Are you ever confused by your own sexual arousal? By what turns you on and when? Or… maybe you’re confused by your spouse. Why doesn’t she ever initiate sex? Why is he always so turned on? The “he” and “she” there are stereotypical — sometimes it goes the other way — but scientists have identified two different pathways to arousal that map onto these common perceptions. The two polarities are called “spontaneous desire” and “responsive desire”, and they lead to very different behavior that can confuse you and your spouse if you don’t recognize what’s happening.

Men typically (but not always) exhibit spontaneous desire. This polarity manifests as sexual desire that isn’t triggered by any obvious external factors. “Hey, I want to have sex!” Spontaneous desire motivates the initiation of sexual behavior. Spontaneous desire leads you to ask for a date, lean in for a kiss, test boundaries for touching, escalate a physical encounter, try new things, and risk rejection. These behaviors can be confusing for the recipient, because it may seem like the sexual behavior is coming out of nowhere — which it is. It’s spontaneous. The recipient of these behaviors may ask themselves things like:

  • “Why is he touching me now?”
  • Why does he want to do that?
  • “Why is he so persistent?”
  • “Again?”
  • “Does he think about anything besides sex?”

Women typically (but not always) exhibit responsive desire. This polarity manifests as sexual desire that grows after sexual behavior has started. “Oh, that feels good… I guess I am in the mood!” A person with responsive desire may seem to have a low libido because she doesn’t often initiate sex, and it can take some effort on her part to “get into the mood”. What’s especially interesting is that women often don’t even know when they’re aroused at first.

Men’s subjective ratings of arousal were in agreement with their body’s level of sexual arousal about 66 percent of the time, while women’s were in line only about 26 percent of the time.

“The general pattern that I have seen in my laboratory is that women experience a genital response but do not report feeling sexually aroused,” Chivers told LiveScience.

Women’s bodies often get aroused before their minds do. Crazy, huh? With responsive desire, sexual arousal will follow physical or mental sexual stimulation, and that stimulation usually comes from a husband who is trying to initiate sex. Without understanding this process, a husband may think things like:

  • “Why doesn’t she ever initiate sex?”
  • “I’ll wait for her to initiate this time.”
  • “Why do I have to try so hard to turn her on?”
  • “Isn’t she attracted to me? Doesn’t she want me?”
  • “Why doesn’t she suggest something new?”

Of course, there are no absolutes in life. Some men are more responsive, and some women are more spontaneous. What’s more, a person’s desire polarity may vary over time — especially for women, as their hormones change throughout their menstrual cycles.

Now that you know about spontaneous and responsive desire, what action can you take?

If you and your spouse are both spontaneous… well, you’re probably having sex all the time. Congrats!

If you are spontaneous and your spouse is responsive:

  • Don’t judge your responsive spouse for not being spontaneous.
  • Learn how to elicit sexual response from your spouse and recognize when she is getting turned on.
  • Be enthusiastic and persistent with initiation; don’t get frustrated that you initiate most of the time.

If you are responsive and your spouse is spontaneous:

  • Don’t judge your spontaneous spouse for not being responsive.
  • When your spontaneous spouse initiates sex, don’t immediately see it as an annoyance or distraction! Give your mind a body a chance to respond.
  • Learn to recognize your own arousal when your mind and body respond to your spouse’s initiation. It may not be obvious.

If you and your spouse are both responsive, you’re going to need to be extra intentional. Try one of our sex games or the random foreplay generator to initiate sex when you’ve got time, even if neither of you is particularly in the mood. Once you get started, you can both respond to the heat generated by the game!

Do you have any experiences to share? Any advice? Leave a comment!

Do you want to have more and better sex? Get plenty of sleep.

According to a large new study, women over age 50 who get fewer than seven hours of sleep are less likely to report being sexually active than their peers who sleep more, a problem that increases with age.

Sleep disorders can also interfere with sex. Research suggests that men with obstructive sleep apnea, a condition marked by snoring and breathing difficulties, have decreased levels of sexual activity, possibly because they produce lower amounts of testosterone. Sleep apnea can also increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, which may be related to sexual dysfunction.

But the reverse appears to be true, too: Another recent study that looked at sleep and sex in college students found that for those in romantic relationships, every extra hour they slept corresponded to higher sexual desire, greater vaginal lubrication and a 14% increase in the chances of getting frisky the next day. That’s probably because a good night’s sleep leaves us feeling refreshed, relaxed and energetic — all important for feeling sexy.

Sleep is an important component of staying healthy, along with exercise, managing your weight, and maintaining good hygiene. For (the many) husbands who write to us asking for advice on strengthening their wives’ libidos, helping her get more sleep seems like a great first step.

And… do you want more and better sleep? Have plenty of sex!

The reasons are largely chemical in nature. After orgasm, our bodies release significant amounts of the “cuddle hormone” oxytocin, which lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol, resulting in deep relaxation.

Sex also has gender-specific benefits. “For women, estrogen levels increase after sex, which can enhance a woman’s REM cycle for a deeper sleep. In men, the hormone prolactin is secreted after orgasm and has been tied to sleepiness,” explained licensed psychologist Rachel Needle, co-director of the Modern Sex Therapy Institutes.

Yeah, yeah — there’s just too much to do. But you need to make time for your health and for your spouse. Go to bed early tonight together!

We hope that you all had a great Christmas and New Year! The holiday season is often stressful, but did you know that it’s also the catalyst for a yearly September baby boom?

It’s often wryly observed that birth rates peak in September, with many studies citing seasonal changes in human biology to explain this post-holiday “baby boom.” But new research from scientists at Indiana University and the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência in Portugal finds that spikes in pregnancies are actually rooted in society, not biology.

“We observe that Christmas and Eid-Al-Fitr are characterized by distinct collective moods that correlate with increased fertility,” Rocha said. “Perhaps people feel a greater motivation to grow their families during holidays when the emphasis is on love and gift-giving to children. The Christmas season is also associated with stories about the baby Jesus and holy family, which may put people in a loving, happy, ‘family mood.'”

Sexy Corte and I have been on a roll this holiday season — I hate to brag, but during vacation we had sex seven times in 72 hours! She actually had to beg off from having another orgasm because her legs were getting sore. (Ok, so maybe I like to brag a little.) We’re not having any more babies, but being in close proximity for days at a time still seems to rev our engines. (It’s also worth noting that we had a pretty good fight, too — which is also pretty common for couples over the holidays)

I’m sure we weren’t the only ones having great sex over the holidays — what about you? Any sexual accomplishments you’d like to brag about? You can’t share with your “real friends”, but you can share with your pseudonymous internet buddies!

Proverbs 15:16 says: “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it.”

Psalm 127:2 says: “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat — for he grants sleep to those he loves.”

Proverbs 5:18-19 says: “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer — may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.”

Maybe the Bible is on to something! Scientists have recently discovered that sleep and sex make you happier than wealth!

The new happiness index, developed by Oxford Economics and the National Centre for Social Research, and commissioned by Sainsbury’s, has found that sex and sleep are the two things that have the strongest association with a person’s happiness and wellbeing – well above money. Researchers found that while upping your income (even if you quadruple it) causes very little increase to your happiness, being well-rested and well-sexed have a significant impact on how joyful you feel. The study involved polling 8,250 Britons, finding that the average person has a Living Well score of 62.2.

Those who get the most sleep were found the score 15 points higher on the index than those who struggle with sleep, while people who are deeply dissatisfied with their sex lives scored seven points lower than those who said they’re very satisfied. To be clear – very satisfied doesn’t mean these people are having loads of sex. It just means they’re very happy with the quality and frequency of the sex they’re having. Increasing your household income from £12,500 to £50,000, meanwhile, results in an increase of only two points.

So quit working late, leave the chores for later, and go to bed with your spouse!

Hannah Smothers at Cosmo is mad at husbands who enjoy giving orgasms to their wives.

It’s not enough that men are already having more orgasms than women. To make matters worse, a new study published in the Journal of Sex Research found — aside from deriving pleasure from their own orgasms, obviously — men also derive a specific sort of masculine pleasure from making female partners orgasm. The researchers in the study, Sara Chadwick and Sari van Anders, refer to this incredibly predictable phenomenon as a “masculinity achievement.” I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I imagine a “masculinity achievement” looks something like Super Mario punching a coin out of one of those floating boxes in the video game.

“Despite increasing focus on women’s orgasms, research indicated that the increased attention to women’s orgasms may also serve men’s sexuality, complicating conceptualizations of women’s orgasms as women-centric,” researchers wrote.

I’m glad that scientists are investigating such esoteric topics! I can confirm that this husband really enjoys pleasuring his wife, even if it complicates the conceptualization of her orgasm. I feel like orgasms are something we experience together, rather than being “centric” on just one of us.

What about the idea of “giving” an orgasm to your spouse?

In a separate statement from Chadwick and van Anders, they explained why it’s a bad thing for men to gain masculinity points for bringing female partners to orgasm. “One reason is that it might pressure some heterosexual men to feel like they have to ‘give’ women orgasms, as if orgasm is something men pulled out of a hat and presented to women,” they wrote. “This ties into cultural ideas of women as passive recipients of whatever men give them.”

I completely agree that as a husband it feels incredibly empowering to give my wife an orgasm, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Most of the time that Sexy Corte orgasms we’re using a vibrator and she’s on top and in control of the movement. This is the easiest way for her to reach orgasm, and since we have more lust than time we often aim for efficiency. This position is good for me and I enjoy sharing in the pleasure of her orgasm, but it’s not the same as when I give her an orgasm while I’m in a more dominant role. That is a sort of “achievement”, but it’s also very rewarding to know that the woman I love and adore can receive such pleasure from me.

The joy of giving is the reward for assuming the dominant role and doing most of the work in a sexual encounter. It takes work to give pleasure, whether that’s simply an orgasm or a whole sexual experience like trivia night, shibari rope bondage, or poetry night. It takes care and effort to prepare questions, learn how to tie knots, or write poetry, and the reward for that effort is the joy you get from giving to the one you love.

Furthermore, giving pleasure isn’t a one-way street as Cosmo implies. A wife can also find it joyful and rewarding to give pleasure to her husband, and a husband can appreciate the time and effort involved and take joy in the wife who loves him. When Sexy Corte performs oral sex or cleans the ceiling fan it hits me right in my primary love language (Acts of Service, which may also be why I enjoy giving so much).

Far from being harmful, joyfully giving pleasure to your spouse will enhance intimacy and deepen the love and commitment you have for each other. Each spouse can both give and receive pleasure, and your sex life and marriage will be better for it.

How do you approach giving and receiving in your marriage? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

New research shows that Americans are having less sex than 20 years ago and suggests that the decline might be due in part to improvements in electronic diversions like Facebook and Netflix.

American adults had less sex in the early 2010s than they did in the 1990s, to the tune of nine fewer times a year, according to new research published in Archives of Sexual Behavior. (That’s a drop from a yearly average in the low 60s, to one in the low 50s.)

This slump holds true regardless of gender, age, race, work or marital status, although it’s most precipitous for American who were married or living with a romantic partner, a group that reported having sex 16 fewer times per year in the early 2010s when compared to the early 2000s.

[…] Twenge has another theory on why we’re getting frisky less frequently: technology. More specifically, the rise of smartphones and streaming services, which began gaining real traction in the late 2000s.

“Entertainment is more entertaining now, it’s more on demand — you can access it anytime you want,” she says. “DVRs became more common right around that time, too.” In other words, we might be too busy binge watching shows, playing video games, and Snapchatting our friends to bother having sex.

Basically the theory is that electronics are out-competing you for your spouse’s attention. No one likes competition, but you can be more interesting than the internet if you’re intentional about it. In addition to the tips in that post (go read it!), here are some ideas for protecting your marriage (and family) from excessive electronic distraction.

  • No television in the sex room! Televisions are ubiquitous these days, but I guarantee that if you have one in your master bedroom it is reducing the frequency of sex. Do you doubt me? Haven’t you ever laid in bed, barely able to keep your eyes open, while trying to finish a show before you pass out? I bet you didn’t have sex after that, even if you were both frisky when you got in bed. Your master bedroom should be your sex room, and you should protect it as such.
  • Keep your computers in public places. This goes especially for your kids — computers that are in public parts of the house (as opposed to bedrooms) are much less likely to be abused. If you have a home office (like we do), try to stay away from it when you’re not working so that you aren’t pulled away from your family time. If your computer is in a public part of the house, then even when you have to use the computer at least you can stay near your family instead of completely disengaging.
  • Limit access to electronics by time and place. We try very hard to limit our use of electronics to specific times and places. The kids only watch television during quiet time. Phones and tablets are not allowed at the table during meals. Mobile devices with full internet access are not allowed in the kids’ bedrooms. Sexy Corte and I only watch Netflix in the living room, usually after we have sex upstairs. It’s important to create consistent boundaries that work for your family, and these will probably change over time as your kids get older. The electronic boundaries in your marriage need to protect your relationship and your sex life — find shows and games that you can enjoy together, and have sex first!
  • Shared access. Shared devices are much less likely to be abused than private devices. Adults will probably have their “own” phones, but in our family we know each others’ pass-codes and can access all the devices — and the same goes for email, Facebook, or whatever. We use LastPass to store our passwords, which is great for security and convenience and also ensures that Sexy Corte and I can get access to whatever accounts we need. (Ensuring access would also be especially important if one of us were to become incapacitated or worse.)
  • Don’t get caught in the web. Learn to recognize when you’re mindlessly surfing the web without purpose and make yourself stop. I’m most susceptible to this trap when I’ve had caffeine too close to bedtime — I’ll just lay in bed, bleary-eyed, clicking on links when I should be sleeping. It’s hard to stop because the internet is addictive, but when you learn to recognize what you’re doing you can apply your willpower to put the device down.

Got any tips to share? How do you and your spouse protect your marriage from Facebook and Netflix? Leave a comment!

Yet another post about how science indicates that sex is good for you! In this case, a long-term study followed adult men for 18 years and found that frequent ejaculation reduces the risk of prostate cancer.

It found that men ages 20 to 29 who ejaculated 21 times or more each month were 19 percent less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than those who ejaculated less often, between 4 and 7 times per month.

And it wasn’t just young guys who saw the benefit: Men 40 to 49 who ejaculated at least 21 times per month reduced their risk of developing prostate cancer by 22 percent.

Won’t be having sex 21 times this month? Don’t worry: The study showed a dose-dependent relationship with ejaculation and prostate cancer risk, meaning that the more you do it, the more your risk decreases, she says.

So even ejaculating just a few more times each month can likely bring some benefits to your prostate.

Twenty-one times a month means having sex about five times a week on average, which is more than most married couples. However, if you follow our steps to make sex a daily habit you can at least improve your batting average. If you have a family history of prostate cancer this can be even more important.

And wives, don’t do it just for your husbands — check out some of these links to learn about how sex is good for women’s health:

Frequent sex with your spouse is as important for your health as eating right and exercising.

We recently wrote about how to make the most of the size you’ve got and talked a bit about penis anxiety — the common fear among men that their penises just aren’t good enough. Go back and read that post for some survey data that reveals that men care more about penis size than women do. For the most part, girth is more important than length, and the previous post gave some tips for how to feel thicker.

In 2001, Russell Eisenman published a paper in BMC Women’s Health wherein 50 women were asked whether girth or length contributed more to their sexual pleasure. Ninety-percent of the surveyed women responded that the thickness of a penis was a more important elicitor of pleasure.

You may be surprised to learn that the average penis is more than long enough to reach the end of the average vagina — even accounting for the fact that the vagina lengthens when the woman becomes aroused!

The most commonly used measurements regarding the size of vaginas come from Masters and Johnson’s work from the 1960s. They looked at 100 women who had never been pregnant and found that vagina lengths, unstimulated, range from 2.75 inches to about 3.25 inches. When a woman is aroused, it increased to 4.25 inches to 4.75 inches. Regardless of how long the vagina is, the area that is thought to be important for most women’s sexual response is the outer one-third.

(The average American man’s penis is 5.6 inches long when erect with a girth of 4.8 inches.)

And as that quote indicates, the outermost one-third of the vagina, near the opening, contains 90% of the vaginal nerve endings and is much more sensitive to touch than the deeper two-thirds of the vagina.

Taking all that information into account, we can conclude that penis length matters a lot less than we husbands often think. Nonetheless, achieving the deepest penetration possible for you and your spouse can still be extremely pleasurable for a variety of reasons.

  • Nerves in the lower shaft of the penis are often the most powerful trigger for male orgasm. Shallow penetration (and stimulation of the head of the penis) feels extremely good but often doesn’t lead to a quick climax. Approaches like the frenulum technique or tip top technique are awesome for a slow build-up and edging (and will generally lead to orgasm eventually), but stimulating the nerves along the whole shaft will generally get you there faster.
  • Feeling of fullness. Even though the upper part of the vagina doesn’t have as many nerve endings as the lower third, filling it up can give the wife a pleasurable sense of fullness. The vaginal fornices (anterior fornix and posterior fornix) are to the front and back of the cervical opening, and stimulating them can produce an indirect feeling of pleasure. Because of the angle of the wife’s body, usually only the anterior fornix can be stimulated in missionary position; but in doggy style, when the wife is aroused and the vagina has lengthened, the head of the penis can also reach into the posterior fornix.
  • Mental and emotional pleasure. It is extremely intense for the husband to penetrate his wife to her greatest depth, and for the wife to share with her husband the most intimate parts of her body. Deep penetration creates an opportunity for gentleness, vulnerability, submission, and closeness that epitomizes the “one flesh” of the husband and wife.

Here are a few tips for getting the most from deep penetration.

  • Husbands, lose weight! Excess fat can bury your penis and reduce its usable length. We’ve said it before, but go lift some weights. This is basically the only real way to make your penis longer.
  • Turn her on. Most women won’t find deep penetration to be comfortable or pleasurable if they aren’t aroused. During arousal the vagina not only lengthens, but the cervix actually rotates upward and out of the way of the penis. If a woman isn’t aroused deep penetration will likely result in the penis pounding into her cervix, which most women don’t enjoy.
  • Leg positioning. Missionary position isn’t the best for deep penetration, but you can still do pretty well if you position the wife’s legs properly. Spread them wide open and push her knees up to her chest. Depending on her flexibility, the husband can put the wife’s legs over his shoulders or hook his arms behind one or both knees to hold them up. This positioning accomplishes two things: first, it moves the wife’s legs out of the way of the husband’s hips; second, it pivots her hips and stretches her vagina so that it can accept more length. Sexy Corte and I find this arrangement to be especially intimate after she has an orgasm — we roll her over onto her back, I climax as deep into her as I can reach, and then we cuddle.
  • Doggy style. Probably the position that enables the deepest penetration, but without as much intimacy as missionary. The wife should arch her back (pushing her tummy down towards the bed) to create the most depth for her husband, and even with her legs together he should be able to reach her posterior fornix. Sexy Corte and I have found that doggy style is a great position to transition to once she is warmed up, but it isn’t the right way to begin.
  • Wife on top. The wife-on-top position is good for letting her control the depth, but often doesn’t enable very deep penetration. To maximize depth, the wife can stand on the balls of her feet while straddling her husband rather than resting on her knees. This positioning puts her knees higher and moves her thighs up and out, which creates room for the husband’s body to get closer to her vagina. Then she can bounce up and down and drive her husband crazy.

It’s worth noting that the intimacy of deep penetration isn’t limited to vaginal sex — it’s also extremely intimate for the wife to receive her husband deep into her mouth as well.

Do you have any thoughts about deep penetration? Leave a comment!

I think that unmarried men worry more about penis size than husbands do, but penis anxiety is pretty common among men — just like other forms of body shame are common among both men and women. It may be reassuring for a husband to learn that we worry more about our penis size than our wives probably do.

Men worry far more than women about penis size, according to Veale and his colleagues. One study, published in April in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that women preferred larger penises only up to a point (anything bigger than a flaccid length of 2.99 inches (7.59 centimeters) did not additionally impress women), and preferences also varied based on a guy’s height. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found similarly ambivalent female preferences. In that study, women who experienced frequent vaginal orgasms were much more likely than other women to express an interest in better-endowed guys. For women who didn’t prefer vaginal orgasms, penis size was a far less pressing matter.

In case you’re wondering, the average American man’s penis is 5.6 inches long when erect with a girth of 4.8 inches. (You can measure girth (circumference) by wrapping a string around the widest part of the shaft and then measuring the length of the string.)

The real question though is: how can you make the most of what you’ve got? Here are a few suggestions.

  • Lose weight. If a man is carrying too much weight, the extra fat can submerge some of his length and hide it inside his body. Lift some weights!
  • Penis ring. They’re cheap and help maximize your erection (and can even help you last longer). A ring with a vibrator might also be fun for your wife!
  • Deeper sex positions. Missionary position isn’t the best for deep penetration. This topic deserves its own post, but the short version is this: while in missionary, push her knees way up towards her head; or try doggy style and have her arch her back. (“Arch” means to push her tummy down towards the bed, not to push her spine up towards the sky.) These positions will let your penis reach farther into her body and give her a greater sensation of fullness.
  • Legs together. Whatever position you use, your penis will feel thicker if your wife keeps her legs together rather than spread open.
  • Vaginal exercises. This deserves a post of its own as well, but your penis will feel bigger (to you both) if your wife tightens the muscles of her vagina by performing Kegel exercises. She can also squeeze her vagina and butt during sex to increase the feeling of girth. Your mileage may vary, but I find that Sexy Corte tightens when I give her a little spank on the butt.
  • Thank God for her clitoris. Don’t forget… most women orgasm primarily from clitoral stimulation!

Wives, please realize that your husband takes his penis very seriously. Making fun of his penis is probably worse than if he called you “fat” — you can always lose weight, but his penis isn’t going to change. Instead, show admiration for his penis!

Do you have any tips for making the most of what you’ve got? Leave a comment! (Plus, I’ll post a funny gif in the comments: “bigger than you think”.)

If you said, “he ejaculates!”, then you’d better keep reading.

Most people think that female sexuality is more complicated than male sexuality — I love this illustration.

man-woman_machine

And… ok, it’s probably true! But there are still nuances to a husband’s sexuality that may not be obvious to his wife. For example, did you know that your husband’s orgasm isn’t over when he starts ejaculating? Most people equate ejaculation with orgasm, but a man’s orgasm actually begins a few seconds before ejaculation and can last for up to a minute after. There are two different things going on when a man has an orgasm.

First: Emission. Emission occurs several seconds before ejaculation, when the man’s vasa deferentia squeeze sperm out of the epididymis into ducts near the urethra. Men can feel this emission keenly — it’s very pleasurable — and this is the “point of no return” after which the man cannot stop the orgasm from happening. In these ducts the sperm is mixed with fluids from several glands to create semen. This all happens inside the man’s body and is probably unnoticeable to his wife (unless he’s giving you cues).

Second: Ejaculation. A few seconds after the semen is mixed and in position, ejaculation proper begins with repeated contractions by the bulbospongiosus muscle. These contractions move the semen through the urethra and shoot it out of the body. The contractions and spurting of semen are probably the most notable events for the wife, but ejaculation actually occurs only a few seconds into the orgasm — the whole orgasm can then last up to a minute longer.

After ejaculation the muscle contractions continue with decreasing frequency and strength and the penis gradually loses sensitivity as the orgasm winds down. It varies from person to person, of course, but post-orgasm sensitivity seems quite different between myself and Sexy Corte. After she has an orgasm, SC’s clitoris often becomes so sensitive that further stimulation is unpleasant; after my orgasm, I enjoy continued stimulation for a while until the sensations eventually become rather neutral.

As with everything, the key is to talk with your spouse about what he or she enjoys! Wives, you can use this little bit of biological knowledge to maximize your husband’s pleasure when you are leading a sexual encounter: don’t stop what you’re doing right when he ejaculates. Keep going for another minute or so and he’ll melt.