What’s the Difference Between Sex and the Garden Tap?

August 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Relationship Space

Having a Blast from istockphotoRemember your childhood summers?

Back in the days when water wasn’t a premium resource, and ‘water restrictions’ were just words?

Remember playing under the sprinkler in your garden?

The squeals of delight, the buzz of that cold water on your hot skin?

Sometimes, there were “tears before bedtime” too, weren’t there? The howls of hurt and anger would bring your mum or dad out, ready to get seriously grumpy!

What was it that used to upset you back then?

Did you have a big brother/sister or some neighbourhood kid who ran to the tap and took control of the flow of water?  Turning it up high so that it sprayed well away from where you stood waiting for that wave of cool relief.  Or turning it off, and torturing you with their unrelenting grip on the tap – despite all your pleas and angry screams?

Have I taken you back there?  Do you remember the rising frustration at how little power you had to get what you wanted? For you alone to control that tap?

What About Now?

Have you ever considered that you may BE that kid?  Here?  Now?  As an adult?

No! I’m not suggesting you’re a bully!

But I do have a question.

In your relationship, who gets control of how often you have sex? Who has a hold on that tap?

Please note I said “you have sex” not “you want sex”.

Because, in a non-abusive relationship if the woman says no she doesn’t want to have sex, then the couple don’t have sex.  He might try wheedling, tickling, kissing, whispering endearments, or a hundred other possibilities.  But if it’s no, then it’s no go!

Now I know there are plenty of times when love-making can be the best fun you could ever have!

Equally, there are other times when one of you will have sex, albeit with a total lack of enthusiasm, because the other is hanging out for it!   Just to shut her/him up!  You may even get “into it” despite an initial reluctance.  You may have a quickie, or a “mercy hump”, or be mentally filing your nails, but you have still agreed to have sex.

Control of the Tap

So what I’m saying is that women have their hand on that particular tap.  It’s just like that nasty and frustrating big brother at the garden tap, all those years ago.

Now, when this was pointed out to me for the first time, I think the “occasional feminist” in me did a mental little happy dance.  I have to ‘fess up to enjoying the thought that I had power like that, even though I’d never been consciously aware of it!

Later, I talked with SweetP (my sweet hubby).  I was so used to that old stereotype of men as sexual oppressors and predators that this ‘new’ concept of women’s power had got me thinking, and I wanted his opinion.  So I asked him how it felt when I refused sex.

iStock Outdoor Faucet

I wanted to listen carefully so I could really get a sense of what it would be like to “walk in his shoes”.  Maybe I’m just easily persuadable, but I was left feeling uncomfortable about the equity of that power.  I was left a little ashamed at the selfishness with which I’d used that power, and felt mean at the memory of that happy dance.

Now you many not be like me.  You may not have any trouble contemplating sex when exhausted.  You may be ever-eager to please your man, and yourself, at every opportunity. You may have no trouble doing all tasks like SuperWoman and then smile gratefully at the suggestion of sex.  Or maybe, you DO connect a little with this selfish and cruel non-guru, Pink Apple.

New Self-Awareness

SweetP’s answers helped me realise that plenty of men who love and respect their wives must find it very frustrating that they don’t ever get to really have the final choice!

Hang On!  I can hear you spluttering with feisty indignation there ladies!

Now, I know there could be many arguments about the number of situations where women get no choice.  I know that it could be suggested that this particular inequity might be rebalancing the books in some people’s minds.  So don’t bombard me with those arguments!

I just know I’d hate anyone, even SweetP whom I adore, to have that much control over me.  I hate feeling powerless.  I’m assuming most people do!

So I assume that it can’t be much fun to be faced with the immutable fact that the woman in your life will always get to say how much sex you have, assuming you choose to remain faithful to her.  I guess it’s a little like being in a routine and unsatisfying job, when you know you’ll never get a promotion, but also know you need to stay there to keep getting the money.

So now I want to ask you …

  • What does that power feel like for you?  Have you always recognised it as a power?
  • If it’s a new concept for you, what effect does that knowledge have on you?  Does it change your thinking?  Will it change your behaviours?  If so, what might change?
  • What impact does that power have on your relationship?  Does it help it to be more balanced? Is it a source of conflict?  Is it a source of strength?
  • How do you wield that power?  Do you use it wisely and well?
  • Is there a way you could use that power to strengthen your relationship, to give you a better relationship?

(I know I’m going out on a limb here, but I really would value your opinions. In fact, why not show your partner this article and see how the conversation unfolds.)


6 Responses to “What’s the Difference Between Sex and the Garden Tap?”
  1. Oh Pink Apple, what an interesting thought. I have to admit I do enjoy feeling powerful, but any benevolent dictator needs to keep the constituent interested, or else…

    You do make a very good point, and I guess I always knew I had that power and there were times when I used it to the detriment of our relationship. Thankfully now we have both grown wiser about how we wield our own powers, thank goodness.

  2. Lara K. says:

    I’m amused at the tone of this article – it’s not always that way round! There are PLENTY of women with higher sex drives than their (male) partners!

  3. Chris Owen says:

    “any benevolent dictator needs to keep the constituent interested, or else…”
    That’s exactly right and for the sake of the relationship, it’s in our best interests to use our power well.

    You’re right, reversed libidos abound as well.
    But one of the common complaints of modern women/couples is that sexual relationships are the losers in the priorities lists. No matter what the libido, and which way the balance beam topples, women need to be aware of the fact that we have this particular power and as Angela has pointed out “use our power well”.

  4. karen says:

    ahh, gleeful childhood memories of running under the sprinkler – one my kids don’t have, unfortunately, due to droughts and sprinkler bans.

    This is an interesting discussion, Chris, and maybe one that cuts too close to the bone for many to comment? I think libidos ebb and flow like the tides as our lives ebb and flow around us. And we’re not always at high tide at the same time, so we each have our turn at being the ”benevolent dictator”.

    Thinking of it as ‘power’ is definitely a new concept for me, and has been the topic of some interesting conversation this month…

  5. Annie Hutton says:

    As always Chris, you have hit the sneaky nail on its sneaky little head. Certainly a new angle to give us pause for thought.

  6. Chris Owen says:

    Yes it is a bit of a sneaky nail but all I wanted to do was give pause for thought Annie. Sounds like it’s succeeded for you!
    Happy contemplating!