Sex Love and Marriage

The traditional order of the three topics discussed in this chapter is "love, marriage, sex," but a more contemporary sequence is reflected in the title. Other arrangements of the three topics are also possible, and, in many cases, one or two of them may be omitted altogether. Thus, sex frequently occurs without being preceded or succeeded by love or marriage.

It can be argued, at least from a biological perspective, that the purpose of life is reproduction. From this viewpoint, people who have already reproduced have fulfilled the purpose of their lives and hence have no other biological reason for continuing to live. Historically, most people who were going to have children had done so by age 30, and after then, nature had no further use for them.

It is doubtful that many people would be satisfied with a life that involved only physical maturation, procreation, and deterioration. For most of us, life has to be more than growing up, "getting it on," and growing old. Life is about relationships—with the environment, the past, the future, and especially with other people. We are gregarious, mutually dependent creatures who feel secure when we are close to our own kind. We desire to be touched, caressed, and cuddled, as well as wanted, valued, and respected. Our need to be in contact with other people—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually-ismanifested in all sorts of ways, but particularly in sex and loving. We never outgrow these desires and needs, even in old age. Furthermore, sex is a lifelong habit pattern: Men and women who are more sexually active in their youth and experience more coital orgasms tend to retain their sexual interest and activity well into old age (Pfeiffer, Verwoerdt, & Davis, 1974; Shock et al., 1984; Walters, 1987).

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