Here’s why you want to be careful about what you wish and pray for at the marriage alter…
There is an old saying about the silent prayers issued by each member of the blissful couple just prior to saying “I do.” The groom is praying that the woman he is about to marry never changes and the bride is fervently praying that her husband to-be certainly does. And they both end up disappointed. Here’s why this is more common than you might think and how to avoid this kind of long-term disillusionment.
The Prenuptial Pretense
In his article: “The Love Game: Understanding how Women Change the Deal after Marriage”, author Shaun Snapp shares rather cynically how many women approach finding and snagging a mate as a ‘bait and switch’ sales strategy. Essentially, Snapp says that many women use the power of their sexuality to attract and ensnare a man into a committed relationship. This is primarily for the purpose of starting a family (the shackle) and creating a financially secure support structure (hard time as a beast of burden).
As the relationship matures, her interest in sex wanes (as does deferment to her man) while the amount of advice she gives on how he can “improve” rises dramatically. This is all nicely summed up in his hilarious (and far too often grimacingly true) “Relationship with Women Lifecycle Matrix” infographic. That other old saw: “If you want to have sex don’t get married…” gives ample support to this notion. Looking back on my first marriage I definitely recognize signs of this very same pattern.
So what’s her prayer at the alter? “Please God let this man be faithful, adoring and supportive of me and our children and not be thinking about sex all the damn time –Amen.”
Young, Sexy Goddess Forever
Most guys aren’t really that stupid, we just like to kid ourselves into thinking that somehow our woman will be different from all the rest of the female population.
Men, well… being men, often kid themselves into thinking that their young, sexy, beautiful bride will somehow withstand the ravages of time. Their perky breasts, silky smooth skin and cellulite-free thighs will remain that way as if she were cast in the finest Italian marble to be forever appreciated as a timeless work of exquisite art. Then of course there that inner sexual tigress that seems to know exactly when we are feeling frisky, wow!
Most guys aren’t really that stupid, we just like to kid ourselves into thinking that somehow our woman will be different from all the rest of the female population. Yet, many a groom’s prayer at the alter goes something like this: “Please God, let this woman become a wonderful and nurturing mother to our children, a faithful partner to me and always look hot and want sex as much as I do –Amen.”
Women Change a Lot, Men Not So Much
The fact is, women do change significantly, both emotionally and physically as they age. Their bodies experience wrenching changes as they mature from childbearing years to post-menopause. Their expression of, and desire for, intimacy can change significantly as well. Typically, younger heterosexual women find intercourse to be very exciting. Despite the fact that most will not orgasm that way, the primal procreative urge still can provide deep, visceral pleasure. As they enter into their pre and post-menopausal years however, intercourse typically is not seen as attractive or as pleasurable as it once was. That does not mean they are not interested in physical intimacy. It’s just that how they want to experience and express it often changes dramatically as they age.
Unfortunately this is lost on many men who see penetrative sex as the primary way of pleasing their mate and themselves. As their female partner goes through her life changes, it can cause the man to feel as though she has lost interest. And without authentic vulnerable communication about these issues, it can lead to a fatal rift in the relationship. This is a big part of what happened to my first marriage. After 15 years we essentially settled into a status quo where we were effectively roommates. That lasted for 11 years until our youngest son went off to college after which I ended the relationship.
While men are less likely to change as dramatically as their wives over time, they can and, in my humble opinion, should. This was a very hard lesson I took away from my first committed relationship, the fruits of which I’m now applying to my current one, so far very successfully.
No Such Thing as Relationship Fait Accompli
Genetic and cultural “wiring” is a very powerful thing. So powerful, it is what causes us to form relationships (ostensibly for love, but with a subliminal procreative directive) and have them eventually dissolve. That is, if we allow it to so thoroughly control our thoughts and behaviors.
We have the unique ability to override our ancient impulses in a way that will serve us and the ones we love throughout our lives.
Thankfully we all have the power of free will and choice. We have the unique ability to override our ancient impulses in a way that will serve us and the ones we love throughout our lives. However, it takes being fully aware and conscious. Not only of ourselves, but of our partner as well.
Here are some things you and your mate can do to ensure that your relationship will be totally fulfilling at every stage:
- Accept Reality – this means accepting the fact that your beautiful bride will eventually change over time. This also means accepting the fact that men typically want sex as a powerful way to express deep connection with their woman no matter how old he gets.
- Take Care of Yourselves – this means keeping yourselves in great shape physically and emotionally –first for yourself out of self-respect then out of respect for your partner. Think about how many guys expect their wives to continue looking like a sex goddess at any age yet let their paunch grow to the point they can’t even see their own dick without a mirror.
- Know that Children Change Everything – having kids is really, really hard in so many ways. In fact, it is probably the biggest source of stress for most marriages and of course they can also be the biggest blessing. Just know this stress will happen when you have kids. Also know that if you forget who started it all (i.e. the two of you) during this raising the kids period, your long-term relationship is headed for very rocky shoals.
- Communicate Authentically and Vulnerably – this means the female “coaching” her man as to what she wants and how she wants it with respect to physical and emotional intimacy as it changes over time. And, to shower him with genuine appreciation for all he does for the family. This also means the man really listening to what she says (i.e. so she feels heard) and honoring her request.
- Remain Playful and Adventurous – this means avoiding routine and status quo (especially in the bedroom) that can lead both to “reading their lines” instead of really being fully present for each other. Being playful and adventurous always adds powerful aliveness to your relationship whether it’s enjoying a sunset together or a passionate night of lovemaking.
- Practice Being Fully Present – a strong relationship is based upon mutual respect, love and being fully present for each other. This means really “being there” when you are together, without distraction. To do otherwise is the antithesis of connection and intimacy.
Alternative Nuptial Prayers
All of this suggests that the bride and groom may consider perhaps a different set of prayers at the alter to ensure a more successful long-term outcome. Where the bride implores: “Please God, give me the strength to be totally honest and forthright with my husband so he may better understand and appreciate the changes I will inevitably experience.” And the groom invokes: “Please God, help me always see the beautiful woman she is and adore her in the way she most appreciates at every age.” Quite frankly, I suspect these are the only pre-“I do” prayers that are likely to be answered.
Change is inevitable for women and certainly possible for men. Understanding this fact of nature at the get-go and adjusting your respective behaviors and expectations accordingly will help to make sure that your initial wedded bliss only grows stronger as you share your lives together.