Married, Not Dead

A wedding ring shouldn't mean the end of a happy sex life—though it usually does.

I nod maniacally because of course I know.

"I invented 'off your game,' for God's sake. Please. Are you crazy?"

"All right, so you know. Every night is like a standoff. I read in bed until I'm sure he's sleeping. He stays in his office surfing the Net until he's sure I'm sleeping. And then if we accidentally touch each other, we panic. The tension just builds and builds because you know you're going to have to do it soon, and you're afraid to. Afraid it's going to suck. Afraid you won't remember how. Well, today," Carmichael continues, "I dropped Chloe off at school, and for some reason that I will never understand, I came home and was horny. I took off my pants and I was weighing whether it was worth remaking the bed and taking care of business myself when I remembered that I actually had a husband working from home this week. I could take care of business with him. So I took off the rest of my clothes, except my new Cosabella underwear, and I went into his office and stood there until he noticed me."

Illustration by Hugh Syme

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Editor's note: This week, the Voice introduces our new sex columnists, Nora Shelley and Essie Carmichael, two married women raising kids, living in Brooklyn, and still hoping to get lucky—preferably with their husbands.

See also:
Married Sex in the City?
Open thread in Power Plays

Tune in: Interview with the authors


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"How long did that take?"

"He was researching printers online, so a while. Then when he did see me, he stared at me, totally confused. I think he thought I was having a nervous breakdown. I mean, I was standing in his office in my underpants. And, well, I'm not a complete stranger to hysterical behavior. But I just walked over to his chair and straddled him. I looked him right in the eyes and I took his right hand and put it between my ass and my Cosabellas, and I put his left hand on my boob and I pressed against him. He got a hard-on immediately. Which really impressed both of us. I mean, honestly, the last time we wanted it at the same time was like eight years ago. Anyway, we tried to do it right there in the Aeron chair, but it was much too complicated with the armrests. And I was frightened I was going to hurt my neck, and he was nervous my ass was going to delete something from his desktop, so we went to the bedroom and did it on the bed. And it didn't even cross my mind that I'd have to remake the bed. I was totally in the moment. It was nice. Really nice. I liked it! I want to do it again. Plus, you know what else?"

I look at her in total disbelief. "There's more?" I say.

We pass the Limited and I can't help but notice I'm too old for everything in there too. I'm totally spiraling. Why can't I just embrace aging? Live in the moment, as Carmichael has apparently learned to do as of this morning.

Carmichael leans toward me and whispers in my ear, "Doing it without a child in the house is really hot." This is when I burst into tears.

"Carmichael," I say, "I have three kids. And one of them is usually in my bed." She puts her arm around me and leads me into City Bakery. I am assaulted by the smell of carbs, and I ask myself, for the second time today, why I gave up wheat. I watch Carmi chael load up her plate with macaroni and cheese.

"I have three kids, Essie. Count 'em, three kids. And the third one was hardly an aphrodisiac. You have one," I point out, "who's in school all day. You work from home and your husband is freelance. My husband works a lot. In an office. Far from home." I fill my plate with tempeh and greens. "We don't have the raw ingredients for morning sex. Besides, I am too damn tired to get it on."

"Shelley, you've got to be in it to win it. You have to play the game. You just have to climb back on that horse. I mean, my God. I don't have a nanny or a cleaning woman. I barely have time to brush my teeth. But I'm getting back in the game. If I can do it, you can do it."

We sit down. The reality of my lame sex life slaps me in the face. I'm depressed. Carmichael smiles stupidly at me, shoveling macaroni and cheese into her mouth. "I'm famished," she says.

"Well, bully for you."

"Listen, " she says. "Have the nanny take Owen for a walk, and tell J.P. to go in late for work, and then you pounce. While the other two are at school."

"What about the housekeeper?" I ask. "What do I do with her while I'm trying to do something with J.P.? Anyway, I never even see J.P. He's working 24-7. I have a better chance of having sex with the housekeeper."

"Set your alarm clock. Do it when he gets home. I know you're tired, but you can't keep doing it with that showerhead. You need to start doing it with J.P."

"But the showerhead is handheld. It's so fast. It's so convenient. Not to mention the only incentive I have to bathe."

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