Much like the sexual liberation movement of decades past, the hook-up culture of today promises sexual adventure, satisfaction, and of course - freedom. However, statistics and psychological research say otherwise.
Not only do married couples report having significantly more sex than singles, but they also report greater satisfaction with their sex lives.
Faith Moore describes several reasons why the love between spouses changes over the years, and that “beyond the honeymoon phase is true commitment, true vulnerability, and true sacrifice.” These changes are not only indicative of a deeper love between the spouses but often lead to better (and more frequent) sex.
The proof is in the numbers
Newsweek found in their poll that married couples report having sex 68.5 times a year, or a little more than once a week. They also found that this is 6.9 times higher than what unmarried people report and it makes sense when you think about it. Those who are married spend much greater amounts of time together and therefore are able to have sex more frequently.
Although it may seem like the single lifestyle is more conducive for higher amounts of sex, the average person doesn’t just walk around and randomly find others to sleep with on a daily basis. Those who are married have more opportunities to spend time together, and it is clear that the increase in time spent together often involves sex. Not only do married couples have more sex, they have better sex.
Not only do married couples have more sex, they have better sex.
The commonly accepted definition of sexual satisfaction was proposed by Lawrance and Byers (1995) and says that sexual satisfaction is “an effective response arising from one’s subjective evaluation of the positive and negative dimensions associated with one’s sexual relationship.” The positive dimensions of one’s sexual relationship see a marked increase within marriage, and extensive studies show that the deeper the relationship, the higher the rates of sexual satisfaction are.
In 2013 Maria de la Sanchez Fuentes and colleagues reviewed nearly 200 studies that measured sexual satisfaction in over 40 ways and consistently found that people in deep, intimate relationships that were supportive and communicative had much higher rates of sexual satisfaction. Fuentes also found that the more sexual partners a person had, the less satisfied with sex they actually were. These findings were echoed in studies like the ones conducted by Uzma Rehman in 2013 and showed specifically that deep levels of intimacy were the greatest predictors of female sexual satisfaction.
People in deep, intimate relationships that were supportive and communicative had much higher rates of sexual satisfaction.
So if research consistently shows that married people report better and more frequent sex, why are we still convinced that singles are having hotter and more satisfying sex than married couples? Because for years, that's what we've been told by TV shows, movies, and magazines.
There are several factors that lead to better and more frequent sex in marriage. Some simply come with being married and some are intentionally cultivated between married couples.
Those factors that naturally occur
There are a few causes of better and more frequent sex that are just inherent aspects of marriage. I’ve already mentioned that sex is simply more accessible; married couples have a perpetual sexual partner in their own home and don’t have to go out searching for someone to sleep with (although I, along with ample research, believe the former to be the undeniably better option).
There is also a lack of fear that comes with married sex. On a practical level, spouses don’t have to worry about STD’s and many other health concerns that come with hook-ups. There is also no fear of rejection or the fear of being disappointed when you realize someone is using you only for their own pleasure, which (if we're honest) is really what's happening in casual sex. Marriage inherently brings you closer and makes you more familiar with your spouse.
Spouses don’t have to worry about STD’s and many other health concerns that come with hook-ups... No fear of being disappointed when you realize someone is using you only for their own pleasure.
Sexual practice makes perfect
Just like with anything, practice makes perfect, and sex is no exception. Over the course of marriage, spouses grow to know one another better, and that includes sexual likes and dislikes. This more extensive knowledge definitely contributes to the higher rates of sexual satisfaction that occur in marriage. As your bodies become more in sync, the guessing and awkwardness are replaced by knowledge and awareness of one another’s needs and desires.
Henry Ward Beecher says that “young love is a flame; very pretty, very hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. The love of the older and disciplined heart is as coals, deep-burning, unquenchable.” The love that is relayed through the sexual relationship between spouses grows from an easily snuffed flame to a steady burn that is not easily diminished.
Those factors that are intentionally cultivated
While there are some aspects of marriage that naturally lead to better sex and more of it, there are some parts of marriage that if given the necessary time and attention should also contribute to more frequent and higher rates of sexual satisfaction.
It should go without saying that the level of emotional intimacy is inherently much deeper in marriage. Psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish says that “strong, healthy long-lasting relationships are built on good communication, ethics, mutual value system, character, and shared interests” rather than just sex. People are far more than just their physical natures, and sex is about fully uniting with another person, mind, body, and soul.
Sex is the deepest and most intimate connection that can be fostered between two people, and reducing it to just the physical aspects cheapens its inherent beauty. While the value of the body is not to be disregarded, sex is both deeply psychological and emotional and these elements are intrinsic parts of the total sexual experience. The close emotional intimacy that is (and should be) fostered in marriage certainly translates into the bedroom, and the spouses are able to completely unite in ways not replicable in a one night stand.
Sex is both deeply psychological and emotional and these elements are intrinsic parts of the total sexual experience.
The trust and commitment of marriage are also far greater than that which exists (or doesn’t) in casual hook-ups. The deep trust and choice to stick with one another through all the good and bad extends into the sexual sphere. The beauty of marriage is that you and your spouse have chosen to work through everything together, and this includes your sexual relationship.
Not only can you be honest and open about your sexual likes and dislikes, but you can also be honest and open about the deepest parts of your life that come up in your sexual relationship. The long-term commitment of marriage enables the spouses to fully explore their sexual relationship and only makes it better with time.
Self-less sex makes for hotter sex
Finally and most importantly, much of marriage is about sacrifice. Contrary to what we hear all the time, sex is about more than just you. There are two people involved, and to deny that would be to deny the best and most beautiful parts of the sexual relationship. In many ways, sex is a donation of oneself to their spouse, a tangible sign of giving and uniting for the sake of the other. When two people are willingly working in unison to please and satisfy the other's sexual desires, the intensity of the experience sky-rockets.
When two people are willingly working in unison to please and satisfy the other's sexual desires, the intensity of the experience sky-rockets.
The sacrifices of daily life in the little and big things are made manifest through the sexual relationship between spouses. Whether the sacrifice is a little choice to do the dishes or to make a major compromise, these sacrifices translate and make up a sexual life that is frequent, satisfying, and the true embodiment of marital love that is falsely sought after in hook-up culture. Want a lot of great sex? Get married.