to us, by God, and we find you irresistible. I even see it on the playground. The most verbal boys are always hanging with the girls.

  12. Nameless

    My husband is quite the morning person, so some sat mornings I am not as psyched as he is. However, after 19 years of marital bliss, I have learned one simple fact: my husband feels loved when we have sex. He doesn’t feel loved by my raising our children, or buying his mother birthday gifts, or getting his pants hemmed. So if I’m the otherwise perfect wife but his penis has not actually been inside me for over, say, 72 hours, he is feeling unloved. And I don’t want that. Not that difficult to respond positively! I mean, it’s not like he’s asking me to get up at the crack of dawn and chop wood. Does my mind occasionally wander to other things? Yes.
    And on the flip side of the coin, he is beginning to understand that I feel loved when he empties the dishwasher. We call it porn for moms.

  13. Camel

    Sorry to hear about that, Squirrel.
    Yes, it rings true. I think many of us women are interested in sex, but want to be warmed up a little – back rub, cuddling, whatever. The problem is, I don’t like to vocalize my wants and needs, because thinking too much or talking too much about sex ruins sex, and so does feeling selfish. Ideally I would like my husband to be telepathic, but yeah, I know that doesn’t work. If I make demands or requests, I will feel selfish and won’t enjoy it as much.
    But without communication, it just becomes about giving the other person what they want. And he’s not gonna really ask what I want. Maybe he should.
    So maybe men have to draw it out of us more. It goes to what Mittens said a few comments above. Read Mittens! (Not to be confused with Mitt who is the topic of other posts.)

  14. Chipmunk

    Nameless, that is so sweet. You must have a healthy marriage. For me, married sex became less appealing for a reason I’ve heard is not so uncommon. I want to be wanted, not because he is horny, but because I am so overwhelmingly hot. I realize that now, in my forties, that’s a little crazy. I don’t want to think he’s having sex with me because I am the only person he CAN have sex with without breaking the rules. I want to feel chosen. So, my handsome husband’s erection without anything else is really not so appealing, whereas being ogled by the cute college boy stocking grocery shelves fuels fantasies.

  15. Mako Shark

    Things like this do not counter the notion that some men have that getting married is just not worth it and is in general a bad deal for men.

  16. Anna Nymous

    I spent my entire 30’s married to a man who would have sex with me once every few YEARS. No matter who inhabits the disinterested side of the bed, it’s soul-killing. I spent countless nights just wishing his foot would randomly touch mine in the bed.
    I can’t relate to any of these “typical” women. During my 13 years of marriage, my girlfriends would kvetch about how their husbands wanted sex all the time and I remember wanting to scream “quit bitching!” & it made me feel even worse about myself.
    (finally I divorced him; finally I am engaged to a sexually charged homo sapien male of the species!)

  17. SF Squirrel

    Yes, soul killing nails it. I’m grateful that souls can regenerate under the right circumstances. I’m working on that, little by little.

  18. Owl

    I’d like to keep my hubby happy in that department, but a stab in the back doesn’t make things sopping wet, and then he thinks I don’t want him, which isn’t true at all, but I need lots more than a poke. Is there something I can say so he’s OK about using lube and doesn’t see it as a failure?

  19. cookaburra

    I’ve been married twice. My first husband used to do that. And I hated it. My current husband never does it. And I wish, sometimes, he would.
    The difference, I guess, might be the person doing it?

  20. Amazed

    I was so amazed by “Nameless”‘s comment, that I had to come back. “However, after 19 years of marital bliss, I have learned one simple fact: my husband feels loved when we have sex. He doesn’t feel loved by my raising our children, or buying his mother birthday gifts, or getting his pants hemmed. So if I’m the otherwise perfect wife but his penis has not actually been inside me for over, say, 72 hours, he is feeling unloved”. In this way, I am exactly like your husband. It has always been a source of guilt and shame for me to value so much in relationship, and yet not feel loved, without physical intimacy or expressed desire, about every 3 or 4 days. For you to validate this emotional reality for your husband, when it is sometimes difficult to escape the negative interpretations of men’s sexual desire, is thoughtful and touching, and I hope that you are met with similar sensitivity. I hate that I am like that, but you give me hope that I may be understood, maybe.

  21. Camel

    Amazed, I thought what I was going to get out of your comment is that you might now understand your WIFE. You now know that sex isn’t the only way a woman shows you love. And sometimes we women are so harried, we don’t have the time to sit back and get all warmed up and hot for your touch. We can’t even think about it when our chores and demands are piling up, and you may not even realize what they are. Why not ask what we can do to help you, and persist about it? Could you maybe take a few loads off your wife, if she’s busy doing a lot, and then maybe she’ll get more turned on? I find it sexually exciting when my husband is kind and giving. Quite a turnoff when he’s not.

  22. Camel back

    Sorry, I meant, why not ask your wife what you can do to help her? At first, she will at first be overly generous and tell you nothing. Women are trained to be that way. Ask again. If she has more time to relax, and feel like your partner, it will work wonders.

  23. Stranger things have happened

    With all due respect, Camel, perhaps he does do those very things. Perhaps many of us love our wives very much and want to take as much of the load off of their plate as possible. Perhaps many of us are really good, devoted, helpful, strong, do the chores, take care of the kids, run numerous errands, listen and listen to be an anchor, incredibly supportive, kind of husbands. And yet, really only feel loved through intimacy. And that’s just a male biological fact. Then what? At what point does a wife say, this man loves me so much and bends over backwards to be a good husband, perhaps I should pull my head out of my ass and consider his feelings as well?

  24. Stranger things have happened

    Well, I should rephrase — instead of, “only feel love through intimacy,” say that intimacy is certainly the primary and most acute way a man feels loved. And if it’s missing, none of the other things combined can replace it, unfortunately. I don’t think many women understand this or frankly, respect it, just as many men are clueless as to what women need to feel loved and or aroused.

  25. elf

    According to both my individual and marital therapist, women need to feel emotionally intimate to want physical intimacy whereas men need physical intimacy to feel emotionally intimate. For many couples a stale mate results. Also, I believe it’s John Gottman’s research that concluded the more housework a man does, the better his chance of getting laid.

  26. puddin tane

    dear “stranger things”: it’s not just a “male biological fact”. it’s brain wiring and some women have it (and apparently not all men).

  27. puddin tane

    and “elf”: Gottman and your therapist are speaking in averages. I’m not a man and if too much time elapses in my relationship without *physical* expression of intimacy (including when we are geographically separated!) I shut down emotionally until the physical lack has been remedied. Basically it’s like we had a fight and we have to make up, except the other person doesn’t know we had a fight.

  28. Stranger things have happened

    Dear puddin tane: of course, you’re right. I tried to soften that statement a little in my follow up. And your response to elf is right on. I feel exactly the same, you described that perfectly. It’s been a rough go.

  29. Amazed

    Carmel, I left out a very important detail. I’m not married. I have been divorced for several years. Big surprise, huh? I totally get how selfish that sounded if the reader thought I was married. The good news is; I’m not your husband commenting from work. :)
    Without apparent judgement or resentment in her words, “Nameless” validated an emotional equation for her husband that many couples may not be able to do for one another. I thought it was wise and touching. I imagine her husband is thoughtful and sensitive to her needs as well, to inspire such compassion.


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