How to stay obsessed and enamored: The best way to save a marriage is sex

Some octogenarians recently told the Pope that sex is the key to marital success--and research shows they're right

Published October 13, 2014 11:00PM (EDT)

            (<a href=''>shironosov</a> via <a href=''>iStock</a>)
(shironosov via iStock)

“Sex is the glue that keeps a marriage together.”

That was one of the few things my mom told me directly about sex. My dad, on the other hand, openly referenced the joys of sex -- “like two star systems colliding in outer space,” he once told me -- but the message was the same: sex is an essential part of marriage. The sharing of this idea ran in the family: His mom, my grandmother, once announced that sex with my grandfather kept getting better, right into their eighties. Elderly people having sex? Elderly people having better sex than me? As a teenager, I found the idea mildly disgusting, not to mention insulting, and yet it was oddly reassuring. It countered the endless stream of sexless marriages and steamy affairs in pop culture ephemera. Marriage didn't necessarily mean the death of sex, but no sex certainly meant the death of marriage, I concluded.

I was reminded of this upon reading news that an octogenarian couple, married for 55 years, had spoken before the Pope and his prelates this week about what makes a marriage last. Their secret was, you guessed it, s-e-x. "The little things we did for each other, the telephone calls and love notes, the way we planned our day around each other and the things we shared were outward expressions of our longing to be intimate with each other," they said. "Gradually we came to see that the only feature that distinguishes our sacramental relationship from that of any other good Christ-centered relationship is sexual intimacy, and that marriage is a sexual sacrament with its fullest expression in sexual intercourse." As the Associated Press put it, "The audience of celibate men was a bit taken aback." But of course! Who likes to hear about the great things they'...

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By Tracy Clark-Flory

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