How Often Should Couples Have Sex?

It is natural for couples to wonder whether they have enough sex as compared to other couples. Sex therapists have often been questioned about what is the true average for couples who are in committed relationships.[1]

The truth is that there is no one fixed answer. The range of answers to this question can vary from once a week to once a month. There is no right answer that you have to accept as a measurement for your sex life. A study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior has shown that Americans today are having less sex than they did a decade ago. However, that does not help in narrowing down the trends to one number.

Couples should have sex as often as they can, given their schedules. This is because the lack of sex can often lead to bigger problems.[2] If couples stop having sex completely, they become prone to anger, infidelity and detachment. These problems can even lead to divorce if left unattended.

Understanding How Difference Factors can Influence It

There can be no standard measure for a couple’s sex life because it is influenced by many different factors that differ from couple to couple. Parameters such as lifestyle, age, health and natural libido and the quality of each individual relationship can determine how often the couple has sex. Moreover, according to Brian Jory, PhD, all long term relationships have ‘sexual satiation’ set in after two or three years. Sexual satiation leads couples to become bored of their existing life because of the monotony. It is a natural occurrence and should not be stigmatized.[3]

Couples should have sex at least once a week. As mentioned before, there is no right answer and it is not a compulsion, but the routine helps the situation to be in control. David Schnarch, PhD, found that just 26% of couples engaged in sex once a week via a study that he conducted with over 20,000 couples. The majority of them were having sex once or twice every month. Worse, some were not participating in any sexual activity at all. [4]

A study that was published in The University of Chicago Press a decade ago reported that married couples were engaging in sex about twice a week. Another study found that the older participants had sex 2 to 3 times a month, while younger couples did it about once a week. This proves that Americans are indeed having lesser sex now as compared to then.[5]

Do you have anything to worry about?

If you are going through a dry patch as a couple, it is natural to worry whether your marriage is in trouble. However, you should not be hasty when drawing conclusions because this is a sensitive matter. Sex therapists generally label marriages as sexless when the couple has sex less than 10 times a year. It is important to remember that sexless does not equate a marriage on the rocks. Schnarch says that the lack of sex is not an indication that your marriage might fall apart. Sex is definitely one of the primary ways in which couples are able to convey their love and sexual desire to each other, but the absence of it does not negate those feelings. In fact, you can reignite those feelings and emotions in order to bring your sex life back on track.

While a sexless marriage is not necessarily headed towards divorce, it does not mean that you should leave the problem unattended for long. According to Ian Kerner, Ph.D., sex has fallen low on an average American’s to-do list. He emphasizes that the lack of sex can often expose other cracks in the marriage.[6] Sex is an important element in every marriage because it holds the bond together even when some other aspect of the relationship is threatened. Kerner says that couples transform into ‘good friends’ or ‘bickering roommates’ when there is a lack of sexual engagement.

How to be on the same page when it comes to sex?

Each individual’s sex drive is unique. It requires a significant amount of effort for two people to sync their sex drives. However, it is not impossible by any means as long as both the partners are willing to give their best shot.

A large number of factors can impact whether a couple wants to have sex at the same time. If there is a preexisting difference in opinion, there is a chance that it might affect the partner’s willingness to have sex.[7]

Sometimes, it is the process of initiating sex that poses the problem and not the activity itself. According to Dr. Gail Saltz, the solution to bringing the couple’s sex drive back in sync is to meet midway and compromise.[8] Both partners’ demands do not have to be met right away. Starting slow can lead to better results in the near future.

A couple’s willingness to have sex usually does not line up at a given time in most cases. This is why it is important to communicate freely with your partner and negotiate a better time that is suitable for both participants. When one initiates but the other refuses, it is important to talk it out then and there instead of letting the matter fester. The frequency of sex is largely dependent on mutual agreement. You can schedule a fixed time period each week if you do not want to have this discussion multiple times. However, it is best to keep it as flexible as possible because one never known when or how some other work may come up.[9]

Optimizing Time

As it is, housework takes up energy. It can be especially taxing if you have kids and have to take care of their needs too. Daily tasks often gain precedence over sex. Putting sex on the backburner each time will not lead to a solution. Both partners have to dedicate themselves to make sex fun again. Once a couple stops having sex, they forget the pleasure they originally derived from it and get stuck in a rut. Once the couple starts having sex again, they remember how much they missed it.

Scheduling sex can be seen as counterintuitive at first, but soon it will become something you look forward to. The time leading up to the sex will feel more exciting, and each partner can do their part in boosting intimacy meanwhile. Common practices that can foster love include hugging each other every day and having a one-to-one conversation before bed.[10] Exercise can prepare both partners to make the best of any sexual activity. If you do not get to spend a lot of time with each other in a day, avoid distractions like smartphones and televisions when you are together. Make sure that your partner knows that they are appreciated.

Summing Up

As a couple, you should feel free to tell each other about your problems. Discussing your sex life, frankly, can be a step forward in the right direction. Compliment each other, discuss any shortcomings and talk about new activities that you would like to try in the bedroom. If you feel that nothing is working, then you should take your problems to a professional. Book an appointment with a sex therapist and figure out a suitable solution.[11]


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