Most married people at times wonder secretly about their sex lives and how theirs stacks up against other couples.
They get into the number games, wondering what is normal, and often asking themselves, “Shouldn’t we want it more?”
The popular culture drives comparisons with a focus on sex as a goal and a trophy.
As Gina, a young mother of two, states, “I saw the cover of Cosmo, and the idea of learning ten new techniques to satisfy my man filled me with exhaustion.
But then I begin to wonder if there is something wrong with me.”
What’s gotten lost with all the media buzz viewing the swinging single lives of the rich and famous is that contrary to popular belief, married couples actually have sex more often than their single counterparts.
“The average for married couples is six times a month, so your friends and neighbors devote a lot more time to using their computers than they do to making love,” according to John Gagnon, Ph. D., professor of sociology at the state University of New York, Stony Brook, and coauthor of Sex In America: A Definitive Survey.1
His national sex survey of 3,400 Americans, conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago in 1994, showed that sexual activity for single people is lower than that for married: about once per week, not counting those who are completely abstinent.
The main reason for this is that many singles lack a regular sex partner.
One advantage of being married is that you simply have to roll over when you feel the urge. It may not always happen, but it is easier than “going out looking for it.”
Married folks also seem to be a great deal more satisfied with their sex lives even though the actual act may be of shorter duration.
According to the survey, almost thirty percent of women who don’t live with a male partner indicate that sex often lasts for more than an hour.
For live-in partners, only 13% of the women, and only 8% of wives reported this. Almost three-quarters of married women reported that lovemaking lasted 15-60 minutes with 16% finishing even faster.
But shorter appears to be sweeter. Not only do married people report that they feel emotionally fulfilled, they also report the highest levels of physical pleasure.
Rather than finding monogamy monotonous, 91% of husbands and wives say that they are “thrilled” with their sex lives.
According to the survey, 42% of married women said they found sex extremely emotionally and physically satisfying, compared to just 31% of single women who had a sex partner.
And 50% of married men find sex physically satisfying, compared to 39% of cohabitating men.
What researchers are finding is that what makes for great sex is a strong bond between two people.
According to Linda J. Waite, Ph.D., professor of sociology at the University of Chicago, “a permanent commitment to one’s sexual partner makes a big difference to both sexes sexual satisfaction.”2
Her research shows that men and women who are committed to a monogamous relationship get the most joy from sex, while those who pursue sex with other partners are less emotionally satisfied in the bedroom.
Have fun with sex. Marriage provides a safe, secure structure to really enjoy the gift of sex. Laugh and play as you get to know each other better.
Let go of some of the inhibitions that result from the fears of unprotected sex and the negative messages we often learn growing up. Experiment and explore the activities that you both enjoy.
Talk about it. Discuss with each other what you like and what you don’t like. Share your “turn-ons” and what kinds of things you can both do to enhance the enjoyment.
The more you talk about sex and intimacy, the less difficult it will become. Create and protect rituals that increase communication in the bedroom such as lying in bed to talk every Sunday morning.
Make time for intimacy. It is impossible to have a good sex life if you never make the time to make it happen. Turn off the TV an hour early and meet in the bedroom for talk and lovemaking.
Schedule time alone for just the two of you. Go for a walk in the evening to talk about the day’s events.
Plan get away weekends to a bed and breakfast or special hotel where you know no one who can distract you from each other.
Avoid boredom. Remember how fascinated you were with each other when you first met? At that point you both paid attention to the words and actions of each other.
Bored couples aren’t paying attention to the details. People keep changing.
Make sure that you learn something new about each other on a regular basis. Focus on each other, not the rapid wheels of everyday living.
Try a little effort. Put effort into your own appearance by dressing nice for your partner; shaving, fixing hair and wearing make-up. Consider a “new look” from time to time with a different hairdo, outfit, or something special for the bedroom.
Don’t forget the extras. Research has shown that other senses like sight and smell have a dramatic effect on sexual urges. Consider appealing to the voyeur present in most of us by wearing revealing clothes around the house.
Light a scented candle to set the mood and the scene. Use lotions and cologne to increase the attraction for each other.
Tell each other about your love. No matter how repetitive it may seem, it is always nice to hear how your partner loves you.
Tell each other frequently about your love for each other, especially when intimate.
Talk about your physical and emotional attraction to your mate and how special it is to have them in your life. Whisper naughty secrets in their ear.
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About the author
Barbara Bartlein is president of Great Lakes Consulting Group and author of the book Why Did I Marry You Anyway? Overcoming the Myths That Hinder a Happy Marriage.
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