Marriage sex. Do those words even go together, so the old joke says? Many couples wonder about their sex lives. They wonder:
In research on marriage sex, the truth is that married couples are still having more sex than single people. But the other truth is that the frequency of sex rapidly declines after the first year of marriage and as people age. Typical married couples have sex about 66 times per year and after age 30, the frequency of sex drops about 20% each decade. (Parker-Pope, 2010).
With regard to what men and women want when it comes to sex, men and women are actually pretty similar, according to Hatfield, et al (1988).
Husbands want their wives to:
Wives want their husbands to:
In marriage, sex presents three main issues:
Couples are often reluctant to talk about sex, either preferring to keep it private or just not knowing how to talk about it. But, the truth is that marriage sex is a big deal. When it's running smoothly, we don't notice it much. But when it's not, it looms over the relationship like a dark cloud.
Research shows that failure to have sex at least once a month is s strong predictor of unhappiness and divorce, unless both people in the marriage are satisfied with the frequency (Parker-Pope, 2010).
You may be wondering, Does a lack of satisfying sex lead to extramarital affairs? The research is unclear. Certainly we hear anecdotes of people looking for online or actual physical connections when they're unsatisfied with their sex life. But more often than not, the reasons for affairs are complicated. See the section on Marriage & Infidelity for more information about affairs. Typically it's a sign of overall marital dissatisfaction (not necessarily sexual dissatisfaction), difficulty with intimacy, sexual addiction or more often than not, a work related "friendship" that crosses the line.
The bottom line about sex is that doing it is important for our overall marital and, research shows, physical health. Typically, in marriage sex makes us feel vital, young and close with our partners. The more sex we have, the happier we report our marriages to be. And, ironically, having more sex, can help you have less conflict. Sometimes, instead of talking out the conflict, the best thing to do is have sex! Yes, really. This way, either the conflict will seem less important or you'll have more "emotional money in the bank" so to speak to better work through the conflict.
Parker-Pope, T (2010). For better: The science of a good marriage. Dutton, New York.
How to Initiate Sex (Advice for Women)