February 7, 2007

The dreariest subject in the world: How to spice up your marriage.

I see that pop culture has come full circle:
Christina Aguilera has no problem showing skin - especially on weekends with her husband, music executive Jordan Bratman.

"We claim ourselves to be the coziest couple ever. We have something called 'naked Sundays..."''''

"You have to keep marriage alive, spice it up....We do everything naked. We cook naked."
This is straight out of "Total Woman," the best-seller that feminists hooted at in the 1970s:

The author Marabel Morgan had all sorts of advice aimed at conservative, middle class, Christian women.
Marabel Morgan's notorious 1973 book, The Total Woman, has lingered in people's minds because of the seduction techniques it recommends to unhappy housewives. They ought to consider meeting their husbands at the front door in sexy costumes (heels and lingerie, that kind of thing), calling them at work and talking dirty to them, seducing them beneath the dining-room table. (Morgan does not, however, recommend that women nurture a burning intelligence. In a list of unconventional locations in which to make love, she includes the hammock, counseling her readers, "He may say 'We don't have a hammock.' You can reply 'Oh, darling, I forgot!'"). But long before she describes any of these memorable techniques, Morgan gives a quite thorough accounting of how a housewife ought to go about "redeeming the time" and the energy so that she is physically and emotionally able to make love on a regular basis. A housewife should run her household the way an executive runs his business: with goals, schedules, and plans. She should make dinner—or at least do all the shopping and planning for it—right after breakfast, so that she isn't running around like a madwoman in the late afternoon with no idea what to cook. She should take time to rest and relax during the day so that she is not exhausted and depleted come whoopee hour. With the right kind of planning, "you can have all your home duties finished before noon." In a household run by an incompetent wife, however, "by the time her husband enters the scene, she's had it," Morgan writes. "She's too tired to be available to him." This seems a fairly accurate depiction of many contemporary two-career marriages, in which dinner is a nightly crisis (what to eat?) and an endless negotiation (who to cook it?) entered into by two people who have been managing crises and negotiating agreements all day long and who still have the children's homework and baths and bedtimes to contend with.
That's a passage from a 2003 article in The Atlantic called "The Wifely Duty" and subtitled: "Marriage used to provide access to sex. Now it provides access to celibacy."


Anonymous said...
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RogerA said...

cooking naked would seem to be somewhat dangerous--esp if the cook(s) were sauteeing. Imagine the spatters! OUCH!!

Irene Done said...

This reminds me of an old Bob Newhart episode: He arrives home to find Emily dressed in a seductive black negligee and as she rushes to greet him, he deadpans "oh, were you expecting someone else?"

KCFleming said...

A friend of mine used to comment that he wished he'd known that marriage would be a kind of monasticism, and asked us to call him "Brother John".

She Was Not Amused.

Bissage said...

We used to spice up our love life by playing "Boy Astronaut Meets Girl Astronaut."

Looks like that one's gone for good.

exhelodrvr1 said...

"We used to spice up our love life by playing "Boy Astronaut Meets Girl Astronaut.""

Did that include "Depends"? Or just the rubber hoses?

Jennifer said...

Well, the idea of Jordan Bratman nekkid brings up the old Seinfeld good naked/bad naked episode. I'll be filing that image under bad naked.

Jennifer said...

Argh. That was me above. Darn Blogger making me googlefy.

Bissage said...

Well, exhelodrvr, I can disclose that the game required one of these but the rest is classified. Heh, heh, heh.

vbspurs said...

cooking naked would seem to be somewhat dangerous--esp if the cook(s) were sauteeing. Imagine the spatters! OUCH!!

"Cristina, there's a hair in my soup. I never had these problems with Lindsay."


Revenant said...

Marriage seems like an incredibly lame experience. The guys I know who've gotten married seem, on average, to get a lot more tired and bitter, and don't have much time to do what they want to do anymore.

I can see the value in it if you want to raise kids, but for people who want to remain childless it seems like a great way to ruin a relationship and screw up your life at the same time.

PatCA said...

It does sound like kind of a dreary exercise...oh, no, that means NYC will soon pass a law mandating it! Life without smoking, fats, or iPods will need something to make it interesting.

Mary Campbell said...

I was 26 when Marabel Morgan's book came out. I was one of the feminists who hooted at it. At about the same time, the famous anthropologist Margaret Mead was writing about the importance of mother/child bonding. Looking back (with no regrets), I should have done what I really wanted to do, even though Betty Friedan ("Women MUST work") and Gloria Steinem (women must have lots of sex) said I didn't: be a stay-at-home mom.
My 16-year-old grandson is an Eagle Scout and a self-styled "progressive." I'm trying to convey to him how labels (conservative, liberal, Shiite, Sunni, feminist) move in and take over, so I'm writing a little book for him called *Chewing Oysters.*

Mary Campbell said...

*Chewing Oysters* begins...
It used to be so easy to be a Liberal. Back in the day, Con-servatives (other than my parents, who were perfect) were so wrong-headed about practically everything that you could hardly go amiss being anti- whatever they were pro-, and vice-versa. [photo of black man drinking at whites-only drinking fountain; photo of Joseph McCarthy)

Everything changed in 1965, starting with a creepy feeling, like maybe Voldemort was back and regaining his powers. I noticed that the good guys hardly ever wore white hats any more, maybe because they had so much hair. I still went south-southeast when Conservatives went north-northwest, but the math was getting complicated, like trying to convert miles to kilometers in your head.

It was fun to be a Hippie Radical Freethinking Hairy Person, but when I was invited to places where acid would be dropped or hashish inhaled, gosh darn it, so sorry, I have to stay home and listen to Buffalo Springfield and cook brown rice, or change the oil in my Volkswagen, or card the wool from the sheep I just sheared.
When I became a Parent, I edged away from acid-dropping types, being unac-countably drawn toward Tupperware-party-givers. And then one day I woke up and realized that I wasn’t a Feminist, ergo I wasn’t a Liberal, ergo I had to start forming opinions rather than swallowing them whole like oysters. Mother Bird was not go-ing to feed me any more. It was time for me to fly off and peck around for Original Thoughts. Or start chewing oysters.