This post will share ideas about how to use the happy-ending effect and the peak-end rule to improve your sexual encounters. Sex doesn’t always go perfectly, and that’s ok! Sometimes we build up grand visions in our minds about how amazing an experience is going to be, and then the kids won’t go to sleep, the smoke detector won’t stop beeping for a new battery, or you get a cramp in your leg at just the wrong time. By understanding these two psychological concepts you can help yourself and your spouse have great experiences even when things don’t go perfectly.
First, let’s look at what these two effects are. The happy-ending effect probably isn’t too mysterious! The article below presents the effect in a negative light, but you can apply it in your marriage to improve your experiences.
“When you’re deciding where to go for dinner, for example, you think about where you’ve had a good meal in the past,” lead study author Martin Vestergaard said in a news release.
“But your memory of whether that meal was good isn’t always reliable — our brain values the final few moments of the experience more highly than the rest of it. If we can’t control our in-built attraction to happy endings, then we can’t trust our choices to serve our best interests,” said Vestergaard, a neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge in Britain.
For the study, researchers had participants select between two streams of coins falling into a bucket in quick succession. Larger coins were higher in value.
One stream was greater in value but ended with a succession of smaller coins, while the other less-valuable stream ended with a run of bigger coins. Participants consistently — and incorrectly — selected the stream that ended with larger coins.
From the study we learn that people tend to over-value the end of an experience in comparison to the rest — “all’s well that ends well”.
The peak-end rule is similar to the happy-ending effect, but includes the idea that the peak of the experience matters as much as the end.
The peak–end rule is a psychological heuristic in which people judge an experience largely based on how they felt at its peak (i.e., its most intense point) and at its end, rather than based on the total sum or average of every moment of the experience. The effect occurs regardless of whether the experience is pleasant or unpleasant. According to the heuristic, other information aside from that of the peak and end of the experience is not lost, but it is not used. This includes net pleasantness or unpleasantness and how long the experience lasted.
The big idea of the peak-end rule is that an experience isn’t only evaluated by how it ends, but also by its peak or climax. Even if an experience is largely unpleasant, awkward, or disappointing, if the peak and the end are strong then the overall experience will be viewed positively.
So how can we use this knowledge to improve sex with our spouse? By focusing our energy on the peak and end of the experience and learning to let go of our worries and frustrations about the rest. Beginnings can sometimes be especially difficult:
- If one spouse is sexually responsive, sometimes it will take longer for him or her to “warm up” and become aroused.
- If you’re trying a new position or activity it might take you a few minutes to figure out how to make it work.
- If you just put the kids to bed they might come knocking at your door.
- Your vibrator might need to be cleaned or might need new batteries.
Don’t let these speed bumps discourage you! No matter how difficult the beginning is it won’t have much effect on your retrospective enjoyment of the overall experience. Let’s dig a little more deeply into how we can make the peak and end of sex the best it can be.
This probably goes without saying, but the peak of a sexual encounter is likely to be the wife’s orgasm; if the wife chooses not to have an orgasm, or the activity is focused on the husband (e.g., blow job) then his orgasm will be the peak of the experience.
The most important thing to remember is: Do Whatever It Takes to Give Your Wife as Many Orgasms as She wants. If the wife wants an orgasm, she should get one! If your wife wants an orgasm and doesn’t get one, the peak of your sexual encounter will not be good. If you have to give up on your “great idea”, change positions, take more time than you expected, or whatever, just do it. Don’t prioritize a sexual script over the wife’s orgasm — even if you succeed in executing your plans perfectly, it will all be for nothing if the wife doesn’t get the orgasm she wants.
The husband’s orgasm is also an important part of the peak! Typically the husband’s orgasm is easier to accomplish, so the focus doesn’t need to be so much on making sure it happens, but more-so on timing his orgasm with the wife’s and giving the husband the visual and sensory experience he’s after.
The timing of the husband’s orgasm relative to the wife’s orgasm is an important decision to make.
- Before the wife: It’s generally not good for the husband to climax before the wife (if she’s planning to have an orgasm). There may be situations where you plan to do this, but make sure you talk about it first.
- With the wife: When the husband and wife climax at the same time you can create a very high peak for your experience.
- After the wife: When the husband climaxes shortly after the wife, while she’s still highly aroused and coming down from her own orgasm, you can draw out the peak over a longer period of time.
Usually I climax a short time after Sexy Corte. Timing our orgasms to happen at the same time can be difficult and distracting; sometimes it happens, but usually I aim to climax a bit after her.
Men are visual creatures, and the quality of our orgasms is often connected with the visual and sensory elements that go into it — that’s why my orgasms are usually stronger after Sexy Corte has one! After the wife climaxes — or if she’s creating an experience focused on her husband’s pleasure — let the husband arrange your positions or activities to create the sensory experience he wants.
- Visual: The husband may want a better view of the action or may want to see the wife from a different angle that isn’t conducive to her orgasm.
- Wife’s responsiveness: The wife’s moans of pleasure and body responses are an important part of elongating the peak experience. Even if the wife didn’t have an orgasm, her signs of pleasure and arousal are an important part of her husband’s experience.
- Ejaculation: Let the husband ejaculate where he wants to! Vagina, face, body, mouth, swallowing, butt. Semen is mystical and the husband’s peak will be higher if he can put it where he wants it.
Ok, that’s a lot about the peak — how can we make the end of a sexual encounter the best it can be?
- Touch and cuddle. Whether it was a quickie or marathon, make sure to include some touching and cuddling afterwards, even if it’s only for a few seconds. If the experience was particularly difficult or emotional for one spouse make sure to spend extra time afterwards with comfort cuddling.
- Focus on the positive. Ignore anything that went wrong and focus on what went right and what you enjoyed. Be thankful and grateful for the spouse God gave you. Be in awe of your spouse’s sexuality that you get to share. You might need to acknowledge some difficulty, but move past it quickly to praise the peak. “The kids sure were persistent, but wow it felt great when we….”
- Words of affirmation. Tell your spouse what you enjoyed, what felt great. Don’t give advice or ideas for improvement right now — save them for later. “It felt great when…”, “You looked so hot when…”. It’s good to be specific and explicit!
- Bring it up again later. The end of the experience can be elongated just like the peak can. “Last night sure was fun, especially when you….”
I encourage you to check out this story from one of our readers that is a perfect example of creating a great ending despite difficulties and frustrations during the sexual encounter. Part 1: “I felt too exposed and vulnerable”; Part 2: Perfect Example of Trying Again.
By focusing on your peaks and endings you can learn to ignore any momentary frustrations and create great sexual experiences. Please leave us a comment and let us know what you think. How do you make your peaks and endings the best they can be?