Sex seem like it's the same old thing? Does it feel frustrating at times? What you don't know about sex can hurt you and your spouse! In our more than 35 years (combined) counseling couples, researching sexuality, and training other Christian therapists, we've discovered human sexuality continues to develop and reveal new information. Here are seven "biggies" about sex that most couples don't know.
1. Initiating sex isn't the only way to express sexual desire.
Although 80 percent of couples report that the husband wants sex more often than his wife, this may be a skewed number—partly because of the way we define sexual desire. Most of us typically think of sexual desire as a hunger for sex—often with sexual thoughts or fantasies—that prompts us to initiate sex.
It turns out, however, that most women experience a receptive type of sexual desire. Twenty years of research confirms that for many women desire is "triggered" by thoughts and emotions arising during sexual excitement, not before. So when a husband becomes frustrated because he wants his wife to pursue him sexually and he believes that she has no interest in sex because she doesn't do that, he's actually not giving her enough credit! Most women will respond positively to sexual advances—they just don't initiate them because that's not the way they were designed.
Since our culture defines sexual desire as that initiating/seeking behavior, we don't identify a women's receptivity as desire. But men and women (usually) respond to different types of sexual stimuli and approach differently their sexuality.
This is a key area of misunderstanding between husbands and wives. Many women have commented to us, "I enjoy sex once we're 10 to 15 minutes into foreplay, and I think, Wow! We should do this more often! But during the week I hardly ever think about it. I wish I felt more sexual than I do, because I enjoy the closeness it brings."
Most of us assume our partner should act like we do. By recognizing that most men are proactive with sex and most women are reactive, and then by accepting and respecting those differences, we can allow a woman's type of sexual desire to "count."
2. Breastfeeding has a direct link to sexual frequency.
Lowered sex drive is extremely common after childbirth, and even throughout the first year, particularly in breastfeeding women. Many couples don't realize the impact childbirth and breastfeeding can have on their sex life. Prolactin, the hormone that enables women to make breast milk, also lowers sexual drive—though scientists still can't tell us why. Breastfeeding women frequently feel tired, overwhelmed, and—in their own words—"like a cow" during the early months of breastfeeding. Yet their husband's sex drive hasn't lessened.