Mahitha and Bhaskar have been married for six months. Though they had an intimate courtship of two years, Mahitha describes their sex life as dull with little or no sexual satisfaction.
Sathya and Parvathi have been married for three years. Interestingly, they do not have a sex life because Sathya is a workaholic and Parvathi has fear of penetration. Yet, they are satisfied with their marriage.
How is it that one couple is satisfied and the other is not?
The expected answer to the question 'are you satisfied with your marriage or sex life' is yes or no. However, factors that contribute to one's understanding of the term satisfaction are both complex and individualistic. Satisfaction can be defined as the fulfilment of one’s wishes, expectations or needs, or the pleasure thus derived. In other words, you have had enough, with a positive connotation. Satisfaction is a relative term. It is different in different people.
Clinical psychologists Yaffe and Frenwick designed a questionnaire to rate sexual satisfaction. It evaluates the levels of satisfaction using 10 yes or no statements that together form this subjective concept. Some of the areas looked into are the frequency, posture, anticipation, comfort level, evaluation of and level of partner involvement as per one’s expectation. Such a questionnaire can be used to shed light on which areas personally form one’s satisfaction profile and which require improvement. This information becomes very useful in understanding oneself as well as in therapeutic programme.
All the variables that impact one’s sex life can invariably impact one's level of satisfaction. These may include sexual positions, duration of sex, types and duration of foreplay, ambience of bedroom, sexual interest in the partner and so on. If either of the partners has developed unrealistic expectations in any of these areas, then the likelihood of their being dissatisfied is very high. Often couples watch pornography and attempt to recreate what is seen in these videos in their bedrooms. Disappointment and dissatisfaction with their partner’s performance is likely if they do not realise that these videos, much like cinema, involve scripts, camera tricks and editing.
Similarly, comparing oneself with others is dangerous. Friends and colleagues, when asked to discuss their sex lives, often choose this as their moment to boast or outshine one another. Those who are all ears for such exaggerated accounts can develop an inferiority complex. We can, however, laugh away such tall stories if we are happy with what we have and focus on keeping our partner satisfied.
What is most important is that there is no prescription for sexual satisfaction. As sex is about two individuals, the satisfaction of both is equally important. What is fascinating is that any form of satisfaction is all right, be it unorthodox or otherwise. For example, a man may derive satisfaction from providing pleasure to his wife. Or, a man who has erectile dysfunction and his wife with vaginismus are satisfied as they attain orgasm through oral sex or sexual aids.
There are simple ways for couples to achieve satisfaction. They should have realistic expectations. Couples should look for information in scientific sources to ensure they are not following incorrect practices. Communication is the most important component of sexual satisfaction. The relationship will flourish once the partners realise that they are not mind readers and discuss their needs and desires openly; this in turn will up their satisfaction levels. Satisfaction is not a single-shade entity as it does not have a universal standard to achieve. So embrace the rainbow.