Q: I was at a birthday celebration dinner for a friend recently with a small group of married women. One of the women brought a “girl’s night out” game, a deck of cards with a variety of questions (many about sex). One of the cards had us each rank our sex lives. I have a healthy and happy sexual relationship, and my closest friends know it. Although I ranked myself a 9.0, one of the women ranked me a 10.5! Sadly, though, most of the women only ranked themselves a 5….My question is, how do you suggest I approach this issue with these women? They are all Christians, and I would love to have some material (a website, a book, etc.) that I can refer them to. I’m not sure how to get them interested, but I’m confident that they would respond positively if I could direct them to the right material(s).
A: Unfortunately, your score is the one that would be unusual while your friends’ scores would more likely represent the general population. My friend Barry McCarthy, PhD, is an outstanding sex expert, researcher, and writer. Recently he wrote me, “Emphasize the crucial importance of positive, realistic sexual expectations: The most important being that less than 50% of sexual encounters among happily married, sexually functional couples have outcomes that are mutually satisfying, and 5-15% of sexual encounters in marriage are dissatisfying or dysfunctional.” In short, sex ain’t always great…
However, there are ways to increase sexual pleasure and fulfillment as long as both partners have positive, realistic expectations. Kudos to you for wishing to help your friends with that. There are several books available that guide couples through processes to enhance their sex lives. Forgive the commercial, but some universities use my book Becoming One in this area. The book has three sections, becoming one emotionally, becoming one sexually, and becoming one spiritually. In my estimation, a married couple cannot work on just one of those areas, but must work on all three to make their relationship and sex lives better. I also recommend unreservedly any relationship and/or sex books by Les and Leslie Parrott. You can find them on Amazon as well as other book sites.
You may wish to refer your friends to the Christian Nymphos web site. (Yes, I’m serious. The site exists and is written by Christian women to help each other have better sex lives with their husbands. Tell ’em Joe sent you.)
Also, help your friends think about these matters:
- Women who are fatigued have difficulty getting aroused.
- Anyone overweight, man or woman, will have associated sexual problems.
- When working on better sex lives, most people need to start with the other dimensions of their relationship.
- Toys can help. So can variety.
- There are ways to overcome sexual inhibitions while still adhering to one’s beliefs and values. (I have a “sexual experimentation scale” that I’m testing with couples right now. Email me at ask@JoeBeam.com if you would like to be part of my testing of this profile.)
The four areas that sex therapists often work with are Desire, Arousal, Orgasm, Satisfaction.
- If a person has limited or no desire but can become physiologically, emotionally, and psychologically aroused so that s/he can enjoy sex and be orgasmic, then she will do well to have sex regularly without waiting for desire to be strong.
- If arousal or orgasm rarely or never occurs, then explore whether the situation is situational (this person, this place, this time, etc.) or global (she would still have these problems even if she were married to a hunk and life was absolutely wonderful).
- If satisfaction relies on impossible expectations or fantasies, sex will never be what she wants it to be.
Better yet, ask them to join me at http://www.marriagehelper.com/marriage_forums in the section about sex and we’ll interact about any and all questions, thoughts, problems, etc. I’m happy to discuss these matters directly and help in any way that I can.