How important is sex in a relationship? Is it the 'glue' which holds it together and the very thing which differentiates it from the close bonds we have with 'other' people? As sexual attraction and desire is usually the very thing which first attracts us to our partners should it not always be there, ready to be ignited, even during the toughest of times? Should going to bed with the person you love more than anyone else not be something you look forward to, crave and want to make time and effort for?
I think yes, and it surprises - and saddens me - when I hear about women who happily allow themselves to lose the sexual part of their lives because they feel the other demands of marriage, children and domesticity should become their main priority.
Journalist Shona Sibary wrote in the Daily Mail last year that she would rather mop the floor than have sex with her husband, a statement which left me shocked and despairing of her relationship - not to mention worried about what the future held for it.
Sibary almost seemed to be revelling in a vintage sitcom 'battleaxe wife' stereotype kind of role; practically depicting herself as a matriarch who goes to bed in a crimplene bed jacket and curlers, with a rolling pin under the pillow ready to beat off any amorous advances from her sex-starved husband.
But it seems there are an awful lot of women like her who will 'prioritise' housework and their children's needs over bedroom activity. A recent poll on ITV's This Morning programme, where I debated this topic with Sibary, revealed that 69% of viewers agree with her - that sex is NOT important in a relationship.
As a woman who has had a previous relationship break down in part due to a lack of sex, this absolutely stunned me; why are people putting so little effort, emphasis and importance on the very thing that makes their union with their partner different from any other relationship in their life? How can they NOT regard the physical side of their partnership as something precious and important? Something to make time for, to enjoy, to be excited by and look forward to?
I firmly believe that a man or woman who does not want to have sex with their partner has issues, be they performance, health or body confidence concerns, or that the refusal of sex is indicative of deeper, bigger problems within the relationship.
I do not buy 'busy' as an excuse for not having sex; sex is not a chore (like mopping the floor is). Sex is - or should be - a fun, pleasurable, exciting activity, something which relaxes and revives the body; something that is much wanted or needed to relieve the stress of 'busyness' or work or the mundane day-to-day running of a home and family. Indeed, the latest scientific reports claim that orgasm activates up to 30 different parts of our brain, as well as releasing the 'happy hormone' oxytocin. But science aside, at its most basic level, sex makes us feel close to our partners, wanted, desired and desirable.
But despite all the feelgood benefits, a survey last year undertaken by Benenden Healthcare Society revealed that a staggering one in three Brits do find sex a chore. Indeed, in her article, Sibary claims that at the end of a day of child rearing, work and domestic duty, she knows there is 'still one, last, conjugal chore to be performed'.
So why do so many relationships evolve into this state of 'companionship' and viewing of sex as something to be endured once the shower screen has been thoroughly scrubbed of soap scum and floors buffed to within an inch of their lives? Why is there for some just this acceptance that those early days of heady, passionate longings will eventually fade into just a distant memory, the sound of creaking bed springs and banging headboards happily replaced with the squish of a mop on tiles, the clatter of washing up in the sink? Why would ANYONE want to have a 'companion' (which let's face it is something wealthy pensioners advertise for in The Lady, and usually involves assisting with jigsaw puzzles and afternoon drives to the library) when they could have a LOVER?
Divorce lawyer Mark Heptinstall from Manchester law firm Slater Heelis says he sees many clients filing for divorce who tell him that sex has been off the agenda in their marriages for years: "They say they have become just friends, that they live together but keep separate lives, together just for the sake of the children," he says, adding that sexual breakdown should be addressed at the earliest opportunity in any relationship.
"The difficulty is that the topic itself is a not an easy one to raise, perhaps the fear of causing upset or making your loved one feel inadequate may be why this tends to be swept under the carpet and not addressed as early as it should be," he says.
And, he adds: "From my professional experience, it tends to be a reflective consideration when perhaps it is then too late and one partner may have satisfied their desires elsewhere."
Something anyone prioritising domestic chores over nights of passion should surely be concerned about.