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"Love's labours lost"

A recent sociology survey sponsored by some British universities came to the conclusion that after four years in a stable relationship, women’s libido decreased spectacularly whereas men’s didn’t. We are not talking about the « seven-year itch » here but about the « four-year complacency ».

If true, this could explain a lot of things, including the « seven-year itch » of men who, after four years of joyful, imaginative sex, put up with three years of dull, routine intercourse before finally giving up and looking for other outlets.

Elaine was enthusiastic at first. You could ask her to do just about anything. We would often make love in the living room, play games, adopt various positions… Little by little, the living room became terra non grata and the bed a place of pleasant but never-changing activities.

Shortly before their deaths, both Thomas and Elton had been telling me exactly the same sort of thing regarding their relationships with Ariane and Aude respectively.

It’s the world upside down : the male, supposedly fickle in love, turns out to be the more stable of the two partners, so long as his partner is sexually enthusiastic, subtle and inventive. Elton said to me one day : « I don’t understand : I’ve been married to Aude for twenty years and whenever she walks past me I still feel like taking her in my arms and making love to her. She says there’s something wrong with me. Is there ? »

I can hear some married women crying : « Ah, if only my husband was like that ! » Yes, madam but for how long ? Four years and then we batten the hatches ?

As they get older, men are often accused of being couch potatoes. They never want to go anywhere or do anything whereas women are always ready to dart here and there like mad bumblebees. It doesn’t have to be like that : if the female partner made the effort – and what little effort, and what intense reward ! – of being less of a sex-potato, the male would indeed be less of a couch-potato.

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