When it comes to sex, we often think more is better. Many studies have certainly explored the subject, with one in particular even finding that couples who have sex once a week are the happiest -- fairly achievable even for couples with kids (see how other moms and dads squeeze love making into their busy schedules here.)
However, it looks like there’s more to it than frequency. Sex on its own is not enough to make us happier in the long run -- the snuggling and cuddling before and after the deed matters a lot too, recent research has found.
“We demonstrated that an important reason why sex is associated with well-being is that it promotes the experience of affection with the partner,” study co-author Anik Debrot, a postdoctoral fellow at University of Toronto, told Quartz. “Thus, the quality of the bond with the partner is essential to understand the benefits of sex.”
Published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology, the research involved four studies. For the first, 335 men and women who were mostly married were surveyed on how frequently they had sex and how often they engaged in “affectionate touching” (e.g. cuddling, kissing, caressing, etc.). They also rated their overall happiness in life. The second study was almost the same, but also asked couples how often they felt positive emotions like joy, awe and contentment.
For the third, researchers asked 106 couples who all had children under 8 years old to write down their sexual activities in a journal. Their entries should include details that researchers described as “moments of love and security” and “affectionate or thoughtful sign from my partner,” reported Elite Daily. The fourth was the same, but involved 58 college-age couples as subjects.
As expected, results showed a link between the number of times the couples had sex and increased long-term life satisfaction and happiness. But, here’s the twist: this was all dependent on showing love through touching. “When researchers took affection out of the equation, the link between sex and well-being was insignificant,” reported Fatherly.
Lo and behold, moms, cuddling after sex seems to contribute to overall life happiness. This now gives you reason to shake hubby awake whenever he just rolls over and snoozes after sex.
And, another way to get more out of sex? Focus not on how often you make love, but on how much you enjoy each session. For women, quality trumps quantity when it comes to sex, says a recent study from the University of Zurich.
To test women’s responsiveness to Addyi, a pill which aims to help women with clinically low sex drives (and the so-called “pink Viagra), researchers gathered data from a little under 160 women. Results showed that 61 percent of them were open to taking the drug, but it was not to increase the amount of sex they had. Rather, most wanted to increase their satisfaction during sex. What’s the motivation if you’re not going to enjoy it, right?
But, of course, no pill can magically give a person the power to please. That comes from more intimate and special places. “Knowing what turns you on and how to express it to your partner works wonders. Fostering these turn ons will keep you in touch with that energy, and that, in turn will make you feel aroused more often. Rarely is popping a pill the answer in life, and this is one of those times,” psychologist and author Antonia Hall told SheKnows.
So, explore, moms! Find out what you like, cuddle afterwards and get more pleasure out of your midnight sessions. Good luck!