“Is my (married) sex life normal?” As marriage and family counselors, this is a question we hear all the time. Clients read magazine surveys of sexual behavior or watch TV and feel like their sex lives are nothing like what they see in the movies or see on TV.
In the media and movies, lovers are almost invariably young, beautiful and eager. They have no communication problems, no concerns about birth control or disease, and they have wildly responsive bodies. One kiss and they’re off to the races! Who could live up to the models we see in the movies?
If you’re a numbers person, it might help you to know that recent studies say that about 48% of people say they are happy with their sex life. That means that 52% are not satisfied! Here are some figures from various online sources:
“Twelve percent of married people sleep alone. In some cases, sleeping apart could be healthier! “Many couples sleep alone for different reasons,” says Dr. Kerner. “A spouse who snores, kids in the bed—in the long run a good night's sleep may be more important to your health than an interrupted night in a shared bed.”
But here’s the catch: If you’re not sharing a bed, you should be making time for sex and intimacy. Dr. Kerner says: “If you're not sleeping in the same bed, for whatever reason, you are less likely to have sex, and more likely to find yourself in a rut, and then vulnerable to issues like infidelity.”
The average couple spends 20 minutes on foreplay. “Foreplay, says Dr. Carle, “extends a couple’s intimacy and it also prevents a woman from feeling used and unfulfilled.” So, she says, the more the merrier.
Women generally take longer to get aroused than men, adds Dr. Kerner, and the difference between 10 minutes and 20 minutes of foreplay could be the difference between being in a satisfying relationship and not. Remember, he says, “the skin is our largest body organ, and the possibilities for exploration are unlimited. Also, the brain is the biggest sex organ, so talking about sex and sharing a sexy thought is also foreplay.”
“People always wonder how often they should be having sex, and there's no right number,” says Dr. Kerner. “In general, sex begets sex, and sex ruts beget sex ruts. If you focus on having sex once a week, you're probably going to end up having it more often, as you'll be more tuned in and generally turned on.”
Dr. Kerner adds that women who have sex semi-regularly—at least once a week—experience increased testosterone levels, which can lead to a healthier, more vigorous sex drive. If you’re wondering if you should make a move on your husband tonight, Dr. Kerner says “yes!” He adds, “Try it—you'll like it.
“While there may be a time and a place for faking, it’s not the preferred route of sex experts—and it could signal some relationship issues that need to be addressed. “If you’re with a partner you care to be with, what is the payoff to faking it?” asks Dr. Carle. “If you can’t get turned on, probe what the reason is.
Are you disinterested in sex? Do you have other things on your mind? Do you dislike your partner? Are you angry with him? Your body often says what your mind won’t admit.” Fakers, beware, adds Dr. Kerner: “It’s a slippery slope and often leads to more faking, the buildup of anger and resentment, and a lack of enjoyment and interest in sex.
Rather than faking, better to be in the kind of relationship where it's OK if you don't always have an orgasm and you can talk about the reasons. Every time someone fakes it there's a lost opportunity to communicate and make sex—and your relationship—better.”
Sex Statistics - Sexual Health Statistics and Information - Woman's Day . One sex life study done in the 90’s showed that commercial television broadcasted an average of one sex scene or reference every ten minutes! (That’s not even including the adult channels). If an alien, whose only knowledge was gathered from eavesdropping on our media, the alien might conclude “Those wild Earthlings! They have sex every ten minutes!”
It’s no wonder we feel we aren’t keeping up with the Joneses when it comes to sex. Many people respond to those sex surveys in women’s magazines with “what they’d like to believe is true,” rather than what is actually true -- so beware of comparing your sex life to what you read about others lifestyles in sexual surveys!
We may see what kind of car our neighbor drives, or know what school their children attend, but we are really clueless about what other people’s love lives are like. We don’t have accurate, reliable information on another person's sex life, and so we imagine the grass is greener in our neighbor’s bedroom. Add to this the pressure most people feel about “doing it,” and you have yourself the set-up for feeling “abnormal” or deprived.
What is a “normal” sex life is a judgment not a fact. Facts can be disproved or refuted, but what is normal is relative. What is normal for the Joneses may be abnormal for the Smiths.
I can almost see the weight lifted off a client’s back when he or she finally gets around to revealing the reality of their sexual circumstances, and are relieved to find out that they are normal, average, and fairly typical. They are very much like about a hundred other clients who have the same feelings, circumstances and concerns.
It is a sad fact of our society that most people don’t trust their own sexuality. This “Am I normal?” burden is a huge one to carry -- and in 99% of the cases, is unnecessary. The truth is, healthy human sexuality has many sides. As sex therapist Marty Klein called it, “a dark side” -- not a bad side, just a dark one. It is hidden in private fantasies and not very often brought into the light
This dark side can scare some people, making them wonder how normal they can be if they have these wild sex life ideas wandering around in their minds. They don’t trust themselves with these lusty impulses and desires. While it’s true that not all fantasies should see the light of day, many of them can be integrated into a healthy sex life.
How do you know if you and your fantasies are sexually normal? I have two guidelines which have proved very useful for my clients.
First: If it’s between mutually consenting adults, and brings more pleasure than was there before, it’s a good thing!
Second: Do not do unto others something you wouldn’t want done unto you! These two “golden rules” will most likely keep you in the boundaries of healthy, happy sexuality.
In the end the answer to “Is my sex life normal?” is: “You decide!” Understand that healthy sexuality is a vast, complex web of feelings, both light and dark.
This is not dangerous -- this is real life! Realize that normal is always a judgment rather than an objective fact. And you are just as qualified to make this judgment as anyone else (assuming you are not a psychopath!)
So make your own call! Give yourself a little room to be sexually who you really are. Commit to expressing your sexuality in life-affirming ways, following the above golden rules. Pretty soon you’ll be feeling a whole lot better than normal. And remember to enjoy yourself!
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