New Zealander’s relationships are thriving, and a satisfying sex life is an important contributor, according to a survey just released by Relationships Aotearoa.
67% of people said they were satisfied with the sexual aspects of their relationship, while 83% were satisfied with their relationship overall.
The survey, ‘Talking about Sex in Relationships’ was conducted by Relationships Aotearoa, New Zealand’s largest counselling and relationship education agency. It looks at the way that couples in long term relationships talk about and deal with issues relating to sex and intimacy.
“We found it really interesting that we asked people about sex, and they told us about relationships,” said Jeff Sanders, Chief Executive of Relationships Aotearoa.
“When the sexual aspect of a relationship is going well, it can help to build intimacy and satisfaction in a relationship. When it’s not going well it can be a difficult issue to broach. Either way, it can be a major contributor to the level of satisfaction people feel,” said Cary Hayward, National Practice Manager of Relationships Aotearoa.
One clear message from the survey is that talking and listening to your partner are two of the best sex aids available. People satisfied with their sexual relationship talk and listen to their partner. They discuss sexual problems even when it feels difficult. They focus more on understanding than on blame. “This survey highlights again how important good communication is to all aspects of a relationship, including our sexual relationship,” said Mr Hayward
The survey asked people what problems they had experienced in their relationship. “We wanted to find out how common different issues are as people often feel that no-one else has this problem and it’s good to be able to reassure them that isn’t the case.”
The most common issues included one partner wanting sex more than the other (experienced by 75% of couples) and life problems (eg work, family, stress) affecting interest in sex (65%). “It was interesting that for these and many other issues that, even when they occurred, many people didn’t consider them a problem, particularly if their relationship was strong.”
Sex outside the relationship was reported by only 19% of people. “People often think affairs are much more common because they get so much attention in the media, Mr Hayward said.”
The survey also asked where people turn for information and help about sexual problems and issues. Most looked to books and websites for information, but for help with sexual problems they turned to known, trusted people such as their partner (65%) and GP (62%).
Over half the people (52%) said they would seek professional counselling for such problems. “This shows that many people appreciate how closely linked the sexual aspect is with their overall relationship, and the value of talking to an experienced relationship counsellor.”
The survey is being released at a function in Auckland, attended by the Minister of Social Development, the Hon. Paula Bennett, marking its 60th Anniversary.
“When we look back through our history, issues relating to sex and intimacy were being addressed right from the beginning,” said Mr Sanders. “It is fitting that we release this research on such a core aspect of relationships in our 60th year.”
The online survey of 1000 people was conducted by UMR research.