Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sexual boundaries pre and post marriage

Speaking to young married Christian couples, it is apparent to me that even among Christian youth, sexual mores before marriage are different now to what they were when I was a teenager and a twenty-something. Which got me to thinking about how sexual experiences have changed over the past 40 or 50 years.

The 60's and 70's were a generation of 'free-love' and currently the 'hook-up' culture seems prevalent among the youth. I'm not sure how to classify the 80's and early 90's when I was growing up and discovering my sexuality, and the limits of what I as a Christian was comfortable doing sexually before marriage, but I suspect that this time period was somewhat more conservative than the periods before and after it (though I'm not sure why this was).

The particular items that come to mind for me when I compare the current environment to what I grew up with include:

- ease of access to pornography. I was first exposed to pornography around 17 years' old, on grainy videotape, but with the internet, smart phones and cable, children are now generally exposed to porn in their pre-teens or even earlier. This has a profound effect on their early sexuality and often a profound negative impact on their understanding of and expectations for a normal and healthy intimate relationship with their spouse.

- views on oral sex. In my day, oral sex was viewed almost on a par with intercourse. Pre Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, sexual relations included intercourse and oral sex! Nowadays, it seems that oral sex is regarded as more akin to kissing. In fact, I have even heard it said that teenage girls regard giving oral sex as less intimate an act than kissing!

- hook-up culture. I kissed my fair share of girls in my youth, not all of whom I was seriously dating at the time, but that was generally as far as it went. These days it seems that our society is far more permissive in its view of what is acceptable within a casual hook-up or fling. As a result, young married couples, including many Christian couples, come into marriage more sexually experienced, but also with more sexual baggage and potentially sexual hurts that they need to deal with.

Alongside preaching to our teens and to young dating couples the value of waiting for marriage to explore intimacy together, we also need to be aware of the reality for many of them, and to be able to deal with the sexual issues that they bring into marriage. I suspect that it also means that we need to start speaking to our pre-teens much earlier than we think about issues like pornography, mutual masturbation and oral sex.

To gather some data to see whether my perceptions above are valid, and whether other trends are also  evident, I have designed a short 5 question survey. Once I have sufficient data, I will blog the results and an analysis of the changing trends across recent generations. To be able to do so, however, I need a good spread of respondents of various ages, from late teens and newly weds to those that grew up in the 60's. And ideally also a good spread of men and women.


Please take 5 minutes to complete the survey using the link below:


HTTPS://www.surveymonkey.com/s/7D3ZC7K 





Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Results of survey - how long sex lasts (2/2)

This is the second part of feedback from the survey looking at how long sex lasts. The first part looked at how long couples typically spend making love, while this blog examines the findings relating to how long husbands and wives respectively take to orgasm from different types of stimulation.

The premise of the survey, and the original blog post that introduced it, is that there is a wide range of experiences and no 'normal'. Although there are trends evident from the data below, it is important to look at the wide range of responses on either side of the most common response. Almost all the categories show a normal distribution on either side of the mean. So, for example, where the largest group of wife respondents who can orgasm that way indicated that it usually takes them 5-10 minutes to orgasm from intercourse, there is also a significant percentage that take 10-15 minutes and 15-20 minutes, and on the other side a significant percentage that take 3-5 minutes and 2-3 minutes. Each couples experience will be unique.

163 husbands and 97 wives responded to the survey at the cut-off date, giving 260 respondents in total. But each respondent answered for them and their spouse, so effectively we have responses for 260 husbands and for 260 wives.

Orgasm from intercourse


A significant number of wife respondents (70 of the 260) are unable to orgasm from intercourse, and require other forms of stimulation to reach climax.


If we look at just those able to orgasm from intercourse, then a clear trend becomes evident, that on average, husbands orgasm from intercourse quicker than wives. The largest group of husbands indicated that it takes them 3-5 minutes to orgasm from intercourse, and almost as large a group orgasm within 2-3 minutes. A significant number of husbands orgasm within 1-2 minutes.

The largest group of wife respondents on the other hand indicate that it takes them 5-10 minutes to orgasm from intercourse. Almost as significant a group take 15-20 minutes.

I do wonder whether the large number of wife respondents who cannot orgasm from intercourse maybe have husbands who orgasm too quickly for them, thus denying them the extent of stimulation that they require to reach orgasm in this way.

A potential technique to manage this mismatch for those couples who do experience it, is to stimulate the wife in other ways first until she is close to orgasm or until she has orgasmed already, before commencing intercourse. Once a women has orgasmed, she reverts to an 'orgasmic plateau' just below the threshold of orgasm, from where it is possible for her to reach orgasm again more quickly and easily.


The graph above just converts the bar graph to a line graph, which makes the trend and the differential more obvious.

Orgasm from a vibrator


Fewer respondents than I expected use a vibrator. Of the 260 respondents, 144 of the wives and 220 husbands do not orgasm using a vibrator. For wives who battle to orgasm from intercourse or other forms of stimulation, a vibrator can provide a useful and fairly easy path to orgasm. Some wives can only orgasm with the help of a vibrator. When used together by couples, they can be an integral part of a loving and intimate sexual relationship.


The graph above looks only at those respondents that do use sex toys. The one below shows the same thing, but as a line graph. These graphs show that it takes husbands and wives very similar lengths of time to orgasm using a vibrator, ie 3-5 minutes. Many wives orgasm from clitoral stimulation rather than vaginal or G-Spot stimulation, and thus a vibrator which provides more direct clitoral stimulation gives these wives a quicker route to orgasm than intercourse. If we compare intercourse above to the vibrator responses here, the time for the largest group of wives to orgasm goes from 5-10 minutes to 3-5 minutes.


For those men that have never tried it, and are wondering how a husband can orgasm with a vibrator, the easiest way is just to hold the tip of the vibrator against the underside of the head of the erect penis. It take a bit of patience, as the sensation can start off seeming like not much, but it then kicks up in intensity pretty quickly, and can give a very different orgasm. Men's orgasms are pretty much all about friction, and an orgasm that does not result from friction can be a novel experience.

Orgasm from manual stimulation


If we exclude those that do not orgasm from manual stimulation, in the graph below, then it is interesting to see that the largest group of male and female respondents take the same time to reach orgasm, namely 5-10 minutes. Again, as noted in the introduction to this blog post, the distribution of responses is normal around this mean, and shows a wide distribution of responses, from 1-2 minutes through to over 20 minutes, for both husbands and wives.


The same graph converted to a line graph, shows this correlation even more clearly. Husbands are distributed slightly towards the faster end of the scale, and wives slightly towards the longer end.


Orgasm from masturbating


A large number of the wife respondents (124/260) and a surprising number of the husbands (58/260) do not masturbate, or do not orgasm from masturbating.


For those that do orgasm from masturbating, the husbands on average orgasm faster than the wives. The largest group of husband respondents orgasm in 2-3 minutes, while the bulk of the wives are spread pretty evenly over the 2-3 minute, 3-5 minute and 5-10 minute categories.


Orgasm from oral sex


Again, a fairly large percentage of the husbands and wives that responded to the survey do not orgasm from oral sex. This does not mean that they do not have oral sex, for example as foreplay but not to the point of orgasm, but just that they do not orgasm from this. This is the way that the question was asked.


Interestingly, when it comes to oral sex, the experience of husbands and wives is very similar. In both cases, the largest group of respondents indicated that they orgasm within 5-10 minutes and the second largest group within 3-5 minutes. The line graph below shows this clearly. Again, on average, the husbands are marginally faster than the wives, but not significantly.


Number of orgasms in a typical lovemaking session


Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of husbands orgasm only once in a typical session. But husbands do typically orgasm. 10% of wives do not typically orgasm. The majority of wives orgasm once, while a fairly significant percentage (34%) typically orgasm 2 or more times. The survey did not explore how the orgasms are achieved.


Simultaneous orgasms

There was a wide spread of responses to this question, with the responses being almost evenly distributed amongst the various options. Simultaneous orgasms are, however, clearly not the norm, whatever Hollywood would like to have us believe.


Lubricant

Again, the responses here showed a wide variation. I would encourage everyone to use lube, every time, even if you think you do not need it. It adds markedly to the experience, in terms of comfort and sensation, and provides protection against chafing for both partners' sensitive bits, especially if your lovemaking is physically intense or goes on for a while. Also, a silicone based lube is great for making love in the shower, pool or hot-tub, where the water would otherwise dissolve and wash away the natural feminine lubrication.


 Conclusion

While the above statistics are interesting, I must stress again that everyone is different, and that there are a wide range of responses on either side of the averages above.

Also, I have not yet analysed in any detail, the differences between individual married spouses - ie in the 260 couples comprising the respondents there will be couples that are perfectly matched and couples that are widely mismatched in terms of the time that it takes them to orgasm with different forms of stimulation.

This most often causes challenges when it comes to intercourse. A number of husbands orgasm within 3 minutes or less of commencing intercourse, which can be a challenge if their wives require 10-15 minutes of penetration to orgasm in this way. This can be managed, however, and many couples learn how to do this effectively, either by bringing the wife to orgasm first through other forms of stimulation, or through engaging in sufficient foreplay to have the wife close to orgasm before they commence intercourse, so that she does not require much additional stimulation to reach orgasm, or by adding additional stimulation during intercourse, such as applying a small vibrator to the clitoris, or through engaging in additional other forms of stimulation after the husband has had his orgasm, in order to ensure that his wife is also satisfied.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Results of survey - How Long Sex Lasts (1/2)

First of all, apologies that the results of this survey have been so long coming. The way I set-up the survey made it difficult for me to separate the husband and wife responses for some of the questions, and it took me a while to figure out how best to resolve this. I have done that now, but have in the end decided to split the results into two separate posts anyway, this first one for the more generic questions, and then a second and separate post for the bits comparing the relative times that it takes husbands and wives to orgasm from different forms of stimulation.

The survey was very well supported with 264 respondents at the cutoff date. Of these, 166 (63%) were husbands and 96 (37%) were wives, so we have good representation from each gender. The age of respondents, and the length of time for which they have been married also showed a good spread, as can be seen from the graphs below, and means that we can draw reliable conclusions from the data presented.





The first questions in the survey explored how many times per week couples typically make love, and how many times per week this typically leads to having full intercourse. The average in both cases is 2 times per week, which was also the most selected category.

Over 20% of respondents make love less than once per week, and in retrospect I should have provided more options to explore this further, ie how many are less than once per month, etc.

Very few of the respondents (<5% in total) make love more than 4 times per week, and those that do fall into this category are strongly correlated with the newlyweds in the sample.




The two graphs above also show that the overwhelming majority of lovemaking episodes culminate in full intercourse. I have plotted the 2 series above on the same graph below to illustrate this further - the correlation is very evident.


The next series of questions explored the length of time that couples typically spend making love. First up, how long a typical lovemaking session lasts, start to finish. There was a wide and fairly even distribution of responses to this question, with the 11 - 30 minutes range accounting for over 65% of the responses.


When it comes to foreplay, there was again a wide range of responses, but 3-15 minutes accounts for 67% of the responses. 6-10 minutes was the most common response and the mathematical average comes in just over that at 11 minutes.


The length of time spent on intercourse also shows a wide distribution. My rationale behind this survey was to show that there is no normal, but rather a wide distribution, and that what many couples think is the normal, based on conditioning they have grown up with from the media and porn, is actually well outside the range of most couples' actual reality. I think that the data bears that out.

The average time spent in penetrative intercourse is 7mins. 79% of couples fall into the ten minutes or less categories, with 29% of couples in the less than 4 minutes range and 50% of couples in the 4 to 10 minute range. Not many men can tolerate more than 10 minutes of uninterrupted stimulation from penetration without climaxing, and many women would become chaffed and uncomfortable were they to try! The idea that couples can go for half an hour or more is another myth fostered by porn (and clever editing splicing a number of takes together to make it look like one uninterrupted scene).


The majority of couples use 1 to 2 positions in a typical lovemaking session, and a fair percentage use 3. Interestingly for me, 2 positions came out slightly ahead of one as the most common, at over 40% of respondents.


The last batch of questions explored how couples would classify the nature and spread of their lovemaking, in terms of the percentage of sessions that they would classify as (1) a quicky for just one of them, (2) a quicky for both of them, (3) a 'normal' session, and (4) a long, romantic, 'moonlight and roses' session.

The data shows that many couples (over 50%) never, or very rarely, have a quicky to pleasure just one of them, or even for both of them. Between 20-30% of couples never have quickies at all, and a further 30-40% have then less than 20% of the time. I think I will have to devote a future blog post to the joy and benefit of quickies!

Interestingly, for those that do have quickies, it is more common to have them for the benefit of both couples, than as an opportunity for the one to quickly pleasure the other. I would have expected this to be the other way around, for example as in the case of a wife orally or manually pleasuring her husband when she is on her period or otherwise not in the mood for a full session of intercourse.

Also worth noting, is that 10% of respondents have a quicky for just one of them 60% of the time or more. This suggests couples with markedly different sex drives where the lower drive spouse offers a quicky to bring relief to their higher drive partner.



As expected, a 'normal' session is just that, with 64% having a normal session more than 60% of the time.



The hectic pace of modern life is very evident though in the exceptionally low percentage of time devoted to long, romantic, 'candlelight, wine and roses' lovemaking sessions. 30% of couples never do this, a further 50% do it less than 20% of the time, and only 4% do it 40% of the time or more. Just as there is a role in a healthy sexual relationship for quickies, I think we should make more effort to devote an extended period to at least one lovemaking session per week, or even per month. Taking the time to plan by stocking up on candles and massage oil, to connect over a bubble bath or glass of wine, to indulge in extended foreplay or a massage and then to take time pleasuring each other and cuddling afterwards expresses in a profound way the importance that we attach to our spouse and our intimate relationship, and is a worthwhile investment from time to time.


The other questions in the survey explored the relative time that it takes husbands and wives to reach orgasm from different forms of stimulation, and I am working on a separate blog post to cover those issues.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How long sex lasts

For most couples today, especially Christian couples who have not been promiscuous before marriage, the 'ideal' against which they judge themselves sexually is unfortunately built around a combination of their exposure to sexual scenes in a combination of Hollywood blockbusters and Porn. The reality is that neither provides a realistic basis for comparison and unfortunately leaves many couples feeling that they are abnormal or inadequate and that they (of worse, their spouse) are failing to live up to what they mistakenly believe to be 'normal'.

In reality, loving sex in a longstanding, monogamous marriage is not beautifully choreographed and does not result in simultaneous orgasms after mere moments like in a Hollywood romance, nor does it require the husband to be able to thrust away mercilessly for 20 minutes or more in a wide variety of exotic positions like in Porn.

While there is no 'normal' or 'abnormal', but rather just what works for you as a couple, I think that many couples will benefit from an understanding of what many Christian couples similar to themselves regard as their 'typical' sexual encounter.

The reality is that the 'average' man climaxes within 3 minutes of commencing intercourse, and the 'average' wife can quite normally require 15-20 minutes or more of stimulation to reach her climax. Within that average, there is a wide standard deviation, with some wives able to orgasm within a minute or two of penetration if sufficiently aroused beforehand, and others unable to orgasm at all from penetration alone no matter how aroused they are or how long their husband is able to continue thrusting.

While many men conditioned by exposure to porn believe that they are not 'manly' enough if they cannot delay their climax and sustain an erection long enough to be able to continue intercourse for 20 minutes or more, in our experience C would be chafed dry and raw and be very unimpressed if it took me that long to climax, no matter how much lube we employed!

So, in an effort to debunk the Hollywood and Porn myths, and to provide comfort to couples that they  do indeed fall into the very wide band that is 'normal' when it comes to marital intimacy, I have designed a survey to gather data on how long foreplay and intercourse 'typically' lasts.

I would love to get 200 or more responses to the 20 questions in my survey, to provide some statistical validity for the findings, which I will share and analyse in a follow-on blog post, so please help me out and complete the attached survey, which is designed to be suitable for both husbands and wives:

HTTPS://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QG9D7W3

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Survey - Reduced Penile Sensitivity

One of my previous Blog posts, 'The Angle of his Dangle' continues to get a lot of hits, so it seems there is an interest in posts addressing issues around mens' sexual health. I have been catching up on my reading over the holidays, and have read a couple of very interesting articles on 'Reduced Penile Sensitivity' or RPS. As input to a planned Blog post on RPS, I have designed a short survey to collect some data from my readership to incorporate into the article. Please complete it for me:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CWRF8SQ\

Monday, October 14, 2013

Best sex tip we've received

Best sex tip we've ever had? When we were going through the baby and toddler years, and were really struggling with the marked change for the worse in our intimate relationship, another sex positive couple from our small group, a couple of years older than us, told us 'just hang in there, don't give up, it will get better if you just stick with it', and that was the right encouragement, at the right time, for us to keep making an effort.

We had to schedule weekly sessions for a while, and C was uncomfortable and battled to orgasm for almost a year each time after nasty episiotomies, but in time it did get better, and now, after 16 years of marriage, we are having as much sex as we ever have, and it is as good, if not better, than it has ever been (so, Miley, as an aside, your theory about life being over at 40 is way off base!).

In our counseling, we come across too many couples who eventually just gave up in the child rearing years of their marriage. It became easier to just not try, than to deal with the emotional issues that come with this change in the dynamics of their intimate relationship, and the result is that either the husband has put up a wall to protect himself from the feelings of rejection, or the wife has put up a wall to protect herself from the feelings of inadequacy and guilt, or both have withdrawn, and this becomes a lasting pattern, that is very hard to come back from. Many never do, and resort to being parents, and maybe friends, but no longer lovers.

So rather tough it out, schedule Thursday night nookie in your diaries, have a glass of wine, break out the lube (our other favourite tip), deal with the leaky boobs, do your kegels and even if it is not the greatest sex you have ever had, see it as an investment that will return great dividends in years to come. 

And give yourself enough time, as much as you need. Cilla Lee, from the popular HTB Marriage Course, reckons that it took her until her youngest child was 2 years old before her body, hormones and libido were fully recovered from the years of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and lack of sleep. Husbands, you may need to find deep reserves of patience, and wives don't feel guilty or abnormal if you are not 'back to normal' within 6 months, let alone the oft touted 6 weeks!

Finally, find a couple in your church that you trust and that you are comfortable speaking to about intimate issues, and ask for their counsel when you need it. We are eternally greatful that we had such a couple at a tough time in our marriage. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

The link between marital and sexual satisfaction - and how this differs by gender

The results of the latest 'Happy Hubby' survey are in, and while there were fewer people than usual who completed the survey (summer holidays?), the respondents included a good spread in terms of their gender, age, years married and with and without young children in the home, so I think my results are valid. And they do support the hypothesis that I was testing, that men and women have a very different psychology when it comes to the relationship between sexual and marital fulfillment.

Broadly put, for the majority of the wives who responded, their degree of satisfaction with their overall marriage relationship directly influenced their sexual relationship with their spouse.

For the majority of the husbands on the other hand, their degree of satisfaction with their sexual relationship directly influenced their overall marriage relationship.

What then is the take-away from this? Simply put,

- Wives, if you want to improve your overall marriage relationship with your husband, then give adequate attention to his needs in the bedroom, and

- Husbands, if you want to improve your sexual relationship with your wife, then give adequate attention to your marriage outside of the bedroom.

It seems that the old adage holds true: "Women need to feel loved to want sex, and husbands need sex to feel loved."

(I know that there are wives who are the higher drive in their relationship, and for whom a lack of adequate intimacy is negatively impacting their overall marriage relationship, so the above is a broad generalization, but like most generalizations, it will hold true for many couples.)

To give the supporting data from which I drew the above conclusions:

I asked respondents to choose the best option from a choice of 4 alternatives:

- My level of satisfaction with my overall marriage relationship positively influences my intimate relationship with my spouse.

- My level of satisfaction with my overall marriage relationship negatively influences my intimate relationship with my spouse.

- My level of satisfaction with my intimate relationship with my spouse positively influences my overall relationship with my spouse.

- My level of satisfaction with my intimate relationship with my spouse negatively influences my overall relationship with my spouse.

The male respondents overwhelmingly (75.6%) selected the third and fourth options, showing that their take on their intimate relationship with their spouse impacts their overall marriage relationship, more than vice versa.

The female respondents on the other hand primarily (60%) selected the first and second options, showing that their take on their overall marriage relationship impacts their desire to be intimate with their spouse, more than vice versa.


Other stats from the feedback for the stats junkies (like me!) out there -

The respondents on the whole rated their satisfaction with their overall marriage relationship high, at an average 8.04 out of 10 (Wives 7.53 and Husbands 8.24).

Overall satisfaction with their sex life rated lower, at only 6.46 out of 10 (Wives 6.73 and Husbands 6.35).

Satisfaction with the frequency of sex rated lower still, at 5.98 (Wives 5.73 and Husbands 6.08).

The average number of times that respondents are intimate is just over 2 times per week. The distribution varies quite widely, however, with:

23% of respondents intimate less than once per week,
21% intimate once per week,
17% intimate 2 times and another 17% 3 times per week,
14% 4 times per week,
4% 5 times per week and another 4% 6 times per week.

Overall satisfaction with the quality of intimate encounters was pleasingly high, at an average of 7.21 out of 10 (Wives 7.33 and Husbands 7.16). A full 43% of respondents (46% of Wives and 40% of Husbands) scored this question a 9 or 10 out of 10! The lower score for the overall level of satisfaction with intimacy thus seems to relate more to quantity than to quality, and should thus be quite easy to fix!