Recent data has shown Americans across all ages and marital statuses are having far less sex. "People are having sex?," I wondered to myself.
Our fertility and birth rate is in a steep decline, according to statistical data reviewed in a recent article in The New York Times.
“Demographic Intelligence projects 3.84 million births in 2017, down from about 3.95 million in 2016," the article said. "And it’s likely to fall further — far short of what women themselves say they want for their family size.”
There are many possible explanations. Delayed marriage, sharp decrease in teen pregnancies, sharp uptick in contraceptive use and more women entering demanding career fields have delayed starting a family.
This data seems obvious to those of us experiencing the numbers in real life.
In my own case, I didn’t marry until my later 20s; I was focused on my career and master's degree. I continued my work during our first years of marriage, and once we decided to start trying, I experienced a few miscarriages before giving birth to my first child in my mid 30s.
I had assumed I would always have three, but now, at the ripe age of 36, I’ve come to the realization that having another baby in this season in life would be the equivalent of having 10 million lab puppies. Thirty-six is far from old, but this is the age where my skin's elasticity is starting to turn, and I’m discovering a sharp uptick in chin hairs. A good skin care regimen and a good night's rest is becoming increasingly important. And I would like to sleep again some day. Some sweet, incredible, God-it-will-feel-so-good day.
Another factor is that we’re all having a lot less sex, even married couples. And no one married is shocked by this revelation. Researchers are posing that it could be the result of our ever-distracting technology and smart phones. Our grand and great grandparents, who sat around a radio in the evenings, were a lot more bored, I’m assuming.
Instant access to pornography is another factor. (Gross. I mean, does our laziness have no bounds, America?) But what about our exposure to sexual content in general? The show "Dallas" was so titillating, I bet it’s responsible for the existence of most 30- to 40-year-olds today. Now there’s so much sex everywhere we look, we’re more turned on watching Food Network.
Many claim it’s the state of today’s economy where, in many households, both men and women must work, there's an increase in childcare costs and — no one is saying this out loud — club sports. Can we stop it with the $2,000-a-month club sports?!
There’s also one other factor researchers are glossing over, and it's the fact that parents having babies in their 30s and early 40s are just simply so exhausted WE CAN’T FEEL OUR LIMBS. We have to schedule and prepare for sex like it’s a 5K we only kinda sorta prepared for.
“Okay, babe. If we’re going to have sex tomorrow after we put the kids to bed, let’s go to sleep early tonight. Be sure to drink lots of fluids and let’s carb load for energy. But not too many carbs, we don’t want to be bloated. Oh, and here — I picked up these Energy Gels for runners in case we lose steam halfway through.”
Responses to the decline in fertility and birth rates vary. Some are applauding the decline, as they see only doom and gloom in the earth’s future. Others are concerned about the chaos that can ensue when there aren’t enough young people to care for the elderly.
I’m a bit of an optimist and suspect it will work itself out.
But it does give us a glimpse into how we may be prioritizing what should be our most important relationship — that of our partner or spouse. A strong family unit is not only critical to the family’s emotional well being, but for the family’s economic stability.
Perhaps the statistics are a good warning that we may need more boundaries on our time and our emotions as well as physical energy. Perhaps it tells us we should put down our phones and our devices, look each other in the eyes and really focus on loving one another in the way we need to be loved — meeting not only our physical needs, but our emotional and spiritual needs as well.
Maybe it’s telling us we need to pour more glasses of wine, light some more candles and put on Food Network to set the sexy mood.
Whatever the data says, in the end, we’re the ones responsible for our intimacy and joy. The world will always evolve and change, and it’s on us to adapt while still protecting what is most precious to us — each other.
Anna Lind Thomas is a humor writer and mom to daughters, Lucy and Poppy, and English bulldog, Bruno; wife to Rob Thomas; and founder of HaHas for HooHas. She writes for momaha.com.