There’s a long and fascinating article in The Atlantic called “The Wifely Duty” about the decline of sex in modern marriage. (Alina is owed thanks for the link.) This phenomenon is of interest to Bacchus, who (though never married) once spent more than half a decade sharing a household with a woman he loved who nonetheless somehow usually managed to reject all his sexual advances, or else efficiently deter the making thereof, for up to three or four months at a time. (The article calls this “launching a sex strike of an intensity and a duration that would have impressed Aristophanes.”)

Although interesting, the article is fairly unsatisfactory inasmuch as it whiffs of nostalgia for better days gone by, on the thinnest of evidence that they were in fact better:

In the old days, of course, there was the wifely duty. A housewife understood that in addition to ironing her husband’s shirts and cooking the Sunday roast, she was with some regularity going to have relations with the man of the house. Perhaps, as some feminists would have us believe, these were grimly efficient interludes during which the poor humped-upon wife stared at the ceiling and silently composed the grocery list. Or perhaps not. Maybe, as Davis and her “new” findings suggest, once you get the canoe out in the water, everybody starts happily paddling.

Or maybe not. Thank you for playing.

This much, at least, rings true:

Under these conditions, pity the poor married man hoping to get a bit of comfort from the wife at day’s end. He must somehow seduce a woman who is economically independent of him, bone tired, philosophically disinclined to have sex unless she is jolly well in the mood, numbingly familiar with his every sexual maneuver, and still doing a slow burn over his failure to wipe down the countertops and fold the dish towel after cooking the kids’ dinner. He can hardly be blamed for opting instead to check his e-mail, catch a few minutes of SportsCenter, and call it a night.

Alina’s take on this (scroll waaaay down) is perhaps more encouraging than the author of the Atlantic article:

Marriage without hot sex is like prison, add the mortage payments. A couples’ sex life also matters for the development of their children’s emotional and sexual maturity. I want my kids to see me kiss my husband in ways that indicate there is more between us than a shared mutual affection. Kids who grow up around affectionate, passionate parents tend to be more comfortable and less repressed with in their own adult sexual lives.

Marriage, in this young ladies’ opinion, is about tying your fate and your dreams to those of another, binding yourselves together knowing that sometimes the temptation to cut loose will be agonizing, but that your union is more important than your individual recklessness. Don’t blame marriage for a bad sex life– if you must blame anything at all, blame the notorious Wittle Wabbit. Boys, you’ve got competition. All the more reason to lobby your government for that classic French right to a 2-hour lunch break…

Quick, boys, somebody marry her before she gets away!