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A Cosmopolitan.com survey shows that half of married women in their 20s wish they had more sex.
Gloria has been married for three years, has two children under 2, and sexts her husband regularly. “I’ll sometimes send him nude picture right after I get out of the shower — he loves that,” she says. She’s 27, and, like a lot of young married women in 2017, she wishes she had more sex.
“Married sex” can seem like an oxymoron, and a new Cosmopolitan.com survey reveals that a decline in the frequency of sex after marriage may be ubiquitous, regardless of how young the spouses or short the marriage: many couples in their twenties are already dissatisfied with their sex lives.
The survey of 1,162 respondents ages 20 to 29, drawn from Hearst publications social media accounts, found that 52 percent of respondents wish they were having sex more often. While a majority (60 percent) of respondents said they had sex at least 2 to 3 times a week before they were married, only 43 percent estimate they are having sex at least 2 to 3 times a week post-marriage. Men were more likely than women to say that they wish they were having sex more often (62 percent), but nearly half (47 percent) of women also said they wanted more sex.
“There was definitely a drop-off after the first few months of marriage,” says Elizabeth, 24, who recently celebrated her second wedding anniversary, although she and her husband have been together for about six years. “Right after the wedding, it was great, we were having sex all the time. But now, there are just so many times when one of us feels stressed out and just wants to go to sleep.”
But the survey also revealed that most married twenty-somethings are nonetheless happy in their marriages — and even continue to find their spouses as attractive, or more attractive, than they did before the wedding. Hannah, 22, has been married for a little less than a year, and says that after the wedding, she and her husband began having a lot more sex. “I know it sounds cliche, but it feels really special, having made that connection to each other,” she says. “It’s almost spiritual.” The vast majority of respondents said their marriage is extremely (64 percent) or somewhat (29 percent) happy, and only 6 percent said they find their spouse less attractive than before they were married.
For busy millennials, scheduling is often the main issue — either couples work different hours, or travel frequently takes them away from home. Almost two-thirds (62 percent) of respondents have maintained intimacy like Gloria does, by sending their partners naked pictures. James, 24, says that he and his wife travel for work frequently, so they exchange nude photos, sometimes as a prelude to phone sex. “You have to be willing to get creative or you do risk losing that spark,” he says. Then again, men are more receptive to receiving nudes than women are, in large part because women don’t tend to be interested in dick pics.
This makes sense, says Esther Perel, a therapist and expert on sex and relationships, because a photo of a penis is not especially arousing — even if it’s your husband’s. “It’s a terrible reduction of what makes a man attractive to a woman, focusing on the genitals,” Perel says. “It’s not aesthetic, it’s not erotic, it doesn’t provoke curiosity. Women would find a simple shot of a man’s torso much more appealing.”
Although some couples felt that their lackluster sex life might be related to other problems in relationship — like a lack of communication, or mismatched sexual needs — many respondents said that their desire to have sex with their spouse isn’t gone, they’re just too busy and tired to make it happen as frequently as they did before the wedding. Some said the stress of dealing with their partner’s family and friends, as well as the financial pressure of post-marriage milestones like buying a house, made work and social lives more taxing than when they were single or dating. And for other couples, sex and physical attraction just aren’t what holds their relationship together.
Tim, 26, met his wife during their freshman year of college, and got married a few years later. Now, almost five years into his marriage, he admits that he’d like to be having sex more than once or twice a week, although he added that he has “no big complaints” about his sex life. Work, he says, is the biggest barrier. “When my wife and I first got together, we were in college, so we had no real responsibilities,” he says. “Now we both have full-time jobs and there are a lot of nights when you get home and don’t have the energy.”
He says that he’s actually grown to appreciate sex more, now that it’s become less frequent. “I feel like maybe I took it for granted, being able to have sex really whenever we felt like it,” he says. He’s still attracted to his wife, and now values the intimacy that comes with sex even more than he did before they were married.
According to Perel, for married couples, the quality of sex is more important than the frequency. “The real question is, are they erotic with each other and do they maintain that erotic energy,” she says. “You don’t always maintain desire in a marriage only by having masculine-focused, penetrative sex. People can maintain intimacy in other ways.”
For young parents in particular, exhaustion and lack of privacy can wreak havoc on their sex lives. Half (51 percent) of respondents with children said that having a child has made their sex life somewhat or much worse, although nearly half (48 percent) also said that having children had made their physical attraction to their partner somewhat or much better. Gloria says that since she had their second child, she and her husband have been having sex only once or twice a month. “The exhaustion of pregnancy on top of having a baby is pretty terrible,” she says. “I feel bad because I know that sex, for him, is kind of a stress reliever, and also because having that time together is something I want too. But it’s so hard to find a few minutes to even stop and think, and then I’m usually too tired.”
Getting married initially does often make couples feel more sexually connected. But for some, like Shannon, 26, who’s been married for three years, the feeling may not last. “Our ‘honeymoon period’ lasted quite a bit past the honeymoon,” she says. “We used to have sex pretty much every day — now I’d say we’re lucky if it’s once a week.”
Shannon and her husband both masturbate when they’re not able to have sex. “We’ve talked about it and we’re both pretty clear that it’s not a substitute for the real thing, so I wouldn’t say either of us really feels bad about it, or that we do it all the time,” she says. “It’s just helpful when one of us isn’t in the mood.” The survey showed that perspectives like Shannon’s are common among Cosmopolitan.com readers: A majority (55 percent) of respondents masturbate at least 2 to 3 times a month. Men, however, are much more likely than women to say they masturbate — and they also masturbate more frequently. Twenty-four percent of women say they never masturbate, compared to 13 percent of men. And majority (52 percent) of men masturbate at least 2 to 3 times a week, while only 20 percent of women say the same.
A substantial number of respondents also reported that they watch pornography — although this is much more popular among men than among women. Nearly half (48 percent) of men reported that they watch porn weekly, while approximately two-thirds of women watch porn a few times a year or less (20 percent) or never (45 percent). “Porn doesn’t have any of the things that women find pleasurable about sex,” Perel says. “There’s about one minute of foreplay in porn, usually, and for her the foreplay is often the main thing. It’s all about arousal without desire. Women don’t find that very interesting.”
Rather than being a source of contention or an anxiously kept secret, most spouses seemed aware of whether their spouse watched porn — and overall, reported fairly tolerant views. A relatively small number of respondents said either that they wish their spouse would watch less porn (4 percent) or that their spouse watches porn and they’re not OK with it (4 percent). Thirteen percent of respondents say they watch porn with their spouse, 21 percent said that they watch porn and their spouse is OK with it, and 21 percent said that although they don’t watch porn, they’re generally OK with it. “Her attitude is, ‘OK, if that’s something you want to do, then go ahead,’” says Jonathan, 27. “I know she doesn’t find it appealing personally, but I don’t think there’s a sense that it’s detracting from our relationship.”
For at least a few women, though, pornography was a source of stress — especially if they felt their husbands would disapprove of their own porn-viewing habits. Brittany, 28, says she watches porn occasionally, especially during periods when she’s not having as much sex with her husband, and she works to hide the fact that she watches porn from her husband. “He doesn’t watch it himself, and I think he’d see it as me replacing us having sex with porn,” she says. She doesn’t see things that way, but she also doesn’t want to risk a fight by bringing it up.
Most respondents who admitted that their love life is sometimes unsatisfying tended to say that the stability and dependability of marriage made up for a lack of excitement in the bedroom. “I think it’s a trade-off,” says Tim. “You get the comfort of knowing you’ll be with a person you’re devoted to for the rest of your life.”
For most twentysomething married couples, sex just isn’t the most important part of their relationship. When asked which qualities matter most in their marriage, respondents overall said that honesty, open communication, mutual respect, and being a team were most important. Similar life goals, a good sex life, and physical attraction were least important.
“Our sex life is one of those things where it’s not amazing, but it’s not awful either,” says Ed, 22, who has been married for about a year and has sex with his wife a couple of times a week. “But the emotional connection is more important than the physical connection. So ultimately I’d say our marriage is very happy, even though the sex could probably be better.”
Source : cosmopolitan.com