Bring It To Barb


Dear Barb,

I would never say this out loud, but after talking to my friends I realize that I am not the only one who has noticed this pattern. I’ve been married 25 years and many of my girlfriends as well. Why does it feel like when you ask your man to do a project or something for you that would require any extra level of effort for them, they secretly think that if they do then it somehow will ensure they will get lucky in bed that night? It’s even joked about! Does this happen more over time with age? Is sex really just a reward? I am always happy and very appreciative toward him.


Feeling Like Play Money


Dear Play Money,

There is a social reward system that can influence our private lives and perspective on things. An example: You would never go to work for a week and go the extra mile above and beyond without feeling entitled to some sort of compensation, right?

It is clearly not a coincidence that the more they do things for you, the happier you are and the more attractive you are to them. Most men just want to please the one they love. It’s a celebration for the average man when his wife is happy. For a man, it is natural to want to demonstrate love by more than a quick kiss good-bye, a surprise hand squeeze while driving, or a neck and shoulder rub.

That being said, if the only way you can expect any participation or effort from your man is to promise him a roll-in-the-hay later, you may want to rethink the depth of the overall relationship. Whatever you continue to permit will soon be the standard of practice, and habits form very quickly. When sex becomes a repayment or obligation to you, it becomes an arrangement and misplaces that genuine love part. He may be happy with that arrangement, but you won’t be! In time you will grow resentful and statistically, it isn’t pretty.

As men get older, they get wiser and pick up on opportunities and ways to manipulate you to have an intimate moment. It’s natural, but be honest when you don’t feel up to it. Neither partner should use sex as a duty or a tool to manipulate or especially as a punishment to their lover. It shows complete disrespect and disregard for the other.

On average, couples have sex 68.5 times a year, which means five to six times a month and once or twice a week. Doesn’t seem like a lot – or does it? And as compared to unmarried people, married couples have 6.9 times more sex per year. So, the extra effort to do something for you could coincide with the normal ebb and flow of a relationship and may be your partner’s exuberance of a completed project and having someone like you to make happy.


Barb Rock is a mental health counselor and the published author of “Run Your Own Race: Happiness after 50.” Send any questions related to mental health, relationships or life issues to her at


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