(Yet Another) “Sex Challenge” For Couples

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Recently, so-called "sex challenges" have grabbed headlines, but what do they really say about the frequency of sex and its impact on relationship quality?

Recently, a Dallas-based pastor issued a 7-day sex challenge to married congregants – the idea being that they were supposed to try to have sex every day for seven days. This follows on the foot steps of a Florida-based pastor who issued a 30-day sex challenge to married congregants.

While these so-called “sex challenges” may grab headlines, it is worth looking at them in more depth. For example:

  • Given that the sex challenges have typically been aimed only at married couples, how might these “privilege” marital sex? What might it say about couples who choose to have sex outside of marriage, or couples (such as same-sex couples) who are not legally allowed to marry in most US states?
  • Most couples don’t have sex every day, and some don’t even have sex every week or month. While issuing a “sex challenge” might seem like one way to get married couples to have sex, how might this play out among women or men who don’t want to have sex with their spouse on any given day, but who feel pressured to do so? Particularly given that the “challenge” is coming from a religious leader?
  • Again, since most married couples don’t have sex each and every day, how might an emphasis on having sex affect couples’ interactions with each other? Why not focus on other aspects of relationships, such as giving each other a massage each day, taking a walk each night to talk to each other, kissing for 10 minutes each night, etc? Why the focus on “sex”?

As these sex challenges continue to grab headlines, try talking with your friends about them. Who benefits from these “sex challenges”? Who might feel less empowered to say no to say that they don’t want to have (even with one’s spouse)? In what ways might religious leaders focus on other ways to bring couples together rather than sex?

Learning to talk to each other about sex now (even among your friends, and even about sex in the news) can help to make communicating about sex with a partner or spouse significantly easier later on in your life. Try talking about it and see how it feels!

Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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