love and relationships How Important Is Sex in A Marriage?
I recently saw and loved The Perfect Picture, a Sparrow Productions movie from Ghana. It was directed by Shirley Frimpong Manso and starred Jackie Appiah, Lydia Forson, Chris Attoh, among others. Technically, I was impressed by the picture quality, it was well edited and the colors were sharp and made everyone look more attractive. The audio also was clean and not overshadowed by background music. The soundtrack was a mixture of both Ghanaian and foreign music, each well suited to the scene except for a brief clip of the James Bond theme which I felt was unnecessary. I was completely blown away by the two dance sequences especially the one at the end of the movie, it were simply great.
On the story angle, I was not too disappointed. There were a few holes but I liked how they wove together the three strands of the plot concerning the major characters and their love interests together. The story is about three friends in urban Ghana living everyday middle-class lives. The film opens with a wedding footage of one of the girls, who is getting married to her long term boyfriend. She is surrounded by friends and family including her two best friends. Along the line, we get to see their lives. There is the earthly sexy one who all the men are attracted to, and the workaholic who is being pressured by her mother to get married and have children. The man-eater ends up falling for an unavailable man, while the more reserved one falls for an unsuitable man.
The three girls navigate their love lives with the flair and panache one would imagine for their ages – they seem in their thirties. OK, so maybe the dialogue was a bit corny in parts and predictable in others but for a romantic sucker like me, I didn't really mind. I like that the producers were bold enough to make a movie that tackles the issue of sex in relationships front and center. The married one and her husband cope with getting used to each other in bed once again. Our well-endowed lady goes clubbing and sleeps with her man friend with no questions asked. Even the quiet one has sex with her lowly mechanic and declares it, the best she's had. I think she added “ever” but I am not sure now, lol.
A summary of the movie I saw somewhere said that “Girls will not settle for anything less if love is not in the picture”. So we are left to assume that love makes a relationship, the perfect picture. Totally true but eh, not so fast! What about sex? Here I will focus on the married couple, Aseye and Larry. The sexual incompatibility between them is very true in some marriages and was addressed full on.
We see at their wedding that they are in love with each other. They had dated for years and been celibate for about a year while planning the wedding. The reason was “to make it fresh and new” in the marriage. So wedding night comes and, they couldn't get past the awkwardness of sex. The scene was over extended and there may have been some exaggerated head bumps and inexplicable elbow nudges but we saw what could happen when a married couple cannot consummate their love relationship with sex. The actors (Jackie Appiah and Chris Attoh) did their best to portray the emotions even though the script could have been better.
The Perfect Picture shows that when the sexual advances by a man or a woman are turned down by their partners, they can sometimes view themselves as being poor lovers. A lot of people believe that their desirability is defined by the love they receive from their partners. So they take sexual rejection very personally, because their sense of self-worth has become coupled to approval from their partner. It is not different between Aseye and Larry. She is depressed and despairs, while he is frustrated by his erectile dysfunction and suffers a lowered self-esteem. There had been no prior history but the resulting stress does not help matters for both of them. Larry tries to 'handle' the trouble on his own without much success. Work also gets in the way when Aseye wants to spice things up.
In a perfect world of love, one would have expected Aseye to assume the role of an understanding mate, and attempt to motivate Larry to be optimistic so that they could deal with their problem together. However, like it sometimes happens in real life, she becomes difficult, antagonistic and blames him for what is happening to them both. She only stops short of directly denigrating his manliness. The doctor they consulted pointed out to them that a healthy and relaxed mind is very important for a mutually enjoyable sex life. They go on to try some of his tips but all are for naught. Aseye then arranges a switch to see if her friend could arouse Larry. There is a whole misunderstanding after this but the bottom line is that the couple had to ask themselves the question; “can love go the distance without sex?” Their answer was no as they go their separate ways. This is not how the money ends of course.
Still I thought it would be interesting to ask, what's sex got to do with marriage?
If you were in Aseye's shoes, what would you do and what would your answer be?
Myne Whitman is the pen name of Nigerian blogger, poet and author of A Heart to Mend. She is quiet and laid-back but does like a good loud debate sometimes. Three words for Myne, friendly, caring and fun-loving. She has been a teacher, NGO consultant, banker, skate-hire attendant, researcher and government worker. After a postgrad degree and a few years in Edinburgh, she now lives in Seattle with her husband.