A month ago or so someone reached out to me asking some questions about an old survey. Rather than use old data from a small sample set, I figured we might as well re-run it. And we added a bunch of new questions as well.
The main thrust of the survey was to determine whether or not married couples spent enough time on sex in order to be satisfied. Particularly, are they spending enough time to ensure that the wife is satisfied. That doesn’t just mean “does she have an orgasm”, but is there enough foreplay, adventure, novelty and romance to fulfill their needs.
So, here’s what we found out.
For some basic stats, we had 1844 fill out the survey. Not everyone completed it. 1424 individuals did. But we’ll use whatever data they provided when possible, and exclude them if they didn’t provide the data we’re looking for.
56% were men
22% were women
22% didn’t want to tell us which they were
96% of respondents said they were Christian
3% were non-religious
1% said “other”
and then a smattering of Muslim, Buddist and Hindu
88% of respondents were in their first (hopefully last) marriage when they filled out the survey
5% were on the second marriage
2% were single
2% were divorced
1% were on their third marriage
And then a few who were engaged, widowed or on their 4th marriages
For the remainder of the survey, I’ll include the widowed or 4th marriage stats in the averages, but I’m not going to break them out as there weren’t enough responses to be statistically significant as a group.
Lastly, we asked those who weren’t married to describe their current relationship
40% said they weren’t in a relationship nor having sex
35% said they were in a long term relationship and having sex
16% said they were in a long term relationship, but abstaining from sex
8% said they were having sex, but not in a long term relationship
Now, some people didn’t want me to ask about single people having sex. As if not asking can somehow make them stop. Look, the reality is that unmarried people are having sex. Even Christian unmarried people. Burying our collective heads in the sand isn’t going to help. I’ll be very clear – I think it’s wrong, but it’s happening, and acknowledging that isn’t endorsing it.
What I will do is make recommendations for married couples on how to improve their sex life, and show the singles how getting married would improve theirs.
That’s how I’m going to handle it.
Alright, now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on.
How often do people have sex?
This is always what everyone is interested in. So, let’s get it out of the way first. I’ve filtered these based on those who are in long term relationships that include sex:
Single respondents were having sex 3.0 times per week
Engaged respondents, 4.6 times per week
Married – 1.9x
Remarried (2nd) – 1.7x
Remarried (3rd) – 1.25x
Divorced – 5.0x
So, what’s going on here? Well, those who are single generally have more sex because they experience New Relationship Energy (NRE), as it’s commonly called. If you’re Christian, as most of these people are, then there’s also the taboo nature of it.
Then you get engaged, which for many people these days involves cohabitation (something I wish we had asked about), so then the opportunity increases. These also still tend to be those who are young, don’t have much responsibility in their lives (they often think they do, but just wait), and that leaves for a more care-free existence, which promotes arousal, particularly spontaneous arousal.
Add to that that getting engaged comes with it another sort of energy. The sort that comes with infatuation, then NRE, engagement, then being a newlywed. In fact, there’s a danger in those. Sadly many couples go through that sequence quickly, never really letting the infatuation chemicals calm down, so they never see potential red flags. Add sex into the mix, and you’ve just increased your chances of ignoring red flags, even if they do pop up.
Then people get married, and life gets real for many of us. We have children, the stress and responsibility goes up, and sex goes down. Now, 1.9x is a bit low for my audience, but between COVID-19, and the US elections, there’s a lot of additional stress in people’s lives, and that might be contributing to it.
Sadly, some people divorce, and there’s something that breaks in a lot of people when they get divorced. There’s this idea that “well, I’m not a virgin anymore, so what’s the point in staying sexually pure”, or “so I can’t be sexually pure”. This is unfortunately a misunderstanding of how sexual purity works. Sexual purity doesn’t mean you’re a virgin. It means you keep sex in it’s proper context – marriage. So, yes, you can be married, and divorced (or widowed), and still remain sexually pure – if you don’t have sex to someone you’re not married to.
However, there’s also other things at play here. People who have been married have had their sexual lives awakened – sex is now a felt “need”. Couple that with anger and frustration, perhaps that their spouse never paid them any attention, or perhaps that in a difficult relationship, they never felt desire, and when someone shows some attention and they feel themselves respond, it’s then harder to stay true to your beliefs.
And so, many people alter their beliefs in order to suit their desires. Sometimes they decide to “make up for lost time”. All these together I think help us get to a figure of 5x a week for divorced respondents.
Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), we didn’t have enough people answer in the “widowed” situation to grab any relevant information about that circumstance.
What I find particularly interesting is the remarriage cases. People wonder why I don’t advocate for divorce due to a lack of sex. There’s a pretty slim chance you’re going to actually improve it. Statistically, the more times you’ve been married, the less sex you’re likely to have in that new marriage. Of course, some people will end up improving it, but on average, they don’t.
In fact, in the first marriage, 7.3% are in clinically sexless marriages (less than 10x per year), in the 2nd marriage, 7.5% are in clinically sexless marriages (though the frequency drops, so they’re even “more” sexless, if that makes sense), and by the 3rd marriage, 15.8% are in clinically sexless marriages. So, you actually increase your chances of heading into a sexless marriage if you weren’t already in one.
When we asked what would improve your sex life, 44% of married respondents said that having sex more often would help their sex life, including 32% of women and 48% of men.
How long do couples take to have sex?
We asked this in a series of questions – how often do you have sex lasting under 10 minutes, 10-30 minutes, 30-60 minutes and more than 60 minutes.
The first thing I learned was that people can’t do math. They would say they’re having sex 2x per week and yet were somehow having 1 quicky a week, 1 longer session and then another marathon session. That’s not twice a week anymore. That’s three times. So, instead, I took them as proportions, and then re-adjusted them so they add up to 100% again.
Here’s what we end up with:
|< 10 minutes||10-30 minutes||30-60 minutes||60+ minutes|
We also just asked how much time they spend having sex, on average.
Single – 48 minutes
Engaged – 33 minutes
Married – 27 minutes
Remarried (2nd) – 29 minutes
Remarried (3rd) – 22 minutes
Divorced – 45 minutes
So, what do we do with this? Frankly, this is quite frustrating. Single, engaged and divorced people, who shouldn’t be having sex at all in my opinion, are devoting more time to their sex sessions than married people!
And it makes sense. Single and engaged people tend to be younger, are less likely to have children, and are earlier in their careers, and so have a lot more free time. The divorced people might be making up for lost time, as noted above. They also tend to be older, with kids out of the house, so that makes it easier to devote more time as well.
For many married couples, sex is something you sort of sneak in between putting the kids to bed and passing out yourself. But that doesn’t make it good.
Frankly, if we want to keep telling single people that married sex is best, then we have got to up our married sex game! Consider it your religious duty.
We also asked people how long they’d like to have sex if all other considerations where non-existent.
The average answer is about 50 minutes, almost across the board. So, it’s not really surprising that when we asked what would improve your sex life, 43% of respondents answered that having longer sessions would help.
I had expected the women to want more time per session in particular, but actually the men were more vocal about this. 70% of married men said they wanted the sessions to be longer, compared to 49% of wives.
Let’s talk about orgasms. So, how often do people orgasm? Well, on average, once per session. Doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, once per session is the average across the board. Now, there are some variations.
Single – 0.8 (0.7 for women, 0.9 for men)
Engaged – 1.4
Married – 1.0
Remarried (2nd) – 1.0
Remarried (3rd) – 0.8 (0.5 for women, 0.9 for men)
Divorced – 0.9 (0.5 for women, 0.9 for men)
So, the married couples are beating the singles at least with orgasms. To be honest, I was quite surprised by the married stat. As much as I hear about the orgasm gap, and that men orgasm every time, on average, men and women are orgasming at the same rate. Now, part of that is due to some women not orgasming every time, and some women having multiple orgasms.
So, if we instead group all the orgasms above one as a simple “had an orgasm”, where do we land? How often are people having an orgasm?
Single – 75% (65% for women, 90% for men)
Engaged – 88% (70% for women, 98% for men)
Married – 87% (72% for women, 93% for men)
Remarried (2nd) – 85% (72% for women, 92% for men)
Remarried (3rd) – 81% (53% for women, 88% for men)
Divorced – 81% (50% for women, 86% for men)
Alright, now the marriages are showing their strengths. Single people may be having more sex, but they’re not having orgasms as often per session, particularly the women. So, ladies, if you want to have more reliable orgasms – get married.
Masturbation is a highly contentious topic here. If you want to know my views on solo masturbation, or want to argue with me about them, you can read Why masturbation is a problem, whether you’re married or single and comment there. Like the topic of singles having sex, I’m not going to ignore it and hope people stop through a lack of giving it attention.
So, how often do people masturbate without their partner’s knowledge?
On average, women do 0.5 times per week, and men 1.5 times per week. However, that changes radically depending on their circumstances.
For example, single women who are having sex, but not in a long term relationship report masturbating about 10.5x per week. The men in the same situation say 8.5x per week. However, if they’re in a long term relationship that includes sex, then they both drop to 1.8x per week. So, it’s not the sex, but the relationship that seems to change things. Maybe some view masturbating as cheating on your partner, but if you have no dedicated partner, then that’s not a problem.
The 1.8x per week stat is the same for women who are engaged and having sex. The men go up to 2.4x per week. What if they’re engaged and not having sex? No one in that situation answered this question. They filled out the survey – but skipped that question. In fact, a lot of people skipped this question. So, we don’t have a lot of stats for various situations.
Now, one of the arguments I generally get from people is that they masturbate because they’re not getting enough sex. If that’s the case, then we should see a strong inverse correlation between the frequency of sex and the frequency of masturbation. As sex frequency goes down, masturbation should go up, right? But there isn’t. It has a coefficient of -0.11, which is so small it’s not statistically valid. It’s slightly stronger for just men (r = -0.16), but again, not enough.
Let me break in here a bit to explain that whole “r=” thing, because someone in my supporters forum mentioned that I never do explain it, and I really should, because not everyone has taken statistics, or remembers it if they have.
So, when talking about correlations, the r-value is the correlation coefficient. In short, it’s how well two data sets correlate. It ranges from -1 up to +1.
An r-value of -1 would indicate a perfect negative correlation. For example, measuring the height of a person and correlating that to the distance that their head is from the ceiling if they’re standing. By definition, those two things have a perfect inverse correlation. As one gets larger, the other gets smaller by a perfectly calculable amount.
An r-value of +1 indicates a perfect positive correlation. It’s hard to show an example without being ridiculous, but something like foot size compared to shoe size might be a perfect correlation (assuming it’s always the same company and the shoe sizes are standardized).
An r-value of zero then indicates no correlation at all. Again, it’s hard to show an example without being ridiculous, but let’s say the number of moons a planet has compared to the letters in the planet’s name. That might not actually be zero, but you’d expect there to be no correlation, so zero wouldn’t be surprising. Any correlation would be quite coincidental.
So, the more extreme the r-value is, either positively or negatively, the more related the two things are. What this means is that masturbation has a very small negative relationship with frequency of sex. That is to say that frequency of sex doesn’t determine frequency of masturbation to any large extent.
Alright, moving on.
What is of minor interest is that the women have a nearly identical, but positive, coefficient (0.17). So, what does this mean? Well, having more sex might boost sex drive in women enough to cause a miniscule increase in masturbation, and cause a similarly miniscule decrease in masturbation in men. But again, these are considered very weak correlations statistically.
In short – no, you’re likely not masturbating because of a lack of sex. It’s more likely a rationalization you’ve told yourself to try and alleviate some guilt.
How often do couples engage in non-physical sex with your partner, such as sexting, phone/video sex?
While the average was about every 3 weeks or so, it changes again based on circumstance.
Single – 2.1 times per week
Engaged – 0.8 times per week
Married – every 3 weeks or so
Remarried (2nd) – every other week
Remarried (3rd) – every other month or so
Divorced – 1.4 times per week
At first glance, this looks bad for married couples, but on the other hand, they’re married, so they’re together every day. Why would you bother going into a different room to have phone sex when you could be together? I mean, it still happens, clearly, maybe sexts at work (though with COVID, a lot of people are working from home), or phone/video sex on business trips. But by and large, sex is going to happen in person.
How long would people like to spend on foreplay? Now, the stereotype here is that women want foreplay and men don’t. So, we’d expect to see the men’s numbers way below the women’s, right? Wrong.
On average, men wanted about 20 minutes of foreplay and women about 18.5 minutes. That’s pretty close. Let’s see how they break down.
So, again, ladies, if you want more foreplay, get married. Apparently husbands are far more interested in foreplay than single men.
How long would people like oral sex to last when they’re receiving?
Actually, 17.4% of our female respondents said they’re prefer not to get oral sex at all, including 18.2%, 15.0% and 33.3% of first, 2nd and 3rd time brides, respectively.
Interestingly enough, 20% of single men who are having sex don’t want oral sex either, but all our single female responses who are having sex want oral sex.
Anyways, so how long is long enough to engage in oral sex?
On average, the women said 9.1 minutes and the men 10.8. So, 10 minutes seems to be the ideal, on average. Of course, some say much longer, and some much less.
Single and divorced women seem to want a lot more oral attention, I’m not exactly sure why.
Positions and Activites
How many positions do couples use on average in a given session? About 2.5.
Single – 3.3
Engaged – 3.0
Married – 2.5
Remarried (2nd) – 2.5
Remarried (3rd) – 2.8
Divorced – 2.7
How often would they like to try new positions? Almost weekly it turns out. If you feel that you’d like to try a new position weekly, I have a great resource for you – ChristianFriendlySexPositions.com join their mailing list and you’ll get a new position emailed to you every week with little stick figures to demonstrate how to do it. This week was the Flatiron.
Not every position will work for every couple, but it’s fun to try them out and it might help your marriage, because 60% of wives and 82% of husbands said that trying new positions and activities would improve their married sex life.
If you want to try more activities rather than positions, then I’d suggest getting Our Sexploration List. It has literally hundreds of things that a married couple could try out in a 25-page workbook format to help you and your spouse talk through your preferences.
That might help with making your sex life feel more adventurous. When we asked people what percentage of their sex life was novel and/or adventurous, the average was 28%. Now, that ranged. Single people answered 54% and engaged people answered 45%, but a lot of them are likely in the early stages of their sex life, so more things are new to them.
Let’s talk about sex toys. If you’re offended by the idea, then skip this section.
How often do people use sex toys?
|Never||Once in a while||Every other time||Every time|
How many toys do people use on a regular basis? Between 1 and 2.
And what kind of toys do they use?
I wish I had asked about bullet vibes. Apparently I missed that.
I’m not seeing anything crazy here. So, not much to comment on. 51% of married respondents (37% of wives and 57% of husbands) said that adding sex toys would improve their sex life. If you’re looking to try one, I’d suggest our friends over at Married Dance, an online Christian sex toy store. You can even get 10% off your first order on most products by using the coupon code UNCOVERINGINTIMACY.
How do people learn to have better sex? Do they just keep doing it until they get better? Practice makes perfect? Or is there value in trying to learn from other sources. In Christianity, that always comes with a fair bit of trepidation. I’ve tried hard to walk the line between being informative yet not erotic. It’s not easy, and some people think I miss it.
So, we asked some questions about how you learn about sex.
The first one was “Have you ever studied to be multi-orgasmic”? I was quite surprised that 28% said they had. That’s nearly 1/3rd! Then I was curious if it actually helped them.
Is there a correlation between studying to be multi-orgasmic and your ability to orgasm? Turns out there isn’t (r= -0.00475).
Sorry, studying to be multi-orgasmic doesn’t seem to actually produce multiple orgasms, or even more orgasms. That’s a bit disappointing to be honest.
Then we asked “How often do you consume sex education material?”
11.6% said never. I’m not sure how they found out about the survey … I mean, it’s on a blog that has a lot of sex education material on it. But, whatever. Maybe someone just told them “fill out this survey”. Thanks to those who did that!
47% said once a month or more
19% said every 3 months or so
11% said every 6 months or so
12% said once a year or more
So, does consuming sex education produce more orgasms? Nope. More sex? Nope. Hmm. Also disappointing.
“Have you studied how to have sex as long as you want?”
72% said yes, 28% said no. Did it help them? Afraid not. Both groups have sex for about 28 minutes on average. Sadness.
“How do you like to consume sex education content”
Now, someone accused me of just stuffing this survey with internal marketing questions, but I didn’t actually come up with this question. That’s not to say I’m not curious about the outcome.
So, what are the favourites?
Articles – 75%
Podcasts – 42%
Books – 31%
Online Videos – 31%
eBooks – 23%
Mobile Apps – 15%
Online Courses – 14%
Webinars – 10%
DVDs – 7%
Counselors – 6%
Coaches – 5%
Conferences – 4%
In Person Classes – 3%
I’ll admit, as a coach, that hurts a bit. But as a blogger and a podcaster, I still ended up on top, so we’ll call that a wash.
How many websites and podcasts on sex do you follow? On average people follow about 1.7, so I’m quite flattered that I’m one of them!
How many books on sex have you read? On average about 2.2. Not sure what else to say about that.
How satisfied are you with your sex life?
On average, meh. A 5.8 out of 10.
Singles were happier at 7.5 and engaged folk at 7.3, but that’s expected based on NRE and engagement infatuation and all that. Once real life settles in, it drops down to 5.8 for married couples. Then, if you get divorced, it drops to 5.4.
Get remarried and it comes back up to 6.0. Go through it again and remarry for a 3rd time and it’s down to 4.4.
In short, getting divorced because you’re not happy with your sex life is a bad idea.
So, what sort of things affect sexual satisfaction?
Masturbation has a negative correlation (r = -0.26), meaning that you’re more likely to masturbate if you’re not sexually satisfied. But it’s a weak correlation. Age has a very weak negative correlation as well (r = -0.13). But, that’s not helpful except to say as you get older, you have to up your game.
Even how novel your sex life is doesn’t correlate well (r = 0.05).
Now, how often you orgasm does have a weak correlation (r = 0.22). This is particularly interesting as a prominent sex blogger and speaker lately is selling a course based on the claim that more orgasms will make a wife want sex more. So, I checked the correlation just for women. It correlates more strongly (r = 0.34), so yes, it might, a bit, but it’s not going to be a massive shift by any means according to the data. It could also simply be that people who have better sex also have more orgasms. Correlation does not necessarily equate to causation. First you have to test the theory before making that claim.
So, what does correlate well?
Sexual frequency has a correlation coefficient with sexual satisfaction of about 0.46. It’s not super strong – more sex doesn’t guarantee more satisfaction. But it seems to help a lot.
Those who never use sex toys reported lower satisfaction (5.3). Especially men (4.9). Those who used them every other time or so seemed the most satisfied (6.8).
Women seemed the most sexually satisfied (7.1) if they wanted 5 to 10 minute of foreplay and least at 30+ minutes (5.7). Didn’t expect that one.
Wives seemed the most sexually satisfied with non-physical sex (sexting, phone, video sex) occuring about a couple times a week. There’s a steady climb from never (5.9) to twice a week (8.0). However, it doesn’t seem to happen that often for most. My guess would be that for many women, the best way to get her aroused is through her mind. However, there is a mental block that sexting and such is dirty – and not in a good way. So, while it would help them be more satisfied, they don’t want it. As such, the vast majority never engage in this activity. But those who do try it, seem to really benefit from it. The husbands also seem to enjoy this. They similarly climb from 5.0 at “never” into 7.5 at twice per week. So, that’s something to try.
And women who would like 4 positions to be tried per sex session seem to enjoy sex the most (7.4) compared to those who only want to try one position (5.9).
And then I found this:
Wives who have sex lasting over an hour twice per week rated their sexual satisfaction at 8.3 and wives who have sex lasting over an hour three times per week at 9.0. That’s pretty astonishing considering the average for wives is 6.3! Now, is their satisfaction higher because of more sex or because the sex last an hour? Let’s check.
Turns out wives who have sex 5 times per week rate their sex life at 8.1, again, compared to the average of 6.6. So, more sex seems to equate to higher sexual satisfaction.
But is it that more sex makes sex better, or that if sex is better, then you have more sex? Well, I challenge the wives in my Becoming More Sexually Engaged course to have more sex, even when they don’t feel like it. You know what happened? They got happier about their sex life! So, I’d consider that hypothesis tested and verified. It’s not guaranteed, but it’s statistically very likely based on the data I’m gathering from our course, and it’s a causative relationship, not just correlative.
Now, it could also be that all the stuff they learned in the course both improved their frequency and their satisfaction. What I can say is that every wife who has taken the course has said that they’re glad they did.
Anyways, the men also like more frequent sex, but it turns out not quite as much as the wives. The men peak at 7.8 satisfaction at 5 times a week.
But, still is it more sex or more, longer sex. What about quickies? Well, wives who have quickies (under 10 minutes) four times a week still rated their satisfaction at 8.5. 10-30 minute session? Those at 4 times per week averaged at 7.8.
Across the board, wives who had sex 4 times per week seem to be the most satisfied.
Now, it’s not that the length of sex doesn’t matter. What seems to matter more than the number of times per week is the ratio of how many quickies to longer sessions. The higher the ratio of quickies in their sex life, the less satisfied they are with it (r = -0.42). And the more 30-60 minute sessions there are, the better (r = 0.27) and to a slightly lesser degree 60+ minute sessions (r = 0.22).
So, what seems best is a low ratio of quickies, no 10-30 minute sessions and split the rest into 30-60 minute and 60+ minute sessions, maybe a little heavier on the 30-60 minute sessions. You know, because sleep.
The husbands are less picky about how long the sessions are. There is also a negative correlation between satisfaction and and how much of their sex life is quickies (r = -0.32), meaning, don’t make all the sex quickies. But after that, there’s not much of a correlation between satisfaction and particular lengths. But a sex life consisting of mostly quickies is not good for anyone.
Now, don’t get me wrong, quickies can be fun and adventurous and have their place – just don’t make them a large portion of your sex life without discussion. I mean, you should talk about it anyways, but definitely don’t do that without talking about it.
What did we learn?
The point of this survey was to see if people were spending enough time on having long enough sessions to ensure wives were sexually satisfied. When I found out is that, based on our survey responses, the wives are actually more sexually satisfied than the husbands in general (6.3/10 vs. 5.5/10). At least, among my readers and listeners.
Maybe that’s the trick – want to be more sexually satisfied? Read Uncovering Intimacy or listen to our podcast 🙂
Seriously though, if you want wives to be even more sexually satisfied, try these three things:
- Have sex more often (frequency vs satisfaction, r = 0.38)
- Have more long sex sessions (over 30 minutes) than short ones (under 10 minutes) (time spent having sex vs satisfaction, r = 0.25)
- Let her have more orgasms (frequency of orgasms vs. satisfaction, r = 0.41)
By the way, longer sessions generally equate to more orgasms (r=0.30).
Anyways, that’s it for this survey. If there’s a correlation you’d like to check, let me know in the comments, or email me at [email protected]. My supporters will be voting on the next survey to run, so if you want a voice in that, check out our donate page to learn how to become one. Otherwise, stay tuned!
37 Questions for spouses to ask each other about sex
Subscribe to get the 2 page PDF full of questions to help you and your spouse start to talk about your sex life.