How Frequently Should Couples be Having Sex?
When it comes to modern relationships, some would argue that the concern over how frequently couples should have sex has spoiled the spontaneity of intimacy. Modern sex therapists have even been known to set targets for couples as to how often they should seek intimacy and then ask them to report back. With so much pressure to perform in the bedroom, sex can become a frustration and a stumbling block rather than something enjoyable and relationship-strengthening.
So, back to the question. How often should couples be having sex? Before we tackle that question, let’s take a look at why this question is even being asked. The answer has something to do with the gap between how sex is perceived at the start of a relationship and how it is perceived as the relationship ages.
The evolving role of sex in a relationship
The first spark in a relationship can be electrifying. Hormones rage, and the novelty of freshly discovered love (or lust?) is thrilling. At this point, sex may be effortless—in fact, resisting sex can take far more effort.
This wave of euphoria carries most couples along for months and even years, but then the day-to-day sets in. You discover that your partner is not the perfect being that you may have thought. They have faults and mannerisms that may irritate you. You discover differences based on your respective upbringings and life experiences. You may communicate in different ways and have different expectations for how much effort the partner should be putting into caring for the home and children.
Differences even begin to creep into the bedroom as couples disagree on sex styles and frequency. For example, one partner may have a harder time getting into the mood at the end of a stressful day and want to defer sex. The other partner may embrace sex in this situation as a way to relieve their stresses. One may be more conservative in their sexual style and the other more adventurous. And so the disagreements build.
Add to this the heavy pressures of life that accrue with time, including challenges with children, financial problems, health problems, and more. Sex may get sidelined, and you may wonder if you have simply “lost it” as a couple because you aren’t diving gleefully into bed as you once did.
And finally, you can couple all of the above-mentioned challenges with messages from magazines and movies that portray sex as one dazzling encounter after another. All of this can make a couple second guess themselves. They may wonder why all of their sexual encounters don’t seem to be the perfect 10 anymore. Or if they are even having sex enough– as if there is some national norm that they need to measure up to.
What’s “the norm?”
Studies differ on the average rate of sexual intercourse for couples in America. Most put the figure somewhere around once per week, though other studies show that this figure is too high. That said, however, there are many factors that enter into the calculus. Health problems, work schedules, and differing libidos can skew the numbers. Keep in mind that less sex doesn’t necessarily mean that a couple is less in love.
Most experts say that sexless marriages (or largely sexless marriages) lack the “glue” that holds couples together. Sex can help create a deep bond in marriage, but it’s not the only ingredient capable of doing so. In other words, if you’re not meeting the supposed “norm,” but you and your partner are both happy with your relationship, you don’t need to panic. Everyone is different, and you need to do what is most beneficial for you and your partner.
Communication is key
The worst thing you can do with a sagging sex life is ignore it. Open up a dialogue and find out if your partner is happy with your intimacy. We know! This can take courage, but it’s worth it in the long run. If they’re not happy (or you’re not happy), discuss challenges tactfully and work together to find a solution. Don’t freeze up with rejection. Life is a learning experience, and everyone should be allowed the time and space to figure out how to adjust and improve.
Recognize that reaching an agreement may take compromise on both of your parts. If your partner wants sex more than you do, this does not signal failure on either of your parts. It simply means that you will have to give and take and meet in the middle.
Try these additional ideas for improving your sex life:
- Exercise to increase testosterone levels
- Focus on making your relationship more physical in everyday life by giving hugs, holding hands, etc.
- Turn off the TV, gaming system, computer, or other distraction
- Consider scheduling times to have sex so that you don’t just get too busy for it
- Try something different—start with a back massage, wear a new piece of lingerie, etc.
Above all, don’t heap pressure on yourself. Everyone experiences peaks and valleys in their sex life. Be open to new ideas, and don’t get offended when your partner offers suggestions for improvement. Like many things in life, sex is a process. Focus on your own journey without comparing yourselves to others or worrying about meeting a magic “norm.”