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!
Sexy Corte’s recent post about how people are more important than devices got me thinking over the past week. Like most of us, I’m guilty of sometimes losing myself in electronic distraction when I should be paying attention to my family! Each of us has a responsibility to forsake such distractions in favor of the people God has put into our lives, and if your distraction is bad enough then you could be violating your spouse’s conjugal rights. So, interpret the rest of this post in that light — I’m not trying to shift blame, but I do want to offer some ideas that might be helpful for the person who isn’t getting the attention he or she needs.
No matter what your spouse should do, you can’t force it; you’re only in control of your own actions. So what can you do to get more attention from your spouse? Let’s consider some of the reasons that the internet and electronics are compelling, and then think of some ways for you to beat them at their own game.
- Novelty. There’s always something new (and pointless) to read on the internet. Last night I learned that a Harambe-shaped Cheeto sold for almost $100k on eBay. You probably clicked on that link, didn’t you? Shame on you! Ok ok, here’s a picture of the Cheeto.
That’s completely dumb, right? But still, it’s something new to look at and think about, and the internet is full of novelties like that. New stuff is alluring, amusing, and interesting. There’s no reason that your relationship with your spouse has to be stale and repetitive! Do something new, even something small. Talk in a funny voice. Learn some jokes. Flash your boobs. Go to a new restaurant. Try something new in bed. Surprise your spouse pleasantly at least once every day and you’ll definitely get some attention.
- Challenge and accomplishment. For men, the biggest electronic distractions are usually video games. They appeal directly to the male need to triumph over challenges. Sure, the challenges are insubstantial and inconsequential, but when a man beats a game it feels like a real accomplishment. Women may not get this, but they have other kinds of projects they pursue that men don’t understand. Find a project to work on with your spouse — something challenging that you both care about and enjoy. Fix up your yard, refresh your kids’ bedroom, or even play board games or video games together. There are plenty of sex games on our site! When you work and achieve together, you’ll build intimacy together.
- Knowledgeable discussion. Not everything on the internet is trivial nonsense. When I get most distracted it’s usually because I’m reading some bit of political or technology news, or learning about some historical event on Wikipedia. Learn something new that your spouse will be interested in and then talk about it. Put some effort into one of your spouse’s interests or hobbies, and he’ll probably be eager to talk until you’re sick of it. What games does he play? What sports does he watch? What series is she reading? How has God been leading her?
- Brain-dead relaxation. Sometimes we surf the web when we just don’t want to think too much. Our brains need time to relax. Instead of pressuring one another to engage, make time to relax together, which might include snuggling quietly while you “parallel play”. Sometimes Sexy Corte and I snuggle while we read, play on our phones, listen to music, or watch television; just being physically together is great when we don’t have the mental energy for more.
You have a responsibility to be your best “you” for your spouse and your family, not just physically but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually too. Your spouse has a responsibility to give you the attention you need, but that might come more easily if you take a few simple steps yourself! What do you do to make yourself more interesting to your spouse? Share a tip in the comments.