We’re Having Less Sex, Says New Study We Wish We Could Ignore
Whenever I see a headline about the sex lives of American adults, I make it a point to avert my eyes. It’s a policy of mine. Chances are I am already feeling badly about half a dozen other things like what a terrible recycler I am or how I forgot to pick up one of the kids for carpool two days in a row. The very last thing I need is proof that my sex life is not up to snuff.
This morning, however, I couldn’t look away from an article about sex. The headline read: “Americans Are Having Less Sex Than They Once Did.” I didn’t feel shamed by this headline; I felt comforted! I felt less alone! It’s not just me that has put her sex life on the backburner for weeks (or months) at a time.
I decided to read the article and the study so I could evaluate the raw data and see where my husband and I rank. I also hoped maybe the study would offer some suggestions on how to keep the spark alive in my marriage and regain the sexual glory days of the 1990s!
It wasn’t exactly a study teeming with good news about my sex life or what was to come, though I took some encouragement from the fact that people with children under the age of six had a less pronounced decline in their sex lives. The study didn’t explain why that was the case, but as a parent of a six and a seven year old, I’m going to hypothesize it’s related to the emotional strain of parenting children who think they know everything affects their parents’ sex lives. Both of my children learned to roll their eyes right around their sixth birthdays and started copping attitude that made them suddenly more like sullen teenagers than sweet-faced babies. Maybe it’s just me, but dealing with mouthy, defiant school-aged kids makes me want to crawl under the covers with a case of Girl Scout cookies, not enjoy quality naked time with my naked partner.
But really, what’s with the decrease in sex since the 1990s?
My personal theory is that it’s simply harder to have sex now that Prince, Michael Jackson and Patrick Swayze are gone (but not forgotten). The study didn’t mention them, but it did cite several other factors like electronic distractions; the use of antidepressants that affect libido; and the rise of two income families, which means both partners are working and exhausted.
So how can we fix it?
My first idea is to bring back Prince, Michael Jackson and Patrick Swayze, but that’s not scientifically feasible. And if you are on antidepressants, it’s not a good choice to stop taking them if they keep you alive. Most of us can’t quit our day jobs either to inch our sexual frequency up to 1990 levels.
So that leaves electronic distractions, which is the good news and the hard news. The good news is that we don’t need pills or fancy treatments or specialists to reinvigorate our sex lives. Real improvement is free.
But it so won’t be easy.
I haven’t crawled into bed without my smartphone since becoming a mother. Sometimes the battery dies while I’m scrolling through Instagram pictures of other people’s happy lives, but then I drag out my laptop and keep scrolling. And it’s not like my husband is gazing at my body, waiting for me to give him my full attention. He’s scrolling through news and videos, just like me.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, we have Netflix to contend with. As fun as the marital bed is, it’s hard to compete with House of Cards and The Good Wife and Empire and Gilmore Girls and, OHMYGOD, there’s so much good TV! It’s all at our fingertips. In the 1990s, what did we have? We had Jay Leno and ER, both of which I happily ditched for a roll in the hay.
This morning, I proposed to my husband that we not bring our phones into the bedroom at night. And while I’m not insisting that we can’t enjoy Netflix, I am insisting that sex comes first — kind of how we don’t eat dessert until we have finished our main course. My goal is to move sexual intimacy with my husband to the main course portion of the evening, not simply treat it like a dish, like baked ham or Shamrock Shakes, that we enjoy only on super special and rare occasions. If we still have room for more after that, then we can pick out a show.
I’m willing to try it. It’s got to be easier than trying to raise Prince from the dead.
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