A recent article in the New York Times found that the average married couple has sex 58 times per year (about once a week). Those under 30 do it a bit more (111 times per year) than older couples. Interestingly, 15% of couples haven’t done the deed in the last 6 months to one year. Researchers are trying to learn why sexual frequency decreases in marriages and why some marriages become “sex-less.”
Discrepancies in desire (having different levels of interest and/or desire for sex) are common in couples – whether they are married, living together, dating, straight, or gay. In a perfect world every couple would desire sex just as much as their partner but this is uncommon in real life. Overall the research has found that men have greater sexual motivation, stronger and more insistent sexual feelings, and have more liberal attitudes about sex compared to women. There are certainly exceptions to this, but for the most part it’s men who are more interested in sex. Why is this?
Unfortunately there is no clear-cut answer for these differences. While there is ample research to indicate that it might be sex hormones at fault, it’s also important to look at social and cultural issues. Women’s sexuality is enormously affected by social norms and values - while there are many mixed message, the overwhelming message to women is ”good girls don’t.” At the college level, women with high levels of sexual desire and interest are often labelled ”sluts,” which helps push them back into acceptable behavior.
But I’m getting off on a tangent here – let’s get back to the sexless marriages. While the discrepancies in desire can lead to lower levels of sexual behavior, there are clearly other things going on. Couples are stressed, overwhelmed, and maybe even a little bored of their partners. The exciting sex that happened at the beginning of the relationship is often replaced with let’s-get-it-done-before-the-kids-wake-up kind of sex. How do couples get it back? A good friend of mine talks about a concept he calls the RED BULL HIGH. In order to get the Red Bull High, a couple allows his or her partner to have sex outside the marriage (just once, or maybe just a couple of times, he’s still working on the exact number here). He believes that allowing outside sexual partners can bring back passionate sex. After talking at length with his wife (they have very good communication), she had sex with someone else and then brought the experience back into the marital bedroom. They have found that this has led to more passionate and intense marital sex. The question is: what are the costs of the Red Bull High? Are they worth it to bring back passionate sex? Would you let your partner have sex with someone else? Would you want to have sex with someone other than your partner? Why or why not?