While a 5K might not sound like much to most normal, healthy people, 3.1 miles to a person like me is a long run. Granted, I can run most of it, but I am slower than most at this point (but only getting faster!).

My running yesterday got me thinking about the effect exercise has on the sex drive of a particular person, and how exercise can not only make you more attractive, but possibly more likely to actually have sex as well. In my search for news stories on such phenomenon I came across this commentary from about.com, which led me to this article from the Wall Street Journal in February of this year. The basic jist of the WSJ article is that this man basically spends all of his free time running, gets up before everyone, goes to bed before everyone, doesn’t appreciate his wife’s cooking because it’s “too heavy,” and doesn’t help with anything around the house (or their three children) because he works all day as an executive something. The article refers to his wife as an “exercise widow” and this extra drama put into what is essentially avoidance behavior on the part of the husband escapes the real issue: what is the deal with the relationship that this guy values a marathon in Utah over being home with his wife and kids on Mother’s Day? I’m not mad at the dude like the article wants me to be, I want to know how the family works and why he seems to be searching for fulfillment outside of the home.

This made me think about my own relationship with my husband. We are of similar body type and similar lifestyle. We both work outside the home and we have no children. Since I am beginning to get back into running as exercise and as a hobby, initially I was wondering about how this might affect our intimate relationship. While all signs point to YES YES YES I have to pause after reading this article and think about what happens when you give to much to yourself and to other things and not enough to your partner. What if, instead of wanting to join me for exercise in our apartment complex fitness center he decides to withdraw and see exercise as “Amanda’s activity”? And then the begins to resent my efforts despite their positive effects because they are taking me away from him, making me different from him in body type, changing my lifestyle from his so it is more active. All of a sudden all we would have in common in his frantic mind was work, so maybe we should have children to bring us together, right? So we have kids but now my body is all messed up so I want to exercise more to fix it and he’s left alone with the kids in the evening and the resentment grows…yeah, sounds preposterous right?

While this post began with my intention being descriptions of why exercise is good for sex drive, it slowly became about the differences between the sexes when it comes to activities that one partner does without the other. That scenario I wrote about above would NEVER happen. My husband is so supportive of my efforts to exercise and run, and I am so focused on making sure he feels loved and cared for that even if my runs got up to marathon length and I wanted to run a few, we would still work together the same as we do now. It is my firm belief that it takes a woman (and in the case of the Wall Street Journal almost certainly a stay at home mom type woman) to create that kind of drama around an issue. It reads like a soap opera or a romance novel (read the Wall Street Journal article before you read this, it makes it funnier):

She awoke to feel the cold sheets on the bed next to her where he lay only hours before, but now having forsaken her for the open road she had only the scent of him on the nearby pillow to keep her company. Anyone else would have left long ago, but her heart was true and her feelings real. He may have forsaken her, but she would not forsake him.

Gag me. Granted, when the  relationship reaches this point of dysfunction, miscommunication, and resentment the couple can either continue limping along to save face or blow up in a messy divorce where both air ALL of their grievances, more than likely in fron tof the kids. But what if the roles had been switched? Let’s say the mom was running during the day while the kids were at school and the husband at work and she wanted to go out of town for some marathons on the weekends. You know what the high powered exec would do in this situation? Feel a bit put out and hire a nanny to watch them while he went to play a round of golf on Saturday and watch football with the guys on Sunday. All of this ignores why the couple couldn’t just exercise together and set those goals together.

I will continue to run because I truly enjoy running. Hopefully some of my body weight will begin to leave me, making my runs increasingly more enjoyable. The invitation is always open to my husband to run on the elliptical next to me or to use the weight machines behind me. I know he isn’t interested in running, but I also know he wants to at least exercise more and I’m really hopeful that my running goals and routines make him want to join in and be with me during those times, even if his exercise goals are very different. He’ll so his thing, I’ll do mine, and as long as we don’t play the gender roles that a society that worships the 1950s wants us to play, we will be just fine.

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