Davina McCall may live to rue the recent day that she, in all innocence, shared a piece of advice on what maintains her marriage. She said that women have to keep their husbands happy in the bedroom or else they will stray.
While responses to this kind of controversial statement are usually divisive, Davina has managed to tick off both men and women.
It may just be possible, though, that she has raised so many heckles because we’re all wondering whether what she is saying is true or not. She does, after all, look to be in a loved-up relationship.
When sex is not a priority
In the ‘Definitely not’ camp, one can argue that sex takes a slip down the list of things to do when mortgages, childcare and careers take every atom of energy from couples.
Not ideal, but would you have it any other way? You’re not exactly going to be in the running for Parent-of-the-Year award if you prioritise getting your kit off with your betrothed over taking Junior to their scheduled dental appointment.
So we get married, procreate, settle into routine, and pffft, our sex life fizzles out. Not exactly an excuse for philandering considering the huge sacrifices both partners are making to keep the family going.
Plus, and this next declaration could be enough to shake society’s very foundations to the core, women enjoy sex too. Are men taking care to match their underpants to their socks to keep their wives interested for fear us females will head off to catch our thrills elsewhere? They should be!
Why is the onus on women?
In the ‘Davina may have a point’ camp, don’t we all lift our heads from the treadmill we find ourselves on from time to time and remember the lover that we married, rather than the housemate we live with now?
“Intimacy is what keeps relationships, especially long-term ones, together,” says Mariam Prag, a counselor specialising in couples therapy.
“That doesn’t necessarily mean sex, but it does mean being physical with your partner in a way you aren’t with other people in your life.”
So far so good, but why does it seemingly always fall on the women’s shoulders to ensure that the bedroom sees its quotient of action within a marriage?
This sentiment is really what has got the biggest rise out of all of Davina’s words.
Fixing problems in the bedroom
Celine, who is in her “nifty fifties” as she calls them, has a unique view on the storm caused by Davina.
“I hate to break it to my younger sisters-in-arms, but it is the women who will fix things in the bedroom department. Not because it’s the woman’s responsibility but because nine times out of ten she’ll be the braver one to venture into the sensitive world of what goes on in a couple’s love life,” she says.
Before you think this sounds like we’ve sold our feminist principles for a mess of pottage, take heart. Celine, and her friends, have learnt to steer life in their direction.
“Your fifties do a lot for you,” Celine says, “and above all they teach you to be cunning!”
Rosalie, 56, who is Celine’s closest friend, concurs. “My husband and I both work, we’re both responsible for our household’s finances, and we both put a lot into our kids.
“I’m the one that acts as the custodian of our relationship, but I keep him on his toes by every so often doing something unexpected. A new hairdo, a weekend away with my friends, taking up Zumba, whatever, just as long as he is not too comfortable.
“I find that he then, probably without knowing it, makes an effort too.”
Sometimes these unexpected surprises have to be a little more direct. “He really did a double take when he saw Fifty Shades of Grey next to my side of the bed,” says Rosalie. “He upped his game too, didn’t he?” suggests Celine with a wink. (Correctly, as it turns out.)
Getting intimacy back
Davina’s statement could have a whole thesis written about the reactions that it has stirred up.
However, relationship experts agree that getting intimacy back into a relationship once it is gone is much more difficult than fanning the flames of desire as and when the mood takes you (and sometimes when it doesn’t) to keep your life together going from strength to strength.
Whether it falls to the husband or the wife to do so is a question that will never be answered without a few fiery emotional responses. But the women certainly look to be ahead of the game.