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I wish my husband would use more passion in the bedroom

The question

I've been married for a little less than two years, and I wish my very loving husband would use a little more passion. When we get intimate he gets straight to the deed, and there is no foreplay or sweet talk in the bedroom. I have asked him to touch, caress and kiss me but he does it mechanically and in a hurry, and I feel our intimacy is rather brusque. Afterwards, I feel emotionally empty. At odd times when we are not in the bedroom I have hinted that I wouldn't mind a back rub or a shoulder massage, or just random caressing, even if it is just my fingers or toes … but he doesn't seem to understand how that is important to me. He'll give me a very strong hug, and sincere kisses on the forehead, cheek or lips, but I miss being surprised with a passionate kiss and just being touched for the sake of it. How can I get my loving partner to see what I am missing?

The answer

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First of all, allow me to say, madam: Welcome to the long haul.

I myself have been married 13 years, preceded by four of marriage-like cohabitation. Total: 17.

Now, I've been expressly forbidden by my wife from revealing details about our sex life in this column, under threat of having my access privileges to those selfsame details revoked.

I've agreed to her terms. But I hope it doesn't violate the spirit of that agreement (actually, it probably does - and I hope you appreciate the great risk I'm taking here, madam, jeopardizing my own sex life to help you with yours!) if I say it's actually possible for one's sex life to get better over time.

I love married sex! Don't get me wrong: I loved bachelor sex, too, as much if not even more so than the next guy.

But there was such a heavy emphasis on performance. If the earth didn't move, if the two of you (or, if you were really getting lucky, the three of you - yeah baby!) weren't practically levitating out of the bed with orgasmic, Tantric joy, then you felt like you had somehow underperformed.

Bachelor sex is like a souped-up car with a thumping stereo, bouncy hydraulics, and fuzzy dice hanging from the mirror, popping wheelies and burning rubber all over town.

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Married sex is like a jeep or dune buggy: stripped of inessential components, it gets you from Point A to Point B with a minimum of fuss, even if you sometimes have to go over rough or rocky terrain.

Now, I know none of this is probably what you wanted to hear. And I don't want to seem too unromantic.

Basically, it sounds like your husband has entered married-sex mode, while you are still nostalgic for bachelor/bachelorette-type sex, with flowers and scented candles and massages and so forth.

I think the best formula for a healthy sex life over the long haul is to mash-up the two.

You can't always hit the heights. I blame Hollywood, and Sting, for promulgating various false notions about sex: that it should be some sort of long, drawn-out affair; it should be tender and "romantic"; and that laughter should be involved.

Sting used to boast about his six-hour Tantric sessions with his wife, Trudie.

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Sounds horrible to me. After the first hour, I think I'd start to panic. After hour two I'd be begging Sting to stop. And if he didn't, I think somewhere around hour three I'd call the police, and maybe paramedics.

And if someone's laughing during sex, you're doing something wrong.

Sex, in my view, should be (as the philosopher Thomas Hobbes described life) nasty, brutish, and short. Research seems to support this viewpoint, too. In a recent survey, a group of Canadian and American sex therapists identified three to seven minutes of shagging as "acceptable," seven to 10 minutes as "optimal," and anything over 10 minutes as "too long."

In other words, long live the quickie. As time goes on, I think you'll find, especially if you have kids, quickies can be the real glue that keeps a marriage together, sexually speaking.

Sometimes, when you don't have time or energy for anything else, it's been a tough day and the kids are finally in bed, there's no shame in engaging in a little quickie "maintenance sex."

(And its variant, "charity sex": I know on some occasions there has been such a high charitable component on my wife's part in our erotic encounters she could probably write them off on her tax forms.)

Then, when the opportunity presents itself, maybe once or twice a month, you can engage in the more drawn-out, romantic type of "intimacy" sex you seem to be yearning for, complete with, in the words of Run-DMC "tears and laughs/champagne, caviar, and bubble baths."

Now, I know you've already put in a request for more of this type of sex, and been effectively ignored. Keep after him. Not nagging, but explain to him what you need. He should get the message eventually.

If not, well, I hate to sound even more politically incorrect than I already have, but perhaps you should explain to him that unless he is a bit more of a patient pilgrim, he will not reach Mecca.

Hold out on him a bit, in other words. He'll straighten out and fly right, and abandon his wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am ways, in short order, or I don't know men.

David Eddie is the author of Chump Change and Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad . Damage Control , the book, was released in March.

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