Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Conjugal Relations

     Some time ago, I learned from memory and trial and error the chords to the song The Joker on guitar. I asked my brother-in-law to help me recall the lyrics, in particular what Steve Miller was saying when he sang, “Some people call me Maurice, cause I speak 'bout the ____­__ of love,” He said I'll go look it up on the Internet. I said that's no fun, what do you think he said? He said I assume he's saying, “promises.” I said I think it sounds more like “pompousness” though I like “pompatus” better because it sounds like something nasty. (I later checked the dictionary and found no such word. The Internet—I got desperate—concluded that what he said was indecipherable but probably “pompatus” just 'cause it sounded so good).
     “Conjugal Relations” is like that. It conjures images of prisoners (always males) given reprieves in a spare room to enjoy conjugal relations with their wives. I betcha those were some pretty intense, memorable, and pleasurable moments. And I like how the word “enjoy” is naturally associated with “conjugal relations.” It's never, “...and they were given an hour of privacy to endure conjugal relations.” Not that conjugal (loosely defined as “related to marriage”) requires physical acts of intimacy, but the subtext is there. (What else would they do? Waste an hour discussing the kids, a leaky roof, or bills to pay?)
     By contrast, when pop culture portrays sexual relations between longtime spouses it's predictably boring, stodgy, and persnickety. A check list chore that just has to get done, akin to washing dishes or taking out the garbage, icky-poo and disgusting. Often enough a slovenly, beer-bellied, unshaven couch potato husband belittles his bags-under-the-eyes, bathrobe-, house slippers-, and hairnet-clad, obnoxious and loud cigarette-smoking wife before seducing her. Such noncredible portrayals mock today's long-time spouses as if their sharing erotic relations is laughable ludicrous, passe' and embarrassing, especially compared to pop culture's graphic and salacious portrayals of successful hunks humping hot, new, rich, desirable, current year nymphs, replacement lovers to last year's tired, old, outdated spouses. No wonder Siskel and Ebert once said, “We get asked, why do you always like French foreign films better than Hollywood blockbusters? We say, French cinema is about adults acting like adults. Hollywood blockbusters are about adults acting like kids.”
     Yet even French cinema and books in general rarely present graphic sexual relations between long-term marrieds in positive, appealing lights, as if to do so would assure a film's or book's demise. Sad, because this plethora of sexless marriages in art is such a distortion of reality as statistics show that sex within marriage is far more prevalent than sex without. And this suggests to me that sex within marriage is far more pleasurable than sex without, for obviously people will engage more and more in whatever it is they enjoy most, finding ways regardless of marital status, convenience, or cost. As an extreme example of how unappealing sex outside marriage can be, it's said that celebrity sex is usually lousy, quick, and all you get out of it is bragging rights and STDs. Further, sexually promiscuous singles tend to have far less gratifying relationships than monogamous marrieds—no surprise as commitment and trust are fundamental to happy relations. And purveyors of prostitutes enjoy sex least of all—stripped of affection and dignity, small wonder.
     No, sexual relations between long-term marrieds can be deep, meaningful, moving, intense, erotic, and fulfilling, the best there is if taken in context, meaning good and outstanding sexual relations depends upon good and healthy interpersonal relations (and not the other way around). Or as a pastor once put it, the sexual act is like an exclamation point at the end of a sentence and everything that is said and done throughout each day leading up to that point becomes part of it.
     While I was yet in college, my buddy Norm said something surprising. He and his roommate had been discussing illegal drugs (a hot topic back then) and I asked him to describe how various drugs affected him. He said, “Marijuana is like TV. Cocaine is like masturbation...” He and his roommate went on and on about various drugs including LSD and magic mushrooms and I don't remember why, but I posed a question that began, “If cocaine is like sex—.”
     “I didn't say that,” he interrupted.
     “Yes you did, you said...”
     “No. What I said was, 'Cocaine is like masturbation...”
     “I stand corrected,” I said, nodding.
     He went on, “Sex is the best drug there is, no drug even comes close to the high sex produces. The best a drug can do is mimic or approximate its effects. But its never the same and there are always dreadful side-effects that go along with drugs.”
     Which leads to the point that besides being pleasurable, safe sex is healthy (good cardio and resistance strengthening), legal, free, and devoid of dreadful side effects. And in a long-term happy relationship, its also nurturing, loving, giving, releasing, and reviving.
     Perhaps because Deanne and I married later in life and took things slow, we're still coming up with new stuff sixteen years into our marriage. And we still send each other to scary, new, wonderful places we never knew existed, praise God. And it's all good, blissful, guilt-free and blessed. Or as another pastor said, “God invented sex, not the devil. So the act itself is good and holy, not filthy and disgusting. It's people and Hollywood that have twisted and distorted sex into something it was never meant to be.”
     So, indulge and enjoy and always remember that as a wise person once said, “The greatest sex organ is between the ears, not the legs,” meaning what we think, feel, and say are just as important as the physical act itself and it's not what we've got or how we use it, but who we are and how we live that matters most.

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