Why does it seem so many married women are desperate for spicier sex? Is there a questionnaire to help new couples learn more about each other's libidos? Sexploration answers your queries. Have an intimate question? To e-mail us, click here. We'll tackle select questions in future columns.
Q: I am in my mid-30s and have friends ranging in age from their 20s to their 60s. All the married women I know are dissatisfied with their sex lives. Their partners just do not please them. Why do we put up with it? Do we not have a right to a sexually satisfying relationship? — Kathy
A: Whoa there, Kathy. Hold on a minute before you man the barricades to demand your inalienable right to orgasm. (“What do we want? Orgasm! When do we want it? Monday, Wednesday and Friday after the kids have gone to bed!”)
First, let me ask how you would feel if your husband stood on the first tee telling his accountant that “Kathy’s oral sex technique is lackadaisical and frankly, Bud, she hasn't played 'nurse' in years”? That could make the next cocktail party a little uncomfortable, no?
You ought to be talking about it to him, not your girlfriends. They’re not the ones in bed with you, though, come to think of it, if they were he might ... well, never mind.
This is not to say you are wrong to feel dissatisfied. Many women are. In a 2003 study by the Kinsey Institute, slightly more than 24 percent of nearly 1,000 women said they were distressed about their sex lives and that distress was not always due to some physical dysfunction on their part, but often had more to do with relationships with men.
There are many reasons why a man might fall down on the job. We age, we suffer stress, we might have small children and not gotten a good night’s sleep in months, we might be out of shape (and by the way, what kind of shape are you in?), we might be ill or have a plumbing problem. A very large Australian study found that one-quarter of men ages 16 to 59 simply lacked interest.
Of course, we might be lazy and selfish. Men are notorious for thinking the sex is fine because they’re getting off regularly. Meanwhile, the wife has started eyeing the lawn boy. In that case, he just needs a good kick in the ass from you. Lay it out straight and tell him you need it more, and you need it better. Draw a diagram if necessary.
Aside from physical issues, for which he should see a medical professional, the solution to most of these problems is a deeper, richer relationship. Study after study shows that sexual fulfillment has much less to do with mechanics than it does the happiness and intensity of the bond. The more intimate it is, the more and better sex you get.
Yes, Kathy, we all have the right to a sexually satisfying relationship. But sometimes you gotta work for it.
A MIDDLE-AGE SEX TEST?
Q: Is there a sex questionnaire that would help newly intimate 50+ couples get to know the desires of each other better? We usually know in our minds what we liked in our previous relationship but find it hard to say. — Graying couple
A: If you want to know about diseases, or how gay you may be, you’re covered. But if you want to know if she likes men to eat scrambled eggs from her cleavage, sorry.
So why not make up your own questionnaire? Why should sex researchers have all the fun?
This will require a suspension of jealousy — no fair asking who taught him to swirl his tongue like that — but I’ll bet if you both devised a long list of questions, set aside a Saturday night, and opened a bottle of cabernet, you’d never complete the test.
Brian Alexander is a California-based writer who covers sex, relationships and health. He is a contributing editor at Glamour and the author of "Rapture: How Biotech Became the New Religion" (Basic Books).
Sexploration appears every other Thursday.