Let’s Talk About Sex!

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Sex. It’s everywhere! It’s on TV, movies, the internet, magazines. And yet, for many couples, sex remains somewhat a mystery. Many couples enter into sexual relationships assuming that their sex lives will be like what they’ve seen in the media, only to find that *gasp* it’s quite different. So then they turn to magazines and internet articles, searching for tips and tricks on improving their sex life, only to find that what those articles recommend just might not work for them. So, where can you find foolproof techniques for improving your intimate relationship? Turns out that researchers have been searching for that answer…

New research from Australian scholars shows that communication between partners about their sexual relationship can significantly increase sexual satisfaction in couples. Simply stated: talking about sex with your partner can improve your sex life. Now, this may seem like a no-brainer. But many new couples avoid talking about the details of their sex lives together because of fear, embarrassment, or not wanting to hurt their partner. How can you and your partner talk about your intimate relationship? ... Read more »

Sex is Just a Hot, Delicious Pizza

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How do you discuss sexual activity? Although many of us may not play the sport, or have even seen a game, Americans seem to love comparing sex to it’s “favourite pastime:” baseball. Baseball metaphors dominate our sexual vernacular with phrases such as “hitting a home run” “first, second, and home base” “strikeout” and “batting for the other team.” While these comparisons seem to be nothing more than easy ways to be demure in your speech, Al Vernacchio points out that baseball, or any sport metaphors, do very little for healthy sex.

“It’s competitive, it’s goal related, and it can’t result in healthy sexuality developing in young people or adults, so, we need a new model,” explains Vernacchio in his 2012 TED talk. What kind of model? One that revolves around something everybody loves: pizza.

To explain exactly how much more effective and accurate the pizza model is for describing sex, Vernacchio compares baseball and pizza in regards to three key components of sexual activity.

When and How Sex Happens. Baseball

When do you play baseball? Generally, there’s a specific season for it. ... Read more »

Are You Afraid of Marriage?

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As a student and marriage scholar, I have been fascinated by the attitudes so many young adults hold about marriage.  In fact, my Thesis is on that very topic.  I have taken particular interest in the increasing delay of marriage we see among young adults today.  According to the US Census Bureau, the average age at first marriage for men is 29 and 27 for women, and it appears this continues to increase.  So what is behind this increase in age?  Some might say young adults are just being smart because they are more mature at those ages. There appears to be some fears about marriage that suggest that many young adults believe that marrying at younger ages is simply irresponsible.

While the fears we have about marriage are often different and come from different places, research has revealed some common fears about marriage that are prevalent among young adults today.  While these fears are often based on valid concerns, they also drive many relationships to a less than satisfying end and a delay in one of the most rewarding ... Read more »

Test Driving Sex

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I recently saw a BuzzFeed video exploring what driver’s ed would be like if we taught people how to drive like we teach them about sex.  While hilarious, the video also shows just how ridiculous it is to compare driving a car to sexuality. Yet, there may be something to such a comparison.  Can we learn something about sex by comparing it to cars?

A recent study by Dean Busby and colleagues at Brigham Young University found two different models for how people think about when to have sex in relationships.  So which model works best, and why?  Let’s find out.

Compatibility: Test-Drive Model

“You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it first, so why would you get married without testing the sex?”  This model depends on the belief that it is important to know if the sex is good or not before committing yourself to a relationship. In the study, couples who used the compatibility model were less stable and satisfied in their relationship, while those couples who waited until after marriage to have sex had the best relationship outcomes. ... Read more »

3 Reasons to Keep Trying to Be Intimate With Your Partner

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There you are, having a nice, relaxing evening sitting with your significant other watching a movie.  You feel like the mood is right and you lean in for that kiss….only to have your partner quickly move the other direction or make a sarcastic comment back to you.  Perhaps this particular scenario has never happened to you but almost anyone who has been in a relationship has experienced some form of rejection when they’ve attempted to initiate intimacy.  Whether it’s a rejected kiss or a feeling that your spouse never wants to engage in sex anymore, sometimes it may feel like continuing to make these attempts is fruitless and frustrating.  However, new research by the RELATE team of scholars has found that these attempts, even if unsuccessful, may actually help your relationship. Here are three important findings from a new study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships by Dr. Brian Willoughby and colleagues that may encourage you to continue your intimacy attempts:


Attempting intimacy, even without it actually being successful, is linked to improved relationship satisfaction for the partner attempting ... Read more »

5 Ways Porn’s Affecting You Without You Realizing It

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couple mad at each other

Even though it may seem like it’s not a big deal, regularly viewing pornography can have negative effects on many relationships, so much so that in some cases its influence can be compared to that of substance abuse or an alcohol addiction if such use has become compulsive or viewed negatively by one’s partner.  While the negative effects of pornography use on individuals is still debated, several studies have now suggested that many couples report negative outcomes associated with one partner’s regular pornography habit. One reason for this is that while pornography use may initially seem harmless, some negative effects can sneak up on a user and shape the way he or she views the world, without even realizing it.  While an increasing number of women are viewing pornography, this post focuses on its effects on men.  Many of these points, however, could hold true for men or women viewing pornography. Here are 5 ways pornography use negatively impacts men in relationships, possibly without their even realizing it:


1. Delayed ejaculation.

And sometimes even erectile dysfunction.  Masturbating to pornography frequently, and especially ... Read more »

Three Ways To Improve Sexual Intimacy

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This post written by Dr. Brian Willoughby–Marriage and Family Researcher, expert in healthy sexuality in relationships, and Professor at Brigham Young University.

Alright I’ll admit it, that title’s a bit misleading.  What you won’t find here are three sexual positions that will wow your partner or the latest sexual craze from last month’s Cosmo magazine. However, the title isn’t a lie.  Often we assume that good sex must be about the position of our bodies or the intensity of our body movement.  The truth about good sex is very different.  When it comes to sex, there is such a thing as trying too hard and often couples who focus solely on trying to physically pleasure their partner suffer from less sexual satisfaction.


While most people understand the sex is a physical act, many fail to understand that it is also an emotional act…or perhaps most accurately it is a relational act.  Sex can be “good” for many reasons.  I can feel physical pleasure when I have sex (physical “good”), experience increased positive emotion like happiness (emotionally “good”), and feel more bonded and ... Read more »

Why Your Sex Life Sucks…and 3 Ways to Improve It!

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Sex Life, Unhappy in Bed, Couple

Most of you reading this post probably have regular and satisfying sex with one committed partner or several not so committed partners.  But even if you feel like your sex life is vibrant and fulfilling, it might be missing something vital.  You see, even the most sensual of couples or person who regularly finds attractive and willing sexual partners can fall prey to one of life’s cruel sexual realities…you will get old and your sex life will diminish.  Research clearly suggests that for the average person or couple, sexual frequency and satisfaction will slowly decrease over time.  Married couples who once enjoyed an exciting and fulfilling sex life together often find themselves with a relentlessly tiring child and in a sexual wasteland.   Those living the single life may find that the once plentiful arena of potential partners slowly begins to dry up, or perhaps worse, that they begin to become bored and dissatisfied with the constant carousel of rotating sexual partners. You might already have found yourself in this situation.


So what gives?  Is it simply inevitable that we will ... Read more »

Pornography: It’s Not About the Sex!

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Man struggling with pornography

As therapists, we often hear emotionally distraught spouses assume that their partners’ pornography usage must be tied to their incredible desire for sexual intimacy. “I just didn’t realize how much of a sexual appetite my partner had until we were married!” is something we commonly hear from such spouses.  Unfortunately, pinning the problem of pornography addiction on pure physical gratification causes two major problems: 


1) The partner who isn’t viewing pornography starts to think they’re the reason their spouse has to turn to pornography to get their needs met.  This causes damaging thoughts like, “If I was only more attractive…”, “If I was a better lover…”, etc.


2) The partner who is viewing pornography labels him or herself as a “sex addict” and starts to think they’re on a slippery slope and will never overcome the addiction or be fully satisfied by their spouse.


The issue with these perceptions is that pornography is not all about the sex!  More often than not, pornography is a symptom, not a cause, of the emotional turmoil individuals experience when they find themselves isolated, lonely, guilty, and full of ... Read more »