Is sex important to a marriage?
In this article the Schmitz’s wrote something that I was quite surprised by (bolding added): “Over the years we have interviewed thousands of successfully married couples, and most report a reasonable degree of satisfaction with their sex life. But here is our most important research finding concerning this issue: no marriage was ever made successful because the couple had a great sex life!”
OK – I can go along with that one! Sex is just one component of a marriage, so I can agree that ONLY having a great sex life will not make a marriage successful, especially if the other components are not good! But then they go on to say (bolding added): “You see, marriage is a multi-faceted and highly complex relationship, and in the best marriages, no one aspect stands out as the “make or break” part of it. The truth is, there are seven pervasive characteristics present in all successful marriages. And guess what: sex isn’t one of them! Sex is only one part of the seven characteristics of a successful marriage.”
Sex isn’t one of the seven pervasive characteristics present in all successful marriages? Really??? I have a hard time believing that statement! If sex is not one of the seven why does it seem like the lack of sex is one of the top complaints about marriage. So where is their conclusion coming from?
I remember reading somewhere the ideal that goes something like this (I am going off memory here) – while sex contributes to only about 10% towards the satisfaction of a marriage, the lack of sex becomes about 90% of the problems in a marriage. In many marriages, this is definitely the situation. When you are ranking the importance of things, it makes a difference who you ask to do the ranking. If you are asking sex starved spouses, they would rank the importance of sex high, but if you are asking the spouses who are denying sex in the marriage, they would rank the importance low. Couples who have successful marriages, which apparently is where the authors are getting these rankings from, most likely do not have issues with lack of sex – so because it flows naturally out of the relationship, they may not rank its importance as high as those who are missing it, although I would think they would still recognize it’s importance to a point.
I was a bit confused when the authors wrote: “And more importantly, when we asked successfully married couples how important sex is to the success of their marriage — to rank on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest — the average rank was only 6! This finding has held true over the more than 30 years of our research. The results are hardly a resounding endorsement for the importance of sex in a successful marriage.” My conclusion is a little different from theirs. I am thinking an average ranking of 6 actually says it IS important in a successful marriage. You have to consider that they are probably surveying couples of all ages, which would affect the ratings. My life experience tells me that importance rankings change in different stages of marriage, or in other words, what is important to newly weds is different from couples with children, which is different from empty nesters, which is different from couples dealing with aging issues. Also, with in the stages, the importance rankings can be different even between the couples themselves, or in other words a young man may rank the importance of sex high while his young wife ranks it low, etc. An overall average ranking of 6, considering the different stages of all the participants, seems like it is still up there high on the importance scale in my book. Part of my confusion comes because the authors write on one hand it has an average ranking of 6, but on the other hand it is not one of the seven characteristics of a successful marriage. Not sure where they are getting the seven from then!!
According to this couple who wrote the article – “Touch” plays one of the seven important roles in a successful marriage. They say sex is only one form of touch, there are many forms of touch, and no single form “wins the day”. Rather the key lies in an “accumulation of touching”! OK… I am still trying to wrap my head around this concept, and I am not sure I totally agree with it. However, in a way I can kind of see what they are saying. I know that when sex gets taken off the table, more often than not, touch also goes out the window. I did not allow much touching during my denial years, because it led to fights about sex. When I allowed any touching or kissing or hugging, Hubby tried to take it further to get sex. So it was easier (on me) to just stop the touching part to begin with. Because of this, not only was their lack of sex, there was also lack of touching, kissing, & hugging for the most part. And now that sex is very much a big part of our life – there is also a lot of touching going on too – including in non-sexual situations. We hold hands, hug, kiss, caress, bump shoulders, pat, tickle, dance, snuggle, spoon, etc. – A LOT!!! Touching is very important to us, but most of our touching has a bit of a sexual element in it somewhere even if it does not immediately lead to full-blown sex. Maybe that’s why I am having a hard time understanding the point of this article. Or perhaps this is just a matter of what comes first – the chicken or the egg? Are they saying that touching is the important part because it allows the sexual part to flow more naturally?
I don’t know! As I think about it even more – back in the denial days, I don’t think Hubby would have thought our marriage was all that much better if we touched a lot – but still did not have sex! I know that now that my drive is on the high side – I would not be happy to only have touching and no sex. So I am not sure I really understand what this article is really trying to say here. It almost seems like they are trying to negate the importance of sex in a marriage. If that is the case, I am not sure I can agree with that conclusion.
How about you – what are your thoughts on this article?