The marriage question we're all asking...
I’m a marriage counselor, and it’s rare to meet couples that agree on one of the most common questions I get asked by married people: How often should we be having sex?
I don’t know if it’s God’s cosmic joke, but I’ve often wondered why the less-is-more people don’t pair up with other less-is-morites, and why the more-the-merrier people don’t pair up with other more-the-merriers. I haven’t met one couple in 19 years of counseling that is in 100% agreement.
Truth #1: Your marriage is normal if you and your spouse don’t agree on sexual frequency. If you two do agree, then clearly your marriage has a super power and both of you should wear capes.
Truth #2: Healthy couples do not have a how-much-is-enough perspective of sex. Instead, they prioritize a kind of intimacy that is a way of life, filled with everyday encounters like:
- sharing the sink in the morning
- getting the kids ready for school
- kissing before leaving for work
- texting in the middle of the day
- eating family dinner at the table
- tag-teaming family chores
- having conversations about nothing on the back patio
- throwing parties with friends and all their crazy kids
- singing in the minivan
- holding hands during worship
- kissing the way they did before they had kids
- snuggling while watching TV
- catching him looking at her that way he looks at her
- making mistakes along the way
- forgiving quickly and moving on
- dancing in the kitchen
- laughing together
- crying together
- dreaming together
- praying together
- serving together
- growing old together
Sex without a lifestyle of intimacy can begin to feel dutiful for many couples.
How often are healthy couples having sex? I’m not convinced this is the right question. The truth is, it doesn’t matter what the national average is for couples. What matters is what works for your marriage. Some couples need to have sex every day, while others need it once a week. The goal is to establish a lifestyle of intimacy in your marriage . . . whatever that looks like.
I will say, sexless marriages do not appear to be as happy and healthy as marriages that enjoy sex more regularly. This is especially true in my online counseling practice . I’ve noticed when my sexless couples are intimate, they return to counseling with an extra spring in their step. Sex is good, y’all!
How can you and your husband get on the same page?
- Talk about it. Make space to talk about your sexual and non-sexual needs. There is no such thing as, “If he really loves me then he should just know.” True love mindreading only exists in the movies . . . because there’s a script!
- Customize your needs. Healthy couples know how to express their needs in ways their spouse can understand. For example, it’s not helpful to say, “I need more romance.” If you need more romance, then describe specific romantic behaviors that are a custom fit for you, “I like it when you text me in the middle of the day,” or “I need more kisses that don’t necessarily lead to sex.”
- Adopt a lifestyle of intimate moments. Feeling stuck in this area? You probably did this when you two were dating (that’s why you wanted sex more back then). If it worked then, it will work now.
- Don’t wait until you feel like having sex to have sex. Sometimes we forget sex is a good idea. Going from a day of responsibility to a night of mind-blowing sex can be a difficult mental shift for many women. This reality also applies to some men as they transition from a stressful day at the office to family life. However, going from a day of responsibility mixed in with a lifestyle of intimate moments makes ending the day with a great night of sex more feasible.
- What if we don’t agree? If you and your spouse can’t agree on frequency, then you may want to consider seeing a counselor. A good marriage counselor can help you unpack the barriers impacting your marriage and help you discover solutions for your relationship.
How often should couples be having sex? The answer is: as often as they want!
Intimacy cannot be quantified. There is an exact number of times a year you should change your air conditioning filters, fertilize your shrubs, de-clutter your closets, and wash your windows, but there is not an exact number for intimacy.
Marriage is a journey, so love generously, kiss wastefully, live boldly, and make lots of love and memories along the way.