Myth: Married People Have Less Sex

This time we’re going to be talking about the myth that after several years of marriage, couples have sex very infrequently. That’s the myth. Because in fact, it’s really not true. People who are in couples and people who are married actually have more sex than most people who are single. Being in a couple gets you more sex than when you’re a single person. Now of course it does depend on what you think is infrequent. And that is – the definition of that – that’s something to do with it, but much of the propaganda against marriage and sex in marriage – one of the people that you hear talking about that often is Bill Maher, so if you hear Bill Maher on television, you’ve heard a lot about that, makes it sound like once you’re married, you don’t get any sex anymore. It’s all over. And you’re lucky to have sex with your spouse once a month or maybe even less than that. But it’s really just not the case.

What Are The Facts?

Most couples, have sex at least – well starting the first couple of years, it’s three times a week or more. And after two years, most American couples have sex two to three times a week. That’s the average. Now of course the range is from zero to several times a day, so you can never say what’s normal for a particular couple, and by normal I mean average. So that there are couples who have sex three or four times a day through their whole marriage. And what’s normal and comfortable for that marriage is what’s good for both members of the couple. So there are couples who have sex once – once a week, and they think it’s great. There are couples who have sex once a year, and if both people think that that’s the perfect amount of sex to have, it’s great for that couple. There are couples who have sex three times a day, their whole marriage, and if both of them feel that that’s the comfortable or right amount of sex to have, it’s great. It’s the right amount of sex to have for that couple. But the average couple – that is, the average American couple, when you take a whole bunch of couples and you ask them what they’re doing, after the first two years of marriage the average American couple is having sex two or three times a week. Even after ten years, studies tell us, that 63% of American couples – heterosexual couples – are having sex once a week, which is not bad! And I’ll tell you it’s better than most single people are getting – even young single people. However, it is true, in one survey, that they found that 15% of Americans would rather watch television than have sex. Well, that’s kind of sad but maybe they’re watching Bill Maher, I don’t know. Maybe that’s what they’re doing with their time.

Now sometimes it’s really a lack of communication, and that’s something we really need to talk about. Now I want to tell you about an interesting study that was done, several years ago, but still very interesting I think because I think it tells us something important. There were 60 couples in this study. Their average age was in their late thirties, and they had been married on average about 13 and a half years. And the study reported on this – they asked each one – each member of the couple – what their actual frequency of sex was per month, that is, the men and women separately, they asked them what their own preference was, and they estimated what their partner’s preference was. So they asked the wives what was really happening, what their preference would be, and what they thought their husband’s preference would be. And they asked the same of the husbands. Now the wives said that their actual preference was about 7.7 times a month. That was the actual frequency that took place in the marriage. So that’s more than once a week. And they asked the husbands what the actual frequency was, and the husbands said it was 6.9. So, pretty close – the women said that they were doing it a little bit more than the men said. Not that different really. The wives said their preference was to do it exactly as much as they’d been doing it – 7.7 times a month, almost 8 times a month. And they asked the husband’s estimate of the wife’s preference, that is, what did he think his wife – how often did he think his wife wanted to do it and he said 6.5 times a month, so he said less than what the wife said the preference was. She was happy with the way it was going. The wife’s estimate of the husband’s preference was 11 and a half times a month. So she thought that he would really want to do it more often than they were doing it. And the husband’s stated preference was only 9 times a month. Interesting. So the wife thought of him as wanting to do it twice more a month than he said his preference would be. So the difference between the wives’ and the husbands’ preferences was only one and a half times more a month. Their idea of what each one would prefer – when you looked at the differences, it was only one and a half times. But the wives overestimated what they thought the husbands wanted, and the husbands underestimated what they thought the wives wanted.

How To Prevent The Myth From Coming True

This is rather interesting, and it tells us that people are not talking about sex. Well, we know that. We people in sex – in sex therapy and in sex research know that couples are not communicating well about what they want and about what they would prefer. Husbands and wives really have funny ideas about what they need, and so we’ve got to conclude here that there are real communication problems. People who are living together – these people were living together for 13 years and they weren’t communicating well. It’s a big problem. Now it’s not surprising because all of us when we went to school, did we ever have a course about communication with a partner? Whether it’s an opposite-sex partner or a same-sex partner, in terms of intimate sexuality? No, we didn’t. At least I certainly didn’t and I haven’t met anybody who has. I’ve talked to people about this because this is a big problem that people have. And I’ve made some suggestions which I’m going to give you today, but there are a lot of them and there are other ones that maybe we’ll add more on the website for you to look at. But here are some that I’ve given people who have trouble and I’ll tell you most of you do have trouble about it.

Increasing Communication In Your Relationship

So how do you communicate to your partner whether tonight’s the night or not? So that they’ll know that you’re open for this kind of interaction tonight? Well one couple I suggested that they get a set of dolls or porcelain figures, a male and a female. And if you’re two males or two females you can get two of them, just know which one is yours and which one is your partner’s. And if you’re in the mood tonight, lay that doll down or that porcelain doll down on the mantelpiece or in the kitchen or wherever you have these two dolls. And when your partner walks in they can look over there and they’ll see, Oh, your doll is lying on the mantelpiece or on the kitchen table or wherever you keep the salt and pepper and they’ll know that tonight you are up for it. And if you agree, you lay your doll down too. And so you don’t have to talk about it because we’re all so embarrassed about such things. Or lots of people are. There are also pillows you can get that say “tonight” or “not tonight,” or they just say “tonight” and so you don’t have to have a “no” pillow, you’re just going to have a “yes” pillow. And you turn your pillow over when tonight is a yes pillow. And that tells your partner that you’re open to this. And if they’re not they don’t turn their pillow over. Another way is to lay out a certain pair of pajamas or a nightie that you like if tonight’s a night that you’re in the mood. And so your partner knows when they walk into the bedroom that this particular set of pajamas or nightgown is laid out and that tells them that you’re in the mood. And if you’re not in the mood you either don’t put yours out or put theirs back. And then nobody’s embarrassed, nobody is hurt, and you haven’t had to talk about it and it’s clear.

How To Keep On Having Good Sex

Keeping score is not a good idea in a marriage or in a relationship when it comes to sexuality. It’s the quality of the sex that you have, not the quantity that counts. But of course, if you’re very low and the other person is very high, if you’ve got a disparity in what you need, then there’s a problem and this needs talking and if you can’t talk to each other you need to go and get some help to figure out how to make something that’s fair for both of you. Again it also is very important what you count as having sex. And we found that of course, that definition is very wide. You know, we had a president who didn’t count certain things as having sex, and, by the way, we’ve done research that shows that the majority of Americans that we studied agree with that president that oral sex, for many Americans, doesn’t count as having sex. But it should count as having sex – in fact, lots of things should count as having sex. If only penile-vaginal intercourse counts as having sex, then you’re limiting your enjoyment and you’re limiting your range of enjoyment. So, have a luxuriant bath together – give each other a massage – have a romantic dinner, with romantic kissing and cuddling or dancing afterward. Go to a drive-in movie and sit in the back like you used to do together, you know, when you were teenagers, and cuddle and make out. Make out in the back of the car! You know, all kinds of entertainment can be sexy and satisfying in and of itself – this kind of entertainment. And then, when you’ve done that, who knows what will come afterward? And maybe you’ll have a night of very passionate genital sex afterward. But first, enjoy each other, and enjoy having other kinds of sexual entertainment.

Especially For Same-Sex Couples

Let me end by talking about other kinds of couples because you know same-sex couples also have the same problems that heterosexual couples have. That is, they also have disparities in how much sex they’re having and one member of the couple feels that it’s not enough and another one may feel it’s too much or they’re having too many demands. So let me just tell you a little bit about that too. There’s a decreasing frequency of sexual behavior as years go by in same-sex male couples as well. Just like heterosexual couples, although they start at a higher frequency in same-sex couples, they end with a lower frequency. After ten years, gay male couples have a far lower frequency of sex with each other than do married couples – heterosexual married couples. But they tend to add outside sex, which is not part of what happens usually in heterosexual couples. So they compensate with outside sex and they tend to work it out. Lesbian couples have less frequent sex than either gay male couples or heterosexual couples, and it does decrease with time, but they don’t add outside sex. And in fact, they tend to have the shortest lasting relationships in general than either heterosexual couples or same-sex male couples. And maybe that’s because they don’t work it out either way. That’s an interesting question to be answered.

And The Moral Is…

So anyway, the moral of this myth a month is that it’s not true that when you’re married you have less sex – that married couples have less sex. In fact, in general they have more sex overall than single people do. So it’s not a good reason not to commit to a relationship. And if you work on it, you can have lots of sex all the time you’re married if you make it a commitment in your marriage and work on it and you communicate. So that’s the end of that myth. We’ve busted it.

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