A couple of months ago, Seth had a thought idea in his post How big is your red zone? I’m going to build on what he said, with some modifications, to try to explain why some folks have better sex lives than others – and hopefully offer some ideas on how others could have better sex lives.
In the first chart, I have shown in red the difficulty/frustration/effort of sex, and in blue the pleasure of sex. This chart is more about what women experience than men. For guys sex is fairly easy and rather enjoyable from the start – for most women sex is initially more difficult and less pleasurable. Sex can be said to be “worth the effort” when the blue line is above the red line. The clear problem is that for many women it takes a good while for the difficulty/frustration/effort to fall below the level of pleasure. Many women give up before they get to that point – and frankly it’s difficult to blame them. Aside from not wanting to do something that is a net loss, after a while a woman will start to think that what she is experiencing is as good as it gets. Why put a lot of time and effort into something that you are never really going to enjoy enough to justify doing it? It would be like not wanting to bother eating a favourite food because the only way to get it was to walk a very, very long distance. Occasionally you would want the food enough to make the trip, but only occasionally.
In the second chart, I’ve added a couple of items. The yellow area is the excitement of sex when it’s new. The sex is not that great, but because it’s all new and exciting it seems a lot better. If either the yellow or the blue areas are above the red line, sex seems worth the trouble. When everything is the way God intended, the pleasure level passes the difficulty/frustration/effort line before the newness factor falls off. This means a newly married couple keeps working at sex long enough to get to where the woman is really enjoying it. Once they reach that level, a couple will almost certainly have a good sex life for most of their marriage. Even when outside forces interfere with sex, or temporarily make it not really worth the effort, the memory of how good it was (and can be again) will be enough push to move both husband and wife to do what it takes to get back to that.
The thing about the yellow area is it’s a one shot deal – it comes with your first sexual partner, and only the first. There is a thrill with any new partner (and this is why some folks move from partner to partner so often), but that thrill is less intense and falls off much faster than the excitement that we get with our first partner. I’ve shown this “new but not first partner” effect with the green line.
Sadly, few in our culture save themselves for their wedding night. This means their married sex life does not get the initial boost God intended, and that means the wife never makes it out of the red zone. It’s like a rocket with a bad booster – it looks good at first, but it does not have what is needed to escape the earth’s gravity.
Okay, so what good is any of this if your bride is stuck in the red zone? In his post Seth said “My contention is that the only reason we ever get through that gap [where difficulty/frustration/effort exceed pleasure] is that someone on the other side is rooting us on, or telling us stories of how great it is on the other side.” The same thing should work for sex – if those who are stuck in the red zone can be told how great sex becomes, there is a reason to keep trying. In fact, just knowing that it can get to where it’s “worth the trouble” would be a great help!
So, where are the folks who should be telling us how great sex in marriage can be? It seems the world makes a lot of noise about sex, while those of us who follow Jesus tend to hide from the subject. Many don’t want others to even think about them having sex, which makes it difficult to tell others how great it can be.
If you have a great sex life with your spouse, PLEASE find ways to let those around you know that sex is awesome. I’m not suggesting you talk about your sex life, but rather talk about how great sex is, how much you enjoy sex with your spouse, how much you thank God for making sex as pleasurable, fulfilling, and intimate as it is. Please also encourage your bride to do the same – let those around her know sex is one of the best things going! Be especially bold with newlyweds – let them know that no matter what it’s like now, it can be incredible.
Finally, if you know of resources compatible with following Jesus that promote sex as great, please share in the comments. I will start with The Marriage Bed boards, Intimacy In Marriage, and Christian Nymphos. (The last two are by and for women.)