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Monday, November 23, 2015

Discover the key factor that distinguishes a great sex life from a poor one.

The fact that our society has largely separated sex and marriage does not change the fact that God created sex as the ultimate expression of marital intimacy. A healthy amount of sexual intimacy is essential to the strength and longevity of every marriage, yours included.

But how much sex constitutes a "healthy amount?" It's a question that every couple needs to answer for themselves, of course, because needs and desires vary greatly from person to person.

I can however, tell what most couples say is enough sex based on the 450 responses to my Sexual Satisfaction Survey. (Get the full report in my free download here).

Beyond Frequency

Before I share with you the numbers from my survey, I want to stress that sexual frequency is not the sole determining factor in sexual satisfaction. If you aren't both actively engaged and  fully aiming to meet each others needs during lovemaking, then regardless of the frequency, it's not likely to lead to a fulfilling sex life. Those needs will vary greatly between men and women, between the high-drive and low-drive spouse, the stage of your marriage, and also depend on what is happening in your marriage outside the bedroom.

Still, I would argue pretty strongly that in most cases, sufficient sexual frequency is a minimum requirement for a healthy, happy sex life.

Now let's look at what constitutes "sufficient."

The Once-a-week Wall

In my survey results, there was a direct correlation between sexual frequency and sexual satisfaction. That is, more frequent sex led to a higher level of reported sexual satisfaction for both husbands and wives.

Overall, the people who took my survey reported an average of about 7 sexual encounters per month or a little less than twice per week. (I didn't ask people what qualifies as a sexual encounter.)

Here is the interesting part: there is a stark divide in the numbers, as portrayed in the chart below.  It's what I call the "once-a-week wall."

What it shows is that couples who had sex more than once per week (left side of the wall on the chart) reported vastly different levels of satisfaction than couples who had sex less than once per week (the right side of the wall). And the difference was dramatic.

Overall, couples who had sex more often than once per week were 12 times more likely to report having a great sex life than those having sex less than once per week. Specifically, 59% of those having sex more than once a week gave themselves an 8, 9 or 10 in overall satisfaction on a 10 point scale ("a great sex life"). Only 5% of those having sex less than once a week reported having a great sex life.

There was a similar dramatic divide in those reporting a poor sex life (1, 2 or 3 on a 10 point scale). Couples having sex less than once per week were 11 times more likely to rate themselves as having a poor sex life. Specifically, 69% of those having sex less than once a week reported a poor sex life, but only 6% of those having sex more than once a week were in the group with the lowest satisfaction.

What Does This Mean for You?

If you are a husband or wife who has made sex a low priority, for whatever reason, it's time to change that. Begin with being aware of how much sex you are having, then set a goal to improve on that, ultimately working toward having sex at least twice most weeks.

Figure out what is impeding sexual intimacy in your marriage and make the necessary changes to eliminate those impediments.  Being your spouse's only valid avenue of sexual satisfaction is both a great privilege and sobering responsibility.

If you are a husband or wife whose spouse does not seem interested in more frequent sex, who even maybe is completely withholding sex from you, it's time for some direct dialog on the subject. Or maybe it's time for an additional, and perhaps different, direct dialog.

And it's time to get God involved in some three way conversation. He has thoughts on this subject that I'm sure he would like to share with you and your spouse if you invite him to.

If whatever you have tried in the past isn't resulting in the progress you want, it's time to try a different approach.

Do What it Takes

I'm not suggesting that you beg more sincerely or shout more loudly. No, I'm talking about having a sincere dialogue about what's missing in your marriage on more than just a sexual level. Is there enough intimacy in other forms? Emotional? Spiritual? Do spend enough time together? Do you get real with each other?

I often find that sex is simply a barometer of what's happening elsewhere in the relationship. Step back and take an honest assessment of the whole of your marriage.

There are a bunch of my marriage blogging friends that focus on sexual intimacy in marriage. Check out what they have to say about how to improve your sexual relationship and how to deal with high-drive, low-drive issues, among other topics. Here are but a few suggested resources:

Bonny has two posts from yesterday and today that are very timely to our discussion: Starting the Sex Conversation, and Gently Blunt Sex Conversations. I highly recommend these thoughtful posts.

Is my finding of the once-a-week wall surprising to you? Does it line up with the experience in your own marriage? Leave a comment.

If you'd like to see more fascinating results from my recent Sexual Satisfaction Survey, you can download my free e-book from Noisetrade.

The e-book digs into the intimate lives of 450 marriages with the purpose of helping you have a meaningful dialog with your spouse about sexual intimacy. Each section lists key takeaways from the findings and offers questions that can prompt open conversation.


Paul Byerly said...

Great post.
How does this play out by gender?

Scott said...

Paul - Great question. Here's how it breaks down:
Sex more than once per week:
46% of husbands reported a great sex, 7% poor
72% of wives reported a great sex life, 4% poor
Sex less than once per week
69% of husbands reported a poor sex life, 4% great
69% of husbands reported a poor sex life, 8% great

The less than once/week numbers tracked very closely male/female.

Though the curves were similar, the more than once a week numbers showed a smaller percentage of very satisfied husbands.

Overall 20% of husbands and 43% of wives (for all frequencies) reported having a great sex life. 39% of husbands and 28% of wives reported having a great sex life.

The wives who took my survey were having a lot more sex than the husbands who took my survey, which certainly affected the numbers. 19% of the wives reported having sex almost every day vs.1% of husbands.

Paul Byerly said...

Thanks for the additional numbers.
I see the same thing in our surveys - the women are much more sex positive and sexually active than Christian women as a whole. It does skew things a good deal on some issues.

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