Menu

Married sex is the best sex—here’s why

Chances are good that the best sex a person will have in their life will be with a long-term partner. Statistically speaking, the odds are in your favor.

sex and marriage

Pop culture might lead us to believe that single people are having all the good sex and us married folks are lucky to get anything at all. But, for a lot of couples, sex gets better after a walk down the aisle.

I'll put it like this: The escapades I had before my husband were a lot like fast food—quick and unsatisfying. On the other hand, married sex is like having a five-star, live-in chef. So, why is it so hard to sell the idea married people are having the best sex of their lives?


"The belief that singles are having better, hotter sex than those of us in long-term relationships is largely because of some pretty outdated—but pervasive—cliches about marriage," says Sarah Hunter Murray, sex researcher and relationship therapist. With a doctorate in human sexuality and years of professional experience, Hunter Murray says it baffles her how many false assumptions about sex in marriage persist.

"It always leaves me feeling pretty perplexed, because most people today marry someone they are deeply in love with, someone who is their best friend, and someone they eagerly and enthusiastically want to share their life with," she says. "Still though, those negative ideas about marriage exist and they naturally extend to our views about sex in that context."

The popular idea of singles being more sexually satisfied is also influenced by ideas that have little to do with sex, Hunter Murray explains.

According to her, single people are thought of as being more carefree and younger than married people, while long-term partnerships are associated with responsibility, aging and other "unsexy" concepts, such as child rearing. As she puts it, "Those things just don't lend themselves to thinking about great, frequent or passionate sex."

Why we need to reconsider married sex

Despite the less sexy reputation of marriage, Hunter Murray says chances are good that the best sex a person will have in their life will be with a long-term partner. Statistically speaking, the odds are in your favor. (Lots of years together means lots of sex.) Plus, the person sleeping on your left likely knows you better than one who just swipes left.

"Single sex can be super fun sex. It's usually passionate and exciting and novel. But it's also likely to be a bit awkward, emotionally uncertain and, sometimes, filled with regret," says Hunter Murray.

In contrast, the deeper level of comfort and intimacy that comes along with marriage is good for your sex life. Just think about all the opportunities to discover what you and your partner like in bed. (After all, women are more likely to orgasm from sex with a long-term partner than a casual hook-up.)

"You can experiment. Switch it up. Do better," says Hunter Murray. "Trial and error is key for growth in our sexual knowledge of ourselves and our sexual skills. And that's something that a longer-term relationship can offer."

Also, who is going to be more understanding of how kids affect your mojo than the person you created them with? As certified life coach Kate Mason says, the key to keeping your post-baby sex life hot (and it can be!) is communication... and designated date nights.

"Date nights, even if they happen just once a month, are so important for couples," she said. "I tell my husband we have to go on a date at least once a month so that I can remember how funny and cute he is."

Married sex isn't just about pleasure

Intimacy within a marriage plays a role in the quality of a couple's sex life. Studies show that intimacy, affection and closeness have unavoidable effects in the bedroom.

Specifically, the science shows our relationship dynamics outside the bedroom impact what goes on inside it—and vice versa. But sexual health researchers and experts offer different perspectives on whether the intimate nature of marriage kills or ignites sexual desire.

"On one hand, being overly familiar with our partner can make them less desirable," Hunter Murray explains, adding that walking in on someone in the bathroom or seeing them in stained pajamas aren't exactly sexy moments.

"On the other hand, the increased bond, trust and intimacy that occurs in healthy relationships is often the fuel that couples need to feel safe, to experiment sexually and to talk more openly about their sexual likes with someone they love and feel loved by," she says. "From my experience as a researcher and therapist, I definitely align more with the second camp."

Your best sex may be yet to come

If you're married but don't think you're living your best sex life, don't give up. Your best sex could be just a date night away. (This is your cue to book a babysitter now.)

"Too many people get frustrated with their sex lives and assume things are just doomed to stay the way they are. Or they believe that their less-than-satisfactory sex life is an indication that their relationship is going south," says Hunter Murray.

She says people experiencing boring or sparkless married sex sometimes wonder if that means they aren't meant to be with their spouse. But, more often it means that the couple needs to talk more about what they like and don't like—and make an appointment with each other.

"Those who make time and effort to schedule sex with one another have much better and much more satisfying sex than those that don't," Hunter Murray explains. "So simply holding the belief that your sex life will ebb and flow over time, and that you can work through sexual slumps, is the biggest step towards making sex more exciting and passionate again."

Or, as Sarah Forbes, curator of the Museum of Sex, puts it the beauty of married sex is realizing it's about so much more than intercourse. "Shortly after I got engaged my grandmother felt it was her duty to call me and say: 'Sex is very important in a marriage,'" she said. "Only now, two kids later, more stressed and exhausted than I've ever been do I really understand how on point her statement was."

If you're experiencing a slump, don't compare your sex life to that of some imaginary, sexually satisfied single (in my experience, solo pizza nights as a single were more satisfying and more common than sex). Instead, talk with your partner about what's going on in the bedroom.

And if you are married and enjoying your best sex life, congratulations. You have to share your pizza, but you also have a best friend to share the most intimate part of your life with.

Looking to heat things up, mama? Check out some of our favorite between the sheets essentials.

Maude shine silicone lubricant

Maude shine silicone lubricant

Slick, silky, and not at all sticky, this is the lube we've been searching for. It's odorless and long lasting and as a bonus, the gorgeous amber bottle doesn't even have to hide in your bedside drawer.

$25

Maude bath soak infusion kit

Maude bath soak infusion kit

A pre-bedtime soak solo (or not so solo!) is a perfect way to transition to whatever comes next. This combo set of soaks features dead sea salt and coconut milk to detox and moisturize and a seriously sexy amber and cedar scent.

$32

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Products that solve your biggest breastfeeding challenges

Including a battle plan for clogged ducts!

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this

Shop

This oil completely changed my skin this summer

And I'm never going back to lotion.

For all the sweating and swimming I do in the summer, it seems illogical for my skin to be as parched as ever. But your mid-thirties (and 2020 in general) don't really seem to follow any rule book, so here we are.

A couple of months ago, I was on the lookout for a moisturizer that would not only keep my legs from looking like an ashy mess, but also truly nourish and benefit my skin. I've developed a deep interest in skin care for my face over the past few years and decided it's high time to extend that degree of consideration to the rest of my body. (After all, there's more of it, right?)

It's not that I'm too concerned with aging, but let's be real. If there's something that can be done to slow the Wrinkle Express, I'm going to give it a go. I also wanted to find something natural that wouldn't turn into a goopy mess the second I started sweating.

Enter: Esker's Firming Body Oil.

Keep reading Show less
popular

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to have kids—so here’s what I did

We asked our three most pessimistic friends who have kids whether it's worth it or not

As told to Liz Tenety.

Around the time my husband and I were turning 30, we had a genuine conversation about whether or not we wanted kids. I was the hesitant one because I was like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Let's just hold on. Okay, let's talk about this. Because we love our life. We like traveling. Is this what we want?"

My husband said, "Let's ask our three most pessimistic, crabby friends who have kids whether or not it's worth it."

And every single one of them was like, "Oh, it's unmissable on planet earth."

So when I got pregnant, I was—and I'm not ashamed to say this and I don't think you should be—I was as connected with the baby in my belly as if it were a water bottle. I was like, I don't know you. I don't know what you are, but you can be some gas pain sometimes, but other than that, we're going to have to meet each other and suss this relationship out.

But all the cliches are true that you just know what to do when the baby comes out. Some of the times are hard, some of them are easier, but you just gotta use your gut.

Keep reading Show less
Life