If you think your relationship is the only one that is lacking a good sex life—think again. A new study has just been published in the journal Archives of Sexual behavior that showed a drop in sexual activity that crosses gender, race, religious, educational and work status lines. Unpartnered folks have traditionally had less sex than partnered ones and though that continues to be true—married people are showing the sharpest decline in sexual activity overall. Ouch, there goes the “marriage advantage.”
Data from the 1989-2014 General Social Survey was used, and demonstrated that American adults have sex seven to nine fewer times than they did in the 1990’s. Doesn’t seem like a lot overall, but it is a clear trend. Married people as a subgroup had a steeper decline in the frequency of sex. The average went from 73 times a year in 1990 to 55 in 2014. Unmarried people currently average 59 sexual encounters per year.
The study did not list reasons why this is happening—but many of us could offer ones that are likely suspects. People are experiencing more stress in their lives, more are using medications to deal with stress/depression that impact sexual desire. In addition, more couples have both partners working outside the home, and this leads to less down time and time for the couple to relax and be alone together.
Since sex is linked to marital satisfaction, this is something we all need to pay attention to, especially those of us who work with couples experiencing marital discord and unhappiness. Too often couples focus on money, stress, and communication problems. Yet their interest in and willingness to put aside other issues and work on their intimacy should be a priority. Intimacy is what distinguishes a committed couple from best friends and roommates—which is what many couples report their relationships have become.
Time spent on electronic devices may also be a culprit. If someone is spending hours online interacting with others instead of setting that time aside for their partner—their sex life will suffer. Another factor is age—many couples slow down as they age and with increased health problems, sex often becomes more like work than fun for couples. Therefore paying attention to one’s overall health and well-being can directly impact one’s marital satisfaction. Now there is a strong motivation for eating well, exercising often, getting the right amount of sleep, setting limits on work, and managing stress in a healthier way.
Want a better sex life? It all begins with you as an individual.