In all my years of speaking and writing on sexual intimacy in marriage, I have yet to meet a couple that agrees all of the time on how frequently they should have sex in their marriage.
What tends to be more common is I hear from couples whose intimacy ebbs and flows. They go through “seasons” of being on the same page sexually, as well as stretches where they disagree on how often they should have sex.
And, of course, I also hear from individuals where there is long-standing sexual strife in their marriage. They’ve rarely, if ever, agreed on sexual frequency, often to the point where there is little sex even happening in the marriage—or when it does happen, there is a boatload of animosity in the mix.
As someone who not only is currently married, but also has a previous marriage on my relational map, I am familiar with sexual frequency challenges. My husband and I have to navigate occasionally disagreeing on how often we should have sex. Our drives, life circumstances, age and health are consistently changing.
Suffice to say, how frequently a couple has sex is a moving target for nearly all married couples. Many of your friends, relatives, neighbors, coworkers and acquaintances who are married encounter this frequency challenge in their relationship.
Sometimes people will ask me how often a married couple should have sex. There is no magical number, though. Researchers along the way have come to the conclusion that a marriage where the couple has sex fewer than 10 times in a year is considered sexless (assuming, of course, there are no reasonable reasons the couple isn’t having sex, such as illnesses, injury, long-term separation due to work or military deployment, and/or situations where the couple is working on healing from a betrayal in the relationship).
But how frequent sex should happen above that “10 times a year” mark definitely depends on each couple.
If you as husband and wife have struggled with this matter of sexual frequency, you are not alone. That being said, it doesn’t have to be such a contentious place in your marriage if you are willing to find ways to agree more often than you disagree on how often you have sex.
3 Ways to Agree on Sexual Frequency in Your Marriage
This seems like such a basic tip, but it’s amazing how many couples don’t do it. Instead of having a healthy and open conversation about their sexual intimacy and sexual desires, they expect their spouse to read their mind. Or they resort to manipulation and passive aggressive behavior. Or if one of them brings up the topic, the other spouse gets defensive or diverts or attacks.
But ultimately, nothing gets solved without some honest and vulnerable conversation. And if this matter of sexual frequency has caused so much frustration and division, you would be wise to enlist the help of a counselor to aid in getting the two of you communicate effectively about it.
Let’s not forget that sex is part of marriage. If a couple can be having sex, they should be on a somewhat regular basis. (Yes, I know. What is “regular” for one couple may not be “regular” for another). But you’ll never figure out what is going to work for your marriage if you don’t have a conversation about it. For most married couples, it’s a conversation they need to revisit throughout their relationship, because so many factors affect how often we have sex.
Instead of battling about sexual frequency, talk about it. Commit to a conversation. You may even humbly and calmly say, “I don’t want us to battle about this anymore. I want us to be able to talk about it, because I love you. Can we please talk about this?”
We can’t lose sight of the fact that the two of you made a commitment to each other and love each other. There’s a lot at stake, and this sexual frequency issue is not going to magically resolve itself. You each are going to have to compromise for the betterment of your marriage. The goal, of course, is to reach an amount of sexual connection that honors both of you.
For visual purposes, think about a husband and wife standing a distance from each other. To find a compromise, they have to each start walking toward each other. This visual may even be a good starting discussion point. How far apart do each of you see you are regarding sexual frequency?
For many couples, they may be a block apart, so to compromise doesn’t take too much for each of them to walk toward each other. They are going to reach their compromise easier, because they are already not that far apart. Other couples may be a mile apart. And still other couples may be hundreds of miles apart.
When a husband and wife are extremely far apart on how often they each believe they should have sex, I think this frequency battle is the surface battle to something deeper going on. We could spend paragraphs and paragraphs unpacking this, but if you sense this is what is going on in your relationship, are you willing to look introspectively into your own heart? What is the deeper reason as to why you are hundreds of miles apart?
You probably are not going to ever completely agree on how often you have sex, but how can you each compromise so that your sexual frequency honors you both? The other thing I would add about compromise is that it’s not always going to be 50/50. Sometimes one spouse is going to have to “walk” a bit further to get to the compromise, and other times, the other spouse is going to have to “walk” a bit further.
But being willing to compromise is a huge way you slay this sexual frequency disagreement.
So if you have figured out how often you will be having sex, then what is your strategy to carry that out? Some would say having a strategy robs sex of its passion or spontaneity, but I think it helps set a couple up for sexual success. I know I sound like I’m beating the same drum here, but remember that your goal is to make sex an enjoyable part of your marriage. This is the person you fell in love with and committed to doing life with, and that includes sexual connection.
The more that sex becomes a mutually-valued and enjoyed part of your marriage, the less it will feel like “going through the motions” or “checking it off the list” or seeing it as “mere duty.” You want to nurture a heart motive of wanting to have sex rather than feeling obligated to have sex. When we think of it in that regard, a little strategy can go a long way.
For some couples, that may involve scheduling sex. This could mean scheduling all of your sexual encounters or some of them. I once had a woman tell me that she and her husband had a date night every Wednesday night and they agreed it would include sex. That’s not to say they didn’t have sex other times, but they had built in the expectation that they definitely would have sex on Wednesdays. Scheduling can be hugely beneficial in helping a husband and wife embrace a positive mindset about sex. If sex is on the schedule for that night, you have the day to prepare for and anticipate an enjoyable sexual encounter.
Another aspect of strategy could be learning and appreciating what you each desire as far as initiation, foreplay, arousal and pleasure. For example, If one of you really doesn’t like morning sex, but the other one does, I don’t think the solution is to never have morning sex or to always have morning sex. I think a better compromise is to figure out what will make the occasional times you have morning sex more enjoyable for the person who isn’t exactly a fan.
Talk openly about strategy, which is simply having conversations about what will help the two of you stay as consistent as reasonably possible with a sexual frequency that honors you both.
Wow! I feel like I covered a lot, and even as I am wrapping up here, I am seeing where I could unpack each of the above points even further. So talk amongst yourselves until I do just that! And certainly do not let this sexual frequency issue sabotage your relationship. The two of you have it within you to find a sexual frequency that honors you both.
Copyright 2020, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.