Thanks in part to Deadspin, a spreadsheet detailing a husband’s dissatisfaction with his sex life that he sent to his wife (and that she then posted to Reddit) has gone viral the last few days. The obvious response, after chuckling heartily, is: Wow, that guy’s a jerk. But I was curious what a sex researcher would say about this. Despite the jerkiness on display, it’s obviously never fun for couples when their sexual needs aren’t in sync. So I emailed Colorado State professor and friend of Science of Us Jennifer Jill Harman.
First, the spreadsheet:
And Harman’s response:
I hadn’t seen the item, but WOW. It is a very passive aggressive and destructive way to communicate dissatisfaction. You are right, though, about people needing to be in sync. Married couples have sex about 6.3 times a month on average, but frequency declines over time due to a whole host of factors, like work demands and children. Regardless of actual frequency of sex, perception is what matters. Sexual satisfaction is strongly related to relationship satisfaction; there is no clear direction of causality, however. When we are sexually satisfied, we feel our relationships are good. When our relationships are satisfying, our sexual satisfaction also is greater. What leads to satisfaction? This is highly subjective; each partner’s perceptions can differ dramatically. Having sex 2 times a month may be more than enough for the wife, while not even close to satisfactory for the husband. Both partners in this case seem to be handling their sexual dissatisfaction poorly. Rather than be honest about the underlying reason she doesn’t want to have sex, the wife is making up excuses. Rather than being direct and voicing his sexual needs, the husband creates a spreadsheet. If this couple wants to be satisfied in their relationship, their sexual needs have to be addressed openly with each other.
Wait, so a husband sending his wife a passive-aggressive spreadsheet about his sexual frustration and his wife then posting that spreadsheet to Reddit isn’t addressing a problem openly? I have so much to learn …