No sex past marriage?
Fred Vincy asks an interesting question so that other bloggers can come up with their own noodling theories.
Anyway, the point of this is to ask: Why, if married people have sex more often, has the American Beauty idea that exactly the opposite is true captured the popular (and, judging from Blanchflower and Oswald, possibly even the academic) imagination?
Read the whole post to get what he's talking about regarding married people having more sex. They do--it's shown to be true repeatedly in demographic studies. Turns out that having someone in your bed every night you're sexually attracted to who likes you too is a really great first step on the road to seduction. (The favored LTR technique of seduction? Poking one's partner awake in the morning with a non-limb appendage. However, I don't have the stats on that, just a good guess.)
Anyway, I think there's a few reasons people believe this. #1: Selective memory--the last time they probably thought of themselves as "single" was when they first started dating their current partner and then they were having sex four times a day. So they are thinking "When we were single, we had sex more often, therefore single people have more sex." But even then, there's probably a bit of muddled memory, because they're probably comparing their day-to-day sex life with the days they saw their partner when they were dating and forgetting the nights they were alone. So maybe even thinking, "When we were single we had sex every time we saw each other. Now we don't," without considering that they now see each other every day.
The selective memory trick is reinforced with cultural stereotypes. It's well-known that people tend to cherry-pick evidence to fit their worldview. So you go into a marriage (or LTR) with the stereotype of sexless marriages burned into your brain. And when the frequency drops off, even a little, it seems to confirm the stereotype to you and so you remember that. Rinse and repeat. Over a period of years and decades, frequency is bound to ebb and flow and the stereotype is there reinforcing the memories of the ebbs over the flows.
The stereotype of infrequent married sex is a sexist one. A joke I heard:
Q: Why does a bride smile so much on her wedding day?
A: She knows she just gave her last blow job.
Under the sexist assumption that men want sex and women want security, it follows that as soon as a woman gains security, she will reduce the amount of effort required to the minimum that it takes to keep security. Sex is seen as a woman's "work" and of course we all want to work as little as possible. The stereotype is also sexist in a negative way towards men.
A man goes to his doctor and tells him that he has trouble getting it up for the missus. The doctor gives him Viagra and sends him home. The man, all excited, takes it on the way home only to find out that his wife isn't there when he gets there. He calls the doctor in a panic. The doctor tells him, "If your wife isn't there, just go fuck the maid."
The man replies, "I never needed it for her before."
Stereotype: Married sex is infrequent because promiscious men are only interested in more partners, not just more sex.
It seems to me that the belief that married sex is infrequent persists in the face of evidence because it's needed to bolster gender stereotyping.