In Biblical teaching sex and procreation were considered as the original sin, transmitted from parents to their offspring.  Sex is an inborn instinct and procreation is vital for the perpetuation of mankind. Traditionally the purpose of the taboo was to preserve the boundary between the sacred and the profane.  On an evolutionary timescale human beings were not always at an advantage. A strong sex drive was necessary to perpetuate our species when child mortality was high and average life expectancy was low. As life expectancy increased, it became possible to have more children than one can possibly support. Various mechanisms from religious teaching to social shaming evolved to control unrestrained sex. Many of the world’s largest religions impose strict rules on sexual behavior, requiring people to contain their sexual urges within the limits of a monogamous relationship. The sex taboo was magnified by the spread of Christianity around the world.

 Lies to protect or enhance conjugal life was not required till rules and restrictions came into being. The rules of Judeo Christian prohibition sprang from ancient Jewish tribal law. Beliefs among different groups ranged from approval of prostitution, homosexuality and, sex with slaves as well as a liberal view towards divorce. All these beliefs changed 180 degrees over time within the same religious group. By controlling the sex life of their subjects, the priests had a significant degree of control over the population in general. There was a time, when young married couples were obliged to seek permission from priests and rabbis as what is permissible under religious laws. Early religious laws were so restrictive to the point of limiting sex to the missionary position alone. When and how often couples could have sex was laid down by religious laws.  Some remnants of these practice can still be seen in the orthodox Jewish community in USA. The thought of enjoying the act was considered sinful, especially for women. Needless to say, sex was definitely a taboo topic of discussion in their communal life.  Keeping it so, served the interest of the patriarchal society. Today, sex and childbearing are no longer linked in the same manner as before. The premise of the sexual revolution was that sex could be enjoyed for its own sake. However, a deep rooted taboo still makes us think of sex as a shameful act and people remain reluctant to discuss it freely.

Sex is not only a physical act; it is an act of imagination. In committed relationships, between school nights, dinner and car pool and work tension imagination is the first thing that wears out.  This is where white lies can play a positive role.  You can project a more positive image of your partner in your mind instead of putting him or her down. Men react to visual cues because of evolutionary biology. Dressing up instead of falling into the sweatpants or granny nightgown rut may add spice to one’s life.  Evoking illicit scenarios is a great way to keep dopamine levels up. The important thing to remember is there is no wrong or right in the imagination game.  Another topic that is no longer such a taboo is fantasy and role playing.  Role play happens when two or more adults consensually engage in an eroticized pretend game.   In an earlier era, such topics would have been totally out of the realm of regular conjugal life. Before there was “Fifty Shades of Grey” there was Anais Lin who write explicitly about sex from a female point of view. She was accused of narcissism, sociopathy and perversion for her frankness. She wrote for a time that did not come into existence yet.  With the runaway popularity of the book “Fifty Shades of Grey”, women’s sexual fantasies have become mainstream. In fact, according to experts most women fantasize about sexual activities they are not currently experiencing. It is also completely natural for women to fantasize about other men. Men have been doing this for decades. Studies show, women who have such fantasies have a higher sex drive and can have a better conjugal life than those who stifle such thoughts out of shame and inhibition.  Roleplaying or fantasizing is not a sinister sexual practice devised by sinners or sexual deviants. If feelings of shame are eradicated, it can be quite beneficial to conjugal relationships. The most crucial element however is trust in your partner and consent is a must.

Today, nudity is no longer an issue, premarital and extramarital sex are far more acceptable. What do you do when the best sex of your life is outside your marriage, but you still want the emotional security of a stable long term relationship with your spouse? Some people argue that infidelity is the only way to alleviate boredom that eventually plagues every long term relationship. In order to justify, the cheating behavior people are often convinced that should just enjoy the ride and hope not to get caught.  However, women tend to be ransacked by guilt more than men and hence these reasonings and justification become necessary to survive the roller coaster ride that invariably comes with an affair.  It is very common to have great sex with someone who is not a lovable, trustworthy person.  Many people have difficulty integrating love and lust in the same relationship. Often times, the lover will convince the married woman that her view are moralistic, naïve and old fashioned. She is leading a life deprived of pleasures, god meant her to enjoy.  

Let us delve in to the reasons why married men and women have affairs at all, after declaring “in sickness and in health till death do us apart.” Domesticity tends to kill the spark and men have been seeking pleasure elsewhere for centuries. Now women have caught up and at par with men. No matter how hard you try so invariably some digress when an opportunity presents itself, according to latest research the number of women who digress is roughly equal to men.   Many women have long term marriages as well as long term affairs with no intention of hurting either party. They tend to be meticulous, organized creatures who leave no telltale signs and never exhibit unhinged, hysterical behavior.   Such men and women are not necessarily unhappy in their primary relationship but tend to seek an outside emotional attachment for emotional fulfillment. Some women consider such attachments as an added extra to their perfect marriages.  Society does not condone this wayward behavior but a sense of illicit thrill, a taboo factor keeps the participants on edge.  Once started people find it difficult to walk away. Today, men and women spend long hours working side by side where opportunities s for romantic entanglement are myriad.  These kind of three-way love triangles were present since middle ages but the taboo factor has become much less of an issue. In today’s culture Nathaniel Hawthorne cannot pin an A on a Hester Prynne, a woman condemned by her Puritan neighbors. Men have been seeking pleasure elsewhere for centuries now at last in the twenty-first century women are at par with men.  Women are not saying “No” to sexual encounters as many of the earlier era risk factors have vanished with advent of the pill and subsequent sexual revolution. Portrayal of women on television changed with show, Sex and the City where Sarah Jessica Parker tells the viewer, “I ‘d just had sex like a Man”

 Let us discuss another so called taboo that is becoming increasingly common place. It is a rising pornography addiction amongst men in all social strata.  This is normally a taboo topic in a long-term relationship. Reality however says an alarming number of husbands or boyfriend regularly view large amount of porn online. They may feel, it is harmless but their partners who may be unaware at first, slowly start to feel the disconnect in conjugal relations.   Women often blame themselves for not measuring up to the man’s expectations.  The pornographic images have no relation to real life women and their supposedly imperfect bodies. They may not realize that they are not alone in their pain. This kind of addiction is hard to detect at first because the perpetrator maintains secrecy.  Both pornography addiction and cybersex has now become endemic and marriages are feeling it’s dark influence.  Pornography per se is not evil if viewed together as a couple in a sex therapy or informational context. But hard core violent sexual content viewed addictively has no positive outcome. Sex cannot be separated from the man or woman we desire. So, in my opinion any violent or degrading images defiling women should be shunned.

Any discussion on sex, lies and marital happiness cannot be concluded without touching on the topic of homosexuality. In ancient Greece, it was perfectly acceptable as Greeks did not distinguish sexual behavior by gender of the participants. Same sex attraction has been a taboo in the past century in most Western cultures, punishable by law. In recent years, the tide has turned and same sex couples can get legally married in many states in the USA.  Most of the same rules apply to their conjugal life as a regular heterosexual couple.  Eventually we hope sex will become a natural, open and special part of our life without the accompanying guilt and shame which has plagued us for so long. Both partners can ask, “was it good for you?” without the need for lying and appeasing each other.



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