Most of those studies are not about people like you.

January 28, 2011

in Sexuality

You know all those studies of what people like and do sexually that get so much media attention? Did you know that very few studies are done on just those who are married, and that many studies have more single than married subjects?

Skewing the average © Alexandr Mitiuc | Dreamstime.com

Does it matter? Actually is does. Sex is not the same among those who married are those who are not married. In The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially, [affiliate link] Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher report that married folks have more and better sex than those who are not married.

So, studies on groups of unmarried folks, or some married and some not married, are not reflecting the realities of those who are married. The “averages” that come from those studies are not valid for those who are married, and if we use them to guide our behaviour, we are using a false measuring stick.

Along similar lines, the common figure given now for “average sexual frequency in marriage” is 58 times a year. HOWEVER, that includes the 20% of couples who are in sexless marriages (less than 10 times a year). If you remove the 10% of couples who have no sex, the 10% who have sex an average of five times a year, and the 20% who have sex no more than 20 times a year, that “average” goes up to 91 times a year.

Personally, I don’t think averages like this mean anything – but if you (or your spouse) think they should be used to measure your sex life, at least understand the numbers so you can compare apples to apples.

Image Credit: © Alexandr Mitiuc | Dreamstime.com

Reference: “Sexuality of married individuals is a field on which research in psychology is much less focused. The neglect related to sexuality in marital life is discussed by Clark (1994; as cited in Timm, 1999), Apt, Hulbert, and Clark (as cited in Hayden, 1999), and Christopher and Sprecher (2000). Greenberg et. al. (2004) added “nonmarital sexual behavior has received more attention from researchers and reformers alike than sexual behavior in marriage” (p. 477).”
SEXUAL SELF-SCHEMAS: AN EXPLORATION OF THEIR IMPACT ON FREQUENCY OF MASTURBATION AND SEXUAL ACTIVITY, SEXUAL SATISFACTION, AND MARITAL ADJUSTMENT – A THESIS SUBMITTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF SOCIAL SCIENCES OF MIDDLE EAST TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY – BY GÖZDE KOÇAK

9 comments
NJ
NJ

In populations that are skewed (not a bell-shaped curve), the median is often more representative of what is typical than the average. Unfortunately, they are not as easy to work with statistically and often are not reported.

Bryan
Bryan

Thank you for confirming what I already knew---that I have an "above average" wife! :) Ann, I am sorry to hear the pain in your post. I'm guessing that many of us men who read your post are thinking, "Wow, I wish my wife would initiate even 40% of the time!" Even though you are not where you want to be in our marriage, you are blessing your husband by pursuing him that way. May God do a work in his heart so that he pursues you.

Ann
Ann

58 times a year, I would love that! Twice a week would be ideal. How do I get him to want it more. Our sex life, when we have it, it fabulous, but I have to initiate about 90% of the time. He even admits that he needs me to push him, but when I feel like the pursuer, I have my doubt that he wants me. I just feel so much closer when we can be together, and crabby and doubtful of his love when we don't. I subscribed to the Generous Husband to see if the tips you give husbands would work on him, as it seems our roles are reversed, stereotypically speaking, of course. Thanks for the tips, I love both you and your wife! :)

willie
willie

I do not understand. When averaging numbers, shouldn't the results be added together and decided by the number of participants. Thus, the lower 40% should remain. However, to compare apples to apples, I would like to see a study of the frequency for married Christians. I'm sure that number would be reflected differently when non-believers are removed from the equation.

Eleutheros
Eleutheros

AS Mark Twin observed, “There are three kinds of lies- Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics.” Thank you Paul, for informing us of this blinding failure by sexual researchers to include, in thier research, those humans who hold matrimony in honor and are, therefore, pure in their marriage beds. A few things stood out to me from the research that was discussed in the review of the book you linked us to: "...being single can take almost 10 years off a man's life, while wifely nagging really is good for his health. And Jehovah Elohim said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an ezer kenegdo- 'a help against him'... Gen 2:18 "Getting and keeping a wife can also increase a man's income as much as an education." When you find a wife you find good and obtain the favor of Jehovah. Prov 18:22 “So, what does threaten marriage? For one, the insecurity engendered by the cultural acceptance of divorce. Couples are now less willing to invest fully in each other, the authors write, while "commitment produces contentment; uncertainty creates agony." They are saying to Him, "Why, then, does Moses direct to give a scroll of divorce and to dismiss her? Jesus is saying to them, that "Moses, in view of your hardheartedness, permits you to dismiss your wives. Yet from the beginning it has not come to be thus [Permission to divorce didn't change Jehovah’s intentions for marriage, nor did it change the fact that our sexuality was created to thrive in the commitment of marriage Ed.] Matt 19:7 ”The good news, though, is that marriage is resilient--five years down the road most couples who considered but resisted divorce found that they were happy again.” Now [Jesus] answering, said, "Did you not read that the Maker from the beginning makes them male and female and then said, 'On this account [because we are sexual beings] a man shall be leaving his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh'? So that no longer are they two apart, but one flesh. What God, then, yokes together [through intercourse], let not man be separating." Matt 19:4-5 The words of Jehovah have always been shown to have recorded truth, if we have eyes to see it, ears to hear it and a heart-of-thoughts necessary to comprehend it. Be good. It is, after all ,what you were created to be! Dennis!

John
John

Great. Now I know my sex life is even worse than I thought.

Suzy
Suzy

Ann, you are far from alone. The words you have written could have been my own.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@willie - You are correct - assuming you want to include sexless and very low sex marriages in the average. If, on the other hand, you want to compare your marriage to other couples who are having more than a very little sex, then what I have done is a better figure to work with. Imagine you were taking a class and 10% of your classmates never turned in work (getting a ) 10% rarely turned in work, and another 20% turned in less than half their work. If you are serious about your grade, do you compare your grade to the class average, or do you compare your grade to those in the class who are actually trying? The first makes you look good, but tells you very little. The second is a better gauge of how yo are doing compared to those who are trying. You are spot on about Christians vs. non-believers. I would very much like to see a good survey done that would allow us to see how the number differ between those who are following Jesus and those who are not. I'd like to see it broken down as George Barna does, measuring how serious people are about their Christianity based on how often they attend Christian meetings.

Ann
Ann

Thanks, I've just resigned myself that I have to be the initiator, even though I resent it sometimes.

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