” … it is time to include sex and sexuality as pleasurable and natural in open frank conversation about the human condition. Knowledge and open discussion are the paths to societal change that lead us away from viewing sexuality primarily in negative terms and towards viewing sexuality as part of life that is wholesome and pleasurable.”
M. Jocelyn Elders, MD
Former Surgeon General of the United States
by Seth Eisenberg
Interviews with 5,865 adolescents and adults for the recently published National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior revealed more than a few interesting tidbits about America’s sex life, but very little about what leads to great sex. Nine original research articles and four commentaries published in October’s Journal of Sexual Medicine bring us up-to-date on condom use, sexual peaks in the age of Viagra, differences in how men and women typically reach orgasm, and ages in which same-sex experiences are most likely with only few words from Dr. Jocelyn Elders, America’s former Surgeon General, on viewing “sexuality as a part of life that is wholesome and pleasurable.”
The surprising secret to the best sex ever is that sex itself is just one element of passion. While that may not contribute to the stampede of men racing to restock their Viagra, knowing what it takes to sustain passion is more valuable than a lifetime supply of pharmaceutical enhancers.
The best sex ever combines sexuality with sensuality, intellect, emotion, and shared interests.
When it comes to great sex, recent studies on the impact of relationship and marriage education are more revealing than the exhaustive Indiana University report following up on Alfred Kinsey’s original survey 60 years earlier.
Eighty five percent of women and 84 percent of men reported their sex lives improved after completing nine hours of relationship skills training focused exclusively on skills to strengthen communication, emotional understanding, and problem solving. Six to 12 months after participating in PAIRS Essentials classes, nearly half of 490 adult women reported a significant decline in being “too tired for sex,” while the percentage “satisfied” with their sex lives increased by 44 percent. Follow-up studies with 400 adult men also found:
- 95% reported improvement in communication with their partner;
- 93% reported improvement in regularly sharing appreciations;
- 92% reported improvement in their ability to resolve conflicts constructively;
- 89% reported improvement in their ability to confide emotions;
- 94% reported improvement in their overall relationship.
Leading relationship and marriage education programs deliver practical, proven skills that encourage couples to regularly express appreciations, deepen empathy, pursue shared interests, and build a foundation for intimacy on the five elements of passion.
PAIRS Passion Playbook, a graduate course offered online and through weekend retreats for couples in committed relationships, invites participants to confide about pleasure, fantasies, early messages, and expanding relationship pleasure. Couples fast discover how activities such as “Follow the Leader,” “Sensual and Sexual Pleasure Dates,” “Love Maps,” and new strategies for addressing, “Will We or Won’t We?” take intimacy to a new level of joy and fulfillment.
One of the most significant findings from research on the impact of brief, evidence-based relationship and marriage education programs is that couples who are highly distressed can also restore intimacy and passion. A study of 103 men and women who began PAIRS Foundation’s nine-hour PAIRS Essentials training at the highest levels of relationship distress (typically on the verge of separation or divorce) showed sustained improvements for 77 percent of the participants six to 12 months later. Nearly half of those couples jumped to the highest level of relationship satisfaction.
For couples who want great sex to stay or become an important part of their relationship, combining chemistry, compatibility, commitment and passion is the recipe for a lifetime of happiness and pleasure.
Seth Eisenberg is President of the nonprofit PAIRS Foundation in Weston, Florida, an industry leader in relationship and marriage education.
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