Is marital sex really more satisfying? I'm in a difficult marriage, and one of the biggest sore spots between me and my wife is the whole issue of sex. I feel deprived. Sometimes I'm even tempted to explore the possibility of getting my needs met somewhere else. I read an article claiming that married couples are actually the most sexually satisfied people in the entire population - not the single swingers with lots of sexual partners. I find that hard to believe! I don't want to be unfaithful to my wife, but I can't deny my feelings or squelch my sexual desires. Is there a better way to resolve the situation I'm in?
The sexual aspect of your marriage is important. It's not something that you can afford to let go by the wayside-not if you want to build a relationship that will last a lifetime. If you're having problems, talk them out and start looking for solutions. Instead of "exploring the possibility of getting your needs met somewhere else," think about engaging the services of a professional counselor. You owe it to each other to do everything you can to resolve this difficulty.
If you do, you'll discover that the article you read was right on the money. The best research-for example, a landmark study that came out of the University of Chicago in the early 1990s-indicates that "in real life, the unheralded, seldom discussed world of married sex is actually the one that satisfied people the most." 
There's a good reason why marital sex is far more meaningful and satisfying than any substitute. It has to do with the meaning of human sexuality as it was designed by God in the beginning. Fundamentally speaking, it's a question of wholeness and context - as C. S. Lewis explains in his book Mere Christianity:
The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all the others kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union. 
The Message , Eugene Peterson's paraphrase of the Bible, states it this way:
There's more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, "The two become one …" We must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever-the kind of sex that can never "become one." There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for "becoming one" with another. (I Corinthians 6:16-18)
Author Glenn T. Stanton touches upon the same subject in his book My Crazy Imperfect Christian Family:
The human sexual embrace, this most intimate and ultimate of all human giving and vulnerability, ought to take place in a union of total and permanent surrender of two people. That's what marriage is: both the public and personal dedication of a man and woman to forsake all others and give themselves fully-body, mind, and spirit-to one another as a total gift of self …
That's why sex outside marriage is a monstrosity. Extramarital sex dissects us at our deepest level, giving out one part of us without giving all the rest intended to go with it. It's not what we're made for.
Where did we ever get the idea that we can separate our bodies from our minds and spirits and that our bodies could do whatever they like without consequence for the rest of our being? This is why the sexual revolution has been such a dehumanizing failure, diminishing our God-given humanity in painful ways …
Only the sexual embrace within marriage mirrors the nature of the Trinitarian relationship in creation. In the ideal, it's loving, permanent, exclusive, and self-giving. Premarital and extramarital sex can't mirror this reality. This is why it's not surprising research shows that faithfully married people enjoy the deepest levels of sexual satisfaction. 
It's not hard to see why this should be so. Above all else, marriage is designed to be a place of trust, security, and commitment. We can't give ourselves away completely to another person unless we feel safe doing so. Only within the shelter of the protective covering marriage provides is it possible for man and wife to become one flesh without reservations. That explains why marital intercourse is freer and more fulfilling than any other sexual experience imaginable.
If you'd like to give us a call, Focus on the Family's staff of licensed counselors would be happy to speak further with you about your situation and provide you with referrals to qualified marriage and family therapists in your area who specialize in sexual issues. You can contact our Counseling Department for a free consultation at this number.
 Robert T. Michaels and others, Sex in America: A Definitive Survey (Boston: Little, Brown, 1994), 131. Edward O. Laumann and others, The Social Organization of Sexuality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994). Both cited in Glenn T. Stanton, Secure Daughters, Confident Sons (Colorado Springs: Multnomah, 2011), 217.
 C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan, 1960), 96. Cited in Stanton, Secure Daughters, Confident Sons, 224.
 Glenn T. Stanton, My Crazy Imperfect Christian Family: Living Out Your Faith with Those Who Know You Best (Colorado Springs: Nav-Press, 2004), 83-85. Also cited in Secure Daughters Confident Sons, 226.
In this iQuestions video from Focus on the Family, Debra Taylor explores the beauty and purpose behind God's design of sexuality.